Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura
Bhakti is the Best of Activites
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That Bhakti is alone the best of functions, is mirrored in the emphatic statements of the books and the incomparably pure career of Sri Chaitanya and His beloved associates. The distinctive features of that devotional aptitude are manifested in the records of the scriptures and in the words of those exponents of the scriptures who live up to the teachings of the scriptures. For the purpose of enabling the present cognitive faculty to understand the tidings of the realm that is unknowable or knowable with very great difficulty, it is all-important to describe those transcendental activities and to provide the needful excitant of their representation by the dramatic method.
The order of our Gurus helps us in the realization of our desideratum by acting up to the requirement of spiritual thought, urged thereunto by the sense of humility. Most of them, by undergoing the hardest labor, and at the risk of their lives, brought about the descent of the tidings of the Household of Sri Krishna to the plane of this world created by the deluding potency of Vishnu, for the purpose of subduing the sixfold animal passions, such as lust, anger, etc., that are innate to the human race.
We are not unaware that by the process of descent to this mundane plane the view of the transcendental is liable to be missed by the external vision of men directed by the superficial cognitive faculty. But we still cherish the strong hope that all those living receptacles, in whose hearts the aptitude for service is flickering like the light of the lamp about to go out, becoming once more inclined towards service and kindling with the services of moods appropriate to the Name, Form, Quality, Paraphernalia and Activity of Krishna, will be established in the sphere of Vaikuntha Goloka in the stage of leaving off this mortal coil. It is with this basic purpose that we are busy in providing the opportunity of making available the transcendental boon of Vishnu and Vaishnavas to the human race.
What is good (sat) condition? What is summum bonum? Wherein consists the difference between the desirable entities of this world and the highest good? How may the sixfold divine prerogative be attained by being liberated from the sense of need in regard to the three objectives of mundane piety, riches and objects of enjoyment? What manner of evil results from the quest of the featureless Brahman by the exclusive state that is devoid of all pomp and circumstances of the Divinity? It is necessary to produce a living interest in the right solution of these besetting problems.
It is first of all necessary to examine the current misconceptions regarding the 'good' i. e. sat (or the abiding or real state ). In order to do so we should prepare a comparative table setting forth all the different conceptions that have been engendered in this ever-changing world in the stable principles of mind and faculty of individual judgment, together with the varying degrees of the a-sat (ephemeral) element, that appear in them. If we prepare such a comparative record we would find that there is no room for the unalloyed cognitive essence in the receptacles adulterated with active and inert mundane qualities. It is only persons who are adepts in the spiritual service of Vishnu, who can understand the difference that separates the real significance of the term sat (good or abiding principle) from the entity, which is a product of relative reasoning, that appears as the good (sat) to conditioned souls. The vocabularies of languages represented by t he records written in the Brahmi, Kharausti, Sanki, and the other scripts, educate us in cultures that, instead of helping us to attain the unalloyed state of the real or pure cognition, only bind us to the delusions of ephemeral sound and language. These are not subjects that are fit to be learnt by sadhus who are full of eternal cognition and bliss. The invocation of the realization of the true subjective nature of the entity of spiritual service (Bhakti) among mankind, is necessary for knowing all this.
Of two friends possessing similarity of nature and purpose one is found to experience the aptitude for the enjoyment of this transitory world. He happens to notice in his friend the disposition of supplying the means of enjoyment of the self-same transitory world. This leads him to aspire after the condition of abnegation. This process is also found to involve him in the folly and undesirable hankering of losing his acquired possessions. When he finds that it is his proper function to do good to his friend, he employs himself in the office of servant of his friend. He is then in a position to understand that the purpose of acting the part of enjoyer by employing his friend as servant, is not any part of the good education. In such circumstances he is apt to regard the rendering of service to his friend as most needful from the point of view of a thoughtful observer. It is only when his conscience, that is prone to enjoyment and acceptance of service, is touched by the service of his friend, and is also made aware of those whom his friend serves as well, as the instrumentals and materials by whose means he renders them his services, that he becomes acquainted with the glory of his friend. He then becomes aware that the assertive and meaningless exertions of a person, devoid of the serving aptitude for his friend, are productive of grief, infatuation and fear. This knowledge is consequent upon the realization, in the act of performing the eternal function, that the friend is related to the powerful ordainer of hunger, thirst, decay, infatuation, fear and sorrow. The person who understands his friend to be the reservoir of all light, recognises him to be his friend in the tie of the serving function. Bhakti is that eternal and supreme function without whom the diverse forms of all other non-devotional activities cause the misapprehensions of souls, indulging in enjoyment of abnegation of mundane entities, who are apt to mistake one thing for another. Bhakti enables the individual sou l to realize his eternal nature of the aptitude of a servant by causing him to give up the disposition of being master which is foreign to the essential nature of the soul, in order to ensure one's escape from the evil that is attendant on the state of ignorance. The egoism, that regards oneself as master of one's own activities, as regulator of others, by making the individual soul a sojourner of the mundane world on the paths of fruitive work and empiric knowledge, prevents the performance of the function of exclusive serving devotion to the Feet of Godhead.
By assuming the role of the master of Godhead, Who is the Eternal Object of worship, to install Him as a concept having the nature of servant, is but the invocation of sheer misfortune on the part of the individual soul. In the attainment of the highest good the unalloyed state of his service tends to become the only aptitude of the individual soul. The power of decision of a judge who is subject to childish caprice does not point to the service of Godhead. It is for this reason that Godhead condescends to serve the instructed, in the Role of the Instructor. When the individual soul, on realising his own want of purity runs after the acquisition of the same, he is liable to remain impure, because no one, who happens to be in the state of impurity, is eligible for the sight of Godhead. Sometimes, assuming himself to be pure, in lieu of seeking the knowledge of the real truth, he is busily engaged in pursuits that are pleasing to himself, under the impression that any pursuit that is pleasing to himself is thereby proved to be pure.
As the result of his attempt to foist his own impurity on Godhead, he supposes it to be on a par with the Beneficent-full Autocracy of Godhead. Knowing himself to be the seat of cruel assertive activities, the individual soul is liable to imbibe the malicious disposition by his attempt to view Godhead with his deluded material eyes. When the jiva exercises his faculty of intelligence on the form of Godhead Who is possessed of eyes resembling the Petals of Lotus flowers, and on His Glance of Mercy, he is in a position to have the sight of the Eye of the Divinity Who is Eternal, Unalloyed, Full and Free. He is then in a position to know that his own vision is defective being tainted with error, prejudice, faulty perception and the purpose to deceive. In this phenomenal world there is found current knowledge of the Name, Form, Quality and Individual Servitorship of Godhead, couched in the language of mundane spectators. But such knowledge is not included within the limits of time and sp ace. If one is bent upon regarding such perception to be similar to the mundane process, such perversity will prevent him from obtaining the real sight of the Entity of the Supreme Person when He chooses to descend to this mundane plane. Such deluded vision, instead of exciting the recollection of the Eye, Ear, Nose, Tongue, Skin and Mind of the Lotus-Eyed One, would make the small mouth be only guilty of uttering big words by making the observer suppose that they are also tainted with defects similar to his own. It is then that the aversion to Godhead begins to show itself in the mal-interpretation of the scriptural text 'kapyasa' and the Supreme Person seems to be included within the category of the material.
It often happens that we practise a habit of keeping our hands in an uplifted position and other diverse forms of asceticism. But by their means no actual result is achieved. "If Hari is worshipped, where is the further use of ascetic practices? If Hari is not worshipped where is the use of ascetic practices in such circumstances? If Hari is not present, both inside and outside, what is the use of ascetic practices?" If we do not serve the Eternal Entity we are guilty of making the wrong use of this insignificant human life. Whereas if we serve Godhead, the human life becomes worth living.
Krishna is the Figure of all nectarine rasas (melow tastiness). In Him there is no want of any rasa. The servant of Krishna is fully aware of everything regarding the other devatas (gods) of this world or of the series of the Avataras (Descending Divine Personalities) of Vishnu. The Self-same Krishna is served only by His devotees. That Entity is unattainable by fictitious knowledge. Those, who have had an opportunity of listening to the text of the Bhagavatam, 'jnane prayasam udapashya......' know that the sight of the Transcendental Realm of knowledge will not be available by the efforts of countless lives by means of such knowledge. A disease, which is most difficult of cure, has got into its jaws the human race. In its terrible grip we are seized with the determination not to employ our body, mind and speech in the service of Godhead and are bent upon abusing our freedom of will. It is necessary to be freed from the clutches of this monst er.
The inadequate, or less than full, conception of the Whole has been termed 'Brahman' and 'Paramatman.' The conception of 'Paramatman' has been formed by incorporating undesirable elements by joining together truth and untruth for the satisfaction of the principle of comprehension. But it is not possible to interpolate any counterfeit entity in the Divinity.
It is not the mark of the state of liberation to be merely freed from the clutches of inconveniences. Something more is required. The conception of redemption (mukti) does not mean merely getting rid of untruth. We require positive accretion. It is not our final requisition merely to be freed from the inexperience and uselessness of this mundane world. Unless we have the taste for the diversity of the Transcendental Activities of the Entity, Who is full of Eternal Pastimes and Divine Activities, we are apt to be caught in the virtues and vices of the world, being intoxicated with the dynamics of mundane existence. Only those who are desirous of liberation from the conditioned state are anxious to get rid of the inconveniences of this world. But it is one's duty to turn one's serious consideration to those matters in which the unconditioned souls are actively interested. So long as the conditioned state prevails, the conviction of the possibility of difference of ways and means is una voidable, due to the fact that it is not possible in the conditioned state to have any idea of the subject in whom the unconditioned souls are actually interested. Till we are freed from the clutches of this misjudgment, the conditioned soul, liable to be contaminated with the fourfold defects of error, prejudice, inadequacy of sense-organs and tendency to deceive, cannot give enough reliance on the words of the redeemed souls. Those who have arrived at the conclusion that the essential characteristic of mukti ( liberation ) is merely cessation of misery, have been betrayed into a line of thought that is prevalent in the conditioned state which exposes us to the triple miseries of this mundane world. The scope of their vision is very short, indeed, if we refrain from the active consideration of the positive diversities of the Absolute, who is located beyond the mundane. By being misled by their words, what do we gain by such conduct? Sri Chaitanyadeva has not employed Himself in pursuit of any t houghts that center round the current activities of this body or mind. He has employed His thought on the subject of the diversity appertaining to our relationships with the fullness of Entity possessed of His Eternal Body, that prevails in the real state which is located beyond both of these two bodies. We should employ our thoughts on that subject even while we are allowed to be in this world. Every rational entity is vitally interested in this matter.
It is the full realization of bliss that should be sought after. The mere cessation of misery is not what is required. In the state of positive liberation (mukti) we should attain some positive entity. We should be on our guard that in our quest for one entity we may not go after a different entity. It is necessary to perform the preparatory activities before death. It is only if the accumulated intelligence of all our friends, the concerted help of all persons, can employ themselves in the service of the servants of Godhead, that we should accept them. But we should by no means display any aptitude for carrying the burden and refuse matter of this world to the next.
Subserviency to Godhead is the only good path opened to us. If we know how to work out a simple equation by the rule of three, we would be in a position to understand how much normal endeavor should be made for the eternal life in proportion to what has actually been found necessary in the apparent interests of a hundred years of existence. That endeavor must be made within the short span of this life, because it is the human life which alone is capable of yielding the summum bonum. If mankind is in a position to understand this simple mathematical proposition it can have no other function in this life except the quest of Krishna. It is supremely necessary for us to fully connect every activity, to take each simple step and to draw each simple breath, with the reference to Krishna.
The order of my preceptors has told us many things in very beautiful language. I shall not repeat them. I would, however, state a few essential things for their acceptance. We have no other function except throwing ourselves on the protection of Godhead. We must not consider Godhead to be the care-taker of our garden. It is not our desideratum to attend only to our present day needs. Our primary duty, basic purpose, is the service of Hari. The two verses of Sri Rupa Goswami viz., 'anasaktasya visayan'... and 'prapanchikataya buddhaya....' like the polar-star point out the course to be followed by us by the negative and positive enunciation of the same. We must always walk in that path on which we shall be fully provided with the service of Krishna. May we never perform any activity being deprived of the service of the servants of Godhead. If we do not employ all secular knowledge, history, literature, philosophy, science, the arts of war and politics in its prope r sense, or in other words, if we do not fully connect everything with the reference to Krishna, that is reduce it to the service of Godhead, it would give rise to the controversial method which would make us think that we should give up this thing, and that thing, and that it is not this and not that.
How is it possible for us to conceive of the transcendental Entity with the present capacity of our senses? Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu has supplied the answer of the question in a very charming manner by refuting the philanthropic views. 'Hence (i. e. being transcendental) the Name, etc. of Sri Krishna is not perceptible by the senses. He manifests Himself of His own accord on the tongue, etc. that is disposed to His service.' 'The proper enjoyment of the entities of this world by one who is unattached to them by fully connecting the same to the reference to Krishna is called the right form of renunciation.'
The very first aphorism of the Brahma Sutra is, 'thereafter this gives rise to the enquiry regarding the Brahman.' In the person who has become detached from the mundane world, who has transcended the material planes of fruitive work and empiric knowledge, there arises the enquiry regarding the Great One or the Brahman which sets him free from the quest of the small. Those who have not transcended the mundane plane are non-vedantists. The atheistic professors of the system of Sankhya etc., remain confined to the limiting numerical reference. The expansion of one quadrant is open to our view. Our vision fails to take in simultaneously the extended space of three quadrants. The potency that corresponds to individual souls originates from Samkarsana. If this is not understood we are landed to the question, 'Who is to ask whom?' "Seated on the same tree (on which sits also the Supreme Soul) the individual soul sunk, in the enjoyment of worldly entities, is subjected to sorrow due to infatuation by reason of his non-Divine nature."
If one supposes the Served and His servant, the Guru and his disciple, the self-realized soul and the neophyte, to be on a level of equality with each other, he is liable to be sunk in worldliness. Such a person is overtaken by sorrow, or attains the state of the Sudra. Inquisitiveness about the Brahman or the state of the Brahmana is no longer retained. It is no doubt desirable to be able to see everything with an equal eye. But such seeing does not involve the abuse of the realization of the common nature of the worshipper and Worshipped. On that plane although there is non-difference as regards quality, there is difference as regards, magnitude. In difference there is reference to non-difference, while in non-difference there is reference of high and low. 'Those persons whose intellect is lighted up with the Veda (Real Knowledge) are Pandits.' Pandits see the Brahman possessed of learning and humility, the cow, the elephant, the dog and the eater of the dog with an equal eye. By missing the significance of the above verse if the elephant and the dog are considered as the same in the gross sense, no consistent meaning can be made out. The equality of vision refers to the soul.
The entity which is called grief is an aptitude born of the state of want or destitution. "Sugasya tad anadara sravanat tada dravanad swhiyate hi" (Br. Sut. 1-3-34.) Even the very slightest deviation from the Real Truth is subject to the law of change. The view that there is a rival of Godhead, that there is a Beelzabub is derived from aversion to Godhead. Between our words and those who are extremely vain of the empiric knowledge of the Scriptures, there flows a great Viraja river. Those who suppose that they can understand everything very well, can write correct language, can speak well, have no aptitude for hearing. The external coating alone posseses any attraction for their minds. They only gossip fictitious stories about the Brahman. They do not make any enquiry for knowing about Him.
Is the human race doomed to remain so foolish? Will it be never able to understand the tidings of the Possessor of the Triple Potency, of tri-quadrant expansion? Will its stunted intellect be never expanded? The answer to the quest for Brahman is contained in the aphorism janmadyasya yatah..... from whom this world has its birth, continuance and dissolution. Therefore, this world can never be false. If the world is supposed to be false then He, by the transformation of Whose Power this world has its birth, also is proved to be false. If the reflected image is denied, the original source of the image is also subjected to hostile attack. There is no unwholesomeness in the original substance, but there is unwholesomeness in the shadow. This is all the difference. The Ultimate Entity is born in Mathura, begins there and ensues the exquisite state of the love-lorn maiden. In the Divine Realm of Dvaraka there prevails the Manifestation of Majesty. In Pravas there is the Pastime of D isappearance. At the point where the intellectualism of man terminates, foolish persons are declaring that the Transcendental Activity also terminates. Lila (The Transcendental activity) is never ended. That Activity goes on at all time like in the form of a circle of light traced by a revolving point of fire.
We are to welcome mercy from the Absolute. We individuals are each of us connected with Person. We require some Personality to Whom to pray and appeal for our existence. If the object of our worship is Absolute then everything done by us should be for Him only.
We have occupations; but which of them should engage us? If we go for comparative study the best occupation should be to select the Absolute for our service. He is not to be had here. But we should have recourse to entities showing an aptitude for His service. Then there are the servitors occupying a neutral position: who do not defile nor adore an object by showing some out-ward activity, who display no sympathetic or apathetic mood, who do not meddle with a thing and disregard other things. If we are neutral to everybody we are supposed to have eligibility for rendering our service to the Absolute. The service to the Absolute is not available to us at present. Our present futile and perishable equipments cannot have an approach to that thing.
If we show aptitude for service we would be relieved of serving other people. The current altruistic literature does not cover antecedents and consequents. These are unknown at present. We do not know our past and future. We have access only to phenomena. Sages have deemed it prudent to serve our fellow-mortals by mundane reference. But we are vitally interested in the transcendental reference. We shall have to leave this world and the present position and shall be posted elsewhere. The soul is not confined to the mortal coil, that is, to the gross and subtle bodies. The esoteric mood need not be confined to charities, etc., here, as taught by those savants of the West and East. The current philosophies teach that virtue and happiness are the only objects of our claims, which are sought to be confined to altruism. It is, however, necessity, which really makes us busy with these activities, which do no good to us. The mirror shows the ass-cap. We suppose that in the absence of the mirror the re would be no necessity of getting rid of the ass-cap. We are often prone to stop at the mirrored portion. But sadhana should not be restricted to seeking piety etc. Transcendentalists should push on to find the Most Beautiful at the Feet of the Transcendental Absolute, the Resort of all rasas.
There are three different tracks for the predilective mood : (i) to seek virtue, happiness, etc., (ii) to regulate the sinful life, (iii) to be recognized as pure souls, or, in other words, to seek some fruitive results. This is the path of the Vedic karma-kanda.
When we have these coveted objects we find there is something else. We find that our allegiance is to be strictly directed to the Absolute. The soul requires no contamination; although he is now enwrapped by two covers viz., the astral body and the external body from parents for transitory purposes and not for the eternal purpose. The soul is eternal. Mentality is always changing. It is mentality which makes friends and foes. We cannot rely on present mentality, though it thinks that it can be regulated by the seeking of happiness, virtue, etc.
We should surrender ourselves unconditionally to the Absolute. People may urge 'why not rely on the evidence of the eye, the nose, the mind? Our reply is, We do not deal with phenomena separatively. When the phenomena are presented by ignoring immanence and transcendence we get a narrow view. This will never lead us to any good. We, mental speculationists, are put into an atmosphere of erroneous and limited impressions. When we are free from these impressions we would know that love would flood us and wash away all dirts of the treacherous platform of this mundane world.
By our confidence in the transcendental sound we would benefit much instead of minding these other shops. We would not trouble about these things. True devotion would lead us to permanent relief. We often meet with baits. We are often tempted by the carnal. We often jump into that very thing because it is offered for our consumption. But in the long run we are liable to be deprived of our soul. Persons busy with their mental concoctions, prefer to get their conceptions, from professors who get their ideas from deluding sources.
The function of the soul is to be determined. Mind is depriving the soul who is the principal. Mind is often misled by temptations. Mental conceptions must not prevail over the soul. The soul will be alert only when we find that the agent is required to be kept under strict surveillance. The agent must not act against the Proprietor. Any 'medicine' given to the mind against the interest of the soul is harmful. The soul is now asleep, who can control the mind. If the soul regulates the mind then it would be all right.
One who has actually attained the place of the soul, can give advice to the soul, not the mind. The mind is useful only for a time. After we die it will not hold. Our object of devotion is to be ascertained. Self-determination is necessary, as well as the mode of procedure. If we think we are to be recipients we would accept Jnana-kanda and Karma-kanda which lead to chaturvarga which are known as the final goals but are never purushartha. The real object of attainment (Purushartha) is Prema (love). Prema is to be resorted to, and not salvation and elevation. These latter are not the terminal points. The unique, one position is Prema. Bhakti (devotion) is eternal, Bhajaniya (object of devotion) is eternal. But the impersonalist would never subscribe to this view. He has got a bitter experience, from which he is disposed to accept the other goals.
Prema is of five aspects viz., shanta, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya and madhura. The aspects are quite different. In shanta, dasya and reverential moiety of sakhya we approach the Object with a reverential attitude. That is not the thing. If we look from below a thing hanging from the ceiling we would see only half of the thing, not the other half. Half the thing is placed for our ocular activity, the other half is not visible. In the other half we find confidential sakhya, vatsalya, and madhura.
Sri Krishna Chaitanya is the only Agent. He has come to us to delineate the exposition of the Transcendental world in full. None else has done so. Those, who approach by the reverential aptitude, miss the other things. I mean that two and a half of the rasas are kept for their own purpose and that will mislead them. Son-hood and Consort-hood of Godhead would be misunderstood.
So Krishna-prema is the only need for which we should exert all our influence. It is the function of the soul not of the mind which requires some other thought, e. g. improving civic rules, altruism, etc. But we should know that prayojana (desideration) is Krishna-prema. In respect of the Personality of Godhead if we accept Vishnu, we would offer only reverential service.
One more variegated aspect can be secured by a peep into the Entity of Dwarakesha where the restricted imposition of worldly ethics get no value. So we necessarily see that the full extensions of all the manifestive Rasas is not wanting in this Object of our offering different service. This supreme stage of theistic manifestation would not admit mundane restrictions of the evils found in worldly relativities. If we keep for our enjoyment a portion of the temporal world, we do not thereby sever our connection with the troublesome enjoyment of the world. If we are fully relieved of all sorts of tempting influence of the relativities of this world, we cannot but come to the acme of the theistic representation of Sri Radha-Krishna. No disquisition whatsoever can possibly ladder us up to that summit by their crippled polemical insinuations.
When we cripple our final Object of pursuit we show an aptitude of dealing with the Object reverentially. But when we extend our aptitude to deal with all the aspects, we hanker after the infinite Ocean of Rasa, the largest emporium of our theistic enterprise, which is the fullest service that can be accorded by the Predominated Aspect of the Transcendental to the Predominating Aspect. The naming of a finitude would lead us to a particular object, so we will be failing to participate with the Highest and Excellent Emporium of our need.