1958 Back to Godhead vol 3 part 13 - Obstacles in the Devotional Path
OBSTACLES IN THE DEVOTIONAL PATH
There are as many spiritual sparks or living beings as there are atoms in the matter. There is now great research work current in the atomic energy but when science will reach its ultimate Perfection it will have to deal with spiritual atomic sparks as to how they are working both in contact with matter and also without such contact. The spiritual sparks are estimated to be as small as one ten thousandth part of the uppermost point of a hair. These sparks are floating in the material world along with the material atoms and contacting material bodies beginning from the microscopic germs to the highest living being like the elephants and gorillas in the land and whale fishes in the sea or gigantic birds in the air. In the Vedic scriptures we have a description of another fish which is called "TIMINGAL." It can swallow up the biggest whale without any difficulty. And besides this planet there are other innumerable planets scattered all over the universe where there are many other living beings both animal and human being of which we have very little knowledge. On the whole there are eighty-four lacs species of living beings and within all of them the same spiritual spark is the vital force, which moves all such different dimensional bodies in different planets.
These spiritual sparks are so many fragmental molecules of the supreme spirit whole and they are compared with the molecules of the sun rays. The sun may be compared with the whole spirit and the sun rays may be compared with the spiritual sparks. The sun rays are covering the whole planetary system and within the rays of the sun there are hundred and thousands of planets revolving in their fixed up orbits in outer space by the law of nature. Similarly within the spiritual rays of the supreme spiritual whole, there are innumerable spiritual planets also called by the name of Vaikunthas floating in the spiritual sky which is apart and different in constitution from this sky. That sky is known as the parabyoma and the material planets within the innumerable universes are called different Lokas. Exactly like the material planets made of the material atoms, there are innumerable spiritual planets composed of the spiritual atoms. The spiritual sparks or atoms in combination with the material atoms have relative bodies but in the spiritual spheres the living entities are not in contact with the material atoms and as such there in the spiritual world everything is Absolute. There is no difference between the body and the soul as in the material world there is difference between the body and the soul.
The all spirit Supreme Lord who has no difference in between the body, soul and mind i.e. Absolute is the centre of all activities and who is the origin of everything that exists, is compared with the fire. The fire is competent to expand its heat and disseminate its glare all round. And besides the above two energies of the fire there are the small fragments and sparks of the fire. Similarly the Supreme Lord who is compared with the sun or the fire is distributing His different energies like that of the heat of the fire or the light of the fire and in spite of eternally distributing such energy, the Supreme Lord is inexhaustible and eternally the same omnipotent. The living entities who are just like the sparks of the fire are also inexhaustible and endowed with eternal energy exactly like the original fire and therefore the living entities are qualitatively equal with the Lord but not in quantity. The living entities are wandering throughout the whole material and spiritual universes as above mentioned according to its free will which is also a part of his constitution but he is not happy so long as he is away from the Lord. The sparks of the fire can remain illuminated along with the fire only and not without it. As long as the sparks are away from the original fire, the illuminating quality of the spark becomes extinguished. As such there are some living beings who are away from the spiritual sky and are in now contact with the material sky and thus have obtained material bodies to enjoy matter in different varieties of material universes. They are after the eternal enjoyment which they have missed since their separation from the spiritual world. The spiritual sky is the impersonal Brahman which is the glowing effulgence of the Supreme Lord.
Out of many many such wandering living entities someone is favoured with the information of their real position. The living being forgetful of its spiritual identity wrongly considers himself as one of the Product of the material energy and thus he remains in darkness till he develops a spiritual enlightenment by some chance. This chance is created imperceptibly by the association of transcendental persons who are kind enough to travel all over the world for the benefit of the fallen living being who are hovering in the material plane without any information of the spiritual world.
A living being who gets this ultimate information for solution of the problems of struggle for existence is called a fortunate person. This fortune is gradually accumulated by the acts of sacrifice, charity and austerity. But in spite of all such endeavours if the energetic living being does not come in contact with some pure devotee of the Lord, he cannot get the seed of spiritual activity. Good consciousness for making sacrifice, charity and austerity is generally there in every living being but for want of good association such spirit of sacrifice, charity and austerity is misused for the purposes which are detrimental to his spiritual interest. Some time great sacrifice is made in the name of nationalism, social work and altruistic work without knowing that none of them will help one in the matter of spiritual realisation which is absolutely required goal for a living being for his liberation from material bondage. To improve the material condition of living being for the time being is no solution for the perpetual struggle for existence. The acts of sacrifice, charity and austerity are performed by different persons for different purposes by the living entities under the delusion of the material energy.
There is a class of materialists who think that the living entity is the last word in the spiritual world. They deny the existence of another Supreme Personality of Godhead and identifies the infinitesimal living being with the Infinite Whole. This is due to imperfectness of knowledge. Empiric philosophers who realise spiritual consciousness are sometimes misled in this way from the devotional path. The Bhagwat Geeta therefore directs that such empiric philosophers can realise Vasudeva or the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is omnipresent by His superior energy everywhere, after many many births.
- Chaturvidha bhajante mum sukritino'arjuna Arto jijnasuratharthi jnani cha bharashava
- Tesham jnani nityayukta ecabhaktirbishisyate Priohi jnano-tyarthamaham sa cha mam priya.
- Udara sarba ebate jnanitatmaiva me matam, Asthita sahiyuktatma mamebanuttama gatim.
- Bahunam jannamante jnanban mam prapadyate vasudeva sarbamiti sa mahatma sudurlava.
- (Geeta 7/16-19)
The living entities in their material conception of life are so many imitation lords who desire to lord it over the material nature. The Supreme Lord is different from the living beings with limited potency. Had they been the same supreme personalities they would not have been under the laws of material nature in the form of threefold miseries. Foolish living entities forget that they are under the stringent laws of material nature. The foolish persons of the lowest rank try to conquer over the material nature by material science in different ways and the same class of men only frustrated in their material endeavours declared that material world is false and spirit is the reality. They desire to make spiritual suicide out of despair only as sometimes foolish person commit material suicide by destroying the body. This theory of being one with the supreme is a product of poor fund of knowledge and such misleading persons may do well if they try to keep their original identity of being parts and parcel of the Supreme and thus engage them in the devotional service of the Lord as it is the duty of all parts and parcels.
As above mentioned the living entities who have been engaged in the material bodies are as numberless as the material atoms but the Supreme Lord is one without a second. God is one and the living entities are numberless that is the verdict of all revealed scriptures. By actual experience it is seen that all such living entities are subjected to the stringent laws of Nature. One should ponder over this as to how the Supreme one can become subjected to laws of nature. If the Supreme one becomes subjected to laws of Nature then the nature becomes Supreme because she can control even the supreme. But the supreme being becoming one without a second, either the nature must be supreme or the Lord. If the nature is supreme there is no meaning of endeavouring for liberation from the clutches of material nature because she cannot be overcome. The real fact is that the material nature by strength is superior to the living being so long the living being is in illusion and tries to exploit the resources of the material nature, he remains under the police action of the material nature and when he is frustrated in his attempt to enjoy material nature, the living being contemplates of becoming freed from the clutches of the very powerful material nature. The position is one of oscillation of the clock pendulum from one side to another without any rest. This oscillating position of the living being is due to his gross ignorance of knowledge in the matter of his constitutional stand.
One should know therefore definitely that the living entities are not one homogeneous or heterogeneous amalgamation of a spiritual lump as it is imagined by philosophers without sufficient fund of knowledge; but they (the living being) are different individual beings each and every one being separate from another. They are at present in different species of life generally classified under the name of movable and immovables. Amongst movables some of them are moving on the land, others in the water and some of them on the sky. All of them are the same living entities encaged in different embodiment of the material nature according to each and every one's fruitive result of actions. Such living entities are called conditioned souls because they have been conditioned by the stringent laws of material nature or in other words they have been controlled by the police action of the External energy of the Supreme Lord.
Out of these innumerable conditioned souls embodied in different types of material bodies in water, land and the sky, the human beings are very few. The human being is the developed consciousness of the living beings conditioned in the material bodies and therefore they are naturally expected to study the problems of living conditions popularly known as 'hard struggle for life.' This problem of life is possible to be solved by the scriptural knowledge of transcendence recorded in the Vedas or other similar literatures equally important like that of the Vedic literatures. Such Vedic literatures are made in record by self realised liberated souls and they are absolute. They are meant to revive spiritual consciousness of the conditioned souls entangled in the actions and reactions of the material world. But there are many so-called human beings who are no better than the lower animals because they have no interest in any other matter than the material necessities of life. Such materialistic men are differently classed in terms of developing the spiritual consciousness and the best class of men are those who have taken to the studies of the Vedic literatures containing transcendental knowledge. This stage of life is classified under different names of sectional religiosities, but most of them profess only under some particulars section of religiosity but actually they are as good as the animals because they have no other concern in life than to fulfill the desires of the senses to the best capacities. And out of the men who actually follow the instruction of the scriptures mostly they are attracted by the fruitful seemingly material good work which results in the fulfillment of sense gratification. Persons who profess a particular section of religion without any deep adherence of faith commit all sorts of mischievous acts which are forbidden in such transcendental literatures. These men are called impious men of the society and out of the pious men only the people are mostly attracted by fruitive action of good work recommended in the Vedas of different countries. These pious acts of the better class of men are also specified for better position of living condition which again is meant for better cultivation of spiritual knowledge. If a man is born in the family of materially well to do person, he should know it that he has been offered a better chance of living conditions for developing his lost spiritual consciousness and not for increasing the paraphernalia of sense gratification. Unfortunately these well placed men, specially in these days of Kaliyuga, the age of quarrel and fight, practically all of them are mostly misguided by circumstances and thus such men spoil the chance of better condition of life for another term of animal life. The class of men who knows these subtle laws of nature is called the learned philosophers. These learned philosophers do not indulge in the matter of self gratification like the animals but they try to elevate the spiritual position or self realisation making a restricted use of the senses necessary to live on under different methods, call it by any name. Such learned philosophers gradually, by dint of discussing the actual problems of life, become liberated persons for being situated in the mode of goodness of material nature. But even in this stage of philosophical conditions of the living being some of them are again attracted by the altruistic services and thus again fall down in the activities of material nature and only a few of them are able to come out successful as the liberated persons or persons who have no attraction for material enjoyment good or bad. These persons relieved from the clutches of material enjoyment but without any definite position of spiritual life are called the liberated persons.
Out of these liberated persons only who have no attraction for anything material in the shape of gain, adoration and reputation etc., can become a devotee of the Lord. The liberated persons are also at times attracted by material gain, adoration and reputation etc. but a devotee is not only not attracted by all these material enjoyments but also they are not attracted even by the dream of liberation from material bereavement.
Thus the devotee of the Lord is the only person who has completely discarded all sorts of material desires. To get rid from all sorts of material desires does not mean to stop the function of desiring as it is conceived by the empiric philosophers, but to become a desireless person means not to desire anything material but to desire for transcendental engagements only.
The living being is the eternal active force and it is not possible to make him non-active even in the liberated stage. The liberated stage means to become freed from the material diseases and to become freed from material diseases does not mean spiritual death. In the healthy stage of spiritual life the liberated person has no other desire than to serve the Supreme Lord while in the conditioned life of material existence the non-liberated person desires for sense gratifications. The ordinary class of fruitive workers who want to accrue good results of all activities for sense enjoyment are called the gross enjoyers. Persons who are disgusted with material enjoyment by some way or other decry the material enjoyment out of frustrations and desires for liberation. And persons who are engaged in the search of mystic powers for material enjoyment all of them are subtle enjoyers only and therefore they are not desireless. The devotee is the only person who can be called a desireless person because he has no attraction either for liberation or for perfection in the mysticism of subtle powers of the body and the mind.
The Srimad Bhagwat confirms this statement of fact in the 6th canto 14th chapter 4th sloka as follows:—
"Oh the great sage, it is very difficult to find out a really self satisfied devotee of Narayana the Personality of Godhead out of crores of liberated persons from material bondage and those who have achieved perfection in the mystic powers. If anyone, therefore, desires liberation from the darkness of material atmosphere, he can have that by culture of metaphysical knowledge and if anyone desires for material enjoyment he can have that by performances of sacrifices." (To be continued)