MG 7 Liberation in Krsna Consciousness
7. Liberation in Kṛṣṇa Consciousness
If we simply worship the original person (ādi-puruṣaṁ), we need not fear being misled by, anyone. Śrīdhara Svāmī, the original commentator on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, explains that one can reach the perfection of life simply by devotional service (kevalayā bhaktyā); one need not be dependent on any other process. Śukadeva Gosvāmī says that one can put an end to material life by one stroke (kevalayā). There is no need to first undergo severe penance and austerity, practice celibacy, control the mind and the senses, give in charity, perform great sacrifices and become very truthful and clean. Simply by one stroke - by accepting Kṛṣṇa consciousness - one immediately rises to the highest position. By just taking to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one develops all transcendental qualifications. The goldsmith uses a small hammer and taps the gold many times, but the blacksmith uses a large hammer and with one stroke his job is finished. This is the blacksmith's method: we take the big hammer of bhakti-yoga and finish all material life. There is no need to undergo the many lesser disciplines, nor to follow any other process. In actuality, there is no possibility of even following the other Vedic processes to perfection. For instance, the haṭha-yoga process would say: "You have to become a strict brahmacārī and sit in the forest with your body at a right angle to the ground, pressing your nose with your finger for six months." Who could follow such an instruction? Since such a method is not practical in this present age, the goldsmith method has to be discarded. The solution is to take the blacksmith's hammer of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and finish off all sinful reactions immediately.
By devotional service one has to become vāsudeva-parāyaṇa, a devotee of Lord Vāsudeva or Lord Kṛṣṇa. In other words, we have to learn how to become lovers of Vāsudeva. If the world takes up this Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the planet is certain to be peaceiul. Now the earth is quickly becoming a hellish planet, and if this Kṛṣṇa consciousness is not taken up, this hellish condition will progress despite all advances in education and economic development. Therefore those who are thoughtful should take this movement very seriously and try to understand its value. It is not something manufactured by one man or a group of disciples. It is authoritative and age-old, based on the Vedic literatures which date back thousands of years.
Nīhāram iva bhāskaraḥ. Bhāskara refers to the sun. The sun immediately dissipates mist or fog as well as darkness. As stated before, we should try to make the sun of Kṛṣṇa rise within our hearts. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta also it is stated that Kṛṣṇa is like the sun and that māyā, the illusory energy, is darkness. Yāhāṅ kṛṣṇa, tāhāṅ nāhi māyāra adhikāra: As soon as the sun of Kṛṣṇa is present, the darkness of māyā immediately disappears. Without following this process, it is very difficult to overcome the ocean of darkness, māyā. If we simply teach people to surrender unto Kṛṣṇa, God, all the fog and mist of illusion will disappear. The method is very simple: chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.
The more one goes on chanting, the more the darkness of many lives is dissipated. Ceto-darpaṅa-mārjanam: by chanting, one can cleanse the dust from the mirror of his mind and perceive things very distinctly. Thus one will know what he is, what God is, what this world is, what our relationship with God in this world is, how to live in this world, and what our next life is. Such knowledge is not taught in schools, where one is taught how to manufacture or acquire products for sense gratification. There is always a hard struggle going on involving man's attempt to dominate material nature. However, for every convenience he manages to produce, there is an inconvenience accompanying it. For example, recently some engineers designed an airplane which can fly at great speeds without danger. When the plane flies, however, it breaks windows all over the city. Our time is thus being wasted in constructing so many devices which give us temporary and artificial convenience at the price of a proportionate amount of inconvenience. This is all part of the law of karma, the law of action and reaction. For whatever we do, there must be a reaction by which we become entangled. That is stated in Bhagavad-gītā:
- yajñārthāt karmaṇo 'nyatra
- loko 'yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ
- tad-arthaṁ karma kaunteya
- mukta-saṅgaḥ samācara
"Work done as a sacrifice for Viṣṇu has to be performed, otherwise work binds one to this material world. Therefore, O son of Kuntī, perform your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in that way you will always remain unattached and free from bondage." (BG 3.9)
When one acts for sense gratification, work entangles him, whether the work be good or bad, but if one works for Kṛṣṇa (yajñārthāt karmaṇo), he will be free, regardless of the possible desirability of his work.
Not only does Śukadeva Gosvāmī recommend unalloyed devotional service, but he further says that by devotional service one's sinful activities will be negated. Every one of us is more or less sinful, for if we were not sinful we would not have been put into material bodies. As soon as one is free from sinful life, he is liberated and transferred to the spiritual world in a spiritual body. The whole process is to cleanse oneself from the contamination of sinful or material life.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said, "My dear king, those who are sinful can become purified from contamination by tapa-ādibhiḥ, practicing austerity." Śukadeva also said, however, that no one can become completely purified by executing this process of austerity. There are many examples of yogīs who practiced austerities but did not emerge completely pure. Viśvāmitra Muni, for example, was a kṣatriya who wanted to become a brāhmaṇa and therefore began to practice austerity. Later on, however, he became a victim of Menakā, a society girl of the heavenly planets. Because Viśvāmitra was not pure, he became entangled with her and begot a child. Therefore it is said that even if one performs austerities and penances, worldly circumstances are so implicating that somehow or other they will involve one again and again in the material modes of nature. There are many examples of sannyāsīs who give up the world, renouncing it as false, saying, "Let me turn to Brahman," but they again become entangled in the work of the world when they set up hospitals and perform philanthropic work and welfare activities. If the world is false, why are they attracted to welfare activities? The philosophy of Kṛṣṇa consciousness maintains that this world is not false but that it is temporary. God created this world, and He is true, so how can His creation be false? Because this is the creation of God, and God is the Absolute Truth, this creation is also true. We simply see it otherwise due to illusion. The world is a fact, but it is a temporary fact.
A person may claim something within this world to be his property, but that is a false claim. It is a fact that it is someone's property, but it is God's property (īśāvāsyam idaṁ sarvam). This does not mean, however, that the property is false. What is false is the claim to the property, which is based upon a puffed up false consciousness that the individual is the proprietor, the master, or God. Everyone desires to be master or proprietor of something, then minister, then president, and then God. When everything else fails, the living entity wants to become God. The tendency is there to want to become the greatest of all, but the fact remains that God is the greatest and the living entity is small compared to Him. The smallest is not false, and the greatest is not false, but when the small thinks that he is great, that is false.
We understand from Vedic literature that Brahman, or the spirit, is aṇor aṇīyāṁsam, smaller than an atom, and mahato mahīyāṁsam, greater than the greatest. As far as we can conceive, the space which contains the universe is the greatest, but Kṛṣṇa has shown millions of universes in His mouth. The greatness of God cannot be comprehended by the living entities, who are part and parcel of God. As living entities, we are very minute, infinitesimal, and God is infinite. Indeed, the magnitude of the individual spirit soul is so microscopic that it cannot be seen. One cannot even imagine it with his material senses. Therefore it is said that the spirit soul is smaller than an atom (aṇor aṇīyāṁsam).
Since the living entities and Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Lord, are both spirit, they are qualitatively one. Quantitatively, however, the Lord is great and the living entities are small. This fact can be accepted immediately on the basis of Vedic information. In Brahma-saṁhitā it is stated, yasyaika-niśvasita-kālam athāvalambya jīvanti loma-vila-jā jagad-aṇḍa-nāthāḥ: many millions of universes come out of God's body when He exhales, and they again disappear when He inhales. Simply by His breathing, millions of universes are created and dissolved. If this is the case, then how can the living entities claim proprietorship over anything? One's position is safe only in so far as he does not falsely declare himself to be God or proprietor. It has become fashionable to claim to be God, and fools accept such claims, but from the Vedic literatures we understand that God is not so cheap.
As long as we are not making puffed up egocentered claims, we are already liberated. There is no need to actually seek liberation. But as long as one thinks, "I am this body," he is not liberated. Liberation means knowing perfectly well that one's self is separate from the body. Therefore Śukadeva Gosvāmī said, prāyaścittaṁ vimarśanam: "Develop your knowledge; that will give you relief." Our knowledge is perfect when we come to know that we are very small particles of spiritual sparks, and that God, the supreme, the greatest spiritual identity, supplies all our necessities (eko bahūnāṁ yo vidadhāti kāmān). By knowing ourselves as minute particles, part and parcel of God, we can understand that our duty is to serve God. God is the center of all creation, of the whole universal body; He is the enjoyer, and we are His servitors. As this conception becomes clear, we become liberated.
Liberation entails freedom from all false conceptions. It is not that upon liberation one acquires ten hands. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam liberation is defined as muktir hitvānyathā-rūpam. Mukti means "to give up," and ānyathā-rūpam denotes a false conception of life. This is to say that when one is situated in his original constitutional position, having given up all false notions, he is liberated. It is also said in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that by the acquisition of knowledge, one becomes liberated immediately. That knowledge can be very easily acquired, for it is simple: God is great, and I am very small; He is the supreme proprietor supplying all necessities, and I am His servant. Who can challenge this? It is a fact. We are simply under the false impression that we are this or that, and this leads us to the ultimate false impression that we are God. Yet we do not consider what manner of God we are. A small bodily disorder will send us to the physician. One who claims to be the supreme, therefore, should be understood to have fallen to the last snare of māyā. One who is thus fallen cannot even be liberated, for he is bound by false impressions.
Only when one has attained proper knowledge can he actually be liberated. The stage of liberation is also called the brahma-bhūtaḥ stage. One who has attained this stage is characterized by Śrī Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad-gītā in this way:
- brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā
- na śocati na kāṅkṣati
- samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
- mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām
"One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments, or desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. And in that state he achieves pure devotional service unto Me." (BG 18.54)
The joy which follows realization arises from understanding, "I was illusioned by false notions for so long. What a fool I was! I was thinking that I was God, but now I can understand that I am God's eternal servant." Upon gaining such realization, one attains liberation and becomes prasannātmā, or jolly, for this is the constitutional position of the living entity.
There is no lamentation when one is in pure consciousness, for he knows that he is a small part, a spiritual spark protected by the Supreme Lord. Where then is there scope for lamentation? A small child feels free as long as he knows that his father is there. He thinks, "My father is standing by me, so I am free. No one can harm me." Similarly, when one surrenders to Kṛṣṇa, he has complete faith that he is not in danger because Kṛṣṇa is protecting him. One who is thus surrendered to Kṛṣṇa is not subject to lamentation or desire, whereas one who is not God conscious simply hankers and laments. He hankers for that which he does not possess, and he laments for that which he did possess but has lost. A God conscious person is not subject to such misery. If something is lost, he knows that it is God's wish, and he thinks, "God desired this, so it is all right." He does not desire anything, for he knows that all his necessities are being provided by Kṛṣṇa, the supreme father.
As soon as one understands his relationship to God, he realizes universal brotherhood, for he understands that all men and animals - indeed, all life itself - are all parts of the supreme whole and are therefore all equal. Seeing this, one does not envy, exploit or trouble another living entity. Thus one who is a devotee of Kṛṣṇa automatically develops all good qualities, for he is in the proper consciousness. Harāv abhaktasya kuto mahad-guṇā mano-rathenāsati dhāvato bahih. One who has developed Kṛṣṇa consciousness will manifest all the good qualities of the demigods. Indeed, it is stated, vāñcā-kalpa-tarubhyaś ca krpā-sindhubhya eva ca: A Vaisnava or devotee of Kṛṣṇa is an ocean of mercy to others. He gives the greatest gift to society, for society is in dire need of God consciousness. A Vaiṣṇava bestows the priceless gift of the mahāmantra, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. Simply by chanting this mantra, one can remain in a liberated state.
One should not think, however, that this state is simply a state of trance whereby one remains seated in lotus position in a corner for days on end. No, liberation means serving. One cannot simply say, "Now I have dedicated my life to Kṛṣṇa. Let me remain seated in samādhi." The standard of surrender must be maintained by niṣevayā, serving. As one serves the Supreme Lord, the Lord reveals Himself within the heart. The program of devotional service to the Lord is executed from morning to night. Indeed, Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā that one must engage in devotional service to Him twenty-four hours a day. It is not that we should meditate for fifteen minutes and then engage in all kinds of nonsense. The more we serve, the more dedicated to Kṛṣṇa we become; therefore a person should utilize whatever talents he has for Kṛṣṇa. There are nine processes of devotional service - hearing, chanting, remembering, serving, worshiping the Deity in the temple, praying, carrying out orders, serving the Lord as friend, and sacrificing everything for Him - and one should always keep engaged in at least one of these nine processes. One who is always engaged in Kṛṣṇa's service never becomes disgusted (bhajatāṁ prīti-pūrvakam). Service must be rendered with love, but in the beginning this may be difficult, and so one may become disgusted. As one makes progress in Kṛṣṇa's service, however, he will find it pleasing. This is indicated by Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad-gītā:
- yat tad agre viṣam iva
- pariṇāme 'mṛtopamam
- tat sukhaṁ sāttvikaṁ proktam
"That which in the beginning may be just like poison, but at the end is like nectar, and which awakens one to self-realization, is said to be happiness in the mode of goodness." (BG 18.37)
Once one has attained the spiritual platform, it is material service that actually becomes disgusting. For example, if one chants Hare Kṛṣṇa throughout his life, he will not grow tired of the names, but if one chants a material name over and over, he will soon become disgusted. The more one chants the names of Kṛṣṇa, the more he becomes attached. Thus service by śravaṇam and kīrtanam, hearing and chanting about Kṛṣṇa, is the beginning. The next process is smaraṇam - always remembering Kṛṣṇa. When one is perfect in chanting and hearing, he will always remember Kṛṣṇa. In this third stage, he becomes the greatest yogī.
Nor is progress in Kṛṣṇa consciousness ever lost. In the material world, if one begins to construct a factory but does not complete it, the factory is useless for all intents and purposes. If the construction is stopped and the building half finished, whatever money is invested is lost. This is not the case with Kṛṣṇa consciousness, for even if one does not come to the perfectional point, whatever work he does is his permanent asset, and he can begin from that point in his next life. Kṛṣṇa also confirms in Bhagavad-gītā that one who begins Kṛṣṇa consciousness cannot lose anything:
- nehābhikrama-nāśo 'sti
- pratyavāyo na vidyate
- sv-alpam apy asya dharmasya
- trāyate mahato bhayāt
"In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear." (BG 2.40)
In the Sixth Chapter of Bhagavad-gītā, when Arjuna asks about the fate of the unsuccessful yogī, Śrī Kṛṣṇa replies:
- pārtha naiveha nāmutra
- vināśas tasya vidyate
- na hi kalyāṇa-kṛt kaścid
- durgatiṁ tāta gacchati
"Son of Pṛthā, a transcendentalist engaged in auspicious activities does not meet with destruction either in this world or in the spiritual world; one who does good, My friend, is never overcome by evil." (BG 6.40)
The Lord then indicates that the unsuccessful yogī takes up his practice of Kṛṣṇa consciousness in the next life, beginning from the point where he left off. In other words, if one has finished fifty percent of the process in one life, in the next life he begins at fifty-one percent. Whatever material assets we accumulate in our life, however, are all annihilated at death, for we cannot take material opulence with us.
However, one should not think that he will do well to wait for the next life to attain Kṛṣṇa consciousness. We should try to fulfill the mission of Kṛṣṇa consciousness in this life. Kṛṣṇa promises us that one who becomes His devotee will come to Him without fail:
- man-manā bhava mad-bhakto
- mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru
- mām evaiṣyasi satyaṁ te
- pratijāne priyo 'si me
"Always think of Me. Become My devotee. Worship Me, and offer your homage unto Me. The result is that you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this, because you are My very dear friend." (BG 18.65)
When we think of coming to Kṛṣṇa, we should not think that we will be standing before a void or an impersonal bright light. Kṛṣṇa, God, is a person, just as we are persons. Materially we can understand that our father is a person, and that his father is also a person, and that his father's father is a person and so on back to the supreme father, who must also be a person. This is not very difficult to understand, and it is noteworthy that God is called the supreme father not only in the Vedas but in the Bible, Koran, and other scriptures. The Vedānta-sūtra also confirms that the Absolute Truth is the original father from whom everything has taken birth or emanated. This is also confirmed in the Vedas:
- nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām
- eko bahūnāṁ yo vidadhāti kāmān
"The Lord is the supreme eternal amongst all eternals and the supreme living entity amongst all living entities. He is maintaining all others." The desires and life symptoms displayed by all living entities are simply reflections of the desires and life symptoms of the supreme father. In other words, our desires are born because He has desires. Because we are part and parcel of God, we have all the instincts of God in minute quantity. The sex play and sex life which we see in the material world is but the perverted reflection of the love that is found in the spiritual world. This world is material because God is forgotten here, but once He is remembered the world immediately becomes spiritual. In other words, the spiritual world is that place where Kṛṣṇa is not forgotten. That is also the definition of the spiritual world given by Vedic literatures. We must therefore plan our lives in such a way that it will not be possible for us to forget Kṛṣṇa for a moment. In this way, by engaging in the service of Kṛṣṇa, we will therefore always live in Vaikuṇṭha or Vṛndāvana, the abode of Kṛṣṇa.
At present, due to our polluted consciousness, we are turning the world into a materialistic and hellish place, and because we are ignorant of our constitutional position, we have created innumerable problems, just as in dreams we create so many problems. But in actuality there are no problems. I may dream that I am in a great storm, or that I am being pursued, or that someone is taking my money, or that I am being devoured by a tiger, but actually these are all creations of my mind. Asaṅgo hy ayaṁ puruṣa iti śruteḥ. The Vedas say that the puruṣa (the ātmā or the soul) has no connection with all its dreamlike material activities. Therefore we must engage in this Kṛṣṇa consciousness process to awaken from this dreaming condition.
Above all the fruitive laborers, speculators, and mystic yogīs are the bhaktas, or devotees of Kṛṣṇa. A bhakta can be perfectly peaceful, whereas the others cannot because everyone but the bhakta, one who has pure love, has desire. A śuddha-bhakta is desireless because he is simply happy serving Kṛṣṇa. He does not know or even care whether Kṛṣṇa is God or not; he just wants to love Kṛṣṇa. Nor is he concerned with the fact that Kṛṣṇa is omnipotent or that He is all-pervasive. In Vṛndāvana, the cowherd boys and the gopīs did not know whether Kṛṣṇa was God or not, but they simply loved Him. Although they were not Vedāntists, yogīs or karmīs, they were happy because they were simple village girls and boys who wanted to see Kṛṣṇa. This is a very highly elevated position called sarvopādhi-vinirmuktaṁ tat-paratvena nirmalam, or the stage of purity in which one is liberated from all material designations.
Although the yogīs and jñānīs are trying to understand God, they are not aware of their illusory condition. Māyā-sukhāya bharam udvahato vimūḍān: They are fools because they are working hard for illusory happiness. There is no question of peace for them. The jñānīs or speculators, wanting to get relief from the hard work of this material world, reject this material world (brahma satyaṁ jagan-mithyā). Their position is a little higher than that of the karmīs because the karmīs have taken this material world as everything. They say, "Here we shall be happy," and their dharma, or religion, consists of trying to make a peaceful atmosphere within this material world. The fools do not know that this has been tried for millions of years but has never happened and never will happen. How can peace in the material world be possible when Kṛṣṇa, the creator Himself, says that this place is meant for trouble and miseries?
- ā-brahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ
- punar āvartino 'rjuna
- mām upetya tu kaunteya
- punar janma na vidyate
"From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place." (BG 8.16)
Duhkhālayam aśāśvatam: not only is this world full of suffering, but it is also temporary. One cannot simply agree to go ahead suffering the three-fold miseries and stay here. Even that will not be allowed. In this world, he will not only be punished while staying here, but he will also be kicked out at the end. One may accumulate a large bank balance or an expensive home, a wife, children, and so many amenities, and he may think, "I am living very peacefully," but at any day he may be told, "Please get out."
"Why?" he will ask. "It is my house, and it is paid for. I have money and a job and responsibilities. Why should I get out?"
"Just get out. Don't talk. Get out."
On that day a man sees God. "Oh, I did not believe in God," he may think. "But now here is God finishing off everything." Thus it is said that the demoniac recognize Kṛṣṇa as death, for it is at that time that He takes everything away from them.
Why do we want to see God as death? When the demon Hiraṇyakaśipu saw Kṛṣṇa, he saw Him as death personified, but the devotee, Prahlāda, saw Him in His personal form as his beloved Lord. Those who challenge God will see Him in His ghastly aspect, but those who are devoted to Him will see Him in His personal form. In any case, everyone will ultimately see God.
A person who is honest can always see Kṛṣṇa everywhere. Kṛṣṇa says, "Try to understand Me. Try to see Me everywhere." By way of facilitating this method, the Lord says, raso 'ham apsu kaunteya: "I am the taste of water." When we are thirsty and need a glass of water, we can drink it and feel happy, understanding that the power of water to quench our thirst is Kṛṣṇa. Similarly, as soon as there is sunrise or moonshine, we can see Kṛṣṇa, for He says, prabhāsmi śaśi-sūryayoḥ: "I am the sun and moon." At a further stage we can see Kṛṣṇa as the life force within everything, as He indicates in Bhagavad-gītā:
- puṇyo gandhaḥ pṛthivyāṁ ca
- tejaś cāsmi vibhāvasau
- jīvanaṁ sarva-bhūteṣu
- tapaś cāsmi tapasviṣu
"I am the original fragrance of the earth, and I am the light in fire. I am the life of all that lives, and I am the penances of all ascetics." (BG 7.9)
Once we understand that all things are dependent upon Kṛṣṇa for their existence, there is no possibility of His ever becoming lost to us. In Bhagavad-gītā the Lord indicates that all things abide in Him in both their beginning and in their end and also in the interim state:
- etad-yonīni bhūtāni
- sarvāṇīty upadhāraya
- ahaṁ kṛtsnasya jagataḥ
- prabhavaḥ pralayas tathā
- mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat
- kiñcid asti dhanañjaya
- mayi sarvam idaṁ protaṁ
- sūtre maṇi-gaṇā iva
"Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, know for certain that I am both its origin and dissolution. O conqueror of wealth (Arjuna), there is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls on a thread." (7.6-7)
Kṛṣṇa is easily visible, but He is only visible to those who are devoted to Him. For those who are envious, foolish or unintelligent, He obscures Himself with His veil of māyā:
- nāhaṁ prakāśaḥ sarvasya
- mūḍho 'yaṁ nābhijānāti
- loko mām ajam avyayam
"I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent. For them I am covered by My eternal creative potency (māyā); thus the deluded world knows Me not, who am unborn and infallible." (BG 7.25)
This eternal creative potency, or yoga-māyā, which obscures Kṛṣṇa to the unintelligent, is dissolved by love. This is the verdict of Brahma-saṁhitā:
- santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti
"One who has developed love for Kṛṣṇa can see Him within his heart twenty-four hours a day."
Those who thus see Kṛṣṇa are not anxious because they know where they are going at death. One who has taken the gift of Kṛṣṇa consciousness knows that he will not have to return to this material world to take another body but that he will go to Kṛṣṇa. It is not possible to go to Kṛṣṇa unless one attains a body like Kṛṣṇa's, a sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha body, a body full of eternity, knowledge and bliss. One cannot enter into fire and not perish unless he himself becomes fire, and similarly one cannot enter into the spiritual realm in a body that is not spiritual. In a spiritual body one can dance with Kṛṣṇa in the rāsa dance like the gopīs and the cowherd boys. This is not an ordinary dance, but the dance of eternity, in the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Only those who have become purified in their love for Kṛṣṇa can participate in it. One therefore should not take this process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness as something cheap, but as a matchless gift bestowed upon suffering humanity by the Lord Himself. Simply by engaging in this process, all the anxieties and fears of one's life, which in actuality revolve about the fear of death, are allayed.
The Universal Teacher
The following speech was given by Abhay Charan Das (His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda) before the members of the Śrī Gauḍīya Maṭha in Bombay, in February 1936, on the occasion of the appearance anniversary of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura.
- sākṣād-dharitvena samasta-śāstrair
- uktas tathā bhāvyata eva sadbhiḥ
- kintu prabhor yaḥ priya eva tasya
- vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam
"In the revealed scriptures it is declared that the spiritual master should be worshiped like the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and this injunction is obeyed by pure devotees of the Lord. The spiritual master is the most confidential servant of the Lord. Thus let us offer our respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of our spiritual master."
Gentlemen, on behalf of the members of the Bombay branch of the Gauḍīya Maṭha, let me welcome you all because you have so kindly joined us tonight in our congregational offerings of homage to the lotus feet of the world teacher, Ācāryadeva, who is the founder of this Gauḍīya Mission and the president - ācārya of Śrī Śrī Viśva-vaiṣṇava Rāja-sabhā - I mean my eternal divine master, Paramahaṁsa Parivrājakācārya Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja.
Sixty-two years ago, on this auspicious day, the Ācāryadeva made his appearance by the call of Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda at Śrī-kṣetra, Jagannātha-dhāma, at Purī.
Gentlemen, the offering of such an homage as has been arranged this evening to the Ācāryadeva is not a sectarian concern, for when we speak of the fundamental principle of gurudeva, or ācāryadeva, we speak of something that is of universal application. There does not arise any question of discriminating my guru from yours or anyone else's. There is only one guru, who appears in an infinity of forms to teach you, me, and all others.
The guru, or ācāryadeva, as we learn from the bona fide scriptures, delivers the message of the absolute world, the transcendental abode of the Absolute Truth. We have heard so many times: mahā-jano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ ("Traverse the trail which your previous ācārya has passed"), but we have hardly tried to understand the real purport of this śloka. If we scrutinizingly study this proposition, we can understand that the mahā-jana is one and the royal road to the transcendental world is also one. In the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad (1.2.12) it is said:
- tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigaccet
- samit-pāṇiḥ śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham
"In order to learn the transcendental science, one must approach the bona fide spiritual master in disciplic succession, who is fixed in the Absolute Truth."
Thus it has been enjoined herewith that in order to receive that transcendental knowledge, one must approach the guru. Therefore, if the Absolute Truth is one, about which we think there is no difference of opinion, the guru also cannot be two. The Ācāryadeva to whom we have assembled tonight to offer our humble homage is not the guru of a sectarian institution or one out of many differing exponents of the truth. On the contrary, he is the Jagad-guru, the guru of all of us; the only difference is that some obey him wholeheartedly, while others do not obey him directly.
In the Bhāgavatam (SB 11.17.27) it is said:
- ācāryaṁ māṁ vijānīyān nāvamanyeta karhicit
- na martya-buddhyāsūyeta sarva-deva-mayo guruḥ
"One should understand the spiritual master to be as good as I am," said the Blessed Lord. "Nobody should be jealous of the spiritual master or think of him as an ordinary man, because the spiritual master is the sum total of all the demigods." That is, the ācārya has been identified with God Himself. He has nothing to do with the affairs of this mundane world. He does not descend here to meddle with the affairs of temporary necessities but to deliver the fallen, conditioned souls - the souls, or entities, who have come here to the material world with a motive of enjoyment by the mind and five organs of sense perception. He appears before us to reveal the light of the Vedas and to bestow upon us the blessings of full-fledged freedom, after which we should hanker at every step of our life's journey.
The transcendental knowledge of the Vedas was first uttered by God to Brahmā, the creator of this particular universe. From Brahmā the knowledge descended to Nārada, from Nārada to Vyāsadeva, and from Vyāsadeva to Madhva, and in this process of disciplic succession the transcendental knowledge was transmitted by one disciple to another till it reached Lord Gaurāṅga, Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, who posed as the disciple and successor of Śrī Īśvara Purī. The present Ācāryadeva is the tenth disciplic representative from Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, the original representative of Lord Caitanya who preached this transcendental tradition in its fullness. The knowledge that we receive from our Gurudeva is not different from that imparted by God Himself and the succession of the ācāryas in the preceptorial line of Brahmā. We adore this auspicious day as Śrī Vyāsa-pūjā-tithi because the ācārya is the living representative of Vyāsadeva, the divine compiler of the Vedas, Purāṇas, Bhagavad-gītā, Mahābhārata, and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
One who interprets the divine sound, or śabda-brahma, by his imperfect sense perception cannot be a real spiritual guru, because in the absence of proper disciplinary training under the bona fide ācārya, the interpreter is sure to differ from Vyāsadeva (as the Māyāvādīs do). Śrīla Vyāsadeva is the prime authority of Vedic revelation, and therefore such an irrelevant interpreter cannot be accepted as the guru, or ācārya, howsoever equipped he may be with all the acquirements of material knowledge. As it is said in the Padma Purāṇa, sampradāya-vihīnā ye mantrās te niṣphalā matāḥ: "Unless you are initiated by a bona fide spiritual master in the disciplic succession, the mantra that you might have received is without any effect."
On the other hand, one who has received the transcendental knowledge by aural reception from the bona fide preceptor in the disciplic chain, and who has sincere regard for the real ācārya, must needs be enlightened with the revealed knowledge of the Vedas. But this knowledge is permanently sealed to the cognitive approach of the empiricists. As it is said in Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (6.23):
- yasya deve parā bhaktir yathā deve tathā gurau
- tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ prakāśante mahātmanaḥ
"Only unto those great souls who simultaneously have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed."
Gentlemen, our knowledge is so poor, our senses are so imperfect, and our sources are so limited that it is not possible for us to have even the slightest knowledge of the absolute region without surrendering ourselves at the louts feet of Śrī Vyāsadeva or his bona fide representative. Every moment we are being deceived by the knowledge of our direct perception. It is all the creation or concoction of the mind, which is always deceiving, changing, and flickering. We cannot know anything of the transcendental region by our limited, perverted method of observation and experiment. But all of us can lend our eager ears for the aural reception of the transcendental sound transmitted from that region to this through the unadulterated medium of Śrī Gurudeva or Śrī Vyāsadeva. Therefore, gentlemen, we should surrender ourselves today at the feet of the representative of Śrī Vyāsadeva for the elimination of all our differences bred by our unsubmissive attitude. It is accordingly said in Śrī Gītā (BG 4.34):
- tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā
- upadekśyanti te jñānaṁ jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ
"Just approach the wise and bona fide spiritual master. Surrender unto him first and try to understand him by inquiries and service. Such a wise spiritual master will enlighten you with transcendental knowledge, for he has already known the Absolute Truth."
To receive the transcendental knowledge we must completely surrender ourselves to the real ācārya in a spirit of ardent inquiry and service. Actual performance of service to the Absolute under the guidance of the ācārya is the only vehicle by which we can assimilate the transcendental knowledge. Today's meeting for offering our humble services and homage to the feet of the Ācāryadeva will enable us to be favored with the capacity of assimilating the transcendental knowledge so kindly transmitted by him to all persons without distinction.
Gentlemen, we are all more or less proud of our past Indian civilization, but we actually do not know the real nature of that civilization. We cannot be proud of our past material civilization, which is now a thousand times greater than in days gone by. It is said that we are passing through the age of darkness, the Kali-yuga. What is this darkness? The darkness cannot be due to backwardness in material knowledge, because we now have more of it than formerly. If not we ourselves, our neighbors at any rate have plenty of it. Therefore, we must conclude that the darkness of the present age is not due to a lack of material advancement, but that we have lost the clue to our spiritual advancement, which is the prime necessity of human life and the criterion of the highest type of human civilization. Throwing bombs from airplanes is no advancement of civilization from the primitive, uncivilized practice of dropping big stones on the heads of enemies from the tops of hills. Improvement in the art of killing our neighbors by means of machine guns and poisonous gases is certainly no advancement from primitive barbarism, which prided itself on its art of killing by bows and arrows. Nor does the development of a sense of pampered selfishness prove anything more than intellectual animalism. True human civilization is very different from all these states, and therefore in the Kaṭha Upaniṣad (1.3.14) there is the emphatic call:
- uttiṣṭhata jāgrata prāpya varān nibodhata
- kṣurasya dhārā niśitā duratyayā
- durgaṁ pathas tat kavayo vadanti
"Please wake up and try to understand the boon which you now have in this human form of life. The path of spiritual realization is very difficult; it is sharp like a razor's edge. That is the opinion of learned, transcendental scholars."
Thus, while others were yet in the womb of historical oblivion, the sages of India had developed a different kind of civilization, which enabled them to know themselves. They had discovered that we are not at all material entities, but that we are all spiritual, permanent, and indestructible servants of the Absolute. But because we have, against our better judgment, chosen to completely identify ourselves with this present material existence, our sufferings have multiplied according to the inexorable law of birth and death, with its consequent diseases and anxieties. These sufferings cannot be really mitigated by any provision of material happiness, because matter and spirit are completely different elements. It is just as if you took an aquatic animal out of water and put it on the land, supplying all manner of happiness possible on land. The deadly sufferings of the animal are not capable of being relieved at all until it is taken out of its foreign environment. Spirit and matter are completely contradictory things. All of us are spiritual entities. We cannot have perfect happiness, which is our birthright, however much we may meddle with the affairs of the mundane things. Perfect happiness can by ours only when we are restored to our natural state of spiritual existence. This is the distinctive message of our ancient Indian civilization, this is the message of the Gītā, this is the message of the Vedas and the Purāṇas, and this is the message of all the real ācāryas, including our present Ācāryadeva, in the line of Lord Caitanya.
Gentlemen, although it is imperfectly that we have been enabled, by his grace, to understand the sublime messages of our Ācāryadeva, Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Paramahaṁsa Parivrājakācārya Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, we must admit that we have realized definitely that the divine message from his holy lips is the congenial thing for suffering humanity. All of us should hear him patiently. If we listen to the transcendental sound without unnecessary opposition, he will surely have mercy upon us. The ācārya's message is to take us back to our original home, back to God. Let me repeat, therefore, that we should hear him patiently, follow him in the measure of our conviction, and bow down at his lotus feet for releasing us from our present causeless unwillingness for serving the Absolute and all souls.
From the Gītā we learn that even after the destruction of the body, the ātmā, or the soul, is not destroyed; he is always the same, always new and fresh. Fire cannot burn him, water cannot dissolve him, the air cannot dry him up, and the sword cannot kill him. He is everlasting and eternal, and this is also confirmed in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 10.84.13):
- yasyātma-buddhiḥ kuṇape tri-dhātuke
- sva-dhiḥ kalatrādiṣu bhauma ijya-dhīḥ
- yat-tīrtha-buddhiḥ salile na karhicij
- janeṣv abhijñeṣu sa eva go-kharaḥ
"Anyone who accepts this bodily bag of three elements (bile, mucus, and air) as his self, who has an affinity for an intimate relationship with his wife and children, who considers his land as worshipable, who takes bath in the waters of the holy places of pilgrimage but never takes advantage of those persons who are in actual knowledge - he is no better than an ass or a cow."
Unfortunately, in these days we have all been turned foolish by neglecting our real comfort and identifying the material cage with ourselves. We have concentrated all our energies for the meaningless upkeep of the material cage for its own sake, completely neglecting the captive soul within. The cage is meant for the undoing of the bird; the bird is not meant for the welfare of the cage. Let us, therefore, deeply ponder this. All our activities are now turned toward the upkeep of the cage, and the most we do is try to give some food to the mind by art and literature. But we do not know that this mind is also material in a more subtle form. This is stated in the Gītā (BG 7.4):
- bhūmir āpo 'nalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca
- ahaṅkāra itīyaṁ me bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā
"Earth, water, fire, air, sky, intelligence, mind, and ego are all My separated energies."
We have scarcely tried to give any food to the soul, which is distinct from the body and mind; therefore we are all committing suicide in the proper sense of the term. The message of the Ācāryadeva is to give us a warning to halt such wrong activities. Let us therefore bow down at his lotus feet for the unalloyed mercy and kindness he has bestowed upon us.
Gentlemen, do not for a moment think that my Gurudeva wants to put a complete brake on the modern civilization - an impossible feat. But let us learn from him the art of making the best use of a bad bargain, and let us understand the importance of this human life, which is fit for the highest development of true consciousness. The best use of this rare human life should not be neglected. As it is said in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 11.9.29):
- labdhvā sudurlabham idaṁ bahu-sambhavānte
- mānuṣyam arthadam anityam apīha dhīraḥ
- tūrṇaṁ yateta na pated anumṛtyu yāvan
- niḥśreyasāya viṣayaḥ khalu sarvataḥ syāt
"Human life is obtained after many, many births, and though it is temporary, it offers the highest benefits. Thus a sober and intelligent man should immediately try to fulfill his mission and attain the highest profit in life before another death occurs. He should avoid sense gratification, which is available in all circumstances."
Let us not misuse this human life in the vain pursuit of material enjoyment, or, in other words, for the sake of only eating, sleeping, fearing, and sensuous activities. The Ācāryadeva's message is conveyed by the words of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī:
- anāsaktasya viṣayān yathārham upayuñjataḥ
- nirbandhaḥ kṛṣṇa-sambandhe yuktaṁ vairāgyam ucyate
- prāpañcikatayā buddhyā hari-sambandhi-vastunaḥ
- mumukṣubhiḥ parityāgo vairāgyaṁ phalgu kathyate
"One is said to be situated in the fully renounced order of life if he lives in accordance with Kṛṣṇa consciousness. He should be without attachment for sense gratification and should accept only what is necessary for the upkeep of the body. On the other hand, one who renounces things which could be used in the service of Kṛṣṇa, under the pretext that such things are material, does not practice complete renunciation."
The purport of these ślokas can only be realized by fully developing the rational portion of our life, not the animal portion. Sitting at the feet of the Ācāryadeva, let us try to understand from this transcendental source of knowledge what we are, what is this universe, what is God, and what is our relationship with Him. The message of Lord Caitanya is the message for the living entities and the message of the living world. Lord Caitanya did not bother Himself for the upliftment of this dead world, which is suitably named Martyaloka, the world where everything is destined to die. He appeared before us four hundred fifty years ago to tell us something of the transcendental universe, where everything is permanent and everything is for the service of the Absolute. But recently Lord Caitanya has been misrepresented by some unscrupulous persons, and the highest philosophy of the Lord has been misinterpreted to be the cult of the lowest type of society. We are glad to announce tonight that our Ācāryadeva, with his unusual kindness, saved us from this horrible type of degradation, and therefore we bow down at his lotus feet with all humility.
Gentlemen, it has been a mania of the cultured (or uncultured) society of the present day to accredit the Personality of Godhead with merely impersonal features and to stultify Him by claiming that He has no senses, no form, no activity, no head, no legs, and no enjoyment. This has also been the pleasure of the modern scholars due to their sheer lack of proper guidance and true introspection in the spiritual realm. All these empiricists think alike: all the enjoyable things should be monopolized by the human society, or by a particular class only, and the impersonal God should be a mere order supplier for their whimsical feats. We are happy that we have been relieved of this horrible type of malady by the mercy of His Divine Grace Paramahaṁsa Parivrājakācārya Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja. He is our eye-opener, our eternal father, our eternal preceptor, and our eternal guide. Let us therefore bow down at his lotus feet on this auspicious day.
Gentlemen, although we are like ignorant children in the knowledge of the Transcendence, still His Divine Grace, my Gurudeva, has kindled a small fire within us to dissipate the invincible darkness of empirical knowledge. We are now so much on the safe side that no amount of philosophical argument by the empiric schools of thought can deviate us an inch from the position of our eternal dependence on the lotus feet of His Divine Grace. Furthermore, we are prepared to challenge the most erudite scholars of the Māyāvāda school and prove that the personality of Godhead and His transcendental sports in Goloka alone constitute the sublime information of the Vedas. There are explicit indications of this in the Chāndogya Upaniṣad (8.13.1): śyāmāc chavalaṁ prapadye śavalāc chyāmaṁ prapadye. "For receiving the mercy of Kṛṣṇa, I surrender unto His energy (Rādhā), and for receiving the mercy of His energy, I surrender unto Kṛṣṇa." Also, in the Ṛg Veda (184.108.40.206): tad viṣṇoḥ paramaṁ padaṁ sadā paśyanti sūrayo divīva cakṣur ātataṁ . . . viṣṇor yat paramaṁ padam. "The lotus feet of Lord Viṣṇu are the supreme objective of all the demigods. These lotus feet of the Lord are as enlightening as the sun in the sky."
The plain truth so vividly explained in the Gītā, which is the central lesson of the Vedas, is not understood or even suspected by the most powerful scholars of the empiric schools. Herein lies the secret of Śrī Vyāsa-pūjā. When we meditate on the transcendental pastimes of the Absolute Godhead, we are proud to feel that we are His eternal servitors, and we become jubilant and dance with joy. All glory to my divine master, for it is he who has out of his unceasing flow of mercy stirred up within us such a movement of eternal existence. Let us bow down at his louts feet.
Gentlemen, had he not appeared before us to deliver us from the thralldom of this gross worldly delusion, surely we should have remained for lives and ages in the darkness of helpless captivity. Had he not appeared before us, we would not have been able to understand the eternal truth of the sublime teaching of Lord Caitanya. Had he not appeared before us, we could not have been able to know the significance of the first śloka of Brahma-saṁhitā:
- īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ
- anādir ādir govindaḥ sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam
- (Bs. 5.1)
"Kṛṣṇa, who is know as Govinda, is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal, blissful, spiritual body. He is the origin of all, He has no other origin, and He is the prime cause of all causes."
Personally, I have no hope for any direct service for the coming crores of births of the sojourn of my life, but I am confident that some day or other I shall be delivered from this mire of delusion in which I am at present so deeply sunk. Therefore let me with all my earnestness pray at the lotus feet of my divine master to allow me to suffer the lot for which I am destined due to my past misdoings, but to let me have this power of recollection: that I am nothing but a tiny servant of the Almighty Absolute Godhead, realized through the unflinching mercy of my divine master. Let me therefore bow down at his lotus feet with all the humility at my command.
ABHAY CHARAN DAS
For Members, Śrī Gauḍīya Maṭha, Bombay