Constitutionally, the Jīva is an Eternal Servant of Kṛṣṇa
The profound esoteric conclusions Lord Caitanya revealed in a few aphorisms of instruction to Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī are only partially discussed in all the works of Śrī Aurobindo. In language full of complex syntax and obscure terms, Śrī Aurobindo tries to express the knowledge that is easily available through the practice of vaidhi-bhakti, devotional service rendered according to regulations given by the authorized spiritual master and the scriptures. Because of his high-flown literary style, and for other technical reasons, Śrī Aurobindo's writings are not easily understood by the ordinary reading public, and so his literature is, in a sense, ineffectual.
Lord Caitanya discusses in detail the jīva's eternal constitutional position as Lord Kṛṣṇa's servant, and how the jīva is put into illusion, or māyā, when he tries to be the supreme enjoyer. Lord Caitanya further explains that when the jīva forgets his eternal position as a servant of Lord Kṛṣṇa, he becomes eternally conditioned and illusioned. Thus māyā inflicts the miseries of material life upon the jīva. If a person artificially tries to be something he is not, then he can expect only misery. In this regard we recall a short story we read as a child in school that tells of a crow who tried to become a peacock. The creator and master of this universe is its rightful owner as well. Thus He is the sole enjoyer of everything. But if one among the creator's many servants tries to usurp His position and play the role of the Lord and enjoyer, how can he expect anything but suffering?
In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.87.30), one of the four Kumāras, Sanandana, recites to an assembly of sages in Janaloka the prayers the personified Vedas previously recited to the Supreme Lord. One of the prayers is as follows:
- aparimitā dhruvās tanu-bhṛto yadi sarva-gatās
- tarhi na śāsyateti niyamo dhruva netarathā
- ajani ca yan-mayaṁ tad avimucya niyantṛ bhavet
- samam anujānatāṁ yad amataṁ mata-duṣṭatayā
If the countless living entities were all-pervading and possessed forms that never changed, You could not possibly be their absolute ruler, O immutable one. But since they are Your localized expansions and their forms are subject to change, You do control them. Indeed, that which supplies the ingredients for the generation of something is necessarily its controller because a product never exists apart from its ingredient cause. It is simply illusion for someone to think that he knows the Supreme Lord, who is equally present in each of His expansions, since whatever knowledge one gains by material means must be imperfect.
The last word in knowledge is certainly not self-realization or Brahman realization. There is more to realize - namely, that the jīva is the eternal servant of Lord Kṛṣṇa. This realization is the awakening of supramental consciousness, and the activities a jīva performs in such consciousness are the beginning of his eternal life. When the jīva performs all his activities under the direction of the Lord's internal, spiritual energy, he enjoys eternal transcendental bliss, which is a billion times grater than the happiness of Brahman realization. The difference in transcendental joy between the two is like the difference between the vast ocean and the water collected in a calf's hoofprint. When Śrī Aurobindo wrote of "the Divine Mother," he was likely referring to this internal, spiritual energy, the predominating Deity of eternal transcendental bliss. He also pointed out that the activities of the inferior, material energy should not be mistaken for those of this spiritual potency. Once the famous impersonalist and monist sannyāsī Ramana Maharshi of Madras was asked by a foreign disciple, "What is the difference between God and man?" His cryptic reply was "God plus desire equals man, and man minus desire equals God." We say that man can never be free of desire. In his eternal conditioned existence the jīva is full of the desire to enjoy matter, while in his eternal liberated state he is full of the desire to render devotional service to the Lord. Thus the jīva can never become God. It is sheer insanity to equate man with God, or vice versa. The Māyāvādī's unnatural desire to deny the inherent characteristics of his conscious self is the very same desire that keeps him from attaining liberation. Hence the Māyāvādīs' false and arrogant claim of liberation is merely a demonstration of their perverted intelligence.
According to the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, desire can never be nullified. While conditioned, the jīva is a repository of unlimited material desires, summarized as the catur-varga, the four goals of human life enunciated in the Vedic literature (religiosity, economic development, sense gratification, and liberation). However, in the liberated state produced by acting under the direction of the Lord's internal, spiritual energy, the jīva's true, spiritual desires become manifest. Śrī Aurobindo has discussed this subject (though not in detail), and for this we appreciate him more than Ramana Maharshi. Ramana Maharshi has more or less tried to completely choke the life out of desire. This forcible elimination of desire is spiritual suicide. There is no credit in finishing off the patient without curing his disease; the doctor is qualified when he can cure the disease and save the patient. Those who pursue the four Vedic goals mentioned above, even up to impersonal liberation, find themselves imprisoned by their senses and enslaved by their desires. On the other hand, one who can teach people how to engage their daily activities in the service of the Supreme Lord is the real benefactor of humanity.
In the Bhagavad-gītā (9.4) Lord Kṛṣṇa says:
- mayā tatam idaṁ sarvaṁ
- jagad avyakta-mūrtinā
- mat-sthāni sarva-bhūtāni
- na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ
By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in Them.
In His unmanifested impersonal form Lord Kṛṣṇa pervades this entire universe, which is a transformation of His external energy. Therefore all living entities in the material creation rest on His energies. Energy cannot exist by itself, without an energetic source. Thus the material energy and the Supreme Energetic, Lord Kṛṣṇa, are in principle one, though the Energetic is far removed from the workings of His energy. The jīva, being marginal, is moved by desire to serve either the manifestation of the Lord's external energy - this physical world - or the Lord Himself in spiritual world, which is an expansion of His superior, internal potency. In other words, in every situation the jīva maintains his constitutional position as a servant. Thus he cannot relieve the suffering he undergoes as a servant of this material nature by artificially giving up his desire to serve. Inherently a servant, the jīva can never forsake his desire to serve. But if he so desires, he can quit his bad service for a good one. He should abandon his service of the four Vedic goals, including impersonal liberation - which will altogether throttle the life out of his desire to serve - and carefully try to manifest his original spiritual desire to serve the Lord. Śrī Aurobindo has discussed this same point in the passage quoted above:
If the supermind could not give us a greater and more complete truth than any of the lower planes, it would not be worthwhile trying to reach it.
If a human being tries to exist without ego, desire, feelings, dislikes, and so on, he will be converted into inert matter. This is not spiritual elevation. When a person gradually progresses from materialistic perception to spiritual perception, he can clearly understand how trivial are his mundane desires, feelings, dislikes, and so on which were so long contaminated by ignorance. As this ignorance dissipates, mundane desires become insignificant. Desires remain, but they are no longer mundane. They become transcendental. In that state, one perceives Brahman, the Supersoul, and the Supreme Lord as one. Such higher perceptions are possible only when one's mind and senses are transcendental, a stage impossible to reach in one leap. Those who try the impossible are irrational and overambitious. Everyone has to proceed gradually, placing each step securely before taking the next one. In this way one will ultimately reach the goal.
In his essay entitled "Yoga," Śrī Aurobindo does not recommend destroying desire but rather changing its character. It is a perennial truth that the jīva is by nature an eternal servant of Lord Kṛṣṇa. The jīva has no other identity, whether he is conditioned or liberated. His position is similar to that of a citizen of a country: he is always subject to the government laws, whether he is in or out of jail. When he is inside the jail, all his activities are painful, but as a free citizen he feels content in everything he does. It is merely a matter of changing his character.
Similarly, even when the jīva refuses to serve the Supreme Energetic, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and instead serves His illusory energy, māyā, he remains a servant of the Lord. But in that condition he is ignorant of the bliss of devotional service to the Lord. Only when the jīva casts away his mundane characteristics can he experience transcendental joy in devotional service. Still, in no situation does the jīva ever give up his inherent nature as Kṛṣṇa's eternal servant, for he emanates from the Lord's marginal potency.