TLC 19 (1968)
The Goal of Vedanta Study
The transcendental ecstatic attachment for Krishna by perfectly understanding that Krishna the Person and Krishna the Name are identical is called Bhava. One who has achieved such Bhava is certainly not in the contamination of material Nature. He actually enjoys transcendental pleasure from such Bhava. And, when Bhava is more intensified, it is called love of Godhead. The Holy Name of Krishna is called the Maha Mantra (Great Chanting): therefore Lord Chaitanya explained to Prakasananda Saraswati that the Holy Name of Krishna has a specific influence on anyone who chants It and he can attain the stage of love of Godhead, or intensified Bhava. Such love of Godhead is the ultimate goal of human necessity. When one compares this love of Godhead with the other necessities of the human society, namely, religiousness, economic development, sense gratification, and liberation, they are seen as most insignificant. When one is absorbed in temporary designative existence, one hankers after sense gratification, or else after liberation. But love of Godhead is the eternal nature of the soul; it is unchangeable, without beginning, and it has no end; therefore, temporary sense gratification or a desire for liberation cannot compare with the transcendental nature of love of God. This love of God is called the fifth dimension in the human goals of life. Compared with the ocean of love of transcendental pleasure, the impersonal Brahman conception cannot measure as even one drop of water.
Lord Chaitanya now explained that His Spiritual Master had confirmed the ecstatic situation of His chanting the Holy Name of God, and had confirmed that the essence of all Vedic literature is the attainment of love of Godhead. His Spiritual Master said that Lord Chaitanya was fortunate enough to have attained such a stage of love of Godhead. By attainment of such transcendental love of Godhead, one's heart becomes very anxious to attain direct contact with the Lord; and with that transcendental sentiment he sometimes laughs, sometimes cries, sometimes sings; sometimes dances like a madman, and sometimes he traverses hither and thither.
There are various ecstatic symptoms of the body: crying, changing the color of the body, madness, bereavement, silence, feeling proud, ecstasy, gentleness, and, often, the person in love of Godhead dances. Such dancing puts him into the ocean of the nectar of love of Krishna.
Lord Chaitanya's Spiritual Master said to Him: "It is very good that You have attained such a perfectional stage of love of Godhead, and by Your attainment I am very much obliged to You."
The father becomes more enlightened when he sees his son advance beyond himself. Similarly, when the Spiritual Master sees a disciple advancing, he takes more pleasure in that than in his own advancement. Lord Chaitanya's Spiritual Master blessed Him, telling Him to "dance, sing and propagate this Samkirtan movement, and by instructing people about Krishna, try to deliver them from the nescience."
His Spiritual Master taught Him a very nice verse from Srimad Bhagwatam which is from the Eleventh Canto, Second Chapter: "A person who is constantly engaged in devotional service to Krishna by chanting His Holy Name becomes so transcendentally attached to the chanting that his heart becomes softened without any extraneous endeavor. In such a condition of softened heart he exhibits transcendental ecstasies, sometimes by laughing, sometimes by crying, sometimes by singing, sometimes by dancing—not exactly in an artistic way, but just like a madman."
Lord Chaitanya informed Prakasananda Saraswati, "I have full faith in my Spiritual Master's words, and therefore I am always engaged in the matter of chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. I do not know how I have become just like a madman, but the Name Krishna Himself induces Me to become so. I realize that the transcendental pleasure derived from chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, is just like an ocean and, in comparison, all other pleasures, including the pleasure of the impersonal conception, are like shallow water in channels."
It appears from the talks of Lord Chaitanya that a person who cannot keep his faith in the words of the Spiritual Master and thus acts independently cannot ever attain the desired success in the matter of chanting Hare Krishna. In the Vedic literature it is said that, for one who has unflinching faith in the Supreme Lord, and similar faith in his Spiritual Master, the import of the transcendental literature becomes revealed. Lord Chaitanya firmly believed in this statement of His Spiritual Master, and He never stopped His Samkirtan movement by neglecting the instruction of His Spiritual Master. Therefore, the transcendental potency of the Holy Name encouraged Him more and more in chanting Hare Krishna, or the Maha Mantra.
Lord Chaitanya immediately informed Prakasananda that people in general in the modern age are more or less bereft of all spiritual intellect. When such persons come under the influence of Sankaracharya's Mayavadi, or impersonalist, philosophy before beginning the most confidential Vedanta Sutras, their natural tendency toward obediance to the Supreme is checked. The Supreme Source of everything is naturally respected by everyone, but by the impersonalist conception of Sankara, this natural tendency is hampered. Therefore, the Spiritual Master of Lord Chaitanya suggested that it is better not to study the Sarirakabhasya of Sankaracharya, which is very harmful to people in general. Neither has the common man the intelligence to penetrate into the jugglery of words. He is better advised to chant the Maha Mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. In this quarrelsome Age of Kali, there is no alternative for self realization to the chanting of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra.
After hearing the arguments and talks of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, all the the Mayavadi Sannyasis who were present became pacified, and replied in sweet words: "My dear sir, whatever You have spoken is all true. A person who attains love of Godhead is certainly very fortunate. And undoubtedly You are very fortunate that You have attained such a stage of love of Godhead. But what is the fault in Vedanta that You do not study it, although it is the duty of a Sannyasi to read and understand Vedanta?"
According to Mayavadi philosophers, Vedanta means the Sariraka commentary of Sankaracharya. By "Vedanta" and "Upanishads," impersonal philosophers mean "according to the commentary of Sankaracharya," the greatest teacher of Mayavadi philosophy. After Sankaracharya came Sadananda Yogi, who said that Vedanta and Upanishads should be understood through the commentary of Sankaracharya. Factually, it is not so; for the Vedanta philosophy or the Upanishads there are many other commentaries made by the Vaishnava Acharyas, rather than those of Sankaracharya. Mayavadi philosophers influenced by Sankaracharya do not find any importance in the different Vaishnava philosophical understandings.
There are four different sects of Vaishnava Acharyas, called the Suddhadvaita, Visistadvaita, Dvaidadvaita, and Achintya Bhedabheda; and all the Vaishnava Acharyas have written commentaries on the Vedanta Sutra, which the Mayavadi philosophers do not recognize. Mayavadis make a distinction between Krishna and Krishna's Body, and therefore the worship of Krishna by the Vaishnava philosophers is not recognized by them.
Therefore, when the Mayavadi Sannyasis inquired from Lord Chaitanya as to why He did not study Vedanta Sutra, the Lord replied as follows: "My dear sir, you have inquired why I do not study Vedanta. In answer to this question I may speak something, if you won't be sorry on hearing it."
All the Mayavadi Sannyasis present said, "Now, we shall be very much pleased to hear You, because we see You are just like Narayan, and Your speeches are so nice that we are taking a great pleasure in hearing Your words. We are very much obliged to see You and hear You. Therefore, whatever You say, we shall be very glad to accept and hear patiently."
Then the Lord began to speak about Vedanta philosophy as follows: Vedanta Sutra is spoken by the Supreme Lord Himself. The Supreme Lord, by His incarnation as Vyasadeva, has compiled this great philosophical treatise, Vedanta Sutra. Vyasadeva's incarnation of the Supreme Lord means that He cannot be likened to the ordinary person, who has the four defects of material existence. The defects of the conditioned soul are: 1. he must commit mistakes, 2. he must be illusioned, 3. he must possess the tendency to cheat others, and 4. his senses must be all imperfect. When we speak of the incarnation of Godhead, we understand that He is transcendental to all these defects of the conditioned living entity. Therefore, whatever has been spoken and written by Vyasadeva is to be understood as perfect. The Upanishads and Vedanta Sutra aim at the same subject matter: the Supreme Absolute Truth; and, when we accept the import of Vedanta Sutra and the Upanishads directly, as they are stated, it becomes very glorious for us. But the commentary made by Sankaracharya is indirect, and is very dangerous for the common man, because, by understanding the import of the Upanishad in such an indirect, disruptive way, one becomes practically barred from spiritual realization.
According to Skanda and Vayn Puranas, "Sutra" means a condensed form of words, which carries meaning and import of immeasurable strength without any mistake or fault. "Vedanta" means the end of Vedic knowledge. In other words, any book which deals with the subject indicated by all the Vedas js called Vedanta. For example, the Bhagavad Gita is also Vedanta, because in the Bhagavad Gita we will find that the Lord says that the ultimate end of all Vedic research is Krishna, Therefore, Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagwatam, which aim only at Krishna, are to be understood as Vedanta.
In transcendental realization there are three divisions of knowledge, and they are called Prasthana Trai. The department of knowledge which is proven by Vedic instruction, like the Upanishads, is called Sruti Prasthan. Authoritative books indicating the same thing and written by liberated souls like Vyasa—for example Bhagavad Gita, Mahabarata and the Puranas, especially the Srimad Bhagwatam, the Maha Purana—are called Nyaaprasthana. From the Vedas we understand that the Vedas originated from the breathing of Narayan. Vyasadeva, Who is an incarnation of the power of Narayan, has compiled the Vedanta Sutra. According to the Sankara commentary there appears another name, Apantartama Rishi, who is also credited with having compiled the codes of the Vedanta Sutra. According to Lord Chaitanya, the Codes of Pancharatra and the codes of Vedanta are one and the same. The Vedanta Sutra, being compiled by Vyasadeva, is to be understood as spoken by Narayan Himself. From the whole descriptive literature about the Vedanta Sutra, it is understood that there were many other Rishis contemporary with Vyasadeva who also discussed this Vedanta Sutra. The following sages—Atriya, Asmara thyk, Audulomi, Karshnajini, Kasakritsna, Jaimimi, Badari, and other sages such as Parasarikarmandi—also discussed Vedanta Sutra.
Actually, in the first three chapters of Vedanta Sutra, the relationship of the living entities with the Supreme Lord is explained, and in the Third Chapter the discharge of devotional service is explained. In the Fourth Chapter the result of the relationship of discharging devotional service is explained.
The natural commentary on the Vedanta Sutra is Srimad Bhagwatam. The great Acharyas of the four sections of the Vaishnava community—namely, Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya, Vishnu Swami, and Nimbarka—have also written commentaries on the Vedanta Sutra in following the principles of Srimad Bhagwatam. At present the followers of all the Acharyas have written many books following the principles of Srimad Bhagwatam as the commentary on the Vedanta. Sankara's commentary on the Vedanta Sutra, known as Sarirakabhasya is very much adored by the impersonalist class of scholars. But commentary on the Vedanta from the materialistic point of view is completely adverse to the transcendental loving position of devotional service to the Lord. And, therefore, Lord Chaitanya said that the direct commentary of the Upanishad and Vedanta Sutra is glorious, and anyone who follows the Sarirakabhasya of Sankaracharya without following the direct path is certainly doomed.
Lord Chaitanya admitted that Sankaracharya was an incarnation of Lord Shiva, and Lord Shiva is one of the greatest devotees, a Mahajan of the Bhagwat school. There are twelve great authorities on devotional service, and Lord Shiva is one of them. Then, why did he adopt the process of Mayavadi philosophy? The answer is given in the Padma Purana, where there is a statement by Lord Shiva as follows: "The Mayavadi philosophy is veiled Buddhist philosophy." In other words, the void philosophy of Buddha is more or less repeated in the Mayavadi philosophy of impersonalism, althouth the Mayavadi philosophy claims to be directed by the Vedic conclusions. Lord Shiva thus admits that this philosophy was manufactured by him in the Age of Kali as a Brahmin boy to mislead the atheist class of men: "Actually, the Supreme Personality of Godhead has His transcendental Body, but I describe the Supreme as impersonal. Similarly, I have explained the Vedanta Sutra also on the same principles of Mayavadi philosophy."
In the Shiva Puranam there is one statement by the Supreme Lord: "In the beginning of the Dvapara Yuga, under My order, there will be many sages who will bewilder the people in general by Mayavadi philosophy." In the Padma Purana, Lord Shiva personally says to Bhagavati Devi: "My dear Devi, sometimes I speak Mayavadi philosophy for persons who are engrossed in the modes of ignorance. But anyone in the modes of goodness who happens to hear this Mayavadi philosophy falls. In the Mayavadi philosophy I say that the living entity and the Supreme Lord are one and the same."
Sadanada Yogi, one of the greatest Mayavadi Acharyas, has written in his book, Vedanta Sara, as follows: "Absolute Truth of eternity, knowledge and bliss is Brahman. Ignorance and all products of ignorance are non-Brahman. Any products out of the three modes of material Nature are covered by ignorance, and all are different from the Supreme Cause and effect. This ignorance is manifested in a collective and individual sense. Collective ignorance is called Visuddhasatvapradhana. When that Visuddhasatvapradhana becomes manifested within the ignorance of material Nature it is called the Lord, and the Lord manifests all kinds of ignorance. Therefore Hs is known as Sarvajna." According to the Mayavadi philosophy the Lord is the product of this material Nature, and the living entity is in the lowest grade of ignorance. That is the sum and substance of the Mayavadi philosophy.
If, however, we accept directly the import of the Upanishads, it is clear that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is a Person with unlimited Potency. For example, in the Brihadarnyak it is stated that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the Origin of everything, and He has multiple different potencies: "The Supreme Personality of Godhead is transcendental to the cosmic manifestation of His time through His material energy, and He is the Origin of all religiousness, and He is the Supreme Deliverer, and He is Possesser of all opulences. Let me understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Who is just like the Sun, profusely distributing His different energies, while beyond the cloud of this material cosmic manifestation. He is the Master of masters, and He is the Supreme of the supremes. He is known as the Greatest Lord, the Personality of Godhead. His energies and potencies are multiple, variously distributed." It is stated that Vishnu is the Supreme, and those who are saintly persons are always anxious to see the Lotus Feet of Vishnu. In the Aitariya Upanishad also it is stated that the Lord glanced over the material Nature, and thus the cosmic manifestation came about. This is also stated in the Prasna Upanishad.
When there is a negative description of the Lord in the Vedic literature, just like Apani Pada, such a Mantra indicates that the Lord has no material body, and that He has no material Form. But He has His Spiritual Body, He has His transcendental Body, and He has His transcendental Form. The Mayavadi philosophers misunderstand this transcendental nature of the Supreme Lord, and explain the Supreme Lord as impersonal. The Lord, His Name, Form, Quality, Entourage and Abode all being in the transcendental world—how can He be a transformation of this material Nature? Everything connected with the Supreme Lord is eternal, blissful, and full of knowledge.
So, in effect, Sankaracharya delivered this Mayavadi philosophy to bewilder a certain class of atheistic people. Actually, he never meant that the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead, is impersonal, with no Body or no Form. Therefore, the intelligent persons should not attend any lecture on Mayavadi philosophy. We should understand that the Supreme Personality of Godhead Vishnu is not impersonal. He is a transcendental Person. The basic principle of the cosmic manifestation is the energy of Vishnu. Mayavadi philosophy cannot trace the energy of the Supreme Lord, but in all the Vedic literature we have various evidences of the Supreme Lord's various mainfestations of energies. Vishnu is not the product of the material Nature, but material Nature is the product of Vishnu's potency. The Mayavadi philosopher understands that Vishnu is a product of this material Nature. If Vishnu is a product of the material Nature, He can be counted as one of the demigods. One who accepts Vishnu as one of the demigods is certainly mistaken and misled. And how he is misled is explained in the Bhagavad Gita: "My material energy is so powerful that it is very difficult to surpass the spell of material Nature, even for the greatest scholar."