The "youth market" is a businessman's term which refers to the fact that, if you can find something which will get a lot of kids excised, you can exploit them (and their parents) right into the poorhouse with it. In the process, you will become rich as Croesus, or even Walt Disney. Among the very biggest youth market items, of course, is music. Not just any music, but, today, "message" music—the kind that purports to offer a fresh insight into reality, the kind that is supposed to be relevant to the listener's life and environment.
It is certain that, the problems of physical security having been largely overcome by their forbears, the newer generations have turned their attention toward other and more introspective matters. How to pay the bills is less of a concern to the young of today than how to be ... something, anything, someone, anyone. This is natural. Man is endowed with the intelligence to inquire after Truth Absolute, and as soon as the gross material needs of the body can be taken care of, such inquiry must arise. It must arise, that is, if the human being is to pursue the fulfillment of his own destiny.
What is sad is that the ever-flexible business world has not only rolled with the punch (an inquiry into values must inevitably view exploitative commercialization as a form of insanity), but has actually managed to congeal the amorphous spiritual interests of youth into a "market." One method by which this is done is through the elevation of a young songwriter/musician/singer (in the manner of Bob Dylan) to the position of demi-prophet for the young masses. Such artists become the idols of youth, worshiped as much for their intellectual abilities as for their good looks or musical excellence. They say a great deal about life and society, and it is all said with the utmost earnestness even when the artist protests too much that he has no message. And it sells records by the billions.
The artists themselves are not exactly frauds, however. They often believe, it seems, in their own messages—which is another tragic aspect of the situation. For we have now hundreds of young creative people who have become "leaders" of society in a very real sense, and who themselves believe in their own rights and abilities to lead. Yet when expressing themselves, it will be seen that few if any of our musical idols have got anything of importance to say. Clothed in new and generally obscure idiom, much that they write merely rehashes the eternal platitudes: love, peace, and in the end a stoical acceptance of death as the inevitable annihilation of self.
How to love, how to obtain peace, any practical program for the spiritual and moral regeneration of a Hollow Man civilization—these things are as lacking from the flashy songs of the new generation singers as they are from the mad acts of sheer destruction fostered by SDS and the black militants on campus. This is because, as we hope the whole world will soon discover, the positive side of life is entirely spiritual, and cannot be found, cannot be approached except through the actions of spiritual existence: devotional service to Krishna, the Supreme Spiritual Godhead.
It is our further hope that those who are serious about the problems (and answers) to life will inquire further into the science of God realization called Krishna Consciousness before taking it upon themselves to preach platitudes which (whatever their sales potential) have no relevance to the actual plight of humanity.
Two letters to the London Hare Krishna temple
Oct. 15, 1968
Please accept my humble obeisances. I am writing to you because within one week I have been influenced by Krishna Consciousness.
It started when I went to a rock 'n roll dance in London. I knew that the advertised "Radha Krishna Temple" was 6 devotees from the Temple in San Francisco, as I had read previously about it in the "New Yorker" magazine. Because of certain feelings, I did not join in—at first. However, I saw the devotees chanting, and those magic words, HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE!! So I finally gave in, and joined them, repeating over and over again. It certainly felt good afterwards.
Two days later, I went to Kirtan, at the devotees' private house. This time it hit me! I was lost in bliss, divine bliss! Soon, I learned all the devotees' names, Mukunda, Janaki, Shyamsundar, Malati, Gurudas and Yamuna. They invited me back again and after only 4 days since I first experienced chanting, they invited me to perform with them. I was overwhelmed!
Now, Krishna Consciousness really had a hold on me, and I can't believe it's all happened so Fast! Tomorrow I am going to move in with them, as Mukunda told me, for someone just entering into Krishna Consciousness, association with devotees is very important. I have shaved my head, so I am complete with a sika, and I hope you can understand how happy I am feeling at this moment. Although I know very little about Krishna or His life, I am so eager to learn. Already names like Lord Chaitanya, or Bhagavad Gita are starting to mean something to me. I am determined to devote my whole being to Krishna, and although we have not met, I long for the day we do—because if it were not for your Divine Grace, I would not be writing this letter and I would not be so happy at this moment.
I chant every day, naturally, and I am concentrating hard on chanting 16 times round the beads in 2 hours. I have also given up stimulants (which played a considerable part in my previous life), swearing, pre-marital sex, in any way. I gave up meat eating, over 6 months ago, because, after I had thought very hard about it, I decided that eating meat was really eating a warmed up corpse! And I like to see animals free and alive and I don't want them to die for me, it is as simple as that.
I can honestly say that Krishna Consciousness is the light in my darkness...
I remain, influenced,
Mr. Andy Anderson
My beloved God-brothers, Mukunda dasa, Shyamasundar dasa, and Gurudasa, and the Brahmachari (who was with us in the pick-up while going from Herne Hill to Drury Lane), and God-sisters.
I am grateful to you for giving me an opportunity to meet you on last Tuesday afternoon. I am impressed by your enthusiasm to spread Krishna's knowledge in this world, for which it will be indebted to you and in future you will be remembered as great pioneer-saints.
Success is yours; because Krishna dwells in your hearts and therefore His Shakti (power) is behind you. I look forward to the day when we shall have our own Krishna Temple in this city where we can chant His Holy Names, perform Puja (worship) and exchange our spiritual experiences.
Please do not think of me as a stranger. Ours is the only true relation—that of Krishna Consciousness. All others (worldly) are Mithya (imaginary). I should consider it a favour if you could kindly keep me informed of your activities. But when Swamiji's arrival date is fixed, please do let me know.
You are the real charmers; with Krishna's Names on your tongues you are performing the Wonder of Wonders—turning beastly humans into Godly saints, for which you deserve Krishna's special grace. As you are Jnanis (those who know), it is not for me to remind you that no service goes unrewarded by Krishna.
So, my beloved God-brothers and God-sisters, Godspeed to you,
By Uddhava das
All conscious activity, whether in the course of duty or in defiance of duty—depending upon the individual temperament—is regulated by what Freud called the "pleasure principle." Few will argue the fact that whatever action a living entity does, he does to produce a certain amount of pleasure in his life. With this in mind, we would like to consider what the highest form of pleasure—the ultimate state of conscious existence—may be.
From the teachings of Lord Krishna in The Bhagavad Gita As It Is, we learn that the relationship we have with Nature is maintained through the five senses of seeing, tasting, touching, smelling and hearing. This relationship is kept under control by the mind and intelligence, and it is kept in perpetual motion by desires for pleasure. This means that if one has a desire, say for a particular type of food, by his intelligence he can decide how to obtain that food, and through the mind one then sets his senses in motion to get the wanted morsel: the ears to hear of where it maybe, the nose to smell it, the eyes to see it, and the fingers to bring it to the mouth where the tongue can taste it. Doing this, one is satisfied for some time and finds himself in a state known as pleasure.
If, however, there is some desire which the senses are not able to obtain, or for some reason one's surroundings cannot supply what one longs for, then one finds oneself in a state known as displeasure or misery. So, pleasure can be described as that condition where sense desire is fulfilled, and misery as one where it is not. It logically follows, then, that the highest state of pleasure is where the senses can be fully satisfied all the time.
For this state of pleasure to be obtained, two things are necessary—a body or set of senses able to obtain the desire, and surroundings that can constantly supply what is desired. Man has always been working towards these two goals: to have a perfect body set in perfect surroundings. What keeps him working so hard in this direction, of course, is the fact that his present body and surroundings are incapable of producing for him a constant state of pleasure. We should now wonder why our bodies and environment cannot bring us this state.
The great minds of science teach us that everything in the universe is composed of units of energy which they call atoms. This is true of both our bodies and our surroundings. Biologists tell us that the cells in our bodies are always dying and that new cells are always being born to replace the ones that fail. In this way, all the cells in the body are replaced every seven years. This can be noticed as a baby turns into a young boy, who turns again into a young man. At the end of life this same person has the body of an old man, and soon after that, after death, there is no body left at all.
The environment of the living entities is made up of matter which is also changing. Man's surroundings are his house, his clothes, his food, his associates, his job, his philosophy, his country and so on. A man may get some enjoyment from these objects, but what if his house burns down, he loses his job, he has no food, or some other equally depressing calamity occurs? Then he finds himself in a state of misery unless or until he can adjust to the circumstances.
Adjustment is the main business of the human being. To be in a state of pleasure he must constantly adjust to his own changing tastes as much as to his changing environment. Always his mind and body are changing and always his environment is changing. What chance, then, is there for him to ever find permanent pleasure in this world?
What naturally follows is for man to find an escape from this frustrating existence in one way or another. Contemporary society has often been described as a drug-addicted society. Millions of people wake up in the morning and reach instantly for a cigarette, go to the bathroom and take bromides to combat the effects of last night's alcohol. Their breakfast consists of coffee and more cigarettes. At work on their coffee breaks—more cigarette smoke enters their lungs. Lunch consists of plastic-wrapped sandwiches treated with at least one chemical preservative. At night one may relax with a nice drink of alcohol and more cigarettes or, as it is becoming more fashionable to do, a polite puff or two of marijuana. Occasionally the body reacts unfavorably to all these drugs, so we go to a doctor who prescribes more drugs to make us still more nervous.
Aside from these oral methods of forgetting the perpetual frustrations of the world, there are also mental pathways of escape such as the movies, literature, music and television.
This desire to escape from the frustrations of material existence is not a new or exclusive activity of modern civilized society. It is age old, as old as the material universe itself, for that is the basis of this frustration—the incompatibility of the living soul in a world of dead matter, the machine of Nature.
Actually, today's escapism is a perverted reflection of the first step back towards spiritual life. Disentanglement from mundane duality is called, in the teachings of Lord Krishna, "Nirvana." A simple definition of Nirvana is a state free from suffering. This state is very inviting to the living entity because it offers, above all, peace. But we learn in The Bhagavad Gita that if one does not try to go further—beyond Nirvana—he misses the whole point of spiritual life.
When a living entity escapes from the sufferings of this world it is called Nirvana. When he works to go beyond Nirvana he is on the path to self realization; or in other words, understanding what his real, positive identity is.
As mentioned above, our connection with material Nature is through the five senses, the mind and intelligence. If we analyze, though, asking, What am I? we will come to some surprising revelations about the senses. Am I this hand ? No, because if this hand is cut off I remain. Am I this body? No, because this body is always changing, while I remain. As we go on in this way, we can discover that the mind is always changing in the form of changing tastes and impressions, and that intelligence changes because we learn to do things differently; but at every step, I—my real self—remain unaltered.
Eventually, by this process of reasoning, one can come to the conclusion that he is pure consciousness that does not change. We can tell that this consciousness does not change because always, at every step, we are wishing we had three abilities: to live forever, to know everything, and to always be happy. Our desire for these three things never really changes, and we exist as something conscious of the desire for these three items.
The material body cannot supply these three items; the mind cannot "think" one into eternal life, intelligence cannot construct any plan whereby one can live forever. The only reasonable conclusion is that I am consciousness, and that I am not sure of the exact nature of this consciousness.
Whenever there is a discussion about eternity, full knowledge and complete happiness, God automatically enters into the conversation. God is generally described as eternal, all-knowing and completely content—One without a second. Because the living entity has a desire for these three properties, we can understand that there must be some relationship between himself and God.
In the Fifteenth Chapter of The Bhagavad Gita, the Lord speaks of the living being as a fractional part of His Own Self. If we can accept this teaching, then we can see that, since the living entity is part of God, the position of eternity, knowledge and happiness is constitutionally his. Still, the material body does not live forever, cannot know everything and is not always happy. Therefore, this material body cannot be accepted as the constitutional situation of the living entity, and this material world is not his real home. His real home is the perfect place and his real body is the perfect body.
The further teaching of Lord Krishna in The Gita, and of all the world's great scriptural writings, is that we can be in that perfect place with that perfect body simply by becoming fully aware of our relationship with God. This awareness of God is called Krishna Consciousness or God consciousness. Within this process of developing total awareness, one must have active service, and that activity is the ultimate message and conclusion of all spiritual considerations, including this essay.
The highest pleasure of the living entity is to love God. All scriptures confirm this truth directly; In every holy book of the world there are passages where God instructs that the highest joy of life is to love Him, and this indicates that the Lord's presentation of scripture to mankind is for the purpose of offering him lasting ultimate pleasure—not out of need, because Krishna is the supreme independent Source of all being, but out of a desire to benefit the living entities whom He loves.
1. The spiritual welfare of the people must be seen as the highest aim of human civilization
That people gather together for mutual benefit is an old schoolbook axiom. Whether it is true, as Rousseau and others have declared, that this is the original basis of human society, it is surely one good reason people stay together. And the concept of the "social contract" is to a large extent the underlying principle of modern civilization.
However, just what it is that does benefit the people may be questioned. Contemporary man has directed his institutions as well as much of his individual life's energy toward the development of material comforts and luxuries, in what he calls "the conquest of Nature." To be sure, the laws of Nature—survival of the fittest, the very struggle for existence itself—are cruel, and it is truly in the character of man to attempt to reverse or escape them. In a sense, civilization is the leaguing together of men in order to transcend the bonds of Nature.
But a perpetual warfare to subdue the material world, being warfare after all, must keep us in the very bondage we want to avert. The materialist who assumes on the one hand that matter is all-in-all, and on the other that he can rise above the laws of material Nature by conquest, is laboring under an obvious misconception. If nothing lay outside the boundaries of Nature with her harsh strictures, then all attempts to surpass Nature would be patently impossible. And so, the very fact that we wish to conquer matter indicates an unspoken faith in our existence above and beyond it.
The fact is that man does strive to escape the laws of Nature—to seek a life of eternity and ecstasy which instinct perceives as possible even when reason has rejected its plausibility.
Further, we should face the reality that the gigantic machine complex we now call civilization—being no more than a grotesque, lifeless mockery of the organic world—has not made us content. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami has likened the accomplishments of technological man to zeroes, which take up space on a page but do not have value. Even a million zeroes all added together amount to nothing. It is only when a number—1, for example—is added to the left that the zeroes become substantial. With a numeral 1 before them, of course, a million zeroes add up to quite a lot.
So, in terms of the Swami's equation, civilization today is not so much a failure as it is unfulfilled. It lacks that 1, and that 1 is found through the understanding that "man does not live by bread alone," that there are spiritual values which lie outside the scope of Nature, and which are the true values for humanity to live by. That 1 is Krishna, God, the Supreme Spirit .
Given this center of gravity, human civilization is capable of rising to incalculable heights. It is capable of offering real fulfillment to its members, on the platform of spiritual—that is to say, eternal and blissful—consciousness, in the love of God.
2. Society should be organized to promote spiritual fulfillment in the populace.
A civilization which claims to exalt individualism but which tries to blanket everyone with the same laws, customs, responsibilities and rights is clearly self-contradictory. The Vedic writings offer us a science of societal organization which is capable of meeting men's seemingly contradictory needs for both communal security and individual character development. That this great science once degenerated into the caste-by-birth system and thus served to weaken and corrupt Hindu civilization should not be taken as a final judgment against it. It did, after all, offer a sufficiently strong structure to uphold the most long-lived civilization of which we have any knowledge, one not yet perished from the world stage.
This system, correctly called "Varnashram Dharma," gave two sets of outlines for social organization, one vertical and the other horizontal. The four divisions by occupation, or "caste," offered, originally, not restrictions but opportunities for young students to take up certain types of work at an early age—according to exhibited inclination. This sort of individualized preparation for a life-long career is capable of standing amongst the most progressive concepts in education today.
According to training in the Vedic system, one might take up the career of an administrator or soldier (Kshatriya), that of an intellectual or priest (Brahmin), that of a businessman or farmer (Vaishya), or that of a laborer or servant (Sudra). These are not divisions of society which have disappeared. They exist today as much as in the past. And it might be seen that a more stable and happy populace could be created by the introduction of specialization at an earlier level than we find in our contemporary school system. The present method of imparting a little dose of everything—and a great dose of nothing—into each student regardless of his personality has been so widely criticized by the eminent educators of this century that it is unnecessary to take up the matter at any greater length here.
The horizontal divisions of society advised in the Vedic writings are likewise four: student life, household life, retired life and the renounced order. The vertical caste system was meant to promote material well-being and security, and it was from this stable platform that man could rise to achieve his true purpose, in the quest for God realization, the ultimate fulfillment. This was done by progressing through the four stages of life:
1. The word for student life in the Vedic context is "Brahmacharya, and it is significant that the same word means celibacy. For student life in terms of spiritual fulfillment is a time not only of occupational training, but a formative period when it is possible to instill a sense of detachment in the young. This, of course, is in direct contradistinction to our present curriculum, which seeks to stimulate ambition, aggressiveness and competition.
2. Passing from student life, a man who follows the Vedic principles may either enter directly into the renounced order—the complete submission to God in devotional service—or he may marry and take up his career. As a householder, he is expected to support the entirety of the community, for students, the retired and the renounced order are not involved with practical affairs. Such responsibility perhaps helps dim the glamor of householder life, which might otherwise prove too great an entanglement in material existence. It also permits the other members of society to take up the business of spiritual advancement in complete seriousness, for, of course, the benefit of all.
3 & 4. The retired man is a householder who, at late middle age, tries to loosen his attachments by making pilgrimages with his wife, and by leaving all business affairs in the hands of his children. This is a preparation for the final stage—the renounced order of life—when utter detachment from family and home is undertaken. The mendicant in this last stage lives solely at the mercy of God, his mind, activities and words fixed on transcendence.
In The Bhagavad Gita As It Is, in the Fourth Chapter, Lord Krishna states that these divisions of society were created by Him from the beginning. They are not unnatural or oppressive conditions. They cannot, all the same, be imposed upon mankind by statute or constitution. They will develop naturally as the transcendental consciousness of humanity advances, in accordance with the first of our points. They are mentioned here mainly because they do offer a practical pattern for social organization at a time when the world sorely needs an alternative to such tasteless proposals as capitalism, Communism, socialism and other materialistic cages on the one hand, and the sort of narrow religious intolerance and brittleness represented by feudal Europe (and caste-Hindu India) on the other. The principles of Varnashram will be found, in the end, to present far the most adaptable, practical and spiritually wise concept of human civilization ever to have existed.
3. The true aim of education must be seen as the direct realization of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Contemporary education in the West sees learning more or less as a weapon in the national, racial and personal competition which forms the basic world view of materialistic man. But in the Vedic concept, where spiritual welfare is the true standard of success, education has a somewhat different purpose. The brahmin, or intellectual, is one who knows of "Brahman"—the Absolute. He may or may not be versed in worldly affairs—as in our own society, the scholar is here the guardian of practical as well as theoretical wisdom—but he must be in knowledge of God, following the principles of regulated life found in the Vedas. And his foremost duty is to impart this knowledge of God to his fellow man—with or without remuneration.
"Direct realization" is a way of saying that mankind need not dream or speculate or theorize about God. God is not an abstraction. He is a reality, and "realization" means to experience the absolute reality of God directly for oneself. One who can teach this process of personal confrontation with Krishna, the Godhead, is a true intellectual and a true teacher—and a true benefactor of the human race.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness was formed largely with this purpose in mind. A.C . Bhaktivedanta Swami, who founded the organization, has written: "As for the administrative class of men, the mercantile class and the laborer class, there are many institutions for training. But to train a first class intellectual in spiritual life there is no institution the world over. So this Krishna Consciousness movement is trying to help human society on this point. We have therefore taken a large tract of land in West Virginia, which we've named New Vrindaban. We want to train students to become first class intellectuals, and to instruct the whole of human society about the aim of life, which is Krishna Consciousness—God consciousness.
4. Centers for the study and practice of love of Krishna should be opened throughout the world
There are six recognized stages for rapid advancement in God realization. These are: 1) faith—the determination to follow the principles of spiritual life in the first place; 2) association—the practice of congregating with people of like determination; 3) following the rules and regulations—specifically, to chant the Names of God (the Hare Krishna Mantra) and to avoid meat-eating, intoxication, gambling and unmarried or illicit sex; 4) doubts disappear—which is a result of following regulative precepts; 5) attachment to the Lord develops—from which point one is securely fixed in the Absolute Truth; and 6) love of Krishna—the final, sublime perfection—appears within the heart. Of these six, the second is mentioned here as a specific point toward the advancement of world civilization. The association with other devotees of God, and especially with saintly persons who can teach the message of love of Krishna, is extremely important for one who is serious about spiritual advancement. Without the sort of association that such centers of Krishna Consciousness will provide, it is very difficult to maintain the high standards required for spiritual perfection in a world given over largely to material sense gratification, garbed occasionally, it is true, in the hypocrite's cloak of ritualistic or traditional religion.
5. All natural resources must be viewed not as objects for man's exploitation, but as the exclusive property of God.
This point, along with 6, 7 and 8 are developed at considerable length in "Sri Ishopanishad," A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami's translation with commentary, elsewhere in this issue. It may be worthwhile only to mention here that, based as these points are on the universal conception of God at the center of existence, they offer the transcendental viewpoint required to carry through the sweeping programs of reform in the areas of conservation, ecology, poverty, famine, justice and disarmament—as well as political unification—which are essential for the continuance of human life on this planet.
6. The entire world economy must be taken as a single unit.
This is an extension of the ideals of the Common Market, the Socialist Commonwealth and even of the American Federal system. It is a solution to innumerable problems within the world, a solution so imperative, so logical and—thanks to modern technology—so practicable that one wonders why it doesn't make political news. The reason is probably that the spiritual basis for such a concept has long been lacking from our world. And, when it was present in such forms as Islam and Christianity, the God-centered concept became not a goal, but a tool in the hands of the greedy. The proper way to world unification, however, can be found in the science of Krishna Consciousness, and must be based on the five points preceding this one. In this way, the process will be effective.
7. False standards of wealth must be abandoned in the world economy.
The present writer shudders at the thought of even mentioning the complex system of trade and coinage now plaguing the world. But the fact of its artificiality—and of its continual decline into crisis—ought to bring a good many thinkers to question this system, and to seek a better one, one offered as an outgrowth of the God-centered concept taught in Sri Ishopanishad. By the standards of this concept, men will seek to simplify rather than complicate the physical and material aspects of life, in order to create free time which can be devoted to the practice of God consciousness. The serenity of a civilization so oriented is worth considering.
Oddly enough, the burgeoning of electric technology has not ruled out this concept of society, but has actually made it possible on a scale never before practical. The security and comfort once available only in the city can today be extended to all the corners of what Marshall McLuhan has termed the "global village."
Even within our great megalopolises, the "neighborhood" still testifies to the tendency in man toward small, simplified units of society. Only the formal conceptualization—and the political acceptance—of the neighborhood or village as a real administrative unit is lacking today. Yet this is surely the solution to the dilemma of "urban sprawl," and more and more groups both professional and lay are recognizing the fact.
8. The personal rights of all life forms must be seen as sacred, to the same extent that man's rights are sacred.
Volumes have been, can be and will be yet written on this subject. But the Vedic directions (again outlined more fully in Sri Ishopanishad) are simple: all living beings are the children of God, and Krishna, God, doesn't favor one above another. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami has written: "The foolish idea that plants or animals or other living entities have no life is the basic cause of human sin." He has further said: "Animals are the less intelligent children of God, and because they cannot make protest, you kill them. But no father permits the intelligent sons to kill the useless sons. The father loves all the children, and if the intelligent ones use their intelligence cruelly against the others, there will be punishment."
9. The simple, effective structure of village life should be encouraged through decentralization of congested urban areas and the implementation of agricultural life.
The overall principle governing human life and civilization, from the spiritual viewpoint. is simplicity. Material needs can be summed up in four categories: eating, sleeping, mating and defending. To satisfy these needs in the most basic fashion, thus liberating time and energy for the quest of spiritual realization, is the goal of Vedic organizational schemes. This is a goal obviously determined by the understanding that it is realization of God—complete absorption in the eternal, transcendental pastimes of love of Krishna—which is the ultimate and actual fulfillment of life.
The brilliant success of the capitalist economic system in the West—especially in the U. S. offers a useful contrast to this Vedic system. The industrial development of the West has served the purpose of liberating great quantities of time, but because of a basically materialistic concept of life, the people of the western nations have so far failed to develop any positive principle or meaning to existence, as the rampant nihilism exhibited in the young seems to demonstrate. What is required now—and quite desperately required—is this positive recognition of the supremacy of God, and of the unrivalled importance of the quest for realization of God as the essential business of human life. And we need quite rationally and pragmatically—words chosen deliberately—to dare to construct a new, far more spiritual world civilization to serve these highest interests of man.
by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur
This important figure in the field of devotional service appeared in India in 1838, and with the help of his son, Sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami, rejuvenated the Hare Krishna Movement begun nearly 400 years earlier by Lord Chaitanya. It was Srila Bhaktivinode who first urged that this message be preached to the Westem world, and he was the first true devotee to write in English on the subject of Vedic religion. The article published here was written in 1896, and the lucidity and simple force of the great Thakur's presentation go far to show us the transcendental timeliness of his mission.
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu—properly known as the "Avatari," or Source of all incarnations of God—appeared in India in 1486 A.D. In a previous issue (no. 20), we published a brief sketch of His life and activities in initiating the Hare Krishna Movement, in chanting and dancing to the Lord's Names. In the present article, we examine the precepts of this sublime Apostle of Love of Krishna, as they come to us from one of the great saints in Chaitanya's line of disciplic succession.
Lord Chaitanya teaches us in the first place that the rational attributes of men are not capable of approaching the divine sphere of spirit. "Jukti," as He styles reason, is quite incompetent in such a matter. "Ruchi," as He styles the religious sentiment in man, even in very small quantity has the power to comprehend it. It is inspiration which can alone give light to spiritual matters. Inspirations coming down from heaven through purified blessed souls have exhibited themselves in the form of the Vedas. The Vedas, together with their explanatory notes, the Puranas, are therefore the only evidence in matters of spirit, and are eternal in nature.
Vedic truths should, then, be accepted as the only truths in higher matters. Reason, while sincerely helping inspired truth, may be accepted as auxiliary evidence. The Vedas teach us, according to Chaitanya, nine principal doctrines, which are:
1) Hari, the Almighty, is one without a second.
We must explain these points one by one:
1. Hari the Supreme Being is one without a second. In Aryan theology the creative principle of the Deity is personified in Brahma, and the destructive principle in Shiva. Indra is the head of some lower elements, in terms of administration. Hence, they are not the Almighty Himself, but are different representations of different attributes. They have obtained their powers from an original Fountainhead. Hence, they are subordinate beings in the service of Hari or Bhagavan, the Personality of Godhead.
Then again there are three distinct philosophical ideas of the Deity, i. e., (i) the idea of the negative Brahman of the pantheistic school, (ii) the idea of a universal soul, "Paramatman," of the yoga school, and (iii) the idea of a personal Deity with all His majesty, might, glory, beauty, wisdom and supremacy combined in His Person.
The ideas of Brahman and Paramatman are included in the idea of Bhagavan. Spiritually, therefore, Bhagavan is Hari, the Supreme Being. Human ideas are either mental or spiritual. The mental idea is defective as it has relation to the created principles of matter. The spiritual idea is certainly the nearest approach to the Supreme Being.
Then again, the spiritual idea of Bhagavan is of two sorts. In one sort, the person of the Deity is overpowered by His own majesty, and in the other, His personal beauty overpowers all His majesty. The first idea is represented in the great Narayana of Vaikuntha, Who is the Lord of Lords and God of Gods. The second is represented in the all-beautiful Krishna with Radhika, who is the representative of His "Hladini," or superior ecstatic energy. Krishna appears as man amongst men, and is again generally accepted as God above Gods. Krishna attracts, loves and produces ecstasy in all souls. His person and personal attachments are all purely spiritual and have no relation to the material world. The material senses of man cannot approach Him. It is the spirit in man which can see Him directly and commune with Him.
The soul, fettered in matter, has from its own degradation lost its right to see Krishna and His spiritual "Lila" [pastimes] in the spiritual world, but Krishna out of His Own Supreme Power and prerogative may appear with all His Vrindaban Lila before the eyes of all men. The rational man can hardly conceive of or believe in Krishna and His Lila. As his spiritual essence improves, however, he sees and loves Him with all his heart.
The Spiritual Process
In our small compass, we can hardly treat this subject fully and exhaustively. We therefore leave this point to our readers with these words: Give up the shackles of matter slowly. Cultivate your spirit inwards. Give up prejudices which you have acquired from the so-called rational thinkers who deny the existence of spirit. Be humble in yourself and learn to respect those who work towards spiritual attainments. Do these with your heart, mind and strength in the company of spiritual people alone, and you will see Krishna in no time.
Krishna is not an imaginary Being, nor have you a right to think that He is a material phenomenon fancied to be the Supreme Being by fools. Krishna is not understood by the process of distinguishing the subjective from the objective, nor is He to be accepted as an imposition on the people set up by designing men. Krishna is eternal, spiritually true, reflected on the human soul when it is relieved of all pressure of gross matter, and He is the subject of love which proceeds from the soul. Accept Him as such and you will see Him in your soul's eye.
Words fail to describe that Transcendental Being. The highest, best and most spiritual ideal of the Divinity is in Krishna. To bring arguments against Him is simply to deceive oneself and deprive oneself of the blessings that God has kept in store for man. Hence, all descriptions of His Name, person, attributes and Lila should be accepted spiritually, giving up the material portion which words must necessarily convey.
2. Hari is always vested with infinite powers. By infinite powers must be meant powers which know no bounds either in space or in time, as His powers alone created space and time. His powers are identified with His person. In material objects, there is a difference between the person and the powers, between the thing and its attributes, its name, its form and action: but it is a spiritual truth that in spirit the thing is identical with its name, form, attributes and action. This truth cannot be subjected to dry reason which deals with gross matter alone.
Krishna is supreme will in Himself, and He exercises His supreme power at His pleasure, which submits to no law, because all law has proceeded from His will and power.
Power is known from its exercise. In this world we have experience of only three of the attributes of Krishna's power. We see the material phenomena and we understand that His power has the attribute to create matter. This attribute is styled in the Vedas as "Mayashakti." We see man and we understand that the Supreme Power has the attribute to produce limited and imperfect souls. The Shastras [scriptures] call that attribute "Jiva-shakti." We conceive of One Who is Spiritual and Supreme in His realm of eternal spirits. We understand that His power has an attribute to exhibit perfectly spiritual existences. The Vedas call that attribute by the name of "Atma-shakti," or "Chit-shakti."
All these attributes together form one Supreme Power which the Vedas call "Para-shakti." In fact that power (shakti) is not distinguishable from the person of that Being. Still, the powers are separately exhibited in their separate actions. This is styled "Achintya-Vedaved-prakash," or the inconceivable simultaneous existence of distinction and non-distinction. Hari being will above law, He exercises His infinite powers, while He Himself remains unaffected. This is not understood, but felt in the soul as intuitive truth.
3. He is the ocean of "Rasa." Rasa has been defined to be that ecstatic principle which comprehends the various forms of love and affection which can be exhibited between the living being and the Lord. The process of exhibiting of Rasa relates to its exhibition in man while still enthralled in matter. But Rasa itself is an eternal principle identified with the Supreme Hari. Hari is the ocean of Rasa, and in the human soul only a drop of the ocean can be conceived.
Rasa naturally is spiritual, but in man, who is subject to Maya, the progenitor of matter, it has been identified in a perverted state with the sensual pleasure of man in his connection with material objects, the soul losing itself in mind and the mind acting through the senses, enjoying the perverted Rasa in the five different objects of the senses. This is the soul's going abroad with "Avidya," or ignorance of the spiritual self.
When the soul looks inward it obtains its spiritual Rasa, and the perverted Rasa wanes in proportion to the development of the spiritual Rasa. In spiritual Rasa the souls towards each other, and all towards the all-beautiful, have their unfettered action in Vrindaban, rising above material time and space. Hari, the Infinite Supreme Free Will, has eternal ecstasy in His spiritual power or "Chit-shakti."
The Hladini attribute or Chit-shakti (spiritual wisdom) produces all bhabs—relations and affections. The "Sandhini" attribute of Chit-shakti produces all existence (other than the free will), including the "Dhams" (abodes), individualities, and other substances in connection with the action of the spiritual Rasa. All these exhibitions are from Chit-shakti, the spiritual power.
The Mayik or material creation, including time, space and gross objects, has no place in Chit-jagat, the spiritual world which is all the same as Vrindaban. Maya-shakti [illusory energy] is a perverted reflection of the Chit-shakti. Hence the particularities in the mayik (material) world have semblance with the particularities in the Chit-jagat or spiritual universe, but are not substantially the same. The Chit-jagat is the model of the Mayik-jagat, but they are not identical.
We must guard ourselves against the idea that man has imagined Chit-jagat from an experience of the Mayik-jagat. This idea is pantheistic, and it may also be styled atheistic. Reason, not spiritualized, has a tendency to create such a doubt, but one who has a wish to enjoy spiritual love must give it up as misleading.
The eternal Rasa of Krishna exists spiritually in Chit-jagat, the spiritual world. To we who are in the netherworld there is a screen which intervenes between our eyes and the great spiritual scene of Krishna Lila. When by the grace of Krishna that screen is drawn up, we have the privilege to see it, and again when it pleases the Almighty to drop the screen, the great Vrindaban Lila disappears. Taste the subject and your conviction will be the same as mine. Brethren! Do not give up such an important subject without due and liberal examination.
4. The soul is His "Vibhinnangsha," or separated part. By soul are meant all sorts of souls, whether animal, human or celestial. It must be understood that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu believed in the very liberal theory of transmigration of the soul. Certain readers may reject this idea on the ground that certain forms of faith do not support that theory, and because it is therefore in antagonism with the dogmas of certain sectarian creeds. Indeed, it is a matter which reason cannot dare to meddle with.
Candidly examining, we do not see any strong reason to disbelieve the theory of transmigration. On the other hand, our unprejudiced mind is inclined to stand for it. The belief that the human soul has only one trial in life is evidently illiberal, unjust and contrary to the belief that God is all good. When our spiritual sentiment supports the theory and the Vedas, the receptacles of inspiration, have taught us the fact of the continual existence of the soul in different stages in creation, we cannot but give up the idea of disbelieving in the theory of transmigration of the soul. However educated and scientific a man maybe, he is always liable to a creeping error. That which holds good regarding a man holds good also regarding a nation or sect.
The soul, according to Chaitanya, is an atomic part of the Divine Soul. It is a sort of God's power to produce beings who are spiritual in essence but liable to be enthralled by Maya when they forget their position as eternal servants of the Deity. God here is compared with the Sun, and the souls are said to be the atomic portions of that Sun's ray, unable to stand freely unless they are protected by another competent attribute of God's power.
By the word "part" is not meant portions cut out of a piece of stone by an axe: part is meant to be understood as one lamp lighted from another, or gold produced from an alchemic stone, as was believed by the ancients. The souls are also compared with separate atomic emanations of the burning fire. Each soul has drawn from its Fountainhead a proportionate share of the Lord's attributes, and consequently a small proportion of free will.
These souls are naturally located between the Chit-jagat and Mayik-jagat. Those who chose to serve their God were protected from fall by the interference of the Hladini attribute of the Supreme Chit-shakti. They have been admitted as eternal servants of the Deity in various ways. They know not the troubles of Maya and the "karmachakra," the rotative principles of Mayik action and its result. Those who wanted to enjoy were grasped by Maya from the other side. They are in Maya's Karmachakra, which ends only when they again see their original position as servants of the Deity.
These souls, whether liberated from Maya or enthralled by her, are separate responsible beings dependent on the Deity. Hari is the Lord of Maya, who serves His pleasure. The soul or "Jiva" is so constructed as to be liable to enthrallment by Maya in consequence of want of power when unassisted by the Hladini-shakti of the Deity. Hence there is a natural and inherent distinction between God and Jiva, the individual soul, which no pantheistic maneuver can annihilate. Please avoid the misleading question, "When were these Jivas created and enthralled?" Mayik time has no existence in spiritual history because it has its commencement after the enthrallment of Jivas in matter, and you cannot, therefore, employ Mayik chronology in matters like these.
5. Certain souls are engrossed by "Prakriti," or His illusory energy. Prakriti, God's Maya, Pradhan, Prapancha and Avidya are different names for the same principle on account of its different phases and attributes. Maya is not an independent Shakti from the supreme Swarup Shakti [Free Will or Power]. She is simply a reflected and outward phase of the supreme power, and serves God in executing His penal order on those who become ungrateful to Him. In fact, Maya is in charge of God's house of correction. Those living beings who, in abusing their free will, forgot that they were eternal servants of the Deity and thought of enjoying for themselves, were grasped by Maya for their penal servitude and correction.
Maya—The Nature Of Illusion
Maya has three attributes: Satwa, Rajas and Tamas [goodness, passion and ignorance]. These attributes are just like chains used to tie up the ungrateful souls. Maya then applies a double case on the spiritual form of the soul. The double case is described by the words Linga and Sthul. The Mayik existence has twenty-four substances: the five elements (earth, water, fire, air and firmament); the five properties (sound, touch, sight, taste and smell); and the ten "Indrias," i. e. the five receiving senses (the eye, ear, nose, tongue and touch) and the five working organs such as hands, legs, etc. These twenty form the Sthul, or outer case.
The Mana, the Buddhi, the Chitta and the Ahankar, i. e . the mind, the understanding, the attention and the perverted ego, compose the Linga-deha, or inner case.
After encasing the spiritual form of the soul, Maya employs the fallen souls to work. Mayik work is composed of Karma, Akarma and Vikarma. Karma is conventionally good action done to obtain virtue, such as the performance of duties enjoyed by the Varnashram Dharma [the Vedic system of civilization]. Akarma is the omission to do duty. Vikarma is sin or crime.
Karma procures heavenly elevations up to the Brahma Loka planet. Akarma gives an unpleasant state on earth. Vikarma hurls down souls to hell. The fallen souls travel from body to body with their Linga-deha doing Karma or Vikarma, rising up to the heavens, and again coming down at the exhaustion of their virtues, going down to hell, and after suffering punishment, again rising up to the platform of work. Thus the state of the fallen souls is deplorable in the extreme. They enjoy and suffer massacre and murder, and go on in this state, sometimes smiling as the princess and sometimes suffering in ruin. The world is, therefore, a prison or a house of correction, and not a place for enjoyment as some people assert.
6. Certain souls are released from the grasp of Prakriti. Jivas are travelling in the path of Mayik existence from time out of mind, experiencing all sorts of pleasure and pain. How to get rid of this unpleasant state of existence? No, Dharma (performance of duty), yoga (development of powers of the Sthul and the Linga), Sankhya (the division of substances under the categories and simple knowledge that one is a spiritual being) and Vairagya (abnegation giving up all enjoyments of the world) are not the proper means by which one can actually get what he wants.
When a man comes in contact with a Vaishnava, whose heart has been melted by "Haribhaktirasa," it is then that he loves to imbibe the sweet principle of Bhakti, devotion, by following his holy foot-steps. By constant study of Krishna-Bhakti he slowly washes off his Mayik condition, and in the end obtaining his true nature, he enjoys the sweetest unalloyed Rasa, which is the ultimate status of the soul.
Satsanga, or the company of spiritual people is the only means to obtain the ultimate object of man. Bhakti is a principle which comes from soul to soul, and like electricity or magnetism in gross matter, it conducts itself from one congenial soul to another. The principle of Bhakti is sincere and entire dependence on the Deity in every act of life. The principle of duty is no part of Bhakti, as it acts as gratitude for favour obtained and it works like an obligation which is contrary to natural love. The principle of morality in the mortal world, though good in its own way, does scarcely give spiritual consequence in the end. Faith in the supreme beauty of the Deity, a desire for the eternal unselfish service of that Being and a consequent repulsion of every other thought of pleasure or self-aggrandizement are the three principles which constitute Shraddha, or actual hankering after Bhakti. Bhakti by nature is Ananya, exclusive.
Is it chance, then, which brings Bhakti? No, Sukriti, or good work, is the prime moving principle. Good work is of two classes. One class, passing as morals, includes those works which bring virtue and aggrandizement. The other class of good work includes all acts which have a tendency to bring spiritual culture. This latter class of good work brings one in contact with a sincere Vaishnava, from whom one at the first imbibes Shraddha, or faith in spirit, and being then capable of receiving Bhakti, one obtains a flash of that principle from the Vaishnava who is the actual Guru of the man.
Doctrine Of "One And Different"
7. All spiritual and material phenomena are Achintya-Vedaved-prakash of Hari, the Almighty. Metaphysical discussions are perfectly useless here. The Vedas go sometimes to establish that Jiva, the individual living entity, is distinct from the Deity, and sometimes that Jiva is the same as the Deity. In fact, the Vedas always tell the truth. Jiva is simultaneously distinct from and identical with God. This is not understood by the rationalist. Hence it must be said that in the exercise of His powers beyond human comprehension, God is distinct from Jiva and the world, and again identical with them at all times.
The Vedanta teaches us the Shakti-parinamvad doctrine, and not the erroneous Vivartavad of Shankara Acharya. Shankara's teachings are explained in different ways. Some say that the world and Jiva have emanated from God, and others establish that Jiva and the world are but developments of the Godhead. Shankara, in order to avoid Brahma-parinam, i. e. transformation of the Godhead into the world, established that Vyas [Compiler and Author of the Vedic literature] teaches us Vivartavad, which is this, that God undergoes no change whatever, but it is Maya which covers a part of the Deity (just as a pot encloses a part of the firmament) and creates the world; or, that God is reflected on Avidya, or ignorance, while in fact nothing else than God has yet come to existence.
These are worthless and abstruse arguments. It is plain that the Vedanta teaches us that God is unchangeable and is never subject to modifications. His power alone creates Jiva and the material world, by its own Parinam (modification). The example is in the action of the alchemist's stone, the power of which is manifested in the form of gold, while the stone remains always unchanged. Thus Chit-shakti, the Supreme Will, goes in the form of theChit-jagat, the spiritual world, with all its particularities of eternal Rasa; and Jivashakti, the individual living force, goes in the form of innumerable Jivas, some staying in Vaikuntha as angels and others moving in this world in various shapes and forms and under very different circumstances. Maya-shakti, the material energy, creates numerous worlds for the habitation and entertainment of the fallen souls.
Vivartavad is no doubt an error and is quite opposed to the teachings of the Vedas. Now Shakti-parinamvad [the doctrine of change and variety existing in the energy of the unchanging Godhead] alone is true, and supports the fact that spiritual love is eternal. If Vivartavad were true, the natural consequence would be to declare spiritual love a temporary principle.
8. Bhakti is the only means of attaining the final object of spiritual existence. Karma as it is cannot directly and immediately produce spiritual results. When it does, it does so by means of Bhakti. Hence Bhakti is independent, and Karma (action) and Jnana (philosophy) are dependent principles. Jnana, the knowledge that man is a spiritual being, cannot directly bring the ultimate object. When it does, it does so with the assistance of Bhakti. Bhakti, therefore, is the only means to obtain the ultimate. Bhakti is thus defined. Bhakti is cultivation of a friendly sentiment for Krishna, free from all desires other than those for its own improvement, unalloyed by such other ingredients as Karma and Jnana.
It will be seen that Bhakti is itself both a feeling and an action. Bhakti has three stages, viz ., Sadhana-Bhakti, Bhab-Bhakti and Prem-Bhakti. Sadhana-Bhakti is that stage of culture when the feeling of love has not yet been roused. In Bhab-Bhakti the feeling awakes, and in Prem-Bhakti the feeling is fully set to action. Bhakti is a spiritual feeling towards the spiritual object of love.
Sadhana-Bhakti is of two sorts, one is called the Vaidha-Sadhan-Bhakti and the other is Raganuga-Sadhan-Bhakti. The word "Vaida" is from Vidhi, or rule. Where Bhakti is to be roused by the rule of the Shastras [scriptures], there the Vaidhi-bhakti works as long as the feeling is not roused. Where one out of natural tendency loves Krishna, there is a principle called Rag, which is no other than a strong desire to serve the Lord of the hears. One who is tempted by the beauty of this process to follow Him has a tendency to cultivate his feeling for Krishna. This is Raganuga-sadhan-bhakti. This latter class of Sadhana is stronger than the Vaidhi Sadhana.
Cultivation of the friendly feeling for Krishna is performed in nine different forms:
1. To hear of the spiritual Name, form, attributes and Lila [pastimes] of Krishna.
Of all these forms, Kirtan, singing the Name and glories of Krishna, is the best. Humble knowledge is necessary in these forms of worship and fruitless discussions must be avoided. There are some who start at the theory of worshiping Srimurti [the incarnation of God in the apparent form of material elements, such as in a painting or sculpture]. "Oh," they say, "it is idolatory to worship Srimurti. Srimurti is an idol framed by an artist and introduced by no other than Beelzebub himself. Worshiping such an object would rouse the jealousy of God and limit His omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence!" Would tell them, "Brethren! Candidly understand the question and do not allow yourself to be misled by sectarian dogmas."
God is not jealous, as He is without a second. Beelzebub or Satan is no other than an object of imagination, and the subject of an allegory, an imaginary being, should not be allowed to act as an obstacle to Bhakti. Those who believe God to be impersonal simply identify Him with some power or attribute in Nature, her laws and her rules. His holy wish is law, and it would be sacrilege to confine His unlimited excellence by identifying Him with such attributes as omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience attributes which may exist in created objects such as time and space.
God's excellence consists in having in Him mutually contradicting powers and attributes ruled by His supernatural Self. He is identical with His all-beautiful Person, having such powers as omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence the like of which cannot be found elsewhere. His holy and perfect Person exists eternally in the spiritual world, at the same time existing in every created object and place in all its fullness. This idea excels all other ideas of the Deity.
Idolatry And Worship
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu rejects idolatry as well, but considers Srimurti worship to be the only unexceptionable means of spiritual culture. It has been shewn that God is personal and all-beautiful. Sages like Vyas and others have seen that beauty in their souls' eyes. They have left us descriptions. Of course, word carries grossness of matter. But truth still is perceivable in those descriptions . According to those descriptions one delineates a Srimurti and sees the great God of our heart there with intense pleasure. Brethren! is that wrong or sinful? Those who say that God has no form either material or spiritual, and again imagine a false form for worship are certainly idolatrous. But those who see the spiritual form of the Deity in their souls' eyes, carry that impression as far as possible to the mind and then frame an emblem for the satisfaction of the material eye for continual study of the higher feeling are by no means idolatrous.
While seeing a Srimurti, do not even see the image and you are a pure theist. Idolatry and Srimurti worship are two different things; but, my brethren! you simply confound one with the other out of hastiness. To tell you the truth, Srimurti worship is the only true worship of the Deity, without which you cannot sufficiently cultivate your religious feelings. The world attracts you through your senses and as long as you do not see God in the objects of your senses, you live in an awkward position which scarcely helps you in procuring your spiritual elevation. Place a Srimurti in your house. Think that God Almighty is the guardian of the house. The food that you take is His "Prasad" [mercy]. The flowers and scents are also His Prasad. The eye, the ear, the nose, the touch and the tongue all have a spiritual culture, you do it with a holy heart, and God will know it and judge you by your sincerity.
Satan and Beelzebub will have nothing to do with you in that matter! All sorts of worship are based on the principle of Srimurti. Look into the history of religion and you will come to this noble truth. The Semitic idea of a patriarchal God both in the pre-Christian period of Judaism and in the period of Christianity and Mohamedanism is nothing but a limited idea of Srimurti. The monarchic idea of a Jove amongst the Greeks and of an Indra amongst the Aryan Karmakandis of India is also a distant view of the same principle. The idea of a force and Jyotirmaya Brahma of the meditators and a formless energy of the Shaktas is also a very faint view of the Srimurti.
In fact, the principle of Srimurti is the truth itself, differently exhibited in different people according to their different phases of thought. Even Jaimini and Comte, who are not prepared to accept a creating god, have prescribed certain phases of the Srimurti, simply because they have been impelled by some inward action from the soul! Then again we meet with people who have adopted the Cross, the Shalgram shila, the lingam and such-like emblems as indicators of the inward idea of Srimurti. Furthermore, if the Divine compassion, love and justice could be portrayed by the pencil and expressed by the chisel, why should not the personal beauty of the Deity embracing all other attributes be portrayed in poetry or in picture or expressed by the chisel for the benefit of man? If words could indicate time and sign could tell us a history, why should not the picture or figure bring associations of higher thoughts and feelings with regard to the transcendental beauty of the Divine Personage?
Srimurti worship is divided into two classes, the ideal and the physical. Those of the physical school are entitled from their circumstances of life and state of mind to establish temple institutions. Those who are by circumstances and position entitled to worship the Srimurti in mind have, with due deference to the temple institutions, a tendency to worship, usually by Sraban and Kirtan, and their church is universal and independent of caste and color. Mahaprabhu prefers this latter class and shews their worship in His Shikshastak [His eight prayers]. Worship, then, without intermission, with a feeling of resignation and in a very short time you will be blessed with Prem.
9. Prem in God is the final object of spiritual existence. The Karma-margis, fruitive workers, declare that enjoyment in this world and in the heavens hereafter is all that a man requires. Karma, or action, is of two sorts, i.e. Karma done with a view to obtain a material result and Karma done with a view to please God. With the Karma-margis both sorts of Karma have the object of procuring enjoyment. Here is the line of demarcation between Bhakti and Karma. Bhakti aims at procuring the principle of Prem-Bhakti as the final principle of all actions, while Karma aims at self-enjoyment as the ultimate goal of action.
The Jnana-margis, on the other hand, cultivate spiritual knowledge to obtain Mukti, salvation, as the final aim of such cultivation. Mukti is found to be of two sorts. In one sort of Mukti total absorption of the soul in God is effected—i. e., the annihilation of the separate existence of the soul from God. In the other sort of Mukti the soul stands eternally separate from God, and when salvation ensues, the soul goes to Chit-jagat, obtaining residence in the Chit region of the Deity, residence closely by the Deity, attainment of a spiritual form like that of God Himself, and attainment of powers similar to the powers of God.
The latter class of Mukti is inevitable when it pleases the almighty to "rant us that state. But then, after obtaining that Mukti, we serve God with pure love.
The first sort of Mukti is rejected by the Bhaktas, the devotees, as not worth taking, in consequence of its tendency to annihilate the highest principle of love. The second class of Mukti cannot be the ultimate object as it acts like an intermediate result of our spiritual disenthralment. Besides that, a hankering after Mukti spoils the action of spiritual cultivation, being a strong desire for something other than the improvement of Bhakti. It has a tint of selfishness which is not in keeping with the unselfish principle of pure Bhakti.
We must therefore cultivate Bhakti being always free from the two contending principles, i. e., a desire for fruitive results, and a desire for Mukti or salvation. We must depend on Krishna to give us Mukti or not as it pleases Him. We must pray for continual development of our religious sentiment of Bhakti alone. Pure love is the final object of our own existence.
Varieties Of Divine Love
Rati, as explained above, is the unit of the principle of pure spiritual love for Krishna. Mixed up with Ullas (zeal), it becomes Priti, pure love. Priti, creates exclusive love for Krishna and repulsion for things and persons other than Krishna and His connections. When the idea that Krishna is my own is added to Priti, it becomes Prem. Here commences the idea that God is my own Lord and I am His servant. Add confidence to Prem and it becomes Pranaya. Here arises the relationship of friendship with Krishna. In Pranaya, the idea of respect loses its hold.
Add to Pranaya the idea that Krishna is my exclusive and dearest Object of love and it curiously turns out into Mana. Krishna with all His greatness and power exhibits a sort of submission to it. Excessive melting of the heart being added, Prem turns out to be Sneha. Here ensues the relation of a son and parents between Krishna and the worshiper. In this stage, too much weeping for Krishna, want of satiety with communion and a desire to watch the interest of Krishna naturally occur.
Desire added to Sneha is Rag. In this stage a moment's separation is unbearable. Here commences the relation of husband and wife between Krishna and the worshiper. Distress attending upon want of mutual interview is happiness. Rag again, seeing its object as new at every moment, and being itself new at every moment, converts itself into Anurag. In this stage reciprocal subjection and a strong desire to accompany the lover everywhere are the principle features.
Anurag, infinitely rising in an astonishing state, mounting as if to madness, becomes Mahabhab. This is indescribable! From Rati to Mahabhab the whole principle is what we have called Sthayibhab. Added to the other varieties of loving relationships with Krishna, the Sthayibhab becomes Krishna Prem Rasa, the eternal ecstacy or beatitude.
We have a perverted picture of this noble Rasa in human life, as human life in thraldom of Maya is but a perverted reflection of the spiritual life. When the soul alone acts towards its proper object, the spiritual Hero Krishna, the Rasa is pure; when the mind and the senses act upon a wrong object, Rasa is degraded and becomes hateful. The perverted Rasa gives a clue of the noble spiritual Rasa to man in general; hence these arguments and descriptions have been attempted in words which correspond with words directly meaning the features of the perverted Rasa. We ask our readers to take care to make a nice distinction between spirit and gross matter; otherwise a fall is inevitable.
One who studies the Name, forms, attributes and the Lila of Krishna as described in the Srimad Bhagwatam with sincere heart, mind and strength, in the company of one who has realized the spirit, is expected to know it by the influence of Bhakti. One who is apt to rationalize everything closely does scarcely acquire the truth in matters of spirit, as by the law of God reason in its present state can never reach the sphere of the spirit.
It is needless to go further on this subject. Those who will have the opportunity to go as far as we have stated, will make a further enquiry from their heart and the all-beautiful Lord will then help them to realise the spirit and to rise higher and higher in its realm. But as long as the mind is confounded with the spirit, there is no way to rise beyond matter and its relations. The great mistake that most of the western philosophers have generally made is to identify the mind, the perverted ego (Ahankar) with the soul or spirit. We are sorry for that.
To summarise man in his present state, the different principles in him are: (i) the Sthul principle, or gross matter composing his body, (ii) the Linga principle, or sublimated matter appearing in the form of mind, attention, rationality and the perverted ego (by which one confounds oneself with the material world). This state has been caused by the influence of Maya, the illusory energy, with the object of correcting the soul in his wrong intention to enjoy, in consequence of forgetfulness of Nature as God's servant. (iii) Man in fact is solely independent of Maya and her connection. The only way to get rid of the present difficulty is by the influence of pure Bhakti imbibed from a true devotee. Bhakti, as a means, elevates the man up to the all-beautiful Krishna; and again as an end, maintains him with eternal Krishna-prem.
While located in the Maylk world man must live peacefully with the object of cultivating the spirit. In his society he must lead a pure life, avoid sins and do as much good as he can to his brother man. He must be himself bearing difficulties of life with heroism, must not brag of any goodness or grandeur due to him. Marriage with a view to peaceful and virtuous life and with a view to procreate servants of the Lord is a good institution for a Vaishnava.
Spiritual cultivation is the main object of life. Do everything that helps it and abstain from doing anything which thwarts the cultivation of the spirit. Have a strong faith that Krishna alone protects you and none else. Admit Him as your only guardian. Do everything which you know that Krishna wishes you to do, and never think that you do a thing independent of the holy wish of Krishna. Do all that you do with humility. Always remember that you are a sojourner in this world and you must be prepared for your own home. Do your duties and cultivate Bhakti as a means to obtain the great end of life, Krishna-priti. Employ your body, mind and spirit in the service of the Deity. In all your actions, worship your Great Lord.
Thus we have said before our English-knowing readers a summary of Mahaprabhu's precepts. If it be necessary we shall try to supply more informations treating these subjects in English in a short time.
Our gentle readers will now find that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu preached pure monotheism and chased out idolatry. We have shewn that he makes a nice distinction between Srimurti-worship and idolatry. He tells us that idolatry is the worship of things and persons that are not God Himself. When the sannyasis of Benares addressed Him as the God Almighty, Mahaprabhu told them that it was the worst of sins to address a Jiva as God. And again He has several times denounced the worship of a form or image other than the true image of God (after which man was created). Its representative emblems are to be used in worship of the true image of the Deity. God is one without a second, "There is none to vie with Him" is the motto of Mahaprabhu's religion.
It will also be seen that Mahaprabhu shewed in his character and preached to the world the purest morality as an accompaniment of spiritual improvement. Morality as a matter of course will grace the character of a Bhakta [devotee]. If it is not seen in the character of one who presents himself as a Krishna-bhakta, his sincerity may be doubted.
There are four classes of thoughts, viz., atheistic, pantheistic, indifferent and theistic. Chaitanya's religion rejects the first three as inimical to religion. He preaches pure theism alone and advises men to avoid the three others.
He preaches that Varnashram Dharma, including the institution of caste, is simply a social institution introduced by the Rishis [sages] to do good to man in society. They should be allowed to decorate the Aryans so long as they do not oppose spiritual improvement. By sending Pradyumna Misra, a rigid brahmin, to Ramananda Rai for spiritualisation, He has shewn that one who is aware of Krishna-tattwa may be Guru, be he a Sudra, Brahmin or Sannyasi.
He preaches the equality of men in the enjoyment of the spiritual aggrandizement. He preaches universal fraternity amongst men, and special brotherhood amongst Vaishnavas who are, according to Him, the best pioneers of spiritual improvement. He preaches that human thought should never be allowed to be shackled with sectarian views. He tells us that a man should earn money in a right way and by sincere dealings with others and their master, but should not immorally gain it. When Gopinath Pattanaik, one of the brothers of Ramananda Rai, was being punished by the Raja for immoral gains, Chaitanya warned all who attended upon Him to be moral in their worldly dealings.
In His own early life He has taught the Grihasthas [householders] to give all sorts of help to the needy and the helpless, and has shewn that it is necessary, for one who has power to do it, to help the education of the people, especially in the case of the brahmins who are expected to study the higher subjects of human knowledge.
The religion preached by Mahaprabhu is universal and not exclusive. The most learned and the most ignorant are both entitled to embrace it. The learned people will accept it with a knowledge of spiritual values. The ignorant have the same privilege by simply uttering the Name of the Deity and mixing in the company of pure Vaishnavas. The principle of Kirtan invites as the future church of the world, offering to all classes of men without distinction of caste or clan the highest cultivation of the spirit. This church, it appears, will extend all over the world and take the place of all sectarian churches which exclude outsiders from the precincts of the mosque, church or temple.
Chaitanya, as a teacher, has taught men both by precepts and by His holy life. There is scarcely a spot in His life which may be made the subject of criticism. His sannyas, His severity to junior Haridas and such like acts have been questioned as wrong by certain persons, but as far as we understand, we think, as all other independent men would think, that those men have been led by a hasty conclusion or a party spirit.
Chaitanya was an undaunted Hero in the execution of His resolutions. When He was told by some malicious brahmins that the Emperor was sending an army against Him, He said He wished that the reigning prince should take cognizance of what He was doing. He was amiable to everybody and stern in the discharge of His duty. Brahmananda Bharati, a religious brother of Keshab Bharati, His Guru, appeared to Him in a tiger's skin. He would not bow down to him until he gave up the skin-dress and wore a linen koupin and Bahirvas. He said that the person before Him was not the Bharati. How is it that His Guru should put on an animal skin? The sannyasis should not support the killing of beasts for the sake of their use. Bharati understood that Chaitanya did not like that and changed his apparel; and Chaitanya bowed down to him in shewing His respect to His Guru's brother.
Chaitanya pressed on His disciples to enter into the spirit of the Shastras without confinement to the words themselves. Pandit Devananda did not understand the spirit of Bhakti while reading the Bhagwat, but when he understood the spirit Chaitanya embraced him and pardoned him for all that the Pandit had done before.
Chaitanya was a jolly Being throughout His life. Though descended from the Eastern Bengal people, He joked with them while a young boy in such a manner that they became angry with Him. While Ballav Bhatta (a pandit of great renown) brought an improved commentary on the Bhagwatam to shew Him and said that he would not submit to Sridhar Swami [whose commentary is standard and authorized in the line of disciplic succession] the Lord said it was an unchaste woman alone who disregarded her swami (husband). This was a taunt which mortified the Pandit and dissuaded him from uttering disrespectful expressions about Sridhar Swami, the commentator of the Bhagwatam.
We leave it to our readers to decide how to deal with Mahaprabhu. The Vaishnavas have accepted Him as the great Lord Krishna Himself. Some have considered Him as the Bhakta-avatar. It is at the request of some Vaishnavas that we have composed the Smaran Mangal verses in the form of a prayer for daily recitation at the time of worship. Those who are not prepared to go with them, may accept Nimai Pandit [Chaitanya] as a noble and holy Teacher. That is all we want our readers to believe.
Readers! If you are inclined after a study of these pages to identify Chaitanya with Krishna we would beg you not to accept Him as God incarnate, for we think that God need not be in a carnal coil like the fallen men. His supreme power can bring Him down to the netherworld with all His glory and particularities without the assistance of the lower energy—Maya, who has created the material coil. If we believe otherwise we would commit the sin of lowering His spiritual power.
We make no objection if you do not believe His miracles, as miracles alone never demonstrate Godhead. Demons like Ravana and others have also worked miracles which do not prove that they were gods. It is unlimited Prem and its overwhelming influence which would be seen in none but God Himself.
Noble readers! Pardon us for intruding on you with these pages. As servants of Chaitanya, it was our duty to propagate His supreme teachings and in doing a duty we are entitled to pardon for any trouble we have given you. We are natives of Bengal and in couching our words in a foreign language we might have been liable to mistakes for which you will please forgive us.
In conclusion, we beg to say that we should be glad to reply to any questions which our brethren would like to address us on these important subjects. We feel great interest in crying to help our friends to seek the way to spiritual love.
The word Prabhupada is a term of the utmost reverence in Vedic religious circles, and it signifies a great saint even among saints. The word actually has two meanings: first, one at whose feet (Pada) there are many Prabhus (a term meaning ''master," which the disciples of a Guru use in addressing each other). The second meaning is one who is always found at the Lotus Feet of Krishna (the Supreme Master).
In the line of disciplic succession through which Krishna Consciousness is conveyed to mankind, there have been a number of figures of such spiritual importance as to be called Prabhupada:
Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhupada executed the will of his Master, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and therefore he and his associate Goswamis are called Prabhupada. Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur executed the will of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, and therefore he is also addressed as Prabhupada. Our Spiritual Master, Om Vishnupad 108 Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj has, in the same way, executed the will of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupada in carrying the message of love of Krishna to the Western world, and therefore we American and European humble servants of His Divine Grace, from all the different centers of the Sankirtan Movement, have followed in the footsteps of Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhupada, and prefer to address His Grace our Spiritual Master as Prabhupada, and he has kindly said "Yes."
A spiritual concept of community life
One practical aspect of the Krishna Consciousness Movement is now taking form in the hills of West Virginia. This is a report on the development—and the philosophical background—of that important project.
"You have New York, New England and so many 'new' duplicates of European places in the USA—why not import New Vrindaban in your country?" -A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, in a letter to his disciples
New Vrindaban, a spiritual community united in the pursuit of Krishna Consciousness, is now taking shape under the guidance of our Guru Maharaj, A. C . Bhaktivedanta Swami. Now the hills of West Virginia are vibrating daily with the Maha (Hare Krishna) Mantra, and it is certain that the forests, fields and mountains are no longer in West Virginia—they have entered the spiritual sky of Vaikuntha. By the mere touch of sound, everything at New Vrindaban is Krishna-ized. And by the mercy of the spiritual master, America is seeing a resurgence of God consciousness.
The conception and purpose of New Vrindaban are best set forth in the letters of Swamiji himself. Primarily, the place is intended to serve as an amiable location for reviving our dormant God consciousness. In New Vrindaban, remembrance of Krishna is easy because the atmosphere is conducive: "We can remember Krishna in every moment. We remember Krishna while taking a glass of water, because the taste of water is Krishna. We can remember Krishna as soon as we see the sunlight in the morning, because the sunlight is a reflection of Krishna's bodily effulgence. And as soon as we see moonlight in the evening, we remember Krishna, because moonlight is the reflection of sunlight. Similarly, when we hear any sound, we can remember Krishna because sound is Krishna, and the most perfect sound, transcendental, is Hare Krishna, which we have to chant 24 hours. So there is no scope of forgetting Krishna at any moment of our life, provided we practice in this way."
The atmosphere of New Vrindaban is suitable for such a remembrance process—it is cosmic, rural, woodsy. Under the Milky Way, Kirtan—the chanting of Hare Krishna to the accompaniment of musical instruments—expands. Orion, Saggitarius, Virgo—all vibrate to the cymbal rhythm, the sounds loosed in the night, broadcast from the mountains of planet earth. The firmament revolves around Vrindaban—the Maha Mantra twirls it about.
Life revolves about the MahaMantra—the charting of the Holy Names. There is Kirtan, group chanting, every morning and evening. Aritik—cymbal clashing, offering to the Deity—is performed before dawn and four times throughout the day. The morning Kirtan is usually over before sunrise. Then morning "Prasadam," food first offered for the pleasure of the Lord, is taken, usually cereal, and the day's chores begin. There is much work at New Vrindaban, and all participate.
The system and purpose of New Vrindaban is set forth specifically in the letters of Swamiji:
"Vrindaban conception is that of a transcendental village, without any of the botheration of the modern industrial atmosphere. My idea of developing New Vrindaban is to create an atmosphere of spiritual life where people in the bona fide divisions of society—namely, Brahmacharies [celibate students], Grihasthas [householders], Vanaprasthas [the retired], and Sannyasis [renounced holy men] will live independently, completely depending on agricultural produce and milk from the cows." (8/17/68)
"To retire from activities is not a very good idea for the conditioned soul. I have very good experience, not only in our country, but also in your country, that this tendency of retiring from activities pushes one down to the platform of laziness, and gradually to the ideas of the hippies.
"One should always remain active in Krishna's service, otherwise strong Maya [illusion] will catch him and engage him in her service. Our constitutional position being to render service, we cannot stop activity. So NewVrindaban may not be turned into a place of retirement, but some sort of activities must go on there. If there is good prospective land, we should produce some grains, flowers and fruits, and keep cows, so that those living there may have sufficient work and facility for advancing in Krishna Consciousness. In India, actually, Vrindaban has now become a place of the unemployed and of beggars. Kirtanananda has already seen it. And so there is always a tendency toward such degradation if there is no sufficient work in the service of Krishna. " (7/14/68)
From the beginning, as Swamiji suggested, the program at New Vrindaban has been geared to enable the student to progress along the path of devotional service, and so there is work going on all the time. And the program is sufficiently diversified to accommodate a variety of talents, dovetailing them in Krishna's service.
As in the many transcendentalist farms of 19th century America, the concept of life at New Vrindaban is that of plain living and high thinking.
"Vrindaban does not require to be modernized, because Krishna's Vrindaban is a transcendental village. They completely depend on nature's beauty and nature's protection. The community in which Krishna preferred to belong was the Vaishya community, because Nanda Maharaj [Krishna's foster father, with whom He spent His childhood while on Earth] happened to be a Vaishya king, or landholder, and his main business was cow protection. It is understood that he had 900,000 cows, and Krishna and Balaram used to take charge of them, along with Krishna's many cowherd boy friends. Every day, in the morning, He used to go out with His friends and cows into the pasturing grounds.
"So, if you seriously want to convert this spot into New Vrindaban, I shall advise you not to make it very much modernized. But as you are American boys, you must make it just suitable to your minimum needs. Nor should you make it too much luxurious, as generally Europeans and Americans are accustomed. Better to live there without modern amenities, and to live a natural, healthy life for executing Krishna Consciousness. It may be an ideal village where the residents will have plain living and high thinking.
"For plain living we must have sufficient land for raising crops, and pasturing grounds for the cows. If there is sufficient grains and production of milk, then the whole economic problem is solved. You do not require any machines, cinema, hotels, slaughter houses, brothels, nightclubs—all these modern amenities. People in the spell of Maya are trying to squeeze out gross pleasure from the senses, which it is not possible to derive to our heart's content. Therefore we are confused and baffled in our attempt to get eternal pleasure from gross matter. Actually, joyful life is on the spiritual platform, and therefore we should try to save our valuable time from material activities and engage it in Krishna Consciousness. But at the same time, because we have to keep our body and soul together to execute our mission, we must have sufficient (not extravagant) food to eat, and that will be supplied by grains, fruits and milk.
"The difficulty is that the people in this country want to continue their practice of sense gratification, and at the same time they want to become transcendentally advanced. This is quite contradictory. One can advance in transcendental life only by the process of negating the general practice of materialistic life. The exact adjustment is in Vaishnava philosophy, which is called 'Yukta Vairagya.' This means that we should simply accept the bare necessities for the material part of life, and try to save time for spiritual advancement. This should be the motto of New Vrindaban, if you at all develop it to the perfectional stage." (6/14/68)
Regarding New Vrindaban's cow protection program, Swamiji has written:
"We must have sufficient pasturing ground to feed the animals all round. We have to maintain the animals throughout their lives. We must not make any program for selling them to the slaughter houses. This is the way of cow protection. Krishna by His practical example taught us to give all protection to the cows, and that should be the main business of New Vrindaban. Vrindaban is also known as Gokula. Go means cows, and Kula means congregation. Therefore the special feature of New Vrindaban will be cow protection, and by doing so, we shall not be the losers.
"In India, of course, a cow is protected, and the cowherdsmen derive sufficient profit by such protection. Cow dung is used for fuel. Cow dung dried in the sunshine is kept in stock for utilization as fuel in the villages. They get wheat and other cereals produced from the field. There is milk and vegetables and the fuel is cow dung, and thus they are self-sufficient, independent, in every village. There are hand weavers for the cloth. And the country oil-mill (consisting of a bull walking in a circle around two big grinding stones, attached with yoke) grinds the oil seeds into oil.
"The whole idea is that people residing in New Vrindaban may not have to search for work outside. Arrangements should be such that the residents will be self-satisfied. That will make an ideal ashram. I do not know whether these ideals can be given practical shape, but I think like that, that people may be happy in any place with land and cow, without endeavoring for the so-called amenities of modern life—which simply increase anxieties for maintenance and proper equipment. The less we are anxious for maintaining our body, the more we become favorable for advancing in Krishna Consciousness." (6/14/68)
As for the development of buildings, Swamiji has given specific instructions for temples and living quarters. At present New Vrindaban includes 133 acres (with more land available in the future) of pasture, forest, ponds, mountains and streams. So there are varied settings for numerous buildings. Swamiji advises:
"Concentrate on one temple, and then we shall extend one after another. Immediately the scheme should be to have a temple in the center, and residential quarters for the Brahmacharies or Grihasthas surrounding it. Let us go ahead with that plan at first.
"Also, you will be pleased to note that I've asked Goursundar to make a layout of the whole land, and I shall place 7 different temples in different situations, as prototypes of Vrindaban. There will be seven principle temples, namely, Govinda, Gopinath, Madan Mohan, Shyamsundar, Radha Raman, Radha Damodar, and Gokulananda. Of course, in Vrindaban there are, more or less, big and small, about 5,000 temples; that is a far distant scheme. But immediately we shall take up constructing at least 7 temples in different situations, meadows and buildings. So I am trying to make a plan out of the description of the plot of our land. And the hilly portions may be named Goverdhan. On the Goverdhan hillsides, the pasturing grounds for the cows may be alloted." (8/23/68)
In conclusion, New Vrindaban is a means of attaining life's ultimate goal in the service of the Lord, Sri Krishna. The sincere participants can thereby please the spiritual master by progress in Krishna Consciousness, and when the spiritual master is pleased, Lord Krishna is pleased.
"Now we can work with great enthusiasm for constructing a New Vrindaban in the United States of America. People who came here from Europe to this part of the world named so many new provinces, just like New England, New Amsterdam, New York. So I also came to this part of the world to preach Krishna Consciousness, and by His Grace and by your endeavor, New Vrindaban is being constructed. That is my great happiness. Our sincere endeavor in the service of the Lord, and of the Lord's assistants, to make our progressive march successful—these are two important things to be followed in the spiritual advancement of life.
"I think it was Krishna's desire that this New Vrindaban scheme should be taken up by us, and now He has given us a great opportunity to serve Him in this scheme. So let us do it sincerely and all other help will come automatically. I am very glad to notice in Kirtanananda's letter that he has realized more and more that the function of New Vrindaban is nothing physical or bodily, but purely spiritual and for the glorification of the Lord, Sri Hari [Krishna]. If we actually keep this view before us, certainly we shall be successful in our progressive march." (8/23/68)
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Rendered into English by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta SwamI
In the final 8 verses of this major Upanishad, the ultimate message of the Rig Veda—human fulfillment through unwavering consciousness of God—is systematically concluded.
Only one who can learn the process of nescience and that of transcendental knowledge side by side can transcend the influence of repeated birth and death, and enjoy the full blessings of immortality.
Since the start of the material world everyone is trying for a permanent life, but the law of Nature is so cruel that no one has avoided the hand of death. No one wants to die. That is a practical fact. Nor does anyone want to become old or diseased. But the law of Nature does not allow anyone immunity from death, old age or disease. The advancement of material knowledge has not solved these problems of life. Material science can discover the nuclear bomb to accelerate the process of death, but it cannot discover anything which can protect man from the cruel hands of death, disease and old age.
From the Puranas we learn of the activities of Hiranya Kashipu: This king was materially very much advanced, and by his material acquisitions, by the strength of his nescience, he wanted to conquer death. He underwent a type of meditation so severe that all the planetary systems became disturbed by his mystic powers. He forced the creator of the universe, the demigod named Brahma, to come down to him, and then he asked him for the benediction of becoming an "Amar," one who does not die. Brahma refused to award this, however, because even he, the material creator, who has command over all the planets, is not himself an Amar. He has a long duration of life, as is confirmed in The Bhagavad Gita, but that does not mean that he doesn't have to die.
"Hiranya" means gold, and "kashipu" means soft bed. This gentleman was interested in these two things, money and women, and he wanted to enjoy this sort of life by becoming artificially immortal. He asked Brahma many things indirectly in hopes of fulfilling his desire to become an Amar. He asked benediction that he might not be killed by any man, animal, god, or any living being within the categories of the 8,400,000 species. He also asked that he might not die on the land, in the air, in the water or by any weapon whatsoever. So on and on, Hiranya Kashipu thought foolishly that this would guarantee him against death. But in the end, although Brahma granted him all these benedictions, he was killed by the Personality of Godhead in the Form of a half-man, half-lion. And no weapon was used to kill him except the nails of the Lord. He was killed on the lap of the wonderful Living Being Who was beyond his conception.
The whole point here is that even Hiranya Kashipu, the most powerful of materialists, could not become deathless by his various plans. What, then, will be accomplished by the tiny Hiranya Kashipus of today, who make plans which are throttled from moment to moment?
Sri Ishopanishad instructs us not to make one-sided attempts to win the struggle for existence. Everyone is struggling hard for existence, but the law of material Nature is so hard and fast that it does not allow any to surpass it. In order to have permanent life one must be prepared to go back to Godhead.
This process of going back to Godhead is a different branch of knowledge, and it has to be learnt from the revealed Vedic Scriptures, such as the Upanishads, Vedanta, Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagwatam, etc. Therefore, to become happy in this life and to get a permanent blissful life after leaving this material body, one must take to this sacred literature and obtain transcendental knowledge. The conditioned living being has forgotten his eternal relation with God, and he has mistakenly accepted the temporary place of birth as all-in-all. The Lord has kindly delivered the above-mentioned Scriptures in India and other Scriptures in other countries to remind the forgetful human being that his home is not here in this material world. The living being is a spiritual entity, and he can only be happy by returning to his spiritual home, with the Godhead.
The Personality of Godhead, from His Kingdom, sends His bona fide servants to propagate this mission of going back to Godhead, and sometimes He comes Himself to do this work. All living beings are His beloved sons, His parts and parcels, and therefore God is more sorry than we ourselves are for the sufferings which we are constantly undergoing in the material condition. The miseries of the material world are also indirect reminders of our incompatibility with dead matter, and intelligent living entities generally take note of these reminders, and side by side engage themselves in the culture of Vidya, or transcendental knowledge. Human life is the best opportunity for the culture of spiritual knowledge, and the human being who does not take advantage of this opportunity in human life is called a "Naradhama," the lowest of human beings.
The path of "Avidya," or material advancement of knowledge for sense gratification, means repetition of death and repetition of birth also. The living entity, as he is spiritually, has no birth or death. Birth and death are concerned with the outward covering of the spirit soul, the body. This is compared with the putting on and taking off of outward garments. Foolish human beings who are grossly absorbed in the culture of Avidya, nescience, do not mind this cruel process, but, being enamored of the beauty of the illusory energy, they do the same thing over repeatedly, without learning any lesson from the law of Nature.
The culture of Vidya or transcendental knowledge is essential for the human being. Unrestricted sense enjoyment in the diseased, material condition of the senses must be restricted as far as possible. Unrestricted sense enjoyment in this bodily condition is the path of ignorance and death. The living entities are not without spiritual senses. Every living being in his original spiritual form has all the senses which are now material, covered by the body and the mind. Activities of the material senses are perverted reflections of spiritual pastimes. The engagement of the spirit soul under the material covering is the diseased condition of the soul. And real sense enjoyment is possible when the disease is removed. In our pure spiritual form, freed from all material contamination, pure enjoyment of the senses is possible. The aim of human life should, therefore, not be perverted sense enjoyment, but should be to cure the material disease. Aggravating the material disease is no sign of knowledge. It is the sign of culturing Avidya, ignorance.
The degree of a fever must not be increased from 105 to 107 for good health. The degree is to be reduced to the normal state of 98.6. That should be the aim of human life. The modern trend of material civilization is to increase the degree of the feverish material condition which has therefore reached the point of 107 in the form of atomic energy, with the foolish politicians crying that at any moment the world may go to hell. That is the result of the advancement of material knowledge, and of the neglect of the most important part of life, the culture of spiritual knowledge. Here is a warning in Sri Ishopanishad that we must not follow such a dangerous path leading to death. On the contrary, we must side by side develop the culture of spiritual knowledge so that we may become completely free from the cruel hands of death.
This does not mean that all civic activities for the maintenance of the body should be stopped. There is no question of stopping activities, as there is no question of wiping out one's temperature altogether when trying to recover from a disease. We have already tried to explain the matter by the expression "to make the best use of a bad bargain." The culture of spiritual knowledge has to be done with the help of this body and mind, and therefore maintenance of the body and mind is required if we are to reach our goal. The normal temperature should be maintained at 98.6 degrees, but it should not be foolishly increased to the degree of 107. The great sages and saints of India wanted to maintain the normal temperature by a balanced program of material and spiritual knowledge. They never allowed the misuse of human intelligence for diseased sense gratification.
Human activities diseased by a temperament of sense gratification have been regulated in the Vedas under the principles of Salvation. This system is found in four divisions: religion, economic development, sense gratification and salvation. At the present moment the people have no interest either in religion or salvation. They have only one aim in life, sense gratification, and in order to fulfill this end they have different plans for economic development.
Misguided man thinks that religion should be maintained for its contribution to economic development, and that economic development is required for sense gratification. And in order to guarantee further sense gratification after death, in heaven, there is some system of religious observances. But this is not the purpose of the principles of salvation. The path of religion is actually for self realization. Economic development is required just to maintain the body in a sound, healthy condition. A man should live in a healthy condition of life with a sound mind just to realize Vidya, true knowledge, which is the aim of human life. This life is not meant for working like an ass or for the culture of Avidya or for sense gratification.
The path of Vidya is most perfectly presented in The Srimad Bhagwatam. The Bhagwatam directs a human being to utilize his life in the matter of enquiring about the Absolute Truth. The Absolute Truth is realized step by step as Brahman, Paramatman, and, at last, Bhagavan, the Personality of Godhead. This Absolute Truth is realized by the broad-minded man who has attained knowledge and detachment, having followed the 18 principles of The Bhagavad Gita described above. The central point in these 18 principles is the attainment of transcendental devotional service to the Personality of Godhead. Therefore it is recommended for all classes of men to learn the art of devotional service to the Lord.
Religiousness, economic development and sense gratification without the aim of attaining devotional service to the Lord are all different forms of nescience, as will be shown hereafter in Sri Ishopanishad. Thus, to cultureVidya, especially in this age, one must always hear and chant and worship with concentrated attention, targetted on the Personality of Godhead, Who is the Lord of the transcendentalists.
Those who are engaged in the worship of demigods enter into the darkest region of ignorance, and still more so do the worshipers of the Absolute.
The Sanskrit word "Asambhuti" means those who have no independent existence. "Sambhuti" is the Absolute Personality of Godhead, Who is absolutely independent of everything. In The Bhagavad Gita, the Absolute Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, positively describes Himself in the following words: "I am the Supreme Cause of the powers delegated to the demigods, the great sages and the mystics. And because these are endowed with limited powers, it is very difficult for them to know how I appear Myself, by My own internal potency, in the form of a man."
All philosophers and great "Rishis, " or mystics, try to distinguish the Absolute from the relative by their tiny brain power. However, this can only help them to reach the point of negating relativity, without realizing any positive trace of the Absolute. Definition of the Absolute by negation is not a complete concept. Such negative definitions lead one to create a concept of his own, and one then imagines that the Absolute must be formless and without qualities. But these negations are simply the opposite numbers of the relative forms and qualities, and are themselves therefore relative. By such a concept of the Absolute one can at the utmost reach to the impersonal effulgence of God, known as Brahman; but one cannot make further progress to the stage of Bhagavan, the Personality of Godhead.
Such mental speculators do not know that Krishna is the Absolute Personality of Godhead, and that the impersonal Brahman is the glaring effulgence of His transcendental body, while Paramatman, the Supersoul, is His all-pervading representation. They do not know that Krishna has His eternal Form, with transcendental qualities of eternal bliss and knowledge. The dependent demigods and great sages imperfectly realize Him as one of the powerful demigods, but they consider that the Brahman effulgence is the ultimate Absolute Truth. Krishna's devotees, however—who by dint of their unalloyed devotion surrender unto Him—can know that He is the Absolute Person, and that everything emanates from Him only. Such devotees continuously render loving service unto Krishna, the Fountainhead of everything.
In The Bhagavad Gita it is also said that only bewildered persons, driven by a strong desire for sense gratification, worship the demigods for the satisfaction of temporary problems. A temporary relief from a certain difficulty by the grace of some demigod is the demand of less intelligent persons. The living being is in the material entanglement, and he has to be relieved from material bondage entirely to obtain permanent relief on the spiritual plane, where eternal bliss, life and knowledge exist.
In The Bhagavad Gita it is said that the worshipers of the demigods can go to the planets of the respective demigods. The Moon worshipers can go to the Moon, the Sun worshipers can go to the planet of the Sun, and so on. Modern scientists are now trying to go to the Moon with the help of rockets, which is not really a new attempt. The human being with his advanced consciousness is naturally inclined to travel in outer space and to reach other planets, either by sputniks, by mystic powers, or by worshiping the particular predominating deity on that planet. In the Vedic scriptures it is said that one can reach other planets in any of the ways mentioned above, most generally by worshiping the demigod presiding over the particular planet. But these planets are temporary residential places; the only permanent planets are the Vaikuntha Lokas, found in the spiritual sky, where the Personality of Godhead predominates. The Bhagavad Gita confirms this as follows:
Even though one may rise to the highest planet, Brahma Loka, one has to come back again. But if someone attains to Me (in the spiritual world), he doesn't have to take birth again.
Sri Ishopanishad suggests that one remains in the darkest region by hovering over the material planets, whatever his means may be. The whole universe is covered by the gigantic material elements, just like a coconut ball half-filled with water. As it is airtight and fully covered, the darkness within is dense, and therefore planets like the Sun and the Moon are required to illuminate the inside of the universe. Outside the universe there is a vast expansion of unlimited Brahmajyoti space, full of Vaikuntha Lokas.
The biggest and the highest planet in the Brahmajyoti is the Krishna Loka, or Goloka Vrindaban, where the Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, resides. Lord Sri Krishna never quits this Krishna Loka where He dwells with His eternal associates, and yet He is omnipresent throughout the complete material and spiritual cosmic situation. This fact has already been explained in Mantra Four of Sri Ishopanishad. The Lord is present everywhere, as the Sun is. A man can move through space with the highest possible speed, and still he will find that the Sun is there, although the Sun is situated in its own undeviating orbit.
The problem of life, however all this may be, cannot be solved by going to the Moon. There are many pseudo-worshipers who become religionists for the sake of name and fame only. Such pseudo-religionists do not wish to get out of this universe and reach the spiritual sky. They want only to maintain the status quo in the material world, under the garb of worshiping the Lord. And the atheists and the impersonalists lead such foolish pseudo-religionists into the darkest regions by preaching the cult of atheism. The atheist directly denies the existence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the impersonalist supports the atheist by preaching the impersonal existence of the Supreme Lord. So far as we have gone through Sri Ishopanishad, we have not come across any mantra where the Personality of Godhead is denied. It is said that He can run faster than anyone. Those who are running after the planets are certainly persons, and if the Lord can run faster than all of them, why should He be considered impersonal? The impersonal conception of the Supreme Lord is another face of ignorance, due to an imperfect vision of the Absolute Truth.
And so the ignorant pseudo-religionists, the manufacturers of so-called incarnations—directly violating the Vedic injunctions—are liable to enter into the darkest region of the universe, on account of their business of misleading those who follow them. These impersonalists generally pose themselves as incarnations of God to the foolish, who have no knowledge of the Vedic wisdom. And if such foolish men have any knowledge at all, it is more dangerous in their hands than ignorance itself. Such impersonalists do not even worship the demigods as is recommended in the scriptures.
In the scriptures there is a recommendation for worshiping the demigods under different circumstances, but at the same time it is said that there is no real need for this. In The Bhagavad Gita it is clearly stated that the results of worshiping the demigods are not permanent. The whole material world is not permanent, and therefore anything achieved here within the darkness of material existence is also impermanent. The problem, then, is how to obtain real and permanent life.
The Lord states that, as soon as one reaches Him by devotional service—which is the one and only way to approach the Personality of Godhead—there is complete freedom from the bondage of birth and death. In other words, the path of salvation, or getting out of the material clutches, fully depends on the principles of knowledge and detachment. And the pseudo-religionists have neither knowledge nor detachment from material affairs. Most of them want to continue in the golden shackles of material bondage, under the shadow of altruistic and philanthropic activities, and in the name of religious principles. By false religious sentiments they present a make-show of devotional service, indulging in all sorts of immoral principles, and still pass as spiritual masters and devotees of God. Such violators of religious principles have no respect for the authoritative Acharyas, the holy teachers in the strict disciplic succession; and to mislead the people in general they themselves become so-called Acharyas, without even following the principles of the Acharyas.
These rogues in human society are the most dangerous elements and, for want of religious government, they pass on without being punished by the law of the state. They cannot, however, avoid the law of the Supreme, Who has clearly declared in The Bhagavad Gita that these envious demons, in the garb of religious propagandists, shall be thrown down into the darkest region of hell. It is confirmed in Sri Ishopanishad that the pseudo-religionists are heading toward the most obnoxious place in the universe after finishing with the spiritual mastership business, which is simply for the matter of sense gratification.
It is said that one result is obtained by worshiping the Supreme Cause of all causes, and that another is obtained by worshiping what is not supreme. All this was heard from the undisturbed authorities who clearly explained it.
In this mantra of Sri Ishopanishad the system of hearing from the undisturbed authorities is confirmed. Unless one hears from the bona fide Acharya, who is never disturbed by the changes of the material world, one cannot have the real key to transcendental knowledge. The bona fide spiritual master, who has also heard the "Sruti Mantras," or Vedic knowledge, from his undisturbed Acharya, never manufactures or presents anything which is not mentioned in the Vedic literature. In The Bhagavad Gita it is clearly said that the worshipers of the "pitris," or forefathers, reach the forefathers, the gross materialists who make plans to remain here in this world remain here, and the devotees of the Lord, who worship none but Lord Krishna, the Supreme Cause of all causes, reach Him in His Abode in the spiritual sky.
Here also in Sri Ishopanishad, it is said that different results are achieved by different modes of worship. If we worship the Supreme Lord, certainly we will reach the Supreme Lord in His eternal Abode, and if we worship demigods like the Sun and Moon, we can reach these respective planets without any doubt. And if we want to remain here on this wretched planet with our planning commissions and our stop-gap political adjustments, we can certainly do that also.
Nowhere in authentic scriptures is it said that whatever you do and whatever you worship you will ultimately reach the same goal. Such foolish theories are offered by self-made masters who have no connection with the "Parampara," the bona fide system of disciplic succession. The bona fide spiritual master cannot say that for everyone who has his own mode of worship—be it worship of the demigods or of the Supreme—worship leads to the same goal. For a common man it is very easy to understand that a person starting by train from Bombay can reach the destination for which he has purchased his ticket, and nowhere else. A person who has purchased a ticket for Calcutta can reach Calcutta. But contemporary so-called masters preach that, whatever spiritual ticket you may purchase, it will take you to the Supreme Goal. Such mundane and compromising offers attract many foolish creatures to become puffed up with their manufactured methods of spiritual realization, but the Vedic instruction doesn't uphold them. Unless one has received knowledge from the bona fide spiritual master—one who is in the recognized line of disciplic succession—one cannot have the real thing as it is. The Bhagavad Gita says:
Thus, O chastiser of the foe, the Yoga principles [of The Gita] were known to the great kings. But, the Parampara system being broken, these principles appear now to be lost.
When Lord Sri Krishna was present in this world, the Bhakti Yoga principles defined in The Bhagavad Gita had become distorted, and so the Lord had to re-establish the disciplic system, beginning with Arjuna, who was the most confidential friend and devotee of the Lord. The Lord clearly said to Arjuna that it was because he was His devotee and friend that the principles of The Gita were understandable to him. In other words, no one can understand The Gita who is not a devotee and friend of the Lord. This means that only one who follows the path of Arjuna can understand The Gita.
At the present moment there are many interpreters of this sublime dialogue who have nothing to do with Arjuna or Lord Krishna. They interpret the verses of The Bhagavad Gita in their own ways, and postulate all sorts of rubbish in the name of The Gita. Such interpreters believe neither in Sri Krishna nor in His eternal Abode. So, then, what can they explain about The Bhagavad Gita?
The Gita clearly says that only those who have lost their senses worship the demigods. Krishna ultimately advises that one should give up all other ways and modes of worship, and fully surrender unto Him only. Those persons who are cleansed of all sinful reactions can have such unflinching faith in the Supreme Lord. Others will continue hovering over the material sphere with their paltry ways of worship, and thus will be misled from the real path, under the false impression that all paths lead to the same goal.
In this mantra the Sanskrit word "Sambhavat," worship of the Supreme Cause, is very significant. Lord Krishna is the Original Personality of Godhead, and everything that exists has emanated from Him. In The Gita the Lord explains Himself. He says there that He is the Creator of everyone, including Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. And because these three principal deities of the material world are created by the Lord, He is the Creator of all that exists in the material and spiritual worlds.
In the Atharva Veda it is similarly said that One Who existed before the creation of Brahma, and One Who enlightened Brahma with Vedic knowledge, is Lord Sri Krishna. "The Supreme Person desired to create the living entities, and thus Narayana created all the beings. From Narayana, Brahma was born. Narayana created all the Prajapatis. Narayana created Indra. Narayana created the eight Vasus. Narayana created the eleven Rudras. Narayana created the twelve Adityas." This Narayana being the plenary manifestation of Lord Krishna, Narayana and Krishna are one and the same.
There are later readings also which say that the same Supreme Lord is the Son of Devaki. His childhood with Devaki and Vasudeva and His identity with Narayana have also been confirmed by Sripad Shankara Acharya, even though Shankara does not belong to the Vaishnava, or personalist, cult. There are still other readings, also in the Atharva Veda, such as this: "Only Narayana existed in the beginning, and there was no existence of Brahma or Shiva, nor of Agni, the fire, nor of water. There were no stars, there was no Sun, no Moon. He does not remain alone. He creates as He desires."
In the Mokshadharma it is said: "I created the Prajapatis and the Rudras. They have not complete knowledge of Me because they are also covered by My illusory energy."
In the Varaha Puranam it is said: "Narayana is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and from Him the four-headed Brahma became manifested, as also did Rudra, who later became omniscient."
Thus all Vedic literature will confirm this view that Narayana or Krishna is the Cause of all causes. In The Brahma Samhita also it is said that the Supreme Lord is Sri Krishna. He is "Govinda," the Delighter of every living being, and He is the Primeval Cause of all causes. The really learned person will know all this by the evidence of great sages and the Vedas, and will thus decide to worship Lord Krishna as all-in-all.
Persons are called "Buddha," or really learned, who fasten themselves only to the worship of Sri Krishna. This conviction can be established when one hears the transcendental message from the undisturbed Acharya, with faith and love. One who has no faith in, or love for, Lord Krishna cannot be convinced of this simple truth. Such faithless persons are described in The Bhagavad Gita as "Mudhas," foolish as the ass. It is said that the mudhas deride the Personality of Godhead because they don't have complete knowledge from the undisturbed Acharya. One who is disturbed by the whirlpool movements of the material energy is not qualified to become an Acharya.
Before hearing The Gita, Arjuna was disturbed by this whirlpool—the reaction of family, society and community affection—and thus he wanted to become a philanthropist and a nonviolent man of the world. But when he became Buddha, by hearing the Vedic knowledge of The Bhagavad Gita from the Supreme Person, he changed his decision and became a worshiper of Lord Sri Krishna, Who had Himself designed the Battle of Kurukshetra. Arjuna worshiped the Lord by fighting with his so-called relatives, and thus became a pure devotee of the Lord. Such achievements are possible only by worshiping the real Krishna and not by worshiping some fabricated "Krishna" inaugurated by foolish men who are without knowledge of the intricacies of the science of Krishna described in The Gita and in the Srimad Bhagwatam.
According to the Vedanta Sutra, the "Sambhuta" is the source of birth and sustenance, and the reservoir after annihilation. The Srimad Bhagwatam, the natural commentary upon the Vedanta Sutras by the same author, comments that the source of all emanations is not a dead stone, but is "Abhijna," or fully conscious. Therefore, the Primeval Lord Sri Krishna says in The Gita that He is fully conscious of the past, the present and the future; and no one, including demigods such as Shiva and Brahma, knows Him fully. Those who are disturbed by the tides of material existence cannot know Him fully. Such half-educated spiritual masters try to make some compromise, and make the mass of human beings the object of worship. They do not know that such worship of the masses is not possible, nor are the masses perfect. This is something like pouring water on the leaves of the tree, instead of watering the root. The natural process of worship is to pour water on the root of the tree from which the leaves grow. But today's disturbed leaders become more attracted by the leaves than the root, and therefore, in spite of perpetually watering the leaves, all is drying up for want of nourishment.
Sri Ishopanishad advises us to pour water on the root, the Source of all germination. Worshiping the mass population by rendering bodily service which can never be perfect is less important than service to the soul. The soul is the root generating different types of bodies in terms of the law of Karma, or material reaction. To serve only the human being by medical aids, social amenities and educational facilities, while cutting the throats of poor animals in slaughterhouses, does not add up to any valid service to the living beings.
The living being is perpetually suffering from the material disease of birth, death, old age and disease, in different types of body. The human form of life is a chance to get out of this entanglement of material existence. This can be done simply by re-establishing the lost relationship of the living entity with the Supreme Lord. And the Lord comes personally to teach us this philosophy of surrender unto the Supreme, the "Sambhutam." Real service to humankind is to teach surrender unto the Supreme Lord, and to worship Him only, with full love and energy. That is the instruction of Sri Ishopanishad in this mantra.
The simple way to worship the Supreme Lord in this age of disturbance is to hear and chant about His great activities. The mental speculators, however, think of the activities of the Lord as imaginary, and therefore they refrain from any such hearing process, and invent some jugglery of words, without any substance, to divert the attention of the poor innocent mass of people. Instead of hearing the activities of Lord Krishna, they prefer to advertise themselves by inducing their followers to sing about the pseudo-spiritual master. In modern times, the number of such pretenders has increased in considerable numbers, and it has become a problem for the pure devotees of the Lord to save the mass of people from the unholy propaganda of these pretenders and imitation incarnations of God.
The Upanishads indirectly draw our attention to the Primeval Lord Sri Krishna, and The Bhagavad Gita, which is the summary of all Upanishads, directly points out Sri Krishna. One should, therefore, hear about Krishna as He is in The Gita or in the Srimad Bhagwatam, and that will gradually help him in cleansing his mind of all contaminated things.
The Bhagwatam says: "By hearing the activities of the Lord, one draws the attention of the Lord towards the devotee. And the Lord, being situated in the heart of every living being, helps the devotee by giving him proper direction." The Bhagavad Gita also confirms this.
This inner direction by the Lord cleanses the heart of the devotee of all dirty things which are produced by the material modes of passion and ignorance. The non-devotees are under the direction of passion and ignorance. By passion one cannot become detached from material affinity, and by ignorance one cannot know what he actually is, and what the Lord is. Thus, in the state of passion, there is no chance for self realization however much one may play the false part of a religionist. For a devotee, by the grace of the Lord, the modes of passion and ignorance are removed, and he at once becomes situated in the quality of goodness, the sign of a perfect brahmin. This stage of brahminical qualification can be earned by anyone and everyone, provided he follows the path of devotional service under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master. The Bhagwatam says that any lowborn living entity can be made purified under the guidance of a pure devotee of the Lord, because the Lord is so extraordinarily powerful.
The first sign of brahminical qualification is that the candidate becomes happy, and becomes enthusiastic in the matter of devotional service to the Lord. This unveils before him, automatically, all about the science of God. And, thus knowing the science of God, he gradually becomes loosened from his material attachments, and his doubtful mind becomes crystal clear, by the grace of the Lord. In this stage only can one become a liberated soul, and see the Lord in every step of life. That is the perfection of "Sambhutat," as described in this mantra of Sri Ishopanishad.
One should know perfectly well about the Personality of Godhead and His transcendental Name, as well as the temporary material creation with its temporary demigods, men and animals. When one knows these, he surpasses death, and the ephemeral cosmic manifestation with it; and in the eternal Kingdom of God he enjoys his eternal life of bliss and knowledge.
Human civilization, by its so-called advancement of knowledge, has created many material things, including space capsules and atomic energy. But it has failed to create a situation in which man need not die, take his birth again, become old, or suffer from diseases. Whenever these questions are raised by an intelligent man before a so-called scientist, the scientist very cleverly replies that material science is progressing, and that it will ultimately be possible to render man deathless and ageless. Such answers by material scientists prove their gross ignorance of material Nature. In material Nature everything is under the stringent laws of matter, and must pass through six stages of existence: birth, growth, duration of life, transformation, deterioration, and death at last. Nothing that is in contact with material Nature can be beyond the above-mentioned six laws of existence, and therefore no one, whether demigod, man, animal, or tree, can survive forever here in the material world.
The duration of life may vary in different species. Lord Brahma, the chief living being within this material world, may continue his life for millions and millions of years, while the minute germs may live just for some hours; that does not matter. No one in this material world can survive eternally. Things here are born or created under certain conditions, they stay for some time, and, if they have life then they grow, create generations, then dwindle gradually, and at last are annihilated. By that law even the Brahmas (there are millions of Brahmas in different universes—each one bigger than the last) are all liable to death, either today or tomorrow. Therefore, the whole material world is called "Martya Loka," the place of death.
The material scientists and politicians are trying to make this place deathless because they have no information of the deathless spiritual nature, due to their ignorance of the Vedic literature. The Vedic literature is full of knowledge matured by experience . But modern man is averse to receive knowledge from the Vedas, Puranas, and other scriptures.
In the Vishnu Purana we have information that Lord Vishnu, the Personality of Godhead, possesses different energies, known as "Para," superior, and "Apara," or "Avidya"—inferior. The material energy in which we are at present involved is called the Avidya, inferior, energy; and the material creation is made possible by such energy. But there is another, superior energy called the "Para Shakti," where everything is different from this material inferior Nature. That nature is the eternal or deathless creation of the Lord.
All the material planets—upper, lower and intermediate, including the Sun, Moon and Venus—are scattered over the universe. These planets exist only during the lifetime of Brahma. Some lower planets, however, are vanquished after the end of one day of Brahma, and they are again recreated during the next daytime of Brahma. Time calculation on the upper planets is different from that of ours. One of our years is equal to twenty-four hours, or one day and night, on many of the upper planets. The four ages of Earth (Satya, Treta, Dwapara, and Kali) make a duration of twenty-two thousand years and five months in terms of the time of these upper planets. Such a length of time multiplied by one thousand is one day of Brahma, and one night of Brahma is the same. With such days and nights accumulating into months and years, Brahma's life is estimated at one hundred years. And at the end of his life, the complete universal manifestation becomes vanquished.
The living beings residing in the Sun and Moon, as well as those in the "Martya Loka" system—which includes this Earth and many planets below the Earth—are all merged into devastating water during the nighttime of Brahma. During this time no living beings or species of life remain manifested, although spiritually they continue to exist. This non-manifested stage is called "Avyakta." And again, when the entire universe is vanquished at the end of Brahma's lifetime, there is an Avyakta state. But beyond these two non-manifested states there is another, spiritual atmosphere or nature, where there is a great number of spiritual planets, existing eternally even when all the planets within this material universe are vanquished.
The cosmic manifestation within the jurisdiction of the various Brahmas is a display of one-fourth the energy of the Lord, and this energy is called inferior. The spiritual nature beyond the jurisdiction of Brahma is called "Tripadavibhuti," three-fourths the energy of the Lord, and is the superior energy, or "Para Prakriti."
The predominating Supreme Person in the spiritual nature is Lord Sri Krishna. He can be approached only by unqualified devotional service, and not by anything else, such as the processes of Jnana (philosophy) and Yoga (mysticism), much less that of Karma (fruitive work). The "karmis," or fruitive workers, can elevate themselves to the "Swarga Loka" planets, including the Sun and the Moon. Jnanis and yogis can reach still higher planets, such as the Brahma Loka; and, becoming still more qualified by devotional service, they are allowed to enter into the spiritual nature, either in the illuminating cosmic atmosphere of the spiritual sky (the Brahman), or on the planets, according to qualification. It is certain, however, that no one can enter into the spiritual planets called Vaikunthas without being trained in devotional service.
On the material planets, everyone from Brahma down to the ant is trying to lord it over material Nature, and this is called the material disease. So long as this material disease continues, the living entity has to undergo the process of changing bodies, whether in the form of a demigod, a man, or an animal; and ultimately has to endure the unmanifested condition during the two kinds of devastations: the night of Brahma, and at the end of Brahma's life. If we want to cease the process of repeated birth and death, and the concomitant factors of old age and disease, then we must try to enter into the spiritual planets, and Lord Krishna by His plenary expansions is the dominating Figure on each and every one of them.
No one can predominate over Krishna. And anyone trying to predominate over material Nature is called a conditioned soul, being subject to the laws of material Nature, suffering the pangs of repeated birth and death. The Lord comes here to re-establish the principles of religion, and the basic principle is to develop the attitude of surrender toward Him. The Lord teaches this in the last portion of The Bhagavad Gita, but foolish men have tactfully misinterpreted this prime teaching, and have misled the people in diverse ways. They have been urged to open hospitals, but are not interested in educating themselves to enter into the spiritual kingdom by devotional service. They have been taught to take interest only in temporary relief work, which can never bring about real happiness for the living entity. They start varieties of public and semi-governmental institutions for tackling the devastating power of Nature. But they don't know how to pacify insurmountable Nature.
Many men are advertised as great scholars of The Bhagavad Gita, but they overlook the factual method presented there to pacify material Nature. Powerful Nature can only be pacified by the awakening of God consciousness, as is clearly mentioned in The Gita.
Sri Ishopanishad, however, teaches in this mantra that one must know both the "Sambhuti"and the "Vinasa"perfectly, side by side. By knowing the Vinasa alone—the temporary material manifestation—you cannot save anything: In the course of Nature, there is devastation at every moment. No one can be saved from these devastations by any efforts of hospital-opening. They can be saved only by complete knowledge of the eternal life of bliss and awareness. The whole Vedic scheme is meant to educate men in this art of achieving eternal life. People are often misguided by other, temporarily attractive things based on sense-gratification, but that sort of service which thus misleads them is most degraded.
You must save your fellow man in the right sense. There is no question of liking or disliking the truth. It is there. If you want to be saved from repeated birth and death you must take to the devotional service of the Lord. There can be no compromise in this matter of necessity.
O my Lord, Sustainer of all that lives, Your real face is covered by Your dazzling effulgence. Kindly remove that covering and exhibit Yourself to Your pure devotee.
In The Bhagavad Gita, the Lord explains about His Personal rays, called "Brahmajyoti"—the dazzling effulgence of His Personal Form—as follows:
I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman, which is immortal and imperishable, eternal, the constitutional position of ultimate happiness. (Gita, 14.27)
Brahman, Paramatman and Bhagavan are three angles of vision of the same Absolute Truth. Brahman is the phase of the Absolute Truth most perceptible to the beginner. Paramatman is the phase of the Absolute Truth for those who have progressed. And Bhagavan is the ultimate realization of the Absolute Truth. This is confirmed in The Gita, where the Lord says that He is the ultimate concept of the Absolute Truth. He is the source of the Brahmajyoti, as well as of the all-pervading Paramatman feature.
As He says that He is the ultimate reservoir of the Brahmajyoti, or impersonal conception of the Absolute Truth, so also He says in The Gita that there is no need of explaining His unlimited potency: it can be summarized in short that, by His one plenary portion—the all-pervading Paramatman—He maintains the complete material cosmic creation. And in the spiritual world also He maintains all manifestations. Therefore, in the Sruti Mantra of Sri Ishopanishad, He is addressed as "Pusan," the ultimate Maintainer.
The Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, is always full with transcendental bliss. When He was present at Vrindaban in India 5,000 years ago, He always remained in transcendental bliss, even from the beginning of His childhood pastimes. The killing of varieties of demons, such as Agha, Baka, Putana, and Pralamba were also pleasure excursions for Him. When He was within His village He was enjoying with His mother, sisters and friends as the naughty Butter Thief, and everyone of His associates was enjoying celestial bliss by His stealing. The Lord is known as the Butter Thief, but the term is never used in a derogatory sense. The term Butter Thief, in the case of the Lord, is used with the understanding of the pleasure of His pure devotees. Everything that was done by the Lord at Vrindaban was for the pleasure of His associates there. Such manifestations were created by Him to attract the dry speculators in the transcendental line, as well as the acrobats of the so-called Hatha Yoga system, trying to find the Absolute Truth.
Of the childhood play of the Lord with His playmates, the cowherd boys, Sukadeva Goswami in the Srimad Bhagwatam said:
The Personality of Godhead, Who is perceived as the impersonal Brahman of bliss, Who is worshiped as the Supreme Lord by the devotees, and Who is considered an ordinary human being by the mundane, played with the cowherd boys who had achieved that position after a huge accumulation of pious deeds.
Thus the Lord is ever engaged in transcendental loving activities along with His spiritual associates in the various relationships of "Shanta," calmness, "Dasya," servitorship, "Sakhya," friendship, "Vatsalya," paternal affection, and "Madhurya," conjugal love.
It is said that the Lord never goes out of the Vrindaban Dhama, and so it may be asked how He manages the affairs of His different creations. This is answered in The Gita: He pervades all the material creation by His plenary part, known as the "Purusha" incarnation. The Lord has nothing to do with material creation, maintenance and destruction, but He causes it to be done by His plenary expansion, this Paramatman or Supersoul feature. Every living entity is known as "Atman," soul. The principal Atman, Who controls them all, is "Paramatman"—Supersoul.
The whole system of God realization is a great science. The materialists can only analyze and meditate on the twenty-four factors of the material creation. They have very little information of the Purusha, the Lord. The impersonal transcendentalists are simply bewildered by the glaring effulgence of the Brahmajyoti. If one wants to see the absolute Truth in full, one has to penetrate beyond the twenty-four material elements and the glaring effulgence as well. Sri Ishopanishad hints at this direction, praying for removal of the "Hiranmaya Patra," the dazzling covering. Unless this covering is removed, and unless one can perceive the Supreme Personality of Godhead as He is, factual realization of the Absolute Truth can never be achieved.
The Paramatman feature of the Personality of Godhead is divided into three plenary expansions, collectively called "Vishnu Tattwa." The Vishnu Tattwa within the universe (one of the three principal deities—Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) is known as the "Kirodakshayee Vishnu." He is the all-pervading Paramatman in each and every individual living entity. And the "Garbhodakshayee Vishnu" is the collective Supersoul of all living entities. Beyond these two there is the Karanadakshayee Vishnu lying in the Causal Ocean. He is the Creator of all the universes. The Yoga system teaches the serious student to meet such Vishnu Tattwas after overcoming the twenty-four material elements of cosmic creation. The culture of empiric philosophy helps one to realize the impersonal Brahmalyoti, which is the glaring effulgence of the transcendental body of Lord Sri Krishna. This is confirmed in The Bhagavad Gita as well as in the Brahma Samhita (5.40):
In the millions and millions of universes, there are innumerable planets, each and every one of them different from the others by cosmic constitution, and all of them situated in a corner of the Brahmajyoti. This Brahmajyoti is the Personal ray of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Whom I do worship.
This mantra of the Brahma Samhita is the position of factual realization of the Absolute Truth, and the Sruti Mantra of Sri Ishopanishad under discussion is a confirmation of this mantra as a process of realization. It is a simple prayer to the Lord to remove the Brahmajyoti, so that one can see the real face of God.
Perfect knowledge means to know the root of Brahman. The root of Brahman is Lord Sri Krishna, and in scriptures such as the Srimad Bhagwatam the science of Krishna is perfectly elaborated. In the Bhagwatam, the author, Srila Vyasadeva, has established by realization that the Supreme Truth is described either as Brahman, Paramatman or Bhagavan. But he has never said that the Supreme Truth is anywhere described as "Jiva," the ordinary living entity. Therefore the living entity is not the all-powerful Supreme Truth. Otherwise, there would be no need of prayer by the entity for the Lord to remove the dazzling cover in order to see His real face.
The conclusion is, therefore, that in the absence of potent manifestations of the Supreme Truth, the impersonal Brahman is realized. Similarly, when there is realization of the material potencies of the Lord, with little or no information of the spiritual potency, it is called Paramatman realization. Therefore, both Brahman and Paramatman realization of the Absolute Truth are partial realizations. But when one realizes the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, in full potency after the removal of the Hiranmoya Patra, as is prayed for in this mantra, then he realizes that "Vasudeva sarvam iti": Lord Sri Krishna, known asVasudeva, is everything: Brahman, Paramatman and Bhagavan. He is Bhagavan, the root, and Brahman and Paramatman are His branches.
In The Bhagavad Gita there is a comparative analysis of the three grades of transcendentalists, known as "jnanis," the worshipers of the impersonal Brahman, the yogis, or worshipers of the Paramatman feature, and bhaktas, or devotees of Lord Sri Krishna. It is stated in The Gita that amongst all types of transcendentalists, one who is a jnani, who has cultured the Vedic knowledge, is supreme. Yet the yogis are still more than the jnanis. The yogis are far superior to fruitive workers as well. And amongst all kinds of yogis, "the one who constantly serves the Lord with all his energy is topmost.
The summary is that a philosopher is better than a laboring man, and a mystic is far superior to a philosopher. And of all the mystic yogis, one who is following Bhakti Yoga, who is constantly engaged in the service of the Lord, is the highest. Sri Ishopanishad directs us toward this perfection of life.
O my Lord, O primeval Philosopher, Maintainer of the universe, O regulating Principle, Destination of the pure devotees Well-wisher of the progenitors of mankind, please remove the effulgence of Your transcendental rays, so that I can see Your Form of Bliss. You are the eternal Supreme Personality of Godhead, like unto the Sun, as am I.
The Sun and the Sun's rays are one and the same qualitatively. Similarly, the Lord and the living entities are one and the same in quality. The Sun is one, but the molecules of the Sun's rays are innumerable. The Sun's rays constitute part of the Sun; the Sun and the rays conjointly are the complete Sun. Within the Sun planet there is the Sun god, and similarly within the supreme spiritual planet, Goloka Vrindaban, from which the effulgent Brahmajyoti is emanating, there is the eternal Lord, as is stated in the Brahma Samhita:
The transcendental Abode of Lord Krishna is the land of touchstones, of which the houses are built, shaded by desire trees. The Lord is engaged there in herding the surabhi cows, and is always served and surrounded by thousands of Goddesses of Fortune, who wait upon Him with all respect.
The description of this transcendental Abode of Lord Krishna is in the Brahma Samhita, and the Brahmajyoti is described there as the supreme rays from that planet, just as the Sun's rays come from the Sun globe. Unless one surpasses the Brahmajyoti glare, one cannot have any information of the land of the Lord. The impersonalist philosopher, being blinded by the dazzling Brahmajyoti, cannot realize the factual Abode of the Lord, nor His transcendental form. Affected by such a poor fund of knowledge, the thinkers cannot understand the all-blissful transcendental form of Lord Krishna. Sri Ishopanishad, therefore, offers this prayer to the Lord to remove the effulgent rays of the Brahmajyoti, so that the pure devotee can see His all-blissful transcendental form.
By realization of the impersonal Brahmajyoti, one experiences the auspicious aspect of the Supreme; by experience of the Paramatman, or all-pervading feature of the Supreme, one experiences a still more auspicious enlightenment, and by meeting the Personality of Godhead face to face, the devotee experiences the most auspicious feature of the Supreme. Being addressed as the Philosopher, the Maintainer, the Well-wisher, and so forth, the Supreme Truth cannot be considered impersonal. That is the indication of Sri Ishopanishad. The word Maintainer is especially significant: The Lord maintains His devotees specifically, although He is the Maintainer of one and all beings. By surpassing the impersonal Brahmajyoti, when the devotee sees the personal aspect of the Lord and His most auspicious eternal form, then the devotee realizes the Absolute Truth in full. Srila Jiva Goswami says in his Bhagwat Sandharva as follows:
The complete conception of the Absolute Truth is realized in the Personality of Godhead, because He is Almighty, with full potency in transcendence. In the Brahmajyoti the full potency of the Absolute Truth is not realized, and therefore Brahman realization is only partial realization of the Personality of Godhead. O learned sages, the first letter of the word "Bhagavan" is twice significant: first in the sense of "one who fully maintains," and second in the sense of "guardian." The second letter Ga—means guide, leader or creator. The letter Va (or Ba) means that every being lives in Him, and He also lives in every being. In other words, the transcendental sound Bhagavan represents the infinite knowledge, potency, energy, opulence, strength and influence, all without any tinge of material inebrieties.
The Lord fully maintains His unalloyed devotees, and He guides such devotees progressively on the path of devotional perfection. As Leader of His devotees, He ultimately awards the desired result of devotional service by giving Himself to His devotees. The devotees of the Lord see the Lord eye to eye by the causeless mercy of the Lord, and thus the Lord helps His devotees to reach the supermost spiritual planet, Goloka Vrindaban. As Creator, He can create all the necessary qualifications in His devotee so that the devotee can ultimately reach Him. The Lord is the Cause of all causes, and there is no cause of Him, for He is the Original Cause. As such He enjoys His own Self by manifesting His own internal potency.
The external potency is manifested not exactly by Himself, for He expands Himself as the "Purushas," and it is in these forms that He maintains the features of the material manifestation. By such expansions does He create, maintain and annihilate the cosmic manifestation.
The living entities are also differentiated expansions of His Self, and because some of the living entities desire to be lord, imitating the Supreme Lord, He allows them to enter into the cosmic creation, with the option of fully utilizing their propensity for lording it over. On account of the presence of His parts and parcels, the living entities, the whole phenomenal world is stirred into action and reaction. The living entities are given full facility to lord it over material Nature, but the ultimate controller is the Lord Himself in His plenary feature of Paramatman, the Supersoul, which is one of the Purushas.
Therefore, there is a gulf of difference between the living entity known as "Atman," and the controlling Lord, known as "Paramatman"—the soul and the Supersoul. Paramatman is the controller, and Atman is controlled; therefore they cannot be on the same level. The Paramatman fully cooperates with the Atman, and thus He is known as the constant companion of the living being.
This all-pervading feature of the Lord, Which exists in all circumstances of waking and sleeping, and also in potential states, and from Which the Jiva-Shakti (living force) is generated—as both the conditioned and the liberated souls—is known as Brahman.
Thus the Lord is the Origin of both Paramatman and Brahman, and therefore He is the Origin of all living entitles, and all else that exists. One who knows this engages himself at once in the devotional service of the Lord. Such a pure and fully cognizant devotee of the Lord is fully attached to Him in heart and soul, and whenever such a devotee assembles with similar devotees, they have no other engagement but to glorify the Lord in terms of His transcendental activities. Those who are not as perfect as the pure devotees, those who have realized only the Brahman feature or the Paramatman feature of the Lord, cannot appreciate the activities of such perfect devotees. But the Lord always helps such pure devotees by supplying necessary knowledge within their hearts, and by His special favor He dissipates all the darkness of ignorance. This the philosophers and yogis cannot imagine, because they more or less depend on their own strength. As is stated in the Katha Upanishad, the Lord can be known only to those whom He favors, and not to anyone else. And such special favors are bestowed upon His pure devotees only. Sri Ishopanishad here indicates such favor of the Lord, beyond the purview of the Brahmajyoti.
Let this temporary body be burnt into ashes, and let the air of life be merged with the totality of air. Now, O my Lord, please remember all my sacrifices, and because You are the ultimate Beneficiary, please remember all that I have done for You.
This temporary material body is certainly a foreign dress, and in The Bhagavad Gita it is clearly said that, after the destruction of the material body, the living entity is not annihilated, nor does he lose his identity. The identity of the living entity is never, therefore, impersonal or without form; but on the contrary, it is the material dress which is formless, and which takes a shape according to the form of the indestructible person. No living entity is originally formless, as is wrongly supposed by persons with a poor fund of knowledge. Here also in Mantra Seventeen of Sri Ishopanishad, the principle that the living entity exists after the annihilation of the material body is supported.
In the material world there is wonderful workmanship by material Nature in the matter of creating different varieties of bodies for the living beings, in terms of their propensities for sense gratification. The one who wanted to taste stool is given a material body which is quite suitable for eating stool—that of a hog. Similarly, the tiger has such a body that it can live by enjoying the blood of other animals, and by eating their flesh.
The human being is not meant for eating stool or flesh, because the shape of the teeth is different. Nor does he have any desire to taste stool, even in the most aboriginal state of life. Human teeth are so made that they can chew and cut fruit and vegetables, with two canine teeth so that one can eat flesh also. The material bodies of all animals and men are foreign to the living entity, and change according to the desire of the being for sense gratification. In this cycle of evolution one changes bodies one after another: from aquatic life—when the world was full of water—to vegetable life, from vegetable life to worm life, from worm life to bird life, from bird life to animal life, and from animal life to the human form.
The highest development of life is this human form when it is possessed of a full sense of spiritual knowledge, and the highest development of spiritual sense is described in this mantra of the Veda: one should give up this material body to be turned into ashes, and allow the living air to merge into the eternal reservoir of air. The living being's activities are performed within the body by movements of different kinds of air, and this is called, in sum, the "Prana Vayu." The yogis generally study to control the airs of the body, and the soul is supposed to rise up from one circle of air to another till it rises onto the "Brahmaranda," or highest circle of air. Then the perfect yogi can transfer himself to any planet he likes. The process is to give up one material body and then enter into another body, and the highest perfection of such a bodily change is possible when the living entity is able to give up this material body altogether, as is suggested in this mantra. He may then enter into the spiritual atmosphere, where he develops a completely different quality of body—a spiritual body—which never has to meet death or change.
Here in the material world one has to change his body, forced by material Nature on account of his different desires for sense gratification. These desires are represented in the various species of life, from the germs to the most perfect material bodies, those of Brahma and the demigods. All of these have bodies of matter in different shapes, and the intelligent person sees oneness not in the variety of bodies, but in the spiritual identity.
The spiritual spark which is the part and parcel of the Supreme Lord is the same either in the body of a hog or in the body of a demigod. There are different bodies according to the pious and vicious activities of the living entity. The human body is highly developed, with full consciousness of the constitution of the body; and the most perfect man, according to the Vedic scriptures, surrenders unto the Lord after many, many births of culturing knowledge. The culture of knowledge reaches perfection only when the knower comes to the point of surrendering unto the Supreme Lord, called Vasudeva. But even after attaining knowledge in the matter of one's spiritual identity, unless he comes to the point of knowing that the living entities are eternal parts and parcels of the Whole, and that they can never become the Whole, one has to fall down again into the material atmosphere, even after having been at one with the Brahmajyoti.
The Brahmajyoti emanating from the transcendental body of the Lord is full of spiritual sparks. The spiritual sparks being individual identities, with the full sense of existence, sometimes desire to become the enjoyers of the senses, and thus are given places in the material world to become false lords, under the dictation of the senses. This sense of overlordship is the material disease of the living being, and under the spell of such sense enjoyment he transmigrates through the different shapes of body manifested in the material world. The sense of becoming one with the Brahmajyoti is not, therefore, mature knowledge. The sense of surrendering unto the Lord completely, and developing the sense of spiritual service, is the highest perfectional stage.
In this mantra the living entity prays to enter into the spiritual Kingdom of God after relinquishing the material body and the material air. The devotee prays to the Lord to remember his activities and the sacrifices he has performed, now before his material body is turned into ashes. This prayer is made at the time of death, with full consciousness of his past deeds and of the ultimate goal. One who is completely under the rules of material law remembers the heinous activities performed during the existence of his material body, and therefore he gets another material body after death. The Bhagavad Gita confirms this truth. It states that, at the time of death, the mind carries with it the propensities of the dying animal, and the next life is obtained in terms of that mental state.
Unlike the simple animals, who have no developed mind, the human being can remember the activities of his passing life like dreams at night, and therefore his mind remains surcharged with material desires, and he cannot enter into the spiritual kingdom with a spiritual body. The devotees, however, by practice of devotional service to the Lord, develop a sense of love for Godhead. And even if at the time of death a devotee does not remember his godly service, the Lord does not forget him. This prayer is to remind the Lord about the devotee's sacrifices, but even if there is no reminder, the Lord does not forget the devotional service of the pure devotee.
The Lord clearly describes His intimate relationship with His devotees in The Gita. Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur explains The Gita's verses in this connection:
One should accept a devotee who is on the right path of the saints, even though such a devotee may seem of loose character. One should try to understand the real import of the words "loose character." A conditioned soul has to act in double functions, namely one for the maintenance of the body, and again for self realization. Social status, mental development, cleanliness, austerity, nourishment and the struggle for existence, are all for the maintenance of the body. And the self realization part of his activities is executed in his occupation as a devotee of the Lord, and he performs action in that connection also. These two different functions go along parallel lines because a conditioned soul cannot give up the maintenance of the body. The proportion of activities for maintenance of the body decreases, however, in proportion to the increase in devotional service. And so long as the proportion of devotional service does not come to the right point, there is a chance for an occasional exhibition of worldliness. But it should be noted that such worldliness cannot continue for any length of time because, by the grace of the Lord, such imperfections will come to an end very shortly. Therefore, the path of devotional service is the only right path. Being on the right path, even an occasional occurrence of worldliness does not hamper one in the advancement of self realization.
And, in The Gita Itself, Krishna says:
One who is engaged in devotional service, despite the most abominable action, is to be considered saintly because he is rightly situated. Very shortly does he become righteous, and attain to lasting peace. O son of Kunti, it is My promise that My devotee will never perish. O son of Pritha, anyone who will take shelter in Me, whether a woman or a merchant or born in a low family, can yet approach the Supreme Destination. How much greater then are the brahmins, the righteous, the devotees and saintly kings! In this miserable world, these are fixed in devotional service to the Lord. Engage in My service, and surrender unto Me. Completely absorbed in Me, surely will you come to Me. (Gita, 9.30-34)
Such facilities of devotional service are denied the impersonalists because they are attached to the Brahmajyoti feature of the Lord. They can neither penetrate the Brahmajyoti, as is suggested in the previous mantras, nor do they believe in the Personality of Godhead. Their business is mostly concerned with semantics, the jugglery of words of mental creation. As such the impersonalists pursue fruitless labor, which is confirmed in The Bhagavad Gita in the Twelfth Chapter.
All the facilities suggested in this mantra of Sri Ishopanishad can easily be obtained by constant contact with the Personal feature of the Absolute Truth. Devotional service to the Lord consists essentially of nine transcendental activities on the part of the devotee:
1. hearing about the Lord,
These nine principles of devotional service, either in sum total or one by one, can help the devotee to be constantly in touch with God, and therefore at the end of life it is easy for the devotee to remember the Lord. By adopting only one of these nine principles it was possible for the following renowned devotees of the Lord to achieve the highest perfection:
1. By hearing only, Maharaj Parikshit, the hero of Srimad Bhagwatam, achieved the desired result.
Actually, the explanation of this mantra and of practically all the mantras of the Vedic hymns is summarized in the Vedanta Sutras; and then again they are properly explained in the Srimad Bhagwatam. Srimad Bhagwatam is the mature fruit of the Vedic tree of wisdom. In the Srimad Bhagwatam this particular mantra is explained in the questions and answers of Maharaj Parikshit and Goswami Sukadeva at the very beginning of their meeting. As hearing and chanting of the science of God is the basic principle of devotional life, so the complete Bhagwatam is heard by Maharaj
Parikshit and chanted by Goswami Sukadeva. Maharaj Parikshit enquired from Sukadeva because Sukadeva was a greater spiritual master than any great yogi or transcendentalist of his time.
Maharaj Parikshit's question was, "What is the duty of every man, specifically at the time of death?"
The answer by Goswami Sukadeva was that everyone who is desirous of being free from all anxieties should always hear about and glorify the Personality of Godhead, Who is the Supreme Director of everything, the Extinguisher of all difficulties, and the Supersoul of all living entities.
So-called human society is generally engaged at night in the matter of sleeping or sex indulgence. And during the daytime men are engaged in earning money as much as possible, or else in shopping for the family maintenance. People have very little time to talk about the Personality of Godhead or to make any enquiries about Him. They have dismissed the case of God's existence in so many ways, especially by declaring Him to be impersonal—that is, without any sense perception. But the Vedic literature, whether the Upanishads or the Vedanta Sutras or The Bhagavad Gita or the Srimad Bhagwatam, in every scripture declares the Lord to be the sentient Being, supreme over all other living entities. And His glorious activities are identical with Himself. One should therefore not indulge in hearing and speaking of the rubbish activities of worldly politicians and the so-called big men of society, but should so mold his life that not a second is wasted without engagement in godly activities. Sri Ishopanishad directs us towards such activities.
Unless one is accustomed to this devotional practice, what will he remember at the time of death when the body is dislocated, and what will he pray to the Almighty Lord for, remembering his sacrifices in life? Sacrifice means sacrificing the interest of the senses. One has to learn this art by employing the senses in the service of the Lord during one's lifetime, so that one can utilize the result at the time of death.
O my Lord, powerful as the fire, Omnipotent One, now I do act to offer You all obeisances, falling at Your Feet on the ground. O my Lord, please lead me in the right path to reach You, and, as You know all of what I have done in the past, please make me free from the reactions to my past sins, so that there will be no hindrance to my progress.
This surrendering process and praying for the causeless mercy of the Lord leads the devotee progressively on the path of complete self realization. The Lord is addressed as the fire because He can burn anything into ashes—including the sins of the surrendered soul. As described in the previous mantras, the real or ultimate aspect of the Absolute is His feature as the Personality of Godhead. His impersonal feature of the Brahmajyoti is a dazzling covering over the face of the Lord. Fruitive activities, or the "Karmakanda" path of self realization, is the lowest stage in this endeavor. As soon as such activities become even slightly deviated from the regulative principles of the Vedas, such activities are transformed into "Vikarma," or acts against the interest of the actor. Such Vikarma is enacted by the illusioned living entities simply for sense gratification, and thus such activities become hindrances on the path of self realization.
Self realization is possible for the human form of life, but not for other forms. There are 8,400,000 species or forms of life—of which the human form, with the qualifications of brahminical culture, presents the only chance to obtain knowledge of the Transcendence. Brahminical culture means truthfulness, controlling the senses, forbearance, simplicity, full knowledge, full faith in God—and not to become simply proud of one's high parentage. To be the son of a brahmin is a chance to become a brahmin, just as being the son of a big man is a chance to become a big man. But such a birthright is not everything, because one still has to attain the brahminical qualifications for himself. As soon as one becomes proud of his birth as the son of a brahmin and neglects to acquire the qualifications of a real brahmin, he at once becomes degraded and drawn from the path of self realization, and his life-mission as a human being is defeated.
In The Bhagavad Gita it is assured us by the Lord that the "Yogabhrastas," or souls fallen from the path of self realization, are given a chance for rectification by taking birth either in the families of good brahmins, or in the families of rich merchants. These are the higher chances for self realization: to become a rich man's son, or to become the son of a good brahmin. And if these chances are misused by the illusioned human being, the result is that such a man loses the good chance of human life offered by the Almighty Lord.
The regulative principles are such that one who follows them is promoted from the plane of fruitive activities to the plane of transcendental knowledge, and from transcendental knowledge he becomes perfect, after many, many births, when he surrenders unto the Lord. This is the general procedure. But one who surrenders at the very beginning, as is mentioned in this mantra, at once surpasses all the stages of progression by simple adoption of the devotional attitude. As is stated in The Gita, the Lord at once takes charge of such a surrendered soul and makes him free from all the reactions to his sinful acts. In the Karmakanda activities there are many sinful actions, and in "Jnanakanda," the path of philosophical development, the number of such actions is less. But in devotional service to the Lord, the path of "Bhakti," there is practically no chance of sinful reactions. One who is a devotee of the Lord attains all the good qualifications of the Lord Himself, not to mention becoming a brahmin. A devotee automatically attains the qualifications of an expert brahmin authorized to perform sacrifices, even though such a devotee may not have taken his birth in the family of a brahmin. Such is the omnipotence of the Lord that He can make a man born in the family of a brahmin as degraded as a lowborn dogeater, and He can also make a lowborn dog-eater more than a qualified brahmin, simply on the strength of devotional service .
The omnipotent Lord, being situated within the heart of everyone, can give directions to His sincere devotee as to the right path. Such directions are especially offered to the devotee, even if he desires something else. For others God gives sanction to the doer only at the risk of the doer, but in the case of a devotee the Lord directs him in such a way that he never acts wrongly. In the Srimad Bhagwatam it is said that the Lord is so kind upon His devotee that, even though he sometimes falls into the entanglement of Vikarma—acts against the directions of the Vedas—the Lord at once rectifies the mistakes of the devotee from within his heart, because such devotees are very dear to the Lord.
Here in this mantra the devotee prays to the Lord to rectify him from within his heart. To err is human: A conditioned soul is very often apt to commit mistakes, and the only remedial measure for such unknown sins is to give oneself up to the Lotus Feet of the Lord, so that He may guide the devotee. The Lord takes this charge for the fully surrendered souls, and thus all problems are solved simply by surrendering oneself unto the Lord and acting in terms of the Lord's directions. Such directions are given to the sincere devotee in two ways. One is by means of the saints, scriptures, and spiritual master; and the other is by the Lord Himself, residing within the heart of everyone. Thus the devotee is protected in all respects.
The Vedic knowledge is transcendental and it cannot be understood simply by mundane educational procedures. One can understand the Vedic mantras only by the grace of the Lord and the spiritual master. If one takes shelter of a bona fide spiritual master, it is to be understood that he has obtained the grace of the Lord. The Lord appears as the spiritual master for the devotee. And so the spiritual master, the Vedic injunctions, and the Lord Himself from within all guide the devotee in full strength, and there is no chance of such a devotee falling again into the mire of material illusion. The devotee, thus protected all round, is sure to reach the ultimate destination of perfection. The whole process is hinted at in this mantra of Sri Ishopanishad, and the Srimad Bhagwatam still further explains this.
Hearing and chanting of the glories of the Lord are themselves acts of piety. The Lord wants everyone to do this, because He is the Well-wisher of all living entities. And by practicing this hearing and chanting of the glories of the Lord, one becomes cleansed of all undesirable things within himself. His devotion becomes fixed upon the Lord. At this stage the devotee acquires the brahminical qualifications, and the resultant reactions of lower qualities become completely vanished. He becomes fully enlightened by such devotional service and thus knows the path of the Lord and how to attain Him. All doubts become diminished, and he becomes a pure devotee.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta Purports to Sri Ishopanishad, in the matter of realization of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
It's a common misconception that one must give up all of the "good foods" to become a vegetarian. However, anyone who takes to a Krishna Prasadam diet, which strictly rules out meat, fish or eggs of any kind, soon forgets that he has abandoned such so-called "good foods." Cooking for Krishna stands as one of the great arts of life. The care and affection with which each dish is prepared for the Lord is unmatched in even the finest cuisines of the world. But don't believe it because we say so. Find out for yourself. Anyone who would like the great experience of tasting Krishna Prasadam may drop in at any of our Krishna Consciousness centers for a lunchtime meal. On Sunday afternoons Krishna's devotees will welcome you to a great love feast devoted to Krishna and serve you a plate of food you will never forget. Usually, this plate will contain fifteen to twenty different preparations, each displaying its own subtle flavor. You may particularly like our Samossas (featured in the last issue), or you may have a fondness for Choody, those salty, crunchy little noodles, while Puris dipped in strawberry or apple chutney will certainly satisfy anyone's sweet tooth. Then again, perhaps you'll favor the coconut dust or the bread chutney featured in this month's issue.
1 lb. grated coconut (5-½—6cups)
Over medium heat melt 1/3 cup butter in a large skillet. Turn heat to high and stir in a very few grains of camphor, 1 tsp. of coriander, and ¼ tsp. of turmeric. Stir well for ten seconds. Quickly stir in 1 lb. of grated coconut and mix till all coconut is yellow. Add ½ tsp. salt and stir constantly till coconut is light brown. Stir in 1-1/3 cups sugar and cook for five more minutes. Remove to a platter, and serve in small cups with spoons. Makes about four (standard) cups.
4 cups flour
In a large mixing bowl sift together 4 cups flour, 2 tsp. salt and 1-½ tsp. baking soda. Blend in butter till evenly mixed. Stir water in slowly and mix well. Knead dough 10-15 times. On a buttered pan place 1-½—2 inch lumps of dough and bake in a hot, 400 degree oven till light brown. When biscuits are cool, break into small crumbs. To these crumbs add 3 tbsp. sage, 1 tbsp. salt, and ¾ tbsp. black pepper. In a large skillet melt ½ cup butter. Stir in 1 tbsp. ground cumin and ½ tsp. celery seed. Cook on high heat till seeds are dark in color. Stir in crumb mixture till well mixed. Add water and stir well. Cook for 2-3 minutes more. Serves 8.
by Shama Dasi
O Krishna, Your sweet essence is dripping through my fallen soul.
Govinda, pure joy is streaming from the tip of my tongue through my innermost being when I cry out Your Holy Name.
Jai, Jai Jai! Your energy feels like perfect honey flowing fresh into crimson castles.
Higher, higher, we rise up only to greet You, Gopala—sweet beautiful cowherd boy blue.