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Smarta and Vaishnava
Mundane fruitive smritis are casual-their results-the sense enjoyers are worldly smartas.
When a living entity considers his material body and mind as his self and thus engages in various fruitive activities with a desire to enjoy their fruits, then he is called a smarta. The rules and regulations of the smritis have been composed to regulate those who are not surrendered to the Lord or His devotees but are simply engaged for their own bodily comforts. The rigid instructions of the smritis are meant to minimize the sinful propensities of those who always speak lies, cheat others, behave improperly, hanker after others possessions, and commit violence to achieve their self-interest. Therefore the injunctions of the smritis are not eternal, but simply casual, in other words, they have been created for some specific purpose. But the spiritual activities meant for the pleasure of the Lord are eternal, because in such activities the enjoyer is the Supreme Lord, the activities are performed to satisfy Him, and they will eternally do so. Among the twenty-eight subjects dealt with by smarta Raghunandana, subjects such as dayabhaga (inheritance), samskara (purificatory processes), shuddhinirnaya (ascertainment of purity), prayashcitta (atonement), and shraddha (offering oblations with prasada) are meant for human beings who desire to live one hundred years, and the enjoyers in this case are also those same human beings. There is no mention about the science of self-realization. His mention of worshiping Durga, observing Ekadashi, and sacrificing oxen are meant for material enjoyment or attaining liberation. Therefore they are casual.
The devotees follow the primary rule and prohibition.
The Vaishnavas who are fully surrendered to the Lord do not engage in casual activities. They know that the Supreme Lord is the only enjoyer of everything and thus they engage in devotional service to please Him. They know that:
smartavyah satatam vishnur vismartavyo na jatucit
sarve vidhi-nishedhah syur etayor eva kinkarah
Lord Vishnu is to be remembered always-this is the only rule, and never forget Vishnu-this is the only prohibition. All other rules and prohibitions are based on this primary rule and this primary prohibition. That which by following the Lord is always remembered is a rule, and that which by following the Lord is never forgotten is a prohibition. (from Padma Purana quoted in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu)
The Vaishnavas serve the Lord with love and devotion.
The Vaishnavas are fully surrendered souls, therefore all their activities are meant to satisfy the Lord. The Vaishnavas are nonenvious and realistic, because they have reestablished their relationship with the Lord. They do not wish to be influential in this world or subdue others; nor do they desire any fame through the performance of various sacrifices, meditation, chanting mantras, undergoing austerities, performing funeral rites, offering oblations, travelling to the holy places, or sacrificing animals in the worship of Durga; nor are they interested in attaining the heavenly planets. Furthermore, they do not desire to enjoy the pleasure of liberation by attaining freedom from the clutches of birth and death. If they can serve their worshipable Lord, they do not mind to take millions of births or even reside in hell. This is their only prayer. Pleasing the Lord is their goal of life.
Exhibition of the abominable
mundane considerations of the materialists
who are bewildered by the illusory energy.
It is found in Shrimad Bhagavatam that in ancient times there was a debate between the Hari-janas and Prakriti-janas over Ajamila. In this connection, Yamaraja instructed the Prakriti-janas (the Yamadutas) as follows: “What to speak to others, even great personalities like Jaimini and Manu, who have fruitive mentalities, could not properly realize the characteristics of the Hari-janas. Because their intelligence has been contaminated by the flowery language of the Vedas, their power of discrimination has been overwhelmed by Maya. Therefore they glorify the elaborate and opulent ritualistic ceremonies of the smritis. Because they identify their bodies as their self, according to the logic kamukah pashyanti kamini-mayam jagat, or “a very lusty man sees women everywhere,” they even find various faults with the devotional endeavors of the Vaishnavas; they consider the water that has washed the feet of the Vaishnavas as ordinary water; and they even consider that if Lord Narayana (shalagrama) is touched by a shudra He should be purified by five purificatory ingredients. In other words, they think that even the Lord is subjected to contamination and can be purified by something like cow dung. They consider that the Vaishnavas belong to a particular caste, they consider maha-prasada as ordinary rice and dal that can be contaminated by the touch, and they consider that if they eat or offer foodstuffs cooked by their disciples they will loose their caste. They eat atapa rice that has not been precooked, takes bath three times a day, walk abnormally on the road in order to avoid stepping on the ants, wear silk dhotis, consider that the Vaishnavas are forced to enjoy the fruits of their karma, consider that if one does not properly follow the demoniac varnashrama system then he will have to face the consequences, consider that religious principles are subordinate to social conventions, and glorify their godless society. Moreover, they consider that all of these activities are devotional service to the Lord.
A surrendered soul is freed from sinful reactions;
activities performed with a desire to please the Lord are helpful for achieving pure devotional service.
The Lord has personally stated in Shri Bhagavad-gita, which is the crest jewel of all conclusion, as follows:
sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam sharanam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo mokshayishyami ma shucah
“Give up all varieties of varnas and ashramas and take shelter of Me. I will deliver you from all sinful reactions that will be result from not following those activities prescribed for those varnas and ashramas.”
He also states in the Third Chapter as follows:
yajna-shishtashinah santo mucyante sarva-kilbishaih
bhunjate te tv agham papa ye pacanty atma-karanat
“Those devotees who accept the remnants of the Lord are freed from sinful reactions born from fruitive activities like the five different kinds of yajna (panca-suna). And those who claim to be the enjoyers and accumulate ingredients for their own enjoyment, verily eat only sin.”
He further states in Shri Gita as follows:
yajnarthat karmano 'nyatra loko 'yam karma-bandhanah
“Activities must be performed for Yajna, or the Supreme Lord Vishnu, otherwise they become the cause of bondage.” Activities performed for Vishnu are devotional service. They can gradually turn into pure devotional service.
It is mentioned in Narada-pancaratra as follows:
surarshe vihita shastre harimuddishya ya kriya
saiva bhaktir iti prokta taya bhaktih para bhavet
“O sage amongst the demigods, Narada, those activities prescribed in the revealed scriptures for satsifying the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Hari, are called the regulative principles of bhakti, (sadhana-bhakti), by practicing which one may attain the highest bhakti (prema).”
laukiki vaidiki vapi ya kriya kriyate mune
hari-sevanukulaiva sa karya bhaktim icchata
“One should perform only those activities-either worldly or prescribed by Vedic rules and regulations-which are favorable for the cultivation of Krishna consciousness.” Therefore all the activities performed by the devotees for the satisfaction of the Lord do not yield any sinful reactions and they help one in attaining pure devotional service. And since the activities performed by the nondevotee smartas are meant for their own enjoyment, they are simply sinful. Even the activities that are pious according to the smartas are also not totally free from sin. For example, being vegetarian is a pious activity. But when the fruitive workers eat vegetarian food, they also commit violence to living entities. Because fruits and roots are also living entities, if one cuts and eats them he is certainly sinful due to the act of killing. But when a surrendered devotee offers some fruits, roots, or water to Hari with devotion and according to the instructions of the shastras, the Lord gladly accepts them. And when the devotees eat His transcendental remnants, no sinful reaction can touch them.
Without worshiping the Lord even
the followers of varnashrama system cannot
be freed from sinful reactions.
Statements from the Eleventh Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam are translated by Shrila Kaviraja Gosvami Prabhu in His Chaitanya-caritamrita as follows:
cari varnashrami yadi krishna nahi bhaje
svakarma karite se raurave padi' maje
“The followers of the varnashrama institution accept the regulative principles of the four social orders [brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya and shudra] and four spiritual orders [brahmacarya, grihastha, vanaprastha and sannyasa]. However, if one carries out the regulative principles of these orders but does not render transcendental service to Krishna, he falls into the hellish condition of material life.” The reason for this is that other than devotional service all other endeavors are meant for material enjoyment and are therefore sinful. Only devotional service to the Lord is totally freed from sins.
In the service of the Lord,
irreligiousity becomes religious.
The Supreme Lord has said:
man nimittam kritam papam api dharmaya kalpate
mam anadritya dharmo 'pi papam syan mat prabhavatah
“Committing sins for Me is also considered pious. But if one neglects Me and engages in religious activities, then by My influence these actions turn into sins.” (This verse is from Padma Purana quoted in Bhakti-sandarbha) We will herein cite one example of the behavior of a great personality who was a predecessor acarya in the Ramanuja-sampradaya. Shrila Jiva Gosvami has mentioned the following incident in his commentary on Shrimad Bhagavatam. Long ago there was a devotee of Vishnu named Tirumangai in South India. From his childhood he traveled to various holy places in order to serve the Lord. In the course of his travels four persons with mystic perfections became his disciples. The name of his first disciple was Tarka-cudamani, his second disciple was Dvara-unmocaka, his third disciple was known as Chayagraha, meaning whoever was touched by his shadow became immobile, and the name of his fourth disciple was Jaloparicara, meaning he could walk on water. While travelling with these four disciples, Tirumangai once came to the temple of Shri Ranganatha. He saw that the temple was almost falling apart and that the very narrow courtyard was filled with leather shoes. The whole temple was surrounded by bushes. Due to the fear of tigers and jackals, the servants came once a day to worship Shri Ranganatha. Seeing this, Tirumangai Alvar became simultaneously distressed and angry. He began to think, “The materialists are living in gorgeous palaces, surrounded by women and engaged in various lusty affairs, and the Lord of the universe, the king of kings, the life and soul of everyone, is kept in a broken temple with dire negligence. The demons are plundering the wealth of Krishna.” But Tirumangai was himself penniless, so he could not decide what to do.
Eventually he and his four disciples began to visit rich people to beg alms. But being proud of their wealth, the rich people rather than giving him charity addressed him as a thief and turned him away. Some of them taunted him saying, “What is the need of money for a sadhu?” But Tirumangai did not budge from his resolve. When he saw that the rich people were plundering the Lord's wealth and enjoying, he resolved to get the Lord's wealth back from the rich thieves and utilize it in the service of the Lord.
Tirumangai and his four disciples became a gang of robbers. His first disciple, Tarka-cudamani, would entangle the materialists in the net of argument, his second disciple, Dvara-unmocaka, would then open the door of the treasury house, his third disciple, Chayagraha, then made everyone motionless, and his fourth disciple, Jaloparicara, entered the palaces that were surrounded by deep moats and plundered all the wealth.
Thereafter, when sufficient wealth was accumulated, Tirumangai brought many expert artists from various provinces and built a beautiful seven-story temple. But Tirumangai himself cooked once a day, and after offering to the Lord he ate the remnants. He was fully surrendered and engaged in the service of the Lord with all his senses. In this way he engaged his disciples in the service of the Lord. He was a self-controlled Gosvami.
Actual examples of serving the spiritual master, serving the Lord, and being humbler then the grass according to the considerations of the devotees or Hari-janas.
In the vision of a smarta, or moralist, the above-mentioned activities of Tirumangai Alvar are certainly acts of robbery. Tirumangai personally became a leader of thieves and inspired his disciples to perform such activities for the purpose of serving the Lord. In this activity, however, he had no desire at all for personal enjoyment or fame. He realized that all wealth belongs to Narayana, the husband of Lakshmi. Rich people are enjoying wealth meant for the Lord's service only due to illusion. Therefore they are actually the plunderers. So when the Lord's wealth could not be recovered through proper channels, then it should be recovered by any means. According to the Hari-janas, or devotees, this plundering act of Tirumangai is devotional service and being humbler than straw in the street. Just as the burning of Lanka by Hanuman is actually devotional service, service to the spiritual master, and being humbler than the grass. The reason is that in these activities there is no tinge of material enjoyment or liberation. And those activities which aim at material enjoyment and liberation, though considered auspicious, are actually impious. The reason is that they were not solely performed for the pleasure of the Lord. Therefore Shrimad Bhagavatam (3.23.52) gives the following instruction:
neha yat karma dharmaya na viragaya kalpate
na tirtha-pada-sevayai jivann api mrito hi sah
“Anyone whose work is not meant to elevate him to religious life, anyone whose religious ritualistic performances do not raise him to renunciation, and anyone situated in renunciation that does not lead him to devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, must be considered dead, although he is breathing.” (Weekly Gaudiya, Vol. 2)