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Jiver Nitya O Naimittik Dharma
The Soul's Eternal and Temporary Natures
Of all earthly realms, Jambudvipa is the best. Of all places in Jambudvipa, Bharata-varsha is the best. Of all places in Bharata-varsha, Gauda-desha is the best. Of all places in Gauda-desha, Shri Navadvipa-mandala is the best. In one part of Shri Navadvipa-mandala, on the Ganga shore, the beautiful village of Shri Godruma is splendidly manifested eternally. In ancient times many bhajananandi devotees made their homes in the gardens of Shri Godruma.
In that place, in a cottage of vines, a surabhi cow once worshiped Lord Gaurasundara, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Not far from that place was a bhajana-kutira named Pradyumna-kunja. In that bhajana-kutira thick with vines, a paramahamsa babaji, who was an initiated disciple of the Supreme Lord's personal associate Pradyumna Brahmacari, always stayed, rapt in the bliss of worshiping the Lord (bhajanananda).
Aware that Shri Godruma is not different from Shri Nanda-grama in Vrindavana, Shri Prema-dasa Babaji, who was learned in all the scriptures, also took shelter in that holy place. Every day he chanted Lord Hari's holy names two hundred thousand times. Every day he offered hundreds and hundreds of dandavat obeisances to all the Vaishnavas. He maintained his life by madhukari begging at the homes of the cowherd people there. He strictly followed the rules of a saintly life.
When he had finished all his spiritual duties, he would not waste his time with gossip. Rather, he would read, with tears in his eyes, the Prema-vivarta of Lord Gaurasundara's dear associate Jagadananda Pandita. At those times the devotees in that forest grove would listen with love and devotion. And why not? The book Prema-vivarta is full of the sweet mellows (rasas) of devotional service. Also, this babaji read it so sweetly that hearing its words at once extinguished whatever remained of the poison fire of material desires in the hearts of the devotees.
One afternoon, when he had finished the chanting of all his rounds, the paramahamsa babaji sat down in his madhavi-vine-covered cottage and read from "Prema-vivarta", and as he read he became plunged in the ocean of devotional love. At that moment an austere sannyasi approached him and again and again offered dandavat obeisances at his feet.
Plunged in devotional bliss, the babaji was for a moment unaware of external events. Finally seeing the sannyasi prostrate before him, the babaji, who was more humble than a blade of grass, at once bowed down to greet him. Saying, “O Lord Chaitanya, O Lord Nityananda, please be merciful upon me, a fallen soul," the babaji began to weep.
Then the sannyasi said to the saintly babaji, “O master, I am very lowly and fallen. Why, imitating my actions, do you mock me in this way?" Then, taking the dust of the babaji's feet, the sannyasi sat down before him.
Giving the sannyasi a tree-bark sitting place, and then sitting beside him, the babaji, his words choked with spiritual love, said, "O master, I am a fallen soul. How may I serve you?"
Setting down his kamandalu, the regal sannyasi respectfully folded his hands and said, "O master, I am very unfortunate. I studied the sankhya, patanjala, nyaya, vaisheshika, purva-mimamsa, and uttara-mimamsa philosophies. I studied the Vedanta, Upanishads, and many other scriptures also. I traveled on pilgrimage to Varanasi and many other holy places. I spent much time debating with others the meaning of the scriptures.
"It is twelve years now since I accepted a sannyasi danda from Shrila Saccidananda Sarasvatipada. After I accepted the danda I spent my time always traveling to all the holy places. Wherever I went in Bharata-varsha I always associated with the sannyasi followers of Shankaracarya. Passing through the stages of of kuticaka, bahudaka, and hamsa, after a few days I attained the stage of paramahamsa. then I stayed always at Varanasi.
"Observing a vow of silence, I took shelter of the sayings `aham brahmasi' (I am Brahman), `prajnanam brahma' (Brahman is consciousness), and `tat tvam asi' (You are that), which Shankara declares are the maha-vakyas (most important statements of the scriptures).
"Then one day a saintly Vaishnava singing songs about Lord Hari's pastimes came before me. Opening my eyes wide, I gazed at him. he was bathed by the tears flowing from his eyes, and the hairs of his body stood erect in ecstasy. In a choked voice he chanted, `Shri Krishna Chaitanya! Prabhu Nityananada!' Again and again he danced with faltering steps. Sometimes he fell to the ground.
"As I gazed at him and heard his song, my heart became filled with love, a love I have no power to describe. Even though I became filled with love, I followed the rules of paramahamsa life and I did not speak a word to him.
"I am pathetic, my rules of paramahamsa life are pathetic, and my so-called good fortune is also pathetic. Why did I not speak to him?
"Since that day my heart has been irresistibly drawn to to feet of Shri Chaitanya. I became very agitated. I spent many days searching for that Vaishnava, but I did not see him anywhere.
"When I saw that Vaishnava and heard the holy names from his mouth I became filled with a pure and sacred bliss. Before that time I did not know that such a bliss existed anywhere. I did not think it was possible for a human being to experience such bliss.
"After some days of thinking I decided that it would be best for me to take shelter of the feet of a Vaishnava. Then I left Varanasi and went to Shridhama Vrindavana.
"There I saw many Vaishnavas. Every one of them was calling out the names `O Shri Rupa! O Shri Sanatana! O Shri Jiva Gosvami!' and lamenting. They were all meditating on Shri Shri Radha-Krishna's pastimes and, in voices choked with love, calling out the name of Navadvipa.
"From that moment I have yearned to see Navadvipa. After a 168 mile journey from Shri Vraja-dhama, I arrived in Mayapura a few days ago.
"In Mayapura town I heard of your glories, so now I have come to take shelter of your feet. Please be merciful to me, accept me as your servant, and give my story an ending that is good."
Weeping again and again, and humbly placing a blade of grass between his teeth, the saintly paramahamsa said, "O saintly sannyasi, I am very unfortunate. I fill my belly, I sleep, I speak useless gossip. In this way I have wasted my life.
"Now I pass my days in the place where Shri Krishna Chaitanya enjoyed His pastimes. Still, I have no power to taste what is true love for Lord Krishna.
"You are fortunate. Gazing at a Vaishnava, for a moment, you tasted that love. You have received the mercy of Lord Krishna Chaitanya. If, when you taste pure spiritual love, you once remember this fallen person, my life will be a great success."
Speaking again and again in this way, the saintly babaji tightly embraced the saintly sannyasi and bathed him with the tears flowing from his eyes. Touched by a Vaishnava, the saintly sannyasi felt an emotion he had never known before. He danced and wept. As he danced, he sang this verse:
jaya shri-krishna chaitanya shri prabhu nityananda
jaya shri-prema-dasa guru jaya bhajana ananda
Glory to Shri Krishna Chaitanya! Glory to Lord Nityananda! Glory to my spiritual master, Shri Prema-dasa! Glory to the bliss of devotional service!
After a long time of chanting and dancing, the two of them talked about many things. saintly Prema-dasa Babaji humbly said, "O great soul, please stay in this Pradyumna-kunja for some days and purify me."
The saintly sannyasi replied, "I place my body in the service of your feet. What to speak of a few days, I will serve you to the end of my life. That is my wish."
The saintly sannyasi was learned in all the scriptures. He well knew the spiritual benefit to be attained by staying in the spiritual master's home and studying under his guidance. therefore he very happily stayed for some days in that forest grove.
After some days the paramahamsa babaji said, "O great soul, Shri Pradyumna Brahmacari Thakura kindly keeps me at his feet. Today he is rapt in the worship of Lord Nrisimha in the village of Deva-palli in the outskirts of Navadvipa-mandala. When we have finished our madhukari begging for alms, let us go and see him.
The saintly sannyasi replied, "As you order, so I shall do."
Crossing the Alakananda River, the two of them came to Deva-palli at two in the afternoon. Then, crossing the Suryatila River, they saw the Supreme Lord's personal associate Shri Pradyumna Brahmacari in the temple of Lord Nrisimha.
From a distance the paramahamsa babaji offered dandavat obeisances to to his spiritual master. Melting with love for the Lord's devotees, the saintly brahmacari at once left the temple, with both hands lifted up the paramahamsa babaji, affectionately embraced him, and inquired about his welfare.
After a long talk about spiritual matters, the paramahamsa babaji introduced the saintly sannyasi. The saintly brahmacari respectfully said, "You have attained a proper spiritual master. You should learn Prema-vivarta from Prema-dasa. It is said (Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 8.128):
"kiba vipra kiba nyasi shudra kene naya
yei krishna-tattva vetta sei guru hay
" `Whether one is a brahmana, sannyasi, or shudra, regardless of what he is, he can become a spiritual master if he knows the science of Krishna'."*
Then the saintly sannyasi humbly offered dandavat obeisances to his parama-guru (the spiritual master of his spiritual master) and said, "O master, You are a personal associate of Lord Chaitanya. Your glance of mercy can purify hundreds of arrogant sannyasis like myself. Please be merciful to me."
The saintly sannyasi was not experienced in the relationships among devotees. Still, he could see the relationship of the guru and parama-guru, and he did act in the way a sincere disciple should to his spiritual master. Then, after seeing the sandhya-arati, the two of them returned to Shri Godruma.
After some days had passed in this way, the saintly sannyasi desired to learn the spiritual truth from the paramahamsa babaji. Except for his garments, the sannyasi had become like the Vaishnavas. Controlling his mind and senses, and filled with a host of virtues, he had full faith in the spiritual path. In addition to that, he was very humble, and he now had faith in the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Lord.
One morning, at sunrise, the paramahamsa babaji sat in his cottage of madhavi vines and chanted his rounds on tulasi beads. As he remembered the Lord's pastimes of leaving Vrindavana, tears flowed again and again from his eyes. Now aware of his original spiritual form and forgetful of his external material body, he became engaged in a service appropriate for that time of morning. Approaching, the saintly sannyasi could see that the babaji was plunged in an ecstatic trance.
Staring at the sannyasi, the paramahamsa babaji said, “O gopi friend, please silence that monkey, so he will not break the happy sleeping of our Radha-Govinda. If They waken, then our friend Lalita will be unhappy and she will rebuke me. Look! Ananga-manjari is signaling that it be done. You are Ramana-manjari. This is the service given to you. Please be careful and attentive."
Speaking again and again in this way, the paramahamsa babaji finally became unconscious. Now understanding his identity in the spiritual world, the saintly sannyasi became engaged in those services.
Then the sun rose and the beauty of dawn became manifested. The birds sang. Gentle breezes blew. The morning sunlight made the cottage of madhavi vines very beautiful, beautiful beyond description.
The paramahamsa babaji was sitting on a seat made from banana bark. Gradually he regained external consciousness. Then he continued to chant the holy names. At that time the saintly sannyasi offered dandavat obeisances to the feet of the babaji, humbly sat down beside him, and said, "O master, this lowly person has a question. Please answer his question and make his burning life cool and happy again. Please sprinkle the nectar of Vraja on his heart, a heart burned by the fire of impersonalism."
The babaji replied, "You are qualified to hear answers. Please ask your question, and I will reply as I am able."
The sannyasi said, "O master, for many days I have heard about religion. I have asked many people about the truth of religion. Sad to say, their answers were not in harmony with each other. Therefore I ask: What is the true duty of the individual soul? Why do different teachers give different explanations of the truth of religion? If there is only one truth, why do the philosophers not agree in their opinions?"
Meditating on the feet of Shri Krishna Chaitanya Prabhu, the saintly babaji replied, "O fortunate one, As far as my understanding allows, I will tell you the truth of religion. Please listen.
"The eternal nature of a thing is its eternal religion. The religion of something comes from its original identity. When Lord Krishna desires to create something, He creates its original nature. That original nature is its eternal religion. However, when as thing comes into contact with other things, its nature may become changed. After some days that changed state becomes firmly established and it seems to be the eternal nature of the thing. However this changed nature is not in truth the real nature of the thing. These changed natures are called nisarga. I will give you an example of such a changed nature. Water has an original nature. The original nature of water is that it is liquid. However, in contact with certain circumstance, that nature becomes changed and the formerly liquid water may become solid ice. That is the changed nature of water, which seems to be its original nature. However, this changed nature is not eternal. It is always temporary. It is manifested for some reason, it remains for some time, and eventually it disappears of its own accord. On the other hand, the original nature of a thing is eternal. Even when the changed nature is manifested, the original nature remains, although it is dormant. In the course of time, when circumstances are favorable, the original nature is again openly manifested.
"the original nature of a thing is eternal. Its changed nature is temporary. One who knows the truth knows the difference between the eternal and temporary nature. One who does not know the truth thinks the temporary nature is eternal."
Then the saintly sannyasi asked, "You speak of a `thing' (vastu). What does this word mean?"
The paramahamsa replied, "The word `vastu' is derived from the verb `vas' (to exist) and the affix `tu'. Therefore that which exists is called `vastu'.
"There are two kinds of vastus: Things that exist in reality and things that do not exist in reality. What exists in reality are spiritual truths and the spiritual goal of life. What does not exist in reality are material objects, material qualities, and the like. What exists in reality exists in truth. What does not exist in reality exists only in someone's mistaken belief.
"When a person believes something it may be that what he believes is the truth, or it may be that it is an only an illusion. In Shrimad-Bhagavatam (1.1.2) it is said:
"vedyam vastavam atra vastu shivadam
" `The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all.'*
In this way it is proved that the world of spirit is the true reality. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the only reality. From Him the many individual spirit souls, who are all his parts and parcels, are manifested, and from Him also the potency of illusion (maya) is also manifested.
"Therefore the word `thing' (vastu) may be applied to three things: 1. the Supreme Personality of Godhead, 2. the individual spirit souls, and 3. the illusory potency (maya). These three things exist in reality. Knowledge of the relationships that exist between these three things is said to be pure knowledge.
"There are many different conceptions of the true natures of these three things. These conceptions tend to be full of errors. The vaisheshika philosophers, in their categorization of things and qualities, believe to be true many things that are not true.
"Things that exist in true have specific attributes. These attributes determine their nature. The individual spirit souls exist in truth. The individual spirit souls have specific attributes that are eternal. These determine the natures of the individual souls.
Then the saintly sannyasi said, "O master, I yearn to understand this properly."
Then the saintly babaji said, "A devotee named Krishnadasa Kaviraja, who has received the mercy of Lord Nityananda, showed me a manuscript of a book he had written, a book named Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita. In that book (Madhya 20. 108 and 117) Shri Mahaprabhu gives this instruction:
"jivera svarupa haya krishnera nitya dasa
krishnera tatastha shakti bhedabheda-prakasha
"It is the living entity's constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Krishna because he is the marginal energy of Krishna and a manifestation simultaneously one and different from the Lord.*
"krishna bhuli sei jiva anadi-bahirmukha
ataeva maya tare deya samsara-duhkha
"Forgetting Krishna, the living entity has been attracted by the external feature from time immemorial. Therefore the illusory energy (maya) gives him all kinds of misery in his material existence."*
"Lord Krishna is the totality of spiritual existence. He is like a sun from which many spiritual universes have come. The individual spirit souls are rays of light from that Krishna-sun. There are many individual spirit souls.
"Someone may say, `You say that the individual spirit souls are parts of Lord Krishna. This means that when He is broken up to become the individual spirit souls, Krishna ceases to exist. This is like a mountain that is broken up into many parts. When it is broken in this way the mountain ceases to exist.'
"To this I reply: You cannot speak in that way. If my opponent then protests, `Why not?' then I reply: From Lord Krishna limitless individual souls are manifested as His parts and parcels. Still Lord Krishna is not diminished even slightly because of that.
"In all the Vedas it is said that the individual souls are like sparks emanating from the blazing fire of Lord Krishna. However none of these comparisons gives a completely accurate picture of the real truth. The examples of the great fire and the spark, the sun and the ray of light, and the alchemists stone and gold do not describe the entire situation. Therefore, rejecting these material analogies, one should look inside his heart and there he will understand the truth of the soul's nature.
"Lord Krishna is the great spiritual being and the individual soul is the infinitesimal spiritual being. Lord Krishna and the individual soul are one in the sense that they are both spiritual. However, Lord Krishna is the complete whole and the individual souls are only parts of the whole. That is the difference between them.
"Lord Krishna is the supreme master eternally, and the individual spirit soul is His servant eternally. In this way their natures are described.
"Lord Krishna is the supreme attractive, and the individual spirit soul is attracted to Him. Lord Krishna is the supreme controller, and the individual spirit soul is controlled by Him. Lord Krishna sees all, and the individual spirit soul is observed by Him. Lord Krishna is perfect, and the individual soul is poor and lowly. Lord Krishna is all-powerful, and the individual soul is powerless. Therefore the eternal nature or religion of the individual soul is to be a faithful servant of Lord Krishna eternally.
"Lord Krishna is the master of limitless potencies. All these potencies are perfectly manifested in the spiritual world. For the manifestation of the individual souls one particular potency, the tatastha shakti, is employed.
"The imperfect material universes are also manifested by one of the Lord's potencies. That is the same potency, called the tatastha shakti.
"This potency creates a world where spiritual beings and inanimate matter stay together in the same realm. In this way it creates a kind of relationship between the spiritual world and the material world.
"Spirit, which is conscious and pure, and matter, which is inanimate, are opposites. Therefore it is not really possible for the conscious spirit soul to have a relationship with unconscious and inanimate matter.
"The individual soul is a small particle of spirit. Nevertheless, one of the Supreme Lord's potencies makes some individual souls somehow have a relationship with matter. The potency that does this is called tatastha shakti.
"The place that exists between a river's water and the dry land is called tata (shore). Such a place touches both land and water. In that place between land and water the attributes of both and land and water are manifested.
"The individual soul is spiritual. Nevertheless the spiritual soul may be placed under the control of inanimate matter.
"Thus the individual soul is not like the spiritual world, which never comes into contact with the material world. Nor is the individual soul like inanimate matter. In this sense the individual soul is neither spirit nor matter. That is why it is true that the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the individual spirit souls are different beings eternally.
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the master of the illusory potency maya. Maya is under His control. On the other hand, the individual spirit soul may in some circumstances find himself under the control of maya. Therefore the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the individual spirit souls, and the illusory potency maya are three distinct entities eternally.
"That the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the eternal root of all existence is confirmed by the following words of the Vedas (Katha Upanishad 2.2.13 and Shvetashvatara Upanishad 6.13):
The Supreme Lord is eternal and the living beings are eternal.*
Thus the individual spirit soul is a servant of Lord Krishna eternally. The spirit soul is manifested from the Lord's tatastha shakti. From this it may be concluded that the individual spirit soul is simultaneously one and different from the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
"The individual soul may sometimes find himself under the control of the illusory potency maya, but the Supreme Personality of Godhead is always the controller of maya. In this way the individual spirit soul and the Supreme Personality of Godhead are different eternally.
"The individual soul is spiritual in nature and the Supreme Personality of Godhead is also spiritual in nature. Thus the individual soul is one of the potencies of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
"On the other hand, because he is part and parcel of Him, the individual soul is also not different from the Supreme Personality of Godhead eternally.
"If the individual soul and the Supreme Personality of Godhead are simultaneously one and different eternally, then the eternal difference between them is most important.
"The eternal nature and duty of the individual soul is service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If he forgets this duty, the individual soul comes under maya's control. Then the soul stays away from Lord Krishna. That staying away from Lord Krishna means that the soul enters the material world.
"It is not possible to give an historical account describing when, in time, the soul first fell into the material world. That is why it is said `anadi-bahirmukha' (the living entity has been attracted by the external feature from time immemorial). This staying away from Krishna and the time of entering maya's world are both different from the soul's eternal nature. They are perversions of it.
"It is because he is in contact with maya and under her control that the soul's temporary nature and temporary duties are manifested. The eternal nature of the soul is one, unchanged, and completely faultless. the temporary natures, created by contact with the material world, are of great variety."
After speaking these words, the saintly paramahamsa babaji stopped and began to chant the names of Lord Hari. After hearing this description of the truth, the saintly sannyasi offered dandavat obeisances and said, "O master, today I will think over all that you have said. If I have any questions, tomorrow I will place them before your feet."