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Jiver Nitya-dharma Shuddha O Sanatana
The Soul's Eternal Nature Is Pure and Everlasting
The next morning saintly Premadasa Babaji was plunged in the ecstasies of Vraja. Although the saintly sannyasi wished to place some questions before him, there was no opportunity. Then, in the afternoon , when they had finished their madhukari begging of alms, they both entered the cottage of madhavi and malati vines. The saintly paramahamsa babaji then kindly said, "O best of devotees, now that you have heard my explanation of the true nature of the soul, what is your conclusion?" Happy to hear these words, the saintly sannyasi asked, "O master, if the individual spirit soul is by nature only atomic in size, how is it possible that his eternal nature is pure and perfect? If the soul is created at a certain point in time, then the soul's nature is also created at that time. If this is true, how can the soul's nature be eternally existing in past, present, and future?"
Hearing this question, the paramahamsa babaji meditated on the lotus feet of Lord Chaitanya, smiled, and then replied, “O noble-hearted one, even though he is atomic in size, the soul is nevertheless perfect, pure, and eternal. His being atomic is only in relation to his substance. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishnacandra, is alone great in substance. The multitude of individual souls are His limitless atomic parts. Although the fire itself is not broken up into parts, many tiny sparks come from it. In the same way Lord Krishna, the supreme conscious being, is not divided into parts, but still a great multitude of individual spirit souls are manifested from Him. As each spark has all the power of fire, so each individual soul has all the powers of consciousness. As each spark has all the burning powers of fire, and can, in the right circumstances, start a fire that will burn down the entire material universe, so each individual soul has the ability to fall in love with Lord Krishnacandra. He has the ability to be plunged in an ocean of love for Lord Krishna. As long as he is not in touch with his original nature, the conscious and atomic soul cannot manifest its natural powers. In truth the nature of the soul is considered in terms of the soul's perception of others. Thinking, `What is the soul's eternal nature?', one should carefully search for the truth. The soul's eternal nature is love. Therefore the soul is not unconscious or inanimate. It is different from unconscious matter. The soul's nature is to be conscious. The soul's nature is to love. In its pure state, love is identical with devotional service to Lord Krishna. Therefore love, manifested as devotional service to Lord Krishna, is the original nature of the individual soul.
The individual soul may be situated in two states of existence: 1. the soul's pure state, and 2. the soul's state of material bondage. In the pure state the individual soul is manifested as pure spirit only, free of any contact with inanimate matter. In his pure state the soul is still atomic, and for this reason it is possible that he may change his state of existence. Because Lord Krishna is the supreme consciousness, He never changes His state of existence. In truth, Lord Krishna is supreme, perfect, pure, and eternal. In the conditioned state the individual spirit soul is pathetic, broken, and impure. In his original state, the soul is great, unbroken, pure, and eternal. When the individual soul is in his pure state, his pure nature is manifested. But when the individual soul is in contact with the illusory potency maya, the soul's pure state is not manifested. Then his original nature is perverted and he is impure. Then he does not take shelter of Lord Krishna. Then he is tormented by happinesses and sufferings. When he forgets the service of Lord Krishna, the soul finds himself situated in the material world of repeated birth and death.
As long as he remains pure, the individual soul retains his original nature. then he understands that he is a servant of Lord Krishna. However, when he comes into contact with the illusory potency maya, the soul becomes impure. In that condition the understanding of Lord Krishna's service is diminished. Then the soul accepts many different material bodies, one after another. When he is in contact with the illusory potency maya, the individual soul is covered by a body of gross and subtle material elements. First, the soul identifies himself with the subtle material body. Second, he identifies himself with the gross material body. Third, he identifies himself as the subtle and gross bodies mixed together. In this way the soul's conception of his identity becomes changed. In his pure state the individual soul is an unalloyed devotee of Lord Krishna.
When he identifies himself as the subtle material body, the soul thinks of himself as the enjoyer of the fruits of his work. In this way his conception of himself as a servant of Lord Krishna becomes covered over by his misidentification of himself as the subtle material body.
When he identifies himself as the gross material body, the soul thinks, `I am a brahmana.' `I am a king.' `I am poor.' `I am unhappy.' `I am defeated by disease and grief.' `I am a wife.' `I am a husband.' Thus the soul's misidentification with the gross material body is manifested in a great variety of ways.
When the soul thus has a false conception of his identity, his original nature becomes perverted. The original nature of the pure soul is pure love. That pure love appears in the subtle material body in a perverted way as material pleasure, suffering, lust, and hatred. That pure love is seen in the gross material body in an even more perverted way as material eating, drinking, and a host of other so-called pleasures derived from contact with inanimate matter. In this way you can see that the soul's eternal nature is manifested only when the soul is in his pure state of existence. When he soul is situated in material bondage, only the soul's temporary nature is manifested. Thus the eternal nature of the soul is that the soul is perfect, pure, and eternal. The temporary nature of the soul I will describe in more detail on another day.
In the scripture Shrimad-Bhagavatam pure devotional service to Lord Vishnu is described. That devotional service is the eternal activity of the individual soul. Three different conceptions of the soul's nature are described in the material world. They are: 1. the eternal nature, 2. the temporary nature, and 3. the nature that contradicts the eternal nature.
The conception that rejects the existence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the eternal soul is the third of these. The conception that accepts the existence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and declares that one should employ temporary, material means to win His mercy, is the second of these, the conception of the soul's temporary nature. The conception that declares that by employing the activities of spiritual love one should strive to attain direct service to Lord Krishna is the first of these, the conception of the soul's eternal nature.
The conception of the soul's eternal nature may be described differently in different countries, among different peoples, and in different languages, but these descriptions all refer to the same eternal nature of the soul. Still, the Vaishnava religion followed in India is the original form, the prototype of all these conceptions of the soul's eternal nature. And the form of the Vaishnava religion that Lord Chaitanya, who is the son of Shaci and the Lord of our hearts, taught the world is the purest form of the Vaishnava religion, the form that the great souls filled with the bliss of pure spiritual love accept and follow."
At this point the saintly sannyasi folded his hands and said, "O master, at every moment I see that what was taught by Lord Chaitanya, the son of Shaci, is the best form of the pure Vaishnava religion. I also see that the theory of impersonal monism taught by Shankaracarya is very wretched and horrible.
"Still, a thought has risen in my mind, a thought I will not accept it unless it is first placed before your feet. It is this: Is the state of deep ecstatic spiritual love revealed by Lord Chaitanya really different from the state of merging into the impersonal Supreme?"
When he heard the name "Shankaracarya", the paramahamsa babaji at once offered dandavat obeisances. Now he spoke the following words: "O noble-hearted friend, one should always think: `Shankaracarya is Lord Shiva himself.' Shankaracarya is actually the spiritual master of all the Vaishnavas. That is why Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu honors him with the title acarya. Shankaracarya is a perfect Vaishnava.
"When Shankaracarya appeared in Bharata-varsha there was great need for a guna-avatara of the Lord. The voidist philosophy of Buddha had already practically destroyed the teachings of the Vedas and the duties of varnashrama-dharma. Voidist Buddhism even denied the existence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although it did hint at the existence of the individual soul, Buddhism denied the soul's true eternal nature. At that time the brahmanas had practically become Buddhists and practically abandoned the religion of the Vedas.
"At that time extraordinarily powerful Lord Shiva descended as Shankaracarya to this world, re-established the authority of the Vedas, and transformed voidist Buddhism into the philosophy of Vedic impersonalism. For succeeding in this extraordinary work, the world will be long indebted to Shankaracarya.
"Every work in this world may be considered in two ways. Some work is useful in the context of a certain period of time, and other work is useful for all time. Shankaracarya performed work that was very important for that particular period in history.
"From his efforts many good results came. Shri Ramanujacarya and Shri Madhvacarya built the palace of pure Vaishnava religion on the walls and foundation created by Shri Shankaracarya. Therefore Shankaracarya is a great friend of the Vaishnava religion. He is one of its founding teachers. The benefit created by Shankaracarya's teaching is now enjoyed, without any effort on their part, by the Vaishnavas.
"Individual souls still in the grip of material bondage urgently need to understand their relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The individual soul is different from and superior to the gross and subtle material bodies in the material universes. The Vaishnavas and Shankaracarya agree on this point. They do not disagree on the spiritual nature of the individual soul.
"Liberation is defined as becoming free from the material world. Both agree on this also. Up to the stage of liberation Shankaracarya and the Vaishnavas agree on many points.
"By worshiping Lord Hari one purifies his heart and attains liberation. Shankaracarya teaches this also.
"However, about the state of existence that is superior to impersonal liberation Shankaracarya is silent. Shankaracarya knew well that if the individual soul employed the worship of Lord Hari as the way to proceed on the path of liberation, the soul would begin to taste the pleasures of devotional service and would eventually become a pure devotee of Lord Hari. It is for this reason that Shankaracarya, after showing the true path, did not reveal anything more about the secrets of Vaishnava religion.
"They who carefully study all his commentaries can see that this was Shankaracarya's hidden intention. It is only they who waste time merely circle the outskirts of Shankaracarya's teachings who stay far away from the Vaishnava religion.
"Being one with the Supreme Lord and attaining love for Him are, in one sense, the same thing. However, they who narrowly define oneness with the Lord claim that it is different from love for the Lord.
"Consider, for a moment, the meaning of the word `love'. The thing that attracts one spiritual entity to another spiritual entity is called `love'. If the two spiritual entities are not in truth different from each other, they cannot love each other.
"All spiritual entities are naturally attracted to the supreme spiritual entity, Lord Krishnacandra. That attraction is called krishna-prema, or love for Lord Krishna.
"Lord Krishnacandra and the individual spirit souls are eternally distinct spiritual entities. Therefore the love they bear for each other is an eternal fact.
"Three things exist eternally: 1. the enjoyer, 2. the enjoyed, 3. the way enjoyment is obtained. If the person who enjoys by loving another is identical with the object of his enjoyment or love, then the love he feels can never be eternal.
"If oneness is defined as the spiritual living entity's pure state, where he is free from any contact with matter, then oneness and spiritual love are identical.
"However, the present-day pandita followers of Shankaracarya are not content to accept such a definition. Instead, they undertake a great struggle to prove that the Vedas teach the existence of ultimately only one spiritual entity, an entity who transforms Himself into everything that exists. Such a view kills the eternal existence of love. The Vaishnavas have conclusively proved that this view contradicts the true teachings of the Vedas.
"Shankaracarya affirmed that the pure spiritual state is one of perfect oneness. However, his present-day followers do not understand the hidden meaning of his words. Thus they gradually ascribed to him a position not truly his own. They declared the various stages of pure spiritual love to be products of the illusory potency maya. It is for this reason that their theory is called mayavada. It is the lowest and most horrible of all theories in the world.
"The mayavada philosophers refuse to accept the existence of more than one spiritual entity. They refuse to accept the existence of spiritual love. They say that the supreme spirit (brahman) stays aloof from matter only as long as He remains one and undivided. They say that when He assumes any form of His own or the forms of the many individual souls He in the grip of illusion (maya). Thus they think that the eternal, pure, and spiritual form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is a manifestation of the illusory potency, maya. They think the separate existence of the individual spirit souls an illusion created by maya.
"Thinking that spiritual love and its manifestations are all products of the illusory potency maya, they affirm that meditation on the oneness of everything is the only thing beyond maya's touch. Thus these bewildered fellows' idea of oneness is not at all the same as spiritual love.
"However, the spiritual love Lord Chaitanya tasted in His pastimes and taught to the world is completely beyond the touch of the illusory potency maya. That love is the highest fruit of pure spiritual oneness.
Mahabhava is a specific transformation of that pure spiritual love. It is a very intense form of the bliss of pure love for Lord Krishna. In it the confidential relationship between the lover and the beloved reaches an intensity never known before. On the other hand, the mayavada philosophy is shallow and unimportant. It can never understand that exalted love."
Then the saintly sannyasi respectfully said, "O master, my heart is filled with conviction that the mayavada theory is shallow and unimportant. Any doubt I had about that is now thrown far away by your mercy. Still, I myself wear the garments of a mayavadi sannyasi. Now I yearn to rid myself of them."
The saintly babaji replied, "O great soul, I do not teach that one should like or hate any particular kind of garments. When one's heart is purified, his garments will also become pure. When a person gives great respect to his outward garments, it shows that he does not give great attention to the condition of his heart.
"In my opinion one should first purify his heart. Then he may adopt the external activities and garments of a saintly person without committing an offense.
"In your heart become a sincere follower of Shri Krishna Chaitanya. Then you will naturally desire to accept the external things that are appropriate for that following. Let that be the way you act. Always remember these words of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 16.238-239):
markata-vairagya na kara loka dekhana
yatha-yogya vishaya bhunja anasakta hana
"You should not make yourself a showbottle devotee and become a false renunciant. For the time being enjoy the material world in a befitting way and do not become attached to it.*
antare nishtha kara, bahye loka-vyavahara
acirat krishna tomaya karibe uddhara
"Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu continued: Within your heart you should keep yourself very faithful, but externally you may behave like an ordinary man. Thus Krishna will soon be very pleased and deliver you from the clutches of maya."*
Understanding, the saintly sannyasi did not say anything more about changing his garments. Folding his hands, he said, "O master, I am your disciple and I have taken shelter of your feet. Whatever instruction you give, I will place on my head without argument. By hearing your words I have understood that pure love for Lord Krishna is the only Vaishnava religion. That love is the eternal religion of the soul. That religion is perfect, pure, and natural. How should I regard the other religions in the various countries of the world?"
The saintly babaji replied, "O great soul, religion is one. It is not two, and it is not many. There is only one religion for the soul. That religion is called the Vaishnava religion. There is no reason why religion should be different for different languages, countries, and peoples. The religion of the soul may be called by different names, but it is not possible that there can be different religions. The religion of the soul is the pure love the atomic spiritual entity bears for the supreme spiritual entity. Because of differing material conceptions, some spirit souls have distorted that original religion and given it a variety of different shapes. The pure and original form of the soul's religion is the Vaishnava religion. Other so-called religions are merely distorted forms of the Vaishnava religion. Other religions are pure to the degree that they are like the Vaishnava religion.
"Some days ago, in Shri Vraja-dhama, I placed this same question before the feet of Shrila Sanatana Gosvami, who is a personal associate of Lord Chaitanya. "In the religion of the Yavanas there is a word `esk'. Does this word mean pure spiritual love, or does it not." That was my question. The saintly Gosvami is learned in all scriptures, and he is especially learned in the language of the Yavanas. In that language his learning has no limit. Shrila Rupa Gosvami, Shrila Jiva Gosvami, and many other learned scholars were also present in that assembly. Saintly Shrila Sanatana Gosvami kindly replied in these words:
" `Yes, the word `esk' means love. When the Yavanas worship God they use the word `esk'. However, `esk' is often used to mean material love also. Examples of this may be seen in the history of Layala Majanu and the writings of Hafiz. The Yavana acaryas could not understand the true meaning of spiritual life. When they write of `esk' they mean love in terms of either the gross or subtle material bodies. However, they could not distinguish between material love and pure spiritual love, and thus they could not understand pure love for Lord Krishna. I have not seen an accurate description of spiritual love in any of the books of the Yavana teachers. I have seen them only in the books describing the Vaishnava religion. The Yavana teachers use the word `ru' to describe the pure individual soul. However, they could not understand the soul in truth. They used the word `ru' to describe the conditioned soul bound by maya. That was all they could understand. I have not seen a description of pure love for Lord Krishna in any but the Vaishnava religion. Generally speaking, pure love for Lord Krishna is described only in the books of Vaishnava religion. Pure love for Lord Krishna is described in these words of Shrimad-Bhagavatam (1.1.2):
dharma-projjhita-kaitavah. . . .
"Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Bhagavata Purana propounds the highest truth. . ."*
" `I am confident that before Shri Krishna Chaitanya came to this world, so one had given a complete description of pure love for Lord Krishna. If you have faith in my words, then you may accept this conclusion.' "
"After hearing these instructions, again and again aI offered dandavat obeisances to Shrila Sanatana Gosvami." At that time the saintly sannyasi offered dandavat obeisances.
Then the paramahamsa babaji said, "o great devotee, now I will answer your second question. Please listen with an attentive mind. The words `the creation of the individual soul' or `the fashioning of the individual soul' are all manifested by the illusory potency maya. They are material words that describe inanimate material things. The three divisions of time are: 1. past, 2. present, and 3. future. These divisions refer to material time, time within the realm of the illusory potency maya. In the spiritual world the present exists eternally. In the spiritual world the past and future do not exist. Lord Krishna and the individual spirit soul exist in that eternal present. In this way the individual soul is eternal and his original nature, which is his pure love for Lord Krishna, is also eternal. Talk of the individual soul's being `created' or `fashioned' is a misconception, mistakenly imposing the time patterns of the inanimate material world on a spiritual entity. The atomic individual soul is spiritual and eternal. He existed before his entrance into the material world. Because in the spiritual world there is no past or future, whatever exists there exists in an eternal present. Therefore the soul and its nature are both eternal. They exist in that eternal present. I am only describing this in words. Your understanding will depend on your own ability to understand the pure spiritual world. I can only give a hint here. In spiritual trance you will be able to see all this directly. The logic and argument of this material world will not help you to understand it. Your ability to directly perceive the spiritual world beyond the realm of matter will depend on how much you can loosen the shackles of material bondage. In the beginning you will see your own pure spiritual form. By again and again chanting the spiritual and holy names of Lord Hari, you will come to understand the nature of the soul. By practicing ashtanga-yoga or following the path of the impersonalists you will not be able to see the pure spiritual nature. By directly serving Lord Krishna you will be able to understand the eternal nature of the soul. Therefore you should chant the holy names of Lord Hari always and with enthusiasm. Only by chanting the names of Lord Hari will you make advancement in spiritual life. Again and again chanting the holy name of Lord Hari for some days, you will eventually attain love for the holy name, a kind of love you had never known before. Accompanying that love will be direct perception of the spiritual world. Of all the different activities of devotional service, chanting the holy names of Lord Hari is the most important and the most quickly effective. In Krishnadasa Kaviraja's delightful book (Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita, Antya 4.70-71) Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu teaches:
bhajanera madhye shreshtha nava-vidha bhakti
`krishna-prema' `krishna' dite dhare maha-shakti
"Among the ways of executing devotional service, the nine prescribed methods are the best, for these processes have great potency to deliver Krishna and ecstatic love for Him.*
tara madhye sarva-shreshtha nama-sankirtana
niraparadha nama laile paya prema-dhana
"Of the nine processes of devotional service, the most important is to always chant the holy name of the Lord. If one does so, avoiding the ten kinds of offenses, one very easily obtains the most valuable love of Godhead."*
"O great soul, if you now ask, `Who is a Vaishnava?' I give this reply: A person who without offense chants the holy names of Lord Krishna is a Vaishnava. the Vaishnavas are again divided into three groups: 1. kanishtha (neophyte), 2. madhyama (intermediate), and 3. uttama (advanced). One who from time to time chants the holy names of Lord Krishna is a neophyte devotee. One who always chants the holy names of Lord Krishna is an intermediate devotee. A person the sight of whose face causes others to chant the holy names of Lord Krishna is an advanced devotee. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has taught us that one should not use any other criterion to determine who is a Vaishnava."
Diving into the nectar of these teachings, the saintly sannyasi began to chant:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
Singing these holy names, he danced again and again. From that day forward he found great pleasure in chanting the holy names of Lord Hari. Offering dandavat obeisances to his spiritual master's lotus feet, he said, "O master, please be merciful to this fallen person."