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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktivinoda Thakura > Jaiva Dharma > Chapter-5

Chapter Five

Vaidhi-bhakti, Nitya-dharma, Naimittik Naya

Vaidhi-bhakti, The Eternal Religion. It Is Not Temporary



     Lahiri Mahashaya had a large family in his home in Shantipura. His two sons were famous scholars. One was named Candranatha, who was 35 years old. He was a landowner (zamindar) and he looked after all the household affairs. He was learned in the medical texts. He did trouble himself much with religion. Still, he was honored in brahmana society. He took care of the servants, maids, doorkeepers, and others, and he looked after the household affairs. The second son was named Devidasa. From childhood he eagerly studied the Nyaya-shastra and Smriti-shastra. He had his own school with ten or fifteen students. He bore the title Vidyaratna (the jewel of knowledge).

     One day in Shantipura there was a rumor that Kalidasa Lahiri had become a Vaishnava ascetic. The rumor was everywhere: at the bathing ghatas, in the marketplace, and on the streets. Some said that he was now a senile old man. Indeed, on that day the general opinion was that he had become senile. Some said, "Perhaps he was struck with some disease. He is a brahmana by birth. His sons and wife and family obey him. What suffering led him to renounce the world?" Some said, “Such is the sad end of they who run here and there advertising their love for religion." Some educated persons said, "Kalidasa Lahiri is a very pious man. Although everything this world has to offer is in his possession, in his old age he has become attracted to the holy names of Lord Hari." In these ways they talked. Hearing all these rumors, someone repeated them to Devidasa Vidyaratna Mahashaya.

     Rapt in thought, Vidyaratna approached his elder brother and said, "Brother, I think our father is in great trouble. His body is in good health. He is staying at Godruma in Nadiya. But he has fallen into bad association. We cannot be blind to the rumors in the village."

     Candranatha replied, "O brother, I have also heard some of these rumors. The fame of our house in very great. Still, when I hear these rumors about father, I can no longer hold my head high. We have always held the family of Advaita Prabhu in low esteem. But what has now happened in our own house? Let us go home, consult with our saintly mother, and do what we can."

     Devidasa and Candranatha sat on the veranda of their home. A brahmana widow served them their meal. Their mother sat with them, arranging for the meal. Candranatha said, "Mother, have you heard any news about father?"

     The saintly mother replied, "Why? Is his health good? He is in Navadvipa now. He is mad after the holy names of Lord Hari. Why don't you bring him back here?"

     Devidasa said, "Mother, his health is good. But I have heard that other things are not good. If we bring him home our reputation will be ruined."

     Then the saintly mother asked, "How can it be? The other day at the Ganga's shore I talked about many things with the daughter-in-law of  one of the big Gosvami's. She said to me, `Your husband is very fortunate. The Vaishnavas honor him'."

     Devidasa said, "He is not honored in our social circles. Now that he is old in years will he stay at home and allow us to serve him? No. He eats the remnants left by men who wear loincloths. He has defiled our exalted family. O wicked age of Kali! Our father has seen and heard so much! What has happened to his intelligence now?"

     The saintly mother said, "Bring him here and keep him hidden until you can bring him to his senses."

     Candranatha said, "What else can we do? Accompanied by two or three men, Devi should go to Godruma and secretly bring father back."

     Devi said, "You know very well that father, thinking me an atheist, does not have a very good opinion of me. If I cannot even talk with him there should be something else I can do."

     Devidasa's maternal cousin Shambhunatha is liked by father. Shambhunatha stayed with him and served him for many days. So it was settled that the two of them, Devidasa and Shambhunatha were to go to Godruma. A servant was sent in advance to arrange their stay in some brahmana's home.

     The next day Shambhunatha and Devidasa finished their meal and set out for Godruma. Arriving, they descended from their palanquins and gave the bearers permission to depart. At their new place they would have one brahmana cook and two servants.

     At sunset Devidasa and Shambhunatha peacefully walked about Pradyumna-kunja. They saw Lahiri Mahashaya sitting on a leaf-seat in Shri Surabhi's courtyard. His eyes closed, he was chanting the holy names of Lord Hari on his beads. His limbs were glorious with the twelve tilaka marks. Quietly entering the courtyard, Shambhunatha and Devidasa offered dandavat obeisances to the feet of Lahiri Mahashaya. Startled, Lahiri Mahashaya opened his eyes and said, "Sh_ambhu, why have you come? What is in your mind, that you have come here? Devi, is all well with you?"

     The two of them humbly said, "Because you have blessed us, all is well."

     Lahiri Mahashaya asked, "Will you take your meal here?" The two answered, "We are already guests at someone's house. You need not worry for us."

     At that moment the sound of Lord Hari's holy names came from Shri Prema dasa's cottage of madhavi and malati vines. Then Shri Vaishnava dasa came from his cottage and asked Lahiri Mahashaya, "Why does the sound of Lord Hari's holy names come from the paramahamsa babaji's cottage?" lahiri Mahashaya and Vaishnava dasa went there. There they saw many Vaishnavas chanting the holy names of Lord Hari and circumambulating the saintly babaji. The two of them joined in these activities. Then everyone offered dandavat obeisances to the saintly paramahamsa babaji. Then everyone sat down. Devidasa and Shambhunatha also sat down to one side. They were like two ducks surrounded by a flock of swans.

     One of the Vaishnavas said, "We come from the town of Kattwa. Our primary reason to come here is to see Shri Navadvipa and Shri Mayapura and to attain the dust of the paramahamsa babaji's feet. Embarrassed, the paramahamsa babaji said, “I am a fallen sinner. You have come here to purify me. After a short time it becomes obvious that these Vaishnavas are very expert in singing the glories of Lard Hari. In a moment mridanga and karatalas are brought. Reading from a paper, an elderly Vaishnava sang these words:



shri krishna chaitanyacandra prabhu nityananda

gadai advaitacandra gaura-bhakta-vrinda



     "O Shri Krishna Chaitanyacandra! O Prabhu Nityananda! O Gadadhara! O Advaitacandra! O devotees of Lord Gaura!



apara karuna-sindhu vaishnava thakur

mo hena pamare daya karaha pracur



     "O Vaishnava Thakura, O shoreless ocean of mercy, please be merciful to me, a fallen sinner.



jati bidya dhana jana made matta jane

uddhara kara he natha kripa-vitarane



     "Master, please be merciful and deliver me, a person mad with pride in my birth, learning, and wealth.



kanaka kamini lobha pratishtha vasana

chadaiya shodha more, e mora prarthana



     "Please purify me of the desire for gold, women, and fame. That is my prayer.



name ruci, jive daya, vaishnave ullas

daya kari' deha more ohe krishnadasa



     "O servant of Lord Krishna, please be merciful and give me attraction for the holy name, mercy to the living entities, and happy association with the Vaishnavas.



tomara carana-chaya eka-matra asha

jivane marane matra amara bharasa



     "The shade of your feet is my only hope. Whether I live or die, you are my only shelter."


     When these verse came to an end, Lahiri Mahashaya sang a prayer he had himself composed:



miche maya-vashe, samsara-sagare, padiyachilama ami

karuna kariya, diya pada-chaya, amare tarile tumi



     "I was in the grip of illusion. I had fallen into the ocean of birth and death. You were merciful to me. You gave me the shade of your feet. You rescued me.



shuna shuna vaishnava thakur

tomara carane, sampayachi matha, mora duhkha kara dur



     "Please hear me! O saintly Vaishnava, please hear me! Now I surrender to your feet. Please throw my sufferings far away.



jatir gaurer, kebala gauraba, bidya se abidya-kala

shodhiya amaya, nitai-carane, sampahe,{fn 2}jauka jvala



     "Pride of caste is hell. Material learning is ignorance. Please purify me and place me before Lord Nityananda's feet. Please extinguish the fire that burns within me.



tomara kripaya, amara jihvaya, sphuraka jugala-nam

kahe kalidasa, amara hridaye, jaguka shri-radha-shyam



     "Please be merciful and place on my tongue the holy names of the Divine Couple. Kalidasa prays: Please place Shri Shri Radha-Shyama in my heart.


     Hearing this song, everyone became wild with happiness. Together they stood up. Again and again they sang. Again and again singing the words "Please place Shri Shri Radha-Shyama in my heart", they danced wildly. Again and again dancing, some Vaishnava become overwhelmed with spiritual love and fell unconscious. Then something unprecedented happened, something that when he saw it made Devidasa think, “Father is now plunged in meditation on the Absolute. It will be difficult to take him home again. The meeting broke up in the middle of the night. After saying their farewells, everyone returned to their own places. After bidding farewell to Lahiri Mahashaya, Devidasa and Sh_ambhunatha returned to their host's home.

     The next day, after they had finished their meal, Devi and Shambhu entered Lahiri Mahashaya's cottage. After offering dandavat obeisances, Devidasa Vidyaratna placed the following request before Lahiri Mahashaya: "This is my request: Please reside in Shantipura. In this place there are many troubles and inconveniences. All of us will happily serve you at home. If you order, we will arrange a solitary room for you to stay there."

     Lahiri Mahashaya replied, "It is not a bad idea. Still, in Shantipura I will not be able to associate with devotees as I do here. Devi, you know that the people of Shantipura are atheists and delight in criticizing others. It is not a happy place for anyone to live. True, there are many brahmanas there, but their intelligence is warped by association with weavers. The three characteristics of Shantipura's people are fine garments, pompous words, and blasphemy of Vaishnavas. That is why the descendants of Advaita Prabhu suffer there. By bad association even many of them have also turned against Lord Mahaprabhu. Therefore please arrange that I may stay here in Godruma. That is my desire."

     Devidasa said, "Father, what you say is true. Still, why need you have any contact with Shantipura's people? In your own private room you can chant Gayatri and perform your other religious duties. In this way you may pass your days. A brahmana has eternal duties and eternal religious rituals. Great souls like yourself should always be absorbed in these duties."

     Lahiri Mahashaya said, "Son, those days are no more. Now that I have stayed for some moths with the devotees and heard the teachings of my spiritual master, my view of life is completely changed. What you call eternal duties I call temporary duties. Devotional service to Lord Hari is the soul's only eternal duty. Chanting Gayatri and other like duties are all temporary.

     Devidasa replied, "Father, I do not see that duty in any scripture. Is chanting Gayatri not the worship of Lord Hari? If chanting Gayatri is the worship of Lord Hari, then it is an eternal religious duty. How is chanting Gayatri different from hearing and chanting about Lord Hari and the other activities of vadhi-bhakti?"

     Lahiri Mahashaya said, "Child, Chanting Gayatri and other karma-kanda activities are very different from vadhi-bhakti. Chanting Gayatri and other karma-kanda activities are performed with a desire to attain impersonal liberation. However hearing and chanting about Lord Hari and the other activities of vadhi-bhakti are not performed with any material motive. When in the scriptures such results are seen to come from the devotional activities that begin with hearing and chanting the glories of Lord Hari, that is so only for the purpose of attracting the materialists. Devotional service to Lord Hari brings only one result: devotional service to Lord Hari. It brings no other result. The primary result attained by vaidhi-bhakti is that one becomes attracted to serve Lord Hari."

     Devidasa said, "Father, then it is true that some secondary results also come from devotional service to Lord Hari."

     Lahiri Mahashaya: For different kinds of neophyte devotees there are secondary results. Still a true Vaishnava engages in sadhana-bhakti so that he may some day attain the perfection of devotional service. They who are not true devotees perform sadhana-bhakti to attain two goals: 1. material sense gratification, and 2. impersonal liberation. Externally one cannot see a difference in the activities of true Vaishnavas and pretenders, but internally, at the root, there is a difference of faith. The worship of Lord Hari performed by a person who thinks that worship a material fruitive activity may bring purity of mind, impersonal liberation, cure of diseases, or other material results. Still, the worship of Lord Hari performed by a person who thinks that worship is spiritual devotional service brings attraction to Lord Krishna's holy names as its only result. For the materialists, observance of the ekadashi vow destroys sins. For the devotees, observance of the ekadashi vow increases devotion to Lord Hari. You can see the difference here. The subtle difference of sadhana-bhakti performed by they who think it a material activity and they who think it spiritual devotional service can be understood only by the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The materialists are caught up in the secondary results. The devotees attain the primary result. All secondary results may be grouped into two categories: 1. material sense gratification, and 2. impersonal liberation.

     Devidasa: Then why do the scriptures praise these secondary results?     Lahiri Mahashaya: Two kinds of human beings inhabit the material world: 1. the intelligent, and 2. the unintelligent. The unintelligent will not perform any spiritual activity unless they see an immediate material benefit comes from it. For such persons the scriptures praise the secondary results of devotional service. However, it is not the purpose of the scriptures that such persons shall remain always content with these secondary results. The idea is that, after a short time and by the mercy of the Lord's devotees, such persons will become attracted to the primary result.

     Devidasa: Are Raghunandana and the other authors of smriti-shastras then unintelligent?

     Lahiri Mahashaya: No. They themselves seek the primary result. Still, the code of actions they prescribe is meant for the unintelligent.

     Devidasa: In some scriptures we see only the secondary results are described and there is no mention of this primary result. What is the reason for that?

     Lahiri Mahashaya: The scriptures are of three kinds according to the three classes of human beings eligible to receive them. For human beings in the mode of goodness there are scriptures in the mode of goodness. For human beings in the mode of passion there are scriptures in the mode of passion. For human beings in the mode of ignorance there are scriptures in the mode of ignorance.

     Devidasa: In which of these scriptures should one place his faith? How can a person in the lower stages become elevated?

     Lahiri Mahashaya: Persons with different kinds of qualifications have different kinds of faith. They who are in the mode of ignorance have faith in the scriptures of the mode of ignorance. They who are in the mode of passion have faith in the scriptures of the mode of passion. They who are in the mode of goodness have faith in the scriptures of the mode of goodness. Thus a person believes the conclusions of the scripture in which, according to the modes, he naturally has faith. By faithfully performing the duties for which he is qualified, and by associating with saintly devotees, one becomes elevated in this birth. Thus elevated, a person attains faith in the scriptures meant for elevated persons. The authors of the scriptures are perfectly learned and not at all bewildered. They composed the scriptures in such a way that by faithfully performing his own duties a person may be gradually elevated. That is why the different scriptures describe many different kinds of duties. Faith in the scriptures is the source of all auspiciousness. Shrimad-Bhagavad-gita describes all the different conclusions of the different scriptures and at the end it clearly describes the final conclusion of all scriptures.

     Devidasa: Since boyhood I have studied many scriptures, but today, by your mercy, I can understand the wonderful purpose of them all.

     Lahiri Mahashaya: In Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.8.10) it is written:



anubhyash ca mahadbhyash ca

     shastrebhyo kushalo narah

sarvatah saram adadyat

     pushpebhya iva shatpadah



     "Just as a honeybee takes nectar from all flowers, big and small, an intelligent human being should take the essence from all religious scriptures."***


     Son, I used to call you an atheist. Now I do not speak ill of anyone. Anyone who faithfully performs the prescribed duties that suit his nature should not be criticized. In fact everyone acts according to their nature and all will be gradually elevated at the proper time. You are learned in books of logic and fruitive action. Therefore you are not to blame if your words follow those ideas.

     Devidasa: I know some things, but I am not learned in the Vaishnava religion. I used to think that the Vaishnavas are fanatics who insisted on interpreting the scriptures in their own way. But now that I have heard your explanation, I know that among the Vaishnavas are learned persons who know the true meaning of the scriptures. From what great soul have you learned all this about the scriptures?

     Lahiri Mahashaya: Son, recently I have been instructed by a staunch Vaishnava. In the next cottage my spiritual master worships the Lord. He has taught me the meanings of all the scriptures. He is the person I have described to you. If you approach his feet you may ask him about devotional service. Come, you and I will visit him.


     After speaking these words, Lahiri Mahashaya took Devidasa Vidyaratna to the cottage of Shri Vaishnava dasa. Leaving him there, Lahiri went to his own cottage, sat down, and chanted the holy names.


     Shri Vaishnava dasa: Child, have you studied the scriptures?

     Devidasa: I studied the nyaa-shastras from Muktipada to Siddhanta-kusumanjali, and I also studied all the smriti-shastras.

     Shri Vaishnava dasa: Did you study many scriptures diligently? What was your conclusion after diligently studying them?

     Devidasa: The conclusion is given in the words, “With great trouble one should renounce everything and attain impersonal liberation." Therefore the conclusion of the scriptures is that one should struggle by every available means to attain impersonal liberation. Therefore, while faithfully executing my prescribed duties, I have sought impersonal liberation.

     Shri Vaishnava dasa: At one time I also studied all books, and, like you, I also yearned to attain impersonal liberation.

     Devidasa: Why did you abandon the desire for impersonal liberation?

     Shri Vaishnava dasa: Child, tell me: What is the nature of impersonal liberation?

     Devidasa: In the opinion of the nyaya-shastras, Brahman and the individual soul are eternally distinct. How, then, is it possible to renounce everything and attain impersonal liberation. According to this system, it is clearly not possible. According to the Vedanta philosophy, however, liberation is defined as understanding that the individual soul and the Supreme are not really different from each other. According to this system, then, impersonal liberation is clearly possible.

     Shri Vaishnava dasa: Child, for fifteen years I studied Shankara's interpretation of Vedanta, and after that I accepted sannyasa. In many ways I struggled to attain impersonal liberation. For many days I meditated on what Shankara considered the four most important statements of the Vedas. Afterward, thinking them all foolish, I rejected what I had read.

     Devidasa: Why did you think those books were foolish?

     Shri Vaishnava dasa: Child, a person should examine his own heart. How can others do it for him? How can others understand his heart?


     Devidasa could see that Shri Vaishnava dasa was honest, intelligent, and very learned. Devidasa had never studied Vedanta. In his heart he thought, "If he is merciful to me, I can learn Vedanta from him." Thinking in this way, he said, "Am I qualified to study Vedanta?"


     Shri Vaishnava dasa: You know Sanskrit well, so you may easily study Vedanta.

     Devidasa: If you feel merciful to me, then please teach it to me. I would learn it from you.

     Shri Vaishnava dasa: These are my words: I am a penniless servant of the Vaishnavas. Because I attained the mercy of a saintly paramahamsa babaji, I stay here and always chant the holy names of Lord Hari. I have very little opportunity to teach anyone Vedanta. Also, I have heard that Shrila Rupa Gosvami, who is the spiritual master of the entire world, has forbidden the Vaishnavas to hear or explain Shankara's Shariraka-bhashya commentary on Vedanta. Therefore now I will neither study nor teach Shankara's commentary. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is the son of Shaci-devi and the spiritual master of all living entities, taught the right commentary of Vedanta-sutra to Shri Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya. His commentary is recorded in the notebooks of many Vaishnavas. If you make a copy of that commentary, then perhaps I can help you. Go to Kancana-palli and you may get a copy of that commentary from the home of Shriman Kavikarnapura.

     Devidasa: I will try. You are a great scholar of Vedanta. You have spoken honestly with me. Why should I not study the Vaishnava commentary on Vedanta?

     Shri Vaishnava dasa: In the past I have studied and taught Shankara's commentary. There is also Shri Ramanujacarya's Shri-bhasya and many other commentaries also. The Bengali Vaishnavas have the commentary that Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave to Shri Gopinatha Acarya. I have not seen any commentary better than that. No one can dispute the Supreme Personality of Godhead's own explanations of the Vedanta-sutras. Commentaries on the Vedanta-sutras should include many quotations from the Upanishads. If one simply writes what he thinks, and does not support his arguments with quotations from the Upanishads, learned persons will not accept his commentary.


     Happy at heart to hear these words, Devidasa Vidyaratna offered dandavat obeisances to Shri Vaishnava dasa. Then Devidasa entered his father's cottage and told him all that had been said. Filled with happiness, his father said, “Devi, you have studied and taught many books. Now you should research the the eternal nature of the soul."


     Devidasa: Father, I had earnestly hoped to bring you away from Shri Godruma. That is why I came here. Please be merciful. Come back just once and fulfill everyone's desires. Especially my saintly mother yearns to see your feet just one more time.

     Lahiri Mahashaya: I have taken shelter of the Vaishnavas' feet. I have made a solemn vow that I shall never return home, for even a visit would obstruct my devotional life. In the past you have all worshiped Lord Vishnu. You may all visit me.

     Devidasa: Father, what kind of answer is that? At our home we are all servants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. We do not dishonor the holy names of Lord Hari. I am always ready to serve a Vaishnava guest! Are we not Vaishnavas?

     Lahiri Mahashaya: If you think your activities are the same as the Vaishnavas' activities, then you are not a Vaishnava.

     Devidasa: Father, why am I not a Vaishnava?

     Lahiri Mahashaya: A Vaishnava renounces temporary material duties and takes shelter of his eternal spiritual duty.

     Devidasa: Still, I have one doubt. You have given a very good analysis of the scriptures. The Vaishnavas' activities of hearing (shravana), chanting (kirtana), remembering (smarana), serving the feet (pada-sevana), worship (arcana), obeisances (vandana), carrying out the orders (dasya), friendship (sakhya), and surrendering everything (atma-nivedana) are activities mixed with materialism. Are they not all impelled by material motives? I think you are unreasonably attached to these things. Worshiping the Deity of the Lord, fasting, and worshiping the Lord by offering Him material things are all material activities. How can they be eternal?

     Lahiri Mahashaya: Son, I have thought about these things for many days. Please think about this carefully. There are two classes of human beings: 1. they who are interested in this material world, the here and now, and 2. they who are interested in the highest goal of life. The materialists are interested only in material happiness, material fame, and material exalted status.

     Human beings who are interested in the highest goal of life are divided into three classes: 1. the devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, 2. they who are attached to impersonal speculation, and 3. they who desire mystic powers.

     They who desire mystic powers are eager to attain the results offered by the karma-kanda section of the Vedas. By performing these karma-kanda activities they attain extraordinary powers. By performing yagas, yajnas, and yoga one can attain these powers. They think that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is obliged to give them the results of their karma-kanda activities.

     The next group is they who are attached to impersonal speculation. By cultivating impersonal knowledge such persons strive to become the Supreme. Some of them say the Supreme Personality of Godhead exists, and others of them say He does not exist. Some of them say the Supreme Personality of Godhead is merely an imagination and that by worshiping this imaginary God one gradually attains impersonal knowledge. Others of them say that one must use the worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as a tool to attain impersonal knowledge. Then when one attains impersonal knowledge, the tool of worship should be thrown away. According to them, when one attains the result of worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead, that worship becomes transformed into impersonal knowledge. In their opinion neither the Supreme Personality of Godhead nor the worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are eternal.

     The third class of human beings who are interested in the highest goal of life is the devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In deed, the devotees are the true seekers of the highest goal of life. In the opinion of the devotees there is one Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has neither beginning nor end. Employing His potencies, He manifests the individual spirit souls and the material world. The individual spirit souls are all His servants. Eternal service to the Lord is the soul's eternal duty and eternal nature. On his own power, the individual soul is not able to do anything. By performing materialist activities (karma) the individual soul cannot attain any result that is eternal. However, by obeying and serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead the individual soul can, by the Lord's mercy, attain the fulfillment of all his desires.

     The previous two classes of human beings are called: 1. karma-kandi (they who perform material pious deeds), and 2. jnana-kandi (impersonalists). The third class is called isha-bhakta (devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead). The karma-kandis and jnana-kandis are proud to call themselves seekers after the highest spiritual goal. However, the truth is that they are materialists. They are materialists because they are pushed by material motives. Whatever pious deeds they perform are all pushed by personal, material motives.

     The present day worshipers of Shiva, Durga, Ganesha, and Surya are all followers of the jnana-kanda. When such persons engage in the devotional activities that begin with hearing and chanting, their goal to to attain impersonal liberation and become one with the Supreme.

     They who do not have material sense gratification or impersonal liberation as their goal when they perform the devotional activities that begin with hearing and chanting are devotees of Lord Vishnu. They worship the Deity form of Lord Vishnu.

     The form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is eternal, spiritual, and all-powerful. If the Supreme Personality of Godhead were not the highest object of worship, then it may be said that the worship of Him is temporary and not eternal.

     Son, the service you offer to the Deity form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead will not bring you the highest spiritual benefit. Why not? Because you do not think the Lord's form is eternal. Therefore you are not a devotee of the Lord. Do you understand the difference between worship that is eternal and worship that is temporary and pushed by material motives?

     Devidasa: Yes. If one does not think that the form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then one's worship of the Lord is not eternal worship. But why can one not employ a temporary kind of worship to seek the eternal truth?

     Lahiri Mahashaya: You cannot say that the worship you perform is eternal worship. The worship the Vaishnavas perform is eternal. The form of the Lord is eternal, their worship of that form is eternal, and all in relation to them are eternal. Therefore the Vaishnava religion is eternal.

     Devidasa: The Deity form of the Lord is a statue made by a human being. How can such a form be eternal?

     Lahiri Mahashaya: The Deity form worshiped by the Vaishnavas is not like that. First, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is not formless, like the impersonal Brahman. The form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is all powerful, eternal, and filled with knowledge and bliss. That is the Lord's form that should be worshiped. In the beginning the Lord's form is manifested within the individual spirit soul. Thus the Lord's form appears in the living entity's heart. When bhakti-yoga (devotional service) is manifested in the heart, then the Lord's form also appears there. When a devotee sees in his heart the spiritual form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the devotee knows that this is the same form manifested externally as the Deity. The impersonalists do not worship the form of the Supreme Lord in this way. They think the Deity is a statue made of material elements, a statue that while it is being worshiped is imagined to be the same as the impersonal Supreme. However, the truth is that the Deity form of the Lord is not at all a statue made of material elements. In this way the impersonalists and the devotees have very different conceptions of the worship of the Deity of the Lord. By the mercy of a bona-fide spiritual master one may accept Vaishnava initiation. Then one is able to directly see that the Deity of the Lord is not a statue made of material elements.

     Devidasa: I see that. The Vaishnavas are not fanatics. They see very subtle things. The worship of the Deity form of the Lord and the worship of a material statue are very different indeed. However, I do not see any difference in the external actions of these two kinds of worship. The difference is in the spiritual faith of the worshiper. I will think about this subject for a few more days. Father, I have one big doubt. As far as I am able to understand, the impersonalists worship of the Lord is merely a form of cheating and trickery. At a later time I will place this question before your feet.


     After speaking these words, Devidasa Vidyaratna went with Sh_ambhunatha to their host's house, where the spent the remainder of the afternoon. Still, they did not find an opportunity to talk among themselves. Everyone at that house found all their happiness in singing the holy names of Lord Hari.

     The next afternoon they all went to the paramahamsa babaji's terrace. There Devidasa Vidyaratna, Sh_ambhunatha, and Lahiri Mahashaya stayed close together. At that time the kazi of Brahmana-pushkarini also came there. Seeing the kazi, the Vaishnava respectfully stood up. Happily greeting the Vaishnavas, the kazi entered the terrace. The paramahamsa babaji said to him, "We are now fortunate, for a descendant of the Canda Kazi who received the mercy of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has come to visit us. Please give your mercy to us." The kazi then said, "It is by the mercy of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that I have received the mercy of the Vaishnavas. Lord Chaitanya is the master of my life. I do not do anything without first offering my dandavat obeisances to Him."

     Lahiri Mahashaya was fluent in the language of the Muslims. He had studied the Koran and also many books of the sufis. To the kazi he addressed this question: "What is your idea of liberation?"

     The kazi replied, "Where you use the word `jiva' (individual spirit soul), we use the word `ru'. The ru has two states of existence: 1. ru-mujarradi, and 2. ru-tarkibi. What you call `cit' (spirit) we call `mujarrad'. What you call `acit' (matter) we call `jisam'. The spiritual world (mujarrad) is beyond material time. The material world (jisam) is subject to time's control. The `tarkibi-ru', or `baddha-jiva' (conditioned soul), is filled with material desires. His mind is filled with material ideas. The `mujarrad-ru' (liberated soul) is pure and free from these contaminations. A person who says, `alam misal' (I am spirit) is able to become a `mujarradi-ru' (liberated soul). By the gradually development of `esk' (spiritual love) the `ru' (soul) becomes purified. A great saint goes to the abode of God. He does not stay in the material world. In that spiritual world he is the servant and God is the master. The soul and God have that relationship eternally. The attainment of that pure relationship with God is called liberation. The sufis explain the Koran in that way, but not everyone is able to understand this explanation. By the mercy of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Canda Kazi understood this and taught this to me. In that way I know that you are all pure devotees of the Lord.

     Lahiri Mahashaya: What is the teaching that is at the root of the Koran?

     Kazi: there are many teachings in the Koran. I cannot single out a particular kind of worship to tell you. However, the purpose of life is to worship God. When they see the supremely blissful Supreme God, all people become plunged into transcendental bliss. Lord Chaitanya has explained in this way.

     Lahiri Mahashaya: How does the Koran describe the form of God?

     Kazi: The Koran says that God has no form. However, Lord Chaitanya told the Canda Kazi that the meaning of these words of the Koran is that God has no material form. The Koran does not mean to say that God does not have a spiritual form. The prophet himself saw the form of God, which is filled with transcendental love. He also described all the rasas, but only in a concealed way.

     Lahiri Mahashaya: What do the sufis say?

     Kazi: their philosophy is "anal hak", which means "I am God". In this way the philosophy of the Vedic impersonalists and the Muslim sufis is the same.

     Lahiri Mahashaya: Are you a sufi?

     Kazi: No. I am a pure devotee. I have surrendered my life to Lord Chaitanya.


     Thus talking about many things, the saintly kazi and the Vaishnavas treated each other with great respect. Finally the meeting ended with a great chanting of the holy names of Lord Hari.