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Volume I— Introductory
I. —Object And Method
The present work is an attempt to offer a theistic account in the English language of the career and teachings of Sree Chaitanya. The number of existing English books on the subject is very small. The life and precepts of Sree Chaitanya Mah aprabhu by Thakur Bhaktivinode,1 the pioneer of the movement of pure devotion in our Age, although it gives a true account of His life, is a comparatively short work. Other English works on the subject are from the pens of self-sufficient misguided amateurs who have had no practical experience of the teaching they have professed to expound. This is opposed to the dictum of Sree Chaitanya that, “no one is fit to be a teacher of religion who does not practice the same in his own life’’. None of these works, with the solitary exception of that by Thakur Bhaktivinode, deals properly with the spiritual side of the teachings of Sree Chaitanya. The available authoritative sources of information are quite exhaustive regarding the spiritual aspect and offer a narrative of His doings and teachings that is both consistent and free from contradictions. To these was added later another body of works of a different character by pedantic pseudo-Vaishnava and faithless foreign writers, that offer the concoctions of their own respective lines of thought. Insincere writers have adopted without apology the point of view and garbled. accounts of the pseudo-Vaishnava authors as the basis of their narratives.
The existing English works although they sometimes profess to be historical in reality offer a superficial, extremely crude and misleading view of the subject. They confine themselves almost exclusively to the esoteric issues. This at least is not the method of the source-books, but a departure from the bona fide position of the theme itself. The historical method proper should aim at presenting the religion as it is really found in the genuine original sources and in the spirit of its first propounders. But many of these writers, due to their empirical training, have failed to observe this essential canon of historical judgment. Moreover these writers generally happen to be very poorly equipped in respect of their knowledge of the vast body of Scriptures to which the teachings of Sree Chaitanya stand in the closest relationship; and, even if any of them happen to possess a general acquaintance with the texts of these Scriptures, they fail to take a scientific view of the subject due to lack of spiritual insight.
The prominent defects that mar the value of these works are the purely empiric point of view of their authors, their want of spiritual knowledge of the Scriptures and their lack of critical caution in the choice and use of authorities.
The empiric method is unsuitable for the treatment of a spiritual subject. The vision of the empiricist is confined to things of this world. The Vaishnava authors on whose narratives we have to base our account of Sree Chaitanya, were not empiricists. The subject of which they have left us the account, is the Absolute, as distinct from the empiric, Truth that comes down to them in the chain of disciplic succession from Godhead Himself. They acquired this esoteric vision, when they prove to be true, by the methods of loyal submission and sincere service at the feet of spiritual preceptors as enjoined by the Scriptures on all those who desire to obtain spiritual enlightenment. They are never tired of repeating that the Absolute Truth, inherent in a bona fide soul, who expresses himself in their books’ is not derived from any experience of this world and is not intelligible to those whose vision is obscured by knowledge derived from the experience of this world.
The Absolute Truth is transcendental and, therefore, no human being can attain to Him by his sensuous efforts, i.e., by the ascending process, as all phenomena that are exposed to the faulty, limited senses are, by this virtue, non-transcendental. The Absolute Truth is eternally existent but is not realizable by men so long as they are not relieved of the aptitude. of their defective vision. The Absolute Truth is to be received, undoubtedly in the spirit of honest inquiry, from those wise men who bear no reference to the world of their sensuous gratification.
Very few of the existing English works on Sree Chaitanya satisfy these essential conditions of theistic authorship that are so strongly insisted upon by these devotional writers without which such description carries no useful purpose. On the contrary, these later writers are apt to offer their own views, derived from their empiric association, regarding the subject-matter of the original works, in a manner that leaves on the mind of the reader the impression that they are more anxious to point out the crudities and errors of these old authors than exhibit their views in a scientific and impartial manner. This is certainly neither history nor religion but only an uncalled-for and useless distortion of both.
The object of writing this book is to place before the English-knowing readers a strictly accurate theistic account. of Sree Chaitanya, Who teaches the Absolute Truth that has been handed down through the Ages by an unbroken succession of unbiased spiritual preceptors. This narrative is broad-based on all the authoritative sources and seeks to fully present the esoteric side as explaining the esoteric in pursuance of the method of all really enlightened writers on spiritual subjects.
The superiority of Sree Chaitanya to all other teachers and prophets consists in this that He made fully known the Absolute Truth Who was only partially unveiled by others. This is the special significance of Sree Chaitanya’s Deeds and Teachings. Other teachers of the religion before him had allowed more or less the worship of non-Godhead, having had reference and adulteration of their present deformities. Sree Chaitanya came into this world to make all people understand that in reference to their eternal existence they should have nothing to do with non-Godhead. Sree Chaitanya, Who speaks the language, is the Absolute Truth in His full manifestation. He has made people understand the only true way of approaching Godhead Himself. This is the proof that He is Godhead Himself. He is identical with Sree Krishna, not His Self as Lord and Proprietor of all things, but in the attitude of the agony of separation from the Absolute, i.e., Himself.
Sree Krishna opposed all addiction to ephemeral thoughts and activities. This has been communicated to us through the channel of unbiased preceptors who have no other interest except delivering in tact the whole of the Truth received by them. The Absolute Truth is sure to be obscured if He is handled by elevationists and salvationists (karmins and jnanins), i.e., by those who believe in worldly activities and in freedom from misery by means of knowledge gradually gained through the senses. We do not want to learn about the Absolute Truth from these. It is only the pencils of ray emanating from the Sun when they happen to be received by the retina that enable one to see the Sun directly even from a long distance. But we must be very careful that nothing foreign interposes between the eye and the Sun, thus obstructing the passage of the ray and preventing it from reaching the eye. This is the epistemology of Absolute Knowledge offered by Sree Chaitanya. It is followed in the brochure of Thakur Bhaktivinode referred to above. My object is only to elaborate what is told briefly in that little book and elaborated in the Bhagawatam and Charit amrita.
The peculiarity of my position, therefore, consists in this that I shake off the views of the schools of mundane elevationists and salvationists, the professors of temporary enjoyments (bhukti) and permanent release from misery attendant upon such enjoyment losing in the process the idea of the individual self itself (mukti), for the reason that they do not lead to the Absolute Truth. We are absolutists. We believe that our only duty is to follow the Absolute Who has His Own eternal plane to stand. We hold that the most intelligent among the contemporaries of Sree Chaitanya, those who sincerely followed Him, really understood His teaching through serving love. This truth which they received from Sree Chaitanya Himself has been communicated to my Preceptor by a succession of sincere followers of the Absolute Truth reaching back to them. Each one of this succession of preceptors submitted to the conditions of sincere pupilage to his predecessors enabling the latter to impart to him the Truth by the eradication of temporary, local errors and misconceptions that might crop up in unguided critics. Due to this careful transmission of the full Truth through unbiased preceptors to my unprejudiced Preceptor, I should rightly claim him to be a contemporary of Sree Gaursundar Himself. Other lines of teachers who deviate from my Preceptor are Absolutists only to an extent. Had they been fully absolutist they would have come under the banner of the line of Absolute Truth, which has no affinity of deviating from the Absolute proper. My Preceptor out of his unlimited mercy, which I craved, brought me to his path by himself coming to me and dissuading me from following other ways and means of language that would be intelligible to me in my then condition.
There is thus in my case a direct preceptorial connection extending right up to the living sources undisturbed by physical or mental obstruction. The line of the Absolutists has prevented us from going astray in any other direction but to embrace Absolutism and has given us this careful training. I am a regulated being and do not belong to the empiric school as I keep not any view of deserting this line to join the challengers. My preceptors have been free from mundane references being treaders of the path of the Absolute. We are discussing the Deeds of Sree Chaitanya in the light of our preceptors. But our preceptors did not tell us this thing in the present form and language. Linguistically it is our maiden effort. We do not know whether we sha1l succeed in this. We, however, claim to have received this narrative from the living sources. Only the strict followers of Sree Chaitanya can obtain the full view of the Absolute Truth. It cannot be had by the followers of any other teacher who has a different angle of vision. All other lines only offer a partial view. Sree Radha Govinda, the full Truth, is attainable only on this path. I should be a sincere follower of my preceptor and of the preceptors of my preceptor and have no intention of deviating from my preceptors. There is no chance of foreign element getting into my account. There is no hypocrisy. The only thing that is new is that I am trying to tell it through the medium of a different diction and language, which happen to be different from those of my preceptors.
In this connection it will not be out of place to refer to subtle and unconscious prejudices that stand in the way of our giving a real hearing to a purely spiritual subject. The life and teachings of Sree Chaitanya are not the special concern of any narrow sect.
The knowledge of it is claimed to be indispensable for the whole animate and inert world in as much as Sree Chaitanya is the living embodiment of the highest and the most intimate distinctive forms of the service of the Supreme Lord to which every being has a claim by his constituent principle. The service of Godhead, however, has no affinity with anything of this transitory worlDas in the case of meddling with non-God conception. The readers of the transcendental Deeds (Leel a) of Sree Chaitanya may be divided into three classes, viz., (l) those who read for the satisfaction of idle curiosity, (2) those who read for gathering empiric knowledge to suit their taste and to mould the same accordingly, and (3) lastly, those readers who are really seekers of the Absolute Truth as distinct from the empirical, i.e., who sincerely avail themselves of the full opportunity of their reading.
We need not stop to consider the case of that class of readers —the dilettantes and mere literateurs—who read for the satisfaction of idle curiosity.
Those readers who will approach the subject in a real spirit of inquiry may take up one of two possible attitudes. Some of these may consider the subject as one that is capable of being understood in. the light of worldly experience like any non-spiritual subject. Such persons will accept only those portions of this work which may appear to them to agree with their existing convictions. But as these convictions, in the case of empiricists, happen to be themselves based on the experience of this world, which is changeable, they are in their nature only relative, and not absolute, Truth. Those convictions are in fact unspiritual and, instead of helping, prevent us from understanding the Absolute. Those readers who, failing to grasp this real difference between the spiritual and the physical and mental, may try to understand the subject with the help of their empiric knowledge are bound to be dissatisfieDas they proceed with this study and the net result of their labour in going through these pages may be even to confirm them more strongly in their empiric, i.e., unspiritual, attitude. The object of study in such case will be entirely missed.
That class of sincere readers who, recognising the difference between the empiric and the spiritual Truth, are inclined to seek for the latter only in these pages and may be prepared for the purpose to disregard, at least for the time being, the clamorous opposition of their empiric convictions, and are thus in a position to give the narrative a patient and sympathetic hearing, will be thereby enabled to understand gradually the reason why the most sincerely religious people happen to cherish the subject of this work with such tender and absorbing devotion.
It is not possible to enter into the spirit of a subject unless a really patient hearing is given to it. But it is very difficult to submit with patience to listen to a subject that is declared to be situated completely beyond the scope of all experience and convictions of the hearer. The ordeal that faces us on the threshold of spiritual life is truly formidable. It is only such people who combine openness of mind with a sincere desire to know not the empiric, changeable, relative, but the Absolute, unchangeable, eternal Truth, that are enabled by the grace of Godhead to listen patiently to a spiritual narrative which appears to be almost needless from the point of view of the empiricist.
The transcendental career and teachings of Sree Chaitanya are bound to prove to be of the highest interest to all sincere seekers of spiritual enlightenment. The fact that Sree Chaitanya appears to be born in Bengal need not mislead those readers who belong to a different country into supposing that His teachings are meant for the people of Bengal or of India, of this or of a former Age. It is difficult for most to free their minds completely from national, ethnological or chronological prejudices in these days of militant nationalism and empiricism. But the real meaning of the career of Sree Chaitanya will be missed if He be regarded merely from any mundane point of view, viz., that of race or nationality; limited time or limited space; physical bearing; intellectual endowment, caste, creed or colour, etc. His teaching and activities belong to the plane of the Absolute which transcends all the petty unwholesome limitations of our worldly existence. Let the sympathetic reader lay aside these subtle and unconscious prejudices and allow the eternal Truth to enter the mind thus opened out to Him, without hastily passing the final judgment by a mere cursory look at the title page. Whatever the quarter from which the Absolute Truth enters His appearance and, in this matter His choice is free, the Absolute Truth when He actually knocks at our door should be assured the unreserved welcome that is His due from those who really seek for Him.
The sincere reader need also be on his guard against specific misconceptions at the very outset, of an unfavourable kind. The Deeds and Teachings of Sree Chaitanya have been consciously or unconsciously misrepresented by most modern writers. We have already referred to this fact. Any idea, favourable or unfavourable, regarding Sree Chaitanya that the reader may have already formed from the writings of these authors or their partisans may be temporarily laid aside to allow of an impartial hearing being given to the present narrative. Dogmatism, superstition or self-sufficiency can never lead to spiritual progress. Our readers are much more likely to gain what they require if they do not reserve any contrary thought which is likely to receive these tidings coldly or present them from taking Up a sympathetic and inquiring attitude. The advice is to stop temporarily any conception that they may have already formed and even to dismantle an awkward construction that may lie across the path of their following the course of the narrative with seriousness of purpose.
The message of the transcendental realm that has come down to this phenomenal world through the medium of sound is known as the Veda (i.e., knowledge), or as the Sruti (i.e., that which is heard), as the ear alone of all the organs of sense is fit to receive the distant message which is transmissible only in the form of sound. The Absolute Truth, for the simple reason that He happens to be located beyond the reach of our physical senses, cannot be directly perceived by us. All the other senses, viz., those of touch, sight, smell, taste require, as the condition of perceiving any object, actual contact with the same. But the ear possesses this special peculiarity that it can perceive an object in subtle form without being in gross material contact with it. As for example it is possible to hear about London from Calcutta by means of the ear. It is not possible to learn anything about London from Calcutta, in the same natural way, by means of any other sense. The Scriptures, i.e., writings, are but the visualized -revealed transcendental sounds. Therefore it is not so extraordinary as it seems at first sight that of all our present organs the ear alone should be privileged to receive the message of the Absolute. The transcendental sound is, however, different from ordinary sound inasmuch as it is. identical with the object denoted by it, while the object denoted by the latter is different as object from the sound which is a symbol to signify the object without itself being the object.
The identity of the transcendental sound with the object denoted by such sound is due to the fact that everything on the transcendental plane happens to be an entity of incomprehensible infinite dimensions. This is not submitted to the present limited understanding of man which is strictly limited to entities of three dimensions only. The transcendental Truth possesses unity and is infinite by His Nature. All this is contrary to our limited reason and so accustomed we are to the rationale of limited experience that it appears to us to be therefore irrational. Unless this really irrational opposition of our finite reason is temporarily stopped it will effectively bar all access to the real infinite. But once the voice of Godhead is allowed really to enter our attentive ear He will purify our perverted reason and render it fit to appreciate that which in its present degraded state it is unfit to understand. Let us, therefore, assume for the present that unwholesome heterogeneity is not possible in the Absolute Who is altogether unitary in His character.
The rational necessity of revelation for our knowledge of the Absolute should be perfectly clear. The alternative to this are the multifarious spurious theories regarding the Absolute that have been put forward from time to time by the human mind. These man-made theories are, and can be, neither conclusive in themselves nor in agreement with one another. They are liable to constant modification with the progress of empiric knowledge These wrong theories can never lead us to the Absolute Truth Who admits no such self-contradiction as is inevitable with empiricists. The word of GodheaDas revealed in the Veda, i.e., by means of the recorded transcendental sound, has been, and will ever remain the only rationally possible source of all human knowledge regarding the substantive nature of the unchallengeable Reality.
There is thus nothing irrational ab initio in holding that the Veda is the Word of Godhead Himself. The Veda exists from eternity. The Veda, according to His own version was originally revealed in this world to Sree Brahma the first jiva to appear in the realm of physical Nature, and by him made available to other jivas, that have since made their appearance in this world in course of time through the channel of disciplic spiritual succession.
The Veda contains the Absolute Truth Whose service is the eternal and universal function of the proper nature of all entities. Not being made by any one the Veda is free from all taint of narrowness, error or partiality. The path to which He points is the only one that should be trod by every soul if he wants to walk in the way of Truth. It is necessary to put off all prejudices against the authority of the revealed Scriptures arising out of misapprehension of the nature of the subject. The admission of the supreme authority of the Veda does not involve the utter annihilation of thinking. On the contrary it is the Absolute Truth Who enables us to find the real value of empiric thought and its relation to ourselves. Nor does the acceptance of the Veda involve the rejection of the Scriptures of other countries. The revealed portions of all the Scriptures are one and the same. They are the Word of Godhead differing only in the degree of manifestation. This oneness of all revelation will become clearer in course of this narrative.
The Veda is self-existent and eternal. It was not made by anybody. It has the quality of attracting to itself the devoted homage of all sincere souls. Men of this world love a thing by reason of its worldly benefits for themselves. There is nothing in the shape of worldly value to explain the acceptance of the Veda by the most sincere seekers of the Truth. It is as if one is irresistibly attracted towards a chance passer-by and welcomes him into one's house by a spontaneous instinct. No extraneous circumstance, no previously found ties, would explain this spontaneous liking. It must be entirely due to some innate excellence in the object of such attachment. The Veda has ever been loved in this impartial and detached attitude. Theories that are made can mislead inasmuch as they attempt to substitute the convictions of their authors in place of those of others. It is the substitution of one untruth in place of another, due to the vanity or spite of clever or aggressive thinkers. There is no room for impartiality in such case. The Absolute Truth alone is really impartial. His impartiality is the cause of the acceptance of His service by sincere souls.
The Absolute Truth Who finds implicit expression in the Vedas and the Upanishads, has been put into a systematic and more explicit form in the Brahmasutra of Sree Vyasadeva. In this remarkable work the subject has been treated under the four heads of (l) relationship of everything with Godhead, (2) solution of apparent heterogeneity that is found in Nature, (3) the means of spiritual realisation, and (4) the object of spiritual function. The Brahmasutra establishes the existence of personal Godhead, and devotion as the means of realising transcendental love for GodheaDas the final object of such activity.
The Authority of the Brahmasutra, as part and parcel of the revealed Scriptures, is admitted by all transcendentalists. The chain of disciplic succession in the case of Sree Vyasadeva is as follows. Sree Vyasadeva received the Word from Sree N arada who received it from Sree Brahma, the first god representing the bound creation, to whom it was communicated by Sree N ar ayana Himself, i.e., Personality of GodheaDas He exists in Sree Vaikuntha, the realm that is free from all limitation.
The Brahmasutra gives us the Truth in a highly condensed form. It is the text-book of all theistic philosophy. The conclusions embodied in it and their significance have been elaborated in a number of commentaries written by different authors.
Sree Vyasadeva is also the author of the Shrimad Bhagawatam which gives us the comprehensive history of the transcendental activities of Godhead Himself and of His different Avataras. The deeds of Sree Krishna Who is declared by the Veda to be Godhead Himself, as He is, constitute the central theme of this great work The Shrimad Bhagawatam thus forms, as it were, the natural commentary, in the concrete or explicit form, of the Brahmasutra, from the pen of their common author.
The Deeds of Sree Chaitanya, the Subject of the present work, are the living Embodiment of the teaching of Shrimad Bhagawatam. The Deeds and Teachings of Sree Chaitanya stand alone as history of the service of the Supreme Lord in the form of the deepest and perfectly unreserved intimacy.
The privilege of this form of service, the hidden truth of all Scriptures, was never before given to the fallen jiva. In the words of Sree Rupa Goswami Prabhu, the authority on the esoteric significance of the Deeds of Sree Chaitanya, ‘‘God Himself with the beautiful golden complexion out of mercy appeared in this world in this most degenerate Age to confer the grace of devotion to Himself, of the superior order that had not been given to this world before. Even the Geet a which teaches the service of Godhead with single-minded devotion and in the spirit of complete self-surrender, does not tell us much about the actual, concrete form of the highest service. The Shrimad Bhagawatam describes all different kinds of service in the concrete form and establishes the supreme excellence of that which was practised by the transcendental milk-maids of Braja. Sree Chaitanya is the living Embodiment of this highest and most intimate form of the service of the Divinity.
The Brindabana pastimes of Sree Krishna, which have been given the place of honour in the greatest devotional work of the whole world, are of all forms of Divine service the one that is also liable to be most grossly misunderstood. The subject will be treated in greater detail in its proper place in the body of this work. It will suffice for our purpose here to state that Sree Chaitanya made clearly manifest by His Deeds and Teachings what this form of service really means. His Deeds are in fact the Brahmasutra, Geet a and the Shrimad Bhagawatam displayed to our view in the living form. He is the living Vedanta. Other Avatars and prophets have taught the reverential worship of the Supreme Lord. Sree Chaitanya proved by His Deeds that the highest form of service is to be found in the Shrimad Bhagawatam, that its inner meaning had not been properly understood up to His time by anybody and that it offers what all the Scriptures have been endeavouring from eternity unsuccessfully to express. Sree Chaitanya's own career is the concrete living expression of this highest form of the service of the Lord.
The Deeds and Teachings of Sree Chaitanya offer everything that is contained in the whole body of the Scriptures of this country or of any country. They give us the complete view of the Absolute, which is not to be found in any Scripture. And because it is the full view of the Absolute Truth that we get that the Deeds and Teachings of Sree Chaitanya possess the quality of solving all doubts and difficulties. It has the power of delivering from the thralldom of this limited existence the elevationists who base their hope for mankind on worldly activities and also the empiric philosopher who is caught in the cobweb of his own ephemeral speculations. It throws open the gates of the limitless world to all sorts and conditions of people by simply presenting the complete view of the Truth which reconciles all apparent contradictions and composes all the seeming differences and discords that so trouble the material world and, in their place, it establishes the reign of universal spiritual Harmony.
No apology is needed from the historian of the Deeds of Sree Chaitanya for anything in His transcendental career. His Deeds and Teachings, as we find them recorded in the immortal works of His associates and followers, are not the concoctions of the human imagination. Anyone who reads these sublime works with an open mind, is bound to be convinced of the Absolute reality of all those Activities. The task of the historian of Sree Chaitanya is rather not to miss the least detail of His Divine career. This may not appeal to the taste of those historians whose vision is incapable of passing the line of secular interests. But they nevertheless constitute the most momentous facts of theistic history and are, in fact, the goal to which all history leads and in which it should find its supreme fulfillment and real explanation.
The pseudo-Vedantists are specially liable to under-estimate the significance of the concrete activities of personal GodheaDas constituting His fullest manifestation. According to them the Vedanta is a mere theory of the Absolute and is, like any product of mental speculation, an abstract subject; although such view is clearly opposed to that of Sree Vyasadeva himself who would otherwise have not been at so much pains to describe minutely every detail of the Activities of Godhead Himself and of all His Avataras and assign to the Braja Pastimes of Krishna-Chandra the place of honour in his comprehensive history of the Divinity. This is the subtle danger that threatens all who put their trust in empiric wisdom. The Deeds of Sree Chaitanya are the practical refutation of all casuistry and empiric speculations regarding the Absolute that are to be found in all parts of the world.
The writer has ventured upon a task that is by its nature super-human not from any pride of empiric knowledge. This task of propagating the eternal religion of all animate beings has been handed down to him in the regular line of spiritual discipleship. It was the wish of Thakur Bhaktivinode to spread the knowledge of the eternal religion taught and practised by Sree Chaitanya to all countries outside Bengal through the medium of the English language. The writer would be failing in his duty towards his spiritual preceptor and towards the growing community of the pure devotees who are desirous that the wish of Thakur Bhaktivinode, the same as that of Sree Chaitanya Himself, should be carried out, if he did not make a sincere effort of putting into the English language information that he has received from his predecessors. The writer feels no misgiving in thus offering to the world at large this message of the Absolute inasmuch as in doing this he is only performing a duty that has devolved on his unworthy shoulders in the regular chain of disciplic succession. He makes his prostrated obeisances at the feet of the preceptor who opened his sealed eyes by the spike of the collyrium of spiritual knowledge and all the devotees of the Supreme Lord that the word of God may through their mercy find expression in these pages.
The Absolute Truth cannot be discovered by the ascending effort of the human mind. Such effort, as a matter of fact, leads to quite the opposite direction. The Absolute Truth has been appropriately compared to the disc of the Sun. It is not possible to find out the Sun during night with the help of the most powerful lamp that can be devised by the ingenuity of man. The Sun can be seen only by means of rays that come from itself. The Sun is visible when it is above the horizon and there is nothing to obstruct our vision directed towards it. The Sun is seen easily enough when these conditions are fulfilled. The Absolute Truth is like the glorious disc of the Sun that is always above the horizon. But we bound jivas cannot see it as we are led by our empiric knowledge to direct our sealed eyes to the opposite direction and on the mists and clouds of worldliness that further. obstruct our view. It is transcendental Truth that is offered in these pages and not any speculations of the writer. This transcendental Truth Whom he has received from his preceptor and Whom he is trying to impart to others is not something that can be challenged by the limited reason of man. His predecessors have been enabled to receive Him by submitting to Him, i.e., by listening to and accepting Him in the sense of practising and preaching the same. This constitutes the sole justification of the present undertaking. The writer is desirous of serving the Absolute Truth by telling Him to others as by doing so he can serve himself and all animate beings in the only really useful way.
This eternal function of the proper selves of all animate beings that has been taught by Sree Chaitanya and all the revealed Scriptures is at once profound and easy. It is easy because it possesses the quality of satisfying the wants of foolish, senseless and unlettered persons. It is also profound inasmuch as it is capable of benefiting the most erudite scholars, i.e. those who are masters of the art of controversy and most deeply versed in the scriptures. This combination of apparently opposite qualities is not to be found anywhere else in this world. In fact any one who is free from bias can be heir of this religion; on this simple condition it lies open to all mankind. The idealist no less than the practical man of action is equally enabled by its means to successfully cross this great ocean of limited, physical existence. But unthinking worldly minded people have always been misled by its perverse forms as it has been often misrepresented by the malice, worldly interest, or ignorance of its pseudo-preachers. The only way that is open to bound jivas for disentangling themselves from the fetters of ignorance and thereby regaining their natural condition of the spontaneous, spiritual service of the Lord, is that offered by the methods of listening to the transcendental deeds of the Godhead from the lips of His devotees and making the same known to others by obeying the Word of God in their actual conduct and preaching it to others. It is only by constantly listening to the Word of God from those who exclusively serve the Absolute and practicing the same with body, mind and speech that the fallen jivas are enabled gradually to get rid of their materialistic hallucinations which stand in their way of realising their own proper nature and its true relationship with God and therefore of serving Him in the proper manner.
The materials for the present work have been drawn from— (1) the Sikshastakam of Sree Chaitanya which gives the summary of His teachings in His own words; (2 and 3) the Karchas (memoirs) of Sree Murari Gupta and of Sree Swarup Damodar (the latter as embodied in his works by Sree Raghunath Das Goswamin, Sree Swarup Damodar’s closest associate); (4) Prema Vivarta of Sree Jagadananda; (5) Sree-Krishna-Chaitanya-Chandrodaya-Nataka of Kavi Karnapur; (6) Sree-Chaitanya-Charitahakavya of Sree Chaitanya Das, the elder brother of Kavi Karnapur; (7) the works of Sree Prabodhananda Saraswati; (8) the Bhajanamrita of Sree Narahari Sarkar Thakur; (9) the numerous works left by five of the famous six Goswamins; (10) Sree Brindbandas Thakur’s Sree-Chaitanya-Bhagawat; (1)) Sree Lochand as's Chaitanya-Mangal; (12) Sree Krishnadas Kaviraj’s Sree-Chaitanya-Charitamrita and lastly (13) the works of those later writers who have strictly followed the above authors. Most of these works are in Sanskrit, some of them in Bengali.
Sree Chaitanya has not left any books written by Himself. A few shlokas composed by Him are quoted in the works of His associates, the chief of them being the Sikshastakam which gives in eight stanzas a summary of his teachings.
Sree Murari Gupta was the constant companion of Sree Chaitanya’s younger days. His memoirs are a careful record of the activities of Sree Chaitanya at Nabadwip. Sree Swarup Damodar attended on the person of Sree Chaitanya night and day throughout the period of His long residence at Puri. His memoirs which have not come down to us in their separate form are the chief authority as regards Sree Chaitanya’s latter career and relied upon by all the contemporary writers. Sree Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswamin in his detailed account of this part of Sree Chaitanya’s career made use of the information which he obtained directly from Sree Raghunathdas Goswamin who was the spiritual ward of Sree Swarup Damodar to whose charge he was committed by the express command of Sree Chaitanya Himself. Pandit Jagadananda was the loved playmate of Sree Chaitanya’s boyhood and His constant companion to the end. Kavi Karnapur was the son of Sree Sivananda Sen, one of the closest associates of Sree Chaitanya. Sree Chaitanyadas was the elder brother of Kavi Karnapura. Sree Prabodhananda Saraswati was the contemporary of Sree Chaitanya. He was a native of Southern India and the younger brother of Sree Venkata Bhatta at whose house at Sree Rangam Sree Chaitanya resided for the period of four months during His travels in the South. Sree Pr abodhananda Saraswati was the uncle and preceptor of Sree Gop al Bhatta, one of the six Goswamins. Sree Narahari Sarkar Thakur was one of Sree Chaitanya’s principal associates.
Of the six Goswamins Sree Rupa and his elder brother Sree San atana were instructed by Sree Chaitanya Himself in regard to the subject-matter of their respective works. Sree Raghun athDas Goswamin got his information from Sree Swarup Damodar and he himself associated with Sree Chaitanya. Sree Gopal Bhatta’s connection with Sree Chaitanya has already been mentioned. Sree Jiva was the nephew of Sree Rupa and San atana and was the disciple of the former.
Sree Brindabandas Thakur was the recipient of the favour of Sree Nityananda, the associated facsimile, so to say, of Sree Chaitanya. His mother Sree Narayani was the niece of Shribash Pandit, the foremost of those Vaishnava householders who were the direct followers of Sree Chaitanya. Sree Lochandas got the materials of his work partly from Narahari Sarkar Thakur, one of Sree Chaitanya’s close associates and by his devotional impressions. Sree Krishnadas Goswamin got his information as has already been mentioned from his preceptor Sree Raghunathdas, one of the six Goswamins .
Most of the works of the authors named above are still extant and they are the authorities for all subsequent writers. The chief of these later authors whose works have been consulted in the compilation of the present account are, (1) Sree Narottamdas Thakur who was the disciple of Sree Lokanath Goswamin, one of the closest associates of Sree Chaitanya, (2) Sree Viswanath Chakravarty belonging to the line of disciples of Sree Narottamdas Thakur, (3) Sree Baladev Vidyabhusan the first Gaudiya commentator of the Brahmasutra, (4) Sree Narahari Chakravarty in the line of disciplic descent from Sree Viswan ath Thakur, (5) Sree Bhaktivinode Thakur, the sincere guardian of the true Vaishnavas of the present day, and (6) my Sree Gurudeva, His Divine Grace Paramahansa Paribrajakacharya Sree Sreemat Bhaktisiddh anta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj whose mercy is my only hope of attaining the service of Godhead.
It will be seen from the above that there is no lack of materials of the most reliable character available to the historian of the Career and Teachings of Sree Chaitanya. It is, therefore, rather strange that the personality of Sree Chaitanya has been misunderstood and misrepresented by a certain class of writers. The neglect of the original sources was one cause of this. A constructive motive was supplied by the animosity of sectarians and the greed of worldly interests of pseudo-followers.
It was the life-work of Thakur Bhaktivinode to re-discover the true history of Sree Chaitanya and make the same available to the present generation. The magnitude of this service to his country, to humanity and to all animate beings time alone will show. The eternal religion taught and practiced by Sree Chaitanya have been made intelligible to the modern reader by the labours of Thakur Bhaktivinode. It is bound to re-act most powerfully on all existing religious convictions of the world and make possible the establishment of universal spiritual harmony of which the whole world stands so much in need. Most of the works of Thakur Bhaktivinode were, however, written in Bengali and Sanskrit. The present work is a slight attempt to present in the English language an outline of the Life and Teachings of Sree Chaitanya made known by Thakur Bhaktivinode, the pioneer of the movement of pure devotion in the present Age, which aims at restablishing in practice the eternal religion of all animate beings revealed in the Scriptures and taught and practiced by Sree Chaitanya. The activities of my most revered Preceptor are well known to the world. His Divine Grace is commissioned by Godhead to spread the Teaching of Sree Chaitanya to every village of the world and re-establish the spiritual society. This was foretold by Thakur Bhaktivinode.
II. —The Real Nature Of Sree Krishna
The historical aspect of Sree Krishna need not be considered as irrelevant or mundane. The Absolute is always no other than Himself. Antiquarian speculations regarding the historicity of Sree Krishna have thus, inconceivably to us, an intimate bearing on the question of the real Nature of the Absolute. The scheme of ancient History of India that is being worked out by the researches of learned scholars has not yet been conclusively settled in regard to the lay affairs of that remote period which may have witnessed the Great War that is reported to have been fought out on the plains of Kurukshetra between the Kurus and the Pandavas backed by their respective allies. But the time is not far distant when it will be practicable to avoid prejudices and misunderstandings that at present prevent our approaching that great event in the proper spirit The Puranas are steadily winning the confidence of the most hostile critics and the actual occurrence of the Great War is coming to be recognised, on the authority of the Puranas, as having taken place at a period which is not very far from 3000 B.C. The narration of the Mahabharata may now be seriously accepted as providing a tentative basis for the historical career of Sree Krishna. The Harivamsa, which forms the supplement of the Great Epic, is not opposed to the Mahabharata either in the spirit or in the so-called assumptions regarding particulars of the career of Sree Krishna that do not appear in the Great Epic
The difficulty in regard to the Bhagawatam has also become susceptible of historical handling If that great Purana was actually composed in the ninth century A.D., as seems not very improbable it should still be historically possible to accept its testimony regarding even the events of the Boyhood of Krishna. But from the lay point of view, this question is not of absorbing interest in as much as the politically important activities in the career of Sree Krishna belong to a later period. But from the point of view of religious history, the story of the marvelous Boyhood of Krishna is all-important and demands our most careful consideration.
The Mahabharata deals exclusively with the Doings of Krishna as King of Dwaraka and Ruler of the Yadavas. But the mighty Deeds of Krishna recorded in the Mahabharata form no part of the worship of Sree Sree Radha-Govinda, which is the subject matter of the present work. Bhandarkar, in his anxiety to redeem the worship of Krishna from the charge of immorality, might prefer,the worship of the wedded Husband of Rukmini to that of Sree Sree Radha-Krishna. But the Bhagawatam makes the Pastimes of Brindabana the heart and kernel of the whole narrative of its deeds of Krishna as the Divinity, and it is this which supplies all the materials for the prevalent worship of Sree Sree Radha-Govinda. The political Krishna occupies but a secondary position, if even that, in the sphere of worship.
The narrative of the Bhagawatam so far as it covers the same ground as the Mahabharata does not differ materially from the story told by the Epic. But the interpretation and point of view of the Bhagawatam is throughout explicitly different from that of the Mahabharata even in its treatment of those events that are common to the two works. The later date of the appearance of the Bhagawatam, together with the new perspective adopted and the prominence given in it to the Boyhood of Krishna, has given rise to the doubts regarding the authenticity of its story of the Boyhood of Krishna, which is, however, also found in several other Puranas of an admittedly more ancient date.
Sectarian manipulation of history is assumed to be responsible for difference of version in the treatment of even historical events that are connected with the origin and growth of creeds. Theologians are supposed to be often ready to be unmindful of any version that may appear to them to be opposed to the tenets of the creed that they happen to profess. The Bhagawatam , judged by this canon, has appeared to certain scholars as being less reliable, in the considered historical sense, than the Great Epic. This view is also supposed to cut at the root of the reality of the religion itself. The issue regarding religion may be put thus: Did the Pastimes of Krishna at Brindabana manifest themselves on the mundane plane at any period in the ordinary historical sense?
The answer should be, even from the historical point of view, partly, in the affirmative and negative. The Bhagawatam is regarded by the Absolutists as being both a work of the medieval period as well as the very Body of the eternally existing Truth Himself. The argument, viz., that as it happens to belong to the medieval period it cannot also at the same time be eternal that is without any origin, is inapplicable to the Bhagawatam . The case is exactly the same with the Brindabana Pastimes.. They are also regarded to be eternally true. They are at the same time claimed to be historically true. But they are not claimed to be merely historical events. They are, therefore, claimed to be as being both old and new, or neither. They are not regarded as limitable by the mundane categories.
It, therefore, becomes necessary to widen the scope of-the historical method itself in order to treat such a subject with any principle of consistency. The adherence to the scheme of gradual evolution of the creed has to be got rid of. The test of contemporary evidence as proof of authenticity should be found to be even more misleading for this particular purpose than it always is ordinarily.
What is the reality of the degree of validity of contemporary evidence in the ascertainment of the Truth? I record my opinion regarding a certain phenomenon actually occurring before my very eyes. The statement is made up of the narration of the occurrence and my individual opinion regarding its nature and other particulars that I may suppose have a bearing on it. The narrative portion is separated from opinion by the critics, and is accepted in that unexplained form as historically true. If Krishna actually passed His Divine Boyhood in Brindabana and performed at that place all the miracles before the very eyes of all the people, the older narrative of the Mahabharata, it is argued, should have also been cognizant of the same. If those miracles had been the most important of all the Activities of Krishna, Who is the Hero of the Epic, they could not have been altogether omitted by the writer of the Great Epic as they must have been actual and well-known occurrences. Such argument, although legitimate within its due limits in the case of mundane events, does not apply without a good deal of modification to the Pastimes of the Divinity.
It is an option of the servants of Krishna, which they are not loth to exercise, to divulge His Activities, or keep Them concealed from the knowledge even of contemporaries. Those activities possess the special quality of being recognised as true in the real and not merely historical sense, as soon as, and whenever, they are so divulged to the unerring consciousness of the pure individual soul. On the other hand, the reality is impossible of being ever ‘‘discovered’’ by the empiric historical method.
The Absolute chooses to present His deluding face to the sense-perception of man. His deluding energy is all-powerful and is able to prevent the search and discovery of the Truth, for Whose service, however, every individual soul has an imperative necessity. The tentative categories of the mundane Logicians are no other than fetters of the deluding Energy that tend to produce the strange belief that the transitory and limited are necessarily also true. It is this undoubted ‘‘fact’’ that vitiates the current short-sighted ‘‘historical’’ method at its source. The reality of the Ocean is neither proved nor disproved by the admission or denial of the ignorant dweller of the Taklamakan Desert. Such admission or such denial is equally abortive and wide of the mark if the observer has no knowledge of his subject. The issue itself as regards the Truth does not exist for the pedant of the waterless desert of the narrow and closely barriered Hinterland of Empiricism.
What value for instance are we to attach to such ‘‘historical’’ finding as this’ viz., that the teaching of Sree Chaitanya was the cause of the political downfall of Orissa? Sree Chaitanya teaches that the Absolute is served by all conditions, beings and events, either consciously or unconsciously as regards the agents themselves. The decline as well as the rise of empires and worlds serves equally in their tiny ways the uncompassable Absolute. As soon as their relation of service to the Absolute is grasped by the agents, the real consciousness of the Truth is produced in the humble agent. So long as the Absolute continues to be pedantically regarded as a part of Physical Nature, as cause or effect, there is no consciousness at all even of the issue itself of the real Truth. Sree Chaitanya and His Activities belong to the plane of the Absolute. The empiric historian, with his geographical and chronological apparatus of observation, can have really no proper idea of the grotesque anomaly that he unconsciously perpetrates by his pedantic effort to gauze the Absolute by the standard supplied to her victim by His deluding Energy in the form of the mundane categories that can only limit and define, whereas the function that is required to be performed is to get rid of the necessity of having to do either.
If Shrimad Bhagawatam , which professes to treat of the Absolute, is considered to be an object of this phenomenal world, how can it possibly impart to a person who chooses to entertain such illogical thought, any knowledge of its contents? The recipient of the consciousness of the Absolute as well as the communicant of such consciousness must alike belong to the plane of the Absolute consciousness. The empiric consciousness is not in the plane of the Absolute consciousness at all. It can only bungle and commit a deliberate blunder by attempting to limit and define the immeasurable and undefinable under the plea of a necessity that need not be supposed to exist at all.
It is possible, if the limitations of the mental equipment are fully remembered and allowed for, for a person desirous of treating the subject on the plane of the Absolute to write the cautious narrative of the Activities of Godhead in the limited vocabulary, without falling wholly into the deliberate blunders of dogmatic empiricism. The revealed Scriptures belong to the class of such authentic records regarding the Absolute. They need not be produced at the time of appearance of the events on the mundane plane to be historically acceptable as conveying the direct or first hand testimony of those occurrences. They are quite independent of the conditions which the mind of the empiric historian finds it impossible to shake off and which make it impossible for him to conceive of the possibility of spiritual occurrences.
Therefore, empiric speculations regarding the so-called ‘‘historicity’’ of a spiritual event instead of establishing its genuineness, only serve to display the utter insufficiency of the empirical historical method itself for the purpose of the treatment of the history of the Absolute.
For example, the complaint of the empiric scholar, that it is not possible to set forth the nature of the development of spiritual life in India for lack of definite chronology which renders a scientific classification of the original works treating of Indian religion impossible, however plausible in itself it may appear to be at first sight, is, in the light of the foregoing discussion, at once found to be after all only the result of a wholly deluded attitude towards the Absolute Himself. As if the development of spiritual life is capable of being measured by the process of so-called mundane evolution based on the chronological sequence of mundane occurrences!
Our contention is not that the Pastimes of Sree Krishna are historical events but that they are a revelation of the Truth in the form of historical events. The Pastimes of Sree Krishna are not, therefore, less true than any historical events whatsoever. They are much more. All the historical events of this world will be enabled to disclose the real elements of the Truth that they represent only when they would be set forth in their proper relationship to the only eternal Verity, viz., the Pastimes of Krishna. It is the historical events and the canons of historical judgment that require to be brought into tune with the Truth, Who is no other than Krishna. But the empiric historian does the exact opposite of this. He assumes the truth of historical events and his canons of historical judgment as the standard to which the Pastimes of Krishna are to conform for the realisation of any element of the Truth that they may contain !
The whole difficulty is ultimately due to the muddled way of thinking favoured by the empiricists that supposes itself to be self-sufficient for the purpose of finding the Truth. It is empiricism that requires to be made properly conscious of its limitations and to be forced into a serious consideration of the nature of the Truth Whom it professes in and out of season to be so willing to serve. Once the nature of the Truth is taken into our serious consideration, the inconclusiveness of the cult of historicity should be perfectly plain to every impartial thinker. Further anxious consideration of the subject should enable the empiric method to be limited to its proper scope and by such limited employment to be enabled to serve the quest of the Unlimited.
As soon as the mind is directed to the question of the Nature of the Truth, it is enabled by Truth Himself to understand the otherwise inexplicable postulations of the spiritual Scriptures that it is necessary to obey in order to attain to the plane of the real quest of the Truth. Every circumstance even of this world will then be found to be a help in the realisation of the Truth, and nothing will be found to be a hindrance. The only hindrance, as a matter of fact, is the empiric attitude itself. By the empiric attitude one is led to launch out on the quest of the Absolute Truth with the resources of admittedly utter ignorance. This fool-hardiness must be made to cease. The method of submissive inquiry enjoined by the Scriptures should be substituted after being properly learnt from those who have themselves attained to the right knowledge of the same by the proper method of submission. It is only after one has actually obtained the vision of the Truth, Whose face is so completely hid from the sight of the empiric thinker, that one can, under the guidance of the Truth Himself, set out on the quest of the Truth with any chance of finding Him and proclaiming Him to others.
So, although the method that has been employed throughout this narrative may appear to be inconsistent with the demands of the blind empiric judgment, the reader is requested for the very much more weighty reasons set forth above to lend his listening ear to an attempt to apply the methods of the revealed Scriptures for the purpose of describing the real Nature of Krishna and His Pastimes, in pursuance of the mercy of the authorized Teachers, on the ground that the method is the only one that claims to be applicable to the subject of the Absolute.
As the working knowledge of the Nature of Sree Krishna is the starting point of the search of the Truth, it is my purpose in this chapter to present the reader with a summary of the traditional account of the real Nature of Sree Krishna, which is revealed by the Scriptures of all Ages and countries in more or less explicit forms.
The outline of the history of Sree Krishna as told in the Bhagavatam, which may be accepted as the only authentic account for our purposes, is as follows At the close of the cycle known as Dwapara Krishna manifested His Appearance in Bharatabarsha. He was born at Mathura. He was the Son of Vasudeva. His mother was Devaki, the sister of King Kamsa of the race of the Bhojas. Apprehending harm to himself from the Issue of Vasudeva and Devaki, Kamsa, that unworthy scion of the Bhoja, had cast the immaculate couple into the royal prison which was most closely guarded. As they passed their days inside the prison of Kamsa six sons were born in succession to Vasudeva and Devaki. All of them were killed in their infancy by the cruel and fearful Kamsa. Sree Balarama was born as their seventh issue. He was transferred to the keeping of Rohini in Braja as foster-mother, the report being circulated that there had been miscarriage at childbirth. Godhead Himself was the eighth issue of Vasudeva and Devaki. He was conveyed by Vasudeva to the home of Nanda in Braja, whose wife Yasoda had just then given birth to a daughter. Sree Krishna was left to the care of Nanda and Yasoda in Braja and their daughter was brought to Kamsa's prison and exhibited as the eighth issue of Devaki.
Meanwhile Sree Krishna was growing up in Braja in the company of His brother, Rama. Putana, an adept in slaughtering infants, was deputed by Kamsa to kill Krishna under the pretense of giving Him suck by the profession of motherly affection. Putana was killed by the halo of the power of the Infant Krishna. The casuistical demon Trinavarta was slain. The cart for conveyance of their baggages under which Krishna had been put to bed by His parents was smashed by the kicks of the Divine Infant. He showed his mother, by opening His mouth, that the whole world was accommodated therein. He made her see that nescience served to foster love for the power of the Truth. The Infant displayed much juvenile ignorance that was promotive of love for Himself, the True Cognition. Noting the waywardness of her child the matronly milk-maid, embodying the most exquisite degree of serving zeal, bethought of binding Krishna by means of hempen cords; but in vain. But the Incompassable at last submitted to be bound by the exclusive love of the affectionate Mistress of Nanda’s home. Krishna broke the twin Arjuna trees in course of His childish sports, releasing the sons of a god who had been reduced to that pitiable condition. Even the gods are liable to lapse into the senseless condition of trees by addiction to evil deeds; and even trees are enabled to regain the spiritual condition by the influence of accidental association with the pure-hearted.
Krishna goes into the forest with His chums for pasturing the calves. There He slays the demon Batsasur who represents the offenses of boyhood. It is now that religious hypocrisy in the form of Bakasur brought up by Kamsa, is also killed by Krishna of pure understanding. Aghasur also is slain. He is the embodiment of the principle of cruelty. Thereupon Krishna dined out in the open on the banks of the Yamuna in the company of His chums. The four-faced Brahma stole the calves and the cowboys. The orderer of the phenomenal world was thereupon deluded by the power of Krishna. By this episode the complete supremacy of the immaculate Sweetness of Sree Krishna over every other principle, was demonstrated. Krishna, the Beloved of the realm of the perfect cognition, is not subject to any regulative restrictions. This also was established. The opulence of Krishna suffers no curtailment even by the total destruction of all spiritual and non-spiritual realms. No one is able to set bounds to the incompassable ocean of the Power of Krishna. The evil-minded Dhenukasura, the ass of blunt judgment, was destroyed by Baladeva, the principle of the pure individual soul. The serpent Kaliya, the self of crookedness and malice, polluted the waters of the Yamuna, the mellow liquid of the spiritual principle. This wicked demon was thereupon slain by Hari. When the wild forest-fire, the evil of internal faction within the community, burst forth in all its destructive fury, Sree Krishna in Person swallowed it up. Thus the Lord is ever solicitous of the well-being of Braja. Then Rama killed the demon Pralamba, the thief in disguise who was sent by Kamsa for stealing the children.
And when the sky began to be surcharged with the love-laden clouds heralding the advent of the showery season, the milk-maids of Braja, who are loved by Krishna and are by their nature of a loving disposition, felt intoxicated by singing the Praises of Krishna. They were deeply stirred by the strains of Krishna’s flute. They now worshipped Yogamaya who effects the union of the individual soul with Krishna, with the desire of gaining Krishna as their Lover. Those who are possessed of a strong desire to serve Krishna find that there is no adjustment regarding themselves or their relation with others that is necessary for the purpose, of which they need feel ashamed. They are no longer disposed to conceal their minds. Krishna stole away the clothes of those milk-maids at their bath to disclose the perfectly nude state which is the immaculate sporting ground of Divine love. Sree Krishna feeling hungry begged for food that had been prepared for offering at the sacrificial ceremony by the ritualistic Brahmanas. But they did not give it to Him in the pride of their superior status. Those sacrificial Brahmanas were addicted to a variety of empirical interpretations of the Scriptures inspired by the desire of attainment of worldly prosperity or by love for barren speculation which ends in the negation of all specific forms of activity. By dint of their traditional attachment to the Scriptures and the by-gone ancestors they are apt to degenerate into the mere mechanical transmitters of the rules and taboos that are found in the Scriptures. By reason of this vain attitude they are disabled to understand that the attainment of love for Godhead is the only purpose of all those rules and regulations. How can people with such mentality be induced to serve Krishna. But the loyal wives of those sacrificial Brahmanas, despite the opposition of their husbands, repaired to Sree Krishna in the forest and surrendered themselves to the Feet of the Supreme Soul. This demonstrates the truth that neither intellectual nor hereditary equipments are the cause of love for Krishna. It also lays down the right principle of conduct of conditioned souls as consisting in regarding everything with an equal eye. The varna and ashrama institutions of man are intended for the regulation of the society of this world. If the social order is preserved it affords scope for association with pure-hearted persons and thereby offers opportunities for discussions regarding the supreme desideratum. These tend to spiritual progress. It is the possibility of attainment of love of Krishna by their means that constitutes the value of the institutions of varna and ashrama (the system of divinely ordained division of social functions and grades). There can, therefore, be no disloyalty to the purpose of the social arrangement if one gives up the observance of the social rules for the sake of Krishna Himself. As a matter of fact, on the actual attainment of the goal itself, the further pursuit of the means of its attainment becomes unnecessary for all persons who are really desirous of obtaining the goal. It is also no infringement of the purpose of the social code to allow such a person full scope for serving Krishna. In enforcing social obligations it is, therefore, necessary to consider the actual condition of individuals to whom they are to apply. Otherwise the very object of social organization itself will be wholly frustrated.
Hari then forbade the people to perform the sacrifice to Indra. The people were wont to sacrifice to Indra to please him in order that he might send them rain which was necessary for the sustenance of themselves and their flocks. This represents the principle of utilitarian work on the basis of mutual co-operation for the safety and well-being of society. Indra being denied his offerings, in anger tried to punish the denizens of Braja by sending down torrential rain which flooded the fields and homesteads of the people. Hari Himself protected the residents of Gokula from this peril. No harm can come to the servants of Krishna if for the purpose of serving Him even their ordinary domestic and social duties have to be given up altogether which may result in the destruction of the world. No one can kill whom Krishna Himself protects. Even the cosmic law is not binding on them. The devotees of Krishna are free from all observance of all law except that of spiritual love for the Supreme Lord. Through the realm of faith there flows the perennial stream of the holy Yamuna. The transcendental river is the liquid essence of the pure cognitive state. Nanda was in danger of being drowned in the waters of that river of joy, but was mercifully rescued by his Son’s blissful Activity. Thereafter Sree Krishna showed the cow-herds His Own Divine Majesty in the realm of the Absolute. The Divine Majesty is always latent in the Personality of Krishna. The Supreme Lord Who is the Beloved of the eternally free souls and their following then performed the Pastime of the Dance in the circle of His beloved. This Pastime manifests the principle of working of Divine love. Lord Hari, out of His mercy, danced in the Rasa circle formed by the milk-maids. He promoted the -growth of their highest love by separation, by His subsequent disappearance.
The stellar system may supply a poor analogy of the Rasa Pastime. Just as the Suns surrounded by their respective circling groups of satellites dance round the Polar Star in the form of a circle, in the same manner, all individual souls eternally enact their harmonious dance in their orbits round Sree Krishna as the centre of the system, sustained therein by the force of Sree Krishna’s overpowering attraction for all spiritual entities. In this vast round of the Rasa dance, Sree Krishna is the only Male and all individual souls are females. In the realm of the Absolute Sree Krishna is the sole Master and Enjoyer. All the rest belong to the category of servants and objects of enjoyment that minister to His sole pleasure. The Rasa Pastime is capable of being analogically described in the vocabulary at our command only in terms of the sexual relationship. The reason of this is that there is a real correspondence between the two—the sexual relationship of this world being the unwholesome reflection of the spiritual process in the mirror of this material world. The analogy is, however, bound to prove misleading if due allowance is not made for the radical difference between the substantive nature and location of the two processes. The principle of mundane amour resting on that of physical sex can never be divested of its innate grossness and unwholesomeness. The grossness of worldly enjoyment as well as the sensuousness and frailties of both the object and subject of the sexual passion, are responsible for the imperfections of mundane amour. The Rasa Pastime is absolutely free from any touch of unwholesomeness, all the conditions being favourable for the promotion of the most perfect bliss by universal association in the rites of the most exquisite love. No apprehension of lewdness or sexuality must, therefore, be allowed to stand in the way of the exhaustive consideration of this highest and all-important spiritual subject.
The circular amorous dance or the Rasa Pastime expresses the manifestation of Divine love in its perfectly unobscured form. The highest realisation of this process consists in this, that in it Shrimati Radhika, the highest object of all reverence of all souls being that supreme blissful Power of Krishna who expresses His specifically luscious quality, appears in person in the circle of the dancers, in all Her most exquisite charm encompassed by the bhavas, her suite of the most confidential female friends. At the close of the Pastime of the circular dance there follows naturally sporting in the liquid current of the Yamuna, the cognitive essence itself dissolving into liquid bliss on the full manifestation of love.
Nanda who is the personality of spiritual bliss, is swallowed up by the boa-constrictor of the joy of the liberation of merging in the Divine Essence. Krishna, the Protector of His devotee, thereupon rescues him from his peril. The stubborn demon Sankhachura, who sets fame over every other principle, is then slain in an attempt to create disturbance in Braja. Keshi, the demon of the vanity of political ambition, is next slain by Krishna, the Foe of Kamsa, when the Lord finally made up His mind to return to Mathura.
Akrura, the contriver of all occurrences, then conducted Hari to Mathura. On His arrival there, the Lord killed the sturdy wrestlers and then also slew Kamsa himself with his younger brother. on the departure from this world of atheism in the person of Kamsa, Sree Krishna bestowed the charge of the earth on Kamsa’s progenitor, Ugrasena, who embodies the principle of independence. The twin widows of Kamsa thereupon repaired to their parent, the King of Magadha, the embodiment of elevationism, and submitted to him their sorrows of the state of widowhood. On receiving this tiding, the King of Magadha set out at the head of his armies and fought seventeen mighty battles about the city of Mathura, but was every time defeated by Hari. When Jarasandha at last beleaguered Mathura for the eighteenth time Krishna retired to His own Capital of Dwarakapuri. The real significance of this episode consists in this, that the potency of the principle of elevationism is constituted of the eighteen categories of the ten personal lustrations from birth to death, the four-fold classification according to aptitude and the four-fold division into stages of the individual life (varnashrama). When the seat of knowledge is finally captured by these eighteen categories by fostering renunciation of the world, there is manifested the disappearance of Godhead on the consequent emergence of the longing for pseudo-liberation.
While Krishna abode in Mathura, He placed Himself under the charge of the teacher of religion, and after completing His study of all the Shastras, restored the life of His preceptor’s dead son. There is no necessity in the case of Krishna, Who is naturally perfect, to endeavour for the acquisition of knowledge. The episode indicates that the intellect of man makes progress in erudition during its stage of residence at Mathura which is the Academy of all learning.
Those who covet the fruits of their activities also cherish attachment to Krishna. Their attachment to the Lord is charged with impurity. The attachment by degrees grows into the well purified unadulterated liking for Krishna. This salutary truth is manifested in the case of Kubja’s love for Krishna during His sojourn in Mathura. Uddhava went to Gokula to be acquainted fully with the loving state of Braja which is superior to all forms of devotion.
The Srutis affirm that the Pandavas represent the branch of righteousness, while the Kauravas are the offshoots of unrighteous conduct. For this reason, Sree Krishna is verily the Friend and Preserver of the family of the Pandavas. In order to establish the well being of righteousness and for the deliverance of sinners, the Lord deputed Akrura to Hastina as His messenger.
Jarasandha, the champion of unwholesome fruitive activity, beleaguered the beautiful city of Mathura, the abode of the knowledge of the undifferentiated Greatness and Nourishing Quality of the Divinity (Brahman). Here the point that is established is that fruitive activity itself is of two kinds. One variety is directed to the supreme desideratum itself. By such activities there is growth of knowledge and by their conjunction liking for Godhead is developed. This conjunction of activity, knowledge and the principle of Divine service, is also variously designated as the process of karma, jnana or bhakti. Those w ho possess real insight, call it the method of Harmony. But there is a different variety of activity which is directed to a selfish purpose. This form is known as karma-kanda, to distinguish it from the process of what is termed karma-yoga. This selfish variety of fruitive activity often gives rise to apprehension regarding the existence and attainment of Godhead and promotes their union with atheism by wedding them with the latter. It is this unwholesome variety of worldly activity that in the person of Jarasandha invaded the city of Mathura.
Thereupon, Sree Krishna, of His own accord, conducted His friends, viz., the community of His devotees, to the city of Dwaraka. This is the process of the service of Godhead under the regulative principles of the Divine Dispensation. The Yavana king belonged to a society that was not regulated by the Divinely ordained principle of class and stage (varnashrama). Being thus addicted to ignorant utilitarian activity and relying on the resources of such activity and being thereby opposed also to the path of liberation by empiric knowledge, the Yavana king scornfully kicked King Muchukunda representing aptitude for the path of liberation. The Yavana king was thereupon destroyed by the superior power of King Muchukunda. Hari then repaired to Dwaraka, the seat of the Knowledge of the Divinity in all His Majesty. There the Lord wedded Rukmini Devi, Embodiment of the Supreme Majesty of Godhead. Pradyumna, God of love, was no sooner born from the womb of Rukmini, then he was stolen away by Sambara, embodiment of the deluding Energy. The body of the God of love had formerly been burnt up by Mahadeva, representing barren asceticism. At that period Rati Devi, consort of Kama, God of love, had sought refuge in the demoniac propensity for the lust of the flesh. Kamadeva of great prowess, being now instructed by his consort Ratidevi, killed Sambara representing the pleasures of the flesh and made his way to Dwaraka. By way of restoration of the gem, Hari now wedded the auspicious Satyabhama, who is part and parcel of Sree Radhika, the fullness of the quality of extreme loving sensitiveness. Rukmini, with seven other ladies, were the reflections of the Power of the most delicious and the very highest Divine love, appearing in the conditions of Splendour and Majesty. They became the chief Queens of the Royal Home of Krishna at Dwaraka. At Dwaraka Sree Krishna’s offspring and relations multiplied apace. This points to an essential difference that distinguishes reverential worship rendered to the Majesty of Godhead from that of loving devotion. The former naturally tends to expand by the process of division. The latter is indivisible. It is not possible to deal with this matter in greater detail at this place. But the subject requires to be most carefully treated in a separate treatise.
A certain demon proclaiming himself to be Vasudeva preached the doctrine of undifferentiated Monism, at Kashi, the abode of Hara. The Lord of Roma, Who is Godhead Himself, after slaying that demon, burnt Kashidham, the seat of that corrupt opinion. The Lord seated on the back of Garuda slew the demon Bhauma who was filled with the notion that the things of this material universe are Godhead. This is idolatry. The worship of the Holy Divine Archa is not to be confounded with the worship of idols. The latter consists of the two co-ordinated varieties of pseudo-worship of Nature in its positive and negative aspects. Godhead rescued the victims of idolatry by destroying the faith in the undifferentiated Brahman, which is the subtle and more dangerous one of the two forms of idolatry and by accepting the worship of their quondam victims. By killing Jarasandha by the agency of Bheema, the. Lord rescued many a king from the bondage of elevationism (worship of pure worldly utility). He accepted unrestricted worship at the sacrifice of Yudhisthira and cut off the head of Shishupala who was a personal enemy of Himself. At the battle of Kurukshetra, Krishna afforded relief to the Earth groaning under her burden and, having re-established the pure religion, saved spiritual society.
On His arrival at Dwaraka, the sage Narada was filled with great wonder on beholding the Lord appearing at one and the same time in the homes of all His different Consorts. The fact that Godhead is fully present everywhere and in every soul, is much more wonderful than that He is One and pervades the whole universe by His Divine Essence. The demon Dantavakra, embodiment of barbarism, was slain. The Lord bestowed on Arjuna, His brother by the religion-bond, the hand of His Own sister Subhadra in marriage. The Lord saved the city of Dwaraka by destroying the efforts of Salwa backed by the knowledge of the deceptive physical sciences. The beautiful products of material sciences are nothing in comparison with the Doings of the Lord. King Nriga was undergoing the punishment of unrighteous conduct in the form of a reptile. He was delivered from the condition of a reptile by the mercy of the Lord.
Hari ate the raw rice given Him by the Brahmana Sudama, out of love. The Lord is not so pleased with the offering of even sweatmeats that are made by the pashandas (unbelievers). The monkey Dibida representing un-Godly carnival, was killed by Baladeva embodying the essence of the pure soul full of the love of Krishna. Baladeva performed the Pastime of love in the company of milkmaids who were the different substantive aspects of the pure soul, in a great forest in which there was a city made of the cognitive principle of the pure soul.
These Divine Pastimes are enacted in the hearts of the devotees. They disappear with the termination of the earthly sojourn of the devotees, just as the show ceases on the actor leaving the stage. The Will of Krishna, in the form of Time, having made the Yadavas, pure spiritual states, desist from their Pastimes, overwhelmed the Divine Abode of Dwaraka by the waves of the ocean of oblivion. The self-same Will of Krishna, who is the Source of ceaseless joy, made the devotees give up their bodies, worn out by decay, and by fomenting mutual discord, at Prabhas, representing the Knowledge of the Divinity. The aptitude towards Krishna that dwells in the hearts of the devotees attains to its pristine glory by its conjunction with the pure soul on his severance from the physical body. It continues its full manifestation in Goloka which is the highest portion of the realm of Vaikuntha.
These Activities of Sree Krishna never cease in Goloka, which is the innermost Sphere of the realm of the Absolute and the Abode of the Supreme Lord in the manifest unobstructed enjoyment of His own pure Nature. They are available to the conditioned soul in terms of the categories of time, space, and agent, in proportion to the realisation of his proper spiritual nature. This realisation may remain confined to the detached relationship of the individual soul to the Lord or expand into the form of a social function. It is this latter form that made its appearance in the pure consciousness of Narada and Vyasa in the cycle of the Dvapara Age. The spiritual consciousness is, therefore, susceptible of manifesting its appearance in terms of the activities of individuals and also of those of the community of pure souls. With the growth of the social instinct the second form of manifestation makes its appearance in due course.
Regarded from the point of view of the associated spiritual consciousness Hari is realised as fully manifest in Mathura, more fully in Dwaraka, and most fully of all in Braja. The degree of purity of its blissfulness, is the measure of the Plenitude of the Divine Manifestation. Judged by this standard, the joyous activities of Braja form the highest platform of the spiritual realisation of the individual soul. In this most blissful experience Krishna is ultimately realisable as the Sweetheart of the spiritual milkmaids, the very highest point in the process being the Blissful Activities of Krishna as the Beloved Consort of Sree Radhika.
Those who have been enabled to taste the sweetness of these spiritual realisations, are fully established in the eternal function of the pure soul. It is not possible to elaborate the quality of the liquid sweetness of the process by means of general terms. It is for this reason that the poetic sages have expounded the Truth of the Activities of Krishna by their detailed concrete descriptions. The Supreme bliss is obtainable only by the most solicitous service of Krishna. It is not possible to attain real and abiding satisfaction by the contemplation of Godhead as the Regulator and Companion of the individual soul, or by the realisation of the Greatness of the undifferentiated Divinity by the process of empiric Knowledge, or by worshipping Godhead by the method of the Sacrifice (yajna) as the Giver of the fruits of utilitarian activities.
III. —The Highest Worship Of Sree Krishna
The method of the worship of Krishna at Braja is the highest of all forms of worship. The worships that are practiced at Mathura and Dwaraka, respectively, owe their value in augmenting the exquisiteness of the Pastimes of Braja. It is our purpose, therefore, to consider the worship of Braja in some detail at this place. The discussion of the worship of Braja should not be withheld from the cognizance of the conditioned souls, as by means of this alone they can be really benefited. It is only when the conditioned soul is in the position to realise the nature of the mode of worship at Braja that he is freed from the fear of death, by obtaining the life eternal.
The subject of the worship of Braja may be conveniently considered by the related methods of synthetic or positive and analytic or negative treatment. Synthetically regarded the worship resolves itself into a system of relationships divisible in their turn into five distinct grades. These grades are called respectively the tranquilized state, condition of a servant, that of a friend, that of parents, and finally that of consorts, in the order of increasing excellence from the point of view of the detached observer.
In Braja certain denizens always regard themselves as the servants of the Prince of Braja. Others consider themselves as His fortunate friends. Shridama, Subala, etc., possess the pure friendly disposition. Yasoda, Rohini, Nanda are actuated by undiluted parental affection. The consorts, with Sree Radhika, at their head, regard themselves exclusively as the promoters of Krishna’s amorous love in the dancing circle. Nowhere else except in Brindabana can there exist these dispositions of pure exclusive relationships with Krishna. It is for this reason that pure souls feel an instinctive attraction for the charming Brindabana In Brindabana the Scriptures agree in declaring the amorous disposition to be the highest of all. By the principle that Godhead happens to be the sole Enjoyer of every entity, the individual soul is proved to be eternally ministrant to the pleasure of Sree Krishna. In Braja, however, there exist no dividing limitations as between Krishna and the serving individual souls like those that separate the master from the servant in this world. On the contrary, there always prevails indivisible supreme bliss in the visible form of these all-loving relationships. The consideration of loving separation also finds a place there for the sole purpose of augmenting still further the happiness of loving union. This blissful disposition, which belongs only to Braja, is realised in its gradual development by the careful preliminary service of relationships that obtain outside Braja in Mathura and Dwaraka.
The conditioned soul is eligible for service of Godhead only under the strictest regulations. At a subsequent stage, on the appearance of attachment for Krishna, the disposition of Braja gradually manifests itself. At this latter stage Krishna is served internally with loving devotion, but outward regard is displayed towards the regulative social institutions. This duplicity of disposition and practice is known as Parakiya (relationship as to a paramour); because the condition of the devotee resembles that of the wedded wife who may have unfortunately contracted a passion, which is not to be indulged, for a person other than her lawful husband. In these circumstances, the really loyal wife is under the painful necessity, from an innate sense of duty, of showing all outward regard that is due to her husband and of observing scrupulously the domestic and social regulations, although she can no longer feel for them any real internal attachment.
The apparently unintelligible and insincere attachment to society of the highest class of devotees cannot avoid being misunderstood by those comparatively advanced pupils who are in a position to appreciate the beneficient nature of the Scriptural regulations for the promotion of the spiritual well-being of society. But the highest class of devotees do not modify their method out of deference to adverse criticisms even of such bona fide objectors. Those novices who are not well advanced on the spiritual path are still less able to understand the ways of loving devotion which actuate the best devotees.
There is a regular gradation in the growing manifestation of the pure spontaneous attachment for Krishna. The growth of such attachment is capable of being divided into three distinct stages in order of increasing excellence, viz., (1) the love of conditioned souls adulterated by endeavour to follow the Scriptural regulations, (2) love for Krishna on the Absolute plane but wanting in the quality of intimacy, and finally (3) perfect love for Krishna free from all extraneous dross. The limit of pure love for Krishna in Sree Radhika, the Counter-Whole of Sree Krishna Himself, is termed mahabhava (the loving condition major). Different fro. n the specific nature of mahabhava , but closely approximating the same, there is found the eightfold assemblage of the bhavas inhering in the pure individual souls. They are the eight Sakhis ( the Cherami) of Sree Radhika. The bhavas of worshippers adjoining those of the sakhis, are the manjaris (spray). The worshipper should in the first instance seek the protection of the manjari whose bhava corresponds to the worshiper's own nature. He is, thereafter, to offer his submission to the sakhi who is served by the manjari. If he obtains the mercy of the sakhi he will be enabled thereby to attain to the refuge of the feet of Sree Radhika. In the circle of the great Rasa-dance the worshippers, manjari, sakhi and Shrimati Radhika, occupy positions that are very much analogous to those of the satellite, planet, the sun and the polar star respectively in the mundane stellar system. In the process of augmentation of bhava, the promotion of the enjoyment of Krishna becomes available for jeevas who have attained to the qualitv of mahabhava.
There are eighteen obstacles in the way of this exquisite consummation of bhava which belongs to Braja. These are apt to pollute pure love and give rise to offense. It is imperatively necessary to consider the nature of these obstacles by way of the negative treatment of Braja-bhava, which should supplement and help to prevent any grave misconception of the positive exposition.
The first obstacle is one's encounter with the pseudo-Guru. The bad Guru is no other than the demoness Putana who offers the suck of her poisoned breast for killing new-born Krishna in the purified cognition of the soul. Worshippers who have already obtained admission to the path of loving devotion should ponder on the appearance of Putana in Braja and be thereby enabled to remove the initial obstacle, viz., the bad spiritual guide. The Guru is either the inner or outwardly manifested spiritual Guide. The soul in the state of perfect concentration in the absolute samadhi, is the Guru of the soul. In other words a person who places himself under the guidance of the reasoning faculty and learns from it the method of worship, thereby gives the direction of himself to the pseudo-Guru.
The dallyings of the empiric assertive rational faculty with the eternal religion by the offer of her support for its furtherance, are comparable to the artifices of Putana. Worshippers on the path of loving spiritual devotion owe it to themselves to discard all assertive help of reasoning in the attempt to realise the nature of the summum bonum, and seek instead the exclusive guidance of spiritual concentration. The human being from whom one learns about the substantive nature of worship of Godhead is the outwardly manifested Guru. The bona fide Guru is the person who after realising the true nature of the endeavour of loving devotion, instructs the submissive disciple (sishya) regarding the summum bonum, taking into due consideration the specific requirement of the latter. One who presumes to instruct others without himself realising the nature of the course of loving devotion, or who, although himself cognizant of the nature of the path of devotion, instructs the disciple regarding the same without due consideration of the aptitude of the latter, is the pseudo-Guru. It is necessary by all means to renounce the guidance of such a Guru.
The second obstacle on the path of loving devotion, in the order of appearance, is wrong speculative controversy. In Braja, i.e., on the path of spontaneous love, it is difficult for the proper spiritual state to appear until the demon Trinavarta, embodiment of disloyal controversy, has been killed outright. All philosophical speculation, all skeptical arguments of the pseudo Buddhists and empiric rationalists, are obstructive of the growth of the disposition of Braja, in the manner of the demon Trinavarta.
The third obstacle is represented by the laden cart. The injunctions of the Scriptures are apt to be followed in their literal sense without due regard to their meaning. This carrying of the lumber of Scriptural learning tends to smother the infant Krishna and requires to be smashed with His help at the very outset, if the object of the novice be to realise the state of natural love for Krishna. The mechanical pedant has no access to Braja. The victims of the pseudo-Guru are liable to fall into this plight by being prematurely initiated into the process of the state of a female confidante engaged in service as of the manjari. Such victims do not realise their misfortune by reason of their mechanical aptitude which is exploited by, the pseudo-Guru to their utter ruin. Those who follow the advice of such a Guru in their worship, quickly fall away from the path of devotion. The amorous mood in such cases can never attain to the depth of the truly spiritual process. But this is never realisable by the parties themselves.
The fourth obstacle ‘‘on the path’’ is termed juvenile offense. Persons who are indifferent to the spiritual guide are thereby rendered subject to the inconsistencies and frailties that beset naughty children. This enemy of the infant Krishna is known as Batsasura. The novice must beware of the guiles of this malicious demon and try to get rid of him at an early stage.
The fifth obstacle makes its appearance on the path of the theists (Vaishnavas) in the form of the demon Baka. He is an exceedingly cunning fellow embodying the principle of religious hypocrisy. It is this obstacle which is meant by the offense against the Holy Name. Those who, falling into the clutches of the pseudo-Guru by neglect of the proper exercise of their judgment, deceive themselves by consenting to adopt the higher grade of worship to which they are not entitled, fall under the category of the third class of offenders described above. But those who, even after becoming aware of their unfitness, persist in practicing the higher method of worship, hoping thereby to gain honour and wealth for themselves, commit the offense of religious hypocrisy. Until this defect is discarded, there can be no appearance of the principle of spontaneous liking for Krishna. These hypocrites only deceive the world by the display of the external insignia of sectarianism and pseudo-renunciation. Those persons who choose to show their regard for these arrogant persons in consideration of the external marks exhibited by them, failing to attain the favour of Krishna, only prove to be thorns in the sides of the people of this world. But It should also be borne in mind in this connection that one should be careful not to allow his caution in regard to the abuse of external signs to betray him into maligning a person wearing the respective external marks of the theistic communities, whose conduct may also embody the inner significance of those symbols. It is, therefore, the constant duty of the Vaishnavas, by being neutral as regards external marks, to seek for indications of inner love for Godhead and to associate with and serve the sadhus whom they may be fortunate enough to recognize by this test.
The sixth obstacle has the forms of cruelty and violence. This is the demon Aghasura. It is possible for love to suffer gradual decay by the absence of kindness for all animate beings. This must be so inasmuch as kindness can never be a different principle from love for Krishna. There is no substantive difference between love for Krishna and kindness to individual souls.
The seventh obstacle assumes the form of infatuation in the shape of an apparently zealous study of the Vedas (scholasticism). Excessive and exclusive attention to the propositions of the diverse polemical schools and their conclusions and modes of argument, tend to lessen the poignancy and clearness of the vision of the truths obtained in the exclusive mood. Even Brahma himself doubted the truth of the real Nature of Krishna by reason of such infatuation.
The eighth obstacle is offered by the demon Dhenukasura in the form of the ass, who tries to prevent the palm fruits, which he is himself unable to taste, from being enjoyed by others. The principles of Vaishnavism require for their due appreciation the most penetrating judgment. Persons possessed of a blunted understanding are exposed to this grave plight. The Vaishnava religion is indivisible. There is no scope in it for sectarian narrowness. It is the blunt-headed fool who is liable to misconceive the true nature of the Vaishnava community by supposing it to be a sect distinct from other sects of this world. As a matter of fact thick-headed persons are themselves unable to understand the teaching of the spiritual works that have been penned by the former Acharyas of the community and they are also apt to actively prevent others from having access to those works. This is specially the case with those devotees possessed of a stunted judgment who, being mechanically addicted to the regulations have no inclination to strive for the attainment of the real status. But the Vaishnava religion holds within itself the prospect of infinite progressive advance. Those muddy-headed persons, who choose to remain confined within the literal meaning of the narrow limits of the Scriptural regulations, being thereby led to neglect the unconventional path of spontaneous love for Godhead, soon become indistinguishable from persons who are wedded to the cult of fruitive mundane activities. It is’ therefore’ never possible to make any progress in the Vaishnava religion till Dhenukasura in the form of the ass has been killed.
The ninth obstacle is offered by the conduct of those weak-minded persons who take to the unconventional method of service for the purpose of gratifying their senses which it is not possible to do under the method of regulated service. This is the conduct of the demon Brishabhasura. These persons will be killed by the burning quality of Krishna’s personality. The example of such offensive conduct is by no means rare among those hypocrites who make a parade of their religiosity.
The tenth obstacle is offered by the cunning serpent Kaliya, representing implacable brutality and treachery, who is apt to pour his deadly poison into the melted souls of the Vaishnavas represented by the liquid current of the Yamuna. The danger threatened by this fatal poison can be got rid of by the Grace of Krishna.
The eleventh obstacle has the form of intra-communal discord. It is comparable to the wild forest-fire. The disposition bred by narrow sectarianism rendering its victim unable to recognize as Vaishnava one who does not assume the external marks of the theistic community, multiplies the obstacles on the path of attainment of the bona fide Guru and the actual companionship of the true devotees. It is, therefore, obligatory on all persons to destroy the forest-fire by all means.
The twelfth obstacle on the path of loving devotion is offered by the demon Pralambasura who is prone to commit theft against one’s own self. The danger is represented specifically by the theory of the Brahman of the Mayavadins who advocate merging in the Brahman as the summum bonum and declare the self realised condition to be one. that is absolutely devoid of any distinguishable feature. The system is characterized by the defect of utter absence of the principle of bliss either for the individual soul or for the Brahman who is imagined to be perfectly unconcerned about anything. Persistent reflection on those lines gives rise to doubt regarding the very existence of the Brahman and produces conviction in the non-existence of the individual soul and the elaborate concoction of a new science to account for the glaring discrepancies of the Acharyas and proving the utter futility of all human thought and activity. This mode of thinking sometimes finds its way among the Vaishnavas and creates a good deal of trouble in the form of an advocacy of self-destruction.
The thirteenth obstacle takes the form of the worship of Indra and other lesser devatas in the hope of gaining worldly advantages. This prevents the growth of love for Godhead and requires to be avoided with great care.
The offenses of theft of another’s property and telling of Lies are the fourteenth obstacle. These are represented by the demon Byowrasura. They stand in the way of one’s attaining to perfect love for Krishna and give a good deal of trouble to the novice.
The fifteenth obstacle arises from addiction to intoxicants. In Braja the bliss, that is experienced by the individual soul on his being freed from the troubles of mind and body, is termed Nanda. There are found persons who betake to the use of intoxicants supposing such habit to be promotive of the above form of bliss. This quickly causes the serious drawback of self-forgetfulness. This predicament is represented by Nanda's sojourn to the abode of Varuna. This grave offense must be avoided by all means. Those persons who have attained the mode of loving devotion of Braja must, on no account, use any form of intoxicant.
The sixteenth obstacle has the form of a proneness to acquisition of fame and honour, and desire for sensuous enjoyment, under the plea of devotion. This is the demon Shanhachuda. Those persons who covet fame as the goal of their activities, commit thereby the offense of arrogance. It is necessary for Vaishnavas to be very careful about this matter.
The next obstacle is offered by the growing sense of blissfulness that tends to increase by the cultivation of the habit of worship till it assumes the form of self suppression approximating the state of merging with the Object of worship. This mood for merging with the Divinity is a species of serpent that swallows up Nanda. The novice should endeavour to be a bona fide servant of Godhead by carefully avoiding this fatal temptation.
The eighteenth obstacle is the demon Keshi who has the form of the horse. As the quality of devotion of the novice undergoes swift development, the sense of one’s own superiority makes its appearance. If the novice gives a free scope to the speculation regarding his own excellence, it is apt to lead him into the dire offense of disrespect for the Divinity, causing his fall. It is, therefore, necessary that such wicked sentiment may never arise in the heart of the Vaishnava. Even after devotion has been fully developed the quality of sincere humility should never be absent from the conduct of the Vaishnava. As the contrary of this tends to happen, it becomes necessary for Krishna to kill the demon Keshi.
Those who are in the intellectual condition are required to free themselves from those offenses which are to be found in the sphere of Mathura. Those who have a taste for fruitive activity must be on their guard against the offenses that are noticeable at Dwaraka. The devotees should dive completely into love for Sree Krishna by avoiding all those obstacles as they are apt to breed trouble in Braja.
The eternal Truth has been made manifest to this world by, Sree Vyasadeva in his narrative of the Pastimes of Braja. But the real nature of the Truth cannot be realised by means of knowledge born of the senses. The knowledge is spontaneously experienced by the pure essence of the individual soul in his exclusive state (samadhi). There are, however, pseudo-exclusive states which must not be confounded with the spiritual condition proper in which there is no presence of any mundane element. In this state the Truth becomes self-manifest by the operation of the spiritual Potency of Divinity. This phenomenal world is the distorted unwholesome reflection of the transcendental Realm. It is for this reason that there is a correspondence between the phenomena of this world and the events of the spiritual plane. The substantive reality, in the forms of the Name, Form, Quality, Pastimes and the distinctive personality of His Paraphernalia make their appearance to the soul in his exclusive state (samadhi).
It is necessary to keep all doubting speculations at their proper distance, if the clear vision is to be maintained in tact. The least intrusion of such disturbing element blurs and obliterates the spiritual perception. On the gradual subsidence of mundane predilections, the transcendental Truth makes His Appearance by corresponding stages, finally attaining His full concrete manifestation in the Pastimes of Sree Krishna in Sree Brindabana. If the elimination of sensuous speculation is not attended to with scrupulous care, the progress is towards abstraction and absence of distinctive features in such realisation.
If it be our good fortune to attain to the sight of Brindabana, which is full of every object of beauty, we would be in a position, with. the fullest assurance of the truth of our realisation, to describe, by means of the admittedly imperfect instrument of mundane vocabulary that we happen to possess for the purpose, the most wonderful and blissful Form of Sree Krishna in Sree Brindabana. Such description should not be supposed to be derived from our experience of this world. It is the outcome of direct perception of the Substantial Reality of Whom the rational phenomena of this world are the distorted unwholesome shadow. No realisation of the substance can be reached by the logical manipulation of confused speculation regarding His shadow whose only function is to mislead to perfection.
The Beauty of Sree Krishna, described by those who have been fortunate enough to realise the vision, is narrated below for the information of the reader; but the meaning of the description cannot be grasped except in the perfect exclusive state which, is wholly free from any speculative activity born of the mind.
The Figure of Godhead, fulfilling all requirements of the spiritual principle, is like that of man. His Beauty seems to be represented by the reflected correspondence of the inexpressibly cooling, soft, yellowish, blue that is noticeable in the gem known as "Indranilamani" of this world, or is like unto the impression of the first appearance of the rain-bearing clouds at the close of the season of protracted draught. A certain combination of the triple potency representing respectively the principles of existence, consciousness and bliss, appears to be disposed in an indivisibly oblique manner about the Beauty of Divinity. His Twin Eyes, focusing all the supremely jubilant brightness of the realm of perfect living consciousness, set forth the Beauty of His incomparable Figure. In the material world those Eyes may be found reflected in the beauty of the fresh-blown lotus. On the Head of Godhead’s Own Divine Form, there is observed a certain distinctive feature similar to which there is to be found nothing at all in all our previous experience. All that can be said is that the tail of the peacock is probably the reflection in this world of this inexpressible peculiarity. A certain garland of flowers that have the easy perfection of the soul, sets forth the beauty of the incomparable Neck of Sree Krishna. The beauty of the natural flowers of the forest seems to be a reflection of this particular feature. The Waist of Sree Krishna is encompassed by knowledge that is manifested by the spiritual cognitive principle representing the energy of the soul. It seems that the flash of lightning, skirting the fringe of a massive assemblage of fresh, rain-bearing clouds reflects the beauty of the girdle round the Waist of Sree Krishna. The kaustubha and other precious gems and ornaments appertaining to the soul disseminate the beauty of the Person of Sree Krishna. The spiritual agency by whose means the ravishing call, that has power to draw the soul, manifests itself, is observed in the figure of a flute. The flutes and other instruments of this world that serve to carry the musical notes of every variety may be the reflection of the Divine Flute. The inconceivable Figure of Sree Krishna is observed to be placed under the Kadamba tree, embodying spiritual horripilation, on the grassy woodlands sloping to the water’s edge of the Yamuna of the liquid spiritual essence. It is by means of these spiritual symbols that the beloved Son of Nanda, Sree Krishna, Lord of the spiritual Realm, makes His Appearance to the view of the Vaishnavas in their exclusive state (samadhi)
But persons who are unfortunately blinded by empiric knowledge are unable to find the Form and distinctive concrete aspects of the spiritual existence even when the realm of the Absolute is actually brought before their eyes in the exclusive state.
Sree Krishnachandra, in this manner, is realised, in the exclusive state, as maddening the realm of pure souls by the strains of His Flute and attracting the minds of the milkmaids (gopees). How may those who are infatuated by the vanities of high lineage, etc., attain to Krishna? Persons who are free from all worldly vanities are alone eligible for being attracted by Krishna. Those who understand the nature of spiritual existence, know that sadhus fall into two clearly defined groups, viz., (1) those who have attained to the state of the gopees, and (2) those who follow in the footsteps of such self-realised souls. The former are called siddhas and the latter sadhakas.
The graduated process of spiritual endeavour of those persons who have realised the state of gopees, is as follows. In the course of their sojourn in this world, the music of Krishna’s Flute enters the ear of a few exceptionally fortunate persons. The sweetness of the music exercising its attraction on such persons makes them fit for the highest spiritual status. This quickly dissipates their male disposition which prompts people of this world to seek for their own sensuous enjoyment. On the complete disappearance of the male disposition there is aroused another temperament characterized by a spontaneous preference for following the guidance of those who are possessed of the mellow quality of spiritual consorthood. In this position the femininity of the soul in the form of capacity for ministering to the enjoyment of Godhead, manifests itself. The expectation of consorthood becomes so strong that the soul under its influence develops all the external symptoms of the state of madness.
The first experience arises in the form of hearing about the specific Figure (Rupa) of Krishna. This process falls into two parts. The first of these is of the nature of spontaneous realisation of Krishna’s attraction in the sphere of one’s ordinary cognitive activity. This event is called the hearing of the music of Krishna’s Flute. This is followed by the hankering for listening to the narrative regarding Krishna from those who have had an actual sight. This form of listening to the Scriptural narratives of Krishna from the lips of sadhus, also comes under this head.
The realisation of Krishna that is attainable by such hearing and study, forms the division of spiritual endeavour which is called "listening to the Quality of Krishna’’: The next is seeing the delineation of Krishna as in a picture. This is effected by the realisation of the Purpose and Supreme Skill of Krishna in the design of this material world. He who has been enabled to realise that the material world is the distorted perverted reflection of the realm of the Absolute, is said to have had a sight of Krishna as in a picture. In other words, the preliminary stages of the state of devotion to Vishnu, or Vaishnavata, accrues in the three different ways of spontaneous realisation of its desirability, realisation of the nature of Divine worship by the study of the Scriptures, and actual personal experience of the Nature of Godhead from a consideration of the wonderful organization of the material Universe
Unadulterated faith in Krishna as the source of the loving devotion of Braja is the preliminary stage in the gradual appearance of the process of spiritual love. The appearance of this form of unalloyed faith is followed by attainment of close association with the sadhus, who are denizens of spiritual Braja. Such association is the cause of the attainment of Krishna. Those persons who have the rare fortune of gaining the companionship of sadhus in course of their further progress on the path of spiritual endeavour, which is comparable to the stealthy approach of the sweetheart to the secret place of meeting with her lover, may perchance realise, at some rare moment, their auspicious meeting with the Supreme Object of their love on the water’s edge of the Yamuna, the stream of the liquid essence of the pure soul.
By meeting with Krishna, the transcendental bliss of Divine communion (parananda) ensues which at once causes all worldly felicity previously experienced to appear as infinitesimally trivial in comparison. The supreme bliss grows apace in the heart, as the days pass, towards the most dearly loved ever-new Form of the Soul of all souls. The root of spiritual love is that attachment of the individual soul who is constituted of the principles of pure cognition and bliss, towards the concentrated Divine Form of All-existence, All-cognition and All-bliss, which is perfect in itself and natural for the soul.
This attachment (rati) under the favouring impulse of the principle of mellowness (rasa) undergoes development by taking on the form of rasa.
Rasa is of twelve kinds. The five rasas of santa (equanimity), dasya (service), sakhya (friendship), batsalya (parental affection) and madhura (consorthood), are the five primary varieties. These five are of the nature of substantive relationship. Beera (heroic), karuna (tender), raudra (keen), hasya (laughter), bhayanaka (terrible), bibhatsa (abnormal) and adbhuta (wonderful), are the seven secondary rasas. These arise spontaneously from the establishment of relationship. Prior to the establishment of actual relationship there is no possibility of external manifestation of attachment. These specific visible manifestations are all secondary rasas.
Even after attachment (rati) has assumed the form of rasa (liquid mellowness), it does not attain to its full resplendence except in combination with the four samagris (ingredients), viz., (a) bibhaba (particular state), (b) anubhaba (perception), (c) sattvika (natural indication of emotion), and (d) byabhichari (transitory feeling). (a) Bibhaba is of two kinds, viz., (1) alambana (cause); and (2) uddipana (aggravating agent). Alambana is again of two kinds, viz., (1) Krishna, and (2) devotee of Krishna. The good qualities and distinctive natures of Krishna and His devotees constitute the division of uddipana (i.e., excitant of attachment or rati). (b) Anubhaba is of three kinds, viz., (1) alankara, (2) udbhasvara, and (3) vachika.. Alankara, such as hava, bhava, etc., in all twenty in number, has been classified into the three divisions of (1) angaja (of the body), (2) ayatna ja (spontaneous), and (3) swabhabaja (of the individual nature of a person). Sighing, dancing, rolling on the ground and such other activities are called udbhasvara.. Alapa, bilapa, etc., are the twelve vachika anubhavas. Stupefaction, sweating, etc., are the eight sattvika bikaras. Nirveda, etc., are the thirty-three byabhichari bhavas. The rasa and all its ingredients (samagri) have a constant bearing on the development of rati till it reaches the stage of mahabhava..
The attachment (rati) for Krislma is sthayibhava (the permanent state) or the rasa (mellow liquid principle) of bhakti (devotion). In conditioned souls the principle manifests itself as bhakti or service. In the free state it appears as the principle of love in the realm of the Absolute (Vaikuntha). Attachment for Krishna develops up to the stage of mahabhava. The process of development by the methods of identification with primary and secondary rasas and by the help of ingredients enriching the variety of its manifestations, constitutes the eternal treasure of the soul in her state of perfect spiritual freedom. It is this which is also the object of endeavour of the conditioned souls. If it be urged that there is no necessity for any attempt to attain that which is eternally inherent in the soul, the answer is that the resuscitation of the eternal principle in the conditioned state is the process of the spiritual endeavours of the conditioned neophyte.
It has been realised in their natural exclusive state by great souls such as Sree Vyasadeva, etc., and also by our Gurus that attachment (rati) for Krishna is the most wholesome principle of the realised essence of the jeeva-soul. The nature of the substantive reality is in a slight measure manifested in its reflected image. It is for this reason that the principle of attraction between male and female in this world has proved to be the most charming of all mundane entities. But the attachment between male and female of this world is utterly insignificant and condemnable in comparison with the principle of the transcendental reality. This is indicated by the passage in the narrative of the circular dance in the Bhagavatam, "He who listens to or recites to others, with due reverence and faith, these Pastimes of Vishnu with the damsels of Braja, attains to the state of transcendental devotion for Godhead resulting in the simultaneous and speedy disappearance from his heart of the malady of mundane lust". It is, as if, the mirage of the desert is replaced by the shining water of the magnificent lake offering the sorely-needed cooling drink to the thirsty traveler led astray by the deceptive image of the life-giving liquid. I have described the limit of the love and activity of the eternally self-realised souls towards the eternally realised Personality of Sree Krishna. The limit of attachment is mahabhava, the limit of activity is maha-rasa. This is also the limit of vocabulary sprung from the material principle. That which lies beyond should be seen by means of the exclusive state (samadhi).
It is the only thing needful to be imbued with serving love for Sree Krishna, of the perfectly pure kind. It is the nature of genuine serving spiritual love to be absolutely free from all worldly dross. A person, in whom this pure impulse manifests itself, is thereby rendered perfectly pure in every detail of his conduct. Such a person is naturally disinclined to ungodly conduct, all his affinities having undergone a complete change of objective from the mundane to the Absolute. But it is necessary to bear in mind that before concluding any conduct to be blamable, the status of the person displaying such conduct should be considered. This is the most material point. No conduct is universally good or bad. If the attempt be made to arrive at a uniform body of rules of conduct which are to be binding on all, such a procedure is sure to end in futile speculations and to frustrate all real endeavour for ethical improvement. This is the great disservice that has been done to man by speculative ethics. It has only served to blunt the edge of natural goodness of judgment by entangling it in the meshes of specious theories that are bound to be wholly wide of the mark. It is, therefore, the first and foremost duty of every individual who is sincerely anxious of not being deceived by the shadow, to avoid all barren speculative discussions, on principle.
There is also another pitfall which is avoided by a person who is really inspired by love for the substantive Truth and the desire for serving Him for the sake of promoting His pleasure. Such a person never engages in sectarian hair-splitting. He is found to maintain a discreet attitude towards sectarian disputes and in respect of external symbols which differ in different communities. These issues, as a matter of fact, derive all their value from the purpose which they are instituted to serve. Their external face need, therefore, be neither undervalued nor overestimated. The conduct of the devotee who is actuated by natural love for the service of the Absolute, in these matters, should not, therefore, be misunderstood. Such a person is neither opposed to, nor is he a supporter of these external features as such.
Those who are servants of Hari know very well that no work is worth doing which does not please Hari; neither is knowledge, by which attachment to Hari is not engendered, of any value. Persons who are possessed of this truly rational insight always engage themselves in activities that are promotive of spiritual progress and desist from every form of activity which has anything else than Hari as its objective. This consideration regulates the minutest detail of the activities of the servants of Hari. They are not deflected from this course by the breadth of an hair in life or in death, so constant is the loyalty of their judgment and so utterly incapable of being overclouded by any extraneous consideration. They are always possessed of unerring judgment, are full of the natural humility of the pure soul and are constantly engaged in doing good to all entities that exist.
They know truly that the soul is the only pure essence, that mind is a product of the principle of inertia and that the gross physical body is a thing of the earth. They are also well aware that the jiva (the individual soul) is the eternal servant of Godhead whose spiritual function is of the nature of spontaneous liking for the service of Krishna; that he is endowed with the aptitude for his natural function of loving service even while he may be resident in this material world. Possessing the true knowledge of all this, persons, who are endowed with the spiritual disposition that is found on the plane of Braja, realising in their souls absolute freedom from all stultifying influences of this phenomenal world, are constantly engaged in the service of Krishna, the concentrated Personal Embodiment of All-existence, All-cognition and All-bliss. This worship is performed spontaneously in the exclusive state proper by the soul disengaged from all mundane affinities.
It is when the impulse of love cannot be compassed by the pure spiritual essence of the soul on account of its triumphant growth that it overflows its natural bounds into the subtle mental body in which it manifests itself in a mixed form. This gives rise to the mental worship consisting of the processes of manana (resolution of service), smarana (recollection), dhyana (meditation), dharana (retention, assimilation)’ the thought of bhutasuddhi (purification of the material cases), etc. This mental worship need not be avoided on the ground that it is of a mixed nature. This is inevitable till the dissolution of the material cases themselves. But the process that extends to the mind and body from the soul should be distinguished from the apparently similar process reached by mundane sensuous speculation by its ascending effort. This latter is idolatry proper and is categorically different from the mixed spiritual process.
These mental activities, derived from the soul, on undergoing still further expansion, overflow into the gross physical body. Coming down to the tip of the tongue it expresses itself as utterance of the chant of the Name, Quality, etc., of Godhead. Attaining the proximity of the ear it brings about the hearing of the same. To the eye it imparts the impulse of the vision of the Beauty and Figure of Godhead. The pure spiritual moods of the soul overflow into the bodily expressions of horripilation, shedding of tears, shivering, dancing, prostrations by way of obeisance, rolling on the bare ground, acts of loving embrace, journey to the holy tirthas connected with the Doings of Godhead, etc. This overflowing of the spiritual principle into material activity, is inconceivable in its nature and is the manifestation of the causeless mercy of the Divinity intended to bring about the turning of the direction of mundane activity Godward. The institution of honouring of mahaprasadam has been ordained by the Scriptures to bring about the change of the activity of indulging in the pleasures of the table in the direction of the service of Godhead. This argument holds also in the case of other spiritual injunctions. This is the true significance of every ritual.
It is not to be supposed that persons who have realised the true nature of the spiritual function, neglect the due performance of worldly activities that are inspired by the mundane purpose. What the perfectly enlightened soul does is this: she maintains internally the attitude of unconditional feminine submissiveness towards Sree Krishna, while displaying the face of a heroic masculinity in her external conduct towards persons and duties of this world. Externally the pure devotee is found to be the most heroic among ambitious workers, a male prepared to exercise all the prerogatives of his superior sex among females, profoundly experienced in dealing with society, a good teacher of boys, the greatest of those who possess the knowledge of our material needs, but is withal skilled in turning them to the account of the summum bonum, the peace-maker in war and the purifier of the hearts of sinners. All this is found to co-exist with an opposite disposition, which is the outcome of excessive increase of the impulse of spiritual love, which leads the devotee to be averse to seeking popularity and to prefer the intimate service of his Beloved in the seclusion of retirement from this world.
The points that are emphatically brought out by the considerations penned above, are that it is not possible to serve Sree Krishna except under the direction, or, what is strictly identical with the same, by association in the service, of pure devotees who alone are in a position to distinguish the chaff from the grain. As soon as the least point of real contact with the pure devotees is established by the causeless grace of the latter, the fortunate recipient of such priceless favour is thereby endowed with the faculty that can distinguish the essential from the non-essential. The pure devotee is always accustomed to overlook all external defects and accept only the inner significance of every occurrence. This, of course, does not mean that one should continue to commit offenses in the expectation of such indulgence. The deliberate offender cannot obtain the real mercy of the pure devotee by reason of such offense. It is obligatory to follow the conduct of the perfectly blameless servants of Sree Krishna if one is to realise the nature of their unbounded mercy. If the hand of the observer is placed over his eye it is bound to prevent his receiving the light of the glorious luminary, who is never chary of pouring out, unasked and in unstinted profusion and without the least reservation, his light and warmth towards e
Critics who are so unfortunate as to be disposed to stop their ear-holes against the expostulations of self-realised souls and persist in looking at the transcendental, perfectly purifying Pastimes of Sree Krishna through the spectacles of their own malicious sensuous dispositions, are no wiser than the person who does not spare to criticize the Sun and to blame that luminary for withholding his light from one who is determined to keep his hand tightly placed over his eyes. It is necessary to learn how to behave towards the Truth if one is to make His acquaintance at all. Malicious misrepresentations and willful misunderstandings cannot enable so-called critics to be enlightened about the nature of the Truth nor to enlighten others regarding Him. I desire no other boon than that of being sincerely disposed to make my complete submission to the pure devotees of Sree Krishna for the sole reward of their approval. I am confident of attaining to the sight of the Truth by following the method which precludes all other desires than that of the causeless and exclusive service of all the servants of the Absolute Truth. May the pure devotees pardon the innumerable lapses of my aspiring attempt to follow in their holy footsteps in all humility.
IV. —Comparative Study Of Religion
Empiric History is a narrative of events occurring in time and is, therefore, necessarily limited by ascertained chronology. The ascertainment of the chronological order of events has suggested and supplied the materials for a science of growth or evolution deduced from the chronological sequence of actual occurrences. Attempts have been made to apply the method of chronological evolutionary treatment, in the face of oblivious difficulties, to the subject of religion by a growing number of learned scholars resulting in an apparently surprising degree of unanimity as regards the conclusions reached. It is necessary at the outset of theistic history to attempt a valuation of the speculations with reference to the worship of Sree Sree Radha-Krishna to bring them into line with the Absolute Truth. The wide gap that separates the worship of Sree Sree Radha-Krishna from the conclusions of empiric religion requires to be explained in a systematic manner in the light of transcendental history which is not limited by any limited chronology to a limited world.
Sree Sree Radha-Krishna is the eternally coupled Divine Pair, Sree Radha being the predominated, and Sree Krishna the predominating aspect, indissolubly joined together, of the complete, active, Absolute Personality. Radha-Krishna or the Absolute is thus a composite of two persons of whom One predominates over the other. Neither of them is a Person of any exclusive or limited sense. The Personality of the Divinity in either aspect is Absolute and, therefore, also, All-inclusive. The impersonal view gives a partial and, therefore, misleading aspect of the Absolute. Hastiness of judgment due to inherent defect of understanding is responsible for mistaking the impersonal view as being superior to that of Divine Personality. The Personality of the Absolute should not also, on the other hand, be gratuitously confounded with the personality of our defective empiric speculations, in which the truth is obscured by the predominance of limiting, delusive, material reservations. Radha is not the female of our perceptual or conceptual experience derived from the observations of the phenomenal world by means of defective senses. The Absolute can be neither male nor female of our experience for the simple reason that such male or female can be but one of a number of mutually exclusive entities and cannot, therefore, accommodate the rest of them. It is the intention to avoid this difficulty arising from the defective nature of our sense-experience that has led the empiric philosophers to hit upon the barren and logically untenable notion of impersonality to indicate the nature of the Absolute. This has only landed them in far worse difficulties.
The whole issue hinges on a right understanding of the nature of the Absolute. If God were really a zero we could be saved the trouble of attempting to describe His nature. If God is not zero, He should logically be both everything and no particular thing, at one and the same time. Everything is in Radha-Krishna; but Radha-Krishna is not identical with anything except Themselves. In other words Radha-Krishna has a specific individual existence of Their own, simultaneously with Their external all-pervasive existence. The external entities in their individual aspect, are not constituent parts of Radha-Krishna as the Absolute cannot be made up of a number of particulars nor even of the aggregates of individual entities. As a matter of fact individual entities as well as their aggregations are manifestations of Sree Krishna in and by the plenary Divine Power Sree Radhika. The manifestations are neither outside, nor identical with their Source.
The question how Sree Radhika can accommodate the material universe or other persons partially similar to Herself occurs naturally enough to the speculative mind whose activities are confined within the limits of three dimensions But it would be sheer dogmatism and perfectly illogical to try to squeeze the Absolute within the narrow mental scope for the reason that the mind is incapable of conceiving existences of more than three dimensions or of less than one.
There cannot be such a thing as a comparative estimate of different creeds without postulation of a standard of value. It is, of course, possible to find out the values of the different creeds in terms of one of them. Let us suppose that this is done with every one of the creeds by turn with conscientious impartiality and sound judgment. Will it take us nearer the Absolute? Certainly not. The Absolute could be approached only by means of the Absolute. If none of these creeds be of the nature of the Absolute, the permutation and combination of any number of relative entities can never yield any knowledge of the Absolute. The method that should be applied is that of assigning local values to the fractional parts by relating them to the Integer. Those who adopt the moral principle as the standard by which to judge the local value of a creed, seek to arrange the creeds in an order of moral superiority. As an instance, we may take the methods of Dr. R. G. Bhandarkar, Barth and their followers. They try to evaluate the worship of Sree Sree Radha-Krishna by the moral standard. They consider the worship of Rama and Sita as superior being more moral than the worship of Sree Sree Radha-Krishna. Such estimations assume the absolute validity of the ill-defined moral standard of empiric thinkers. Those extremely well informed writers could not have been wholly unaware of this radical philosophical weakness of their standard of value in arriving at any really dependable conclusion in regard to the relative worth of the different creeds.
Idolatry is the proper logical denial of the worship of the Absolute. Idolatry is the result of despair to find out the real truth. When the empiricist finds it impossible to discover the Absolute by means of his abortive speculations, but is anxious to provide a working hypothesis for good conduct, he dresses up his known erroneous idea to do duty as the spurious substitute of the inconceivable Absolute.
The moral principle cannot be clearly defined by those very persons who do not scruple to proclaim it as the only safe test for the valuation of religions. Such a method amounts really to nothing higher than a perverse advocacy of a particular whim. The conclusions thus reached are also never claimed to be unchangeable or absolute. The tentative and inconclusive nature of the performance is held to be part and parcel of the law emanating from the conscious will of a Person possessing the supreme power and governing the cosmic evolution. This establishes the validity of the principle by shifting the responsibility by way of self-contradiction to the shoulders of the Absolute Himself. The irrational acquiescence of despairing individuals provides its other sanction. As a matter of fact the method which is the fabrication of a particular fallible human mind is confidently offered for the convinced tentative (?) acceptance of all human minds on grounds indicated above. Morality is nothing but an empiric fiction leading to no definite goal. It makes its votary move perpetually in a vicious circle impelled by the desire to discover rational support for the conduct of the average man after performance, on grounds of expediency. Expediency is not, however, the acceptance of’ but the refusal to accept, any definable principle of general conduct.
But the aspirations of the physical body and mind refuse to be satisfied even by being allowed a free scope which cannot be realised in practice. The moral philosopher ignores this ugly circumstance and makes a show of sticking heroically to the worship of his idol which cannot save him from constant and irremediable transgressions against itself! If this is not appreciated by the victim, he is charged with the unpardonable crime of pessimism on-the, ground that it is our moral (?) duty to try to make the best of a bad job. But are we sure that the job is really bad and that it has not been made so by our bungling and hypocritical method of approaching it?
The worship of Sree Sree Radha-Krishna is condemned by certain empiric moralists because it seems to them to idolize promiscuous sexuality. But is promiscuous sexuality really undesirable? Is it undesirable for the reason that it is likely to prevent the realisation of the maximum sensual and other pleasures derivable from regulated sexual act? Who is to be the judge? If the attainment of the maximum pleasure by the individual be the desirable object, has promiscuity been really proved to be incompatible with such object? The ethical repugnance to promiscuity after all amounts to nothing more serious than this that it is not in conformity with the status quo, and not that it may not be made the status quo with proper and reasonable safeguards.
The empiric moral idea is no higher than the above. Lest my monopoly of enjoyment of a particular male or female, whom I choose to like for the time being, be jeopardized I become an advocate of monogamy (with or without divorce?) and worshipper of Rama-Sita. If sexuality is bad, how can even monogamy be good? If promiscuity is bad in itself, how can monogamy be good in itself? By what test is goodness or badness itself to be determined? It has never been possible for aspirations of the flesh endowed with a pseudo-conscious form by the mild to satisfy the genuine demands of our reason.
All speculations of the mind are inconclusive and erroneous. The moral notion is, indeed, only one of those inexplicable entities that demand to be explained. Those who erroneously think that the worship of Sree Sree Radha-Krishna is immoral forget that no mental speculation has any access to the Absolute Who is the Object of worship in this case.
What consolation does a mentalist expect by worshipping Rama-Sita? Is he, thereby, likely to be encouraged in cultivating his monogamous nuptial relations with assiduity ? Can such a conclusion be regarded as logically tenable. If God happens to be monogamous, am I likely to become so, by contemplating His conduct? Can also the very notion of monogamy or marriage apply to the Absolute? We may not want to be promiscuous for absence of unlimited sexual and other powers. It is only a counsel of possible discomfort. Why should we suppose that God’s power is limited by any adverse condition, The attempt to judge the Absolute by a limiting standard set up by ourselves for our regulation is opposed to the notion of the Absolute. The Absolute is located beyond the scope of our mental activity. The phenomenal world exposed to the view of our senses is only an abrupt and unintelligible section of the whole Truth. We stand powerless in the presence of the Infinity of Smallness and the Infinity of Greatness that spread at either end beyond this limited span of the visible world and refuse to show themselves to us. This is the tantalizing condition of the existence of three dimensions into which we find ourselves securely imprisoned. If any merciful being tries to communicate the tidings of the Absolute to us, he is bound to fail completely unless he is also capable of imparting to us the necessary receptive faculty. This is the position of the Agnostics to a certain extent, as they are conscious of their limitations and are accordingly unprepared to commit themselves to any opinions, favourable or unfavourable, regarding the Absolute. It is a more consistent attitude than the self-sufficiency of Barth or Bhandarkar.
The Skeptics disbelieve the possibility of the Absolute taking the initiative and communicating Himself to us in a way that is beyond the comprehension of our present limited faculties. The Skeptics, therefore, want to sit still in sheer despair. The Atheists, indeed, speak only the language of delirium when they positively deny the existence of the Absolute. They do not deny the fact of relative existence or relative knowledge. How can they, therefore, consistently refuse to admit the logical necessity of absolute existence and absolute knowledge? Error can have, rationally speaking, no absolute existence and even its seeming existence can only be a reflection of an absolute existence erroneously apprehended by, our defective cognitive faculty. Atheism represents at its very best only the crude cogitations of the undeveloped intellect regarding the Inconceivable.
As a matter of fact the worship of Sree Sree Radha-Krishna or of Rama-Sita, if they are regarded as historical entities located on the-mundane plane, is rightly liable to the charge of anthropomorphism. By the mere assertion that a form of such anthropomorphic worship is moral, its absolute nature is only still further ignored. Those who choose unnecessarily to get engrossed in the manipulation of relative speculation regarding the Absolute and declare it as the only method of approach to the Absolute, owe a cautious hearing to any one who does not muddle the real nature of the issue.
Almost the first thing that requires to be settled clearly and at the outset of any so-called historical inquiry regarding religion, is whether the object of our quest is, indeed, the Absolute. Those who are not prepared to admit that religion should be identical with the quest of the Absolute, have an undoubted right of criticizing the conclusions of those who accept the religion of the Absolute. This is what the empiric thinkers have been indefatigable in doing all along. But is it irrelevant to opine that empiric criticism is bound to be altogether wide of the mark in such a case for the reason that the attempt to judge of the Absolute, or of what is even claimed as the Absolute, is, by the fact of this very reservation, removed wholly outside its self-admitted jurisdiction ?
The Absolutists rest their case on the fact that the Absolute can and does communicate Himself by imparting to us the capacity of receiving Him. They go further and assert that we are already eternally endowed by the Absolute with such faculty, but are free to wilfully neglect to make the proper use of the same. That the Absolute is, nevertheless, trying continuously to persuade us to be willing to know Him by making the proper use of those faculties. These are the fundamentals of every religion.
The Absolute is always speaking to us regarding Himself and we are always deliberately shutting our ears to His Voice. The Absolute has been eternally appearing to us in the Form of the Spiritual Scriptures as the testament of His utterances. He is also sending down His agents in the human form to speak to us with the human voice to make the same perceptible even to, our sealed ears. All this is super-rational. The agents of the Absolute appear among us in order to make the meaning of the spiritual Scriptures perceptible to our dormant understanding. The Scriptures require to be interpreted to us by those who know.
Those who are not prepared on principle to listen to the voice of the Absolute, need not decide that it is not the voice of the Absolute, before giving it their impartial and full hearing. Of course there is every risk of wasting our time on scoundrels personating as agents of the Absolute bv dint of their sheer impudence. It should not, however, take much time or trouble for an honest enquirer to find these out. It is always possible to find the right teacher of the Absolute, provided one really wants to find him. The agent of the Absolute must also be eternally existent in the available form to all who want to find him at all.
Very few of us really want to find the teacher of the Absolute even if we know that it is easy to find him. Most of us have no interest for the Absolute. This is partly due to our traditional wrong conception regarding the nature of the Absolute. It is our purpose in this chapter to try to invite the attention of the reader to certain widely prevalent misconceptions regarding the nature of the Absolute, by an examination of the extent of their deviation from the absolute standard.
The creeds that prevail n the world are divided naturally into two exclusive groups according as they happen to follow the method of empiric search of the Absolute or that of revelation. The empiric creeds may be broadly grouped into four divisions, viz., (1) Theism, (2) Agnosticism and Skepticism, (3) Pantheism, and (4) Undifferentiated Monism. The revealed religions show the following order of evolution, viz., (1) worship of Godhead realised as a male Person (Vasudeva), (2) as Couple (Lakshmi-Narayana, Rama-Sita), (3) as served by many married consorts (Dwarakesha Krishna), and (4) as served spontaneously by many consorts who follow no conventional matrimonial regulation in the coupled form of Sree Sree Radha-Krishna.
The instinct of the service of the Absolute is innate in human nature. It is, however, ordinarily overlaid with the negative dominating impulse of self-gratification. According as the one or the other impulse proves stronger, a man makes his choice as between the two broad divisions of religion. A person who has full confidence in his own powers in attaining the Truth, follows the empiric method. One who is convinced of the utter inadequacy of the human intellect to find the Truth, is inclined to follow the method of revelation.
The empiricist worships (?) the mixed product resulting from his actual sensuous experience. The word experience, as used in connection with empiricism, should be understood as referring exclusively to knowledge of the external world derived through the process of sense-perception. Sense-perception is the material or limiting condition of all mental process. The mind is the meeting-ground of the principle of animation with the inanimate material principle supplied by the senses. Mental activities. The reaction of the animate principle on the inanimate. It is a composite of two apparent incompatibles. No mental activity is possible unless both principles are present. The principle of animation is mixed up with or overlaid by that of inanimation, in the mental function.
It follows that empiric worship is bound to be either acceptance or rejection of the material principle, in one or more of its aspects. In this case the mind is the accepting or rejecting agent. The mind cannot function except by way of acceptance or rejection of materials supplied by the senses. But the mind cannot cease to function. It must either accept or reject and must also continue to do so alternately. It cannot accept or reject for good. That would tantamount to its own destruction.
Atheism represents the temporary rejecting function of alternatives by the mind. The mind refuses to accept as true or desirable, because the two are really identical in this case, any stationary condition, for the reason that it is afraid that it would be suicidal. Atheism wants to live on the state of ever-changing activity. It is the proper negation of the Absolute conceived as Inaction. It is justified in disbelieving the Absolute by the evidence of its actual sense-experience. But it should by parity of reason be equally prepared to extend the bounds of its experience by any and every method. This, however, it is not always prepared to do. For instance, it refuses to accept the method of submission to the Truth for His realisation as enjoined by the revealed Scriptures. Atheism is thus proved to be an exclusive partisan of the method of empiric self-sufficiency in spite of its profession of. freedom from all bias to creed and dogma. Its sterility is due to this hypocritical reservation. Its exclusive attachment to self gratification is the cause of its disinclination to seek for the Truth and its consequent failure to find Him.
Agnosticism and Skepticism deny the existence of possibility of the Knowledge of the Absolute. Both do so on the strength of their limited experience and without due consideration of the method proposed by the Scriptures. Both have an attitude of disbelief towards the method of revelation by their over-confidence in their own conclusions. This is really self-contradictory as neither professes to be able to know the Truth. The Skeptic is the greater sinner of the two, because he is not even prepared to admit the very existence of the Absolute. Both really depend on the method of narrow dogmatism in their own cases although appearing to condemn the attitude in the case of others. The explanation of this irrational attitude is to be sought, as in the case of atheists, in undue attachment to the prospects of this transitory world which is father to the thought that it would be heroic not to seek to fly from the state of ignorance and misery which is supposed by them to be unavoidable. The argument that is used by the theists is that ignorance and misery is due to the self-elected folly of the votaries of worldly vanities whose position is psychologically unsound and is also opposed to the moral principle. It is the Nihilistic attitude that becomes the worst of nuisances if it be allowed to pass itself off as a constructive ideal.
The pantheistic attitude is the most treacherous of all as it wears the mask of theism although in principle it is identical with atheism. The pantheists profess to see God in phenomenal Nature. This is the concrete denial of the Absolute. The theists do not counsel the worship of the limited and transitory. The pantheists affect to find no difference between this world and the spiritual realm. The pantheistic school appears in a variety of forms in this world. The most common group being that which bears the name of Smartas in India. The Smartas hold that the object of all worship enjoined by the Scriptures, is the improvement of our worldly felicity, present and prospective. The view finds its psychological support in the current literatures of the world which are busy in vindicating the ways of the world. What the atheist is really afraid of, is that he might be called upon to modify his worldly activities out of deference to any transcendental consideration which in his opinion cannot possess any present worldly value and may merely and falsely deprive him of a present felicity. This is met by the pantheist with the assurance that the transcendental would be of no use if it did not serve the plans of the worldling better than otherwise. The pantheist, however, cannot really adduce sufficient rational grounds for his contention except the testimony of experience of following the performance, in blind faith, of the ceremonials laid down in the Shastras. The pantheists are, therefore, more grossly worldly minded than even the professed atheists. They are often confounded with the genuine theists with whom they have nothing in common except their externals to a certain extent. The pantheists, themselves, however, oppose the bona fide theists tooth and nail in the matter of the proper interpretation of the Scriptures. It may be well to mention in this connection that the Scriptures do contain a large body of injunctions the performers of which are promised the reward of increased worldly felicity. There are also text books that are specially devoted to the vindication and glorification of the worldly point of view. The reason of this, according to theistic interpreters, is that the Scriptures want to produce faith in the transcendental even in those who value nothing but worldliness. These worldlings are, therefore, promised what they want wrongly, on condition that they should submit to certain regulations. These regulations have been so framed as to serve the purpose of moderating their passion for present worldly enjoyment by promoting the attitude of reflection towards the past and future.
Karma or worldly activity is the starting point of all pantheistic thought. It has been analyzed in all its bearings in special treatises of the Scriptures. Those treatises do not purposely go beyond the limit of the phenomenal world in those discourses, which are intended exclusively for the edification of those who are incapable of believing in anything higher than worldly activity. But any impartial examination of the subject is bound to lead to a clearer apprehension of the defects as well as the merits of the view that worldly activity can supply all our needs.
It is not my intention to suggest that whatever is contained in the section ,of the Scriptures dealing with rituals is necessarily true even from the worldly point of view. The Smartas, indeed, hold that the rituals if properly performed, are really efficacious. This may or may not be so. The Shastras contain numerous statements to the effect that the promise of worldly reward, is meant to induce persons with a childish judgment to be moderate in the matter of their sensuous enjoyment. This may mean that the spiritual object is alone true while every other prospect is fleeting and illusory. But the fleeting and illusory result itself is valued by worldlings above every other thing. Whether the proper performance of the rituals also actually yields the worldly results promised by the Scriptures, is not relevant for our present purpose and the matter may, therefore, be left open for those who want to speculate about it. This last is what the Smartas and their school have been indefatigable in doing all over the world. These empiricists have also produced a Science of Theology which is wide of the mark for the spiritual purpose, although it may be more intelligible to and at the same time be fully exposed to the attacks, of other sections of empiric thinkers.
The pantheists are worshippers of mundane objects possessing definite material form and quantity. For this reason they are condemned as idolaters by those who prefer more refined and intellectual forms of worship. It is, however, philosophically impossible to draw any, line between one form of empiric worship and another. All empiric schools ultimately depend on one's individual judgment for the ascertainment of Truth. It has been shown above that the stuff of all such judgment is sense-perception which is thus the common object of worship in a gross or refined form of all empiric worshippers.
The pantheists are led by their particular predilection to appreciate the objects and relationships of this phenomenal world for their own sake in the light of their empiric judgment. They are not prepared to admit the possibility of the uselessness of such a quest not directed to a higher purpose. In other words, they confound matter with the soul on principle. This is inevitable inasmuch as and so long as they are not repelled from their conclusions by the actual experience of the essential triviality of all worldly pursuits for their own sake. This is a disposition which only experience can teach. The pantheists are those who are in the heyday of their career of worldliness with an increasing belief in its worth and prospects. The Scriptures lead these people gently by the hand by seeming to agree with their conclusions and trying to modify their cause by pleading the advantages of moderation even in the case of worldly activity for its own sake. This is naturally and honestly construed by those who are genuine believers in Pantheism as a confirmation of their view by the Scriptures. But once the value of spiritual support begins to be really cherished even those sections of the Scriptures that are apparently devoted to the elucidation of the pantheistic position, offer sufficient material for our serious consideration leading to increasing modification of the pantheistic view-point based thereon. The raw teachers of pantheism do incalculable harm by their narrow sectarian advocacy of the principle of worldly felicity on the authority of the Scriptures.
The unspiritual pantheistic view falls pat with the theory of Darwinian evolution and has accordingly captured the hearts of those modern scholars who are still under the spell of that theory. They are not, of course, prepared to admit their partiality for materialism, thanks to the way of escape that has been cleverly provided for them by the subtleties of the idealists who require careful attention from all students of the Absolute. The pantheism of Sree Sankaracharya is the typical case. He is the intellectual protagonist of the pantheistic view, basing his conclusions on apparently rational interpretation of the Scriptures. The view, which has really been in existence from a period long anterior to the time of Sankara, in its present current form professes to follow mainly the exposition of Sankara. But Sankara himself is not capable of being properly understood by a materialist. The big literature of commentaries that has been brought into being by the pseudo-followers of Sankara presents not Sankara’s view but that of the commentators themselves.
Sankara seems to justify the worship of Nature in order to be able to get beyond Nature to Nature’s God Who, he declares, is unintelligible to the limited reason except as the incomprehensible reality identical with the cognitive principle. This analysis contains an encouragement to idolaters (pantheists) with a view to wean them ultimately from the worship of any form of mental concoction.
The real difficulty that is experienced in accepting fully the philosophy of Sree Sankaracharya is that it is not possible to agree with his proposal in favour of the worship of Nature without discarding the purely spiritual point of view which the theory ultimately professes to seek to establish. By material means it is never possible to attain to the spiritual vision. Sankara does not also say so. He was forced to recognize the forms of pantheistic worship in order to get a hearing at all from idolaters. In this sense only his seeming advocacy of the cause of pantheism can be regarded as consistent with the spiritual standpoint.
But Sankara has been exploited for a quite different purpose by the school of undifferentiated cognitive Monism. They want to make the ultimate Reality devoid of all activity. They also want to make it a Unity that is unintelligible and inexpressible. To this conclusion they try to arrive by following mainly the dialectic method of Sankara and secondarily by idealistic interpretation of the Scriptures. This is really empiricism pure and simple, the reference to the Scriptures being merely to fortify the conclusions of mental speculation. The objections to mental speculation as the method of quest of the Absolute, therefore, apply fully to this school. It is in fact in order to escape from this unanswerable charge that the believers in the undifferentiated Brahman are constrained to make their inconsistent appeal to the Scriptures.
Looked at from the point of view of material thought the activity or existence of the spiritual principle is only capable of being negatively suspected by it. There can be no actual touch between material thought and the transcendental Absolute. This is admitted by Sankara who looks at the Absolute from His plane. But the words of Sankara are not comprehensible to those who do not possess the transcendental altitude of his vision. The seemingly negative conclusion of Sankara is accepted without its all-important reservations by the egoistic disposition of empiric thinkers who can follow Sankara only to a certain distance in the negative way. This is not their fault. It is inevitable. The spiritual issue can never be approached by mental speculation. It is the purpose of Sree Sankaracharya to demonstrate this to all open-minded persons by argument that is also intelligible to mentalists. But those who do not possess the requisite openness of judgment necessarily misunderstand the purpose of the great Acharya.
The above four groups with their variants into which the empiric creeds are divided have been eternally occupied in propagating views that are calculated to lead us away from the quest of the Absolute. Unless one is prepared to cease to be guided by the accumulated load of misconceptions that have been sedulously impressed upon him by every empiric institution of this world it is not possible to be able to be disposed to catch the real meaning of the genuine teacher of the Absolute. That which I am going to relate next is, therefore, categorically different from the subject-matter treated by the empiric creeds. The Absolute is claimed to be the Reality proper that is eternally located beyond the scope of all experience of the limited and transitory available through the physical senses. The very first question that has to be answered before actually beginning a narration of the Absolute, is whether it will be possible for ordinary people of this world to catch the true meaning of such a narrative. The answer is given by the Scriptures. They say that the ordinary human being, provided he at all believes in the Absolute and is prepared to give Him his unconditional hearing, can by listening to the exposition of the activities of the Absolute recorded in the Scripture from the lips of self-realised souls attain to the knowledge of the Absolute, by the grace of the latter. This method is different from that of empiric quest and leads to a definite and thoroughly dependable result.
The personal factor which is capable of being done away with in empiric epistemology, is the central and abiding feature of the method of the quest of the Absolute enjoined by the Scriptures. The Guru is the pivot of the whole process. The Scriptures regard the quest of the Absolute as identical with the quest of the spiritual preceptor. As soon as the spiritual preceptor is found the negative quest gives place to the positive knowledge.
Therefore the question is resolved into the quest of the spiritual teacher. He is to be sought also by the spiritual method. There must be no empiric reservation in the quest which must be an exclusive search for the Absolute. This is the definition of shraddha ( faith). The necessity for it is not properly realised by everybody. Those who do not experience the necessity will not find the spiritual preceptor. Those who really feel it, will also find him. Till the spiritual preceptor is found it is idle to waste one's time on the study of the Scriptures. It is not possible to understand the narrative of the Absolute without the help of personal exposition by the preceptor. The preceptor and the disciple have to be brought into personal contact with one another if the latter is to benefit by the teaching. The personal relationship is that of absolute submission to the teacher on the part of the disciple. This must be so because the Predominating Absolute cannot be approached except by the method of absolute submission on the part of the predominated atomic particles. This absolute submission must not be fictitious. It must also be personal.
The following narratives of the Absolute are found in the Scriptures. Their real meaning cannot be realised except by following the Scriptural method stated above. This discourse should be regarded as helpful in arousing faith in the Absolute by its rationalistic presentation of some of the grounds of such faith. It has a negative and symbolic value. It loosens the hold of empiric prejudices and thereby enables the Truth to be mirrored in our hearts opened to receive Him.
After the soul has got tired of the death-like monotony of mental speculations regarding the Truth and has also had sufficient experience of the delusive nature of both empiric knowledge and its promised prospects, he is inclined by a sense of sheer helplessness and misery to turn to the method of absolute submission to the spiritual preceptor, and the Scriptures for relief. This negative attitude is turned into one of positive and earnest inquiry by accidental association with sadhus. It is for the reason of finding the sadhu that a person who is utterly disgusted with worldly living and the method of mental speculation, renounces the world and sets out on pilgrimage to holy places in search of self-realised souls who are supposed to reside at such places. It is rarely, indeed, that the true devotee of God reveals himself to the fortunate seeker. The sadhu is himself a transcendental being. To really know the sadhu is to be endowed with the spiritual vision. It is only by the Grace of God that the transcendental nature of His devotee can be realised.
It is only after the sadhu has been found that spiritual pupilage can really begin by the process of unconditional submission to his guidance. Then the disciple has to pass through the period of novitiate. If he does this with a guileless heart he is rewarded with the sight of God Himself and with His transcendental and eternal service. This last is the summum bonum. There is, however, gradation in the transcendental service of Godhead. It is not possible for the soul liable to conditioned existence to have the full knowledge of the Absolute. The jiva-soul is delicately poised on the border-line that separates the limited from the spiritual. He has the potentiality of affinity for either. His affinity for the limited is due to freedom of initiative inherent in all animation conjoined to absence of perfect vision by reason of his tiny magnitude. Such affinity is, however, really opposed to his proper nature which is essentially spiritual. The affinity of the soul for the spiritual can, therefore, be maintained only by the help of souls who are not liable to affinity for the limited. These eternally free souls are the inseparable associated counterparts of the Supreme Soul or Godhead Himself. The sadhus have no mundane affinity. By the help of sadhus the conditioned soul is enabled to attain to the plane of the Absolute.
But the novice has to pass through definite grades of progressive revelation. The full view of the Divinity is the last to be attained. The service of Divinity attains its perfection only on attainment of the complete vision.
The first Appearance of Godhead to the view of the spiritual novice is as Vasudeva or the Transcendental supreme single Male Person. This dissipates his empiric error that the Truth is an abstract principle. The appearance of Vasudeva also frees the novice from the error that mistakes the Personality of the Absolute as having any mundane quality or reference.
Vasudeva is self-revealed in the unobstructive cognitive essence of the pure soul. He is the positive Reality as distinguished from the abstraction of the mental speculationists from the fleeting impressions of deluding entities limited by material space and broken up by the operation of passing time. Vasudeva is located above and beyond this unwholesome mundane plane. The realisation of His Transcendental Personality is possible only to the spiritual cognitive principle, which is the essence of the soul, as distinguished from material or limiting principle. Vasudeva is the One Person without a second. He is a Person with a Transcendental figure resembling the actual form of a male human being but, inconceivably to us, free from all limited or unwholesome characteristics of the human form that is familiar to us. Vasudeva appears as the Sole Recipient of our service. He is realised as comprehending all existence including that of His servitors. He is Male but free from all mundane associations of sex. These opposite qualities are spontaneously reconciled in His Transcendental Personality.
This is the first positive spiritual experience of the progressing novice. The worshipper of Vasudeva is, therefore, a truly spiritual devotee. He is categorically different from the atheist, agnostic, skeptic, elevationist or salvationist who are all of them strictly confined to the mundane plane. The worship of Vasudeva is performed by the spiritual essence of the pure soul on the transcendental plane. Vasudeva can be worshipped only by the process that is absolutely free from all mundane reference. Therefore, the worship of Vasudeva is also a gift of Vasudeva Himself. Vasudeva is identical in essence with His worship and with His worshipper. All of them belong to the same plane of the soul which is located beyond the scope of our limited mental faculties. Vasudeva manifests Himself to the pure essence of the jiva-soul as soon as the latter is at all disposed to serve Him in the proper way. It is rarely that a conditioned soul can attain to the spiritual service of Vasudeva. The conditioned soul is ordinarily prepared to be content with negative speculation. Very few persons of this world realise the necessity of search for the Supreme Personality Who is revealed to us by all the Scriptures.
Everything concerning Vasudeva is purely spiritual. His name, servitors, paraphernalia, abode, form, activities are an inseparable part and parcel of Himself. No amount of description can enable the reader to realise the nature of Vasudeva so long as one is not freed from the fetters of his limited faculties of apprehension. Vasudeva can be realised only by the grace of His devotee if we are really prepared to follow his instructions in every act of our life. The devotee of Vasudeva can alone properly instruct us regarding the nature of the receptive attitude that is the natural position of the pure soul in regard to the Absolute and which can be restored to the conditioned soul only by the grace of Vasudeva if its attainment is sincerely desired by him, by the grace of His devotee.
The sight of Vasudeva disposes of all the doubts and difficulties of atheists and agnostics and skeptics, as a matter of course. The sight of Vasudeva also destroys the idols of the pantheists and the nihilism of the pseudo-monists. The Truth is actually found to have the figure of a human being. This is not in any way derogatory to the Truth. Man is located in the middle position. There extend on either side of him, above and below, two infinite gradations of superior and inferior beings. Godhead would, therefore, be conceived by our limited understanding as occupying the highest position in the series. But would this assumption be also logical ? The prevailing notion in favour of making Godhead something altogether unlike man is no less fanatical than the opposite notion cherished by the anthropomorphists of making Him identical with man. It is not impossible to steer clear of this double fanaticism. The Scriptures declare that Godhead possesses a Form that is identical with Himself and that the Divine Form is ultimately like that of man. Godhead has an infinity of Forms but His Human Form is His Fullest, Highest and His Own Specific Personality.
So Vasudeva is not to be confounded with any object of Physical Nature nor with any product of mental speculation. He is located beyond Physical Nature and beyond the mental scope. Yet Vasudeva has the Form of a human being. He has an infinity of Forms who are secondary extensions of this original Divine Form. The Scriptures fully support the Biblical dictum that man is made after God’s own image. It is needless to labour the point further at this place.
The sight of Vasudeva, therefore, shatters all idols and substitutes of Divine Personality by revealing the real Object of all worship. This is the beginning of positive theism. Vasudeva, by His Human Form, pervades the whole world. Hence He is Vishnu. But Vasudeva pervades the mundane world without being of it. As pervading Physical Nature Vasudeva bears the name of Vishnu. Those fortunate souls who realise this fact are called Vaishnavas or worshippers of Vishnu. No one who is not a Vaishnava can be a theist. The Vaishnava is endowed with the experience of the transcendental plane and is thus in a position to understand how Godhead pervades all Physical Nature without possessing any mundane organs or forms. The enlightenment is imparted by Vasudeva Himself.
The soul of man can know Vasudeva by His grace. The corresponding attitude in the recipient of His Grace is that of the unconditionally submitting disposition. If a person is not prepared to submit unreservedly for being enlightened by grace he cannot attain to the sight of Vasudeva and is doomed by his own vain choice to grope endlessly in the dark, unwholesome labyrinths of Physical Nature. By such unspiritual activity the soul may attain all conceivable conditions on the higher and lower mundane planes, but he can never attain to the vision of Vasudeva. Vasudeva has strictly reserved the right of not being exposed to the view of the conditioned soul who is not prepared to render Him willing and unconditional service. Vasudeva manifests Himself to the unclouded cognition of the soul in his perfect state of causeless, spontaneous, submissive devotion to Himself. So the two processes are simultaneous without being in any way related to one another as cause and effect. This is inconceivable to the limited experience of men but need not be logically considered as impossible in the Divinity. It ensures the reconciliation of perfect freedom of initiative on the part of the individual soul with the necessity of unconditional dependence on the Divinity for all real well-being. The empiricist's contention that as all language is a product of the limiting energy in the form of mundane Nature the very terms used to denote a spiritual entity only prove the inevitable mundane origin of an idea, does not apply to the case of the revealed vocabulary. It is not the contention of the transcendentalist that the Reality is more than one. What the transcendentalist declares is that there is possibility of suppressed, blurred and misguided vision of the Reality. The Energy that causes this distortion necessarily creates the mundane world of the distorted vision as the complement of such vision. The whole affair is not also unrelated to the Reality. It is the deluding face of the Reality Who is undoubtedly One. There is thus a running correspondence between the mundane and the transcendental as far as there is no actual suppression of the latter. The vocabulary of this world is, therefore, applicable also to the transcendental realm but only in the transcendental sense.
The real difficulty is that the transcendental sense cannot be possessed by any one who is not favoured by the Grace of God. The actual number of such persons in the state of grace is very small in this world. The voice of this infinitesimal minority is liable to be ignored by those whose object is to proclaim views arrived at by their limited experiences. Once the necessity of the transcendental vision is properly aroused in any person he is not likely, to urge these empiric objections against the transcendental position.
The name ‘Vasudeva’ is identical with the Divinity. But this is true in the transcendental sense only. In the transcendental sense, however, it is really true. Nay more, Vasudeva is the only real Truth. He is the Absolute Truth Himself. The empiric limited, relative apprehension of the name Vasudeva is not Absolute Truth. It is the product of the distorted view of the Truth Who can be but Absolute. In this distorted sense the empiric realisation is not untrue. But it is not given to those who are themselves under the delusion to realise this actual state of affairs. The person who possesses the absolute vision can alone understand the real position of the empiricists. He does not ignore the empiric view nor denies its existence. He only says that it is real, but distorted, view of the Truth Who is one and the same in Himself .
It is of course not possible to push the empiricists up to the transcendental level by the force of controversy alone. Because all appeal to the empiricists on behalf of the Absolute is ultimately based on the realisation of the Absolute as the only Reality. So long as a person does not possess the actual experience of the Absolute he can but look through the false glasses that are alone available to him. The empiricist can have no real Sight of the Absolute as He is, till he is favoured by the Grace of God. At the most he can only admit the necessity of Divine Grace for obtaining the view of the Absolute, Real or Substantive Truth. It is only then that he can really understand the true meaning of the proposition regarding the Absolute, viz., that the Name Vasudeva is identical with Godhead Himself.
Therefore, those who may be disposed to accept in principle the worship of Vasudeva but are opposed to the phraseology and ritual that are actually employed in His worship, still continue to flounder in the empiric bog. Such blind assent will do them no real good. Their assent is assent in the empiric sense which is no assent to the Absolute. But there is also such a thing as real assent to the Absolute. This assent is the attitude of the awakened soul. This assent is identical with the whole process of worship of Vasudeva, including its ritual and vocabulary.
The objection to detail under the cover of a general assent to principle, is a dangerous ruse that is often resorted to by self deluded mentalists for avoiding. the clear confession of the Truth. The attitude is really at the far end the product of that radical insincerity of disposition which feels an abnormal perverse joy in opposing the Truth at all costs. The objection against the vocabulary and ritual should be perfectly untenable if it is made to rest, as it really is, on such thin casuistry. There does exist the legitimate objection against lifeless ritual and pseudo-exhibitions of irrational orthodox. But even condemnation of the hypocrite however justifiable in itself is liable to degenerate into the most subtle and dangerous form of insincerity if it does not proclaim a stronger inclination to the Truth Himself .
As a matter of fact the Truth is one and indivisible. But He is not therefore, really zero. When we think of Him we require to be on our guard against worldliness on the one hand and hypocrisy on the other. The one leads to worship of Physical Nature or Pantheism in all its forms and the other to Nihilism which is only the negation of Pantheism and can exist at all only in a relation of contradiction to it. Both Pantheism and Non-ism are accustomed to profess its identity with Monotheism. The followers of both creeds are worldlings of opposite schools who have no intention of acting up to their professions. Neither is it practicable for them to do otherwise. It is possible for them to be relieved of these anomalous conditions only by the actual realisation of self-consistency by the attainment of the real knowledge of the Truth which none of them possesses. The empiric ignorance of Truth is not one of degree. It is one of category. The empiricists can form no idea of the nature of the Truth as He really is. For such a person to set up as a critic of the Truth, is sheer folly and malice. To try to mask one's foolishness and malice under the garb of a kind of a hollow ethical prejudice, makes it doubly worse. The empiric critics of the worship of Vasudeva formulated in the Scriptures, should not ruthlessly sin against these universal canons of sound constructive criticism.
It is for this very reason that the study of the Scriptures is forbidden to those who do not possess the necessary preliminary knowledge that should effectively prevent the assumption of an attitude of profanity. There is nothing to be gained by any form of real opposition to the Truth. Even the empiricists should be able to see this although in their distorted manner.
The different creeds and Scriptures as interpreted by the empiric judgment, tend to the elaboration of a hybrid theology that is neither here nor there. Empiric theology is a sheer contradiction in terms. The Absolute comprehends everything but is Himself ever incomprehensible. The empiric judgment is not honestly prepared to admit that the Absolute is the only Substantive Existence. The moment that we admit this we realise the necessity of waiting on the pleasure of the Absolute in all our activities. Vasudeva is pleased to reveal Himself to this purified submissive state of the soul. The pure soul fully recognizes the causeless Grace of Vasudeva as the sole sufficing cause of the realisation of the Incomprehensible by our present otherwise limited faculties. The pure soul deduces all his conclusions regarding proprietv of his conduct from this fundamental admission.
Once this position is really taken up by the soul he ceases to quarrel with the Scriptures even when he does not understand. He now knows that it is not possible nor necessary to understand the Truth in the empiric sense of the term. There is such a thing as real understanding which can be only a gift from the living Truth and identical with Him. The appearance of the Truth on His own initiative is both the cause and result of all real knowledge. These processes are one and indivisible. They only manifest themselves to the receptive consciousness of the submissive soul by their own free choice. The empiric attitude is that of revolt against this unconditional supremacy of the one living Truth. It stands in the way of unreserved faith in the Scriptures as the necessary preliminary condition of the right understanding of the Absolute. The attitude of submission to the Absolute is neither blind nor slavish nor a gross form of superstition. It is the awakening of the real rational function of which all mental activity is but disloyal, hideous caricature.
The spiritual guide who imparts the knowledge of the Absolute is then found to be part and parcel of the true rational existence. The rituals of the spiritual Scriptures are realised as the eternal function of the soul who is by his real nature free from all worldly taint and weaknesses.
The fool's paradise is the one that all persons possess by the inalienable right of mundane birth. It is superfluous to carry the same into the real paradise. It is necessary for the attainment of this latter purpose to desist from the building of Babel. It is necessary to desist from all speculation on the subject as it is obstructive of the advent of the Truth. The Truth is ever seeking entry into the heart that is really open to welcome Him. The closed heart alone is busy in the fool's paradise and with its own disloyal fancies. Till one really knows Him one need not proclaim that he does. This rule is admitted by all but is observed by very few persons when they try to talk about the real Truth. The Truth can never be mastered by our puppy brain. It is the puppy brain that should be allowed to be mastered by the Truth for its own benefit. But it is the Nature of Truth to accept only perfectly willing service. It is, therefore, only necessary to reject all untruth and to await the coming of the Truth. This can be done if we only choose to do it. When one wishes to render such unconditional homage to the Truth his wish is fulfilled by the Truth Himself. The cobwebs of a deceptive moral code cannot then any longer bind his eyes and stifle his heart's sincerity. Vasudeva then manifests Himself to the pure essence of the soul of His loyal devotee.
As soon as a person is really established in the worship of Vasudeva by His Grace he is endowed with the disposition that opens up to his vision the definite vista of the Divine Realm. He is conducted by the Light of Vasudeva into the Realm of the Absolute. He finds it inhabited by the servants of Vasudeva. Vasudeva now presents His fuller Aspect in the coupled Form of Lakshmi-Narayana, the Eternal Lord and His one eternal Consort ever linked to His side as His Counter-Whole. Lakshmi is found to be the medium of all well-being.
Personality is conjoined with sex in the experience derived through our limited senses. The principle of sex need not, therefore, be dismissed as necessarily inapplicable to the Absolute. Male and female run through all physical Nature binding together its jarring elements in a union of wonderful harmony. Why should the sex be regarded as less indispensable in the Realm of the Absolute?
The principle of personality implies the co-existence of a specific free will and its possessor. Thus stated it would seem to exclude all reference to sex. The will is found to be the same in both male and female in this world. Sex does not seem to modify the specific nature of the individual will. It is perfectly possible to conceive a female form being endowed with the will of a male or vice versa. The factor of the sex seems to lie on the surface. As Godhead and the individual soul are ordinarily identified as regards their essence with the cognitive principle itself it is imagined to be in keeping with such identification not to admit the presence of the sex principle in Godhead.
This is, however, merely the psychological explanation of the genesis of the view that ultimately favours the idea of impersonality. But impersonality cannot stand on its own legs; it necessarily implies the personal. God should include both. He should be both personal and impersonal. But He could not be positively real without being personal. The negative quality can be but a background but cannot itself be the picture. The impersonal idea is at best of the nature of an inferential surmise of the Reality from an unrecognisable distance. The closer view relieves us from the necessity of retaining the dogmas of impersonality and abstraction.
Why should not Godhead be a Person. Why should He not be Male or Female? Why should He be only sexless? As a Person why should He possess no Form corresponding to our physical body? And corresponding to these arise the questions ‘‘Why have I a sex. Is the sex a constituent of my present personality? Would my personality suffer by elimination of sex? What connection has the principle of sex with the physical body? Will my personality be modified by any change in the physical body? These and similar questions lie at the very basis of the individual life.
The rational attitude should be to recognise the fact of the sex and to admit the existence of a corresponding spiritual principle. But it is not possible for a person on the strength of mundane knowledge to form any idea of the nature of the spiritual principle We are sometimes disposed to think that it is given to us to approach the Absolute by way. of service in certain forms. The issue of sex gives the direct lie to any such supposition. It shows clearly that it is never possible to rise from the physio-mental plane to the spiritual. This of course holds also in the case of similar empirical assumption regarding any other principle of spiritual service.
But we can understand by the parity of reason that the principle must exist in an inconceivable form. We are supported by the Scriptures. Sreemad Bhagavatam makes the subject its central topic, round which all other topics are made to turn. The principle is found to occupy a correspondingly important position in the life of man in this world. So there is nothing peculiar or objectionable about the position. The objection of purists is due to the ignorance of the full claim of the Absolute.
By means of argument alone we cannot go beyond the point that we have now reached. The sex is found to be admissible in the Absolute. But the nature of the Personality of the Divine Couple, Sree Sree Lakshmi-Narayana, is other wise unintelligible to the limited understanding. Its knowledge can only be received by grace and is, therefore, a matter of actual realisation on the path of spiritual endeavour.
We, therefore, reach the conclusion that the Divinity is a Transcendental Person. His Personality manifests Himself to us at first as that of a Male. This is the rcalisation of Divinity as Sree Vasudeva. Rut on closer acquaintance we find His fuller Form of the Eternal Couple, viz., Sree Sree Lakshmi-Narayana. Sree Narayana appears as the Lord, Sree Lakshmi as His Consort. Sree Narayana is the Wielder and Sree Lakshmi is the Executrix of the Divine Will. Sree Narayana manifests all His Activities through His Counter-Whole. This is the nature of relationship between the Divine Couple.
The Sanskrit word ‘‘Shakti" expresses the spiritual principle that corresponds to the female. The word may he rendered as "Energy" "Potency" or "Power". Sree Lakshmi is Divine Power. The personality of Power is feminine, that of the Possessor of Power is Masculine. Godhead is the Possessor of infinite Power. Power is not dissociable from her Possessor. In this sense Divine Power is identical with Godhead. But Godhead is more than His Power. He is the Source and Wielder of Power. In exercise of His Power Godhead is realised as Couple. Godhead is fully realised as co-existing with His eternal Consort. The nearest physical analogy is that of the Sun in the embrace of the assemblage of heat and light. Neither light nor heat is the Sun who is their otherwise unknowable Source. They are manifestations of the potency of the Sun. It is not possible to describe the relationship of Power with the Source of all Power in terms of any mental or physical experience. It is possible only to indicate it by way of an extremely imperfect analogy.
The Eternal Consort of Godhead co-exists with Godhead. She is the predominated moiety of the Absolute. The predominating moiety is her Lord and Master, Godhead Himself. This is the fuller idea of the Divine Personality. In the soul of man there also exists will in the embrace of power but both of them in an infinitesimally small measure. This smallness of his magnitude is realised by the individual soul by the service of the Divine Couple. It is possible for the soul of the jiva to try to live on his own paltry resources. This leads to a wrong estimate of his place and function in the Absolute. The point of view that such a course produces is responsible for the misdirection of the soul's activities in the state of self-elected willful ignorance that is to be found in this world.
So there is progressive revelation of the nature of the Divinity on the path of pure spiritual service. The upward tendency is towards realisation of the nature of the full scope of all the concrete relationships imperfectly mirrored in the deluding correspondences of this world, by the soul of man. In this world it is given only to man to have a corresponding existence. The soul of man is thus truly the centre of the phenomenal cosmos. This is not the case with any other sentient being, either higher or lower, of this world. The beings of apparently more favoured mundane worlds live under conditions that are less favourable for the realisation of the Absolute. This is due to the fact that they find their position more enjoyable. For the opposite reason the beings of lower worlds or stages are also placed in a worse position than man with reference to the Absolute.
These infinite gradations of life also exist as their corresponding realities in the realm of the Absolute, enveloping the human personality by their serving activities and affording necessary guidance for the realisation of the most perfect service that is found also here on the plane that corresponds to that of humanity. Sree Sree Lakshmi-Narayana are Objects of worship of this spiritual human plane. They enable us to attain the realisation of the concrete relationship of human service in its diffident forms. The development of the serving principle leads gradually to the inner and more concrete planes of the worship of Rama-Sita, of Sree Krishna in Dwaraka, of Sree Krishna in Mathura and finally of Sree Krishna in Brindabana. The word "rasa" means that which produces the sensation of "taste" in its most comprehensive sense. That which imparts to human life the quality of being tasted by its possessor is the most fundamental of all principles of value of life. The-range and quality of the realised taste-imparting principle is the cause of the desire for and bliss of existence. Man lives here in this world on the sweets and bitters of his mundane sojourn. If he is deprived of this faculty of taste life is rendered meaningless and contemptible.
The leavening principle points to the sexual relationship as one of its cardinal references. This is consciously realisable by most persons in their actual relationships in this world. But the sexual relationship, although capable of being reached by way of argument as forming directly or indirectly the basis of all sweetness and bitterness on the mundane plane, is itself apprehended as a dangerous, delicate and unintelligible subject. It is also the basis of the taste of grossness in its most unwholesome forms.
The worship of Godhead is realisable in terms of the quality of spiritual taste evoked and fostered by His service. The relationships of this world, supplied by their deluding correspondence, give a clue to the spiritual quality but they can never give any substantive idea of the reality which is free from all possibility of unwholesomeness. In fact it is the attitude of the individual soul that is the cause of all experience of unwholesomeness born of limited vision. As the scope of vision of the individual expands he realises an increasing freedom from the sense of unwholesomeness. But this does not apply to the mundane plane where the so called expansion of empiric knowledge (?) tends to multiply ignorance and the possibility of unlimited grossness.
The conclusion to which such considerations tend to lead may be stated in the following manner. Spiritual life is categorically different from the mundane. No activity on the mundane plane by its mere dimension or manipulation, can ever lead to the Absolute. The difference between the mundane and spiritual function, may be indicated by the corresponding difference of attitude towards the Absolute on the part of the individual soul. The mundane attitude is that of a desire to lord it over the Absolute. The spiritual attitude is that of service by the process of unconditional enlightening submission to the Absolute. In proportion as submission to the Absolute tends to be perfected by practice under the guidance of the Absolute, the scope of the spiritual vision of the individual expands and produces a corresponding progressive excellence of the tasting process. Judged by this standard the service of Sree Sree Radha-Govinda is the perfection of bliss attainable by the individual soul.
Not that Sree Sree Radha-Govinda is essentially different from Lord Vasudeva. They are one and the same, being the Divinity Himself. But the worshipper of Lord Vasudeva does not possess the full scope of spiritual vision. He can, however, obtain the expanded vision only by the faithful service of Lord Vasudeva and by His grace.
The faithful servant of Lord Vasudeva will find in the Object of his worship Sree Sree Lakshmi-Narayana, Sree Sree RamaSita, Sree Sree Dwarakesha-Rukminisha-Krishna, Sree Sree Mathuresha-Krishna and finally Sree Sree Radha-Krishna in Brindabana.
V. —History Of Atheism
Faith in a Personal Godhead and inclination to serve Him are not the artificial products of material civilization. Many books have been written by empiric thinkers to prove the historical origin of a belief in God as a product and concomitant of material circumstances. Such attempts betray an attitude of self-contradiction in regard to the nature of the super-mundane. These writers, almost deliberately confound religion, which is the eternal spiritual function of all individual souls, with the apparently similar mental speculations on the same subject although it is more or less admitted by all persons as lying outside the range of our sensuous experience. Nevertheless these assume religion to be the equivalent of a bundle of ideas that have their temporary existence in their own imaginations, and proceed to analyze what they suppose to be the similar mental phenomena of past generations with the tacit object of finding further support for, and for the elaboration of their pre-conceived views. Religion is supposed to be only a special department of thought produced by the mind by working on a particular aspect of the materials presented to it by the senses. This mental religion is more or less the method as well as goal of investigation of empiric moralists, theologians and scientists. Empiric criticism of the Bible and all mental treatment of the subject of religion, are vitiated by the adoption of this faulty method of begging the question at issue.
It is necessary to approach the subject with a mind free from prejudices that may have been engendered by such tentative and inconclusive speculations. Love for God and desire to serve Him are functions of the soul, and, as such, are located beyond the sphere of our physico-mental experience which is strictly confined to the sense-perceptions of material space and time. They are not of the nature of positive or negative ideas, however refined, that have their non-permanent existence in our sensuous mind, nor are they of the nature of physical activities in continuation of such ideas, that bear the names of ‘‘love’’ and “service” in the current speech of the world. These have a beginning and an end and by their nature are subject to perpetual modifications. But love of God and service of God which belong to the soul, are eternal and unchangeable. They are not erring mental notions but the reality in the form of the only function of our souls and belong to a plane of existence higher than the sensuous mind, to which no critic of the empiric school has any access.
But our sensuous minds are, and have been always, enabled, by the grace of God, to believe, no doubt dimly and imperfectly, in the great difference that must always exist between the physio-mental and the spiritual, whenever we are in a position to turn to the subject, which is always knocking at our door, our unbiased attention, in other words, when we are sincerely desirous of knowing the Absolute. On the path of such enquiry, the first axiom to which our unreserved assent is invited is this, viz., that the service of the Absolute is the only function of our soul in her pure, natural state. The fact may also be stated thus in terms of her present temporary, deluded existence, viz., that the inclination to serve the Absolute is innate in the soul and is, spontaneously aroused and asserts its superiority to all other forms of activity as soon as the nature of the service is properly explained, the resistance of her physical and mental equipments notwithstanding provided she gives to the subject, which she is free to do, her unbiased attention. This natural inclination to serve God has been present in the souls of men in every position of their material civilization and independently of such civilization.
This inclination to serve God and the actual service of God which exist eternally, are screened from the view of deluded humanity by their preference for worldly activities through ignorance due to the desire for meddling with objects that seem to promise and also yield transient sensuous pleasures. But whenever there has been a determined effort by atheists to suppress religion altogether it has reacted against such pressure and successfully reasserted itself in a clearer form than before, triumphantly silencing its opponents. It is possible to write the history of this eternal conflict, in its various forms, of atheism against religion. The history of theism which is eternal can, therefore, be said in this sense to begin with this world, i.e., as soon as the individual soul comes under the conditions of material space and time, due to her eternal tendency towards the service of Godhead against her counter-tendency to worldliness, roused to activity by atheistical opposition.
Atheism, the correlative of theism, is of this world and has always existed, and has often predominated, in it. In this world men are found to be naturally divided into two mutually hostile groups, viz., ( l ) those who seek what is permanently good for them, and ( 2 ) those who desire what appears to be pleasant, without considering the consequences of its acceptance. The number of those who belong to the first group has always been infinitesimally small in this world which is of the nature of a temporary abode, or rather, house of correction, of those souls who have lapsed from the state of grace by reason of their preferring the pursuit of selfish enjoyment to service of Godhead. Atheism has been on the whole, the prevailing creed of this world. It has, however, been always compelled to masquerade in the garb of religion. But whenever atheism has been openly professed by the greatest leaders of thought and has appeared to be on the point of scoring a final and decisive victory over its rival with their influential support, the latter has invariably re-asserted itself, has demolished all efforts of the former and has consolidated its position by the refutation of such arguments as had been urged, or had seemed likely to be urged in the future, against it by its opponents, to an extent that was within the grasp of the contemporaneous generations. Atheistic opposition has thus resulted in the gradual and further elucidation of the theistic position. But although the opponents of theism have been silenced from time to time they are not always really converted to the views of their victorious rival, with the exception of a very small number; although most of them are compelled to profess a temporary, hypocritical allegiance to the manifested Truth, from worldly considerations. These hypocritical followers, indeed, afterwards prove the worst enemies of the re-established religion, and by their show of its acceptance prepare to betray the citadel to the enemy, till at last rottenness inside and outside the system necessitates a vigorous re-assertion of the Truth for the benefit of the few who really want to serve God.
It takes a considerable time after birth for a man to acquire a fair measure of experience of the material world. The term ‘matter’is applied to those external objects and their qualities that are perceived by the senses. In proportion as the senses of the child are developed they are enabled to have a fuller ‘knowledge’ of the qualities of material objects, and to enjoy in an apparently more and more ‘conscious’ manner the pleasures yielded by such exercise of the senses. The more the qualities of material objects are ‘enjoyed’the stronger the desire for such enjoyment becomes, till gradually the minds of men become so devotedly attached to this pleasurable exercise of the senses that they have no taste left for anything else. The pleasures of sound, touch, colour, taste and smell thus tend to colour and impart an overpowering charm to all activities of the mind and invite the deluded soul to be naturalized to the condition. The soul once enslaved to the mental outlook cannot be roused to grasp the unwholesome transitory character of the earthly sojourn although constantly reminded of the same by the most significant facts of her worldly experience, viz., birth and death, and she seems to forget for all practical purposes the fact that as soon as one dies one ceases to have any further connection by way of continuity of consciousness with these very material objects that appear to possess a distinctive individual reference to him when alive. If by rare good fortune, the clear consciousness of the transitoriness of the worldly life is awakened in the deluded soul, she naturally tries to desist from the exclusive pursuit of worldly enjoyment and turns round to reconsider the whole position. A person who stops in the midst of his worldly pursuits to consider the implication of their transitory nature, puts to himself in some form or other these three questions, viz. ‘Who am I, the apparent enjoyer of this world? ’‘What is this vast world itself?’ ‘W hat is the real nature of the relation between this world and myself?’
Whenever the soul with her back to worldly pursuits asks the above questions she finds the answer in her own awakened consciousness The answer which the inquiring soul receives being put together in a systematic form, comes to be known as science and philosophy. The answer which the soul receives may be either (l) her own real consistent answer or (2) of a heterogeneous character. But why does not the soul, who is in essence the same, receive the same kind of answer in all cases?
The real nature of the soul is purely spiritual. The answer which she gives when she is in her own proper condition is the true answer and is the same in all cases. This mundane world is not her real home. It is material, that is to say, not of the essence of the soul but the product of the deluding power of God which makes it resemble the realm of the spirit. The illusion-producing power who has made this world is of the nature of the shadow of the superior spiritual power of the Divinity. The individual soul is an infinitesimally small separable part of the latter whose nature she shares. The soul resident in this unspiritual world is under the delusion that her essence is material and she has a natural affinity with the deluding power although there is really no such affinity at all. This is a heterogeneous alliance. The deluded soul’s own proper nature is eclipsed and becomes dormant by the operation of the deluding energy resulting in the apparent identification by herself of her function with those of the body and limited mind, being thus unnaturally alloyed with the qualities of material energy. The individual soul whose real nature is purely spiritual, on imbibing this mixed character by operation of the material energy of God, functions by direction of the material mind in accordance with the dictates of this adventitious, unnatural, ‘second’ nature. The spiritual principle of self-luminous cognition, by such subordination to the principle of limitation, is perverted into the mind of the fallen jiva which is an extraordinary mixture, or rather incarceration, of spirit in a subtle material case. The answers that the mixed mind under the lead of the deluding material energy of God, returns to the questions put to it, are also necessarily heterogeneous, that is, self-contradictory. These answers of the soul fettered in the material mind reflect the heterogeneity of customs, dress, food, language and mode of thought of the country of the temporary sojourn of the physical body which encases the mind. Differences in respect of place of residence, age and condition of the physical body, all tend to make the answer correspondingly different in every case. There is thus a twofold perversion due to the twofold incarceration of the soul in matter, viz., in the subtle form of mind and grosser form of physical body, by means of which she is deluded into relation of affinity with country, race, language, etc., which differ in the case of different individuals represented now by the physical body and mind.
In order to discuss in an adequate manner and in detail these heterogeneous answers it would be necessary to examine the history of all countries, to come into direct contact with the peoples by means of journeys through those countries and to master the different languages of the world. This is not the present purpose and a cursory glance at them will suffice to afford the reader a working idea of their general nature.
Of the above two kinds of answers received by the soul that variety which is true is also the one that is alone reasonable. The heterogeneous answers, although extremely diverse in character, are also, however, divisible into two distinctive groups. The first group constitutes the body of empiric practice and theory of truth; the second group is represented by activities devised for the purpose of securing selfish, transitory, material enjoyment [(1) jnana and (2) karma].
We have stated above that the true answer is also the rational one. If objection is taken to our use of the word ‘rational’ in this connection on the ground that the material reason admits its affinity with the heterogeneity of physical Nature, our reply is that the vocabulary that is available for expressing spiritual facts has acquired the material connotation by habitual abuse. The current vocabulary both as regards its derivation and usage refers really and exclusively to the transcendental. The words ‘rational’ and ‘reason’ used by us in connection with the soul have reference to the distinctive spiritual faculty inherent in the soul that can never err and always serves the transcendental Truth. The corresponding material faculty that dominates the eclipsed soul being subservient to the deluding energy, is, in the case of fallen souls, the approver, by its constitution, of the heterogeneous existence. This faculty in its normal, spiritual condition naturally responds in the really rational way.
That group of the two divisions of heterogeneous answers which has been named practice and theory of truth is the perversion corresponding to the Truth in the shape of answer returned by the pure soul that accepts the real and rejects the unreal. This heterogeneous ‘knowledge’ in its synthetic or positive aspect represents the qualities of matter and favours the view that matter is eternal and the ultimate cause of everything, and, negatively, tries to establish the view that the Brahman or the Absolute is devoid of all distinctive qualities, a conclusion which is reached by the denial of the existence of matter.
That division of the heterogeneous answer which has been named activity in quest of transitory, selfish enjoyment, is the pursuit by the soul, under the domination of the deluding power, of non-God. The correlative of this is the pure rational activity of the soul in the form of the service of Godhead by means of spiritual thoughts and deeds.
The heterogeneous answer, with which most of us are more or less familiar, may be conveniently considered under two heads, according to the nature of the object of human life offered for our acceptance which is either (l) material pleasure, or, (2) extinction of material existence. The heterogeneous answer confines itself, as regards its subject of reference, to phenomenal Nature which, according to this view, exhausts all existence. The view that holds material pleasure as the end is in its turn divided into two sections according as the pleasure to be pursued is either selfish or unselfish.
We shall consider first the view that the end of human life is the attainment of selfish material pleasure. According to the supporters of this opinion there is no God, no soul, no other world, and no moral consequence of acts done by us. Our only proper function is to spend the time in constant sensuous pleasures with discretion to avoid any unpleasant worldly consequence. Such view has seldom been fully acted upon in civilized society. It has remained practically confined as theory to the persons who have conceived and propounded it in the different ages and countries. Such individuals are the Brahmana Charvaka in India, Yang Chu in China, Leucippus in Greece, Sardanapalus in Central Asia, Lucretius in Rome. Von Holbach maintains that the religion that leads to one's own selfish pleasure, is alone admissible. Religion is defined by him as the contrivance of securing one’s own pleasure by means of the pleasures of others.
The professed followers of unselfish material enjoyment have been very numerous and have in fact included the vast majority of the people in all ages and countries. The school of godless fruitive work ( karma-kandis) of India is probably the oldest body of the credal followers of this view. According to this school Isvara (i.e., the Supreme Ruler) is an entity that has no antecedent ( apurva ) . The view has been supported by learned mal-interpretation of the Vedic Scriptures. Democritus, the exponent of the view in ancient Greece, holds that unoccupied space and matter are eternal, the difference between substances being quantitative and not qualitative. Knowledge is merely the state of conjunction of certain external and internal substances. All substances are made up of atoms. Kanada maintains the permanent qualitative difference between different classes of atoms. According to the Vaisheshika School the individual soul and the Oversoul belong to the category of substances. Plato and Aristotle do not admit God to be the only eternal entity nor as the only cause of the world. This makes their systems share the defects noticeable in Kanada. Gassendi, Diderot and La Mettrie belong to this class. According to Comte we should regard theism as infancy, philosophy as childhood and positivism as mature stage in the evolution of thought. Men are required to be philanthropically disposed and to be disinterestedly religious in their conduct. The earth is the supreme fetish of Comte, the country his supreme medium and human nature his supreme being. Mill is in substantial agreement with Comte. The propounders of secularism in England include the names of Mill, Lewis, Paine, Carlyle, Bentham, Combe, Holyoake, Bradlaugh.
But the faculty of reason, even when it happens to be engrossed in matter, if only it could he induced to consider the subject in an impartial spirit, is bound to reject all these views for their extremely bad logic. The materialist proclaims the necessity and wisdom, above all things, of reducing the number of categories, and in fact it is this which leads him to deny the existence of the transcendental. But his own method leads him to the formulation of an infinite number of categories. Materialism is artificial and unscientific as it ignores the principle of self-consciousness and holds material Nature to be eternal. It calls self-consciousness a quality of matter and at the same time asserts it to be the regulative principle of the entity of which it is declared to be the quality. It involves the subordination of the principle of self-consciousness, which is the better and higher principle, to gross matter (Ferris). There is no proof of the permanence of matter (Prof. Tyndal). Boucher and Moleschott hold matter to be eternal, which is, however a mere assumption The view of Comte that man should cease from the enquiry of the beginning and end of the world, if really followed, would reduce man to equality with lifeless matter. No instance of any self-born man or of a man generated by the process of progressive evolution is known within the last three thousand years of human experience. The argument from design, if it be admitted, points to the principle of intelligence as the cause of the cosmic order and would thus be a complete refutation of all forms of materialism.
If again we consider the actual conduct of materialists in regard to society we find that they hold it necessary for men to be religious, in their acts. Sin and righteousness are held to he productive respectively of pain and pleasure of men in general. Pleasure for oneself should conform to the pleasure that is disinterested. By the practice of religion sin and its resultant misery are got rid of. It is necessary for men to investigate those laws that enable them to maintain their existence in society. The actions performed by men bear fruit even after their death for other beings of this world. In this sense acts never die. Acts are transformed into forces that did not exist before, such forces, being nourished by other future acts, are the cause of the continued improvement of the world. This is the disinterested reward of one’s acts.
The professors of disinterested material pleasure as the object of human life are, in fact, identical with the school that regard the selfish pleasure of oneself as the object of life. This is proved by Von Holbach under the name of Miraboud in his “System of Nature” (1770). In that work he has shown that there is no such thing as disinterestedness in this world. Religion is only a contrivance of securing on's own pleasures by making others happy. No one would care to do that which did not bring pleasure to himself. Even the sacrifice of life is made for pleasing oneself. All pleasures flowing from religion are for one's own self. Even love for God is for one's own pleasure. Whatever is natural is necessarily selfish because nature refers to the self. Selfishness is natural. Disinterestedness is unnatural and is never to be found.
The view that God is that which is without antecedent and identical with power or force, as propounded by Jaimini and Western scholars, never appeals to those who possess clearness of understanding. Those who accept their view have to be content with a part of the whole. The view of the non-antecedentists is directly opposed to the idea of God. Jaimini was well aware of the existence of a natural inclination in the hearts of men to submit to God and has accordingly very cleverly and with great assiduity conceived a god as the awarder of the fruits of our actions and included him in his category of the non-antecedent It is due to this cleverness in providing a reference to a god that the view of the Smarta Pandits advocating godless fruitive works, has been so vigorously prevalent in India. People with a cloudy intellect extend a ready welcome to the view of the professors of so-called disinterestedness in the hope of securing at a trifling cost the reward of unselfishness. This is another powerful reason for the spread of the creed of atheistic fruitive works.
The instructions of the professors of disinterested material pleasures may be appreciated at first, to a certain extent, by people by reason of their own selfishness; but they will scruple less to commit sinful acts the more they will enter into the spirit of the system. It is in this way that the system quickly enough degenerates into one of expediency pure and simple in which every individual member is free to act for his own pleasures in a way that appears to him to be not obviously against the general interest, and soon learns to care only for the external appearance of his acts. In the absence of a God to punish, the only check on the most reckless pursuit of selfish pleasures will be the fear of public exposure; and various expedients will accordingly be devised for avoiding the consequences of such a contingency. The truth of this criticism is corroborated by the notoriously lax practices of the ordinary Smarta Pandits who are adepts in twisting the rules to any extent to suit their individual purposes.
In the nominal provision for the worship of a god as found in this system we do not notice any of the characteristics of real devotion to God. Some of these even opine that the worship of God is only a variety of fruitive works; or, in other words, that it is prescribed for people in a general way and is optional in their own case. Comte has provided for the worship of his conceptions as God for the reason that they appeared to him to be true. In this Comte is more sincere; but Jaimini and the others are more far-sighted. The views of Comte and Jaimini are identical in theory. Those theories of the elevationists in effect sometimes affect to say to devotion’, “I follow you. I make men fit for devotion to God. I shall bring the sinners to your feet after purifying their minds”. These professions are the result of duplicity When work truly follows devotion it does not claim any separate recognition of itself but is content to pass under the name of devotion. So long, however, as work is disposed to retain its own separate designation it seeks its own glorification as a rival process claiming equality with devotion. This attitude leads it to claim all credit for every effort for the advancement of science, of society and industry, etc. as flowing from itself. But as a matter of fact when such work is transformed into the nature of devotion, i.e., service of God, science, society, industry, etc., are rendered even more glorious and progressive.
The view that material extinction is the proper object of life is held by the philosophical schools of Buddhism and Jainism. The genesis of the view is supplied by the fact that material pleasure is essentially trivial and is not genial company for a spiritual being. The experience of this gives rise to the theory that all existence is misery. It is a significant fact that the ordinary, Buddhist of today, at any rate in Burma, is not a pessimist. He believes that God exists eternally, that He has created the world. It is He who appeared in this world as the Buddha and always exists as God in Heaven. Men will go to Heaven by doing good works and by following the rules laid down by the Buddha This is not the Buddhistic theory of the schools. In fact these pessimistic views, that have been adumbrated with so much subtlety of argumentation, are never accepted as common property by the Society. They are bound to remain locked up in books and in the minds of their teachers. The general population, if at any time they happen to pride themselves as the followers of these views, do so under the impression that those views are identical with their own cherished Opinions which, as have been pointed out above, are nothing but the spontaneous concomitants of human nature. Love of Humanity as the object of life, as propounded by Comte, worship of God under the name of the Non-antecedent, a constituent part of his fruitive works, as devised by Jaimini, the theory of material extinction propagated by Sakya Singha, all of these are bound to be reduced by the general body of their respective practising followers to one common form, viz., that of the religion that is natural to man. To this consummation they are tending even at the present moment
The pessimists of western countries come under this category. There is no such thing as re-birth according to these Western pessimists whose theory may be described as the view of material extinction as the desired end of human life which itself is limited to one single birth. The Buddhist and Jain Schools agree in holding material extinction as the proper end of human life attainable through a cycle of births and re-births.
According to Buddha the jiva can attain final extinction (parinirvana) as the result of long practice of gentleness, patience, forgiveness, kindness, unselfishness, meditation, renunciation and friendliness. There is complete cessation of existence on the attainment of ultimate extinction (parinirvana). After ordinary extinction (nirvana) existence as kindness persists.
The Jains maintain that in accordance with the stage of advancement of the jiva due to the exercise of all the good qualities under the lead of kindness and renunciation he attains successively to the conditions of Narada, a Mahadeva, a Vasudeva, a Para-Vasudeva and finally the state of the Divinity involved in total material extinction.
According to both Buddhists and Jains the material world is eternal. Work which is without a beginning has an end. Existence is misery. Utter extinction (parinirvana) is happiness. The system of fruitive works propounded by Jaimini is harmful for the jiva. The rules that ensure utter extinction (parinirvana) are alone productive of good Indra and other gods although they are the masters of fruitive workers are the servants of those who follow the path of utter extinction (parinirvana).
Schopenhauer and Hartmann are material extinctionists admitting a single birth. According to Schopenhauer extinction is attainable by renouncing the desire for existence, by, voluntary abnegation (tyag), humility, acceptance of physical suffering, moral purity and asceticism (vairagya). According to Hartmann it is not necessary to undergo any suffering. Extinction is easy of attainment after death. Herr Bensa has demonstrated the impossibility of extinction by asserting the eternal nature of misery.
Most of the followers of current monism are material extinctionists. One section of the monists hopes for the spiritual bliss of the Brahman after extinction; the other section accepting the extinction of all existence after death, does not admit any other form of bliss. It is these latter whom I have classed as material extinctionists.
In the theory of material extinction the specific nature of the jiva is left uncertain. All these speculations are altogether atheistical. These views having been put forward with the object of preventing the oppressions by the exponents of material fruitive works could he propagated with such great vigour by the enthusiasm and perseverance of their preachers. In India on account of the oppression practiced on the Kshatriyas and the other varnas by the Brahmanas in course of the latter's efforts to further the establishment of the godless creed of fruitive works and the universal supremacy of the Brahmanas, the Kshatriyas handed together for the promulgation of the Buddhist, and the Vaishyas similarly combined to spread the Jain creed. When the factious spirit is reinforced by the clash of worldly interests it operates with great vigour. The Buddhist and Jain views were propagated in India in this way. In those countries into which those views were subsequently imported they were accepted as God-sent due to the absence of a stronger critical faculty in the peoples of those countries. It is a matter of history that the modern professors of material extinctionism in Europe, were led to propagate those views by their hatred of the Christian religion.
According to the Tantric view the whole world including the Chit and achit has been created by an eternal power named Maya. When the zeal of Buddhist preachers cooled down due to the barrenness of the philosophy of their creed there was an attempt to rehabilitate those doctrines in a new garb. It is at this stage that the Buddhist idea was transformed into the Tantric and the new theory known as Mayavada was propounded. This cult of Maya passed under the name of Buddhism inside that religion. This subtle form of Buddhism under the separate designation of Mayavada spread rapidly among the non-Buddhist populations. We have the genesis of the illusionist Vedantists when the cult of Maya assumed the form of a philosophy resting on Vedic interpretation. The same cult obtained currency among the hill tribes as Maya-Sakti-Vada conforming to the Tantra Shastras. The Tantric view according to many is derived from the Sankhya Philosophy of Kapila. But the latter is the progenitor of the Saiva cult in which physical Nature occupies an honoured position which may have been the cause of the mistaken view that assigns. to the Tantric cult its Sankhya origin. In the Tantra physical Nature is the mother of the conscious principle but these two are co-ordinate in the Sankhya philosophy. A form of extinction in the shape of absorption into physical Nature has also been imagined. The worshippers of the power of physical Nature sometimes supplicate her in imitation of the manner in which the professors of the principle of self-conscious power express the thoughts of their minds in addressing God (vide Holbach).
In the Mahanirvana-Tantra Mahadeva in praying to the principal power Adya Sakti Kali, addresses her in one passage as the creator of the world by the will of Para-Brahma. This corresponds to Sankhya. But in other passages she is described as alone existing in the form of chaos (tamas) after dissolution of the cosmos (pralaya) ; and she is also declared to be identical with the self-conscious principle in the jiva. All this is directly opposed to the Sankhya view.
It cannot be said that the Sakti-vada of the Tantras originated from any philosophical system in particular. In fact the Tantra is so full of self-contradiction that it does not admit of any systematic consideration. The distinctive Tantric processes, viz., the lata .sadhana, the panchamakara sadhana, sura sadhana, etc., do not appear to have been derived from any theistic philosophical system. Tantric (Saktivada) doctrine of supremacy of material power cannot be considered to be very different in character from the worship of the non-antecedent or god as mental formula (mantram) of atheistic fruitive works and the worship of physical Nature devised by Comte, etc.
There are a few scholars who admit the existence of nothing except mental ideas. They hold that the objective world has no real existence. Ideas are the only entities. The soul that is held by others as the subjective reality, is also ineffective. There is really nothing except ideas. Bishop Berkeley and a few others are more or less of this opinion. It is they who have given the view the name of Idealism.
Mill has also admitted this view to a certain extent. Idealism should not be regarded as identical with spiritualism. Idealism is merely the mental contemplation of material objects perceived through the senses. Such contemplation establishes the connection of the principle of self-consciousness with physical Nature. It is not essentially different from matter. Idealism is, therefore, by no means outside materialism. Among the undifferentiating monists a few have held that there are no such things as God or any substantive cosmic entities, but it is only the ideas of them that have existence and that it is the idea that is the undifferentiated truth. This view is altogether trivial. Its professors never acted up to their principles. Idealism should logically be classed under materialism.
There is a certain class of people who argue that what is supposed to exist, does not really exist. All entities are impermanent and they belong to the category of the non-existent as soon as they undergo transformation or destruction. Therefore, the non-existent is the eternal and true. This opinion has no substance. Such sophistical argument is advanced by a class of deluded people who are especially fond of indulging in abstruse futile hair-splitting.
That the non-existent is true is a proposition that carries its own refutation. From such abstruse speculations has arisen a body of opinions which is known in the English language as Skepticism, supported by Hume and a few others. Skepticism, although in itself it is inconclusive and unnatural, was at one time welcomed by people and also accepted in practice. The doctrines of selfish material pleasure and material extinction give rise to so much mischief in the world that men came to entertain a great contempt even for the very name of such religion. The nature of man is pure and endowed with the tendency. of devotion to God. It never finds joy in materialism. Skepticism is nothing but the last desperate attempt of the human reason to break its chains by its own strength after it is banished by materialism to the dungeon of ignorance and finds its hands and feet heavily fettered with chains of iron.
It was attempted to be established by rank materialism that matter is eternal and that matter alone is true. Many echoed the views of Huxley that no matter what the event may be unless it is affirmed to be the transformation of material causes it is not a scientific proposition. Nothing can be proved except matter and that which sets it in motion. The principles of cognition and feeling, it was affirmed, will be altogether discarded by the Scriptures in the long run. The soul will be steadily submerged under the rising tide of materialism. Freedom will be put into bondage by the dead hand of Providence. It was when a numerous body. of men were arguing in this immoral strain that the nature of man feeling its own degradation made an attempt to direct its reason along a different track. Disregarding all the evil consequences of this new effort, being determined to destroy the materialistic theory at all costs, human reason gave birth to Skepticism. The evil in the form of materialism was undoubtedly got rid of but Skepticism did even more harm to theism than what it prevented. People began to suspect that we cannot find the real truth. We can only experience the qualities of objects. Where is the proof that even this experience is True? By means of the senses we perceive different qualities separately. As for instance we perceive colour by the eye, sound by the ear, smell by the nose, touch by the skin and taste by the tongue. The knowledge of the object is obtained by means of the aggregate of the qualities imbibed severally through the five channels of such knowledge. We would have obtained the knowledge in a different form if instead of five we had ten additional senses. Under the circumstances whatever knowledge we happen to possess is wholly tentative and doubtful. By such Skepticism although materialism was destroyed, spiritualism did not profit in any way. Skepticism admits unreservedly the real existence of objects. What it asserts is that we do not possess any knowledge of the real nature of objects as our knowledge is imperfect, and also that we have no means of having the requisite kind of knowledge. Skepticism destroys itself in as much as it admits the undoubted existence of the reality. If there is such a thing as Absolute Reality Skepticism is left no ground to stand upon. On a careful consideration Skepticism appears to be meaningless jargon. Who is it that doubts that I exist?—I myself? Therefore, I exist.
All these three views, viz., materialism or the doctrine of material power, idealism and Skepticism are forms of atheism that have existed from ancient times. These include all possible varieties of atheism. We have arrived at the conclusion after careful enquiry that the claims of the atheists of recent times to be propounders of original views, are untenable in every case. They always express only the old views under a different name and garb. Many systems of philosophy have been promulgated in this country. Of these Sankhya, Naya, Vaishesika and Kar1t1anlimansa are professedly atheistical. Patanjala and the pseudo monistic interpretation of Vedanta, are veiled forms of atheism. We can, in this place, only bestow a passing glance at them.
Sankhya philosophical system:—God cannot be proved.— “Isvarasidheh” 1—92. If God is admitted He must be either free or dependent“Muktabaddhayorantyatrarabhavanna Tatsidhih” 1—93. Free God is unrealizable. Dependent God has not the quality of Godship. Bijnana Bhikshu commenting on this says that the following is, therefore, said in regard to the particular passages of the Scriptures bearing on God, “ that they are merely eulogistic of the free soul or in praise of the successful pursuit of religious activities. God does not really exist”, “muktatmanah prasamsha upasasiddhasyava, 1—96. This much for Sankhya.
The System of Nayaya philosophy: —It is made by Goutama. Goutama says that there are sixteen entities, “pramana-prameya ....nihshreyashadhigamah”. The state of the highest good (nihshreyah) of Goutama is unintelligible. It appears as if the good of the jiva is attained if he can prevail in argument. God does not find a place among his sixteen entities. It is for this reason that the Vedas says that the natural inclination to God should not be allowed to be obsessed by casuistical argument. Goutama also notices the principle of evil. “Duhkha-janmapravritti-dosa-mith-yajnana namuttaraottarapaye tadanantarapayadapavargah.” Deliverance (mukti) is regarded in a general way as the cessation of extreme misery. According to Goutama there is no joy in the state of deliverance. Therefore, there is absolutely no such thing as Divine bliss. Whence the Nyava Shastra made by Goutama, is opposed to the Vedas.
Vaishesika philosophy made by Kanada:—This system does not call for any elaborate discussion. If we consider the original .sutras made by Kanada himself we do not find any eternal God therein. Certain authors of this school have made an attempt to divest their system of its God-less-ness by naming as super-soul (paramatma) a principle under the entity ‘embodied’ (dehi) which is one of the seven entities. But scholars such as Sankaracharya, etc., in their respective commentaries on the Vedanta-sutra, have stated as their conclusion that the Kanada-doctrine is non-Vedic and godless. As a matter of fact it is found that those who do not admit that God is the Supreme Master without any reservation, even though the word God be found in their systems, are really atheists. It is the Nature of God that He must be recognized as the Lord of all entities. The view which admits the existence of eternal entities on a footing of equality with God, is atheistical
Karma mimansa:—Jaimini is the author of the original sutras of this system. He makes no mention of God. His premier subject is dharma. “Chodana lakshanortho dharmah. Karmaike tatra darshanat.” The meaning conveyed by the Vedas is dharma. Its name is karma (work). His commentator Sabaraswami writes in this connection as follows: ‘Katham punaridamavagamyate? Asti tadapurmam.’ How is this to be known? Therefore, there must be an entity which bears the name of ‘previously nonexistent’ (apurva). When work is performed something previously non-existent is thereby manifested which awards the fruit. Where is the necessity of a god for bestowing the fruits of actions? What more is there that could have been said by modern atheists such as Comte, etc.?
Vedanta:—The Vedanta philosophy supports in every devotion to God. In its commentaries dishonest thinkers have interpolated veiled Buddhistic thought under the garb of non distinctive monism. But saintly persons have shown the good path to the people of the world by composing with great care proper commentaries of the original sutras. We shall consider the futility of monism in another place.
Yoga:—The shastra made by Patanjali Rishi bears the name of Yoga-Shastra. The following sutra is embodied in the chapter on method of the Shastra: “Klesakarma-bipakashayairaparamristah purusavisesha Isvarah. Tatra niratisayam sarvajnyavijam. Sha purbesamapi guruh kalenanavachhedat.” The being capable of taking the initiative untroubled by tribulations in the four forms of misery, work, consequence (bipaka), subject (asraya) bears the name of god. In him is located the seed of extreme omniscience. He is the preceptor of all the people that have gone before, in as much as he is uninterrupted by time. This statement of the subject of Godhead in this system has led many to think that Patanjali is really a devotee of God. But one who has read the Patanjali Yoga Shastra to its conclusion with special care and judgment, cannot be so mistaken. In the Kaiva1yapad occurs the principle “Purusartha-sunyanam pratiprashavah kaivalyam svarupapratistha. va chitisaktriti,” which is thus explained in the Bhojabritti: “Chichhaktervrittisharupyanivrittou svarupamanam tat kaivalyamuchyate.” The non-alternative state (kaivalya) is the name of the existence of the cognitive principle in its own proper condition. The point that requires to be considered in this connection is this, viz., what is meant by ‘the proper condition of the cognitive principle’? That is to say, whether the jiva who has attained the non-alternative state (kaivalya) will have any function? After the jiva has attained the non-alternative state (kaivalya) what will be his relation with the god of his unrealized state? In the said Shastra there is unfortunately no answer to this question. On repeated reading of this Shastra one is convinced that its god of the state of unrealized effort, is a kind of entity that is conceived merely for the success of worship. He is not to be found in the realized state. Can such Shastra be considered as theistic?
All these atheistical opinions have been preached in this as well as other countries under different names due to difference of language.
Reason is of two kinds, viz, pure reason and adulterated reason. The faculty of the soul in its pure state that applies itself to the examination of the self-conscious, may be described as pure reason. It is without defect and is a function which is natural to the soul. The perverted form of the above faculty due to association with the material principle that is found to guide the soul when she is engrossed in matter, is the adulterated reason. This adulterated or pseudo-reason is of two kinds, viz., ( 1 ) alloyed with fruitive works (karma-misra,’ and (2) allied with empiric knowledge ( jnana-misra). It is also called sophistry (tarka). It is this which is condemnable for the reason that there happens to be present in it the following defect, viz., error (bhrama), delusion (pramada.), deceit (bipralipsa) and inefficiency of the organs (karanapatava). Its decision is defective in all cases. That which is established by the real reason is the same in all cases. The opinions that are produced by the adulterated reason are diverse and mutually conflicting. By acting in accordance with those opinions the incarcerated jiva. earns only the bondage of ignorance as the fruit of such procedure.
Adulterated reason owes its origin to the operation of matter. The material picture which the individual soul, imprisoned in matter, receives in the first instance by means of the senses, is carried to the brain by the nervous process. The reason then goes to work on these pictures that are preserved in the brain by the process of memory. This activity gives rise to various concoctions and abstractions. The term ‘scientific knowledge’ is applied to the beauty that is perceived by the assortment of those pictures. By the processes of analysis and synthesis those pictures are made to yield hues in the form of secondary conclusions. This is called reasoning. Comte said, “Assort that which has been observed and from it investigate the truth”.
Let us now consider whether the reason which is brought to bear on the pictures that have been obtained originally and exclusively from the material world can be designated as reason born of matter. How is one to know about super-material objects and their qualities through this process? If there happens to exist any super-material entity there must, therefore, also necessarily exist for the realization of the same some process that is suitable for such purpose. That those who are not acquainted with this higher process, or do not like to be acquainted with it due to prejudice, adopting the reason that is based on matter, will speak the language of delirium, admits of no doubt. In those cases in which the investigation of the material world happens to be the sole endeavour the reason that stands on matter yields the best results. This adulterated reason is specially effective in all forms of material affairs such as arts, bodily activities, warfare, music, etc., etc. In the first place adulterated reason in alliance with empiric knowledge, arrives at certain decisions and subsequently joining hands with fruitive work completes them by carrying them out in practice. When the affair of the railway was first settled in the mind of a materialist scholar, his reason was at that time alloyed with empiric knowledge. When it was reduced to practice the reason becoming imbued with fruitive work applied itself to the work of manufacture. Works such as the industries, etc., are as a matter of fact the proper subject of the adulterated reason. Supermaterial entities are not its legitimate subject and’ therefore, its application to them is not practicable. Super-material reason is in a position to act only in the case of super-material entities. Materialism, the theory of material force, material extinctionism, idealism,—all these systems, adopting the reason that is dependent on matter for the purpose of investigating the cause of the world which happens to be super-material, could necessarily obtain no satisfaction. This was so because the process they adopted for the purpose happened to be quite ridiculous. All the books that have been written by them are, therefore, merely the meaningless utterances of delirious persons.
Although the real reason happens to be the natural faculty of the soul yet the soul that is encased in matter, under the heavy pressure of the load of matter for making it the exclusive subject of his contemplation, shows greater honour to adulterated reason. Hence most people of this world are upholders of the mixed reason. The super-material unalloyed reason is very rare. Those alone who through good fortune are actively disposed to serve the introspective faculty, are acquainted with the greatness of pure reason or spontaneous exclusiveness (sahaja samadhi). From a remote antiquity the world with a superficial vision paying honour to adulterated reason, had been hoping to obtain from itself its own realization. All the different views which were propounded by such reason, although they are at first accepted by it with cordiality, prove unsatisfactory to itself in the long run. But the reason even when it is limited or mixed, cannot be without relation to the soul. At times it tries to do good to the soul. When after having brought forth the long series of heterogeneous views and talked deliriously in many different ways the adulterated reason could obtain no satisfaction it developed a feeling of contempt for itself. It began to cry deliriously. It said, ‘Alas, how am I abandoning my nature by straying far away from the soul to whom I am eternally joined, having been occupied in such superficial activities!’ Lamenting in this way, weighed down with fear, it admits, when it happens to be on its last legs, God as the Source of all activities. At this stage the human mind proclaims to all countries that God is realizable by the adulterated reason. In this mood Udayanacharya wrote his work, the Kusmanjali. In England the opinions that are promulgated under the names of Deism and Natural Theology should be recognized as meeting the approval of those people who profess those opinions by reason of their being in the above-mentioned condition. The theistic principle that is established by the process of adulterated reasoning, is extremely imperfect and, in regard to the reality, is both foreign and incomplete ; because the theistic conception that is brought about by reason in alliance with matter, is a specific and limited idea, viz., that God is the mere cause of matter. It is artificial in as much as there is in it no real advancement towards the spiritual state proper, no direct activity of the soul nor any investigation of the Reality. This will appear later in its proper place.
Such delirious mixed reason, even after admitting God, is unable to establish the unity of God on account of materialistic errors. Sometimes it supposes God to be a dual entity. Thereupon in their judgment the spiritual principle appears as one god and the material principle as another god. The god, whose nature is imagined to be spiritual, is supposed to be the source of good. The god as the material principle, is opined as the cause of all evil. A certain scholar who bore the name of Jaradvastra, in his work the Zendavesta, admitted the dual nature of the divine principle in recognition of the eternity of the two gods, as the evil and the good principle respectively. Theistically disposed persons showed their contempt for him by designating him as the rotten interpreter ( jaran-mimansaka). This designation is retained even to this day, having been applied subsequently in connection with all superficial persons of the schools of fruitive work and empiric knowledge. Jaradvastra is an ancient scholar. His view received no support in India but spread successfully in Iran. Becoming infective his view produced, in the religion of the Jews and subsequently among the followers of the Koran, Satan as the rival of God. About the time when Jaradvastra was preaching his view of two gods, the necessity for three gods being recognized among the Jews the doctrine of the Trinity was originated. In the Trinitarian view at first the three gods were conceived as separate from one another; and subsequently, when this appeared unsatisfactory to the scholars, they elicited the inter-connection among them by the elaboration of the theological principles represented by God, the Holy Ghost and Christ respectively. In the particular Age or Sect in which Brahma, Vishnu and Siva are conceived as different gods the unsatisfactory circumstance of similar belief in three gods occurred also in India. Scholars having established the theoretical unity of those three gods, have incorporated in many parts of the Shastras advice discountenancing their separate existence. In different countries there is also found to exist belief in many gods. Specially in very backward countries monothism in a pure form is not found to prevail. At one time it was the practice to regard the gods, such as Indra, Chandra, Vayu, Varuna, etc., as mutually independent. The school of the mimmansakas (interpretationists) correcting the above view subsequently established a single god, viz., Brahma. All this is mere delirious utterances of reason deluded by matter. God is one entity. Had He been more than one the world would have never functioned in a beautiful manner. Different laws in conformity with different wills in mutual conflict, would have undoubtedly wrecked the world. That this visible universe has issued from the will of one powerful person, cannot be denied by any person who feels the impulse of goodness.
The reasoning that is generated by the spontaneous cognition of the soul, is alone pure and free from defect. The Truth that is elucidated by such reasoning, is alone real. Reasoning can have no existence apart from instinctive knowledge. The reasoning associated with the knowledge of external Nature, that is noticed in the affairs of this world, is impure or mixed. The truths that are declared by the mixed reason, are all of a trivial character. Even if it establishes God its argument is never satisfactory. There is no applicability of the pervert reason to the case of the Absolute Truth. All conclusions regarding the Absolute reached by the pure reason on the basis provided by intuitive knowledge, are true. It may be asked in this connection what intuitive knowledge is. The soul is self-conscious and is, therefore, all knowledge. The knowledge that naturally exists in the soul is spontaneous or intuitive knowledge. Intuitive knowledge is eternally cognate to the soul. It is not produced by any process of material experience. Pure reasoning is the name for a certain process of such intuitive knowledge. Intuitive knowledge is ascertainable by the fact that the jiva has the following realization from before the generation of any experience of the material world, viz.
(I) I exist.
(2) I shall continue to exist.
(3) I have joy.
(4) There is a great entity that underlies and maintains my joy
(5) It is my nature to depend on the support of this entity.
(6) I am eternally guided by this entity.
(7) This support is extremely beautiful.
(8) I have no power of abandoning this support.
(9) My present state is lamentable.
(10) I ought to follow again my guide and support, giving up this miserable condition.
(11) This world is not my eternal dwelling-place.
(12) By the progress of this world My eternal improvement is not secured.
Unless the reason adopts such intuitive knowledge it merely continues to wander deliriously. There also exist certain axiomatic truths in the domain of spiritual science. No spiritual progress is possible unless these are accepted and followed.
There is a certain class of people who cannot form a settled opinion of their own after accepting pure intuitive knowledge and yet do not trust reason in all cases. Admitting intuitive knowledge to a certain extent they recognize oneness of God. Absorbed in knowledge they attain the exclusive state. But this exclusiveness is not the natural state of samadhi in as much as it exhibits abstruseness of thought. By such abstruse thinking even after piercing through this gross world they fail to obtain the vision of the spiritual world because the natural Truth does not manifest Himself without spontaneous exclusiveness. Having observed the symbolic world they feel as if they have seen the ultimate abiding-place of the jiva. In reality they only stand on the symbol of the material world. The difference between the symbolic world and material world consists in this that the material world is apprehensible by the senses. The symbolic world is apprehensible by the mind. The symbolic world is merely the subtle initial stage of the material world. The material world is of two kinds, viz., (I) the very gross material world, and (2) the subtler world full of light. The astral body that the Theosophists talk about, is the lighted material body. The symbolic body is subtler than the astral; that is to say, it is mental. The subtle world that is full of the manifestations of power, according to the Pantanjala Shastra and the opinion of Buddhist ascetics, is the symbolic world. The spiritual entity is different from these. The non-alternative kaivalya) state described in the Pantanjala Shastra, is merely the idea of the state that is the opposite of the gross and the subtle, but shows no trace of any investigation of the spiritual Truth. No one can Say what the relation of Godhead is to the jiva after his attainment of the non-alternative state (kaivalya), or about the whereabouts or the nature of God in the non-alternative ( kaivalya ) state, although a god is met with during the pre-realization stage of such endeavour. If the jiva on attainment of the non-alternative state (kaivalya) merge with God then as a matter of fact it is monism. The Yogashastra, whether it is Theosophy or Patanjali, is not for the eternal benefit of jiva. Yogashastra is one of the numerous blind lanes that are found to exist between the grossest materialism at one end and spiritual Truth at the other. And, therefore, it yields no satisfaction to the jiva who is in quest of spiritual bliss.
Some hold that God has made this world for our enjoyment. We obtain the grace of God by religious merit earned in course of sinless enjoyment of this world. It may be objected to this that if this world had been made for yielding happiness to the jiva, God would not make it so imperfect. God has to be blamed for making it so imperfect if we assume that this world was intended by Him for our happiness. If His purpose in creating the world had been to teach us to be religious it would undoubtedly have been made differently because at present all persons of this world cannot attain to religion.
Holders of the opposite view say that this world is intended for the punishment of the jiva for offense committed by him. Being unable to find an adequate answer to the question how the jiva could commit offense a certain explanation has found a place in several religious systems to the following effect. God having created the first jiva permitted him to live in a pleasant wood in company of his wife. He forbade them to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. The first parents of mankind by the advice of a certain fallen jiva having eaten the forbidden fruit, were expelled from the happy region for the offense of disobedience to God and fell into this world which is so full of misery. For this offense of the first parents all these jivas were born sinful. As the offense could not be expiated by the jivas themselves a certain being, who is like one limb of God, being born among men in the likeness of man, chose to suffer death by taking upon his own shoulders the sin of all jivas, who would follow him. Those jivas who followed him thereby easily earned their deliverance while those who did not follow him were cast into the eternal hell. It is not possible to comprehend with the normal understanding how other jivas can be excused by the punishment of God becoming jiva.
According to the above the jiva exists as jiva from birth to death. The jiva, therefore, did not exist before birth and, after death also, the jiva would have no existence in this sphere of his work. Moreover man alone is meant by jiva. Jiva cannot in the circumstances be a spiritual principle. He is to be conceived as created in matter by accident or by the will of God. Why the jiva appears in different periods and in different circumstances, is not understood. Why should not other animals be counted among the jivas? Why should birds and beasts be anterior to man? It is incomprehensible to those who obey God how it can be the dispensation of God, Who is full of mercy, that man should earn eternal heaven or suffer eternal damnation merely for his acts done in a single birth.
Those who belong to this School cannot serve God in any unselfish way. They cultivate the arts and sciences under the belief that God Can be pleased by one's attempt to improve the world. But they remain ever ignorant of pure devotion to God which is free from all impulses of worldly work and knowledge. The service of God from a sense of duty can never be disinterested or natural. That we shall serve God because He has been merciful to us, is a mean conception, because it implies that we would not have served Him if He had not been kind to us. We also cherish the immoral hope of future favours. If God were considered as merciful for His bestowal of devotion it would not have been objectionable in any way. In these religions such a statement is not to be found. The mercy of God in this case only refers to the conveniences and happiness incidental to the worldly life.
In this and other analogous creeds of a recent origin God is formless and all-pervasive. The pursuit of knowledge is the chief work of such systems. The consideration arising from empiric knowledge that God is lowered if considered to have a form, constantly troubles their minds. God, according to this view, must be formless and all-pervasive because we have created Him such by our knowledge and He cannot be anything else than this. This conception of God degenerates into a form of idolatry that is straitly circumscribed by materialistic considerations. The sky that is found in matter is also all-pervasive and formless. The God of this School is like it. This is matter-worship. The expressions used in the prayers and hymns of praise, which are the only forms of worship in these creeds, are also altogether worldly. Those who hold this view are generally self-sufficient. They keep aloof even from good preceptors through fear lest such association may impart superstitions. Some even hold that as the truth is inherent in the soul it can be realized by one’s own independent efforts, and that, therefore, there is no necessity for submission to a preceptor. Some opine that it is sufficient to accept the supreme Teacher. God is the supreme Preceptor and Saviour. He destroys our sinful tendencies by entering into our proper selves. There is no necessity for any human preceptor. Some of them regard as God-given a certain book which is a compilation from different sources. Others do not admit the authority of any book through fear lest by recognizing the authority of any Scriptures errors are admitted.
Although according to this view only there is only one God yet it is in many parts inconsistent, full of insinuations of partiality against God and of no value to jivas who are naturally disposed towards God. Instead of admitting a principle of evil existing separately from God it considers the commission of sin as due to the weakness of jivas for which also, as this view offers no other explanation. God is tacitly held to be ultimately responsible. In the pride of empiric knowledge they fail to grasp the difference between soul and mind. Their spiritual science is stunted in its growth on account of arrogance engendered by their superior knowledge of the physical sciences. Their spiritual knowledge is so meager that they cannot distinguish between the spiritual principle and the material principle in gross and subtle forms. They accordingly mistake the symbolic for the spiritual.
From a long time a body of opinions bearing the name of advaita-vada (monism) has been current in this country. This opinion is born of study of the Vedas under the lead of narrow partisan bias. Although monism has also been preached by many scholars outside India yet there seems to be little doubt that this view spread originally to other countries from India. A few savants who accompanied Alexander the Great into India, made the thorough acquaintance of it. This has been hinted by authors of Greece and Rome in their own works. According to advaita-vada the Brahman is the only entity. There is not and has never been any second entity besides the Brahman. Distinctions such as spirit, matter and God are due to conventional judgment. As a matter of fact the Brahman is the unchanged cause of all cognisable principles. The Brahman is eternal, without change, without form and without differentiation. In the Brahman there is no adjunct, no kind of power and no kind of activity. There is no change of state or transformation of the Brahman. All these expressions are to be found in different parts of the Vedas. The professors of the monistic cult of the Brahman adopted these statements without any objection, But when they turned their eyes towards the differentiated world, they began to reflect how such Brahman can be the cause of the world. Whence came the world ? Unless this was explained the view which appealed to their tastes could not be rendered tenable. Arrived at this point they began to think, and numerous issues were soon brought to light that clamoured for solution. How can activity or the active power be admitted to the Brahman which is without activity in any form? On the other hand caution was necessary lest monism suffered any curtailment by the admission of a second principle. Thinking on in this manner they first of all came to the conclusion that there would be no violation of the monistic principle if a slight power of transformation in the Brahman were admitted. The Brahman is the transformation of itself. This transformation is cognisable. Those monists who considered such admission as inconsistent with the monistic position, proposed to account for the world by the assumption of deception or illusion (vivarta) due to want of true knowledge; just as a stick may be mistakenly supposed to be a snake. The world is unreal, a mere illusory idea. There is no world, no life. The Brahman exists and there also exists an illusion in the shape of the knowledge of the world. The names ‘avidya’ (nescience) ‘maya’ (illusion) etc. arose out of the effort to understand this deception thoroughly. A deception is never a real, separate entity. Therefore, there is no infringement of the conclusion of monism that the reality is only one. After this extraneous knowledge is subdued by the knowledge of the Reality the apparent illusion is destroyed with the realization of one entity, resulting in emancipation (mukti).Yet another body of scholars refused to consider the theory of illusion as being altogether true. They said that the world is not a piece of self evident deception. The illusion of the world owes its maintenance to another hallucination, viz., the jiva or individual soul. The jiva is not a separate entity from the Brahman. This would be an infringement of the monistic principle. The jiva is the real illusion. These scholars are divided into two groups. One of those held the view that the Brahman is like the great sky appearing as jiva due to limitation like the portion of the great sky enclosed within the pot. The other section thought this would be too great a tampering with the Brahman, and necessitate His subordination to illusion. Instead of doing this let the jiva be recognized as the reflection of the Brahman like the image of the moon in the water. Being itself a false entity full of a deceptive cognition in the way of the natural function of the principle of nescience the jiva soul imagines this world as made up of matter. In reality the Brahman is one and without a second. The jiva is not a separate entity. The world also is not anything that has a separate existence from the Brahman.
The great error of these scholars, which they can neither see nor want to see, is their assumption that the Brahman is only one admitting of the existence of no second entity, and that there is no other real thing separate from the Brahman. So long as the inconceivable power of the same Brahman is not admitted all the above speculations are bound to be trivial. Is the powerless Brahman proved to be one by the postulation of illusion by one, of ‘nescience’ by another, of ‘deception’ by a third and of ‘the deception of a deception’ by yet another school ? In all these views the abandonment of the monistic position is easily recognizable. The conception of the Brahman possessed of inconceivable power, is an infinitely greater idea than that of the powerless Brahman. Neither does the former necessitate the postulation of an entity foreign to the Brahman for the purpose of preserving His so called unity. Monism fails utterly to comprehend and harmonize all the statements of the Vedas and is equally- powerless to promote the good of the jiva. We take leave of the subject of monism with these general observations for the present, reserving the specific consideration of the details of its numerous variants in connection with the teaching of Mahaprabhu when He refutes the fallacies of this view.
All these are mere verbal juggleries or the mischievous prejudices of self-opinionated controversialists. The Truth exists buried in the midst of erroneous speculations. It is the office of the real investigator of Truth, on ascertaining the nature of the untruths, to discard them and by making the direct acquaintance with Truth to procure and treasure Him. Victor Cousin, the French savant, although he rightly hit the method, failed in its actual application, due to the fact that he employed himself in searching for the Absolute Truth in the piles of empiric learning. Such effort is like the endeavour to obtain the grain by the process of grinding the chaff. The real sifting has been done by Sree Vyasadeva in his Brahmasutra and elaborated by himself in the Sreemad Bhagavatam; and Sree Chaitanya Deva came into this world to make the religion set forth in the Sreemad Bhagavatam possible of attainment by the fallen jiva..
Enough has been said on atheistic speculations to prove that they have always exercised, and still continue to exercise, consciously or unconsciously to their victims, a most pernicious influence on the human mind and prevent it from giving even a hearing to the subject of the Absolute Truth. It was so in the Age of Sree Chaitanya Deva. The South of India was the official stronghold of all kinds of warring doctrines and it was the purpose of Sree Chaitanya in traveling through the South to meet and refute the fallacies of the atheistical scholars of the different schools and thereby destroy their sinister influence which prevented the general body- of the people from giving their unprejudiced attention to His teaching,
The reader will get some idea of the chaotic state of religious opinion in India at the time of Sree Chaitanya Deva from the following brief sketch of the principal schools of philosophy whose views were more or less current in that Age. The more important of these have been compiled by Madhvacharya, a follower of Sankara’s monism, who preceded Sree Chaitanya Deva by about two centuries, in his work the Sarba-Darsana Sangraha which has been translated into English by E. B. Cowell. The systems mainly prevalent at the time of Sree Chaitanya Deva may be arranged in the following order:—
(1) The system of Charvaka, opposed to the Vedas, hankering for things other than God,—a devoted admirer of worldly qualities,—atheistical.
( 2 ) The system of the Buddhists who hold everything as transitory, worship worldly qualities, are atheistical, rely on abstruse and fallacious argument.
(3) The system of the Jaina arhats, indeterminists, worship worldly qualities, rely- on abstruse and fallacious argument.
(4) The system of Sankhya, godless, holds the soul as devoid of quality, relies on abstruse and fallacious argument.
(5) The system of Patanjala, acknowledges a god, holds the soul as devoid of quality, relies on abstruse and fallacious argument.
(6) The system of Sankara, averse to God, professing the aim of harmonizing conflicting opinions, pseudo-revelationist, pure monist, rationalistic.
(7) The system of the Baiakaranas, materialists, pseudo revelationists, worship god conceived as possessed of worldly qualities.
(8) The system of the Mimansakas, rely on the meaning of words, pseudo-revelationists, worship god who is conceived as possessing worldly qualities.
(9) The system of the Naiyayikas, profess first beginning, process of effort and the unknown factor, recognize the authority and validity of evidence other than that of the Word of the Veda, worship god conceived as possessing mundane qualities.
(10) The system of the Baisheshikas, profess first beginning, process of effort, the unknown factor, recognize no other authority than that of the Scriptures, worship god conceived as possessing mundane qualities.
(11) The system of the tranquilized Saivas, profess worldly enjoyment, process of effort, the unknown factor, emancipation while still living in this world, rationalistic, worship god conceived as possessing mundane qualities, believe in God.
( 12) The system of the Pratyabhijnas, profess material enjoyment, process of effort, the unknown factor, hold emancipation on leaving the physical body, hold unity of the soul, worship god conceived as possessing mundane qualities.
(13) The system of the Nakulish Pashupat Saivas, profess material enjoyment, process of effort, the unknown factor, hold souls to be separate, hold emancipation after leaving the body, believe in god as unrelated to fruitive work, worship god conceived as possessing mundane qualities.
(14) The system of the Saivas, profess material enjoyment, process of effort, the unknown factor, hold emancipation as a bodiless state, hold souls as separate, believe in god as related to fruitive work, worship god conceived as possessing mundane qualities.
Charvaka—holds the living body as identical with the soul and its satisfaction as the object of life. Direct perception is the only proof of reality. The highest good consists in the pleasures produced by enjoyment of women, eating of wholesome food and wearing the best apparel, etc. The pain that is incidental to these pleasures should be avoided as far as possible. But it would he foolish to forego the pleasure itself which is real for fear of the pain that may occasionally be associated with it. There is no after-life. Those eminently learned men who perform ceremonies enjoined by the Vedas at the cost of much wealth and physical discomfort are all deluded by the long-standing custom of obeying the Vedas, which were originally made by the hypocrite, the cunning knave and the cannibal taking counsel together. The Vedas are full of false, atrocious, immoral and ridiculous practices.
Buddhism.—The Buddhists are divided into four schools, viz., the Madhyamikas, the Yogachariyas, the Sautranitikas and the Baibhasikas rendered by Cowell as Nihilists, Subjective Idealists, Representationists, and Presentationists, respectively. According to the first nothing exists except the void. In other words, nothing is really- true. If anything had been really true it would have been constantly perceivable in the waking state, in sleep and in dream. According to the second external objects are non-existent. The soul which is only momentary cognition, is alone true. The third school holds that external objects are true and realizable by inference. According to the Baibhasikas external objects are realizable by direct perception. According to all the schools the principal duty consists in worshipping this body by nourishing the twelve dimensions of which it is made, viz., the five active organs, the five perceptual organs and the two perceptuo-volitional organs of the mind and the faculty of discrimination. According to the Buddhists ‘Sugata’ is God, the world is momentarily perishable, direct perception and inference are the evidence; and misery, dimension, aggregate an(l the path are the four truths. The entity misery is constituted of its five limbs, viz., knowledge, pain, cognition, impression and colour. The twelve dimensions have already been mentioned. The attachments and repugnances that arise spontaneously in the hearts of men, are called the principle of aggregation. The fixed persuasion that all impressions are momentary, bears the name of the path. .Moksha or emancipation is identical with this last.
Jainism The general term of the sect is arhat. The Jains are that sect of the arhats that follows the teachings of the Jina. The arhats refute the theory of momentariness of the Buddhists and admit the continuity and eternal existence of the soul. The body is the measure of the jiva. The Arhat is God. He is omniscient and free from attachment, repugnance, etc. The three jewels are right view, right knowledge, and right conduct. The right view consists of the right faith which is prevention of opposition or doubt regarding the truth declared by the Jina. The right knowledge consists of the knowledge of the truth declared by the Jina in a condensed or elaborate form. Right conduct consists in the abandonment of condemned activities. Right conduct is of five kinds, viz., not to kill any jiva whether it is locomotive or stationary, not to accept more than is given, not to steal, to speak words that are true, beneficial and also agreeable, to give up lust, anger, etc., and to avoid undue attachment for all things. These five constitute the great obligation. The highest state is attained by practicing these, They are ‘syad-vadins’ ie, believe in the doctrine of relativity, indefiniteness or indeterminateness, as opposed to the idea of the absolute.
Sankhya.—The propounder of the Sankhya system of philosophy is Kapila. There are two Kapilas. Kapila, the son of Kardama and Devahuti, belongs to the Satya Yuga. He is the Kapila mentioned in the Sreemad Bhagavatam. His view, which is also known as Sankhya, is recorded in the Bhagavatam.. It contains many statements that refer to the system of pure devotion. He must be carefully distinguished from Kapila, the propounder of the atheistical view of the current Sankhya philosophy which is our present subject. The atheist Kapila was born of the Agni-family in the Treta Yuga..
According to the Sankhya there are really two fundamental entities, viz., the pradhana or prakriti (i.e., the material principle) and the purusha (i.e., the soul). Prakriti undergoes transformation. The purusha is an essence unaffected. The twenty-five entities of the Sankhya, from the enumeration of which the system derives its name, consist of primordial matter (mula prakriti), mahat, mistaken egoism (ahamkara) , the five subtle elements (panchatanmatrah), the five organs of sense, the five organs of action, the mind which is the organ of both sense and action, the five principles of gross matter and the soul (purusha). Of these the first is the pure essence of matter in the sense that it is not the effect of any other cause but is the cause of all the other material principles. The next groups in the series consisting of the seven categories from mahat to the five subtle elements, are related to one another as cause and effect each being the cause of the following entity. They are, therefore, both cause and effect. The five principles of gross matter are not the cause of any other entity. They are merely effect. Purusha or the soul is eternal and unchangeable. It is neither the cause nor the effect of anything.
Primordial matter (prakriti) is constituted of the three qualities, viz., sattva, rajas and tamas. The state of equilibrium of these three qualities is prakriti. The qualities (gunas) are material and transformable. The whole world is the transformation of the qualities. The sattva quality is happiness itself, it is light and illuminating. Its function is equable (santa). The rajas quality is made of misery and is active. Its function is terrible (ghora). The quality of tamas is stupefying, it is heavy and suppressive. Its function is irrational (murha) . Although thus mutually, opposed they co-operate with one another and thus produce the world. The world is thus full of pleasure, pain and ignorance. Pleasure and pain are the qualities of the principle of discrimination (mahat or buddhi), i.e. of matter, and not of the soul. These qualities of the material intelligence are reflected in the soul. The soul is eternal, free from the material qualities, self-conscious, witness, active, different from matter and many- in number. The material (prakriti) is the inactive principle, which is itself unconscious, but moving by the proximity of the soul. The soul is liberated when this relationship with the material principle is recognised by him. Such recognition leads the soul to dissociate himself from prakriti. This is the summum bonum and is called mukti or liberation.
Yoga.—This system was propounded by Patanjala Muni. It is also called theistic Sankhya. It recognizes in addition to the twenty-five entities of Sankhya mentioned above a twenty-sixth entity, viz. , god. The summum bonum is called the non-alternative state (kaivalya) which is reached by the eight processes of yoga by which the activities of the mind are controlled and subdued. The worship of god helps the purification and tranquilization of the mind. The system is very similar to Sankhya, the chief differences being that it recognizes the attainment of emancipation as dependent on the grace of god and also lays stress on the eightfold yoga practices. On attainment of the state of freedom from any form of activity (asamprajnata samadhi or mukti) misery finally disappears. This is the goal. It will be noticed that although the existence of God is admitted in the pre-non-alternative stages, He is only a secondary entity, the primary- object being the attainment of a desirable state for oneself which does not appear to be in any way related to God after it is realised.
The system of Sankara.—Sankara has tried to deduce the doctrine of pure monism from the Brahma sutra of Maharshi Veda-Vyasa. According to this system the Brahman alone is true, all else is untrue. The world perceived through the senses is an illusion like the mistaking of the rope for the snake. There is no difference between the individual soul and the highest Soul Who is the Brahman. It is similar to the Nihilistic school of Buddhism and has been considered to be a form of Buddhism under the garb of lip-loyalty to the Scriptures. Its Brahman is only a negation of the material world and has no definable nature of its own. The assertion that the nature of the Brahman is spiritual (chit) as distinct from unconscious matter (achit), differentiates it theoretically but not practically from the doctrine of ‘Void’ of the Buddhists. It commits material suicide in order to establish a spiritual void. It is an unnatural and forced interpretation of the philosophy of the Brahma sutra and has obtained wide currency in this country, being recognized by many foreign scholars as the representative philosophy of Hindu orthodoxy. It is less prevalent in the south than in the north of India. Pure monism which in its present form owes its origin to Sankara, has branched out into many slightly differing forms. It has already been referred to in another place and will be considered in its relation to the teaching of Sree Chaitanyadeva in its proper place.
The system of Baiakaranas.—The Grammarian Panini is the propounder of the view that by the study of sound in the form of the letters of the alphabet and words formed of them the knowledge of the object to which they point is spontaneously realized as the result of such practice. Sound is of two kinds, eternal and transitory. The eternal sound is directly expressive of its object. The Grammarians recognize this directly expressive sound as the Brahman. They hold that by the study of the science of sound by the gradual subsidence of ignorance the state of emancipation is attained. It is considered as the easy, royal road among the ways that lead to emancipation (moksha).
The system of the Mimamsakas.—This was made by Maharshi Jaimini. The Word of the Scripture made by God out of pity for the attainment of a desirable state for oneself which does not appear to be in any way related to God after it is realized the suffering of the jiva, is the only authority by following which the fruit in the form of happiness promised by it is attainable. This school undertakes to supply the true interpretation and to reconcile apparently conflicting statements of the Scriptures.
The system of the Naiyayikas.—The view of Gautama, the promulgator of this system, may be thus put: there are sixteen categories consisting of processes by which the knowledge of the twelve entities can be obtained. By constant hearing, contemplation and revision of the knowledge thus gained the individual soul and the Over-soul become known. This leads to the disappearance of misery and with it of false knowledge and their resultant preferences, repugnances and stupefaction, etc. There is then left no inclination for virtuous or vicious acts. After this, on the termination of the sufferings by the system of bodies produced by the previously accumulated activities leading to rebirth, there is final cessation of the twenty-one kinds of misery due to the six sense organs the six objects of the senses, the six intellectual faculties and pleasure and pain. This is the attainment of happiness or mukti. .
The system of the Vaisheshikas.—This system owes its origin to Maharshi Kanad or Uluka. The summum bonum according to this system is the final cessation of misery (mukti). This is the result of true knowledge which is obtained by a critical and careful study of the Scriptures and their constant consideration and meditation. It is necessary, first of all, to differentiate the soul from the non-soul or matter. This school holds that there is definite and eternal difference between the several permanent entities and also between the objects and their qualities, although the last two are eternally associated with each other. It is this peculiarity which gives its name to the system. The atom is the final limit of matter. The world, etc., made of material atoms, are eternal and any other worlds not so made are impermanent but eternal. The system closely resembles that of the Naiyayikas.
Saivas.—According to this, Siva who is ever affectionate to His devotees is held to be god and the jivas are designated as animals (pashu). God awards the fruit of actions in accordance with the nature of such acts. All action is followed by its appropriate effect and is therefore, the cause of such effect. This does not affect the not affect the freedom of action of god as the supreme lord and master. God is formless. There are three entities, viz., the lord, the animal and the bond. Siva is the lord and those who have attained the state of Siva and the methods whereby this state is attained, e.g., initiation, etc., form the lordly category. The jiva-soul is the animal. This jiva-soul is different from the body, is eternal and is capable of taking the initiative. The jiva-soul freed by Siva from sin is elevated to his proper lordly position and merges with the divinity.
The Pratyabhijnas.—According to this school the jiva-soul is the over-soul. This is established by the inference that a being who has knowledge and power of independent action is god; that which has not those powers is non-god, e.g., house, etc. The soul of jiva possesses the above powers and therefore it is god. This recognition of the identity of the jiva-soul with god is called Pratyabhijnas. The acquisition of this knowledge is alone necessary for the highest realization, viz., that Siva is the divinity.
Nakulish Pashupat Saivas.—Siva is god. Being the ruler of jivas, Siva is also called Pashupati, jiva being named pashu (animal). God's will is the only cause of the world. The summum bonum (mukti) according to this view consists in the absolute cessation of all misery and the attaimment of the state of the divinity. Specific acts are prescribed as the method to be followed for obtaining emancipation. It considers service of god as tantamount to bondage.
Saivas (Rasesvara or Mercurial school).—The summum bonum is the attainment of the state of the divinity. This is possible only through knowledge of god. But this knowledge is naturally and easily attainable in this material body if it is tranquilized by mercury. Siva is god. Mercury is Siva’s own self. The body is the friend of the soul and can be rendered spiritual and eternal in the above way. Mercury is called “parada” and “rasesvara” due to its qualities of enabling the jiva to get across the ocean of this world and being accordingly the supreme liquid.
All these and many other atheistical views have been prevalent in this country from most remote times. All these are empirical and try to work up to God, Who is necessarily conceived as some form of sublimated or discarded matter, by the powers of the human mind working on the data supplied by the senses. Even in those cases where there is profession of obedience to the authority of the revealed Scriptures such admission is merely verbal and the method adopted is in every instance purely empirical, although help of the Scriptures is frequently sought in support of special views reached by the empiric process. In spite of the lip-profession of theism such method has consciously or unconsciously led in every case to the formulation of materialistic, unspiritual and godless systems. This, however, did not pass unchallenged. Or, it would be truer to say, that these views were really propounded in opposition to the theistic school which embodies the natural religion of the jiva and which has existed both potentially and in an explicit form from eternity.
It is in fact futile to seek for the origin of the eternal religion in history limited by space and time. It has always existed. Its continued existence can also no doubt be established as far back as our limited vision extends. All the other systems have a historical origin. The theistic (Vaishnava) religion has no historical origin and no beginning. The other systems have attained temporary prominence on account of the vigour of their attack on theism (Vaishnavism). We shall return to this subject again. For the present it would be sufficient to point out that theism in its true sense, which is identical with Vaishnavism, possesses the most numerous body of expounders and they have always been engaged in refuting the fallacies of the empiric schools. In the Iron Age (Kali Yuga) the Vaishnava religion has had four principal teachers after whom the four divisions (sampradayas) of the community are named. Those four founder-Acharyas of the respective sampradayas in the chronological order of their appearance are,—Sreemad Adi Vishnuswami, Sreemad Nimbarka, Sreemad Ramanuja and Sreemad Madhva. The Vaishnava Founder Acharyas are pure revelationists (srauta panthis) as opposed to the schools mentioned above who are empiricists. They hold devotion to Godhead Whose Nature is purely spiritual to be the summum bonum. This goal is reached by obeying the Scriptures by submitting to receive the Word of Godhead from sadhus who alone understand their true import. This submission must also be complete.
But although the four Vaishnava Founder-Acharyas, who preceded Sree Chaitanyadeva, and their followers certainly prepared the ground for the general re-establishment of pure theism their efforts only led their opponents to endless shifting of position and restatement of their views and this was done with so much vigour and success that at the time of the advent of Sree Chaitanyadeva the country had passed almost completely into the hands of the atheists as will appear from the incomplete list of the principal atheistic schools that were flourishing in His time which has been put before the reader in the above brief account. Sree Chaitanyadeva was opposed by all of these and He had to meet their leaders in learned disputations. The school which was most hostile to Him was that of the .smartas who do not admit the transcendence of Vishnu and His devotees but hold Vishnu to be a god of equal status with the other gods and endowed with specific powers. The smartas are frankly polytheistic and follow fruitive activities for the reward of material happiness promised by the Scriptures for their performance. The purely spiritual religion preached by Sree Chaitanyadeva was, therefore, utterly incomprehensible and repugnant to the doctrines and practices of the smartas.
Sree Chaitanyadeva also had occasion to engage in controversy with Chand Kazi who believed in the doctrine of impersonal Godhead, and so thoroughly convinced him that it is not the teaching of the Koran that he turned out to be one of His staunchest supporters.
The followers of the Vaishnava Founder-Acharyas had also succumbed to the seduction of the other schools and Sree Chaitanyadeva had to meet in controversy the leaders of pseudo-Vaishnava f actions who were in revolt against the authority of their own Acharyas. He opposed the Ramananda sect who called themselves the followers of Ramanuja but favoured salvationism, and the tattvavadins, professing to belong to the Madhva school, for a similar reason. He did not esteem the views of Ballava Acharya who, professing to follow Vishnuswami, differed from Shridhar, the commentator of the Sreemad Bhagavatam, also belonging to the same sampradaya. The sampradaya founded by Nimbarkacharya has so utterly neglected its original Acharya that his works and those of his proximate successors appear to be lost. Sree Chaitanyadeva rescued the teachings of the great Acharyas in the process of perfecting them and demonstrated the relation of harmony in which their systems stand to the full Truth. But before we finally plunge into the consideration of the religion taught and practiced by Sree Chaitanyadeva the issue will be simplified if we stop for a short time to take a passing glance at the views of the four great Vaishnava Founder-Acharyas who preceded Sree Chaitanya and kept the dim lamp of theistic scholarship burning which was to be merged in the Sunrise of Advent of the Supreme Lord Himself as Teacher of His Word.
VI. —History Of Theism
There is a certain class of people who have the temerity to regard the religion preached by Sree Chaitanyadeva as of recent origin and an original and new conception. The fact, however, is quite otherwise. It is no other than Sree Chaitanya Whom all the Scriptures of every Age and country have been eager to proclaim but have failed to adequately express. The Truth Who is no other than Sree Chaitanyadeva Himself, is the Same Who manifested Himself in the heart of Brahma at the beginning of material creation. The Word, Who, beginning with Brahma, made Himself manifest to a succession of persons, was gradually confused in many ways by the influence of time. The absolute Truth made available by Brahma in the form of the Word although He appeared in subsequent times in the community of the Rishis being handed down by the process of verbal transmission to the ear from preceptor to disciple has been variously transformed due to the intrusion, into the process, of the triple qualities of this material world. At those periods when the perverted version of the communication manifested to the ear threatens to completely mask and distort the real Truth that Lord Vishnu the Divine Personality Himself Who is both Source and the first Link in the chain of the line of preceptorial succession through whom the Divine Logos manifests Himself as articulated Sound to the ear, causes the Appearance of Himself in this world in different Forms in conformity with particular lines of activities appropriate for the particular requirements of the times. These Plenary Divine Manifestations constitute the series of the Leela-Avataras of Vishnu.
In this manner Truth manifested Himself successively in different forms in the seven different lives of Brahma. The first four births of Brahma took place during the Age of Truth (Satya Yuga), the first of the four Yugas that form a complete cycle of the Ages. In the first birth of Brahma, which was mental, the Fenapas learnt the Absolute Truth from Sree Narayana. From Fenapas He was heard by the Baikhanasas and from them by Chandra. In Brahma’s second birth, which was ocular, by the grace of Narayana, Brahma and Rudra and, from Rudra, the Ba1a-khilyas attained to the Truth. In the third birth of Brahma, which was oral, from Narayana, Suparna received the super-mental root-formula (mantram) of the Rig Veda. At the same time the Bighashasi sampradaya obtained the same from Vayu and from the Bighashasis, Mahodadhi received the experience of the exclusive spiritual function. In the fourth auricular birth of Brahma the eternal function (satvata dharma) was promulgated in the Vedas along with the Aranyakas. At this time from Brahma, Svarochisha Manu, from him, his son Samkhapada and, from Samkhapada, Subarnabha Manu, the son of Samkhapada, learnt the eternal function (satvata dharma). In the Age of Truth the religion was thus spread by the fourfold manifestation in the form of the mental, ocular, oral and auricular births of Brahma.
At this time there had not yet begun the promulgation of the varnashrama dharma of the Vedic Karmakanda which was instituted in the next Age, viz., the Treta Yuga. Fenapa; Baikhanasa, Soma, Rudra, Balakhilya, Suparna, Vayu, Mahodadhi, Svarochisha Manu, Samkhapada, Subarnabha and other devotees of Hari of this pre-historic age, all belonged to the ‘one-path’ branch (the Ekayana Sakha) of the Vedic Tree. At that time there being yet no divisions of the Vedic School the Vedic Rishis are designated as having belonged to the one-path branch. Fenapa, Baikhanasa, Balakhilya and later the Audumbaras, in accordance with the four pre-historic divisions, formed a separate branch of those belonging to the vanaprastha stage even as early as the time when the varnashrama dharma was established. The varnashrama dharma , a classification of society into a fourfold division according to the twofold principle of quality and work, was introduced at the beginning of the Second Age (Treta) to which also belong three additional births of Brahma. At the beginning of the Treta Age in the fifth nasatya birth of Brahma from Narayana, Sanat Kumara received admission into the one-path religion. By Sanat Kumara, Birona, by Birona, Raibhya, by Raibhya, Kukshi were successively admitted into the same one-path religion (aikantika dharma). While in the sixth birth of Brahma from the egg, from Brahma, Barhisat and his elder brother Abikampana, etc., obtained entry into the one path eternal religion. The chant of the Sama Veda first appeared in this sixth birth of Brahma. It is in the seventh birth of Brahma from the lotus that, from Narayana, Brahma, from Brahma, Dakshya, Aditya, Bibasvan, Manu and Ikshvaku, etc., being established in the Bhagavata religion, attained to great fame.
The Sree community (sampradaya) sprang from Ratnakara. Ratnakara obtained the religion from the ancient Bighashasi comnunity and this last again from Vayu who belonged to the time of the third oral birth of Brahma. The Brahma and Rudra communities received the mercy of Sree Narayana in the fourth ocular birth of Brahma. Their successors, the Balakhilyas, maintained the lines of Brahma and Rudra. Sanat Kumara received the one-path religion from Sree Narayana in the fifth nasatya (nasal) birth of Brahma.
The activities of the series of the Plenary Divine Manifestations of this world (Avataras) of the lotus period, are narrated in the Scriptures. The practices of the different communities of the eternal religion who accepted the ten Appearances in this world of Vishnu in the Forms of Fish, Tortoise, Boar, Man-Lion, Dwarf, Rama son of Bhrigu, Rama son of Dasaratha, Baladeva, Buddha and Kalki as their Objects of worship, are recorded in such works as the Puranas, the Mahabharata, etc. Although these books happen to be written in Sanskrit we notice in them mention of the eternal (satvata) religion of the pre-historic Age in the form of hints and also in the shape of a certain amount of descriptive matter. The worshippers of the Divinity in the Forms of His ten Avataras have acquired the designations of bhakta, (devotee), ‘bhagavata’ (godly) or ‘satvata’ ( eternal) .
Wherever there arises the consciousness of transitory, changeable, finite time and of mundane personality conformably to our worldly judgment there appear two qualitative manifestations of the Godhead, Who are also classed in the category of Divinity. Although the transcendental knowledge is always manifest in the heart of Brahma, among his successors, due to their sensuous predilections, various temporary experiences have been wrongly assigned to the category of the eternal Truth. Whence there are to be found in this world in regard to Godhead a great variety of mutually conflicting views. We find accordingly at different places the cults of the village-god, of ghosts, mesmerism, the process of pancha-pakshi, the cult of the followers of energy, immersed in the enjoyment of the five pleasures making for a material objective, the creed of the worshippers of the Sun imbued with a mixture of cognitive and active qualities and the system of the worshippers of Ganapati, a product of the cognitive in association with benumbing qualities. These cults setting themselves up as its rivals have been trying by their loud clamours to disturb the eternal religion. The desire of his successors for other things than the spiritual service of Godhead by disregarding the method of service of the Transcendental that had appeared in the mind of Brahma, drove them into the paths of fruitive work and empiricism of the elevationists and the liberationists respectively. These temporarily excited mental tendencies are checked by the power of Rudra who is adored by the (material) negative or nihilistic quality. The various faces of Brahma, the Avatara in active quality of the Transcendental Vishnu in this material world, have been imagined, synthesized and made manifest by persons possessed of corresponding natures and, up to the time when those active tendencies are not absorbed in the negative, the worship of qualified Vishnu manifests its potency in this phenomenal world. As a matter of fact the conceptions of qualified and non-qualified worship are correlatives in the mundane apprehension.
Sree Chaitanyadeva occupying the seat of the world-Teacher, has uprooted many kinds of perverse and abstruse speculations of the stubborn race of sophists. The contemplation of Vishnu in the Age of Truth, the sacrifice for Vishnu in the following Age (Treta), the ritualistic worship of Vishnu in the third (Dvapara) Age, and the chanting (kirtana) of the Name of Godhead in the fourth (Kali) Age, are specially suitable for the bound jiva for the attainment of the Sight of Godhead and His service. But the eternal Scriptures (satvata shastra) declare that in the seventh regime of the lotus-born Brahma the desire to establish the equality of the gods exercising delegated power, with Vishnu will continue to produce the delusion of the sojourners in the domain of fruitive works for the space of twenty five hundred years. The belief that the Feet-wash of Vishnu is only ordinary water will continue up to the five-thousandth year, the belief that Vishnu is the equal of the other gods of the hierarchy of gods will be accepted as certain truth by those journeying on the path of misfortune. The spiritual Scriptures (satvata shastra) say that despite hundreds of defects of Kali,—the fourth Age, it possesses one supremely redeeming feature, viz., that in this Age the bound soul (jiva) obtains deliverance from the clutches of worldly judgment by listening to the chant (kirtana) instituted by Sree Gaursundar. The individual soul in the Kali Age is freed from the vagaries of conflicting views by the power of the chant (kirtana) of Krishna to the exclusion of the narrow consideration of the controversialists of the schools of empiric knowledge and fruitive works. It is for this reason that the writer of Sree Chaitanya Charitamrita in the very beginning of that work, in the second chapter, has declared in the form of an emphatic glorification of the chant, the message of the super-mundane and all-pervasive mercy of Sree Chaitanyadeva. Those who follow Sree Chaitanyadeva are alone freed from the clutches of error by the abandonment of all evil association. Those who are so deluded as not to avail the mercy of Sree Chaitanya will remain confined to the worldly point of view within the narrow hole of error by the logic of the frog in the well. They will never obtain the privilege of being employed in the service of the Super-sensuous.
The following brief review of the historical development of the theistic thought will further elucidate the Scriptural position outlined above.
The pursuit of the summum bonum is the proper and natural function of the individual soul (jiva). The co-eternal associated existence of this eternal function with the soul since his appearance needs must be admitted. This natural function was at first latent and had the form of the conception of his own identity, with the Brahman as the manifestation of himself. There was not ,yet any discussion of the bond of the highest love that united the two by the establishment of definite difference between the individual soul (jiva) and the Brahman. This religious doctrine of the intellectual realization of the identity of the individual soul with the Brahman, continued to prevail for a long time. The Rishis tried to find out the proper occupation of the soul by formulating from time to time various methods such as sacrifice (yajna), asceticism (tapasya), ijya, sama, dama, patience (titiksha), dana, etc. A long period passed in this quest of a vocation in the domain of works essentially materialistic on abandonment of the thought, ‘I am the Brahman’ When subsequently the reward attainable in the domain of fruitive works was judged to be trivial and harmful, the mind of the Aryas applied itself to the question of liberation (moksha). Sanaka, Sanatana and several others had altogether ignored the path pointed by desire for sensuous enjoyment. But Prajapati, Manu and Indra and other devas hoped to please Godhead by sacrifices (yajna) leading to worldly improvement. In regard to the fruit of such activities the ideas of heaven and hell were conceived to be final. The pure essence of the soul and the quest for emancipation and final attainment of the highest satisfaction, none of these were at all realized. In the Sreemad Bhagavatam is found an exhaustive discussion of these three subjects and the conclusions are clearly stated.
The most merciful Sree Ramanujacharya, the disciple of the illustrious Sathakopa, was the first to bring together the fundamentals of the Vaishnava thought. Some time before him Sankaracharya by his commentary of the Vedanta sutra gave such a strong impetus to the pursuit of the empiric knowledge that the goddess of devotion was taken by surprise and was checked and remained for a long time hid inside the hearts of her devotees. Sankaracharya cannot be held to be responsible for this untoward result. Far from blaming him we should rather regard him as the ideal of a patriot because there was in that Age a special reason for undertaking such a task for the indirect service of the Truth. It is well known that a great person bearing the name of Gautama who was sprung from the Sakva clan of Kapilavastu five hundred years before Christ instituted such a vigorous movement of empiric knowledge that in consequence of it the previously established system of varnashrama dharma was in imminent danger of being wholly obliterated. The Buddhist religion preached by Gautama became a thorn in the side of the whole ancient inheritance of the Aryas. Buddhism soon spread beyond the Punjab, under the patronage of kings such as Kanishka, Huvishka, Vasudeva, etc., of the Scythian dynasty, into the trans-Himalayan regions of Tibet, Tartary, China and other countries In another direction the Buddhist religion was firmly implanted in Burma, Ceylon and many other places by the efforts of Emperors like Asokavardhana, etc. The ancient holy places (tirthas) of the Aryas were changed into centres of Buddhism and became almost wholly Buddhistic in outward appearance. It even appeared possible that all traces of the religion of the Brahmanas might be destroyed. When this undesirable disturbance assumed the most dangerous proportions, in the seventh century of the Christian era, the Brahmanas becoming furiously indignant began a steady and organized attempt for the destruction of Buddhism. In this crisis Sreemad Sankaracharya eventually became the leader of the Brahmanas with their headquarters at Benares.
From the early Christian epoch onwards the vigour and keenness of intellect that is found in the south of India, is not so much in evidence in other parts of the country From this time there arose in the southern firmament, like stars of the first magnitude, such extraordinary personalities as those of Sankara, Sathakopa, Yamunacharya, Ramanuja, Vishnuswami and Madhvacharya and a host of eminent scholars. Sankaracharya failing to achieve much success with the help of his Brahmanized following, having adopted the ten orders of sannyasins bearing the designations of Giri, Puri, Bharati, etc., winning over the Brahmanas fond of materialistic activities, by the physical and controversial prowess of those sannyasins, set about to effect the destruction of the Buddhists. In those places where he failed to bring over the Buddhists to his side Sankara did not scruple to obtain even the assistance of the Naga sannyasins for his purpose. And, finally, by the compilation of the commentary of the Vedanta sutra, by mixing up therein the doctrine of fruitive works of the Brahmanas with the principle of empiric knowledge of the Buddhists, he effected the unification of the views of Brahmanas and Buddhists. After this he changed the names of the Buddhist shrines and idols and made them conform to the religion of the Vedas. The Buddhists, partly through fear of violence and partly in view of the partial retention of their own creed, submitted to the Brahmanas from necessity. Those Buddhists to whom such a procedure appeared to be hateful fled either to Burma or Ceylon, carrying with them the relics of Buddha. It was at this time that the Buddhist pandits made their way to Ceylon from Puri with the tooth-relic of the Buddha Avatara. In the fifth century A D the Chinese savant Fa Hian visiting Puri wrote with great joy that in that place Buddhism existed in an unalloyed form and there was no oppression by the Brahmanas. Subsequently, after the change noticed above in the seventh century A.D., the next Chinese scholar Hiuen Tsang wrote from Puri that the tooth of Buddha had been carried to Ceylon and the holy place had been utterly desecrated by the Brahmanas.
On a consideration of these events the activities of Sankara would appear to be really wonderful By divesting the country of the nomenclature of Buddhism, he effected to a certain extent the welfare of India in the national sense in as much as it prevented the further attenuation of the old society of the Arayas, a process which had been in progress Especially did he change the mentality of the Aryas by introducing into Arayan books the controversial method. The impetus which was thus imported by him enabled the Arvan intellect to investigate even subjects the consideration of which had been hitherto unattempted by them. By the force of the controversial current of Sankara, the flower of devotion, afloat on the stream of the mind of the devotee, was in a state of flutter. But Ramanujacharya, by the vigour of argumentation imparted by Sankara and by the grace of God, by composition of a fresh commentary of the Vedanta sutra, resuscitated the vigour of the Vaishnava thought. Within a short time Vishnuswami III, Nimbaditya and Madhvaswami, establishing the Vaishnava view in slightly different forms, also wrote commentaries of the Brahma sutra in accordance with their respective opinions. All of them after the manner of Sankaracharya, wrote a commentary on the Geeta, a bhashya of the thousand Names and a commentary on the Upanishads. From this time the opinion, viz., that for the recognition of a school it was necessary for it to possess its own commentaries on the four aforesaid books, established its hold on the minds of the people. From the above four Vaishnava Acharyas the four current schools of Vaishnavism, viz.those of Sree, Brahma, Rudra and Sanaka, have had their historical origin.
Sree Chaitanya appeared at Nabadwip in the fifteenth century of the Christian era. At first as house-holder and subsequently as sannyasin Sree Chaitanya elaborated the full knowledge of the two ultimate principles of the Vaishnava religion. That the real significance of the land of Gauda (Bengal) is attainable with difficulty even y the devas, admits of no doubt by the testimony of the Scriptures. Appearing in this chosen land, the Darling of Sachi Devi, the Most Highly Revered of the Vaishnavas, has given away freely to all the people the boundless wealth of spiritual Truth, that can be compared with nothing else. This is well known to all persons. By rare good fortune it has chanced that we have been born in this unique land. For a long time to come those Vaishnavas who will appear in this land, will also regard themselves glorified by such birth as we have obtained.
Sree Chaitanya, with the help of Nityananda and Advaita, encompassed by Rupa, Sanatana, Jiva, Gopala Bhatta, the two Raghunathas, Ramananda, Svarupa, Sarbabhauma, etc., has expounded clearly the true relationship of the individual soul (jiva) with Godhead, has shortened our work in regard to spiritual method demonstrating the superiority of chanting the name (Kirtana), and, in regard to the goal of spiritual endeavour, has laid down the extremely simple end of lasting mellowing quality (rasa) to be met with on the Path of complete spiritual endeavour (Braja).
The reader will find, if he considers the subject with special care, that the principle of the summum bonum has been steadily gaining in clearness, simplicity and consciousness from primitive times on to the present day in proportion as all impurities, deposited by Age and clime, are being expelled, and its beauty, waxing in brilliancy, is appearing within the ken of our direct view. The Highest Object of spiritual endeavour first appeared on the soil, overgrown with the kusa grass, on the bank of the Sarasvati. Slowly gathering strength it played out its childish pastimes on the ice-bound settlement of Badarikasrama. Its adolescence was nursed in the forest land of Nimisha on the bank of the Gomati. Its youthful activities are observed in the Dravida country on the beautiful bank of the Kaveri. The maturity is manifested to our view on the bank of the stream of the Jahnabi, that sanctifies the world, in the town of Nabadwip.
If we consider the history of the whole world we are confirmed in our view that the acme in the progressive quest of the summum bonum, has been reached at Nabadwip. The Supreme Soul is the only Object of the love of the plurality of separate individual souls (jivas). If the Supreme Soul, Who is the Integer, is not served with love, He Call never be easy of access to the separate fractional souls. He is not easy of attainment even if He is constantly meditated upon by abandonment of all other attachments that bind individual souls to this world. He is captivated by a mellow quality (rasa) of the appropriate kind, and by leaving this out He cannot be obtained. This mellow quality (rasa) is of five specifications, viz., (1) tranquil (santa), (2) as of the servant (dasya),(3) as of the friend (sakhya), (4) as of parents (batsalya), and (5) as of the wife or mistress (madhura) . The mellow quality whose specific characteristic is tranquillity is the one to appear initially by reference to the Brahman, or, in other words, it is equivalent to the merely continued existence of the fractional individual soul in the Greater Principle, on the cessation of the miseries due to the worldly connection. In this state, with the exception of a slight measure of negative bliss, there is no other freedom. At this stage there has not yet been established any reciprocal relationship of the spiritual novice with the Super-soul. The mellow quality characterized by servitude (dasya rasa) is the next in order of manifestation. It possesses all the treasures of tranquil mellowness (santa rasa) and something more. This new factor is affection, i e , a sense that an object belongs to me (mamata). In this specific quality (rasa) there is found relationship with Godhead which may be expressed thus, ‘Godhead is my Master and I am His eternal servant’. However excellent a person may be in himself one does not feel any particular concern for him unless there exists also a definite personal relationship between him and oneself. Therefore the mellowness of personal servitude (dasya rasa ) is very much superior to that of impersonal tranquillity (santa rasa). As servitude (dasya) is superior to the state of perfect unconcern (santa), so also is friendship (sakhya) very much superior to servitude (dasya). Because in servitude (dasya) there is a thorn in the shape of distant reverence. But in friendship (sakhya) there is present a great jewel in the form of confidential relationship. Can there be any doubt that he is the greatest among servants who possesses the confidence and is, therefore, as it were, a friend, of his Master? In the mellowness of friendship (sakhya rasa) there are present all the values of the mellowness of unconcern and servitude (santa and dasya rasas). Just as friendship (sakhya) is higher than servitude (dasya), in like manner parental affection (batsalya) is superior to friendship (sakhya). This is self-evident. Of all friends the son is the most liked and is a source of far greater happiness In the mellowness of parental affection (batsalya rasa) the constituent values of all the four mellownesses (rasas) are combined. Although the mellowness of parental affection (batsalya rasa) appears to be so superior to all the other mellow qualities (rasas), it appears very insignificant by the side of the mellowness of the sweetness of amorous love (madhura rasa) There are many things that have to be kept outside the relationship of parent and child, but not between husband and wife Therefore, if the subject is very closely considered, all the preceding mellownesses (rasas) will be found to have attained their perfection in that of amorous love, as between husband and wife (madhura rasa).
If we consider the history of these five distinctive mellow qualities (rasas), it is clearly perceived that the mellowness of the tranquil state (santa rasa), first appeared in this world in India. When the soul was not satisfied by sacrificial rites by means of material objects those who professed the doctrine of the highest spiritual good, such as Sanaka, Sanatana, Sananda, Sanatkumara, Narada, Mahadeva, etc., renouncing all attachment for the material world, experienced the mellowness of tranquillity (santa rasa) by being thereby established in the Super-soul. Long after this the mellowness of servitorship (dasya rasa) appeared as in Hanuman, the ruler of the Kapis. The mellow quality of tranquil spiritual servitude (dasya rasa) spreading gradually, was most beautifully manifested in the south-western part of the continent of Asia in a great personage, viz., Moses. Uddhaba and Arjuna, who followed the king of the Kapis by a long interval, attained to the privilege of the mellowness of tranquil serving spiritual friendship with Godhead (sakhya rasa) and preached it to the world. By slowly spreading to other countries this mellow quality of the love of a friend for Godhead touched the heart of a religious preacher of Arabia, Muhammad The mellowness of parental affection (batsalya rasa) appeared in India at intervals in different forms. Of this the variety of love for Godhead, as of a son for his father, but regarded as the most High and Mighty Ruler of the world (aisvaryagata), spreading beyond India, fully manifested itself in Jesus, the saviour of the Jews. The mellowness of amorous love (madhura rasa), on its first appearance, irradiated the region of Braja. The permeation of the heart of the individual soul under the thraldom of worldliness, by the mellowness of tranquil, serving, friendly, affectionate, amorous spiritual devotion to Godhead, is supremely difficult to attain, because it is confined only to specially elected and perfectly pure souls (jivas). The Moon of Nabadwip, Darling of Sachi, with His own associates, promulgated this most subtle of all mellownesses (rasas). The exquisite sweetness of this relationship with Godhead has not yet spread beyond India.
Not long ago a Western scholar, Newman, realizing this mellowness (rasa) to a slight extent, gave publicity to it in England by writing a book on the subject. The nations of Europe and America have not up till now been satiated with the sweetness of their filial love for Godhead characterized by reverence, promulgated by Jesus. It is hoped that by the grace of Godhead, and at no very distant date, they will begin to taste of the wine of the mellowness of spiritual amour (madhura rasa), with even greater ardour. It will have appeared that a particular state of the mellow quality (rasa) first of all makes its appearance in India and spreads from here to the Western countries, generally after the lapse of a long period. There is, therefore, according to precedent, still a short period to run before the mellowness of amorous devotion (madhura rasa) is fully preached to all parts of the world. Just as the Sun rising first of all in India gradually illuminates all the countries of the West, in like manner the incomparable rays of the highest good, at intervals making their first appearance in India, suffuse the West before many days have passed.
VII —The Founder-Acharyas
The contributions of Vishnuswami, Nimbaditya, Ramanuja and Madhva, the Founder-Acharyas of the four Vaishnava communities (sampradayas) of the present day, to the cause of theism, are so valuable and so necessary to know for a proper understanding of the theological position of Sree Chaitanya that we shall close our brief survey of the historical trend of theistic thought with a short account of the systems of the four great Vaishnava Acharyas who preceded Sree Chaitanya.
The necessity of sampradaya or organized community. in the domain of religion, has been explicitly recognized in the Shastras. The words of Sree Vyasadeva in the Padma Purana on this subject are to the effect that the verbal formulae that deliver from mental hallucinations (mantrams) are never effective except within the spiritual community; and the same authority goes on to observe that in the Fourth (KaIi) Age there will be for this purpose four theistic (Vaishnava) communities (sampradayas) founded by their respective Acharyas, by the will of Godhead. This is not the advocacy of sectarianism. It upholds the principles of association and continuity in religious life as against anarchism. If rightly understood it is the procedure that is naturally followed by all persons who are sincerely minded, prefer the good law to anarchy and association with good people to egoistic isolation, and are truly catholic, not merely by profession, but also in their conduct. Those pseudo-liberals who pose as being above any class or community, are only anarchists in disguise. The truer instinct of mankind has always been alive to the fundamental necessity of belonging to a good, i.e., well regulated, community.
The four communities (sampradayas) of the Iron Age are connected with the ancient times by their recognition of the ulterior authority of the eternal ancient teachers, viz, Lakshmi, Brahma, Rudra and the four Sanas (chatuhsanah), respectively. The four Founder-Acharyas of the Iron Age professed to preach the views of those original teachers of the religion. Sree Rudra is the source of the teaching of Sree Vishnuswami; Sanaka, Sanatana, Sananda, Sanat Kumara, that of Sree Nimbarka Swami, Sree Lakshmidevi that of Sree Ramanuja Swami and the four-faced Brahma that of Madhva Swami, in the Iron Age. The original pre-historic teachers, who are the ultimate source of the four communities, in the chronological order of their appearance, are (1) Lakshmi, the eternal and inseparable Consort of Vishnu, (2 Brahma sprung from the navel-lotus of Garbhodasayi Vishnu, (3) Rudra sprung from the second Purusha, and (4) the four Sanas who are the sons of Brahma born from the mind. The chronological order of the Acharyas of the Iron Age is (1) Sree Vishnuswami, (2) Sree Nimbaditya, (3) Sree Ramanuja, and (4) Sree Madhva.
There are three different Vishnuswamis belonging to the same line. The first of them in order of time is known as Adi Vishnuswami and also as Sarbajna Muni. He was born in the Pandya country, the southernmost part of ancient Dravida in the third century B.C. His name, before he accepted sannyasa, was Devatanu. He was a tridandi sanyasin and re-established the old institution of tridanda sannyasa in the Iron Age. We find among his immediate followers no less than seven hundred tridanda sannyasins who were availed by him for preaching Vaishnavism against Buddhism. Vishnuswami is sometimes confounded with Sarbjnatma Muni who was an exclusive monist (kevaladvaitavadin). The system propounded by Adi Vishnuswami or Sarbajna Muni is known by the name of .suddhadvaita siddhanta., the pure monistic doctrine, as distinct from exclusive or pseudomonism.
According to Sree Vishnuswami the individual soul (jiva) is a constituent part of the Substantive Reality (vastu); the power of the vastu is maya; the activity of the vastu is the world; none of these being separate from the ‘Vast’.
The first point to be noticed in this connection is that Vishnuswami does not identify the individual soul (jiva) with the Brahman; neither does he conceive of the individual soul (jiva) as independent of the Brahman. His metaphor to bring out the relationship between the two, is that of the sparks of a great fire and the fire from which the sparks issue. Therefore, in the Scriptures the individual soul (jiva) has been sometimes called the Brahman, being qualitatively the same; and in other passages the individual soul (jiva) has been differentiated from the Brahman. In the next place the world being the activity of the Brahman, is also real and eternal. The origin and dissolution of the world as found in the Scriptures, mean its temporary disappearance but not substantive loss. The world is the unchanged transformation of the Brahman, just as the different ornaments made of gold are unchanged gold. Godhead, according to Vishnuswami, is the Embodiment of existence, self-consciousness and bliss in the embrace of the twin powers of ‘Hladini’ (that which delights and is delighted) and ‘Samvit’ (that which knows and makes known), as distinct from the bound soul who is, on the other hand, the source of all misery and enveloped in nescience. In his state of pure monistic consciousness the soul (jiva) is established in the relationship of servant to Godhead, which is the natural condition for the soul (jiva) who in the pure state is a fractional part of the whole, viz., Godhead. Godhead is the Lord of ‘maya’ the soul (jiva) is subduable by the deluding or limiting energy (maya). Godhead is self-manifest and transcendental bliss. The soul (jiva), although also self-manifest by reason of his being an integral part of the Whole, is located in the plane of misery, due to his attachment for a second entity besides Godhead. Godhead is ever free and never submits to any adjunctive modifications. He is possessed of transcendental qualities, is all-knowing, all-powerful, the Lord of all, the Regulator of all, the Object of worship of all, the Awarder of the fruit of all actions, the Abode of all beneficent qualities and substantive existence, consciousness and bliss.
Sree Vishnuswami following in the footsteps of Sree Rudra, was the worshipper of Sree Panchashya (Man-lion). He admits the Bodily Form of Godhead made of the principles of existence, consciousness and bliss, and the eternal co-existence of worship, worshipper and the worshipped. In his own words ‘the emancipated also, playfully assuming bodily forms, serve the Lord’. The main authorities recognized by the Vishnuswami community (sampradaya) are ‘Nrisimha tapani,’ ‘Sreemad Bhagavatam’and ‘Sree Vishnupuranam’ Of the works of Vishnuswami himself the ‘sarbajna sukta’ alone is mentioned. The Vishnuswami school counts very few adherents at the present day. Sree Vallabhacharya, although he calls himself his follower, differs in certain respects from the views of Sree Vishnuswami.
Sree Nimbaditya is the propounder of bifurcial monism (dvaitadvaitada ).
Sree Nimbarkaditya appeared in the town of Baidurya-pattan (mod. ‘Munger-pattan’ or ‘Mungi-pattan’) in the Telugu country. He is known variously as ‘Nimbaditya,’ ‘Nimbarka,’ or ‘Nimbabibhavasu’ and sometimes also as ‘Aruneya,’ ‘Niyamanada,’ and ‘Haripriyacharya,’. His followers are known as Nimayets and are different from the ‘Nimanandis’ who profess to be followers of Sree Chaitanyadeva under His appellation of Nimananda,. Sree Nimbaditya was an ascetic of the triple staff (tridandi sannyasin ); the line of his preceptorial succession being (1) Sree Narayana, (2) Hamsa, (3) the Chatuhsanas, viz., Sanaka, etc. and (4) Nimbadityacharya. Sree Nimbaditya's commentary of the Bhasya known as the ‘Vedanta parijata-saurabha’ and there are also several other works written by him.
The system of Nimbarka holds the ‘heard transcendental sound’ (sruti) as the highest natural evidence of the Truth, and also accepts the testimony of other Shastras when they follow heard sound (sruti). The source of Nimbaditya’s teaching is the instruction imparted by the four Sanas to Sree Narada Goswami in the seventh prapathaka of the Chandogyopanishad, which may be summed up as follows, viz., ‘that the Puranas are the fifth Veda; Vishnu is the Lord of all, devotion to Godhead in the forms of firm faith (sraddha) and close addiction (nishtha) is glorified; there is nothing equal or superior to the love for Godhead; the eternal Abode of Godhead is praised; Godhead is independent of any other thing; the perfectly emancipated are the eternal servitors of Godhead and are engaged in eternal pastimes in the region of self-conscious activities in the company of Godhead; Godhead has power of appearance to and disappearance from our view; the Vaishnavas are eternal and transcendental; the grace of Godhead is glorified, etc., etc.’
According to Sree Nimbaditya the individual (jiva) soul and the Supreme Soul are related to each other as integral part and Whole. The soul (jiva) is different from Godhead, but not separate. The soul (jiva) is both knowledge and knower, like the Sun which is self-luminous and also makes visible other objects. As an infinitesimal particle of consciousness the soul (jiva) is subordinate to Godhead Who is plenary consciousness. The souls (jivas) are infinite in number. By reason of his smallness he is liable to association with and dissociation from bodies made by the deluding energy of Godhead (maya). In the bound state the soul (jiva) is imprisoned in the gross and subtle physical bodies; in the free state he is dissociated from them. Souls (jivas) are of three distinct kinds, viz., those that are (1) free, (2) bound yet free, and (3) bound. There are various gradations of each one of these. The soul (jiva) is freed from the bondage of the deluding energy (maya) by the grace of Godhead, there being no other way. The inanimate objects are two, viz., (1) time, and (2) deluding energy (maya). Time is either transcendental or material. The former is self-conscious and eternal, i.e., undivided into past, present and future. The deluding energy (maya) is the perversion of the self-conscious (chit), or the shadow of the latter, and possesses the qualities of the shadow. Divinity is free from defect. The real nature of Godhead is full of infinite beneficience. Godhead as Krishna is the highest Brahman. Krishna is the source of all beauty and sweetness. Attended by His Own Power, the Daughter of Brishabhanu, constantly served by thousands of intimate female friends (sakhis) who are the extended self of the Daughter of Brishabhanu, Krishna is the Object of the eternal worship of the individual soul (jiva). He has an eternal and transcendental bodily Form. He is formless to the material vision but possessed of form to the spiritual eye. He is independent, all-powerful, Lord of all, possessed of inconceivable power and eternally worshipped by the gods such as Brahma, Siva, etc. Worship is of two kinds, viz., (1) tentative devotion during novitiate, and (2) the highest devotion characterized by love. The latter is aroused by the practice of nine kinds of devotion as means, consisting of hearing, chanting, etc.
The Nimbarka community is not mentioned in his works by Sree Jiva Gowami. He is also unnoticed in the Sarbadarsanasamgraha of Sayana Madhava. From which it is supposed that the current views of the present Nimbarka community were not extensively known till after the time of the author of Sarbadarsansamgraha, or even of the six Goswamins. There is, however, no doubt whatever that Sree Nimbaditya is a very ancient Acharya and the founder of the satvata dvaitadvaita sampradaya.
Sree Ramanuja made his appearance in the year 938 of the Saka era in the village of Shriparambattur or Sree Mahabhutapuri about twenty-six miles to the west of Madras, in the family of a Dravida Brahmana. His name, before he became an ascetic of the triple staff (tridandi sannyasin), as Lakshmana. Lakshmana Desika accepted renunciation (sannyasa) on the bank of Anantasar at Conjeeveram invoking grace of Sree Yamunacharya. He soon became the head of the Sree community (sampradaya) , which had its headquarters at Sree Rangam. He travelled all over India visiting Kashmir, Benares, Puri, etc., and established the pancharatrika view (the system of fivefold knowledge) at all the important centers of religion. We do not intend to enter further into the details of his wonderful career at this place.
Sree Ramanuja is the author of numerous works, the chief of which are Vedanta-sara, Vedanta-dipa, Vedartha -samgraha, Geeta Bhashya, Sree Bhashya, etc.
In the Ramanuja community every one is required to undergo purification by the method of the fivefold purificatory process (pancha-samskara). Even a high-born Brahmana, according to the Ramanujis, who has not gone through the above purificatory process, is as much an untouchable as the lowest of the Chandalas, and a Chandala so purified is held to possess the highest sanctity. In the Ramanuja community Vishnu is exclusively worshipped and the worship of all other gods is absolutely forbidden. In this community there is also the institution of renunciation of the triple staff (tridanda sannyasa).
Sree Ramanuja is the propounder of the view which is known as Distinctive Monotheism (Vishishtadvaitavada). This view is formally established scripturally in his commentary on the Brahma-sutra known as Sree Bhashya. The system of Sree Ramanuja may be set forth as follows: The Nature of the Supreme Brahman is unitary. Brahman who is without a second is, however, possessed of quality. The cognitive principle (chit) and the principle of nescience (achit) are His quality and body. The cognitive principle (chit) and nescience (achit) are each of them of two kinds according as they happen to be either gross or subtle. The subtle cognitive (chit) and non-cognitive principle (achit), in the causal state, are transformed into the gross cognition and non-cognition as effect. Brahman Who is non-bifurcial knowledge being the sole Cause, both efficient and material, there exist in Him qualities corresponding to such activities. The qualities must be considered as qualifying the possessor of them. Therefore, self-consciousness (chit) and unconsciousness (achit) are the qualities corresponding to the activities of Brahman as the Cause. The body is dependent on, is enjoyed and regulated by, its possessor and is also that by which the latter is known. Self-consciousness and unconsciousness depend upon, are enjoyed and regulated by, non-bifurcial Brahman, and, as effect, are the manifestations of Brahman as Cause. There is no such difference in the individual (jiva) soul as deva, man, etc. It is the soul obtaining enjoyable bodies, as the appropriate result of his own activities, that makes the effect known in terms of such bodies. Therefore, devas, men, etc., are only indications of different activities of the soul. The bodies such as those of devas, men, etc., are thus modifications or qualities of the soul. The relation in which the body stands to the individual (jiva) soul is also that in which the individual (jiva) soul stands to the Supreme Soul. In Distinctive Non-dualism three categories are admitted, viz., ( 1 ) the self-conscious principle (chit) which means the individual (jiva), (2) the non-conscious principle (achit) or matter, and (3) Godhead (Iswara), the Regulator of spirit (chit) and matter (achit), Who is the highest Personality of Narayana. This view categorically denies the following: Absolute dualism (kevala-dvaita-vada), absolute non-dualism (kevala-advaita-vada) and attributive dualistic non-dualism (vishista-dvaita-advaita-vada) .
The self-conscious principle (chit) or individual (jiva) soul is infinitesimal (anu) as opposed to the greatness of Brahman and is an integral part (amsa) of the Integer (amsi) or Possessor of the part, viz., the Brahman. This littleness of the individual (jiva) soul is directly and explicitly stated in the Scriptures as his specific characteristic. It is an integral part of Brahman, just as his body is an integral part of the individual soul or as His glow is an integral part or quality of the fire or the Sun; or as the quality is an integral part of the substance. The individual soul is of three kinds, viz., (1) bound (baddha), (2) emancipated (mukta), and (3) eternal (nitya). His proper nature is existence and bliss and he is cognisable to himself.
As regards the non-conscious (achit), according to Ramanuja it is devoid of cognition and liable to transformation. It is of three kinds, viz., (1) pure, e.g., objects in Vaikuntha, (2) mixed, i.e., constituted of the triple mundane qualities, and (3) insubstantial or time.
Sree Narayana is Godhead. He is distinct from the principle of consciousness (chit) and non-consciousness (achit) as substance from quality. He is the only cause of the origin, continuance and destruction of the spiritual (chit) and material (achit) worlds and of cessation of the cycle of births. He is free from every imperfection, full of infinite beneficent qualities, the soul of all, the transcendental Brahman, the transcendental Light, the transcendental Entity, the Supreme Soul, the only Subject of all Scriptures and the Guide of all hearts. The nature of Godhead is fivefold, ,viz., (1) the ultimate Reality (para tattva), (2) the principle of expansion (byuha tattva) for creation, maintenance, destruction, for protecting the bound jivas and showing His mercy to worshippers, as Samkarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha, (3) the principle of the origination of any state (bibhava tattva),viz, Avataras like Rama, Nrisinha, etc., (4) the inner Guide (antaryami tattva) as (a) the Supreme Soul Who dwells in the hearts of His servants, and as (b) Narayana with Lakshmi residing in the hearts of enlightened persons, (5) the principle of symbolic manifestation (archa avatara) as Conglomerate Embodiment (Sree Vigraha), Name, Form, etc., worshipped by His servants in accordance with their respective aptitudes. He seems as if ignorant although All-knowing, as if powerless although All-powerful, as if needing help although His wish is ever fully realized, as if needing protection although the Protector, and as if serving His devotees although their Master.
Devotion is the proper method of worshipping Godhead, is extremely pleasing, the only thing needful and is of the nature of a particular kind of knowledge which produces a distaste for every other thing. Godhead is attainable by the soul imbued with devotion.
Shrimat Purnaprajna or Sree Madhvacharya
Shrimat Purnaprajna or Madhvacharya made his appearance in this world in the Saka year 1040 in the sacred tirtha known as the Pajaka Kshetra situated about eight miles to the south-east of Udupi Kshetra in South Canara. His name, before he accepted sanyasa, was Vasudeva. Sree Vasudeva came of a Brahman family, his father’s name being Sree Narayana Bhatta, who bore the surname of-Madhvageha due to the fact that one of his ancestors, who was an immigrant from the country of Ahichchhatra, built his dwelling in the middle part of the village-settlement. His mother’s name was Vedabati or Vedavidya. Vasudeva accepted renunciation of the ascetic’s staff (danda sanyasa) from Sree Achyutapreksha, the disciple of Sree Prajnatirtha, in the line of Garudabahan, without obtaining the previous permission of his parents, at the age of eleven, and received the designation of ‘Anandatirtha’, or its equivalent ‘Madhva’. Sree Achyutapreksha at that time happened to be in charge of the shrine of Sree Ananteswara, situated in the neighbouring village of Rajatapeethapura. The order of spiritual preceptorial succession, according to the Madhvas of Rajatapeethapura, of Madhvacharya, is as follows: (1) Sree Narayana as Hansa, (2) Four-faced Brahma, (3) Chatuhsanah, (4) Durvasa, (5) Pasatirtha Yati, (6) Satyaprajna, (7) Prajnatirtha, (8) Achyutapreksha, and (9) Madhva. It is not our purpose in this place to enter into the details of his career which was long and eventful. Sreemad Madhva was the worshipper of Boy Krishna, whose holy Form, miraculously rescued from a sinking boat, was solemnly installed by him at Sree Udupi Kshetra and still receives worship from the sannyasins, his successors in the disciplic line. Sree Madhvacharya had a most powerful physique. He journeyed twice to Sree Badarika and visited all the principal tirthas of India where he preached his doctrines and engaged in successful disputations with the leading scholars of the rival schools. Sree Madhvacharya disappeared from this world in the 79th year of his advent.
Sree Madhvacharya wrote numerous works and established many Maths with organized service and worship for the purpose of spreading his bifurcial theistic view. As many as thirty- eight separate works, all in Sanskrit, from his pen, are still extant. The literature thus brilliantly inaugurated swelled to immense proportions by subsequent additions of many valuable works by his successors.
The teaching of Sree Madhvacharya is found summarized in a short verse which is regarded by the members of the school as giving a correct view of his position and may be rendered thus: “Divine Vishnu is the Highest of all. The world is true. Between Godhead, jiva and matter there exists fivefold eternal reciprocal difference. The jivas (individual souls) are the servants of Sree Hari. There exists gradation of fitness among jivas. The manifestation of the function in conformity with the proper nature of the jiva is emancipation (mukti). The practice of the realized function conformably with the soul’s own proper nature is pure, unalloyed or causeless devotion. Sound, inference and direct perception constitute the triple evidence. Sree Hari is the only Object Who is knowable by the whole body of the Scriptures; or, in other words, realization of Godhead is possible only by following the path of the heard revealed sound (sruti).” The whole of this position has been accepted specifically by Shripad Baladeva Vidyabhusana in his ‘Prameya Ratnavali’. This definitely establishes the descent of Sree Gaudiya Sampradaya, that follows Sree Krishna Chaitanya, from the Madhva school and justifies its descriptive title Madhva-Gaudiya (or Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya) Sampradaya, current among the devotees.
According to Sree Madhvacharya, as has already been stated, Sree Vishnu is the Highest Entity. Reality is of two kinds, viz., (1) self-regulated and (2) subordinate. Vishnu is the one perfectly self-regulated Entity. He is the Abode of infinite, free-from defect, beneficent, qualities. He is all-powerful, autocrat, the Regulator of the animate and inanimate worlds, from the tip of finger-nail to the top of hair the holy embodied Form of existence, intelligence and bliss, cognizant and delighting in His own real nature and without any subjective heterogeneity. There is no distinction between His body and Himself as the possessor of body. There is absolute identity between His Body, Quality, Action and Name. That is to say, there is no dividing line between His Name, Form, Quality and Activity (LeeIa). He is Eternal, the Regulator of all, the Lord of all, Iswara (Ruler) of even Brahma, Mahesa and Lakshmi and for this reason He is the Highest Godhead, i.e., God of all the gods. He is in every Age and country the holy embodied Form of the Possessor of all pure energy. Those persons who notice any distinction or distinction and non-distinction in the Name, Form, Quality and Activity of the Avataras viz., Fish, Tortoise, etc., certainly enter the realm of gross ignorance (tamas). There is no particle of absence of self-consciousness in Sree Hari. His holy Form possesses hand, foot, mouth, belly, etc., all those being of the nature of pure bliss. From Him proceed always creation, stability, destruction, the course of the souls, knowledge, bondage, emancipation, etc. Divine Vishnu exists eternally as the Archetype of all individual souls who are His differentiated parts. In other words, in the realm full of the pastimes of the pure intelligence, an endless series of differentiated souls from Brahma to the lowest insect endowed with the embodied forms of the principles of existence, cognition and bliss are eternally existent. They are the unqualified counterparts of the corresponding Forms of Vishnu Who, in His eternal and various Forms, is their Archetype. The individual souls in Vaikuntha are the substantive, unqualified reflections of the corresponding Divine Forms. Individual souls are differentiated from Godhead. The soul is an embodiment of the principles of cognition and bliss in a small measure, which principles exist in their fullest measure in the Person of Godhead. The material bodies of the bound souls do not correspond to their original pure spiritual forms, and, therefore, from the nature of the physical forms of the bound souls the nature of their original forms cannot be inferred. Sree Hari has two kinds of constituent parts (amsas) viz., (1) differentiated counterparts, e.g., individual souls (jivas) in Vaikuntha, and (2) undifferentiated parts of Himself, viz., the Divine manifestations (Avataras), e.g., in the divine Forms of the Fish, Tortoise, etc. In His pastimes Divine Vishnu manifests Himself in a fourfold Form, viz., Vasudeva, Samkarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha, for the purpose of such activities as creation, etc. In the Form of Pradyumna He creates the world, in the Form of Aniruddha maintains, and in the Form of Samkarsana, destroys it. In the Form of Vasudeva He delivers souls. The functions of creation and destruction are carried out by Divine Vishnu by means of gods exercising delegated power, or by the highest grade of souls exercising similar power. Vishnu as Pradyumna in this manner endows Brahma with the creative power and as Samkarsana confers on Rudra the power of destruction. He himself as Aniruddha exercises the power of maintenance, and as Vasudeva confers deliverance. Divine Vishnu from time to time appears in this world as Avataras in the Forms of Fish, Tortoise, etc. In the twenty-four Forms as Keshava, etc., and Vasudeva, etc., He is the Regulator of the gods who represent the twenty-four principles of the universe, and in the five Forms as Vasudeva, Samkarsana, Pradyumna, Aniruddha, and Narayana, He governs the five encasements. He regulates the four states of differentiated souls, viz., (1) waking, (2) dreaming, (3) sleeping, (4) unbound, in the four Forms of Visva, Taijas, Prajna and Turiya.. As the Soul and the Soul of souls He is the Regulator of the gross and spiritual bodies, corresponding to the real nature of the souls and, remaining manifest in all the limbs of souls as Ananta, He rules over them. He is the Source Who imparts their initiative to the gods representing the principles of the universe, and to the different senses. He is not responsible for the meritorious and sinful acts of jivas to which He employs them according to their fitness and in exercise of their freedom of will. Although He appears in the world in the various Forms of Fish, Tortoise, Man, etc., His birth and activities or bodies are not phenomenal, notwithstanding their material appearance to the vision of bound jivas. His Avatara are of two kinds, viz., (1) Embodiments of knowledge, and (2) Embodiments of power. Sree Krishna is the Appearance (Avatara) of Divine cognition and power in conjunction. In such Divine Appearances as those of Dhanvantari, etc., Krishna’s power of showing mercy to His devotees alone is manifest. Sree Vaikuntha is the eternal Divine Abode of Vishnu. At the beginning of creation the twin Divine Abodes, viz., the White Island (Sveta-dvipa) and the Divine Seat in the form of Sree Ananta (Anantasana), appear in this world. Sree Lakshmi is the beloved Divine Consort of Vishnu. She accompanies Her Lord to this world in His Appearances and is associated with Him in various Forms with the infinite reciprocal Forms of her Lord. The different names of Sree Lakshmi are: Sree, Bhu, Durga, Maya, Jaya, Kriti, Santi, Ambhrani, Sita, Dakshina, Jayanti, etc., each having distinctive functions. Vishnu creates the material universe at the beginning of every cycle (kalpa) using the eternal inanimate force, that has no beginning, as the material cause. This world is neither non-existent, nor false, nor ‘momentary’. The different objects are limited in duration as regards their existence in their particular forms, but are eternal as regards their constituent principle.
There is categorical difference (1) between the individual soul (jiva) and Godhead, (2) between one individual (jiva) and another, (3) between matter and Godhead, (4) between individual soul (jiva) and matter and (5) between one form of matter and another form. Sree Madhvacharya accepts this fivefold difference as real.
Individual souls (jivas) are divided into three classes, according as their original nature is made of either (1) intelligence and bliss, or (2) of a mixture of intelligence and joy and misery of ignorance, or (3) of unmixed misery and ignorance. Individual souls (jivas) are provided with physical and mental bodies in accordance with their actions of the previous cycle (kalpa), at the beginning of material creation. Individual souls (jivas) are infinite in number. One’s proper nature or the capacity of attaining to it, is eternal and belongs eternally to all individual souls. It is the primal cause of all efforts of all individual souls. Action (karma), although destructible, is eternal in the continuity of its flow or sequence. Previously performed activity (karma), which is without a beginning, is the second cause. There is a third cause in the shape of the effort at the time of the performance of the act. All these are subject to Vishnu, Lord of the material energy (maya). In other words Godhead awards the worldly course of individual souls by means of these three causes, but they have no power over Him as He is the Lord of material Energy (Maya). Liberation (mukti) is the realization of their own proper natures by persons endowed with the luminous, self-expressive (sattvic) quality, on the dissolution of the symbolic material body, by the practice of devotion. It is not something adventitious but only the continued establishment of the individual soul in his own proper nature. The eternal material cases, super-imposed on the real or spiritual nature of the soul, are two in number, viz., (1) the case forged by the soul and (2) the envelope bestowed by the material energy of Godhead (Maya). When Godhead is favourably disposed He destroys completely the coating of nescience caused by the soul and removes the screen of the material energy (maya) which is a gift of the Divinity. Thereupon the soul is enabled to see with his spiritual eye the Supreme Person dwelling in his own heart. The devotion that is aroused after the beatific vision is the highest or unalloyed, being devoid of all foreign impulses in the shape of physical activity (karma), etc. It is only by devotion that the favour of Godhead is attained. This leads to liberation (mukti), being the attainment of the Feet of Vishnu. This is followed by devotion in her real, proper form which is not the means but the goal. The initial stage in the process, is listening with faith to the words of Scriptures glorifying the greatness of Godhead, from the lips of devotees (sadhus).
Sree Madhvacharya admits the authority of the triple evidence of (1) direct perception, (2) inference, and (3) revelation (agama). The last is sub-divided into (l) those Scriptures that are not made by any person, and (2) those so made. To the first of these groups belong the Vedas such as Rik, etc., Upanishad, the formulae that deliver from mental function (mantram), Brahmanas, the concluding portion of the Veda (parisista), etc. To the second group are assigned History- (Itihasa), supplementary accounts (Purana), fivefold knowledge (pancha-ratra), etc. The Puranas, etc., help in understanding the real significance of the Vedas. The Puranas are of three kinds, viz., (1) Sattvika, (2) Rajasika, and (3) Tamasika. The Sattvika Puranas, such as Sreemad Bhagavatam, etc., are alone admissible as evidence of the Truth. If any portions of the Rajasa Puranas are in conformity with the statements of the Sattvika Puranas those may also be accepted as evidence. Those parts of the Sattvika Puranas that express ideas contrary to the sattvika view, were intended for deluding the atheists (daityas), and should not be accepted by righteous persons. The Tamasa Puranas were concocted for deluding evil-minded persons (daityas). All Puranas, in so far as they support the sattvic view, are admissible as evidence. The following views of Sree Madhvacharya are also interesting. The servant of Vishnu (Vaishnava), the All-pervasive Lord, is the highest of all animate beings (jivas). The worship of Vishnu alone is to be performed. All worship of other gods is forbidden. Everything is gained by uttering the Name of Hari. The Vaishnava, even if he be sprung from a Chandala family, is the revered of all. Vaishnavas are to be served with zeal and no offense must be permitted against them. The Brahmana is recognized by straightforwardness, the Sudra by duplicity of conduct.
Sree Chaitanya is the disciplic successor of Sree Madhvacharya and ultimately of Sree Brahma, the original Founder after whom the community (sampradaya) is named as the Brahma Sampradaya. The order of spiritual succession (amnaya) up to the present time from Sree Brahma, as preserved in the Brahma Gaudiya Sampradaya, is as follows: (1) Sree Krishna, (2) Brahma, (3) Narada, (4) Vyasa, (5) Madhwa, (6) Padmanabha, (7) Nrihari, (8) Madhava, (9) Akshobhya, (10) Jayatirtha, (11) Jnanasindhu, (12) Dayanidhi, (13) Vidyanidhi, ( 14) Rajendra, ( l 5) Jayadharma, (16) Purushottama, (17) Vyasatirtha, (18) Lakshmipati, (19) Madhavendra Puri, (20) Iswara (Advaita, Nityananda), (21) Sree Chaitanya, (22) (Swarupa, Sanatana) Rupa, (23) (Jiva) Raghunatha, (24) Krishnadasa, (25) Narottama, (26) Viswanatha, (27) (Baladeva) Jagannatha, (28) (Bhaktivinode) Gaurakishore, (29) Sree Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Sree Barshabhanavidayitadas. All these are paramahansas and Sree Chaitanya’s undifferentiated servitors. The writer is devoid of all aptitude for service and endeavours to have his mind humbly fixed on the lotus feet of Sree Guru Sree Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, as the unworthy object of his causeless mercy and of his associated counterparts.
The views of the four Founder-Acharyas of the respective Vaishnava communities (sampradayas) briefly noticed above, stand in such close and organic relation to the teaching of Sree Chaitanya and to one another that their relationship will be best brought out in course of the narrative and at the proper place, in the light of the philosophy of Sree Chaitanya which, as I have already noticed, reconciles, harmonizes and perfects them. For the present it will be sufficient for our purpose to notice in regard to these four schools that the system of Sree Chaitanya, although it is identical with none of them, either wholly or partially admits the special excellence of certain features of each. Thus, for example, Sree Chaitanya accepts more or less the eternal specific Form of the Divinity as Embodiment of all-existence, all-knowledge and all-bliss sachchidananda nitya Bigraha) of Madhva, the postulations of Ramanuja regarding Divine Power, the principle of unalloyed non-dualism and of Godhead as ‘the All of His Own’ and the eternal dualistic-monotheism of Nimbarka which last has been perfected by Sree Chaitanya into the truly scientific Truth of the Doctrine of inconceivable simultaneous distinction and non difference.
The act of Sree Chaitanya in preferring the Brahma community (sampradaya) by His entry into it as Disciple, to which Sree Madhvacharya also belongs, to the other Vaishnava schools, is explained by the fact that the doctrine of unalloyed differentialism propounded by Sree Madhvacharya which makes the mutual difference, as between, Godhead, individual soul ( jiva) and the material world, definite and permanent and also recognizes their eternal separate existence, keeps all individual souls (jiva) most clearly and frankly at a great distance from the fell disease of absolute monism which is the opposite pole, being the empirical denial of the essence of all theistic thought passing itself off as theism to the insidious seductions of which most worldly people are so easily liable to succumb. We shall return to this important subject in its proper place.
It is the empiricists who are responsible for the origination of the current notion that theism is a product of a particular stage of material civilization in its progressive onward march. It will be our purpose to prove in the next chapter that such a view is opposed to all historical experience. It is no doubt true that the revelationists do not admit the applicability of the theory of evolution in its present form to spiritual subjects as it does not recognize the existence of any other entity except matter and mind. The history of spiritual evolution is connected with the progress of material civilization correspondingly and negatively, and not causally, the latter only serving to bring out that aspect of the former which happens to be the most intelligible to itself at the stage. This difference is wholly overlooked by materialistic evolutionists and no less by the so-called critical school of historians who have essayed to treat of spiritual events. The transcendental aspect of theism is the oldest fact known to history and, philosophically speaking, is incapable of being evolved out of the empirical consciousness. The abandonment of no historical principle worth the name, is involved in the recognition of this fact as a fundamental and axiomatic truth even on the evidence, although necessarily negative in character, of our empirical experience as will appear from an impartial consideration of the historical facts contained in the next chapter.
VIII.— Historical Vaishnavism
The Scope of History does not extend to the transcendental for the simple reason that History deals exclusively with the phenomena of this world. The historical view of any Divine event is, under the circumstances, only that of the deluded soul under the thralldom of the material Energy. It is not its business to deal with anything that is outside the ordinary sensuous experience of men in general. Therefore, we cannot expect modern historians, who are limited to the above view of their function, to sympathize with, or even to consider seriously, the subject of this work as one that belongs properly to their particular branch of knowledge. But in spite of this purely secular attitude of modern historians they have been unable to rule religion altogether out of their subject. There have been empiric historians who have, in the spirit of specialists, without discarding the secular outlook which it is really impossible for them to do without denying their avowed function as investigators of a branch of empiric knowledge, attempted to isolate and treat ‘exclusively’ of religious history. While professing all due respect for their methods, without ignoring their necessary limitations, we propose to employ their method, divested of unnecessary and hostile narrowness, in this chapter, for the purpose of proving our proposition that the worship of Vishnu as transcendental Godhead has been prevalent from time immemorial.
It is of course not possible to treat exhaustively in the course of a short chapter a subject that is both large and, by its nature, controversial. That effort must be reserved for a separate work. I shall be content in this chapter with supplying a rough sketch of the account of the worship of Vishnu as it has prevailed from the earliest times, on the evidence supplied by the religious books directly, by the course of the evolution of ritual and the activities of outstanding personalities.
The Rig-Veda is regarded on all hands as being the oldest of the existing books. The worship of Vishnu is found mentioned in the very first mantrams of this work, which contain a reference to the Vamana (Dwarf) Avatara of Vishnu. The beginning of the compilation of the Rik mantrams may accordingly be considered as at least subsequent to the Vamana Avatara. The subject of the ten Avataras of Vishnu will be considered from another point of view in the next chapter. The ten Avataras are mentioned everywhere in the following chronological order, viz, (1) Matsya (Fish), (2) Kurma (Tortoise), (3) Varaha (Boar), (4) Nrisimha (Man-Lion), (5) Vamana (Dwarf), (6) Parasu-Rama, (7) Rama, (8) Balarama, (9) Buddha, and (10) Kalki. When the Rig-Veda was being compiled the first five Avataras of Vishnu had already taken place.
Objection may be taken to the above on the ground that there is no mention of the other Avataras in the Rig-Veda, which are mentioned only in the Puranas which are subsequent to the Vedic period.
The Puranas assumed their present form long after the compilation of the Rig-Veda. But the original Purannas were written in very old Brahmi which has survived in the language of the mantrams that have been preserved in the Vedas while the original books themselves have disappeared completely. The present Puranas which are in the Sanskrit language were written later and replaced the older works from which much of their accounts was derived. Many of the events recorded in the Puranas occurred in the pre-Vedic Age. This is well known to the critical historians and the subject has been treated with ability by an English scholar Pargiter, in his recent work ‘The ancient Indian historical tradition’.
There is another striking point of difference between the Vedas and the Puranas. The Vedas do not contain really much matter that is of the nature of the supernatural. They refer to Natural phenomena and display an almost exclusive attachment to mundane advantages in their prayers to the various gods, who are regarded as presiding over the different forces of physical Nature. This naturalistic or materialistic character of the Vedic religion has been noticed by all Vedic scholars. The singular absence of the really supernatural factor in the oldest existing religious book of the world has not received sufficient critical attention. The Puranas are full of the supernatural. To the so-called critical historian this has always appeared as the special disqualification of the Puranas as a source for sober history. But this feature is capable of a very different and far more rational interpretation.
I have already mentioned that the worship of Vishnu occurs in the Vedas along with that of the other gods. If we direct our close attention to the character of the hymns of the Rig-Veda we would notice a great difference between the hymns addressed to Vishnu and those addressed to the other gods. All the hymns, without a single exception, that are addressed to the other gods, are full of purely mundane expectations and references. All the hymns, without a single exception, addressed to Vishnu are absolutely free from all mundane reference. The worship of Vishnu is absolutely pure. Vishnu alone is Infinite, all the other gods are limited. Vishnu is also a personal God, as the other gods. The finite gods are approachable by their worshippers by limited references. But Vishnu is recognized as unapproachable by mundane reference.
As Vishnu was not available by esoteric efforts, this led to the formulation of the worship of the other gods. Vishnu was never a god of Nature. The other gods were gods of Nature. These formed, as it were, the esoteric faces of Vishnu and were regarded by their worshippers as independent of Vishnu. From the earliest times the worship of these gods had existed alongside the worship of Vishnu.
The Vedic religion viewed in this light will appear to have been of the nature of a later reaction against the older pure worship of Vishnu. It is, in fact, the first movement of the anti theistic thought, of which we possess any written record.
This establishes the identity of Vishnu, and the worship of Vishnu, of the Rig-Veda with the Vaishnavism of the Puranas and of the present Age. This fact has been most clearly established by the Vaishnava Acharyas, within the narrower historical period, from the time of Adi Vishnuswami onwards.
An attempt was made in the subsequent period to mix up the pure worship of Krishna with the other worships. This attempt was exposed by the Vaishnava acharyas who helped to restore from time to time the pure eternal religion.
Historically speaking, therefore, the anti-Vaishnavite thought is almost as old as the Vaishnavite, but not quite so old.
The Vedic religion, which, in its fruitive aspect, degenerated into ceremonialism and aimed solely at trivial worldly advantages, led to a schism in the ranks of the anti-theists marked by the rise of Buddhism. Gautama Buddha belonged to the sixth century B.C. Buddha is directly anti-Vedic and himself belonged to the Vaishnavite school. But his teaching was misunderstood by his atheistical followers who severed all connection with the chain of the Avataras of Vishnu to which their Founder had belonged. This explains the philosophical affinity of extant atheistical Buddhism with the polytheism of the Vedas as expounded by Sankara, in spite of the traditionally supposed opposition of Buddha to the Vedas.
The major portion of the Vedas, therefore, constituting what is known technically as the Karma Kandiya part (i.e. that portion which is devoted to fruitive activities), is polytheistic or, more truly, anti-theistic. But its ritual was not exclusively its own. The Yajna. or sacrifice was originally a form of Vaishnavite worship, but it was subsequently adopted as the basis of the anti-theistic worship and in that form elaborated into its later complex forms. But the Yajna itself was not the oldest form of the Vishnuvite worship. The original form of the Vishnuvite worship was dhyana (i.e. meditation corresponding to solitary rationalistic worship the term means that mode which is established through argument). This mode of worship is represented in its pure form by Astabakra. It became mixed up with mundane references in the later Hatha Yoga. But at first it was not so. It is the form of worship that corresponds to the inactive or the meditative temper. This was the earliest theistic form of worship. The Yajna, ‘sacrifice’ was the next stage and represents the active temper. The institution of yajna developed into that of archana or ritualistic worship. The sankirtana propounded by Sree Chaitanya replaces archana as the final form of Vishnuvite worship. This order of development is in accordance with the shloka of the Sreemad Bhagavatam (XII-3-52, What is obtained in the Satya Age by means of dhyana, in the Treta Age by yajna, in Dvapara by archana, may be gained in the Kali Age by chanting or kirtana of Hari.
The necessity for the preservation of the older Puranas was probably less imperatively felt after the composition of the Mahabharata in which were incorporated their principal contents in a condensed form. The present Puranas derived their accounts mainly from the Mahabharata, with later embellishments and interpolations. The Mahabharata and the Puranas thus contain the oldest historical tradition of India which is not in conformity with the extant portion of the Vedas either as regards their narrative or their religious tenets. A group of Puranas is specially devoted to the history and doctrines of Vaishnavism, which also appears more or less in all the Puranas. In this history is found the supernatural account of the numerous mundane Appearances (Avataras) of Vishnu.
We have already stated that the hymns of the Rig-Veda that are addressed to Vishnu, contain no mundane reference. Vishnu is considered as being outside physical Nature. In the hymns He is also spoken of as the Infinite and the Divinity in His fullness and perfection. As He happens to be Infinite He is also to be worshipped not by any limited reference but infinitely or by the fullness of His worshippers. But although Vishnu is thus believed to have been situated beyond this universe, His occasional ‘descent’ or Avatara into this nether world, was also known to the Rishis of the Rig-Veda. The fifth of the well-known ten Avataras of Vishnu, is actually mentioned in several passages of the Rig-Veda. The Vamana Avatara of Vishnu appears to be nearest to the Age of the Rig-Veda and might have preceded its compilation by an interval of time which was sufficiently short to allow its impression to persist in the memory of those who were not very keen regarding His worship. Vamana is the last Avatara of Vishnu in the Satya Age.
The fact that the accounts of these Avataras of Vishnu that are found in the Puranas, happen to be supernatural need not prejudice us against their authenticity. Such a procedure will lead us to taboo the Bible and the Koran and Sree Chaitanya Charitamrita and to court the misfortune of leaving out of the consideration of history the substance of religion or to misstate it as unhistorical, thereby condemning the subject of History itself to the class of purely atheistical studies, and, therefore, fit to be shunned as tainted by partisan bias against Godhead or even as a snare, by all theistically disposed persons. History would indeed be incomplete, unwholesome and meaningless if it left out the all-important subject and stunt itself to the purely mundane aspect of our experience, under the untenable, mischievous and atheistical plea of scientific necessity.
But the mundane and the spiritual should of course be kept rigorously separate, as they really are so by their nature. Mundane matters should certainly be represented as mundane. They should not be allowed to pass in the name of the spiritual. This is the eternal line of demarcation that separates the material from the spiritual, i.e., the temporary and the untrue from the eternal and the absolutely True. If the office of the historian be to investigate into the Real Truth he cannot possibly find Him if he rigorously confines himself to the manipulation of untruth for his own particular satisfaction. By adopting such a procedure he will fail in his duty towards his subject, towards himself and others. Therefore, the very first thing which he ought to do is to abandon once for all the so-called critical, or as it too often means, the sneering and worldly, attitude towards the supernatural for the utterly foolish reason that it does not obey those narrow canons gratuitously set up by himself and which are inapplicable to the Truth by being willfully based on the principles of limited space and time and an insatiable desire for the attainment of worldly advantages.
If this reasonable attitude of our natural partiality for the Real Truth, is adopted, our eyes would open of themselves and begin to distinguish between the grain and the chaff in the treatment of the history of the world. When the Vaishnava Acharyas declare that the only way, in which the individual soul engrossed in the materialistic outlook (bound jiva), can get rid of his ignorance of the Real Truth Who alone matters, is the constant perusal, listening to and contemplation of the supernatural Activities of the Descents (Avataras) of the Divinity, with faith and reverence, they do not refer by these terms to the erroneous concoctions of the human imagination but to the only history of the Divinity that is alone true in the judgment of those who are acquainted with it, both by realization in their life and by the study of the history of the truth. The objection that what is supernatural cannot exist at all under the conditions of time and space and, are, therefore, unreal and fictitious, is also contradicted by the actual experience of mankind who have, in the teeth of such objections, always believed in such happenings for the sound reason that nothing should be impossible with Godhead.
Once the force of the above argument is really admitted we are immediately relieved of the illogical bias that leads us to declare that history does not prove that the supernatural had ever happened at all. We should rather say that the supernatural never appeared as such to the blinded vision of unbelievers who have always formed the majority, as they do now, in this godless world. But such was the inexplicable force of those very. supernatural events that their reality was admitted by the best, i.e., by unworldly and pure minds of all Ages, and, on their authority, they have continued to be believed generally, although crudely, by all overwhelming majority of the peoples of all subsequent Ages.
Mahabharata— The prejudice of the critical school is due to its failure to distinguish between the supernatural and the unnatural or anti natural. This has led to the adumbration of the doctrine of miracles. The Divine law is never broken and is sufficiently capacious to accommodate within itself with perfect consistency both the natural and the supernatural. Those who suppose that they can detect a breach of the Law on the part of Godhead for the purpose of convincing (?) unbelievers, are sadly deluded, indeed. The supernatural happens to be supernatural because it is above or beyond the natural or limited. Anything that is limited, whether it is called a ‘miracle’ or by any other name, cannot be anything but limited. And for this reason the supernatural lies beyond our present limited understanding. The Avataras of Vishnu belong to the category of the supernatural and cannot be perceived by any of the senses or be apprehended by the materialized understanding if such Avatara or Vishnu's descent into the finite world takes place even before our very eyes and in these days of the noon-day light (or darkness?) of almost unqualified empiricism.
It is not the paucity of materials, which exist and have existed in abundance from the remotest antiquity stored up in the pages of the innumerable Scriptures, that is the difficulty of the historian of theism. The difficulty is to convince the sophisticated reader regarding its proper place in History.
Before the advent of Buddha the Vaishnavite or theistic thought had already been recorded in a vast literature. The older Puranas still existed and the Mahabharata had been recently compiled. The Vedas in their Samhita portion could not avoid all reference to it and the Upanishads are altogether theistic, containing, as they do, the rich harvest of the realizations of the Age of contemplation. The Vaishnavite thought maintains its distinctive character in the sutra period and the Grihya and Sautra sutras are full of Puranic matter. These together with the Tapanis and the Vedangas, which had their theistic group of works, formed the source from which the Vaishnava Acharyas have drawn their materials from the third century B.C. onwards within the comparatively recent period of recorded History.
The present classical Sanskrit language came into use about four thousand years ago. It rendered obsolete the older works and replaced them by books written in the new language.
Anti-Vishnuvite thought is as old as the beginning of history. The Avataras of Vishnu are declared to have been due to the prevalence of atheism. The portions of the Vedas devoted to the cult of fruitive works, as we have already observed, belong to the anti-Vishnuvite school under the garb of friendly co-existence. This is an ordinary and very old rule. On the side of philosophy we find a continuous development of atheism which runs parallel to the Vishnuvite thought and culminates in the atheistical schools of the subsequent period under the garb of Scriptural sanction. This mixing up of theism with atheism in the Scriptures themselves, is quite natural and is due to the cunning of a group of intellectual atheists.
But within the atheistic camp this caution was not observed by all. Buddha was opposed to the fruitive yajnas of the Vedas and was Himself a leading Vishnuvite having been recognized as the ninth ,Avatara of Vishnu by the theistic school. But his pseudo-followers, misunderstanding the anti-Vedic attitude of their Master and by abusing the method of abstruse discussion which He had employed against the sophists, drifted into nihilism which was by that time a recognized body of opinion handed down by a regular chain of former teachers. The active impulse which had produced the yajna form of worship was restated by Buddha to counteract its abuse at the hands of the fruitive school of the Vedists, so as to include ethical conduct. But Buddha’s followers separated ethics from its theistic purpose and applied it in its purely mundane form to the attainment of a negative spiritual result. This misunderstanding the active principle underlying the method of worshipping Godhead by yajnas practiced by the early theists, by those who professed to follow Buddha, was fraught with far-reaching consequences to humanity from the effects of which the modern world is still grievously suffering.
Just as the intellectual distortion of the principle underlying yajna led to the atheistical ethics of the pseudo-Buddhists, a somewhat similar distortion of the principle underlying Vishnuvite archana led to the development of the cult of the Jains.
The archana as the method of Divine worship was elaborated in the Agama consisting of its twenty-four Samhitas. The Vedas are in old Sanskrit and were for that reason called the Nigama. The Agama was so named as having been written in the then new language to distinguish it from the Nigama. The Vishnuvite Agama bears the name of Pancharatra . The Pancharatra contains the rules for the regulation of the spiritual life of the Vaishnavas. These are the sattvika Tantras. There are also rajasa and tamasa Tantras.
The term Pancharatra means that which contains knowledge about the five subjects, viz., tapa, pundra, nama, mantram and worship. It is the sattvata or Vishnuvite Tantra. The term Tantra, which means that which elaborates, is ordinarily applied to the rajasa and tamasa Tantras. The Pancharatra instructs regarding the application of those theistic principles which are declared in the spiritual portion of the Vedas, illustrated concretely in the narratives of the Puranas and collated in the Sutras.
All those are the extensions of the real Veda. If the Veda is conceived as a person the Upanishads may be regarded as his intellect and the Vedangas as his different organs for the performance of his function (karmanga). The Vedangas are six in number, viz, (1) Siksha, i.e., intonation, (2) Kalpa, i.e., procedure, (3) Nirukta, i.e., dictionary, (4) Vyakarana, i.e., the science of sound, (5) Jyotisha, i.e., astronomy including astrology dealing with space, time and direction, and (6) Chhandas. These furnished the starting point of the various physical sciences of the subsequent rationalistic Age in which there was a great advance in practical facilities of all kinds.
The aphoristic literature which took upon itself the collation of the Vedangas, led to the Grihya and Srauta sutras, the forerunners of the Pancharatra or the Tantra literature.
The Dharmashastras or Smritis belong to a later period. The twenty Dharmashastras which are also divided into the sattvika, rajasa and tamasa, are concerned with the regulation of the whole life of individuals. The sattvika smritis, viz. , those of Vashista, Harita, Vyasa, Parasara, Bharadvaja, Kasyapa, are categorically distinguished from the rest. The clue to this distinction is furnished by such old shlokas as state definitely the principle that the king possessed the authority to frame laws for the regulation of the secular affairs of the people but had no power over the Brahmanas and the Vaishnavas. "Sarvatra skhitadesah sapta-dwipaikadandadhrik Anyatra brahmana kuladanyatra chytagotratah (Bk. 4XXI.12.) The rajasa and tamasa Dharmashastras were made by royal authority and are of a miscellaneous and secular character. They had no jurisdiction over the intellectual communities. The Dharmashastras do not belong to the class of revealed literature. The Pancharatras bear the names of persons to whom they were spoken by Narayana and are in the form of conversations between Siva and Parvati.
The Pancharatra s are thus an authoritative expansion and supplement of the Veda (Truth or Absolute knowledge ) in the same way as the Puranas. There are very early statements in the body of the technical Vedic literature itself to the effect that the Puranas are an integral part of the revealed literature. Those passages have been pointed out by the later Vishnuvite Acharyas. It is specifically stated in the Mahabharata and by Manu that the Veda should be supplemented by the ‘Itihasa’ (History) and the ‘Purana’. Because the Veda is supplemented by the Purana, therefore the latter is called ‘Purana’. The Madhyandin Smriti classes ‘Itihasa’, and ‘Purana’, with the Vedic Samhitas, as forming the body of the revealed literature.
The principal sattvata, i.e., theistic or Vishnuvite, Pancharatra or Tantric, works are the Hayasirsha, Prahlada and, especially, Narada, Pancharatra. The names of the six sattvata Puranas are Vishnu, Narada, Bhagavata, Garuda, Padma and Varaha. The six rajasa Puranas are named Brahmanda, Brahmavaivarta, Markandeya, Bhabishyat, Vamana and Brahma. The tamasa Puranas are Matsya, Kurma, Linga, Siva, Skanda and Agni. The sattvika Puranas are stated to confer emancipation, the rajasa lead to paradise, and the tamas to hell. This principle holds in regard to the Tantras. The distinction between sattvika, rajasika and tamasika shastras is also defined in another way. The sattvika shastras are those that establish that Godhead is full of all the Qualities and is the Highest of all. Those shastras that declare the superiority of Brahma, Agni and Saraswati, are rajasika. Those that state the superiority of Siva and recommend the Sivalingam as object of worship, are tamasika Tantras. Sattvika persons worship Vishnu, rajasika persons Brahma and the tamasika worship Rudra (vide Padma and Garuda Puranas). The superiority of the sattvika Purana. is nowhere explicitly challenged.
The position we have reached so far may be summarized as follows. Godhead is the Divine Person who is supernatural, supersensuous and situated beyond the utmost limits of empiric knowledge. Knowledge is of two kinds, viz., (l) para, i.e., transcendental or absolute, and (2) apara, that is, non-final. Rik, Saman, Yajus, Atharva and Siksha, Kalpa, Vyakarana, Nirukta, Chhandas and Jyotisha, etc., and all those branches of knowledge that follow these, belong to the category of the apara-Vidya. But Godhead is never accessible to this limiting knowledge which is subject to modification by time. The shastras in which the Unchangeable and Absolute Entity is the subject-matter of investigation, belong to the category of ‘para-Vidya’. The sattvata shastras belong to this class.
Thus theistic knowledge is found to be present, only to a very slight extent, in the extant Vedic Samhitas and their adjective literature. The originals of those parts of the Vedic works from which the sattvata Puranas once derived their theistic accounts have almost wholly disappeared in course of time, having become obsolete, probably on account of the Sanskritization of those works in the form of the present Purana Therefore, the present Puranas, although they happen to he in modern garb, preserve the theistic tradition, the Vedic or old linguistic sources of which are for some reason or other not available to us at present. But the narratives contained in these Puranas belong to a period that is also anterior to the period of the compilation of the Rik Samhita by an immense interval of time Among the Sutra works we are fortunate in possessing a few that are theistic, viz. those made by Sandilya, Bharadwaja and several other Rishis. The Bhikshu Sutra and Karmandi Parasariya Sutra were written long before the Vyasa Sutra. The bhakti sutras became current at the time of the composition of the present sattvata Pancharatra works. The sattvata sutras are composed in a way that is different from that of the rajasika and tamasika Tantras. The lines of thought designated as Bhagavata, Vaishnava, Naishkarma, Baikhanasa, Pancharatrika, etc., were prevalent in the pre-Vedic period. Thereafter, when the theistic thought suffered a partial eclipse by the preponderance of philosophical schools that were addicted to materialistic methods, the old theistic tradition was revived in the form of the present Puranas.
The atheistic rationalism which subsequently culminated in historical Buddhism, was already in existence as early as the period of the Nrisingha and Vamana Avataras. Henotheism and pantheism of the Vedic and cognate schools present the poly-theistic or positive aspect of this line of thought which is negatively represented by historical Buddhism and Jainism and later in a marked form, by Sankara who recognized and clearly brought out the philosophical affinity between the two branches of the same line of thought and thus re-established friendly relationship between the two groups
This atheistical pseudo-rationalism in its palmy days also coincided with the period of the triumphs of the Indian intellect in the different fields of empiric knowledge. This would not appear to be very- wonderful if we consider the present state of affairs in Europe. The Protestant movement degenerated into commercialism and the almost exclusive pursuit of material well-being which has given its secular tone to present western society. Great material prosperity is not a necessary indication of progress in spiritual science. Devotion to material facilities may be rewarded by success which, if it be not controlled by a clear spiritual purpose, may be of the nature of a nemesis to confirm the successful person and community in their unspiritual course The salutary aim should be not merely to juxtapose the two but to subordinate the material to the spiritual. This has never yet been practically possible in the world.
Indian thought may be the subject of study in both its theistic and atheistic aspects under which latter is included, unfortunately, its secular systems. Those who lament that the absence of material prosperity of India today is due to its exclusive spiritual pre-occupation, may do well to take note of this. The theistic thought proper cannot be subordinate to the aim of material improvement. The two do not equate at all, being on different planes. A community that adopts the theistic course will be purified in its morals, improved in unity, and direct all its energies to those activities that are conducive to spiritual progress. It will be contented and orderly in all its parts in as much as it will have a common objective which is situated outside the limits of all clashing, temporary interests. There should be no limited, conflicting interests in a community regulated by the higher principle. Such a society will possess all the requisites of spiritual well-being which will prevent it from being disturbed by the operation of any unbridled disruptive ambitions of its constituent units. The nature of the ideal of one universal community will become clearer as the spiritual position itself clarifies in course of this narrative. It is, however, necessary to guard against possible misconception at the outset in view of current and deep-seated prejudices against religion for purely worldly reasons.
The political greatness of Magadha belongs to the Age of the progress of Indian empiric knowledge. The Puranas lament the final corruption of politics in the hands of the ‘upstart’ kings of Magadha who favoured the indiscriminate subordination of the spiritual to the secular authority in defiance of the methods of the theistic periods. Under the kings of the dynasties of Magadha Buddhism became the official and the predominant religion of India. But India progressed materially. Secular progress also characterized Indian society under the Gupta Emperors who belonged officially to the henotheistic cult of panchopasana or the worship of five principal gods, viz., Sakti, the Sun, Ganapati, Siva and Vishnu.
This worship of five gods (panchopasana) is the religion of the large majority of the ‘Hindus’ of the present day and requires a few words of comment as regards its origin and character and its place in the general scheme of religious evolution.
This worship by the fivefold orthodox Hindu community, corresponding to the five gods, viz., the Saktas, Sauras, Ganapatyas, Saivas, and henotheistic (panchopasaka) Vaishnavas, has prevailed in India from the remotest antiquity.
The tendencies of the human mind are of two kinds, viz., (1) those that are directed towards material objects, and (2) those that are turned towards the highest good. From the first of these issue such activities as those undertaken for the nourishment of the body, the building of a home, marriage, production of offspring, the pursuit of different secular studies, the earning of wealth, physical sciences, arts, government and the accumulation of merit by good deeds, etc., etc. Many of these worldly activities of men are identical with those of the lower animals; but the purposive utilitarian efforts of man are superior to similar instinctive endeavours of the lower animals. But men, even although they may carry on all efforts and acts conducive to worldly advantage, are considered to be only two-legged animals unless they make an attempt to place themselves under the guidance of their spiritual nature. The function of the pure soul is the natural religion of all animate beings. In the natural state the function that is proper to the soul is fully manifest. In the bound state this natural function, or religion, is reduced to the form of ‘quest’ after the highest good. The worldly activities already mentioned attain their fulfillment only if they are performed in subordination to the spiritual purpose; otherwise they fail to establish the highest position of man. Therefore, the first appearance of the effort for the highest good, differentiating itself from the exclusive pursuit of worldly interests, may be termed as a slight turning toward Godhead. From this stage to the highest spiritual state there is all infinity of gradations.
The Sakta religion is the name of the search of Godhead in the material world. In this religion material Nature is observed to be recognized as the supreme Regulatrix of the world. The customs and practices that are enjoined in the Sakta religion (dharma) are suitable for the stage of slight Godwardness. In reward to worldly people who have not yet begun to inquire after the highest good the customs recommended by the Sakta dharma may prove attractive and help to bring them over to the principle of the summum bonum. The religion that worships material energy is, indeed, the first spiritual effort of the bound soul and is extremely beneficial for people situated at that stage.
When the Godward tendency has acquired strength, in the second stage of advance, the superiority and efficacy of heat among material objects being noticed, the Sun as the source of all heat is accepted as the object of worship. This leads to the origin of the Saura cult. Subsequently, when even heat also comes to be regarded as material and lifeless, the principle of animation is recognized as superior to it and gives rise to the worship of Ganapati, who represents the principle of animality. This is the third stage. In the fourth stage, the pure human consciousness comes to be worshipped as Siva and gives rise to the Saiva creed. In the fifth stage appears the Vaishnava religion or the worship of the Supreme Soul as different from the fractional soul of the individual.
The religion that seeks the highest good is naturally divided into the above five grades. Therefore, in all countries these five religions have been prevalent in the different periods under different names. If we consider all the different religions that are current in this and other countries they can be put under one or other of the above classes. The Christian and Muhammedan bear a strong affinity to the Vaishnava religion of the henotheistic (panchopasaka) school. Buddhism and Jainism are similar to the Saiva cult. This is the scientific explanation of the differences between the different religions. Those who regard their own particular religion as the only true religion and stigmatize other religions as irreligion or pseudo-religion, are disabled by such prejudices from ascertaining the real Truth. As a matter of fact, having regard to the different stages, the respective religions should be considered as really different. But the religion that is natural to the soul is only one. In the graded condition of humanity it is not the duty of those who look to the essence of the matter to ignore this inevitable gradation of religion. In undertaking this discussion of the natural religion of the proper self of all animate beings we have no desire of withholding regard that is due to the respective grades of the different religions, in their natural and scientific order of precedence.
The eternal (sattvata) theistic function (Vaishnava dharma) is the only religion (dharma) that is proper to the soul; or, in other words, it is the eternal religion of all animation. But the Vaishnava religion that is found to exist in the community which professes illusionism (mayavada) is only a caricature of the religion of the pure soul. The so-called Vaishnava religion of the henotheistic (panchopasaka) school when it becomes free from mundane references, that is to say, from illusionism (mayavada), thereby attains to the nature of the eternal function (sattvata dharma). The distinction due to Dualism, Dualistic-Dualistic-non-Dualism, Absolute Monism and Distinctive Monism, professed respectively by the four theistic schools of the pure Vaishnavas, are merely indicative of the diversified character of the Vaishnava thought itself. This difference of school (sampradaya) is not due to any real difference of principle, Mayavada is the one creed which is really opposed to the principle of devotion. Those Vaishnavas who profess Mayavada are not theistic Vaishnavas at all.
The religious systems educed out of the perception of physical Nature, always fortified themselves by reference to old precedents and the Veda or the revealed Word. The philosophical systems which assumed their regular form in the sutra period, elaborated in the commentaries, furnished them with ready-made arguments, justifying their particular methods of worship and doctrine. All these were interconnected by their unity of outlook which was mundane and with the fruitive works and the gods and goddesses of the karmakandiya portions of the Veda and of the Tantras that were not spiritual. This is the tangled web of the current religious (?) life of India. It possesses an external appearance of being based upon the general body of the Scriptures of this country although showing a variety of faces that are by no means easily reconcilable with one another. Any systematic friendly treatment of current Hinduism is the despair alike of historians and philosophers. But in spite of their absurdities, their materialism which is often frankly explicit and their want of internal homogeneity, they have always impressed both outside and inside critics as presenting only the exterior or the covering matter that hides the sterling truth lying buried underneath. There are real grounds for such suspicion.
We have dealt elsewhere with the non-theistical philosophical systems which arose during the sutra period or the beginning of the rationalistic Age and also with the Buddhistic and Jain systems. The philosophy of theism was collated in the Brahmana sutra, known also as the Vedanta sutra. The Brahmana sutra produced its commentators through the agencies of both the theistic and non-theistic schools. The most famous, and one of the earliest extant, commentary belonging to the latter class, is that of Sankaracharya in which he expounds the Vedanta sutra with wonderful dialectic skill to prove the exclusive monistic view. Armed with this, Sankara, by appealing to the Authority of revealed theism, succeeded in patching up an apparent reconciliation among all the warring non theistic creeds by throwing over them the deceptive coating of Illusionism and winning over even the followers of Buddhism, who had till then been openly hostile to the Vedic tradition, within its roomy fold. Although the other rival philosophical systems were not altogether driven out of the field and even continued to inspire the various non-theistic creeds, the superior logic of the system of Sankara secured more or less the approval of all non-theistic cults, especially as it tolerated and supported the practices of all of them, differing apparently only in regard to their methods in pursuance of the common end to be attained by those methods.
The effective and uncompromising opponent of Sankara was the Vishnuvite thought itself which could not be stamped out by Sankara. The commentaries of Sankara were refuted by Sree Ramanuja and Madhvacharya who re-stated the theistic position by carefully exposing the errors of Sankara and laying bare his real object, which was different from his profession. Under the guise of loyalty to the revealed Word (sruti) Sankara proved even a greater enemy, on account of his profession of loyalty, of the theistic thought which was the real philosophy of the revealed Word, than even its open foes.
The Vishnuvite thought had been vigorously reinforced by the compilation of the two great epics, viz., the Mahabharata a and the Ramayana which in their present forms contain a good deal of interpolated matter. The process which was in progress, of rewriting in the new Sanskrit language the contents of the older original books, furnished the opportunity, which was not missed by the opponents of the theistic thought, of consciously. or unconsciously importing into the Vishnuvite Narrative of the Epics a good deal of the thoughts and ideas of the other creeds. The Mahabharata was at once recognized by the Vishnuvite teacher as the text-book of their religion. The significance of the Teachings and Activities of Sree Krishna was, however, most fully and clearly brought out in Sreemad Bhagavat Purana which devoted itself exclusively to the task of finally separating the grain from the chaff and presenting the history of theism in its unadulterated and highest form of perfection embodied in the Teachings and Activities of Sree Krishna. Sreemad Bhagavatam is the gathering up and the final and complete statement of the theistic position successively revealed in course of the Ages.
There is a class of thinkers, who without belonging to the school of successively heard transcendental sound, affect to value a religion in proportion to the antiquity of its origin. Revelation, according to such people, even if it were admitted as a true fact, by way of argument, could have taken place only in very remote times or at the very beginning of creation, and is, therefore, necessarily enshrined in the oldest (?) of all the extant Scripture, viz, the Rik Samhita. On this ground they are not disposed to regard as belonging to the class of revealed Scriptures any works that in their estimation appear to belong to an Age later than the Vedic. This view is directly opposed to such statements as that the Rik Veda itself is outside ‘Brahma Vidya’ or ‘para Vidya’, the knowledge of the Absolute. We have tried to explain the significance of such and similar statements that refuse to let the Brahman as transcendental Sound to be labeled, catalogued and finally closed in the manner that the physical scientist would like to do according to his limited notions that refer exclusively to the finite objects of this world. The ‘Word of God’ is not anything that is capable of being limited by space and time. That is also the reason why we are told that it is not possible for us to have any idea of Him except by the process of revelation. That which is unrelated to this world cannot be known by any kind of mundane reference, gross or subtle, physical or mental. Such prejudices, which the impartial voice of logic emphatically condemns, should be completely eradicated if we really want to acquire the spiritual perspective proper.
The Puranas, in their spiritual significance, are eternal. They are accordingly spoken of as appearing and disappearing, in accordance with the strict logic of unadulterated theism. The Age or country or person to which they choose to appear, does not in the least affect their eternal character. They are neither old nor new but eternal, i.e., situated beyond the scope of past, present and future. Unless this is remembered no one need pretend that he really accepts, tentatively or even for the sake of argument, the logical implications of theism. The esoteric side which alone is present to the view of limited minds represents the misleading view of the Absolute. This esoteric vision requires to be temporarily discarded in order to be able to loyally follow a theistic narrative that is derived from unimpeachable sources and for that reason alone entitled to such hearing from every one of us, for our own benefit.
In the light of the above observations it is possible to understand the meaning of those passages of the Scriptures that try to define the position of Sreemad Bhagavatam It is the only uncontaminated source of the revealed religion in its purity and completeness, available to us. Sreemad Bhagavatam is the explanation of the Brahma sutra; it settles the significance of the Mahabharata; it is of the nature of the commentary of the formula for delivering from worldliness (gayatri), the transcendental Sound Who is, as it were, the germ of all knowledge regarding the Absolute; and is the fulfillment of all the statements of the Vedas. ‘The substance of all the philosophy of the Vedas is called Sreemad Bhagavatam. Suka churned the butter from the curd of the four Vedas and Parikshit ate of the same. After Sree Krishna returned to His own Abode the Sun in the shape of this Purana has arisen of late for the enlightenment of the blinded souls of this Age of discord’ The position of the Sreemad Bhagavatam as being the premier among the sattvata Puranas is attested by various passages in the different Puranas.
The historian who maybe obsessed by his partiality for antiquity, being so wedded to the cult of time and space as to be unable to live in the pure atmosphere that is free from those dark vapours of this mundane world, should do well to take the help of those philosophers who possess a longer vision than his and who may warn him against riding an old error too hard as it is bound to expire in the process, if, indeed, it be his purpose to preserve it for the particular benefit of nobody.
This is so as regards the so-called historical position of Sreemad Bhagavatam. The nature of the actual contents of this unique work cannot be indicated in a few words. By the side of the revealed Word the Avataras of Vishnu constitute a Source of transcendental knowledge forming the truly historical manifestation of the Word of God. The Word of Godhead tells us about Godhead, His Activities, Qualities, Abode and Servitors. The Avataras are the descent of these into this world in a shape that is visible to all of us in the forms of apparent mundane occurrences, by reason of the mundane nature of our present vision. The revealed Word is explained and corroborated by the narrative of the deeds of the Avataras. If the gayatri is comparable to the first appearance of the bud, Sreemad Bhagavatam is like the full-blown flower, being the inspired narrative of the successive Avataras of Vishnu, culminating in the advent of Sree Krishna Himself, into this world.
Sree Krishna Chaitanya’s career and teaching offers the illustration of the Vaishnava religion in its highest development. The sankirtana of Krishna propounded by Sree Chaitanya is the highest form of worship of this religion, being equivalent to the loving service of Sree Krishna, as practiced by the milk-maids of Braja, the form itself being the method as well as the object of this transcendental worship. The nature of these will be explained in course of the narrative.
But we would avail of this opportunity to ask the reader not to accept the current practices of the pseudo-followers of Sree Chaitanya in Bengal and elsewhere as the religion taught by Sree Chaitanya. We would also request him to forget what is offered in the pages of certain modern writers as the so-called history of the movement. Both are concoctions of the imaginations of people who are themselves utterly ignorant of the transcendental nature of the spiritual function. Such travesty of the Truth as is offered by the pseudo-Vaishnavas and empiric writers, is the necessary consequence of attempting to practice and explain the religion by worldly people, in as much as its nature cannot be understood by the limited intelligence of persons leading a worldly life who may give themselves out to be the followers of Sree Chaitanya or who may be betrayed by their self-sufficiency born of utter ignorance to undertake to write its history. We may quote again the dictum of Sree Chaitanya, which is so apposite in this connection, viz. ‘no one is fit to teach the religion who does not practice it himself.’
The psilanthropic (prakrita sahajia) cult passing under the name of Vaishnavism, is allied to the practices of those who follow the teaching of the tamasika Tantras. This class of Tantras, which had their zealous followers in the tracts of Chittagong (ChattogRama), led in those parts to the practice of revolting sexual excesses in the name of religion, and from there the contagion was carried to different parts of the country which also had their own tamasika Tantrikas by whom they were welcomed. This feature of decadent Buddhism is quite well known. The natural transcendental function (aprakrita sahaja dharma) that finds expression in the genuine poems of Chandidas and Vidyapati, which were approved by Sree Chaitanya, belongs to the category of unalloyed devotion to Godhead. But those songs that now pass under the names of Vidyapati and Chandidas have suffered interpolation and alteration in the hands of the sensualists of former and present generations. The sensual feature is altogether absent from the practices recommended by Sree Chaitanya both by His own conduct as well as by His teachings. But many pseudo-sects that profess at the present day to be the followers of Sree Chaitanya try to pass off the sensual cult as the religion of pure love for Godhead taught by Sree Chaitanyadeva. The congregational chanting (sankirtana) as performed by these pseudo-Vaishnavas is nothing but a musical dissipation that falls in with their other taste for unbridled sexuality. It will appear in its due place in this narrative that the congregational chanting (sankirtana) propounded by Sree Krishna-Chaitanya is something that is altogether different, both as regards its method and object, from what now ordinarily passes under its name. In the concluding chapter of this work we will return to the details of the history and shall try to supply the reader with the real account of the development of pseudo-sankirtana among the sensualists. The process of misrepresenting the pure Vishnuvite religion by pseudo-followers and opponents in the various forms of pseudo-Vaishnavism and non-Vaishnavism, which operated with such signal consequences in the past, have not been less active during the four centuries that have elapsed since the disappearance of Sree Chaitanya, to obscure and misrepresent the religion of pure love for Godhead, taught and practiced by Him.
The history of India, written too exclusively by ethnologist and archaeologists, has left out of account the factor that really matters, viz., the substance of its spiritual culture which possesses a continuous and recoverable history. Much work for the elucidation of the religious history of India has been done by foreign empiric scholars whose judgment cannot, however, be relied upon in essential matters which are doubly opposed to their experience and local mode of life. The ‘Orion’ of Balgangadhar Tilak made a nearer approach to the true method. But Tilak was swept off his legs by his association with physical efforts, to the detriment of his intellectual and theological speculations. Those who are sincerely anxious to work in the field of spiritual culture must first of all get rid of all lesser considerations than the Absolute Truth, both in their intellectual and worldly lives, as ‘he alone is fit to be a teacher of the religion who also practices the same’.
The History of India of the pre-Christian period is still enveloped in the darkness of obscurity. But from the mediaeval period we are on firmer ground. There is no lack of materials from firsthand informants in writing the life of Sree Chaitanya.
I shall conclude this chapter with a few words of observation on the system of caste. Sree Chaitanya is wrongly supposed to have been an opponent of the caste-system. As a matter of fact Sree Chaitanya kept strictly aloof from secular society and politics. He never encouraged social rupture in any form. Spiritual society, according to Sree Chaitanya, is only camp-life. Theists alone are in a position to live such a life. Sree Chaitanya called into Himself particular individuals from all ranks of the then existing society. He formed the spiritual association of such individuals. His householder-followers did not bring over the members of their households, nor their relatives, into the religion. It is not a hereditary community that can be formed on the spiritual basis. It was also, therefore, a proselytizing religion in its external appearance. Several of its leading Acharyas came from the lowest ranks of the orthodox society or even from outside. Thakur Haridas was a Muhammedan by birth
The subject of ‘varna’ hinges on the answer to the question “Who is Brahmana?” There are numerous passages in the Scripture which contain a clear answer to the question. There is a long discussion on this point in the Vajrasuchikopanishad which, after rejecting for different reasons answers that identify the Brahmana with (1) the individual soul himself, the physical body, (3) the species, (4) the cognitive principle, (5) the principle of activity, arrives at the conclusion that the Brahmana is the possessor of certain qualities. ‘He knows the real nature of the self and by reason of such knowledge remains always free from any defects due to greed, anger, etc., is possessed of equanimity and self-control, is uninfluenced by caprices, malice, thirst, desire or infatuation, with mind unaffected by arrogance, egotism, etc. This is the purpose of the Sruti, Smriti, Itihasa and the Puranas. No other view of Brahmanaism tenable, In the Chanddogya Upanishad we have the following, “Gautama said,, ‘Fairlooking one, to which lineage (gotra) do you belong?’ ” He answered, “I do not know to which gotra I belong. I asked my- mother. she said to me, ‘In my youth in course of ministering to many persons, as their servant, I begot you as my son. I do not really know to which gotra you belong. My name is Jabala. Your name is Satyakama.’ I am thus Satyakama Jabala.” To this Gautama replied, ‘Child, the truth which you have spoken cannot be given out by any one who is not a Brahmana . Therefore, are you Brahmana. I accept you, good-looking one; collect the requisites for the performance of the formal rites of the occasion. I will admit you as pupil for the study of the Scriptures. (I will invest you with the sacrificial thread of a Brahmana.) Do not fall away from the truth.’ This attitude of Gautama is thus described in the Saman Samhita, ‘In a Brahmana straightforward sincerity and in a Sudra crookedness respectively, are to be found. Haridrumata Gautama by considering this difference of quality bestowed on Satyakama the right of the Brahmana to study the Scriptures (upanayana), or purification by the gayatri.’ “ ‘We do not know whether we are Brahmanas or non-Brahmana s,’ this doubt arose in the minds of the truth-loving Rishis” (text of the Sruti quoted by Nilakantha). In the Geeta Sree Krishna says, “I have created the four varnas in accordance with difference in the qualities and works of different persons. Although I am the Lord, know Me as not the Creator of those institutions.” That is to say, the institutions of ‘varna’ and ‘ashrama’ are created by the deluding energy of Godhead Who in His proper Nature is indifferent to them. In the Puranas and Mahabharata there are long lists of persons who acquired the status of Brahmana s although they were not born in Brahmana families. The principle Underlying the institution is stated most clearly in a shloka of the. Mahabharata (Anusasana parva, 143—50, 51) which may be rendered thus, ‘Birth, purificatory ceremony, the study of the Vedas or descent,—none of these is the cause of the status of the twiceborn; one’s disposition is the only cause. If a Sudra is found to possess the proper disposition, he attains to the condition of the Brahmana ., This britta-Brahmanata, or Brahmana hood by disposition, is the real principle underlying the division into varnas, and is attested by numerous passages that are to be found in all the Scriptures. While there is not a single passage which declares that Brahmana hood is due to birth alone, there are other passages which declare the inevitable loss of the status of a Brahmana and lapse into that of a Sudra with deterioration of disposition.
In the case of the Brahmana there are three births. The first of these is the seminal birth on coming out of the womb of the mother. After the upanayana (bringing of the boy to the preceptor, i.e., entrance into pupilage for Vedic studies) the second birth takes place; and, thereafter, on the attainment of initiation into the sacrifice, the third birth occurs (Manu, 2/260). Thus there are three kinds of birth, viz., (1) seminal (shaukra), (2) through gayatri (savitrya), and (3) through initiation (daikshya). This is expressed by the word tribrit which means these three kinds of birth. If a person, born in a Brahmana family, remaining ignorant of the Veda, or the Truth regarding the Divinity, manifest extreme arrogance on the strength of his possession of the sacrificial thread, by right of seminal birth, for such sin that Brahmana is designated by the name of ‘animal’ (pashu) (Atri Sarnhita, shloka 372). According to Manu, 2/168, the twice-born who, without devoting himself to the study of the Vedas, applies himself to other matters, becomes thereby a Sudra even during his lifetime with his whole family. The Padma Purana defines the term Brahmana bruva (pseudo-Brahmana). "The Brahmana who after undergoing purification (?) by the tenfold samskara does not perform either the eternal (nitya) or adventitious (naiimittika) functions, is called a ‘Brahmana-bruva’. That twice-born person who having undergone niyama, brata and all the samskaras does not yet perform any of the duties enjoined by the Vedas, is a Brahmana -bruva (pseudo-Brahmana ). If a person, who has obtained purification (samskara) and the sacrificial thread, neglects the regular performance of duties that are enjoined and does not study the Vedas, he is to be considered a Brahmana-bruva (pseudo-Brahmana). He who does not himself study the highest Veda-shastras nor teaches them to disciples, although such a person may happen to possess the tenfold samskara (purification), is nevertheless a Brahmana bruva (pseudo-Brahmana ).” This is confirmed by Kulluka Bhatta in his remarks on Manu, 7-85, “the person born of a Brahmana family who, although devoid of the performance of the duties proper for a Brahmana , passes himself off as a Brahmana, is designated by the term ‘Brahmana-bruva’ (pseudo-Brahmana ),” etc., etc.
The position is thus summed up in a shloka of the Sreemad Bhagavatam (7-11-35), ‘by- those signs that have been enumerated, which indicate the respective varnas of men, the varna of a person is to be settled.’ This is corroborated by Mahabharata, Santi parva, 189-8. The varna institution as found in the Scriptures is an individualistic classification of man according to disposition. The necessity for such institution is thus stated, ‘Divine Vishnu is worshipped by a person who practices the functions (dharma) enjoined by the institutions of varna and asrama. There is no other way of pleasing Him than by such activities as are enjoined by the institutions of varna and asrama. In the Satya Yuga there was only one varna. The division into four varnas was made in the Treta Age. In the Kali Age cannibals (rakshasas) are born in the Brahmana families for troubling those whose tenfold purification (samskara), pursuit of Vedic studies, etc., have lost their vitality.’ Accordingly ‘as in the Kali Age Brahmana s by seminal birth do not possess any purity and are like the Sudras they are not purified by following the Vedic path. They are purified by the pancharatric method alone’. ‘Because just as by some particular chemical process the bell-metal is transformed into gold in the same way by the sattvata Tantric diksha (elaborated spiritual initiation) every one is enabled to acquire the nature of a Bipra.’ The words of Digdarsini, quoted by Sree Sanatana Goswami, declare that the status of a twice-born belongs to all men after initiation.
Initiation (diksha) is of two kinds, viz., (1) Vedic, and (2) in conformity with the Vedas. Of these the second is again of two kinds, viz., (1) Pauranic, or (2) Pancharatric. The difference between them consists in this that the Vedic diksha is the initiation of the duly purified twice-born considered as a fit person for receiving spiritual enlightenment. The Pauranic diksha is initiation of an unfit person on the assumption of fitness. The Pancharatric diksha is the initiation of an unfit person with the object of ensuring his fitness. Of these the Vedic initiation is ruled out as inadmissible in the Kali Age. Sree Haribhaktivilas gives the preference to the Pancharatric (tantric) diksha over the Pauranic. The diksha of Sudras formulated by the smtartas, who belong to the creed of the panchoasakas and who favour exclusively the principle of seminal descent, is not entitled to be called diksha in any sense. At the time of Sree Chaitanya the Pancharatric diksha alone was in use as the Panchopasaka (i.e., atheistic) smartas had not been able to obtain such a great influence over society by that period as they have now. The subsequent disuse of the Pancharatric diksha by the so-called Vaishnava Acharyas of a later day who were under the thumb of the smartas, will be described in due course.
Diksha is so called by savants well versed in the knowledge of the Divinity because it confers the spiritual knowledge (i.e., the knowledge of one’s relationship with Godhead) and destroys sinfulness with its root-cause.’ The upanayana corresponds to matriculation or admission into the path of the true knowedge. the diksha corresponds to graduation, i.e., the actual attainment of the enlightened state, or, according to the Pancharatric method, its actual attainment in the future if the conditions enjoined by the process are fulfilled. One becomes a Brahmana on the attainment of such knowledge. It is this spiritual status that is referred to in such passages as in Brihad., 3-9-10, ‘Gargi, he who having known the Divine Truth thereafter leaves this world is alone a Brahmana,’ and Brihad., 4-4-21, ‘the intelligent Brahmana having learnt about the Brahman from the Scriptures will endeavour to cultivate love for Him,. Thereupon he is called Vaishnava, as being related to Vishnu. The Vaishnava is thus higher than all the varnas. The condition of the Brahmana is included in and surpassed by that of the Vaishnava.
Britta-Brahmana ta (the status of the Brahmana by disposition) is the condition precedent to the attainment of the higher status of the Vaishnava or servant of Vishnu, in accordance with the teaching of the Scriptures. The status of a Brahmana resting on seminal birth alone is nowhere mentioned in the Scriptures. One of the very first steps that is required for the re-establishment of the spiritual (daiva) varnasrama institution is to make britta-Brahmana ta the legal institution in order to ensure its practical recognition as the genuine Scriptural institution by all communities and the re-establishment of this proper gradation in the Vaishnava communities (sampradayas). The form of britta-Brahmana ta is prevalent in the Ramanandi community. It is the basis of the arrangement laid down in the Satkriyasaradipika.
The Brahmo movement, which at one time applied itself to the reform of religion in Bengal, has now become almost a purely social movement and has cut itself completely away from the revealed Scriptures. Its founder Raja Rammohan Roy became latterly inclined towards mundane facilities. It is such worldly considerations that also lie at the root of the subsequent split in the Brahmo community. The intellectual vigour which at one time distinguished the community has practically left it and gone over to the Theosophists who are careful not to commit themselves in spiritual matters to anything definite. The position of the Theosophists is the intellectual counterpart of the social ideal of the Brahmos to which the latter attach supreme importance. The Brahmos want to do away with caste, as it stands in the way of mundane facilities. But organized society is in every sense better than indiscriminate individualism. The Brahmo program offers only the individualistic in place of the communal. All mundane systems have their special defects. No real progress towards the spiritual state is possible by the adoption of such a course. What is needed is not to ignore the spiritual, and substitute in its place the material and worldly, but to acknowledge the spiritual and try sincerely to follow its lead in arranging our temporary affairs of this world.
The one method of attaining to the spiritual is by listening to the history of Godhead Who frequently comes down into this world in order, by His activities made visible to this world, to afford the bound jivas the opportunity of having the transcendental in the very- midst of the mundane. Such history is necessarily unintelligible to the bound jiva and, therefore, it has to be listened to from the lips of sadhus who can alone understand and properly expound it. By listening constantly to the narrative of the transcendental pastimes of the Divinity recorded in the Scriptures from the lips of sadhus who themselves live the spiritual life bound jivas are enabled gradually to attain to the consciousness of their real spiritual nature.
In the next chapter we intend accordingly to present the reader with a brief explanatory account of the Descents (Avataras) of Godhead. After one’s spiritual nature is freed from the delusions of this material world he is in a position to understand what the service of Godhead really means. The life of Sree Krishna Chaitanya Who is the living Embodiment of the very highest form of service, cannot be really intelligible to bound jivas unless they are prepared to undergo spiritual novitiate at the feet of real devotees in the manner prescribed by the Word of Godhead and exemplified in all its stages, from its first beginning to the highest development, in the life of Sree Krishna Chaitanya. This is the truth of the life of Sree Chaitanya. It is indispensable to the bound jiva to be properly acquainted with it if he is disposed to attain to and continue in the state of the pure service of Godhead. The one thing needful for us all is, therefore, to listen to the Divine history from the lips of sadhus, to chant the same and to act in strict conformity with its teaching after the manner taught by and exemplified in the life of Sree Krishna Chaitanya.
IX.— History Of Divine Descents (Avataras)
This term ‘Avatara, means ‘coming down’ of the Divinity, Whose Nature is purely spiritual, into this material world, retaining fully. His own transcendental Nature. Therefore, the English word ‘Incarnation,’ which means putting on of the material coil, is wholly inapplicable to the process. When Godhead actually chooses to come down into this world He appears to the view of bound jivas as an animate being possessed of a physical body not essentially different from that of other bound jivas. But Godhead although He appears to them to belong to this world, does not really belong to this world at all. The deluding Energy of Godhead, who is instrumental in the creation of this world of limitations as the dwelling-place of individual souls that are averse to Godhead and who stunts their vision, has no power over Godhead Himself. Godhead is the Lord of the deluding Energy who is different from His spiritual Power. The deluding Energy herself is subordinate to God’s own spiritual Power. The Form and everything pertaining to the personality of Godhead, belong eternally to the category of the spirit and are located above and beyond the jurisdiction of His illusory power. But in spite of the existence of eternal demarcation between Him and the realm of His deluding power, Godhead chooses to come down occasionally into the realm of physical Nature in the plenitude of His spiritual Power with all His eternal Paraphernalia and becomes actually visible to bound jivas in whose sight He seems to appear not as spirit, because the spiritual essence transcends their power of vision, but in the likeness of a mundane phenomenon. The eternal servitors of Godhead who also appear in this world in His company, may alone have the sight of Him and His Activities as They really are. These manifestations of the Absolute, as Absolute, in the domain of this relative existence, are designated by the term Avatara,.
In the Geeta Sree Krishna says to Arjuna that He comes down repeatedly into this world and in this respect resembles the bound jiva who is caught in the cycle of physical birth and rebirth. But there is a very great difference between the two processes. Sree Krishna is the Lord of all, has no physical birth and as regards His proper Nature He is absolutely unchangeable. He appears in this world through the medium of His spiritual Power. But the jivas are born in this world being endowed with physical bodies for the purpose by the power of the deluding Energy (maya sakti) as the result of their active aversion to Godhead. The Appearance of Godhead in this world in various forms, such as those of gods, reptiles, etc., is brought about by His Own Will. When He chooses to come down into this world His pure spiritual Body does not become enveloped in a double encasement of matter in the gross and subtle forms as in the case of the bound jiva. Godhead is simply pleased to make manifest in this world His own eternal spiritual Body that exists eternally in the Absolute Realm of Vaikuntha. If this appears incomprehensible to the limited reason of the bound jiva it is so for the reason that the Power of the Divinity is inconceivable and above all controversy. Therefore, the real nature of the Activities of Godhead are not at all ascertainable by the reason of the jiva. What the jiva can understand, if he chooses not to be perversely inclined, is that Godhead, Who is possessed of inconceivable Power, never becomes subject to the laws of physical Nature. The deluding power by which the bound jiva is controlled is also Divine. But the Divine power that belongs to Godhead is nevertheless always spiritual and is categorically different from material Energy. The Power of Godhead is one. As spiritual Power alone She is eligible to directly serve Godhead. As material Energy She has no access to the presence of Her Lord. The material Energy is subordinate to the spiritual Power, as shadow is subordinate to substance or as darkness to light. It is the function of the non-substantial deluding material energy to provide souls that are averse to Godhead with a shadowy world for their deluded existence.
The only law that governs the Descent (Avatara) of Godhead into this world is the Divine Will. Godhead appears in this world when He wills. He chooses to appear in this world whenever there is any unbearable decline of religion leading to the prevalence of irreligion. The laws that govern the course of this material world, as they proceed from the Will of Godhead, are irresistible. But in course of time when for some undefinable reason those laws suffer a change for the worse, due to defects bred by time, irreligion waxes strong. No one except Godhead Himself is able to set right those defects. Therefore, appearing in this world with His spiritual paraphernalia, the Supreme Lord puts down all such abnormal deterioration in religion.
Godhead manifests Himself in a twofold way. The creation of the spiritual and non-spiritual worlds and the regulation of them by inviolable laws, is one of these. The Activities of Godhead, as distinct from His creations, in these created worlds, constitute the second kind of His manifestations. Individual souls (jivas) are associates of the activities of Godhead. The successive manifestations of Godhead that appear to the view of the jiva in the material world, correspond respectively to those states that he happens to be in as the result of his meddling with matter, such activity itself being due to his falling away from his own proper spiritual nature by the prevalence of his desire for selfish enjoyment. His Infinite Kindness towards the fallen soul, is the only cause of the manifestations of Godhead in this world. These manifestations are called Divine Descents (Avataras). From the stage that is anterior to the appearance of the spine in organisms to the appearance of the fully-developed man several great Rishis have recorded their observation of eight successive Descents of the Divinity, others have noticed eighteen, and a third group have observed twenty-four, Divine Avataras. The well-known view of the Ten Avataras is the one that is held by most Rishis who were versed in Divine science. Those Rishis postulate ten particular states through which the soul passes successively from the beginning to the end of each stage of his bondage. These are indicated by (1) absence of the spinal column, (2) appearance of the circular spine, (3) the elongated spine, (4) the vertical spine or the man-animal state, (5) the man of dwarfish stature, (6) man in the savage state, (7) civilized man, (8) intellectual man, (9) ultra-intellectual state, and ( 10) complete destruction of the unspiritual state. In accordance with these successively appearing historical states in the evolution of the bound state of the jiva, the ten Avataras, viz., Fish, Tortoise, Boar, Man-Lion, Dwarf, Parasu Rama, Rama, Balarama, Buddha and Kalki are observed as the corresponding Forms of the Divine Appearance. The narrative of Their Supernatural Activities is recorded in the Puranas and specially in Sreemad Bhagavatam. Those specialists of the science of devotion, who have understood the nature of these Divine manifestations by means of intensive concentrated investigation, have, by the grace of Sree Krishna Chaitanya, been enabled to realize the Truth regarding Krishna and specially the unique exquisiteness of His Braja-pastimes. ‘Of all the pastimes of Krishna His human activities are the highest and His proper nature and His proper Form is the Human.’
The Descent of Divine Spiritual Power into the realm of the material energy, or, in other words, the manifestation of Godhead’s own spiritual Power in the apparent form of the manifestation of material Energy, is known as Divine Descent (Avatara). By means of such Descent the association of the novice, on the path of spiritual life in this world, with the realm of the spirit, is effected and such association is the only way by which the person practicing spiritual endeavour (sadhaka) is enabled to attain spiritual realization.
It will be observed that the account of the ten Avataras that correspond to the respective stages of the human mind in the course of the development of its spiritual consciousness, has been explained by means of terms that have recently been employed in the domain of physical science in connection with the evolution of the human physique from the first beginning of animal life in the amoebae. From this apparent analogy the modern reader may scent, in the explanation recorded in the Scriptures, an unacknowledged and crude misapplication, to an irrelevant subject, of the truly scientific theory of the evolution of the physical form of animal life. Or, if he is at all inclined to recognize the priority of the Scriptures, he may be also led by a foregone conclusion to suppose that the Myth of the, Avataras might be connected with those periods that correspond to the respective stages in the evolution of the animal form, and are of value as a piece of antiquarian curiosity as a vague anticipation of the modern theory, that might have served its purpose in the past. Or, again, the doctrine of the tenfold Descent may lead the reader to suppose that it refers in some way to the progress of material civilization culminating in the elimination of all unspiritual elements in an ideal future ensured by the progress of physical scientific knowledge.
In reply to such speculations we refer to the principles that have already been discussed at some length, viz., that the Descents (Avataras) of Vishnu are neither physical phenomena nor have They any reference to the progress of material civilization. But although the spiritual is eternally and categorically different from the material it can be described to those who are totally unacquainted with its nature only by analogy with, and by means of terms that actually-refer exclusively to, the mundane. This analogy is however not wholly inapplicable only if it be clearly and constantly remembered as an analogy and not as the spiritual entity itself that is analogically described. The individual soul in the bound state has to pass through forms of deluded existence that correspond analogically to the physical bodies with which he is successively endowed for the purpose. Those forms themselves are, however, material, and signify a progressive development of the functions of the incipient principle of the adventitious life of the false-ego of the bound jiva There is a regular chain of physical and mental progress (?) on the mundane plane for the bound jiva. This progress, however, derives what deceptive appearance of reality it seems to possess, from its being really the perverted reflection of the Absolute. But in as much as it happens to be a deluding reflection of the Reality it reproduces in an unwholesome and distorted form the features of its corresponding spiritual condition, which latter is the subject-matter of the history of the ten .Avataras. Godhead exists in all the forms in the realm of the Absolute that are reproduced in the distorted material phenomena of this universe. In the region of the Absolute there really exist eternally all varieties of jivas; and Godhead Himself is there eternally manifest in all those Forms. The adventitious physical form of the jiva in this world is material and limited ; but the corresponding spiritual forms of the transcendental world, are eternal, unlimited, self-conscious and free from all defects. The varieties of the forms of this world owe their relative existence, being related as shadow to substance or as darkness to light, to the real entities of the transcendental plane. The ordinary fish of the transcendental plane is not merely superior to the Darwins of this world but His nature is realizable by a process that is only obscured by those very notions with which the physical form of the fish has been endowed by the mental speculations of the Darwinian science, however applicable these speculations may appear to us to be in respect of the evolution of the principle of life of this world. Man as fully evolved animal in the Darwinian sense, is too perverted a creature to be reclaimable by the Form of Vishnu as Fish and hence the necessity of progressively fuller manifestation of the Divinity for curing the evils of a progressively retrograding world.
These Descents, or manifestations of the Divinity in this world, take place in all Ages in accordance with the spiritual aptitude of the particular forms of material animation to whom They choose to appear. India has been the chosen land where in all the Ages the Descents (Avataras) of the Divinity have taken place. Indians have been fitted by the Will of Godhead, by their spiritual varnasrama institution to deserve this special favour.
Sree Krishna is the Own Self of the Absolute Reality, Godhead Himself. If Godhead simultaneously manifests Himself in many places and if those manifested Forms happen to be equal to their source in respect of their Qualities, Activities, etc., those Forms are designated as prakasha (manifest) murtis (Forms) of Godhead. There is usually no qualitative difference as between these manifest Forms and the Form That is their Source. As for example, on the occasion of His marriage Sree Krishna at one and the same time married, in qualitatively same but numerically different manifest forms, sixteen thousand consorts ; and, on the occasion of the Rasa-pastime, He appeared simultaneously in the company of every one of the gopees as His partner in the dance. On the Rasa Site of Braja the manifest Forms of the fullest Source-Form made their appearance and in the city of Dwaraka, on the occasion of His marriage with His Consorts, the Forms that manifested themselves were Those identical with the full Source-Form. No difference was observed to exist between those manifest Forms and the Source-Form. But we also hear of particular Forms of direct manifestation for special purposes and in those manifestations there are also observed differences as regards the Form. As for instance, in the Son of Devaki we find the four-armed Form. In this instance in spite of this difference in the Form the principle of direct manifestation is admitted. This also holds true in other similar instances. All these are Prakasa-Murtis of Sree Krishna or Godhead Himself.
Next to the above are Tadekatmarupas. These are Divine Forms that are essentially identical with that of Godhead Himself. These may accordingly be called Forms that are included in the nucleus of the Divine Form but are slightly different as regards Their figures from Godhead’s Own Form. These constituent Forms are of two kinds according as They happen to be either (l) Forms for expanded Activity (bilasa), or (2) constituent fractional Forms (svangsa). Of These He Who possesses powers that are nearly equal to those of Godhead Himself, is called Form for extended Activity (bilasa), e.g., Sree Baladeva and Sree Vaikuntha-Narayana. He Whose powers are less than those of the form for extended Activity, is called the constituent fractional Form of the Divinity, e.g., the Forms of Fish, Tortoise, etc.
Next comes the manifestation of Divine Descent in the form of inspiration. He is called Divinely inspired into whom any one of the powers of the Divinity is transfused. Such inspiration occurs only in the case of the highest individual souls (jivas) . Divine inspiration is of two kinds according as the inspiration proceeds from Godhead Himself or from the Power of Godhead. The individual soul (jiva) who is inspired by Godhead regards himself as the Divinity. He who is inspired by Divine Power considers himself as the servant of Godhead. Vyasadeva and Rishabhadeva, etc., are inspired Avataras.
Next come those Avataras who are mainly of three kinds, viz., (l) Purushavatara, i.e., Descent of Godhead as Master, (2) Gunavatara, i.e., Descent of Godhead as the Manifestation of any Divine Quality, and (3) Leelavatara, i.e., Descent for the manifestation of Transcendental Activities. Of these the Avatara of Godhead in exercise of His Supremacy is of three kinds, viz., (l) the Person who watches and guides the inmost purpose of primordial physical Nature, creates the material principle itself and reposes in the liquid of the Causal Ocean without directly interfering in any phenomenal occurrences. Samkarsana and Maha-Vishnu are other Names of this first of the Purushavataras. He is a constituent Plenary Subjective Portion of Samkarsana Who is the second of the constituent enveloping Forms of Sree Narayana, Lord of Vaikuntha. (2) The second Purushavatara controls from within the aggregate universe in its subtle stage, is the Creator of Brahma and reposes in the spiritual liquid in the womb of physical Nature. He is subjective plenary Portion of Pradyumna, the third constituent enveloping Form of the Lord of Vaikuntha. (3) The third Purusha guides the material universe in its constituent parts, that is to say, is the Controller from inside of individual jivas, as the Supreme Soul and reposes in the Ocean of Milk. He is the Plenary Subjective Portion of Aniruddha, the fourth of the constituent enveloping Forms of Sree Narayana.
There are three Gunavataras, viz., Vishnu, Brahma and Siva. The third of the purushas mentioned above is the same as Vishnu Who is the Maintainer of this world by exercise of the quality of cognitive manifestation (sattva). Brahma, sprung from the navel-lotus of Vishnu, is the creator by means of the active (rajas) quality and is only another aspect of Vishnu. In certain Kalpas (i.e., regime of Brahma) jivas, as the result of their previous performance of pious deeds that make them fit for such distinction, may hold the high office of Brahma, the creator. Brahma of this type, by reason of the fact that the Divine Power is infused into a jiva, is also called inspired Descent (Avatara). Such a Brahma should not be regarded as the equal of Vishnu. In those Kelps in which, due to the absence of jivas of requisite fitness, Vishnu Himself plays the role of Brahma, it is only then that Brahma should be viewed as the equal of Vishnu. This principle holds in the case of all the gods who exercise any authority over Nature, such as Indra, etc. They are sometimes jivas, possessed of special fitness, invested with the Divine power, and sometimes they are Vishnu Himself. From the lowest to the highest region of the universe the aggregate of all material objects forms the gross body of Brahma. This also is called Brahma. The second Purusha who guides the inner workings of this aggregate is their Lord or Isvara. Siva is the destroyer by means of the tamas (stupefying) quality. Brahma, who is sprung from the navel-lotus Vishnu, effects the destruction of the world by assuming the form of Siva. In certain Kalpas pious jivas also hold the office of Siva, the destroyer. In certain KaIpas again Vishnu Himself performs the act of destruction in the Form of Siva. These destroyers are all called Gunavataras. But He Who exists in the realm of Siva (SivaIoka) inside Vaikuntha as Sadasiva, is not Gunavatara. He is devoid of worldly qualities and, like Narayana, is a Manifestation, constituent Form, or Plenary Subjective Portion of Sree Krishna Himself. Sadasiva stands to Siva in the relation of the whole to the derivative portion, is higher than Brahma and is equal to Vishnu. He is differentiated from jiva by the fact that the latter is engrossed in worldly qualities.
Next in order are the Leelavataras. These are twenty-five, viz., Chatuhsana, Narada, Varaha, Matsya, Yajna, Nara-Narayana, Kapila, Datta, Hayasirsha, Hamsa, Prisni-garbha, Rishabha, Prithu, Nrisingha, Kurma, Dhanwantari, Mohini, Vamana, Parasurama, Raghunatha, Vyasa, Balabhadra, Krishna, Buddha and Kalki. These appear in every successive Kalpa.
The Manvantaravataras are all of them also Leelavataras but are so called as they rule over their respective manvantaras, i.e., intervals between the appearance of one Manu and his next successor. There are fourteen such Avataras, e.g., Yajna, Bibhu, Satyasena, Habi, Vaikuntha, Ajita, Vamana, Sarbabhauma, Rishabha, Bisvaksena, Dharmasetu, Sudama, Yogeswara, and Brihadbhanu.
The Manvantaravatara becomes the Yugavatara in a particular Yuga (constituent Age) of his Manvantara for the promulgation of particular forms of worship. There are four Yugavataras corresponding to the four Yugas. The Avatara of Satya Yuga is white, of Treta red, of Dvapara green, and of Kali usually, dark colour. In the KaIi Yuga there is also mentioned, rarely, a yeIIow Yugavatara. Of these Yugavataras some are inspired, some are prabhava (master), some baibhava (expansion) and some parabastha. Among these He Who possesses the full power of the Divinity is parabastha. In baibhava the power is less than in parabastha and in prabhava the power is less than in baibhava. In abesha or inspired ,Avatara there is manifestation of only a single potency. Chatuhsana, Narada and Prithu, etc., are inspired Avataras. Matsya (Fish), Kurma (Tortoise), Narayana, Varaha (Boar), Hayasirsha (Horse-headed), Prisnigarbha, Balabhadra, Yajna, etc., are baibhava, and Nrisingha (Man-Lion), Ramachandra and Sree Krishna are parabastha, in the inverse order of superiority. Of These again Sree Krishna is Godhead Himself. There is no one greater than He. Sree Krishna has four Abodes, viz., Braja, Madhupur, Dwaraka and Goloka, each superior to the next in the order of enumeration. Sree Krishna is Fullest, sporting in Braja with His own and with Baladeva. The same Krishna is Fuller in Mathura and Full in Dwaraka with His family and with Pradyumna and Aniruddha. In Goloka although Sree Krishna is conceived as Full, His Goloka Activities being the same as those of Brindabana, belong to the same category as the Fullest. In these Abodes (dhamas), on account of the difference of the degree of predominance of the mellow quality there is corresponding difference in the extent of the abeyance of the intensity of Divine Power as controlling Force. That is to say in proportion to the prevalence of mellowness there is corresponding obscuration of Power as compelling Force. In the nether worlds, due to lesser degree of mellowness, the aspect of Authority becomes more and more manifest.
Prithivi is the first envelope of the universe constituted of the fourteen worlds beginning with Patala at one end and extending to Satyaloka on the other. This Prithivi as cause is the ingredient and support of the phenomenal universe as effect. The phenomenal universe is successively encased by the six outer envelopes of water, heat, air, sky, the ego and mahat. Outside these seven the eighth case is Nature (prakriti). This last is full of profound darkness and is the support of the whole universe. Time in the form of the power of activity of the Divinity is, in turn, the support of Nature. Time is upheld by the Will of Godhead. Beyond this is the stream of the Biraja so named from the fact that its water washes off all mundane qualities. This stream is situated between the chit (spiritual) and the achit (material) worlds. The Ocean of Cause (karanarnava) is the alternative name of Biraja. In the liquid causal current of the Biraja billions of worlds adorn the cavities of hair of Maha-Vishnu. Biraja is like the moat of Maha-Vaikuntha and the boundary of the luminous region of Brahman which forms the outer limit of Sree Vaikuntha. Sree Golokadhama is in the upper region of Sree Vaikuntha. The holy realm of Goloka is located in the centre of all mundane and spiritual manifestations of the Divine Power. In Goloka Sree Krishna abides with all His Family as Lord of Goloka, acting as a god. Dwaraka, Mathura and Braja are the successive inner tracts of Goloka. In the Abodes of Krishna bearing the names of Dwaraka, Mathura and Brindabana there is progressive increase in the proportion of mellowness due to the increasing preponderance of human activity. This leela is of two kinds according as it happens to be, (l) manifest, or (2) non-manifest. The non-manifest leela is the name of that eternal pastime in which Krishna engages simultaneously as Boy, Adolescent and approaching Youth, in the company of His own mother, father, servants, friends, sweethearts, etc., in the infinite manifestation unperceivable by this world. The successive leelas as Boy, Adolescent and dawning Youth that He performs in the company of His kin and entourage in this world, in course of one and the same manifestation, are called His manifest leela. The manifest leela visible to this world has as its sole object the free bestowal of His mercy on the jivas. It is eternal. No sooner does it end in one universe than it rises in another like the rays of the sun lighting up the successive points of the zodiac in its progress; so that the manifest leela is always enacted simultaneously in different worlds but in its due order of successive appearance. All the manifest leeas of Sree Krishna in their perennial flow, are eternal and are all existence, all-consciousness and all-bliss, with the exception of the mausala 1ee1a and the leela of the abduction of His consorts, which are illusory and intended to mask the eternal nature of the series of His transcendental pastimes.
The devotees appear next in the order of Descent. The Vaishnavas, as Markandeya, Ambarish, Vasu, Vyasa, Bivishana, Pundarik, Bali, Sambhu, Prahlada, Bidur, Uddhaba, Daliya Parasara, Bhishma, Narada, etc., are the devotees of Godhead. It is our duty to serve all these devotees in the same way as we serve Sree Hari. Otherwise offense is committed. Among the devotees the order of superiority is as follows: Prahlada; the Pandavas who are superior to Prahlada; the Yadavas of whom Uddhava is superior to the rest; the Braja-devis superior to Uddhava; Sree Radhika is the highest among the damsels of Braja.
The four Yugas, viz., Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali are called divya-yugas. A thousand four-yugas form one kalpa. There are fourteen manvantaras in each kalpa. One day of Brahma is equivalent to one kalpa. The pralaya or complete absorption that takes place at the end of every kalpa is known as the night of Brahma. This is the daily praIaya. Thirty kalpas make one month of Brahma, twelve months of Brahma make one year; and fifty years of Brahma make one parardha. The duration of the life of Brahma is that of two parardhas. At the end of the period of two parardhas there is dissolution of phenomenal Nature and the attainment of the highest state by Brahma. Thereupon the phenomenal world is re-absorbed into the primordial principle (prakriti). The first of the series of the thirty Kalpas bears the name of Sveta Varaha or Brahma Kalpa and the last of the series as Pitri or Padma Kalpa. Thousands of the series of Kalpas from Brahma to Padma have passed away thousands of times.
Theism has a long history which may be summed up in one word as the Descent of Godhead into this mundane world. Such Descent accomplishes two Divine Purposes, viz., (l) it is intended to gladden those devotees who may happen to be at the time in this world, and (2) to destroy Godhead’s opponents who oppress His devotees and obstruct their devotional activities. These opponents of Godhead are also deputed by Godhead Himself to serve Him by the method of opposition. There is and can be no real independent rival of Godhead, such as a so-called Satan, to be the captain-general of the sinners. The asuras, who disturb the devotees and are in consequence destroyed by Vishnu, appear to sinful jivas to undergo chastisement that they deserve by reason of their un-godliness. But those who are privileged to be chastised by Godhead are no sinners. Such chastisement is the appropriate reward of their real service of Godhead, although of an indirect nature. They are servitors of Godhead who appear in the world being deputed by Him for serving Him, in that way. By their opposition they serve to bring out most brilliantly the glory of Godhead. Ordinary jivas are not to follow their example; and, if they do so, they are not so easily delivered by direct Divine intervention. The fallen jivas are only delivered when their aversion to Godhead is eliminated. Their aversion to Godhead is due to ignorance of their own proper nature as eternal servants of Godhead. The Descent of Godhead into this world serves also to destroy the root of this ignorance of fallen jivas. This is His causeless mercy towards willful offenders. But all this is still only His secondary purpose. The main purpose of Divine Descent is to make the devotees happy. The secondary purposes are accomplished periodically by the various secondary Avataras who are endowed with the requisite measure of the Divine Power for that purpose. But the main purpose, viz., that of making His devotees happy, is effected only by the Descent of Godhead Himself. Sree Baladeva is the ultimate Source of all the secondary Avataras. He may be regarded as occupying the position of Viceroy for the performance of all official work of the Sovereign. Sree Baladeva destroys the asuras and protects the devotees and re-establishes the rule of righteousness.
Krishna Himself comes into this world in the Sveta Varaha Kalpa (the cycle of the White Boar) of the Vaivasvata manvantara of the twenty-eighth aggregate of four-Yugas, appearing as Son of Yasoda, in His own eternal human Form in His fullest charm and power. The Son of Yasoda, is Godhead Himself, in His private, domestic, informal role, enjoying Himself unreservedly in the company of His own most beloved ones.
The process of the Advent of Sree Krishna is thus described in the Scriptures. As the different gods prepare to descend into this world through the medium of the series of their respective subjective portions (amsas), the heavenly plenary portions of Vasudeva, etc., such as Kasyapa, etc., merging with their original sources (amsis), viz., Vasudeva, etc., who belong to the eternal Divine Leela, appear in Mathura as Sura, etc. The Highest Personality of the Divine Leela, viz., Sree Krishna, Whose manifest Form is Sree Narayana, Lord of Maha-Lakshmi, desiring to appear in Mathura, causes, first of all, the manifestation of His constituent Form, Samkarsana. Thereupon the Lord, having decided to make visible two other Forms that are Plenary Facsimiles of Himself and Who bear the Names of Pradyumna and Aniruddha, manifests Himself in the heart of Anakadundubhi. After this, in response to the prayer of the gods for the purpose of relieving the hard-pressed mundane world, towards the close of the Dvapara Age of the twenty-eighth aggregate of four-Yugas of the Vaivasvata manvantara, Aniruddha, the Same Who lies in Kshiroda, merging with the Form of Sree Krishna in the heart of Vasudeva, becomes manifest in the heart of Devaki moving thither from the heart of Anakadundubhi. Being nourished in the heart of Devaki by the nectar of loving bliss in the form of motherly affection, Sree Krishna, like the waxing Moon, manifests the gradual development of His Form in the heart of Devaki. Thereafter in the great night of the eighth day of the dark fortnight of the month of Bhadra Sree Krishna, disappearing from the heart of Devaki, appears in her couch in the lying-in chamber in the prison of Kamsa. The mother and the other people think that the Baby is born by the ordinary worldly process with the greatest ease. Thereupon Vasudeva entering the apartment of Yasoda in the Great Forest and leaving there his own Son Sree Krishna and taking away the daughter of Yasoda, hurries back to his prison. Some ancient Bhagavatas also hold that the first of Sree Krishna’s own Facsimiles, Who bears the Name of Vasudeva, appears in the apartment of Vasudeva and that in Gokula Sree Krishna, the Highest Personality of the Divine Leela, makes His Appearance in company of Yoga-maya. But Vasudeva sees only a daughter in the lying-in chamber of Yasoda. On Vasudeva’s return to Mathura with Yasoda’s baby-daughter Vasudeva merges into Sree Krishna. This is corroborated by such statements as the following, “Krishna born in the Yadava family is different.” “He Who is full Divinity is higher than He, that is to say, is His original Source.” “Divinity in His Plenitude, or Godhead Himself, never leaves Brindabana, nor goes elsewhere.” “He is always two-armed and is never four-armed.” “He always sports in Brindabana in the company of only one of the Gopees.” In the Padma Purana it is stated that the cowherds of Brindabana, such as Nanda, etc., with all families and birds, beasts, deer, etc., all of them, by the grace of Vasudeva assuming the heavenly form and mounted in chariots, attained the region of the highest Vaikuntha. This is explained as follows. Those constituent parts of the Lord of Braja, etc., viz., Drona, etc., who had come down into this world, were sent by Sree Krishna to Vaikuntha. But Sree Krishna is always sporting in Brindabana in the company of His most beloved devotees, viz., the denizens of Braja.
The subject of the Avataras of Vishnu is vast and intricate and we have attempted merely to touch its outermost fringe in the above short account. But before we leave the subject it will be useful to deal briefly with a few of the controversial issues that are ordinarily associated with this subject.
A distinction has been made between different, Avataras of Vishnu on the basis of partial and complete manifestation, and the partial manifestations have also been graded one under another in different groups, so that we have also part of a part, and so on. These distinctions do not mean that Godhead is a divisible entity. In fact in all these manifestations it is the indivisible and undivided Divinity Who appears. The difference is due either to the degree of manifestation or the greater or lesser presentation or reservation of any particular face or faces of the Divinity. Godhead is One but His powers are many and various and He can exercise all those powers in the way that He likes. This distinction between the Will of Godhead and the Power of Godhead, should be clearly grasped. The Will of Godhead constitutes His distinctive and specific personality. It is not delegated. But the Power Who is subordinate to the Will, is capable of delegation by the Will of Godhead. Godhead alone possesses an absolutely independent Will to Whom everything is subordinate. The wills with which other beings are endowed, are more or less limited in their effectiveness; that is to say, they are controlled, as regards their effective exercise in the shape of exerting power, by the Will of Godhead. The freedom of will of the jiva does not mean that the jiva can actually act as he likes, but that he is free to like or not like to act. The jiva has freedom to choose his course of action but such choice can result in effective action only by the Will of Godhead. The tendency is free but its issue is strictly controlled. There is no such gap between the Will and the Power to act, in Godhead. In Him alone the two are identical but yet not the same. The Power of Godhead is capable of delegation but the Will is not. Therefore it is the Will that constitutes the specific character of Divinity.
The Divine Power is manifold although she is one in essence being the expression of the one and indivisible Divine Will. The gradation, that is noticed in the case of the different ,Avataras, is in respect of distinction of power. Godhead chooses to manifest His powers partially or fully, directly or indirectly. This is what is meant by the gradation of the Avataras of Vishnu. The partial manifestation is regarded as the plenary subjective portion, or amsa, of His proximate whole to Whom He is immediately integrated.
The relation between will and power is this that the latter always acts under the direction of the former. Power does not regulate herself. Will is the active principle of Whom power is the actively obedient associate. Power has no initiative of her own. But Will is not effective unless He is associated with power. Such dissociation is never possible in the Absolute in Whom the two are eternally associated and in this sense they may be regarded as being only complementary aspects of one and the same entity. Godhead’s Power is, therefore, not external or separable from Godhead Himself although she is always subordinate to His will.
Godhead is the Possessor of infinite powers. Of these, according to the Scriptures, three only are realizable by the jiva viz., (l) the chit (cognitive energy), (2) jiva (differentiated souls), and (3) maya (limiting energy) There are also three functions that belong to each one of these three powers, viz., (1) sandhini (uniting), (2) sambit (enlightening), and (3) hladini (harmonising). These three functions are eternally operative in their pure and unmodifiable fullness in chit power. In differentiated souls they are also manifest but in an infinitesimally small measure. In maya the presence of only their dim reflection in a perverted form, is noticeable. To the individual soul the functions of the limiting energy are unwholesome. The functions of the individual soul himself, due to littleness of power, are inadequate although salutary. The jiva cannot attain perfect happiness except in conjunction with the Hladini Function of the Power of Enlightenment. This conjunction is possible only through the mercy of Krishna and His devotees.
The coming down of the Absolute into this limited world, effects the deliverance of fallen jivas by bringing about this conjunction between the bound-jiva and the higher world. The difference of degree in the manifestation of the Divine Power represented by the different Avataras, is in accordance with the spiritual condition of the jiva at the time of such manifestation. The manifestation by way of Descent attains its perfection in Krishna. The other, Avataras dispel the ignorance of the fallen jiva and arouse in him, in varying degrees, the desire to worship Godhead with awe and reverence. Krishna, Who is the Source of all the Avataras, reserves to Himself the right of bestowing love for Godhead. This constitutes the supreme excellence of the Activities of Krishna when They appear in this world. In no Avatara, except in a small measure in those of Nrisingha and Ramachandra, is to be found the extreme deliciousness of the relationship of jiva with Godhead characterized by confidence and intimacy, that attains to freedom from all restraint in the case of the Braja-gopees, that is to be found in the Krishna Leela. Therefore, the mercy of Godhead reaches its climax in Krishna Who appears before the bound-jiva in the most intimate relationship, free from all reservation. The mercy of Krishna, in as much as He happens to be Godhead Himself, is thus superior to that of all other avataras. This fact is at the root of the broad differences that constitute the dividing line between the various religions. Such difference is due to the degree of intimacy of relationship that it offers between the jiva and Godhead.
But the mercy of Godhead, which is so continuously, copiously and causelessly manifested, cannot be realized by the bound jiva due to his ignorance of its real nature. Sree Chaitanya came into this world to supply the knowledge of our natural relationship with Godhead which alone can enable us to realize the greatness of Divine mercy. Sree Chaitanya taught us that the highest service of Godhead, viz., that of unreserved loving devotion embodied in the Braja-devis, is spontaneously attainable to all of us as soon as we fully realize our true relationship with Godhead. That relationship may be briefly described as that of serving Sree Krishna under the lead of the Hladini Function of the Divine Power. This is not an abstraction of the human brain. On the highest spiritual plane such service is realized as a part and parcel of the amorous pastimes of the damsels of Braja under the lead of Sree Radhika with the youthful son of the Lord of Braja. This is the highest significance of Krishna Leela and is exemplified in the Career and Teaching of Sree Chaitanya.
With these insufficient preliminary observations of a general character towards the elucidation of a number of current misconceptions on the subject of Religion, I shall venture to proceed to narrate the Transcendental Career of the Supreme Lord Sree Krishna-Chaitanya in course of the following chapters.
The Narrative seeks to present the Absolute as He is in His Supreme Magnaminity. The Career of Sree Krishna-Chaitanya is identical with the Divine Personality in the Form of His Own Loving Service. It is not possible for individual souls, who are detached infinitesimal particles of the Marginal Potency of the Divinity, to realize the Nature of the Loving Service of the Divinity by His Own Integrated Power and his own proper function within the same, except by the Eternal Support of Divine Love Himself. The Magnanimous Activity of Sree Krishna-Chaitanya is identical with His Co-ordinate Absolute Activity as the Amorous Lover of Sree Radhika in Sree Brindavana. The individual soul has, therefore, no access to the Realm of the Amorous Pastimes of Sree Sree Radha-Govinda except by the realization of this identity of relationship between the Two distinct Leelas.
Nota De Edicion
“The existing English works although they sometimes profess to be historical in reality offer a superficial, extremely crude and misleading view of the subject. They confine themselves almost exclusively to the esoteric issues. This at least is not the method of the source-books, but a departure from the bona fide position of the theme itself. The historical method proper should aim at presenting the religion as it is really found in the genuine original sources and in the spirit of its first propounders. But many of these writers, due to their empirical training, have failed to observe this essential canon of historical judgment. Moreover these writers generally happen to be very poorly equipped in respect of their knowledge of the vast body of Scriptures to which the teachings of Sree Chaitanya stand in the closest relationship; and, even if any of them happen to possess a general acquaintance with the texts of these Scriptures, they fail to take a scientific view of the subject due to lack of spiritual insight.”
“The prominent defects that mar the value of these works are the purely empiric point of view of their authors, their want of spiritual knowledge of the Scriptures and their lack of critical caution in the choice and use of authorities.”
“.....The empiric method is unsuitable for the treatment of a spiritual subject. The vision of the empiricist is confined to things of this world. The Vaishnava authors on whose narratives we have to base our account of Sree Chaitanya, were not empiricists. The subject of which they have left us the account, is the Absolute, as distinct from the empiric, Truth that comes down to them in the chain of disciplic succession from Godhead Himself. They acquired this esoteric vision, when they prove to be true, by the methods of loyal submission and sincere service at the feet of spiritual preceptors as enjoined by the Scriptures on all those who desire to obtain spiritual enlightenment. They are never tired of repeating that the Absolute Truth, inherent in a bona fide soul, who expresses himself in their books’ is not derived from any experience of this world and is not intelligible to those whose vision is obscured by knowledge derived from the experience of this world.”
“The Absolute Truth is transcendental and, therefore, no human being can attain to Him by his sensuous efforts, i.e., by the ascending process, as all phenomena that are exposed to the faulty, limited senses are, by this virtue, non-transcendental. The Absolute Truth is eternally existent but is not realizable by men so long as they are not relieved of the aptitude. of their defective vision. The Absolute Truth is to be received, undoubtedly in the spirit of honest inquiry, from those wise men who bear no reference to the world of their sensuous gratification.”
“Very few of the existing English works on Sree Chaitanya satisfy these essential conditions of theistic authorship that are so strongly insisted upon by these devotional writers without which such description carries no useful purpose. On the contrary, these later writers are apt to offer their own views, derived from their empiric association, regarding the subject-matter of the original works, in a manner that leaves on the mind of the reader the impression that they are more anxious to point out the crudities and errors of these old authors than exhibit their views in a scientific and impartial manner. This is certainly neither history nor religion but only an uncalled-for and useless distortion of both.”
“The object of writing this book is to place before the English-knowing readers a strictly accurate theistic account. of Sree Chaitanya, Who teaches the Absolute Truth that has been handed down through the Ages by an unbroken succession of unbiased spiritual preceptors. This narrative is broad-based on all the authoritative sources and seeks to fully present the esoteric side as explaining the esoteric in pursuance of the method of all really enlightened writers on spiritual subjects.”
“...The Deeds of Sree Chaitanya, the Subject of the present work, are the living Embodiment of the teaching of Shrimad Bhagawatam. The Deeds and Teachings of Sree Chaitanya stand alone as history of the service of the Supreme Lord in the form of the deepest and perfectly unreserved intimacy.
The privilege of this form of service, the hidden truth of all Scriptures, was never before given to the fallen jiva. In the words of Sree Rupa Goswami Prabhu, the authority on the esoteric significance of the Deeds of Sree Chaitanya, ‘‘God Himself with the beautiful golden complexion out of mercy appeared in this world in this most degenerate Age to confer the grace of devotion to Himself, of the superior order that had not been given to this world before. Even the Geet a which teaches the service of Godhead with single-minded devotion and in the spirit of complete self-surrender, does not tell us much about the actual, concrete form of the highest service. The Shrimad Bhagawatam describes all different kinds of service in the concrete form and establishes the supreme excellence of that which was practised by the transcendental milk-maids of Braja. Sree Chaitanya is the living Embodiment of this highest and most intimate form of the service of the Divinity.”
“The Brindabana pastimes of Sree Krishna, which have been given the place of honour in the greatest devotional work of the whole world, are of all forms of Divine service the one that is also liable to be most grossly misunderstood. The subject will be treated in greater detail in its proper place in the body of this work. It will suffice for our purpose here to state that Sree Chaitanya made clearly manifest by His Deeds and Teachings what this form of service really means. His Deeds are in fact the Brahmasutra, Geet a and the Shrimad Bhagawatam displayed to our view in the living form. He is the living Vedanta. Other Avatars and prophets have taught the reverential worship of the Supreme Lord. Sree Chaitanya proved by His Deeds that the highest form of service is to be found in the Shrimad Bhagawatam, that its inner meaning had not been properly understood up to His time by anybody and that it offers what all the Scriptures have been endeavouring from eternity unsuccessfully to express. Sree Chaitanya's own career is the concrete living expression of this highest form of the service of the Lord.”
“...The materials for the present work have been drawn from— ( 1) the Sikshastakam of Sree Chaitanya which gives the summary of His teachings in His own words; (2 and 3) the Karchas (memoirs) of Sree Murari Gupta and of Sree Swarup Damodar (the latter as embodied in his works by Sree Raghunath Das Goswamin, Sree Swarup Damodar’s closest associate); (4) Prema Vivarta of Sree Jagadananda; (5) Sree-Krishna-Chaitanya-Chandrodaya-Nataka of Kavi Karnapur; (6) Sree-Chaitanya-Charitamahakavya of Sree Chaitanya Das, the elder brother of Kavi Karnapur; (7) the works of Sree Prabodhananda Saraswati; (8) the Bhajanamrita of Sree Narahari Sarkar Thakur; (9) the numerous works left by five of the famous six Goswamins; (10) Sree Brind bandas Thakur’s Sree-Chaitanya-Bhagawat; (1) Sree Lochandas's Chaitanya-Mangal; (12) Sree Krishnadas Kaviraj ’s Sree-Chaitanya-Charitamrita and lastly (13) the works of those later writers who have strictly followed the above authors. Most of these works are in Sanskrit, some of them in Bengali.
“Sree Chaitanya has not left any books written by Himself. A few shlokas composed by Him are quoted in the works of His associates, the chief of them being the Siksh astakam which gives in eight stanzas a summary of his teachings.”
“...Sree Brindabandas Thakur was the recipient of the favour of Sree Nityananda, the associated facsimile, so to say, of Sree Chaitanya. His mother Sree Narayani was the niece of Shribash Pandit, the foremost of those Vaishnava householders who were the direct followers of Sree Chaitanya. Sree Lochandas got the materials of his work partly from Narahari Sarkar Thakur, one of Sree Chaitanya’s close associates and by his devotional impressions. Sree Krishnadas Goswamin got his information as has already been mentioned from his preceptor Sree Raghun athd as, one of the six Goswamins.”
“Most of the works of the authors named above are still extant and they are the authorities for all subsequent writers. The chief of these later authors whose works have been consulted in the compilation of the present account are, (1) Sree Narottamdas Thakur who was the disciple of Sree Lokanath Goswamin, one of the closest associates of Sree Chaitanya, (2) Sree Viswanath Chakravarty belonging to the line of disciples of Sree Narottamdas Thakur, (3) Sree Baladev Vidyabhusan the first Gaudiya commentator of the Brahmasutra, (4) Sree Narahari Chakravarty in the line of disciplic descent from Sree Viswan ath Thakur, (5) Sree Bhaktivinode Thakur, the sincere guardian of the true Vaishnavas of the present day, and (6) my Sree Gurudeva, His Divine Grace Paramahansa Paribrajakacharya Sree Sreemat Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj whose mercy is my only hope of attaining the service of Godhead.”
“It will be seen from the above that there is no lack of materials of the most reliable character available to the historian of the Career and Teachings of Sree Chaitanya. It is, therefore, rather strange that the personality of Sree Chaitanya has been misunderstood and misrepresented by a certain class of writers. The neglect of the original sources was one cause of this. A constructive motive was supplied by the animosity of sectarians and the greed of worldly interests of pseudo-followers.”
“It was the life-work of Thakur Bhaktivinode to re-discover the true history of Sree Chaitanya and make the same available to the present generation. The magnitude of this service to his country, to humanity and to all animate beings time alone will show. The eternal religion taught and practiced by Sree Chaitanya have been made intelligible to the modern reader by the labours of Thakur Bhaktivinode. It is bound to re-act most powerfully on all existing religious convictions of the world and make possible the establishment of universal spiritual harmony of which the whole world stands so much in need. Most of the works of Thakur Bhaktivinode were, however, written in Bengali and Sanskrit. The present work is a slight attempt to present in the English language an outline of the Life and Teachings of Sree Chaitanya made known by Thakur Bhaktivinode, the pioneer of the movement of pure devotion in the present Age, which aims at restablishing in practice the eternal religion of all animate beings revealed in the Scriptures and taught and practiced by Sree Chaitanya. The activities of my most revered Preceptor are well known to the world. His Divine Grace is commissioned by Godhead to spread the Teaching of Sree Chaitanya to every village of the world and re-establish the spiritual society. This was foretold by Thakur Bhaktivinode.”
Gaura Hari Bol!
Visuddha Sattva dasanudasa
All Glory to Shri Guru and Gauranga
SREE KRISHNA CHAITANYA