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C H A P T E R 5
Vaidhi-Bhakti is Nitya
not Naimittika Dharma
Lahiri Mahasaya had a residence in Santipura. His two sons were
both highly educated. The elder, Candranatha, who was thirtyfive
years old, was a zamindar, and managed all the household affairs.
He was also a scholar in medical science. Candranatha never
underwent any hardship for the sake of spiritual progress, but he
commanded tremendous respect in the brahmana community. He
employed servants, maids, doorkeepers, and other workers, and he
managed all the household affairs with comfort and prestige.
From childhood, the younger son, Devidasa, had studied the
sastras dealing with logic (nyaya-sastra) and that presents the codes
of religious ritual (smrti-sastra). Across the road from the family
residence, he had opened a patha-sala, a school dedicated to the
study of the four Vedas and four subjects: Sanskrit grammar, rhetoric,
logic, and philosophy. There he taught a group of ten to fifteen
students and had the title Vidyaratna (jewel of learning).
One day a rumor circulated in Santipura that Kalidasa Lahiri
Mahasaya had put on the dress of an ascetic and had become a
Vaishnava. The news spread everywhere - at the bathing ghatas, in
the market-place, and on the streets.
Someone said, "The old man has become senile. He was a man of
ideal character for so long, but now he has gone mad."
Someone else said, "What kind of disease is this? All kinds of
happiness is there in his home; he is a brahmana by birth, and his
sons and family members are all obedient to him. What suffering
could drive such a man to adopt the life of a mendicant?"
Another person said, "This is the ill fate of those who wander
here and there, shouting, "This is dharma! This is dharma!"
A virtuous man said, "Kalidasa Lahiri Mahasaya is a very pious
soul. He is materially prosperous, and now in his maturity he has
developed love for hari-nama."
As different people gossiped and spread various rumours, someone
went to Devidasa Vidyaratna and reported what he had
Vidyaratna became quite anxious and went to his elder
brother. "Brother," he said, "it looks as if we have to face great
difficulty because of Father. He is staying at Godruma in Nadiya
on the plea of maintaining good health, but he has fallen into
bad company there. It is impossible to ignore the outcry in the
village about this."
Candranatha said, "Brother, I have also heard some rumours.
Our family is highly respected, but now we can no longer show
our faces because of our father's activities. We have always belittled
the descendants of Advaita Prabhu, but now what has become of
our own house? Come, let's go inside. We shall discuss this matter
with Mother and decide what should be done."
Soon afterwards, Candranatha and Devidasa were seated on the
second-floor veranda taking their meal, which was served by a
brahmani widow. Their mother sat with them. Candranatha said,
"Mother, have you heard any news of Father?"
Mother said, "Why, he's well, isn't he? He is staying in Shri
Navadvipa, and he has become mad after hari-nama. Why don't you
bring him here?"
Devidasa said, "Mother, Father is quite well, but according to
the reports we have been hearing, we can no longer rely on him.
On the contrary, if we brought him here, we would become a social
Mother became somewhat perturbed and asked, "What has happened
to him? Just recently I went to the bank of the Ganga and
had a long talk with the wife of one of the leading Gosvamis. She
told me, 'Your husband has met with great auspiciousness. He has
earned tremendous respect among the Vaishnavas.' "
Devidasa raised his voice slightly and said, "He has certainly
gained respect, but at the cost of our heads! Would he have remained
at home in his old age, and accepted our service? No. But
see now! He's bent on defaming our prestigious family by subsisting
on the remnants of ragged mendicants of different castes. Alas!
This is the tragic effect of the age of Kali. He was such an experienced
man, but what has become of his intelligence?"
Mother said, "Bring him here now and keep him hidden until
you can persuade him to change his mind."
Candranatha said, "What other alternative do we have? Devi,
go to Godruma secretly with two or three men and bring Father
Devidasa said, "You both know very well that Father has no
regard for me because he considers me to be an atheist. I am afraid
that he may not even speak to me if I go there."
Devidasa had a maternal cousin called Sambhunatha, who was
very dear to Lahiri Mahasaya. He had stayed with him for a long
time, and had rendered much service to him. It was decided that
Devidasa and Sambhunatha would go together to Godruma so a
servant was sent that very day to a brahmana's house in Godruma,
to arrange for their residential quarters.
The next day, when Devidasa and Sambhunatha had finished
their meal, they set out for Godruma. Having reached their appointed
lodging, they got down from their palanquins and gave
the bearers permission to depart. A brahmana cook and two servants
had arrived there in advance.
At dusk, Devidasa and Sambhunatha made their way towards
Shri Pradyumna-kunja. On their arrival, they saw Lahiri Mahasaya
sitting on a mat of leaves on Surabhi Terrace with his eyes closed.
He was chanting hari-nama on his tulasi-mala and his body was
decorated in twelve places with tilaka. Devidasa and Sambhunatha
slowly climbed up onto the terrace and offered pranama at his feet.
On hearing footsteps, Lahiri Mahasaya opened his eyes and was
astonished to see the two men. "Sambhu!" he exclaimed, "What
brings you here? How are you?"
"By your blessings we are quite well," they replied politely.
"Will you take your meal here?" asked Lahiri Mahasaya.
"We have already arranged for a place to stay," they replied. "You
need not worry about us."
At that moment, loud chanting of Shri Hari's name was heard
from Shri Premadasa Babaji's madhavi-malati bower. Vaishnava dasa
Babaji came out of his kutira and asked Lahiri Mahasaya, "Why was
there such a loud sound of hari-nama from Paramahamsa Babaji's
Lahiri Mahasaya and Vaishnava dasa Babaji went ahead to investigate,
and found many Vaishnavas circumambulating Babaji
Mahasaya and chanting Shri Hari's name. The two of them also
joined in the assembly. Everyone offered dandavat-pranama to
Paramahamsa Babaji Maharaja and sat down on the terrace.
Devidasa and Sambhunatha were also seated on one side of the
terrace, like crows in an assembly of swans.
In the meantime, one of the Vaishnavas said, "We have come from
Kantaka-nagara (Kattwa). Our main purpose is to take darsana of
Shri Navadvipa-Mayapura and to obtain the dust of the lotus feet
of Paramahamsa Babaji Maharaja."
Paramahamsa Babaji Maharaja felt embarrassed and said, "I am
a great sinner. You have simply come to purify me."
After a short time it was discovered that these Vaishnavas were
all expert in singing bhajanas (devotional songs) glorifying Shri Hari.
Mrdanga and karatalas were brought at once, and a senior member
of the assembly began to sing a bhajana from Prarthana.
"shri krishna chaitanya prabhu nityananda
gadai advaita-candra gaura-bhakta-vrnda
O Shri Krishna Chaitanyacandra! O Prabhu Nityananda! O
Gadadhara! O Advaitacandra! O Gaura's bhaktas.
apara karuna-sindhu vaishnava thakura
mo hena pamara daya karaha pracura
O Vaishnava Thakura, you are a boundless ocean of mercy. Please
bestow your profuse mercy on a sinful creature like me.
jati-vidya-dhana-jana-made matta jane
uddhara kara he natha, krpa-vitarane
O master, please be merciful and deliver this person intoxicated
with the pride of high birth, education, wealth
and attachment to wife, children and family members.
chadaiya sodha more, e mora prarthana
Please purify me of my lust for women and wealth and the
desire for prestige. This is my prayer.
name ruci, jive daya, vaisnave ullasa
daya kari' deha more, ohe krishna-dasa
O servant of Shri Krishna, please be merciful and give me a
taste for shri-nama and compassion for all jivas - and let me
delight in the association of Vaishnavas.
tomara carana-chaya eka-matra asa
jivane marane matra amara bharasa
The shade of your lotus feet is my only hope, my sole refuge
in life and in death."
When this bhajana came to an end, the Vaishnavas sang a prayer
composed by Kalidasa Lahiri Mahasaya, which was charming and
full of poetic sentiment.
miche maya-vase, samsara-sagare, padiya chilama ami
karuna kariya, diya pada-chaya, amare tarila tumi
I fell into the ocean of samsara and became enslaved in
futile activities by the influence of maya. You were merciful
and delivered me by giving me the shade of your lotus
suna suna vaishnava thakura
tomara carane, sampiyachi matha, mora duhkha kara dura
O Vaishnava Thakura, please hear me. I have surrendered my
head at your feet. Please dispel my misery.
jatira gaurava, kevala raurava, vidya se avidya-kala
sodhiya amaya, nitai-carane, sampahe - jauka jvala
Pride of caste is a terrible hell. Material learning is but an
aspect of ignorance. Please purify me and deliver me to the
feet of Nitai. Please extinguish my blazing agony.
tomara krpaya, amara jihvaya, sphuruka yugala-nama
kahe kalidasa, amara hrdaye, jaguka shri-radha-syama
By your mercy, may the holy names of Shri Yugala appear on
my tongue, and may Shri Radha-Syama appear in my heart.
This is the prayer of Kalidasa.
Singing this bhajana together, all of them became maddened
with joy. At the end, they repeated the line, jaguka shri-radha-syama.
"May Shri Radha-Syama appear in my heart," again and again, and
began to dance exuberantly. As they continued to dance, a few
bhavuka Vaishnavas fell unconscious. An extraordinary atmosphere
developed, and as Devidasa witnessed all this, he began to think
that his father was deeply immersed in the pursuit of spiritual truth,
and that it would be difficult to take him home.
It was about midnight when the meeting broke up. Everyone
exchanged dandavat-pranama, and returned to their respective
places. Devidasa and Sambhunatha took permission from their
father and returned to their lodgings.
The following day when they had finished their meal, Devi and
Sambhu went to the kutira of Lahiri Mahasaya. Devidasa Vidyaratna
offered pranama to Lahiri Mahasaya and said, "Dear Father, I have
one request to make of you. Please come and reside in our house at
Santipura. We will all be very happy to serve you at home. We can
also arrange for a solitary kutira for you, if you give your permission."
Lahiri Mahasaya replied, "It is a good idea, but I would not get
the type of sadhu-sanga in Santipura that I get here. Devi, you know
the people of Santipura; they are so godless and so fond of slandering
others that a man can hardly be satisfied to live there.
Granted, there are many brahmanas there, but their intelligence
has become crooked by their association with shallow-minded
materialists like the weavers. Fine garments, grandiose words,
and blasphemy of Vaishnavas are the three characteristics of the
people of Santipura. The descendants of Advaita Prabhu have
undergone so much trouble there that they have become almost
inimical to Mahaprabhu by such negative association. You
should therefore grant that I may stay here in Godruma. That is
Devidasa said, "Dear Father, what you say is true. But why must
you have anything to do with the people of Santipura? Stay in a
solitary place and spend your days cultivating your religious practices,
such as sandhya-vandana. A brahmana's daily work is also his
nitya-dharma and it is the duty of a great soul like yourself to be
absorbed in that way."
Becoming somewhat grave Lahiri Mahasaya said, "My dear son,
those days are no more. Now that I have lived for a few months in
the association of sadhus and have heard Shri Gurudeva's instructions,
my understanding has changed dramatically. I understand
now that what you refer to as nitya-dharma is really naimittika??
dharma. The only nitya-dharma is hari-bhakti. Sandhya-vandana and
other such practices are in reality naimittika-dharma."
Devidasa said, "Father, I have never seen or heard of such an
explanation in any sastra. Is sandhya-vandana not hari-bhajana? If
it is hari-bhajana, then it is also nitya-dharma. Is there any difference
between sandhya-vandana and the practices that constitute
vaidhi-bhakti, such as sravana and kirtana?"
Lahiri Mahasaya said, "The sandhya-vandana that is included
in karma-kanda is significantly different from vaidhi-bhakti.
Sandhya-vandana and other such activities are performed in the
karma-kanda system in order to obtain liberation. However, activities
of hari-bhajana, such as sravana and kirtana, have no ulterior
motive. The sastras describe the results of hearing, chanting, and
the other limbs of vaidhi-bhakti, but this is just to interest people
who would otherwise not be inclined to perform those activities.
The worship of Shri Hari has no fruit other than the service of Shri
Hari. The principal fruit of the practice of vaidhi-bhakti is to bring
about the awakening of prema in hari-bhajana."
Devidasa: Then you do admit that the divisions or angas of haribhajana
have some secondary results.
Lahiri: Yes, but the results depend on the different types of practitioner
(sadhaka). The Vaishnavas perform sadhana-bhakti for the
sole purpose of coming to the perfectional stage of devotion known
as siddha-bhakti. When non-Vaishnavas perform the very same divisions
or angas of bhakti, they have two principal motives: the
desire for material enjoyment (bhoga) and the desire for liberation
(moksa). Externally, there is no apparent difference between the
sadhana practices of the Vaishnavas and those of non-Vaishnavas, but
there is a fundamental difference in nistha.
When one worships Krishna through the path of karma, the mind
is purified, and one may obtain material fruits, freedom from disease,
or liberation. But the same worship of Krishna through the path
of bhakti produces only prema for krishna-nama. When karmis, those
who follow the path of karma, observe Ekadashi, it eradicates their
sins; whereas when bhaktas observe Ekadashi, it enhances their haribhakti.
Just see what a world of difference there is!
The subtle difference between sadhana performed as an aspect
of karma, and sadhana performed as an aspect of bhakti may be
known only by the mercy of Bhagavan. The bhaktas obtain the
primary result, whereas the karmis are caught up in the secondary
results, which may be broadly divided into two categories, namely,
bhukti (material sense enjoyment) and mukti (liberation).
Devidasa: Then why do the sastras extol the virtues of the secondary
Lahiri: There are two kinds of people in this world: those who are
spiritually awake and those who are spiritually unconscious. The
sastras have praised secondary results for the benefit of those who
are spiritually unconscious, and who do not perform any pious activity
unless they can visualize a forthcoming result. However, the
sastras do not intend such people to remain satisfied with secondary
results; rather, their attraction to secondary results should induce
them to perform virtuous acts, which will hasten their contact
with sadhus. Then, by the mercy of the sadhus, they will come
to know of the primary results of hari-bhajana, and taste for those
results will awaken within them.
Devidasa: Then are we to understand that Raghunandana and the
other authors of the smrti-sastras are spiritually unconscious?
Lahiri: No, but the system that they have prescribed is for the spiritually
unconscious. However, they themselves seek the primary result.
Devidasa: Some sastras only describe the secondary results and
do not mention the primary results at all. Why is this?
Lahiri: There are three types of sastra, corresponding to the varieties
of adhikara (eligibility) among human beings: sattvika, of the
nature of goodness; rajasika, of the nature of passion; and tamasika,
of the nature of ignorance. The sattvika-sastras are for people who
are imbued with the nature of goodness (sattva-guna); the rajasika??
sastras are for those enveloped by the nature of passion (rajo-guna);
and the tamasika-sastras are for those engrossed in the nature of
Devidasa: If that is the case, how should one know which directives
of the sastra to have faith in? And how may those of lower
adhikara (eligibility) attain a higher destination?
Lahiri: Human beings have different natures and faiths according
to their different levels of adhikara. People who are impelled primarily
by the mode of ignorance have natural faith in the tamasikasastras.
Those affected primarily by the mode of passion have natural
faith in the rajasika-sastras, and those in the mode of goodness
naturally have faith in the sattvika-sastras. One's belief in a particular
conclusion of the sastra is naturally in accordance with
As one faithfully carries out the duties for which one has the
adhikara, he may come into contact with sadhus and develop a
higher adhikara through their association. As soon as a higher
adhikara is awakened, one's nature is elevated, and one's faith in a
more elevated sastra will follow accordingly. The authors of the
sastras were infallible in their wisdom and composed the sastras
in such a way that one will gradually develop higher adhikara by
carrying out the duties for which one is eligible and in which one
naturally has faith. It is for this reason that different directives
have been given in different sastras. Faith in the sastra is the root
of all auspiciousness.
Shrimad Bhagavad-Gita is the mimamsa-sastra of all the sastras.
This siddhanta is clearly stated there.
Devidasa: I have studied many sastras since my childhood, but today,
by your grace, I have understood their purpose in an entirely
Lahiri: It is written in Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.8.10):
anubhyas ca mahadbhyas ca sastrebhyah kusalo narah
sarvatah saram adadyat puspebhya iva satpadah
An intelligent person will take the essence of all the sastras,
whether they are great or small, just as a bumblebee gathers
honey from many different types of flowers.
My dear son, I used to call you an atheist. Now I don't criticize
anyone, because faith depends on adhikara. There is no question
of criticism in this regard. Everyone is working according to their
own adhikara, and they will advance gradually when the time is
appropriate. You are a scholar of the sastras dealing with logic and
fruitive action, and since your statements are in accordance with
your adhikara, there is no fault in them.
Devidasa: Until now, I believed that there were no scholars in the
Vaishnava sampradaya. I thought that the Vaishnavas were merely
fanatics who concerned themselves solely with one part of the
sastra, but what you have explained today has completely dispelled
my misconceptions. Now I have faith that some of the Vaishnavas
have truly understood the essence of the sastra. Are you studying
the sastras from any great soul these days?
Lahiri: My son, you may now call me a fanatical Vaishnava or whatever
you like. My Gurudeva performs bhajana in the kutira next
to mine. He has instructed me in the essential conclusion of all
the sastras, and I have just expressed the same thing to you. If
you would like to receive instruction at his lotus feet, you may
inquire from him in a devotional mood. Come, I will introduce
you to him.
Lahiri Mahasaya took Devidasa Vidyaratna to the kutira of Shri
Vaishnava dasa Babaji Maharaja and introduced him to his
Gurudeva. He then left Devidasa with Babaji Maharaja and returned
to his kutira to chant hari-nama.
Vaishnava dasa: My dear son, what is the extent of your education?
Devidasa: I have studied up to muktipada and siddhantakusumanjali
in the nyaya-sastra, and all the books of the smrtisastra.
Vaishnava dasa: Then you have laboured diligently in your study of
the sastra. Please give me a sample of what you have learned.
atyanta-duhkha-nivrttir eva muktih
The cessation of all material miseries is known as mukti.
One should always endeavor to obtain mukti, which is defined
in this statement from Sankhya-darsana (1.1 and 6.5). I am seeking
that liberation through faithful adherence to my prescribed duties,
known as sva-dharma.
Vaishnava dasa: Yes, I too, like yourself, once aspired for mukti after
having studied all those books.
Devidasa: Have you now given up the pursuit of mukti?
Vaishnava dasa: My dear son, tell me, what is the meaning of mukti?
Devidasa: According to the nyaya-sastra, the jiva and brahma are
eternally distinct from each other, so it is not clear from the point
of view of nyaya how the cessation of all miseries can take place.
According to the Vedanta, however, mukti refers to the attainment
of non-differentiated brahma, or in other words, the jiva's attainment
of the state of oneness with brahma. This is clear from one
point of view.
Vaishnava dasa: My dear son, I studied Sankara's Vedanta commentary
for fifteen years, and I also remained a sannyasi for several years.
I endeavored strenuously to attain mukti. I spent a long time deeply
meditating upon what Sankara considered to be the four principal
statements of the sruti (maha-vakyas). Finally, I understood that the
religious system that Sankara advocated was newly fashioned, so I
gave it up.
Devidasa: Why did you consider it to be a recent and antagonistic
Vaishnava dasa: An experienced man cannot easily convey to others
what he has realized through practical examination. How will
those who have not experienced it be able to understand it?
Devidasa could see that Vaishnava dasa was a learned scholar,
and that he was straightforward and deeply realized. Devidasa had
not studied Vedanta, and he began to think that he could do so if
Vaishnava dasa were merciful to him, so he inquired, "Am I fit to
Vaishnava dasa: With the level of competence you have achieved
in the Sanskrit language, you can easily learn Vedanta if you get a
Devidasa: If you will kindly teach me, I will study under you.
Vaishnava dasa: The fact is that I am a servant of the Vaishnavas;
there is nothing for me besides this. Paramahamsa Babaji Maharaja
has mercifully instructed me to chant hari-nama constantly, and I
am doing just that. I have so little time. Besides, jagad-guru Shri Rupa
Gosvami has specifically forbidden the Vaishnavas to read or hear
Sankara's Sariraka-bhasya commentary on Vedanta, so I no longer
read it myself or teach it to others. However, Shri Shachinandana````@P@````PP@P°`° `@```š`@°°`°° @@P` ` P@ °P`0@````@`` P`@ `PPP```@`PP`°°°Ppppppp p````@@@@ppppp````````` P```` ```````````````_8Ȱ_Ȱ_娜粜娈粜が粞〼粞ぜ粞, who
is the original preceptor of the entire world, explained the true
commentary on Vedanta-sutra to Shri Sarvabhauma. Many
Vaishnavas still have hand-written copies of that commentary. If
you want to study it, you can make a copy and I can help you understand
it. You may ask for a copy from the house of Shrimad Kavi
Karnapura in the village of Kancana-palli.
Devidasa: I will try. You are a great scholar of Vedanta. Please tell
me frankly, will I be able to ascertain the true meaning of Vedanta
by studying the Vaishnava commentary?
Vaishnava dasa: I have studied and taught the commentary of
Sankara, and I have also studied Shri Ramanuja's Shri Bhasya, and
other commentaries as well. However, I have not seen any explanation
of the sutras that is superior to Mahaprabhu's. This commentary
was recorded by Gopinatha Acarya and it is studied by
the Gaudiya Vaishnavas. There can be no doctrinal dispute in
Bhagavan's own explanation of the sutras, for His commentary
accurately represents the full import of the Upanisads. If one
presents this explanation of the sutras in proper sequence, it is
certain that his explanation will be respected in any assembly of
Devidasa Vidyaratna became very pleased to hear this. He faithfully
offered dandavat-pranama to Shri Vaishnava dasa Babaji and
returned to his father's kutira, where he related to his father what
he had heard.
Lahiri Mahasaya was delighted and replied, "Devi, you have
acquired a great deal of education, but now you can try to attain
the highest destination, which is the ultimate benefit for all living
Devidasa: Actually, my sole purpose in coming was to take you
home. Please return to our house just once and everyone will become
satisfied. Mother is particularly anxious to have darsana of
your feet once more.
Lahiri: I have taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Vaishnavas, and
I have pledged that I will never enter any house that is opposed to
bhakti. First you will have to become Vaishnavas, and then you can
take me home.
Devidasa: Father! How can you say that? We worship the Lord every
day at home. We don't disrespect the chanting of hari-nama, and
we receive guests and Vaishnavas cordially. Aren't we to be regarded
Lahiri: Your activities are very similar to those of the Vaishnavas,
but you are not actually Vaishnavas.
Devidasa: Then how can one become a Vaishnava?
Lahiri: You can become a Vaishnava by giving up your temporary,
naimittika duties, and adopting your eternal, spiritual dharma.
Devidasa: I have one doubt that I would ask you to resolve decisively.
The activities of the Vaishnavas consist of sravanam, kirtanam,
smaranam, pada-sevanam, arcanam, vandanam, dasyam, sakhyam, and
atma-nivedanam, and they are significantly connected with matter,
so why aren't they also referred to as temporary, naimittika? I
perceive some partiality in this. Activities such as the service of
the Deity, fasting, and worship with material ingredients are all
connected with gross matter, so how can they be eternal?
Lahiri: My son, I also needed a long time to understand this point.
Try to understand this very carefully. There are two types of human
beings: those whose interests are connected with this material
world (aihika); and those who aspire for superior attainments
in the future (paramarthika). Those in the first category only strive
for material happiness, reputation and material prosperity. Those
in the second category are of three types: those who are devoted
to the Isvara (isanugata), those who are fixed in the pursuit of
monistic knowledge aiming at liberation (jnana-nistha), and those
who covet mystic powers (siddhi-kami).
The siddhi-kamis are attached to the fruits of karma-kanda, and
they desire to obtain supernatural powers by their performance of
karma. The methods which they adopt to obtain such unearthly
powers are yaga (offering oblations), yajna (performing sacrifices),
and astanga-yoga (the eightfold yoga system). They accept the existence
of Isvara, but they believe that He is subordinate to the
laws of karma. This category includes the material scientists.
The jnana-nisthas try to awaken their identity with brahma by
cultivating impersonal monistic knowledge. They don't know or
care whether Isvara exists or not, but they fabricate an imaginary
form of Isvara anyway for the purpose of practicing sadhana.
The fruit of monistic knowledge is realizing one's identity with
brahma, and the monists aspire to attain this eventually by constantly
engaging in the practices of bhakti directed towards their
imaginary form of Isvara. When they obtain the result of jnana,
they have no more use for the Isvara that they have merely imagined
as a means to achieve their end. When their bhakti towards
Isvara bears its desired fruit, it is converted into jnana. According
to this doctrine, neither Bhagavan nor bhakti to Bhagavan is
The isanugatas, those who are devoted to Isvara, are the third
category of those who seek higher attainments in the future
(paramarthikas). Factually speaking, they are the only ones who
strive for paramartha, the highest goal of life. In their opinion,
there is only one Isvara, who is without beginning or end, and who
manifests the jivas and the material world by His own potencies.
The jivas are His eternal servants, and remain so, even after liberation.
The eternal dharma of the jiva is to remain eternally under
the guidance of Isvara, for he can do nothing by his own
strength. The jiva cannot obtain any eternal benefit by the performance
of karma; however, when he submits himself to Shri Krishna's
shelter, he obtains all perfection by His grace.
Those who covet mystic powers (siddhi-kamis) follow karmakanda,
and those who cultivate monistic knowledge (jnananisthas)
follow jnana-kanda. The isanugatas are the only devotees
of Isvara. The jnana-kandis and karma-kandis pride themselves on
being interested in higher attainment (paramarthika), but in reality
they are not pursuing the highest goal but seeking temporary
material gain; and whatever they say about dharma is naimittika.
The present-day worshipers of Siva, Durga, Ganesa, and Surya
are known respectively as Saivas, Saktas, Ganapatyas, and Sauras,
and they all follow jnana-kanda. They adopt the angas of bhakti
such as sravana and kirtana only to attain mukti, and ultimately
the undifferentiated, impersonal nirvisesa-brahma. Those who
engage in sravana and kirtana without any desire for bhukti or
mukti are engaged in the service of Shri Vishnu. Among these five
deities, the shri-murti of Bhagavan Shri Vishnu is eternal, transcendental,
and full of all potencies. Those who do not accept
Bhagavan as the object of worship are merely worshiping temporary
My son, the service that all of you render at home to the Deity
of Bhagavan is not paramarthika because you do not accept the eternality
of Bhagavan's form. That is why you cannot be counted
among the isanugatas. Now I hope that you have understood the
difference between nitya and naimittika upasana (worship).
Devidasa: Yes. If one worships the shri-vigraha (Deity) of Bhagavan,
but does not accept that vigraha as eternal, then it is not worship
of an eternal object. However, can't one adopt a temporary means
of worship to attain the eternal truth, which is ultimately distinct
from any such temporary forms?
Lahiri: Even if that were the case, such temporary worship cannot
be called eternal dharma. The worship of the eternal vigraha
as performed in vaishnava-dharma is nitya-dharma.
Devidasa: But shri-vigraha that is worshiped is fashioned by a human
being, so how can it be eternal?
Lahiri: The vigraha worshiped by the Vaishnavas is not like that.
Bhagavan is not formless like brahma. On the contrary, He is the
all-powerful, concentrated embodiment of eternity, knowledge, and
bliss. It is that sac-cid-ananda-ghana-vigraha that is the worshipable
Deity of the Vaishnavas. Bhagavan's transcendental form of eternity,
bliss, and knowledge is first revealed in the pure consciousness
of the jiva, and then it is reflected in the mind. The external
form of the Deity is fashioned according to this transcendental
form revealed in the mind, and by the power of bhakti-yoga, the
sac-cid-ananda form of Bhagavan then manifests in the Deity.
When the devotee takes darsana of the Deity, that Deity unites
with the transcendental form of Bhagavan that the devotee sees
in his heart.
The Deity that the jnanis worship, however, is not like that.
They think that the Deity is a statue made of material elements,
but that the state of brahma is present in it while they are conducting
their worship, and that it becomes a mere material statue
again after they have finished their worship. Now you should
consider the difference between these two conceptions of the
Deity and their respective methods of worship. When you obtain
Vaishnava diksa by the mercy of a genuine guru, you will be
able to correctly understand this difference by observing the results
Devidasa: Yes, now this all makes more sense to me. Now I see that
the Vaishnavas are not just fanatics driven by blind faith; rather, they
are endowed with subtle and discriminating insight. There is a major
difference between the worship of the shri-murti and the temporary
worship of an imaginary form of the Lord that has been imposed on
a material object. There is no difference in the external procedures
of worship, but there is a vast difference in the faith of the two worshipers.
I will think about this for some days. Father, today my greatest
doubt has been dispelled. Now I can say emphatically that the
jnanis' worship is merely an attempt to cheat Shri Bhagavan. I will
submit this topic at your feet again at a later time.
After saying this, Devi Vidyaratna and Sambhu departed for
their residential quarters. They returned to Lahiri Mahasaya's
kutira in the late afternoon, but there was no opportunity to discuss
these topics further, for at that time everyone was immersed
The following afternoon, everyone seated themselves in
Paramahamsa Babaji's bower, Devi Vidyaratna and Sambhu sat
next to Lahiri Mahasaya. Just then, the Kazi from the village of
Brahmana-Puskarini arrived. When the Vaishnavas saw him, they
all stood up to offer him respect, and the Kazi also greeted the
Vaishnavas with great pleasure and then sat in the assembly.
Paramahamsa Babaji said, "You are blessed, for you are a descendant
of Chand Kazi who was an object of the mercy of Shri
Mahaprabhu. Please kindly bestow your mercy upon us."
The Kazi said, "By the mercy of Shri Mahaprabhu, we have become
the objects of mercy of the Vaishnavas. Gauranga is the Lord
of our life. We do not do anything without first offering our
dandavat-pranama to Him."
Lahiri Mahasaya was a learned scholar of the Farsi language, and
he had studied the thirty sepharas of the Qur'an, and many books
of the Sufis. He asked the Kazi, "According to your ideology, what
is meant by mukti?"
The Kazi replied, "What you refer to as the jiva, individual soul,
we call ruh. This ruh is found in two conditions: ruh-mujarrad, the
conscious or liberated soul; and ruh-tarkibi, the conditioned soul.
What you refer to as spirit (cit) we call mujarrad, and what you
refer to as matter (acit) we call jism. Mujarrad is beyond the limitations
of time and space, whereas jism is subordinate to time and
space. The ruh-tarkibi, or baddha-jiva, has a material mind and is
full of ignorance (malphut) and desires. The ruh-mujarrad are pure
and aloof from all these contaminations, and they reside in the
spiritual abode, which is known as alam al-mashal.
"The ruh becomes pure through the gradual development of ishqh
or prema. There is no influence of jism, or matter, in that abode
where Khoda (God) brought the prophet Paigambar Sahib. Yet
even there, the ruh remains as a servitor (banda), and the Lord is
the master. Therefore the relationship between the banda and
Khoda is eternal, and mukti is actually the attainment of this relationship
in its pure form. The Qur'an and the literature of the Sufis
explain these conclusions, but not everyone can understand them.
Gauranga Mahaprabhu mercifully taught Chand Kazi all these
points, and since that time we have become His unalloyed bhaktas."
Lahiri: What is the primary teaching of the Qur'an?
Kazi: According to the Qur'an, the Lord's personal abode, which
is the highest attainment in the spiritual world, is known as
behesht. It is a fact that there is no formal worship there, yet life
itself is worship (ibada). The residents of that abode are immersed
in transcendental bliss simply by seeing the Lord. This is the very
same teaching that has been presented by Shri Gaurangadeva.
Lahiri: Does the Qur'an accept that the Lord has a transcendental
Kazi: The Qur'an states that the Lord has no form. But Shri
Gaurangadeva told Chand Kazi that this teaching of the Qur'an
means that the Lord cannot have a material form. It does not preclude
the existence of His pure spiritual form. Paigambar Sahib saw
the divine loving form of the Lord in accordance with his level of
eligibility. The transcendental moods and sentiments that are characteristic
of the other rasas remained hidden from him.
Lahiri: What is the opinion of the Sufis in this regard?
Kazi: They adhere to the doctrine of ana al-haqq, which means "I
am Khoda." The Sufi (aswaph) doctrine of Islam is exactly the same
as the advaita-vada doctrine.
Lahiri: Are you a Sufi?
Kazi: No, we are unadulterated devotees. Gauranga is our very life.
The discussion went on for a long time, and finally Kazi Sahib
offered his respects to the Vaishnavas and departed. Hari-namasankirtana
followed, after which the assembly dispersed.
THUS ENDS THE FIFTH CHAPTER OF JAIVA-DHARMA,
"VAIDHI-BHAKTI IS NITYA NOT NAIMITTIKA"