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C H A P T E R 9
Nitya-Dharma, Material Science
Lahiri Mahasaya lived in the association of Vaishnavas in Shri
Godruma for three or four years, and thus his heart became
fully pure. At all times he chanted hari-nama: while eating, walking,
and sitting; before sleeping; and after rising. He wore simple
clothes and did not even use shoes or sandals. He had relinquished
his pride in his caste so completely that as soon as he saw a
Vaishnava, he would offer him dandavat-pranama, and forcibly take
the dust from his feet. He would seek out pure Vaishnavas in order
to honor the remnants of their meals. His sons came to him from
time to time, but when they understood his mood, they departed
quickly, not daring to propose that he should come home with
them. To look at Lahiri Mahasaya now, one would certainly take
him to be a Vaishnava Babaji.
From the philosophy of the Vaishnavas of Shri Godruma, Lahiri
Mahasaya had understood that the essential principle is genuine
detachment within the heart, and not the adoption of the external
dress of renunciation. In order to minimize his needs, he followed
the example of Shri Sanatana Gosvami and tore one piece of
cloth into four to use as his garments. Nonetheless, he still wore
his sacred thread around his neck. Whenever his sons wanted to
give him some money, he would reply, "I will not accept even a
single kaudi from materialists." Candrasekhara, his eldest son, once
brought him a hundred rupees for a festival to feed the Vaishnavas,
but Lahiri Mahasaya remembered Shri Dasa Gosvami's example, and
did not accept the money.
One day Paramahamsa Babaji said, "Lahiri Mahasaya, you are
now free from all traces of non-Vaishnava behavior. Even though
we have accepted the vows of mendicancy, we can still learn much
from you about renunciation. You need only accept a Vaishnava
name for everything to be complete."
Lahiri Mahasaya replied, "You are my parama-guru. Please do as
you see fit."
Babaji Mahasaya said, "Your residence is at Shri Santipura, so we
will address you as Shri Advaita dasa."
Lahiri Mahasaya fell in prostrated obeisance, and accepted the
mercy of his new name. From that day on, everyone called him Shri
Advaita dasa, and they referred to the kutira in which he resided
and performed his bhajana as Advaita-kutira.
Advaita dasa had a childhood friend named Digambara
Cattopadhyaya, who had earned vast wealth and reputation by
performing important services in the Muslim royal administration.
When Digambara Cattopadhyaya attained seniority, he retired
from his government post and returned to his village of
Ambika. There he heard that his childhood friend had renounced
his home and was now living in Godruma under the name, Shri
Advaita dasa, and was spending his time chanting hari-nama.
Digambara Cattopadhyaya was a dogmatic worshiper of the
Goddess Durga, and he would block his ears with his hands if he
so much as heard the name of a Vaishnava. When he heard about
the 'downfall' of his beloved friend, he said to his servant, "Vamana
dasa, arrange for a boat immediately, and I will go straight to
The servant quickly hired a boat and reported back to his master.
Digambara Cattopadhyaya was very astute. He was a scholar of
the tantra-sastras and was highly skilled in the ways of Muslim civilization.
His knowledge of Farsi and Arabic forced even Muslim
scholars and teachers to admit defeat at his hands, and he would
leave any brahmana scholar dumbfounded by his expertise in arguing
the tantra-sastra. He had acquired a significant reputation in
Delhi, Lucknow, and other cities, and in his spare time, he had
written a book called Tantra-sangraha, A Compendium on the
Tantra, in which he displayed his extensive learning through his
commentaries on the slokas.
Digambara took his Tantra-sangraha with him and climbed into
the boat in a fiery mood. Within six hours they arrived at Shri
Godruma, where Digambara instructed an intelligent man to go
to Shri Advaita dasa, while he himself remained in the boat.
Digambara's messenger found Shri Advaita dasa sitting in his kutira,
chanting hari-nama, and he offered pranama to him.
"Who are you, and why have you come?" inquired Advaita dasa.
The man replied, "I have been sent by the venerable Digambara
Cattopadhyaya. He asks whether Kalidasa still remembers him, or
whether he has forgotten him."
Shri Advaita dasa asked rather eagerly, "Where is Digambara? He
is my childhood friend; how could I possibly forget him? Has he
now adopted vaishnava-dharma?"
The man said, "He is sitting in a boat at the riverside. I cannot
say whether he is a Vaishnava or not."
Advaita dasa said, "Why is he at the riverside? Why doesn't he
come to my kutira?"
When the messenger heard these inviting words, he left to inform
Digambara, who arrived at Advaita-kutira within an hour,
accompanied by a few other gentlemen. Digambara had always been
a generous man at heart, and now he became overwhelmed with
joy when he saw his old friend. He embraced Shri Advaita dasa and
sang a song that he had composed himself:
kali! tomara lila-khela ke jane ma, tribhuvane?
kabhu purusa, kabhu nari, kabhu matta hao go rane
brahma ha'ye srsti kare, srsti nasa ha'ye hara,
visnu ha'ye visva-vyapi pala go ma, sarva-jane
krishna-rupe vrndavane, vamsi bajao vane vane,
(abara) gaura ha'ye navadvipe, matao sabe sankirtane
O Mother Kali, who in the three worlds can fathom your
pastimes? Sometimes you take the shape of a man, sometimes
that of a woman, and sometimes you appear in battle
in a ferocious mood. As Lord Brahma you create the universe,
as Lord Siva you destroy it, and as Lord Vishnu you
pervade the universe and maintain all living entities. As
Shri Krishna you appear in Vrndavana and wander from forest
to forest playing the flute. Then again, you appear in
Navadvipa as Shri Gaura and intoxicate everyone with the
Advaita dasa offered Digambara Cattopadhyaya a seat made of
leaves, saying, "Come in, my brother! Come in! It has been such a
long time since we last met."
Digambara sat on the seat, expressing his affection with tears
as he said, "My brother Kalidasa, where shall I go? Now you have
become a renunciant, and you don't care for the devas or for your
religious duties. I came from Punjab filled with so much hope, but
our boyhood friends have all gone. Pesa, Pagla, Khenda, Girish,
Ise Pagla, Dhanuva, Kele the carpenter and Kanti Bhattacarya have
all passed away. Now only you and I remain. I thought I could sometimes
cross the Ganga and meet you at Santipura, and you could
sometimes cross the Ganga and visit me in Ambika. We could have
spent whatever time remains to us singing together and studying
the tantra-sastra. Alas! Fate has dealt me a cruel blow. You have
become a worthless heap of cow-dung - of no use in this life or the
next. Tell me, how has this happened to you?"
Advaita dasa could see that his boyhood friend was most undesirable
company, and he began to devise a way of escaping from his
clutches. Thinking like this, he said, "Brother Digambara, do you
remember that day in Ambika when we were playing gulli-danda,
and we reached the old tamarind tree?"
Digambara: Yes, yes, I remember very clearly. It was the tamarind
tree just next to Gauridasa Pandita's house. Gaura-Nitai used to
sit underneath that tree.
Advaita: Brother, as we were playing, you said, "Don't touch this
tamarind tree. Aunt Saci's son used to sit here, and if we touch
this tree, we shall become renunciants."
Digambara: Yes, I remember it well. I noticed that you had some
leaning toward the Vaishnavas, and I said, "You will fall into
Advaita: Brother, that has been my nature. At that time, I was only
on the verge of falling into that trap, but now I have actually fallen
Digambara: Take my hand and come out. It is not good to remain
in a trap.
Advaita: Brother, I am very happy in this trap. I pray to remain
here forever. Just touch this trap once and see for yourself.
Digambara: I have seen everything. It seems like happiness in the
beginning, but in the end you will see that it is just deception.
Advaita: And what about the trap that you are in? Do you expect
to obtain great happiness in the end? Don't delude yourself.
Digambara: Look, we are the attendants of the Goddess Mahavidya
(Durga). We enjoy happiness now, and we will also enjoy it in the
hereafter. You think that you are happy now, but I don't see that
you are happy at all. Furthermore, there will be no limit to your
suffering in the end. I cannot understand why anyone becomes a
Vaishnava. You see, we enjoy eating meat and fish, we are well
dressed, and we are more civilized than you Vaishnavas. We enjoy
all the happiness that material science affords, whereas you are
deprived of all these things, and ultimately you will not even gain
Advaita: Brother, why do you claim that there will be no deliverance
for me in the end?
Digambara: No one - even Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, or Lord Siva
- can ever obtain salvation if they are indifferent to Mother
Nistarini. Mother Nistarini, she who grants deliverance, is the
primordial power. She manifests Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesa, and
after that she maintains them by her active potency (karya-sakti).
When that Mother desires, everything re-enters her womb, which
is the vessel that contains the entire universe. Have you ever worshiped
the Mother to invoke her mercy?
Advaita: Is Mother Nistarini a conscious entity or inert matter?
Digambara: She is consciousness personified, and she possesses
independent will. It is by her desire alone that spirit is created.
Advaita: What is purusa, and what is prakrti?
Digambara: Vaishnavas engage only in bhajana; they have no knowledge
of fundamental philosophical truths. Although purusa and
prakrti manifest as two phenomena, they are actually one, like the
two halves of a chick-pea. If you take the outer skin off the chickpea,
there are two halves; but if the outer skin remains, there is
one chick-pea. Purusa is conscious and prakrti is inert. When the
conscious and the inert merge into one undifferentiated substance,
it is known as brahma.
Advaita: Is your mother prakrti, female, or purusa, male?
Digambara: Sometimes she is female, and sometimes male.
Advaita: So, if purusa and prakrti are like the two halves of a chickpea
covered by a skin, which is the mother and which is the father?
Digambara: Are you making philosophical enquiries? Excellent!
We are well acquainted with the truth. The fact is that the mother
is prakrti, matter, and the father is chaitanya, consciousness.
Advaita: And who are you?
Digambara: Pasa-baddho bhavej jivah pasu-muktah sadasivah: "When
one is bound by the ropes of maya, one is a jiva; and when one is
released from those bonds, one is Lord Sadasiva."
Advaita: So are you spirit or matter?
Digambara: I am spirit, and Mother is matter. When I am bound,
she is Mother; when I become liberated, she will be my wife.
Advaita: Oh, splendid! Now the whole truth is exposed without
any doubt. The person who is your mother now will become your
wife later. Where did you get such a philosophy?
Digambara: Brother, I am not like you, simply wandering here and
there saying, "Vaishnava! Vaishnava!" I have acquired this knowledge
by associating with innumerable perfected and liberated sannyasis,
brahmacaris and tantrikas, and by studying the tantra-sastras day
and night. If you wish, I can also make you fit for understanding
Advaita dasa thought to himself, "What a ghastly misfortune!"
But aloud he said, "Very well. Please explain one idea to me. What
is civilization, and what is material science (prakrtika-vijnana)?"
Digambara: Civilization means to speak courteously in a cultured
society, to dress oneself in a respectable and pleasing manner, and
to eat and to conduct oneself in a way that is not repugnant to
others. You do none of these things.
Advaita: Why do you say that?
Digambara: You are distinctly unsociable, for you do not mingle
with others. The Vaishnavas have never learned what it means to
please others with sweet words. As soon as they lay eyes on anyone,
they command him to chant hari-nama. Why, is there no other
civilized discussion? Anyone who sees your dress will not be inclined
to let you sit in an assembly. You wear a loincloth, a peculiar
tuft of hair on the top of your head, and a garland of beads
around your neck. What kind of an outfit is this? And you eat only
potatoes and roots. You are not at all civilized.
Advaita dasa determined that if he were to start a quarrel and
Digambara went away angered, it would be a great relief. So he said,
"Does your type of civilized living give you the opportunity to
attain a higher destination in the next life?"
Digambara: Culture does not in itself grant one a higher destination
in the next life, but how can society be elevated without
culture? If society is elevated, then one can endeavor for progress
in other planets.
Advaita: Brother, I may say something, if you will not become angry.
Digambara: You are my childhood friend; I would give up my life
for you. How can I not tolerate whatever you have to say? I am fond
of courtesy; even if I become angry, my words remain sweet. The
more a man can conceal his inner feelings, the more cultured he is
considered to be.
Advaita: Human life is very short, and there are many disturbances.
In this brief span of life, the only duty of humanity is to worship
Shri Hari with simplicity. Studying the ways of material civilization
and culture is simply deceiving the soul. I have understood that
the word sabhyata (civilization) is simply another name for civil
deception. A human being remains simple as long as he adheres to
the path of truth. When he adopts the path of dishonesty, he desires
to appear civilized and to please others by sweet words, but
internally he remains addicted to deception and wicked deeds.
What you describe as civilization has no good qualities, because
truthfulness and simplicity are really the only good qualities.
In modern times, civilization has come to mean keeping one's
depravity concealed within. The word sabhyata literally means fitness
to participate in a sabha, or a virtuous assembly. In reality,
civilization that is free from sin and deception is only found among
Vaishnavas. Non-Vaishnavas very much appreciate civilization that
is saturated with sin. The civilization that you speak of is not related
to the nitya-dharma of the jiva.
If civilization means to adorn oneself in stylish clothes to appeal
to others, then prostitutes are more civilized than you are.
The only requirement for clothing is that it should cover the body
and be clean and free from unpleasant odor. Food is faultless when
it is pure and nutritious, but you only care whether it tastes good;
you don't even consider whether it is pure or not. Wine and meat
are naturally impure, and a civilization based upon the consumption
of such things is simply a society dedicated to sin. What passes
as civilization at present is the culture of Kali-yuga.
Digambara: Have you forgotten the civilization of the Muslim
emperors? Just consider the manners with which people sit in the
court of a Muslim emperor, how politely they speak, and with such
Advaita: That is only worldly conduct. How deficient is a man,
really, if he does not abide by these external formalities? Brother,
you have served in the Muslim government for so long that you
have become partial to that type of civilization. In reality, human
life only becomes civilized when it is sinless. The so-called advancement
of civilization in Kali-yuga simply means an increase in sinful
activity; this is nothing but hypocrisy.
Digambara: Look, educated modern men have concluded that civilization
means humanism, and that those who are not civilized are
not human beings. To dress women attractively and thereby conceal
their faults is considered to be a sign of sophistication.
Advaita: Just consider whether this idea is good or bad. I perceive
that those whom you call 'educated' are merely rogues who have
taken advantage of the times. Such people favor this deceitful civilization
partly because of sinful impressions within their hearts,
and partly because they see it as an opportunity to conceal their
faults. Can a wise man find happiness in such a civilization? Only
vain arguments and physical intimidation can maintain veneration
for a civilization of rogues.
Digambara: Some people say that society is advancing with the
increase of knowledge in the world, and eventually it will be like
heaven on earth.
Advaita: That is simply fantasy. It is quite extraordinary that people
have faith in this, and it is even more bizarre that others have the
audacity to propagate such a view without actually believing it
themselves. There are two types of knowledge: paramarthika knowledge
relates to eternal truth, while laukika knowledge relates to
this transitory world. Paramarthika knowledge does not seem to
be increasing; on the contrary, in most cases knowledge has been
corrupted and deviated from its original nature. Only laukika
knowledge seems to be on the increase. Does the jiva have an eternal
relationship with laukika knowledge? When laukika-jnana increases,
people's minds become distracted by temporary material
pursuits, and they neglect the original spiritual truth. I firmly
believe that the more laukika-jnana increases, the more duplicitous
a civilization becomes. This is a great misfortune for the living
Digambara: A misfortune? Why?
Advaita: As I said before, human life is very short. The jivas are
like travelers at an inn, and they should use this brief span of life
to prepare themselves for their ultimate destination. It would be
sheer foolishness if travelers staying in an inn were so caught up
with improving the conditions of their stay that they forgot their
destination. The more one's involvement with material knowledge
increases, the more one's time for spiritual matters dwindles.
I am convinced that material knowledge should be used only as
much as it is needed to maintain one's livelihood. There is no
necessity for excessive material knowledge and its companion,
material civilization. For how many days will this earthly glitter
Digambara: I see that I have fallen into the clutches of an unyielding
renunciant. Then does society serve no function?
Advaita: That depends upon the composition of a particular society.
The function served by a society of Vaishnavas is highly beneficial
for the jivas, but a society of non-Vaishnavas, or a society that is
merely secular, serves no advantageous function for the jivas. But
enough of this topic. Tell me, What do you mean by material science?
Digambara: The tantra-sastra has delineated many types of material
science (prakrtika-vijnana). Material science includes whatever
knowledge, skill and beauty are to be found in the material world,
as well as all the various branches of knowledge, such as military
science, medical science, music, dance, and astronomy. Prakrti (material
nature) is the primordial power, and by her own potency she
has manifested this material universe and all the variety in it. Each
and every form is a by-product of this potency and is accompanied
by the knowledge or science corresponding to it. When one acquires
that knowledge, he is liberated from sins committed to
Mother Nistarini. The Vaishnavas do not seek this knowledge, but
we saktas will obtain liberation on the strength of it. Just consider
how many books have been written in pursuance of this knowledge
by great men such as Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, and the famous
Advaita: Digambara, you have said that the Vaishnavas have no
interest in vijnana (experiential, realized knowledge), but that is
not true. The pure knowledge of the Vaishnavas is endowed with
shri bhagavan uvaca
jnanam parama-guhyam me yad-vijnana-samanvitam
sa-rahasyam tad-angam ca grhana gaditam maya
Shri Bhagavan said, "O Brahma, knowledge of Me is nondual,
and yet it has four distinct divisions: jnana, vijnana,
rahasya and tad-anga. A jiva cannot understand this by his
own intelligence, but you can understand it by My mercy.
Jnana is My svarupa, and My relationship with My potency
is vijnana. The jiva is My rahasya (secret mystery), and
pradhana is My jnana-anga."
Before this creation, Bhagavan was pleased with Brahma's worship,
and instructed him on the tenets of pure vaishnava-dharma.
Bhagavan said, "O Brahma, I am explaining to you this most confidential
jnana of Myself, the vijnana with which it is endowed, its
rahasya, and all of its angas (components). Accept all of this from
Digambara, there are two types of knowledge: suddha-jnana, pure
knowledge, and visaya-jnana, knowledge of material objects. All
human beings acquire visaya-jnana through the senses, but that
knowledge is impure, so it is useless for discerning transcendental
objects. It is only useful in relation to the jiva's conditioned state
of material existence. Knowledge that pertains to spiritual consciousness
is known as suddha-jnana. That is eternal, and it is the
basis of the Vaishnavas' devotional service. Spiritual knowledge is
the antithesis of material knowledge, and is completely distinct
from it. You say that visaya-jnana is vijnana, but it is not vijnana in
the true sense of the term. The real reason that your Ayur-veda
and other types of material knowledge are called vijnana is that
they are in contrast to pure spiritual knowledge. True vijnana is
that pure knowledge that is distinct from material knowledge.
There is no difference between jnana, which is the knowledge of a
truly abiding substance (cid-vastu), and vijnana, which is the
knowledge of how such an object is distinct from matter. Jnana is
direct perception of a transcendental object, whereas vijnana is
the establishment of pure knowledge in contrast to material knowledge.
Although these two are actually the same thing, they are
known either as jnana or as vijnana according to the methods they
You refer to material knowledge as vijnana, but the Vaishnavas
say that vijnana is the true diagnosis of material knowledge. They
have examined the nature of military science, medical science,
astronomy, and chemistry, and they have concluded that these are
all material knowledge, and that the jiva has no eternal connection
with them. Therefore, these different types of material knowledge
are of no consequence in relation to the jiva's nitya-dharma.
The Vaishnavas understand that those who are expanding their
mundane knowledge according to their material propensities are
immersed in karma-kanda. However, Vaishnavas do not condemn
such people. Indirectly, the endeavors for material improvement
help the Vaishnavas' spiritual progress to some extent. The material
knowledge of those who pursue material advancement is insignificant,
and you may call it prakrtika-vijnana, natural science.
There is certainly no objection to that. It is foolish to quarrel over
Digambara: Well, if there were no advancement of material knowledge,
how could you Vaishnavas conveniently satisfy your material
needs and be free to engage in bhajana? You should also make some
endeavor for material advancement.
Advaita: People work in different ways, according to their respective
inclinations, but Isvara is the supreme controller of all, and
He awards each person the appropriate result of his action.
Digambara: Where does inclination come from?
Advaita: Inclination develops from deep-rooted impressions in the
heart, acquired through previous activities. The more extensively
one is involved with matter, the more expert he will be in material
knowledge and the crafts originating from such knowledge. The
articles that such people manufacture may help the Vaishnavas to
serve Krishna, but there is no need for the Vaishnavas to labor for
them separately. For example, carpenters earn their livelihood by
producing simhasanas, which grhastha Vaishnavas use as platforms
where they place the Deity. Bees are inclined to gather honey,
which devotees accept for the service of the Deity. It is not that
all the jivas of the world endeavor for spiritual advancement. They
are engaged in different types of work, impelled by their respective
Human beings have different types of tendencies, some high and
some low. Those with lower natures are engaged in varieties of
work impelled by their lower tendencies. The menial labor they
perform assists other types of work which are prompted by higher
natures. The wheel of this universe turns by the virtue of this
division of work. Everyone who is under the jurisdiction of matter
works according to his material propensity, and thereby assists the
Vaishnavas in their spiritual development. Such materialists are not
aware that their activities are helping the Vaishnavas because they
are bewildered by the potency of Shri Vishnu's maya. Consequently,
the entire world serves the Vaishnavas, but unknowingly.
Digambara: What is this visnu-maya?
Advaita: In the Candi-mahatmya of the Markandeya Purana (81.40),
visnu-maya is described, mahamaya hareh saktir yaya sammohitam
jagat: "The potency of Bhagavan by which the entire world is bewildered
is known as mahamaya."
Digambara: Then who is the goddess I know as Mother Nistarini?
Advaita: She is Shri Hari's external potency known as visnu-maya.
Digambara opened his book on tantra and said, "Look, it states
in tantra-sastra that my divine mother is consciousness personified.
She possesses full will and she is beyond the three qualities
of material nature, yet she is the support of those three qualities.
Your visnu-maya is not free from the influence of the modes of
nature, so how can you equate your visnu-maya with my mother?
This type of fanaticism on the part of the Vaishnavas really irritates
me. You Vaishnavas have blind faith."
Advaita: My brother, Digambara, please don't be angry. You have
come to see me after such a long time, and I want to satisfy you. Is
it a slight to speak of visnu-maya? Bhagavan Vishnu is the embodiment
of supreme consciousness, and He is the one supreme controller
of all. Everything that exists is His potency. Potency is not
an independent object (vastu), but rather the functional power
inherent within an object (vastu-dharma). To say that sakti (potency)
is the root of everything is thoroughly opposed to tattva,
metaphysical truth. Sakti cannot exist independent of the object
from which it originates. We must first accept the existence of an
object that possesses full spiritual consciousness, otherwise accepting
sakti by itself is like dreaming of a flower in the sky.
The commentary on Vedanta states, sakti-saktimator abhedah:
"There is no difference between the potency and the possessor
of potency." This means that sakti is not a separate object. The
Supreme Person who is the master of all potencies is the one truly
abiding substance. Sakti is the quality, or inherent function, that
is subordinate to His will. You have said that sakti is the embodiment
of consciousness, that it possesses will, and that it is beyond
the influence of the three qualities of material nature. This
is correct, but only insofar as sakti operates fully under the support
of a pure conscious entity, and is thus considered identical
with that powerful entity. Desire and consciousness depend on
the Supreme Being. Desire cannot exist in sakti; rather, sakti acts
in accordance with the desire of the Supreme Being. You have
the power to move, and when you desire to move, that power will
act. To say "the power is moving" is merely a figure of speech; it
actually means that the person who possesses that power is moving.
Bhagavan has only one sakti, which is manifest in different forms.
When it functions in a spiritual capacity, it is known as cit-sakti,
and when it operates in a material capacity, it is known as maya, or
jada-sakti. It is stated in the Svetasvatara Upanisad (6.8), parasya
saktir vividhaiva sruyate, "The Vedas say that Bhagavan's divine sakti
is full of variety."
The sakti that supports the three modes of material nature -
sattva, rajah, and tamah - is known as jada-sakti, and its functions
are to create and destroy the universe. The Puranas and the Tantra
refer to it as visnu-maya, mahamaya, maya, and so on. There are
many allegorical descriptions of her activities. For example, it is
said that she is the mother of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, and that
she slew the demoniac brothers Sumbha and Nisumbha. The living
entity remains under the control of this sakti as long as he is
engrossed in material enjoyment. When the jiva is endowed with
pure knowledge, he becomes aware of his own svarupa, and this
awareness enables him to transcend maya-sakti and attain the liberated
status. He then comes under the control of cit-sakti and obtains
Digambara: Are you not under the control of some power?
Advaita: Yes, we are jiva-sakti. We have abandoned maya-sakti and
come under the protection of cit-sakti.
Digambara: Then you are also a sakta.
Advaita: Yes, the Vaishnavas are true saktas. We are under the control
of Shri Radhika, who is the embodiment of cit-sakti. It is only
under Her shelter that we render service to Krishna, so who is more
of a sakta than the Vaishnavas? We do not see any difference between
the Vaishnavas and the real saktas. Those who are only attached
to maya-sakti, without taking shelter of cit-sakti, may be
called saktas, but they are not Vaishnavas; they are only materialists.
In the Narada-pancaratra, Shri Durga Devi explains:
tava vaksasi radhaham rase vrndavane vane
In the forest known as Vrndavana, I am Your internal sakti,
Shri Radhika, who adorns Your chest in the rasa dance.
From this statement of Durga Devi, it is clear that there is only
one sakti, not two. That sakti is Radhika when She manifests as
the internal potency, and she is Durga when she is manifested as
the external potency. In the condition of freedom from contact
with the material modes of nature, visnu-maya is the cit-sakti. That
same visnu-maya is the jada-sakti when it is endowed with the modes
Digambara: You said that you are jiva-sakti. What is that?
Advaita: Bhagavan has said in the Bhagavad-gita (7.4-5):
bhumir apo 'nalo vayuh kham mano buddhir eva ca
ahankara itiyam me bhinna prakrtir astadha
apareyam itas tv anyam prakrtim viddhi me param
jiva-bhutam maha-baho yayedam dharyate jagat
My inferior, or material prakrti, is comprised of the eight
components: earth, water, fire, air, space, mind, intelligence,
and ego. These eight elements are under the control of jadamaya.
There is however another prakrti which is superior
to this jada-prakrti and which consists of the jivas. By it this
material world is perceived or seen.
Digambara, do you know the glory of Bhagavad-gita? This sastra
is the essence of the instructions of all the sastras, and it resolves all
conflicts between the various philosophical ideologies. It establishes
that the category of entities known as jiva-tattva is fundamentally
different from the material world and is one of Isvara's potencies.
Learned authorities refer to this tattva as the tatastha-sakti.
This sakti is superior to the external potency and inferior to the
internal potency. Therefore, the jivas are a unique sakti of Krishna.
Digambara: Kalidasa, have you read the Bhagavad-gita?
Advaita: Yes, I read it quite some time ago.
Digambara: What is the nature of its philosophical teachings?
Advaita: My brother, Digambara, people praise molasses only as
long as they have not tasted sugar-candy.
Digambara: My brother, this is simply blind faith on your part.
Everyone has tremendous regard for the Devi-Bhagavata and the
Devi-gita. You Vaishnavas are the only people who cannot even bear
to hear the names of these two books.
Advaita: Have you read the Devi-gita?
Digambara: No. Why should I lie? I was going to copy these two
books, but I still have not been able to do so.
Advaita: How can you say whether a book is good or bad when you
have not even read it? Is it my faith or yours that is blind?
Digambara: Brother, I have been somewhat afraid of you ever since
childhood. You were always very talkative, but now that you have
become a Vaishnava, you are even more assertive in expressing your
views. Whatever I say, you cut to pieces.
Advaita: I am certainly a worthless fool, but I can see that there is
no suddha-dharma apart from vaishnava-dharma. You were always
inimical to the Vaishnavas, and that is why you could not even recognize
the path to your own auspiciousness.
Digambara: (a little angry) Do you claim that I cannot see the path
to my own auspiciousness, when I have performed so much sadhana
and bhajana? Have I been cutting grass all this time to feed my horse?
Just look at this Tantra-sangraha that I have written! Do you think
it was a joke to produce a book like this? You arrogantly flaunt your
Vaisnavism, and ridicule modern science and civilization. What
am I to do about this? Come, let us go to a civilized assembly and
see who will be judged right - you or me.
Advaita dasa wanted to be free from Digambara's undesirable
association as soon as possible, for he felt that this meeting was
completely non-productive. "Well brother," he said, "what use
will your material science and civilization be at the time of
Digambara: Kalidasa, you are really a strange fellow. Will anything
remain after death? As long as you are alive, you should try to
acquire fame among civilized men and enjoy the five pleasures:
wine, meat, fish, wealth, and women. At the time of death,
Mother Nistarini will arrange for you to go wherever you are
meant to go. Death is certain, so why are you subjecting yourself
to so much tribulation at present? Where will you be when the
five elements of this body merge with the five great elements of
This world is maya, yogamaya and mahamaya. It is she who can
award you happiness now and liberation after death. Nothing
exists except sakti; you have come from sakti, and you will return
to sakti in the end. Just serve sakti and witness the power of sakti
in science. Try to increase your spiritual power through yoga
discipline. In the end, you will see that there is nothing other than
this imperceptible potency. Where did you get this far-fetched tale
about a conscious supreme God? Your belief in such a story is
making you suffer now, and I can't fathom what destination you
will attain in the next life that will be superior to ours. What is
the need for a personal God? Just serve sakti, and when you merge
into that sakti, you will remain there eternally.
Advaita: My brother, you have become infatuated with this material
sakti. If there is an all-knowing Bhagavan, then what will happen
to you after death? What is happiness? Happiness is peace of
mind. I have given up all material pleasure, and found happiness
in inner peace. If there is anything more to be achieved after death,
I will attain that as well. You are not satisfied. The more you try to
enjoy, the more your thirst for material pleasure expands. You do
not even know what happiness is. You are simply drifting in the
current of sensuality and calling out, "Pleasure! Pleasure!" but one
day you will fall into an ocean of sorrow.
Digambara: Whatever will be my fate will be. But why have you
abandoned the association of cultured men?
Advaita: I have not renounced the association of cultured men;
rather, that is precisely what I have obtained. I am trying to give
up the association of degenerate men.
Digambara: How do you define degenerate association?
Advaita: Please hear without becoming angry, and I will tell you.
Shrimad-Bhagavatam says (4.30.33):
yavat te mayaya sprsta bhramama iha karmabhih
tavad bhavat-prasanganam sangah syan no bhave bhave
quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa (10.292)
O Bhagavan! We pray that as long as we are bewildered by
Your illusory potency and are wandering in material existence
under the influence of our karmic activities, we may
have the association of Your premi bhaktas birth after birth.
It is said in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa (10.294):
asadbhih saha sangas tu na kartavyah kadacana
yasmat sarvartha-hanih syad adhah-patas ca jayate
One should never associate with people who are immersed
in non-reality, for by such association one is deprived of all
worthwhile objects of attainment and falls down to a degraded
The Katyayana-samhita states:
varam hutavaha-jvala panjarantar-vyavasthitih
quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa (10.295)
Even if I should die in a blazing fire or be trapped for all
time in a cage, I still do not want the company of persons
averse to thinking of Krishna.
It is said in Shrimad-Bhagavatam (3.31.33-34):
satyam saucam daya maunam buddhir hrir shrir yasah ksama
samo damo bhagas ceti yat-sangad yati sanksayam
tesv asantesu mudhesu khanditatmasv asadhusu
sangam na kuryac chocyesu yosit-krida-mrgesu ca
quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa (10.297-298)
If one associates with those who are devoid of virtue, one's
good qualities - such as truthfulness, cleanliness, mercy,
restraint of speech, intelligence, shyness, wealth, fame, forgiveness,
control of the senses, control of the mind, and
fortune - completely fade away. Therefore, one should never
associate with disgraceful people who are agitated by desires
for sense enjoyment, who are foolish, who are engrossed
in the bodily conception of life, and who are playthings
in the hands of women.
It is said in the Garuda Purana (231.17):
antargato 'pi vedanam sarva-sastrartha-vedy api
yo na sarvesvare bhaktas tam vidyat purusadhamam
quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa (10.303)
One may have studied all the Vedas and be acquainted with
the meaning of all the sastras, but if he is not a devotee of
Shri Hari, he should be understood as the lowest of men.
Shrimad-Bhagavatam (6.1.18) states:
prayascittani cirnani narayana-paranmukham
na nispunanti rajendra sura-kumbham ivapagah
quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa (10.305)
O King, just as the water of many rivers cannot purify a wine
pot, similarly, a person who is averse to Shri Narayana cannot
become purified by all the different types of atonement,
even if they are executed perfectly again and again.
It is said in the Skanda Purana:
hanti nindati vai dvesti vaishnavan nabhinandati
krudhyate yati no harsam darsane patanani sat
quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa (10.312)
The six causes of downfall are to beat a Vaishnava, to slander
him, to bear malice against him, to fail to welcome or
please him, to display anger towards him, and to not feel
pleasure upon seeing him.
Digambara, a person can never attain auspiciousness through
these types of immoral association. What possible benefit can one
gain by living in a society composed of such men?
Digambara: Well now, what a distinguished gentleman I have come
to speak with! You should certainly stay amidst the pure Vaishnavas.
I am going to my own house.
Advaita dasa felt that his exchange with Digambara was drawing
to a close, and that it would be appropriate to conclude on a
pleasant note. In a courteous mood he said, "You are my childhood
friend. I know you must return home, but I don't want you to go
just yet. You have come all this way, so please stay for a while. Take
some prasada, and then you may go."
Digambara: Kalidasa, you know very well that I follow a strict diet.
I only eat havisya, and I had a meal just before coming here. However,
it was a pleasure to see you. I will come again if I find the time.
I cannot stay overnight because I have some duties to perform according
to the system given to me by my guru. Brother, I must take
my leave for today.
Advaita: I shall see you off to the boat. Let us go.
Digambara: No, no. Carry on with your own business. I have some
men with me.
Digambara then went away, singing a song about Goddess Kali,
and Advaita dasa was able to chant shri-nama in his kutira without
THUS ENDS THE NINTH CHAPTER OF JAIVA-DHARMA,
"NITYA-DHARMA, MATERIAL SCIENCE & CIVILIZATION"