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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Compiled and Imp Scriptures > Jaiva Dharma > 9. Nitya-Dharma, Material Science & Civilization


C H A P T E R 9

Nitya-Dharma, Material Science

& Civilization


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

chanting shri-hari-nama.


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

Gauranga's trap."


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

this knowledge.


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

proper etiquette.


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

Shrimad-Bhagavatam (2.9.31)


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

spiritual happiness.


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

of nature.


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

material nature?


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

na sauri-cinta-vimukha-jana-samvasa-vaisasam

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

further obstruction.