Beyond the mundane logic. The plane of reason
So, after all of this I’m thinking of something I heard Śrīla Guru Mahārāj say recently with regard to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, I’ll read it from his notes, he said, “There is a saying,” and he’s singing a Bengali song, and that Bengali song says, “If I can be mad, besides my reason—leave my reason behind, can cross by reason the world—the plain of reason, then I shall feel much satisfaction. If I become mad rather than a sane man in this plane, I want to be mad.” Then he quotes the Bengali which is saying, “Pāgala haite.... āmi yābo, Brahma pāgala Viṣṇu pāgala...”
It’s not just the tangent, it’s not just some history. We hear that Nabadwīp [is] this famous place of learning, and more specifically what kind of learning? Nyāya. Nyāya means logic, rational thinking. That’s what it was famous for. That’s why it’s very important that these Pastimes begin there, it’s a peripheral reason, but a reason nonetheless. So, in the place where they’re completely established in logic, they’re the Gurus of logic, that’s what Nabadwīp was at the time of Mahāprabhu, everyone in India knew, it had this reputation. The greatest paṇḍits were there, the greatest logician, the greatest nyāyic thinkers. Nyāya is Sanskrit for logic. So, that’s where they are. And what’s being sung in this song is saying that three pāgal people (pāgal means crazy), three crazies entered Nabadwīp and started smashing all of this logic and rational thinking, who are they? They’re Brahma, Viṣṇu, and Śiva. Who are the three crazy people? Brahma means Haridās Ṭhākur, as we sometimes say Brahma Haridās, Viṣṇu in this case means Nimāi Paṇḍit, and Śiva in this context means Advaita Āchārya. They’re the three pāgal, the three crazy people who are smashing all the logic of the logicians of Nabadwīp. So, the real world entered.
He says, “What is desirable for Brahma and Śiva has been pulled down in this worldly ordinary plane, and they’re dancing, chanting and playing mṛdaṅgas, madly. And ordinary people are very satisfied. And the logicians are puzzled: ‘What is this, mad abnormal thinking?’ So, what is normal to the plane of logicians? We want to neglect that. No logic.”
So, when Mahāprabhu is called over by Prakāśānanda Saraswatī, the leader of 60,000 māyāvādī sannyāsīs, he’s saying, “You look like a very dignified person and very honourable and respectable, but we hear, word has come to us that you’re singing, dancing, chanting, getting emotional, expressing different types of sentiments, so that’s not the proper behaviour, mood and characteristics for a sannyāsī. The sannyāsī should be engaged in studying seriously the scriptures and have a grave persona about them. So, these are the rumours I’ve heard, I don’t know how so far it’s true.”
So, Mahāprabhu’s response to that [was] a very famous śloka from the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam,
jātānurāgo druta-chitta uchchaiḥ
hasaty atho roditi rauti gāyaty
unmāda-van nṛtyati loka-bāhyaḥ
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 11.2.40)
Mahāprabhu’s answering him by saying, “My Guru Mahārāj could see that I didn’t have the adhikār, I wasn’t so qualified to study philosophy, Vedānta and such things. So, he told me, ‘Considering your lack of qualification,’ he called me mūrkha (which means foolish), ‘you just take this Kṛṣṇa-nām—chant this Holy Name,’ he could see I was just a simple hearted person, ‘and you don’t need to focus so much on the study of Vedānta and other things.’” And then Mahāprabhu was saying, “I began taking Kṛṣṇa-nām,” like in Guru Mahārāj’s song echoing what was expressed in Chaitanya-charitāmṛta,
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram
It’s also expressed in the begining,
Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa is the abode of all nectarean substance
That Kṛṣṇa-nām is the abode of all nectarean substances. So, Nimāi Paṇḍit is saying, “I found [that] after my Guru gave me this mantram, I would chant the mantra, and then sometimes I would experience ecstasy, my hairs would be standing on end, tears are coming out, sometimes I’m laughing, madly, like a madman, just laughing.” And he describes all the ecstatic effects of taking Kṛṣṇa-nām. He said, “So I went back to my Guru and said, ‘What kind of a mantra have you given me? What is this?’ And the Guru told, ‘What is the problem?’ ‘I’m taking this name and sometimes I’m crying, sometimes I’m laughing like a madman, my hairs are standing on end, I’m falling on the ground, I’m becoming stunned in the process.’ And Gurudev went, ‘Ohhh, Hare Kṛṣṇa. We’ve read about this in the scriptures, that for those who are pure, there’s a state of divine happiness and madness. For those whose heart is pure, who can offencelessly chant the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa, these will be the effects.’”
In the Śikṣāṣṭakam, it says,
ānandāmbudhi-vardhanaṁ prati-padaṁ pūrṇāmṛtāsvādanaṁ
sarvvātma-snapanaṁ paraṁ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrttanam
So, anyway, Mahāprabhu’s Guru took it that, “Yes, when we’re told that one can chant the Holy Name offencelessly then the natural outcome is spiritual ecstasy, so you’re very blessed.” And that was the beginning of his description to Prakāśānanda Saraswatī Ṭhākur. But then we should point out the first reason he noticed Mahāprabhu. [There is a] custom in India: when walking, it’s dusty there, the feet get dirty, so when you reach the doorway you wash your feet first and then go and take your seat. But Śrī Kṛṣṇa Chaitanya Mahāprabhu, after arriving and washing his feet, sat in that area which is, you can say, considered to be a little unfit, unclean. But at the same time, sitting there in a potentially dirty place, or a conventionally dirty place, everyone noticed this incredible effulgence that had entered the room, so they’re all drawn towards this divine radiance emanating from him, and that’s when Prakāśānanda said, “Your holiness, please, come here.” What is that effulgence? Rūpa Goswāmī gives us a hint, because it’s the external manifestation of what’s going on internally with Mahāprabhu. So, in the Chaitanyāṣṭakam,
yatīnām uttaṁsas taraṇikara-vidyoti-vasanaḥ
hiraṇyāṇāṁ lakṣmī-bharam abhibhavann āṅgika-ruchā
sa chaitanyaḥ kiṁ me punar api dṛśor yāsyati padam
(Prathama Chaitanyāṣṭaka: 4)
Here Rūpa Goswāmī is giving some description of Mahāprabhu, “Hiraṇyāṇāṁ lakṣmī-bharam abhibhavann āṅgika-ruchā,”—this golden effulgence. “Yatīnām,”—as a sannyāsī, “yatīnām uttaṁsas taraṇikara-vidyoti-vasanaḥ,” so great was the radiance coming from Mahāprabhu’s heart, infused [by], “Rādha-bhāva-dyuti-suvalitaṁ naumi Kṛṣṇa-svarūpam,” (Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: Ādi 1.5) that not only was his complexion radiant like molten gold, but the sannyās-veṣa was also as if it was being illuminated. All the clothes covering him were also glowing, that’s how great his effulgence was.
So they invited him in, and then of course he discussed with [Prakāśānanda Saraswatī] the actual meaning of the Vedānta-sutra. [He] converted Prakāśānanda Saraswati who had 60,000 followers. So, as [he was] the Guru. By converting him, his disciples—60,0000 sannyāsīs were also converted.
Einstein: madman or genius?
Śrīla Guru Mahārāj makes this point from time to time, where Mahāprabhu tells Rāmānanda, “Āmi—eka bātula, tumi—dvitīya,” (Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: Madhya, 8.291)—I’m the first crazy and you’re the second. And what does that mean? It’s paralleled in the Bhagavad-gītā śloka, “Yā niśā sarva-bhūtānāṁ tasyāṁ jāgarti saṁyamī...” (Bhagavad-gītā: 2.69)—what is night for one is the time of awakening for another, and vice versa. So it means that there’s a world and someone’s awake in that world and everything is understandable, perceivable to them, and it’s like madness to ordinary people. But is it madness, or is it something substantial? Śrīla Guru Mahārāj would give the example of Einstein, saying that what makes sense in the brain of Einstein, that might appear to be madness to an ordinary person. But does that mean that Einstein is crazy or an ordinary person is crazy? If he writes one of his formula on the board, you say, what is that? These symbols, it looks crazy to an ordinary person. If he starts explaining one his theories, they will say, “What is he talking about?” But is it that he’s mad and what he’s talking about makes no sense, there’s nothing of value there, nothing substantial? Or this is why we designate him Einstein and we recognise that we may not be able to appreciate what is there, but those who have some ability or capacity, they can verify that there’s something substantial there.
Great sages give their recognition to the unique position of Śukadev Goswāmī
So, in a similar way, Mahāprabhu and his followers were misperceived, thought to be mad. Śukadev Goswāmī was thought to be mad, Gaura Kiśor Dās Bābājī Mahārāj was thought to be mad. We hear, before Śukadev Goswāmī arrives at the Sukertal, where Parīkṣit Mahārāj has assembled with all these sages, he’s 16 years old [boy] wondering naked, children are yelling at him calling him names, throwing things. So, from their point of view he just looks like another pāgal, crazy person. When he walks into the assembly of these sages (the greatest sages in the universe assembled by mystic power, come from all different parts of the universe) to give advice to Parīkṣit Mahārāj, they have the opposite reaction. So, the normal people thought he was crazy, the highly evolved people, by just viewing him can understand that he’s not crazy but actually he’s a liberated soul of the highest rank. It’s mentioned there because they are adept in the art of physiognomy, they can tell by looking at his body, the shape the structure. There’re some beautiful ślokas there just telling about the beauty of neck of Śukadev Goswāmī. So, what do they do? Recently in India Janārdan Mahārāj was telling that Gurudev used to tell some story where they would sit stroking their beards and going, “Can do? Yes we can.” [But although] these sages have beards down to their knees, they elevate a 16 year old naked boy to the presidential seat. Śukadev Goswāmī is offered the vyāsāsan,16 year old naked boy. Why do they do it, they haven’t heard him say anything yet? Just by looking at him, and also—he’s legendary, they’ve heard something, “Oh this is that Śukadev that we heard, he was a liberated should within the womb of his mother,” that’s part of his legend. So, when he came out he was already fully developed.
And that’s one of the reasons why they offer him this position. Because up to this point they’re giving Parīkṣit Mahārāj advice on the basis of what helped them. And that’s a natural thing to do—we share. If someone’s suffering from something and you were suffering in a similar way and something’s helping you to repair your health or improve you can naturally share it with that person.
But when Śukadev Goswāmī comes, his position is unique because he was never suffering from illusion, he wasn’t a conditioned soul before. So, his advice is going to be unique. And because Parīkṣit Mahārāj was getting different advice from different sages [and] someone’s saying, ‘you should do yoga’, ‘you should do tapasya’, ‘you should give in charity’, ‘you should do this...’—there’re karma-yoga, jñāna-yoga, different ways to approach this, he said, “Look, I have 7 days time, and all the recommendations you’re giving me you could devote a whole lifetime to studying any one of them. You could devote your whole life to practicing any one of these things. It’s all good advice, but since I have a short amount of time on my hands, what I’d like you to do is to get together and present a unanimous verdict, something you all agree on.” So, it’s just after making that suggestion, that he wants to hear this one suggestion that will be the unanimous verdict of the whole assembly, that’s when Śukadev Goswāmī arrives.
And he’s legendary. Guru Mahārāj says he’s selected to be the loudspeaker for the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. We may wonder sometimes, why does it come sometimes from a known brahmavādī? He’s not famous at this point as a devotee, he’s famous as being a liberated soul in the sense of established in the nirguṇ plane, as we’re told—a brahmavādī. Because someone from that position holds the authority to be the loudspeaker for these Pastimes of Kṛṣṇa. So, when he introduces himself he says,
pariniṣṭhito ’pi nairguṇya
ākhyānaṁ yad adhītavān
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 2.1.9)
He says, “Everyone knows, pariniṣṭhito ’pi nairguṇya—I was situatied in the nirguṇ plane.” The saguṇ world means tama, raja, sattva—ignorance, passion, goodness—mundane qualities, from gross to subtle. He says, “But I was situated in the nirguṇ plane, which means transcendental to all of that. Triguṇatita—beyond the plane of the three guṇas.”
What is some of the evidence of that? Everything in the Bhāgavatam is significant, and also in it’s sequence. We hear prior to that, being raised in the āśram of Vedavyās, at one point he’s leaving: Śukadev’s running away from home and Vyās is running after him. Śukadev runs by a pond where ladies are bathing. Guru Mahārāj points out they’re also divine ladies and they’re bathing totally naked. When Śukadev comes by they don’t even bother to clothe themselves. Then Vedavyās, he’s chasing after Śukadev, “My son! My son!” When Vedavyās comes—the famous great Vedavyās with big beard and the whole, a great a sage, the women are covering themselves. And Vedavyās says, “I don’t understand, when my son went by nobody bothered to cover themselves, now I’m here everybody’s become shy and concealing.” They said,
“Yes, because we saw in his eyes [that] he doesn’t distinguish male or female, there’s no tinge of mundane sexuality in him. That we know.”
“And me?” [laughing]
“We’re not so sure.”
But for Śukadev they said, “We can see not even a tinge of mundane sexual tendency in him.”
We can think, what is the significance of telling this? Is it just an interesting anecdote, an interesting story? Or is it setting the stage for introducing Śukadev Goswāmī as someone being qualified to speak about the Pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, Rādhārāṇī, Vraja-gopīs. So, with this sort of certification, when Śukadev says, “Pariniṣṭhito ’pi nairguṇya uttama-śloka-līlayā...—I was situated in the nirguṇ plane, no interest in anything mundane; uttama-śloka-līlayā—I heard, about the divine Pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, including His Pastimes with Rādhārāṇī and Vraja-gopīs.” Then what happened? “Gṛhīta-chetā rājarṣe ākhyānaṁ yad adhītavān—then my whole existence, my whole consciousness, was just carried away to another domain, that I did not know existed previously. I was carried away to another world.”
Like we know this story, and whether it’s in a book or in a movie, about the man who’s carried away to another world, and he comes back to tell his tale. But here is the most remarkable tale, first of all because it’s real, it’s not a story that’s been manufactured by the imagination of men, it’s not ‘adventures of the intelligence’, no. This story is real, Śukadev giving himself as evidence: “I was carried away to another domain.” So that’s why it’s critical that we hear the first story—he has no interest in the sexual affairs of men and women, that is of no interest to him. But when he heard the Pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and the Vraja-gopīs, he was captured heart and soul. So, what does it tell us? The Pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and the Vraja-gopīs are not tinged by any mundane quality. What is the significance of that? That means, that it opens the door for the opportunity, the prospect, “muktir hitvānyathā rūpaṁ sva-rūpeṇa vyavasthitiḥ,” (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 2.10.6)—in the spiritual domain, in the spiritual world, the erotic principle is in it’s full, natural, pristine play. This is something that’s previously inconceivable. It’s not described anywhere in any scripture or theistic system, it’s inconceivable, it’s unthinkable. But he’s carefully indicating that this prospect, this possibility, is there.
Erotic principle drives the whole world
As Śrīla Guru Mahārāj was explaining in regard to sambandha–abhidheya–prayojana, Sanātan–Rūpa–Raghunāth, Madan-mohan–Govinda–Gopīnāth, why first deity is Madan-mohan? Madan means cupid, that means that Eros, the erotic principle. As Freud said: the whole material world is spinning on the basis of this principle, he discovered some profound primal truth that it’s the sexual principle that is driving all of existence. And then on the basis of that, he’s engaged in some type of analysis. So he’s identified something profound, and then he’s making certain observations based upon that. We’re not giving him a blanket endorsement. We’re just saying he discovered this principle—yes, which is described in Sanskrit as madan (cupid, eros). So, everyone is under the influence in this world. What does Madan-mohan mean? Why should that first deity be identified as Madan-mohan. That moha means illusion. So, normally what we’re borrowing from Dr. Freud and now Kṛṣṇa-izing, we want to Kṛṣṇa-ize Dr. Freud, we want him to have lots of sukṛti, and we expect to see him in the future. Bhakta Freud, go from Dr. Freud to Bhakta Freud. Entschuldigen Sie Bitte, bhakta Freude, verstehst du? [Translation: Excuse me bhakta Freud... do you understand?] [laughing]
So, the first principle to understand is that madan, eros, cupid, is creating moha (illusion) and that’s why the illusory world is being driven by this principle, it is what makes it spin. So here, madan’s creating moha for the jīva-souls, eros is creating illusion for everyone, it is the driving principal for material existence. Madan-mohan means, Kṛṣṇa is so beautiful, so seductively charming, that Kṛṣṇa is creating moha (illusion) for madan. Kṛṣṇa is putting eros into illusion. Eros is being seduced by the Kṛṣṇa conception. So, as Guru Mahārāj will say in regard to Mahāprabhu, “koṭi-kāma-mūrchitāṅghri-rūpa-rāsa-raṅgaraṁ...” (Premadhāma-deva-stotram: 2)—cupids are fainting to see the beauty, “hiraṇyāṇāṁ lakṣmī-bharam abhibhavann āṅgika-ruchā.” Sometimes we use the expression in it’s common usage, we’ll say someone is painfully beautiful. You look at them and they’re so beautiful that it goes that it’s some kind of pleasant pain we experience. You can’t stop looking at them, you look away from them and you want to look back, but if you look [for] too long, they’re just painfully beautiful. That’s the type of beauty. When Śrīmati Rādhārāṇī’s heart is enveloping Kṛṣṇa, he looks so painfully beautiful that 10,000,000 cupids are swooning.
Kṛṣṇa and Mahāprabhu: same-same, but different
So, that’s Mahāprabhu. [And Kṛṣṇa is] same same, but different. As they say in Thailand, ‘same same but different’. That’s achintya-bhedābheda in Thai: same same, but different. [laughing] I think we’ll capture the Thai people with that sutra. So Madan-mohan—same same, but different, achintya-bhedābheda. “Yaṁ śyāmasundaram achintya-guṇa-svarūpaṁ,” (Brahma-saṁhitā: 5.38) Kṛṣṇa’s so beautiful, now cupid is bewildered. The way we become bewildered under the influence of cupid or eros, now eros personified has been seduced by the seductive charm of Kṛṣṇa, therefore he’s Madan-mohan, and it’s in the first position, he occupies the first position. But Śrīla Guru Mahārāj is saying: what do we learn from this, one thing we take away from this? It’s pointing, in the direction of telling us that that principle, that prospect, that possibility, can be redirected properly towards Kṛṣṇa conception. So the charm of Madan-mohan vigraha is taking the jīva in a particular direction of self determination, of self realisation. And without gong into the details, it’s indicated by inference, means that what we thought could only be expressed or explored in this plane, that type of loving intimacy, has not only it’s possibility or prospect in the upper world, but reaches it’s fullest expression there. So, [it’s the fullest and the most beautiful] expression of the supreme reality. “Ātma-siddha-sāvalīla-pūrṇa-saukhya-lakṣaṇaṁ,” (Premadhāma-deva-stotram: 66) whats the fullest expression of the supreme reality according to Śrīla Guru Mahārāj? He’s saying, necessarily it must be Mahāprabhu. Even those who are addicted to Kṛṣṇa conception must recognise that the fullest expression is in Mahāprabhu. Because if we factor in, “Mahāprabhu Śrī-Chaitanya, Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa nahe anya,” (Śrī Guru-paramparā: 6)—the divine combination of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Or as Svarūp Dāmodar says in the beginning,
rādhā kṛṣṇa-praṇaya-vikṛtir hlādinī śaktir asmād
ekātmānāv api bhuvi purā deha-bhedaṁ gatau tau
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: Ādi, 1.5)
Formerly they were one, then they separated, then become one again. It’s said here, [it happened] mystically, achintya-bhedābheda: who can say which came first, Kṛṣṇa-līlā or Gaura-līlā? Which comes first, the gift or the giver?
So, they’re mutually coexistent, “Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa-nitya-līlā karilā prakāśa.” (Nāma-Saṅkīrttan: 8) Gaura-līlā and Kṛṣṇa-līlā are both coexistent inconceivably. But, “rasa-varjaṁ raso ’py asya paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate,” (Bhagavad-gītā: 2.59) Śrīla Guru Mahārāj said that a higher taste is realised through Gaura-līlā, because it’s the magnamimous distribution of Kṛṣṇa-līlā, and here we’ll see if Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa combined as Mahāprabhu then by dint of that combination we can conceive of Gaura-līlā in a superior position, because in addition to they’re both being there, it’s also having the audarya aspect of distributing, giving Kṛṣṇa-līlā, distributing Vṛndāvan, giving entrance into Vṛndāvan and Kṛṣṇa-līlā.
yathā yathā gaura padāravinde
vindeta bhaktiṁ kṛta-puṇya-rāsiḥ
tathā tathotsarpati hṛdy akāsmad
But who will believe this? Crazy people. [laughing]. So we’re going to put a little sign here that says: ‘For Mad Men Only!’ That’s my favour to you. [laughing] So, that’s why he came back to this song. He is saying, “I’ll be happy if I’m not sane in this world, where the so-called sane people have no appreciation for Guru-Gaurāṅga, Rādhā-Govinda and all these things. It would be better to be insane, then to be a sane member of that world.” It’s something like that.
Once I was having a discussion with Śrīla Guru Mahārāj. Some godbrothers were complaining about me that I spend too much time, head in the clouds and not feet on the ground—paying attention to management and things like that. And so I was presenting this to him as a legitimate criticism.
[At that time] I was withdrawing from the former institution of society and so it was an appropriate discussion. And I learned from Guru Mahārāj: you should try and be brutally honest with yourself. So, I was saying, “I think what they’re saying is true to a certain degree, Mahārāj, I have to conceive this point.” And he said, “I disagree, many can manage men, money, building, but those who can extract something from the upper world and distribute it down here—that is something that is very rare to find.”
And that made me happy. But then he said, “But if they’re saying that you’re disqualified in many ways and you have so many bad qualities, then why have you come for my association? Birds of a feather flock together.” And I thought if I can be a little tiny bird in his flock—Hare Kṛṣṇa. [laughing]