Beauty and Love
The innermost hankering of every living soul is for beauty, love, affection, and harmony; not for power, knowledge, or anything else. This is the diagnosis of the whole creation in time and space: their common cause is one. But it is rare for a soul to reach such a clear stage of hankering for reality as to understand this point. Few souls are to be found in this world who are really conscious of their innermost necessity, who realize, “We want Kṛṣṇa! We want Vṛndāvan!”
Our inner aspiration for rasa, ecstasy, is buried within our hearts which are tied down and sealed. But hearing and chanting the glories of Kṛṣṇa breaks the seal on the heart and allows it to awaken and open to receive Kṛṣṇa, the reservoir of pleasure, ecstasy Himself.”
Here, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is saying; “There is a knot within our hearts, but that knot will be torn asunder by Kṛṣṇa consciousness. At that time, the flow of our innate tendency for divine love (svarūpa śakti) will inundate the whole heart. When the knot of the heart is torn apart, then, as the sleeping soul awakens, the Goloka conception within will emerge and inundate his entire being.”
But this is apparently a difficult problem. How is it possible that all our doubts may be cleared? Is it possible for the finite to know everything? This statement seems rather inconsistent. It seems absurd. The Upaniṣads, however,say: “Who knows Him knows everything; who gets Him gets everything.” How will the finite know that he has everything, that he has known everything? It appears absurd, but it is confirmed in the scriptures. And if this problem is solved, then all problems are solved automatically. The finite will realize wholesale satisfaction; all his inquisitive tendencies will be satisfied. This is confirmed not only in the Upaniṣads, but also in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.
When I first came to the Gauḍiya Maṭh, I mixed very carefully with the devotees. I thought, “They say that what they teach is the only truth and that all else is false – this is a bitter pill to swallow. They say, ‘Everyone is suffering from ignorance. And what we say is the right thing.’” I thought, “What is this! A sane man cannot easily swallow such a pill.” I also could not digest it so easily at first. But what they were saying was confirmed by Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā, and the Upaniśads. All these authorities say, “Yes, it is so. If you get Him, everything is gotten.”
Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (4.31.14), in a verse similar to the above line from the Upaniṣads, also says that all doubts are cleared by Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and as a result, we come into real knowledge. There it is written.
yathā taror mūla-niṣechanena
prāṇopahārāch cha yathendriyāṇāṁ
tathaiva sarvārhaṇam achyutejyā
“By watering the root of a tree, all the leaves and branches are automatically nourished. Similarly, by supplying food to the stomach, all the limbs of the body are nourished. In the same way, if we satisfy the central conception of the Supreme Absolute, all our obligations are automatically fulfilled.”
If we put food into the stomach, the whole body is fed. If we pour water on the root of the tree, the whole tree is fed. In the same way, if we do our duty towards the center, then everything is done. This is the greatness, the mysterious position of the absolute center: He has control over the complete whole. This is the peculiar position of the center in the system of the organic whole.
If a particular position of the brain is captured, then the whole body is controlled: one needle in that particular section of the brain, and all the functions of the body will be paralyzed. The peculiar position of the absolute center is something like that. So the impossible becomes possible.
Suppose I am a poor girl who has nothing. Ordinarily it would not be possible to acquire anything.But if I marry a rich man who is the owner of a big property, I can have command over many things by my relationship with him. Although we may be poor, our relationship with a powerful master makes us the master of many things. In the same way, the Absolute Center controls everything, and our affectionate relationship with Him may endow us with the command of many things. This is how it is possible for the finite soul to have possession of everything – through the subtle link of affection.
Through Kṛṣṇa everything is possible. And the nearer we come to Him, the more we shall catch. His influence inspires His devotees, and all His qualities fill their hearts (sarva mahā-guṇa-gaṇa vaiṣnava-śarīre, kṛṣṇa-bhakte kṛṣṇera guṇa sakali sanchāre – Chaitanya-charitāmṛta, madhya-līlā 22.75). In that way, although a devotee is not himself a master, through the link of love he can be master of anything. This is the line of thought explained by Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and the Upaniṣads.
Without having a real connection with the absolute center, your attempts to try to know everything will be useless. If you try to know even a particle of sand, lifetimes will come and go, millions of lives will pass, and you will continue to analyze the sand, finding no end to understanding even one particle.
The Absolute Center
We are told, “If you want to inquire – inquire about the center, That is the call of the Upaniṣads: “Don’t waste your time trying to analyze the smallest part of this creation, trying to be its master; it is not possible. Your inquiry should be properly guided.” Kṛṣṇa says, “I am the center, and I say, ‘Come to know Me, and through Me you will be able to know everything because I know everything and I control everything. Your connection with Me can give you that capacity. Approach everything through Me. Then you will be able to know the proper position of all things. Otherwise you will become acquainted with only a partial aspect of reality, and that will be external and incomplete. And you will pass millions of lives trying to know and understand reality to no end.” Bhāgavatam says:
athāpi te deva padāmbhuja-dvaya-
prasāda-leśānugṛhīta eva hi
jānāti tattvaṁ bhagavan mahimno
na chānya eko ’pi chiraṁ vichinvan
“Only one who is blessed with the mercy of the Lord can know His true nature. On the other hand, those who try empirically to understand His inconceivable glories can study and speculate forever without arriving at the proper conclusion.”
Here, through Bhāgavatam, Kṛṣṇa tells us, “You maydevote yourself for eternity in an erroneous direction, with no possibility of coming to the end of understanding. But if you try to approach the absolute center, then in no time you will be able to know what is what.” That is the direction given by the Upaniṣads and Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, that is the direction we must take, and that is devotion.
It is so satisfying that once you have attained it, you won’t care to know any other thing. We need only concentrate on Kṛṣṇa’s service. Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (10.14.3) declares:
jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva
jīvanti san-mukharitāṁ bhavadīya vārtām
sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhir
ye prāyaśo ’jita jito ’py asi tais tri-lokyām
“Hatefully giving up all intellectual attempts to understand the Supreme Truth, those who want to realize You should completely surrender unto You. They should hear from self-realized devotees about Your holy name and transcendental Pastimes. Whatever situation they may find themselves in, they should progress by fully dedicating their mind, body, and words to You. In this way the infinite, who is never conquered by anyone, becomes conquered through love.”
We can approach the Supreme Lord only through submission, and when we achieve Him, we won’t care for knowing anything else. We will have no regard for what is happening or not happening in the outside world. We will deeply engage in His service for His satisfaction. There, in His service, we will find the object of our lives fulfilled. And this external knowledge of “things outside” will seem to us as rubbish. We will realize, “What is the necessity of wasting time with all kinds of calculation – the nectar is here! It is far deeper than what is found in the external plane.” And at that time. We shall give all our attention to His service.
The question is often asked why varnāsrama-dharma, the Vedic system of social stratification, was ignored by Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu, and why it is that anyone from any social position is accepted by our devotional school. We have to cross over the constraints of the caste system (varnāśrama-dharma), offering the results of our work to Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇa karmārpanam), devotion mixed with the desire to enjoy the fruits of work (karma-mīśra-bhakti), and devotion mixed with the desire for liberation (jñāna-mīśra-bhakti). They have all been rejected by Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu. His slogan was eho bāhya āge kaha āra: “These things are external; go deeper, go deeper. “When Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu asked what is further and higher than all these different conceptions of theism, Rāmānanda Rāya suggested jñāna-śunyā bhakti, unalloyed devotion. When this was suggested by Rāmānanda Rāya, Mahāprabhu said, “Yes, here real theism begins.”
Karma And Jñāna
That means karma, fruitive work, and jñāna, the cultivation of knowledge, are unnecessary. One can begin a life of bhakti independently of karma and jñāna – from any position. Bhakti need only be developed through sukṛti, accumulated devotional piety, and through ruchi, our eagerness and earnestness for Kṛṣṇa. That is what is necessary, and not our aspiration to know anything and everything (jñāna) or to have so much energy under our control (karma). These two paths lead us to exploitation and renunciation. But wherever one may be, if he wants to get in touch with the Lord, he need only have some inclination to hear about Him from a proper source, a real saint. This is the proper beginning of bhakti. And so, one may begin in the bhakti school independent of any position in the social system of varṇāśrama.
To become Kṛṣṇa conscious, one need not be a wise man, nor a very energetic man, he may not be a master of opulence and power – the only requirement that is demanded from him is that he must have an earnest hunger for the Lord. He must find some sweetness, some taste in His words and His affairs when he hears from a proper source – a genuine saint. That taste will take him gradually further and further into the highest domain.
If they want to be successful in their search for the infinite, the seekers of knowledge and power, the jñānis and karmis, will ultimately have to cast out their attachments, break out of their circle, and come to this position. They will have to depend on taste. Taste is everything. A taste for His affairs is the all-important qualification for a devotee. It is all-in-all. Wherever one may be does not matter. Through his taste for Kṛṣṇa, one will progress from ruchi to the ultimate end of life.
So we are told, “Giving up everything, and even rejecting all conceptions of society and religion as external, exclusively surrender to Kṛṣṇa.” Without hesitation, one should take exclusive shelter of the Lord with full confidence, giving up bad association, and even neglecting the regulative principles governing society and religion. That is to say, one should abandon all material attachment. Śaranāgati: Take shelter under His protection absolutely.
Creeper Of Devotion
A devotee thinks, “Kṛṣṇa is very, very sweet. I can’t avoid Him, I can’t live without tasting His sweetness.” That feeling is the real seed which can produce the bhakti creeper, the creeper of devotion. And that will gradually grow until it touches the feet of Kṛṣṇa.
The creeper will grow and yet it won’t try to find support anywhere in the planes of consciousness within this world, but it will grow higher and higher. Finally, when it reaches the personal conception of the Absolute, it will experience some sort of satisfaction. Still, it won’t stop there. It will go up to Goloka. It will not stop with the calculative devotion of Vaikuṇṭha. Crossing that plane, it will rise up to the stage of spontaneous, automatic devotion.
Back To Godhead
There we will find the Lord of Love. Love is the worshipping and adoring factor everywhere in that plane. The essential feature of that realm is the relationship of divine love to the central object. And we will find our fulfillment by getting service in a particular position in relation to Him. That is what is needed by everyone: to enter into the land of love and achieve some engagement in the loving service of the central representation of absolute sweetness, beauty, and love. And that highest absolute center came down as Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu to invite His long lost servants to return to His home, saying: “I have come to invite you and to take all of you to My home – come with Me!” What a fortunate opportunity we have! By accepting His proposal and gaining admittance in that line, how happily we can go back to home, back to God.
This is the very gist of all religions. Knowingly or unknowingly, every soul is searching for divine love. Still, different varieties of obstacles are coming to dissuade us from our campaign. But the heart won’t be satisfied unless and until it reaches there. Once begun, our journey towards Kṛṣṇa can never be stopped anywhere. It is merely a question of delay: a long long time, ages and ages may pass by, but our ultimate success cannot be checked.
Kṛṣṇa alone can really attract us. We cannot relish anything else from the depth of our heart and accept it as our final destination. We want only beauty and love, not power or knowledge.
Beggars Of Love
It may seem that we want power. We sometimes think that we must have everything; we want that controlling capacity. We want that everything will come under our control, that whatever we want shall be done. But that is not what we truly want. It may seem that we want power, but ultimately power cannot satisfy us. And sometimes we may think that we want to know everything. We may not want to have the power of control over all, but we want to know everything, we don’t like to be ignorant. But that is also not the ultimate end which can fulfill our inner necessity. That is not what we really want. We must become educated about our actual necessity – the inner search of our hearts. If we do that properly, we shall find that we are all beggars of love and affection. Adoration is the innermost necessity everywhere. And that can be completely satisfied only in Kṛṣṇa’s Pastimes in Vṛndāvana.
This conclusion was broadcast by Vedavyāsa, the compiler of the Vedic scriptures. Even contemporary scholars admit that Vedavyāsa has disseminated all possible lines of philosophical thought in the Vedas, Purānas, Mahābharata and Vedānta-sūtra. And in his last days, in his philosophical maturity, he gave Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, which culminates in the conception of divine love, Kṛṣṇa-prema.
“We Want Kṛṣṇa”
The innermost hankering of every living soul is for beauty, love, affection, and harmony, not for power, knowledge, or anything else. This is the diagnosis of the whole creation in time and space. Their common cause is one. But it is rare for a soul to reach such a clear stage of hankering for reality as to understand this point. Few souls are to be found in this world who are really conscious of their innermost necessity, who realize, “We want Kṛṣṇa! We want Vṛndāvana!” Such sincere souls are not easily found. This is mentioned in many places in scripture. (Manuṣyānāṁ sahasreṣu… nārāyaṇa parāyaṇa… brahmanānām sahasrebyo… )
There is only one end – many are not necessary – only one, the one, that very one we want, is a relationship of divine love.
An intellectual understanding of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is impossible. Just as a bee cannot taste honey by licking the outside of a glass jar, one cannot enter the domain of higher spirit through the intellect. As subjects we are subordinate to the Supreme Subject. So, there must be sevā, service. Sevā is the all-important factor. In the Bhāgavad-gītā it is mentioned that praṇipāta, respectfully approaching, paripraśna, sincerely inquiring, and sevā, an attitude of service are necessary to enter into the domain of divine love. Only by service will Kṛṣṇa be satisfied and come down, only then will be able to understand the nature of higher plane. This is Vedic knowledge.
We are taṭasthā-śakti,marginal potency, and if we want to know any truth about higher reality, we must realize that it is more subtle than our existence, it is super-subjective, It can touch us, but we cannot climb up to that domain out of our own sweet will. Only if we are given the grace which can take us up can we go.
One who has this understanding will be able to combat all the existing intellectualists. The intellect has no capacity to enter into the higher subjective area. That supreme truth is atīndriya-manasa-gocharaḥ: beyond the plane of the senses, mind, and intellect. This expression manaso vapuṣo vācho vaibhavaṁ tava gocharaḥ by Brahmā, admitting to Kṛṣṇa that He was beyond the reach of his body, mind and words, was not only a lip-deep statement of the mouth. If we want to know the absolute truth, the only condition for realizing Him is a submissive attitude. In that way, He may be satisfied with our attempt and reveal Himself to us. Divine revelation is not a matter of research within this world – we should have a sincere heart to serve.
The scientists are discovering so many wonderful things. But are these things there already? Or are the scientists the creators? Those wonderful truths are already there. It is only that some of them are being discovered. It is not the creation of the scientists, so they are not superior to those truths. And in any case, they can know only a part of it, and even that with some endeavor. But the conscious nature of reality, the superior reason of divinity, is unknown to them, although they may go on researching, researching,researching. Whatever they find is only the outer cover, not the real spirit, the substance. Na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇuṁ. In the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (7.5.30) it is written:
matir na kṛṣṇe parataḥ svato vā
mitho ’bhipadyeta gṛha-vratānām
adānta-gobir viśatāṁ tamisraṁ
punaḥ punaś charvita-charvaṇānām
Śrīmad Bhāgavatam tells us that we can try to enter the world of higher reality through intellectualism, but we will again come back, baffled in our attempts. If we try to press with our intelligence to enter into that domain, we will come back dissatisfied in despair and will wander here within this mortal world again and again. The world of sense experience will come and go through its different phases,but it cannot enter that spiritual plane. To enter that world, the only requirement is submission to a real agent of divinity. He may impart the process, and if we can accept that, we will be able to enter that world; otherwise we will have to wander in this world of sense experience.
Some scholars think that knowledge is of the first importance. According to them, if one wants to enter that realm, he should first acquire knowledge through scholarship and then try for love. They think that by knowledge alone we can understand what divine love is, and then we can have admission into that domain. They don’t approve of the idea of jñāna-śūnyā bhakti, or “knowledge-free devotion.”
Once, the founder of the Bharat Seva Ashram Sangha wanted me to join his mission. I told him, “My head is already sold to the teachings of Śrī Chaitanya-deva.” He said, “Yes, I also revere Him, but I say that first you must learn indifference to this worldly pleasure, as Buddha preached. Then you may come to study the Vedānta of Śaṅkara, understand what is knowledge proper, and realize that all this world is nothing, and Brahman,spirit,is everything. Then you may approach the prema-dharma, the love of Śrī Chaitanyadeva, which I also think to be the highest object of attainment.” I answered, “You say so, but Śrī Chaitanyadeva did not say that we should go to the Buddhist school to learn abnegation and then to the Śaṅkara school to acquire Vedantic knowledge before coming to Him. He said that wherever one is, one should get the association of real Vaiṣṇava saint and go on with śravan-kīrtan, hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord.” That man was struck dumb. He could not speak; he was silenced.
Another time, the president of the Arya Samaj came to see me in Karachi and told me that,“If the finite can know the infinite, He is not infinite.” I replied, “If the Infinite cannot make Himself known to the finite, He is not infinite.” He could not answer my argument.
All Rights Reserved
So it is not from any qualification on our side that the absolute can be caught. Whomever He chooses to make Himself known to will know Him. This is explained in the Upaniṣads: He cannot be known by lectures or discussions, by sharp memory or vast intelligence, or by genius or supernatural intellect. One may have extensively studied all the revealed scriptures, but that is no qualification. Kṛṣṇa reserves all independence on His side. There is only one way by which He can be known: whomever He chooses to make Himself known to can know Him. Otherwise all rights are reserved there by His sweet will.
How can we draw His sweet will? That is the question. How we can tackle His sweet will. That can only be done through śaraṇāgati, surrender, by increasing our negative side. We must think, “I am so poor; without Your grace, I can’t live.” We must think like this to try to arouse pity within His heart. We must appeal to His understanding that we are in extreme need of Him and that without His grace we can’t live. Only such a sincere feeling of necessity can draw His attention to us. Otherwise we have no possibility for capturing Him. So the negative approach has been recommended for capturing Him. Our exclusive prayer is that we are the most needy and sincere. That alone can draw His attention towards us. And that is not an opinion or speculation, it is a fact. It is reality.
I once met a scholarly sannyāsi in Badarikāśrama who posed as an atheist in the course of our discussion. He argued, “What is the evidence that God or the soul exists? The I quoted a verse from Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (11.22.34):
ātmā parijñāna-mayo vivādo
hy astīti nāstīti bhidārtha-niṣṭhaḥ
vyartho ’pi naivoparameta puṁsāṁ
mattaḥ parāvṛtta-dhiyāṁ sva-lokāt
I explained to him that although ātmā, spirit, is self-effulgent, there is a constant quarrel between two opposing parties. One party says, “God exists!” The other says, “God does not exist!” Śrīmad Bhāgavatam says that the ātmā is self-effulgent, but still we find that one class of men say, “He exists, we see Him, He can be seen,” and another says, “He has never existed.” This quarrel has no end because one of the parties hasn’t got the eye to see what is self-evident. This quarrel is a useless waste of time, but still it will never stop; it will continue forever. Why? Because there are those who have the eyes to see God and those who have no eyes to see Him or their own self. One of these classes of men have deviated from God consciousness. There is a barrier between them and God consciousness, between them and self-consciousness. So the disagreement will only continue on account of their ignorance.
Those who have eyes to see will say, “The sun exists; There is the sun.” and those who have no eyes will say, “No, no, there is no sun.” This argument will continue forever, but that does not mean that the sun is not existing. It can show itself.
An analogy has been given in this connection. A boy is born in a dungeon, a dark prisonhouse. And he grows up there without any experience of sunlight. One of his friends from outside the prison would come and visit him. One day, the boy’s friend said, “Let us go see the sun. Come with me, I shall show you.” The boy replied, “Yes, I shall go,” but he began to take a lantern with him. His friend remarked,“It is not necessary to take the lantern.” The boy said, “What do you say! Do you think that I am a fool? Can anything be seen without the help of a lantern? I am not a fool!” Then his friend forcibly took him by the hand and showed him the sun. The boy said, “Oh, this is the sun! By its light everything can be seen.”
The soul is like that. God is like that. He is seen by His own light, and it is only by His light that we can see anything. He is self-effulgent. By His own light He can show Himself to others. He is the source of all knowledge. This is the proper conception of Godhead. He is automatically existing. He cannot be seen by our knowledge, just as the sun cannot be seen by the help of any other light. It is not necessary that we try to acquire God consciousness through intellect or knowledge. Knowledge of God is independent. It can come and go of its own accord. And if He comes to me, everything comes to me. But nothing can force Him to come within our vision. The sun cannot be taken into your dungeon, but you have to go to the sun and see things by its grace; in the same way, the Lord is self-effulgent. He can be seen only by His own light.
Intellectualism is a disqualification. We are interested in jñāna-śūnyā bhakti, knowledge-free devotion. Affection, attraction, sympathy – these things are all the outcome of having a heart. The scientists feel that animals have no real brain, no intelligence. yet we see that even without much of a brain, an animal can live, but without a heart, none can live. As the brain is a representation of a computer, the animals have no real computer to calculate. Animals may follow intuitive knowledge, and so they can work unconsciously. And we can see that intuition can go above brain calculation. So many birds and beasts can understand that an earthquake is coming, but so far, no human calculation can understand precisely when an earthquake will come. There are many things that our brain cannot feel, cannot catch, whereas even the animals can get some clue about them beforehand. And after long and deep research, men cannot find what is beyond their reason. The position of reason and intellect is explained in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (10.14.3):
jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva
jīvanti san-mukharitāṁ bhavadīya-vārtām
sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhir
ye prāyaśo ’jita jito ’py asi tais tri-lokyām
Hatefully rejecting any attempt in the intellectual line, we must nurture a submissive line, we must nurture a submissive spirit within ourselves and try to live our lives in association with topics about the Lord. Of course, this does not mean any topics about the Lord; they must come from a genuine source. And it does not matter what position we hold at present. Whoever wholeheartedly attends to the teachings of His divine agents by thought, word, and deed, can conquer Him who is otherwise invincible.”
This is the path of realization recommended by the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, which condemns the path of intellectual attainment:
śreyaḥ sṛtiṁ bhaktim udasya te vibho
kliśyanti ye kevala-bodha-labdhaye
teṣām asau kleśala eva śiṣyate
nānyad yathā sthūla-tuṣāvaghātinām
“O Lord, those who want to have a clear conception of You through their intellect find their attempts useless. Their endeavours end only in frustration, like those who try to beat rice from an empty husk.” (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.14.4)
So, jñāna, knowledge, is like an empty husk. Energy and knowledge are only outer aspects. The real substance, the rice, is devotion – love. That is the tasteful thing within. Other things are covers (jñāna-karmady-anāvṛtam). But what is within the cover is tasteful, eternal, auspicious, and beautiful: satyam, śivam, sundaram. Beauty is reality, ecstasy is reality; everything else is only an outer cover. If we concern ourselves too much with the cover, we cannot get the substance within. Then our life becomes a disappointment:
naiṣkarmyam apy achyuta-bhāva-varjitaṁ
na śobhate jñānam alaṁ nirañjanam
kutaḥ punaḥ śaśvad abhadram iśvare
na chārpitaṁ karma yad apy akāraṇam
“Mere retirement is not considered to be fulfillment in anyone’s life. Although in the stage of liberation no contamination of death, birth, disease, and infirmity are to be found,still that cannot be considered perfection. Then what to speak of karma, a laborious life of work which is not done for the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa?” (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.5.12)
The only thing that can give fulfillment in both labor and rest is Kṛṣṇa: He is the harmonizing principle of both. If work is done as a service for Kṛṣṇa, then our labor is converted into gold: it is no longer iron. And only if renunciation is related to divine service does it have any value.
Adam And Eve
Those who are suffering from hard labor naturally want rest. They are dependent on labor to live, yet it is thought to be useless and undesirable: if we are to live, we must labor; still, it is considered a dishonourable life. Generally our aspiration is how to live without labor; we are in search of a peaceful life of rest where we are not the servants of labor. This is the general tendency in our life of struggle and labor.
In the Bible, we find that when Adam and Eve were surrendered to God in heaven, their sustenance was automatic; when they fell down, they had to earn their bread by the sweat of their brow. They were forced to labor in order to live. And it is a low and dishonourable form of life. But if we want to live, we must labor. We wonder, “Is there a life where one can live without labor?” We find such a tendency in our life from the beginning of existence. So we aspire for freedom from karma.
Buddha And Shankar
Both the Buddhist school and the Śaṅkara school want to discover a place where one can live without labor. Buddha says that life itself is unnecessary; that there is in actuality no labor, no life, no existence. According to the Buddhist school, we can do away with our existence. It is a mania to keep up our existence in the struggling world, so we should do away with this mania. Why should we live at all? So the Buddhists advocate nirvāṇa, the cessation of existence.
And Śaṅkarāchārya says, “Of course there is life, but this life is not desirable. We are always suffering from injury, and there is a force which is always diminishing us, and ultimately we die. We are challenged by slow death, slow poison.” It is true that life in the world of mortality is undesirable. Then what is the solution? Śaṅkara says that the endeavour to maintain one’s individual self is undesirable. There is no possibility of maintaining individuality and at the same time enjoying real peace, eternal peace. So we shall have to give up the charm of individual life.
According to Śaṅkara, there is one Universal Spirit, and that is a blissful conception. We are merely reflections of that. That Spirit has been reflected everywhere. Somehow it has created this mysterious individual ego or consciousness. We must not be very eager to maintain this false ego; we must dissolve it. And when that is done, we shall find that only Spirit remains.
In our present condition there can be no cure to the disease of mortality. At every moment we are losing ourselves in some way or other. This cannot be solved. But Buddha and Śankara have given only a partial understanding. But Śrīmad Bhāgavatam says, “The proper solution is to practice abnegation, detachment from the environment, by seeing it in relation to the service of Kṛṣṇa. That knowledge by which you can attain perfection while maintaining your own individuality, interest, and prospect is possible only with bhakti, devotion, dedication. By exploitation you have to die. And by abnegation you merge into a sort of zero (Viraja, Brahmaloka) in some unknown quarter never to rise from there again. But I recommend the kind of renunciation and knowledge which is embraced by devotion, dedication to Kṛṣṇa. If you accept that, then your inner self, your true self, can live forever in a happy life.”
Naiṣkarmyam means no pain of labor. A labor of love is the innate function of the soul. In our ordinary conception, labor carries a reaction. As we labor, things diminish and vanish, attacked by death. But these difficulties have all been eliminated by the recommendations given in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. Śrīmad Bhāgavatam advocates vairāgya and jñāna embraced with bhakti, a life of dedication. Bhāgavatam says, “Shake off exploitation and renunciation. You will not have to depend on them. They can be absorbed by dedication. Renunciation and knowledge are complete in devotion, and at the same time you can maintain your individuality.”
Śrīmad Bhāgavatam has harmonized knowledge and renunciation by supplying their very life in devotion. Through devotion, we can maintain our individuality, our activity, our prospect, and at the same time find immense peace and ecstasy in life. Śrīmad Bhāgavatam offers us a happy, eternal life simply by adding dedication to jñāna and karma.
You will work, or energize; but it will not come under the jurisdiction of karma, which has a reaction. Your energy will be used for the center. Bhagavad-gītā tells us, “Work only for the center, otherwise you will be tied down with a reaction.” So it has been made clear that a very laudable life is possible for us if we dedicate ourselves to the highest center. That is neither dishonourable nor tiresome. Neither is it ignorance. So we should take this course which Śrīmad Bhāgavatam recommends for us.
If we are attentive to that and try to follow the advice coming from the real source, from real saintly persons, we will become properly adjusted; we will develop proper understanding. And everything will be harmonized. One who has this realization will be victorious over all possible suggestions or conceptions of knowledge. Only by devotion, by dedication to Kṛṣṇa, can we very easily become free from ignorance in the world of suffering.
To be a devotee means to serve; service is everything. Our proper life is to be found in dedicating ourselves and in self-distribution, not self-aggrandizement. We can live in service. All difficulties will be removed if we take to the line of dedication. There we will find everything: our individuality, the most favorable environment, our highest prospect. Only our angle of vision should be changed. And that angle of vision should be acquired through the center. We must try to understand how everything will be seen in relation to the center. Whatever we see, we must try to study its position is in relation to the center. We must locate or calculate what its position is in relationship to the center. And with that angle of vision, we may establish our relationship to anything. If we can develop this vision, we will get relief from all undesirability. This is the teaching of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.
This is the specialty of Bhāgavata philosophy. It always tries to establish the conception of divine love, divine sentiment, and divine feeling above intellectualism and the mastery over energy. The masters of power and the masters of knowledge have no value if devoid of the master of love. On the other hand, if it is possible for one devoid of knowledge and power to enter into the the area of love, his life is successful. His movement is no longer considered as reactionary labor (karma), and his knowledge is real knowledge about Kṛṣṇa (sambandha-jñāna). Real knowledge about Kṛṣṇa, His paraphernalia, and who is who in the spiritual world, is not within the jurisdiction of the knowledge that we can obtain by conducting scientific research. It is not like that; it is fulfilled in itself.
And Devarṣi Nārada came to Vedavyāsa to recommend to him, “You must introduce this very clearly in your present book. In the Vedas and Upaniṣads and in the Mahābharata you have dealt previously with different aspects of knowledge and work. But it is not so clear. And now very clearly and definitely you should describe the success of life in its fullest form, independent of knowledge and energy.” It is possible to reinstate ourselves with our lost wealth independent of energy and intellectual research.
The Seal Of Ego
We have only to break the seal of the ego, and the natural flow of divine love will come and automatically help its own cause. Such an arrangement is there for us by which we may return home. We won’t feel that it is a tedious, laborious journey. We will be carried by our natural attraction, independent of external guidance. The tendency within us for divine love can understand its own soil; it has that natural gift of attraction. An automatic attraction will be there for our home; no scientific search is necessary.
Rather, we will have to put a stop to our intellectualism, ambition, and aspiration. It is unnecessary. It is a wild goose chase. It will never help us to reach our goal. The heart will reject that, There will be no room for any suspicion at all. It is an infallible, natural, complete selection. So we should try to find that natural thing which cannot be acquired as the result of any long program of research. It is quite natural. It is only the artificialism within us that must be removed and bid adieu forever.
And the reactions that we have acquired after so long in our false journey will evaporate out of their own accord. They will present no problem. This is certain. There will be no reaction, and no necessity of finding any new discovery or invention. Once achieving that realization, we will see that our “progressive-knowledge-civilization” is all redundant.
No intellectualism is required. Just as a child knows his mother, we can recognize our real home. In the midst of so many cows, a calf will run to its own mother. They have some instinctive scent or a natural guidance that directs them. In the same way, no trouble, no investigation, no experiment or suspicion is necessary. Devotion to Kṛṣṇa is automatic, natural, happy, and spontaneous. It is a spontaneous life, an automatic flow, a natural movement.
Our real interest is love. Love is independent of everything. It is the innermost substance in our existence. “Try to dive deep into reality,” we are told. “Dive deep into reality, and you will find your home there in that divine realm. You are a child of that soil.” That is the message of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu. And that is not a very meager conception, an abstract or hazy dream, but that is the most intense and concrete reality.
Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu demonstrated this by His character, by how intensely He searched for Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and by how intensely and deeply He engaged Himself in the līlā of Kṛṣṇa, ignoring so many facts which seem concrete in the outside world. Forgetting everything, despising everything which is so important to us, He neglected all other functions and considerations of duty. He engaged Himself in Kṛṣṇa-līlā so deeply and intensely – diving deep into it – that it captured His whole heart so much that He was externally found to be helpless.