The Lord’s Loving Search for His Lost Servants
“Why did you stay away? Why have you been living away from home for so long? How was it possible for you? How could you bear My separation? You left Me, and you have been passing lives after lives without Me? Still, I know what trouble you took to return to Me. You searched for Me everywhere and went to beg from house to house, and you were chastised by many, ridiculed by many, and you shed tears for Me. I know all these things. I was with you. And now, after great trouble, you have again come back to Me.”
I am feeling very fortunate to have come into the personal association of Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami, our Srila Guru Maharaj, and now to have this chance to present this introductory booklet. Throughout his whole life, Srila Guru Maharaj practised what he preached. The sincere practitioners are themselves an introduction to the subject of genuine, joyful, spiritual life, but they are not able to visit everyone personally. Therefore, we are taking the opportunity afforded by the modern scientific age in order to print books to broadcast widely such wisdom. The vibration emanating from a printing press in this way can beneficially influence not only this mundane world, but it can even conquer souls already established in the spiritual plane. It is, therefore, very joyful and satisfying to see the manifestation of this publication, Home Comfort—An Introduction to Inner Fulfilment. It is a selection from our Divine Master’s lectures introducing the subject of theistic spiritual life, and, for the service of his Divine Mission, it has been reproduced in print by the sincere efforts of the student practitioners here.
Up to his last days, Srila Guru Maharaj bestowed his mercy upon the conditioned souls in the form of lectures which he would sometimes deliver continuously hour after hour. From his example, we can understand the injunction of the scriptures that until our last breath we must try to practise service to the transcendental service world—and give that same opportunity to others.
Anyone who carefully reads this booklet with sincerity must be benefitted and receive inspiration as well as the opportunity to approach that life of true inner fulfilment.
Swami B. S. Govinda
Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nabadwi
8 February 1992
The Plane of Dedication
Please listen attentively to what I shall explain. In a scientific way, I shall try to explain the subject to you, in general, independently of all religious conceptions.
First of all, we should understand that there are three planes of life: the plane of mundane enjoyment, the plane of renunciation, and the plane of dedication. The plane of enjoyment is where we are at present, more or less. Mundane enjoyment means exploitation; and without exploitation, none can exist in this plane.
अहस्तानि सहस्तानामपदानि चतुष्पदाम् ।
फल्गूनि तत्र महतां जीवो जीवस्य जीवनम् ॥
ahastani sahastanam apadani chatuspadam
phalguni tatra mahatam jivo jivasya jivanam
“Those with hands live off those that have none. Four-footed animals live on grass, creepers, etc., and the large live off the small.” Everything is full of life. Creepers, grass, and trees also have life, but without exploitation none can maintain their body in this plane.
This is the plane of exploitation, and, as Newton’s third law says, to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. By exploitation one incurs some debt, and to clear that debt he will have to go down. In this way, there are so many jivas or souls going up and down, up and down, due to action and reaction in the plane of exploitation. Society is trying to exploit to the utmost; everywhere there is the attempt to live at the cost of others. Without it, life is impossible because this is the plane of exploitation.
The Buddhists, the Jains, the followers of Sankar, and so many others are trying to get out of this entanglement of exploitation and find a life where there is no exploitation, no action and reaction. To avoid action and reaction, they try to find a position of renunciation, and they come to a conception similar to dreamless sleep, that of samadhi: to withdraw completely from the objective world and remain in the subjective plane. Without allowing their feelings to move into the lower plane, they always keep a subjective position, and that is something like dreamless sleep.
The Vaisnava section—those who serve the Supreme Lord—are of the opinion that there is another world, the world of dedication. That dedication is just the opposite of exploitation. In the mundane plane, every unit wants to exploit the environment, whereas in the plane of dedication every unit wants to serve the environment; the real key to the life of that plane is to serve the Centre. We are living in an organic whole, so every point must be true to the organic Centre. The explanation is given in Srimad Bhagavatam (4.31.14) by the analogy of serving the root of a tree:
तृप्यन्ति तत्स्कन्धभुजोपशाखाः ।
तथैव सर्व्वार्हणमच्युतेज्या ॥
yatha taror mula-nisechanena
pranopaharach cha yathendriyanam
tathaiva sarvarhanam achyutejya
In the Vedic literature also, we find it said, “Try to find the one by knowing whom everything is known.”
यस्मिन्विज्ञाते सर्व्वमिदं विज्ञातं भवति ।
यस्मिन्प्राप्ते सर्व्वमिदं प्राप्तं भवति ।
तद्विजिज्ञासस्व तदेव ब्रह्म ॥
yasmin vijnate sarvam idam vijnatam bhavati
yasmin prapte sarvam idam praptam bhavati
tad vijijnasasva tad eva brahma
There is a central point by knowing which everything is known, and by attaining which everything is attained. The long and short of the entire Vedic advice is to try to seek out that Centre. In the beginning, some may think this to be a ludicrous claim. “By knowing one, everything is known, by getting one, everything is got—what is this? Only a madman can say such a thing!” So, an analogy is given in Srimad Bhagavatam: when you pour water onto the root of a tree, the whole tree is fed, and if you put food into the stomach, the whole body is fed; similarly, if you do service to the Centre, everything is served. It is possible, and to do that means to enter the plane of dedication. Avoiding the plane of exploitation, and also that of renunciation, try to enter the plane of dedication. Your atma, your soul proper, is a member of that plane. That is the real world, whereas this is the perverted reflection.
The real world is where every unit is dedicating itself to the whole, represented by the Centre, just as in a healthy body every atom will work for the welfare of the whole body. If an atom works for itself, it exploits to the extreme, and such local works for local interest are clearly bad. Every part of the body and every atom must work for the welfare of the whole system. There is a centre, and by the guidance of that, it will work.
What is the position of the Centre? It is mentioned in Bhagavad-gita,
सर्व्वधर्म्मान् परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज ।
sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
Krishna explains His position: “Abandon all dharmas or duties and just surrender unto Me.”
Now I want to represent this conception from another standpoint. Hegel was a good German philosopher, and in his philosophy he has given a concept: the Absolute Truth, the Prime Cause of everything, must have two qualifications. What are they? It must be by itself and for itself.
Please try to pay attention. ‘By itself’ means that He is His own cause—nothing else created Him. If anything has created Him, that creator will have the primary importance. Therefore, to be the Absolute, He must be anadi, eternally existing and not created by anything. The Absolute must have this qualification.
The next qualification is that the Absolute Truth is ‘for itself’. He exists for His own satisfaction, not to satisfy any other. If His existence was for the purpose of satisfying any other entity, that would make Him secondary and He would not hold the prime position.
Therefore, the Absolute must have these two qualifications: He is His own cause, and He exists only to satisfy Himself, to fulfil His own purpose. The Absolute is by itself and for itself. If even a blade of grass moves, it moves to fulfil the purpose of the Absolute. Everything—every incident, and whatever happens—must have to be for His satisfaction. So the real current is His lila, His Pastimes. We are guided by separate interest: family interest, country interest, social interest or humanitarianism, etc., but in the infinite consideration it is all only a tiny part, and we are all engaged in acting for such separate interest. There is a clash between innumerable separate interests, and so there is trouble. But we must leave all our so-called special interests, come out from misunderstanding, and try to attain the function of a unit active for the cause of the whole.
The conclusion of Bhagavad-gita given by Krishna is “Sarva-dharman parityajya—give up all your duties which you think at present you have to discharge, and—Mam ekam saranam vraja—surrender to My feet.”
अहं त्वां सर्व्वपापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुचः ।
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma suchah
“I shall relieve you of all the troubles of which you can ever conceive.”
In other words, you must remember to be faithful to the Centre. At present, all your respective duties are for local interest, but give up the local identification of your own interest and merge totally in the interest of the organic whole.
We see that if a police officer takes even three rupees for his own purpose, he is punished, but if he kills so many for the interest of the country, he is rewarded. Similarly, whatever is done for the satisfaction of the whole is good, but if you do anything for yourself or any local friend, you will have to be punished. In an industry, we have no right to take a bribe for our personal purpose, and at the same time we have no right to call a strike, to close down the labour force, for then the industry will be destroyed.
Neither exploitation nor renunciation will do. Exploitation is clearly bad, and because we have no right to go on strike, renunciation is also bad. In an organic whole, the common interest is that everyone must be dedicated to the Centre, and to the Centre means to the whole. When we put food into the stomach, the stomach will distribute it properly to every corner according to the necessity. That sort of life is Vaisnavism. There is an organic whole, and we are a part of that. We have our special duties in connection with the whole, and that is proper dedication to the whole. We are not to put food into the eye, the nose or the ear, or anywhere except the stomach. Only when the food is properly distributed will the whole organism be healthy. We are all parts of the whole universe, and our duty is to work for the whole, and that is devotion, dedication, surrender. And how are we to know about that? We will receive help from the revealed scriptures, and from the many saints and agents who are also coming from that plane to bring us into harmony.
The religion of highest harmony has been given by Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanyadev who explained devotion on the basis of Srimad Bhagavatam, the book which is understood to be the real conclusion of all the revealed scriptures. In this way, He explained that energy or power is not the highest thing, but knowledge is above it. Knowledge can control power and give a beneficial result. But in a higher plane, even knowledge takes a lower position. Above knowledge is love and affection, and that is the highest. Neither knowledge nor power, but only affection can give us fulfilment of life.
Mercy is higher than justice. Justice only exists where there is the necessity for law and order, but in the realm of the Absolute Autocrat, who is the absolute good, there can be no question of any apprehension about Him. He is absolute good, and absolute good is absolute love and affection, and that is home! Back to God, back to home. What is home? It is where we find that we are in the midst of our well-wishers. Even if we do not care for our own benefit, there are so many who will take care of us—in fact the whole environment will take care of us—and that is home. That is the domain of the Absolute, and we can enter into His service, the highest position, and thereby see the affection, love, harmony, and beauty that exist there. All these qualities are similar, and they constitute the nature of the Prime Cause and Good, and we must go there.
Misusing our free will, we have somehow gone astray. But now we are being called, “Come home, back to God and back to home, the highest position, the land of love.” This is, in general and in short, the sum total of all I have said to you—this is the Krishna conception in Bhagavad-gita and in Srimad Bhagavatam, and it is the conception that has been given by Sri Chaitanyadev. This Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math and the whole of the Gaudiya Mission is preaching only for that. “Go to the Centre, use your life for total dedication to the Centre, and the Centre is all above justice. It is all-merciful, affectionate, loving, and beautiful.”
This is a general background of Vaisnava religion, of Srimad Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam, and a brief overview of all conceptions of religion—that is, exploitation, renunciation, and dedication are the three planes of life, and the soul proper is a member of the land of dedication. All are dedicating units, but somehow, by misusing their partial free will, they have entered into the world of exploitation. Buddha, Jain, Paresanath, and others have helped those who want to withdraw from here to get out of the entanglement of exploitation—of action and reaction—by complete retirement. They have said that after retirement, the soul can live happily. Still, there may be the possibility of again becoming entangled in this trap. But where the really free souls live, all are dedicating units, and when we want to trace what is harmonising them and maintaining them in that plane, we shall see that all are working for the whole, and the whole is represented by the one Absolute Good. We have to see all these things, and for this the human birth is very valuable. In connection with the sadhus—the saints, the agents—we shall try our best to get out of this entanglement and enter into the land of love, dedication, and affection.
We have already published several books, and there are many ancient scriptures which also help us to understand properly and in a more detailed way all the ontological aspects of religion.
Searching for Our Home
Our real home is full of freedom and comfort. Everything we need is there. It is a place where there are natural transactions of faith, love, and affection. It is inconceivable. The Upanisads say, “Don’t venture to test the unthinkable plane with your reasoning. That plane really is beyond the capacity of your thought. It is under a different set of laws. Your mathematical calculations and conclusions in this world are acquainted with points, planes, and solids. At present, you are a man in the world of solids, and you have some limited association with planes and points in a somewhat abstract way, therefore how can you calculate about higher things of which you have no knowledge? The customs and laws of that country are all unknown to you, so you cannot try to debate those higher things. That plane is of quite a different nature.”
If your understanding is limited to the laws of water, how can you make calculations about air? Similarly, if you are familiar only with the laws of air, how can you make calculations within the sphere of ether? Therefore, don’t rush to bring within your experimental laboratory those items which are beyond the capacity of your thinking, for that will be foolishness.
Higher things do exist, but the general man in this world has no knowledge about them. We are indeed experiencers and have some knowledge, but only to a particular degree and standard. We cannot venture to calculate what is beyond our reach. But if those who actually have experience of that plane will come to us and give us some information, then we can make some comparison: “This gentleman of a particular experience of ether has written in this way, another gentleman who has experience and has also researched into the nature of ether has written in another particular manner.” In this way, we can gain some understanding from their investigation and their real connection with the subject matter.
In the section of those investigating telescopes, we can make a comparison of their findings. The experience of one researcher with his telescope is of a certain type, and we can also learn about the experience of others with their particular telescopes. With the information available to us from their actual connection with the telescopes and their experiments, we may be able to conclude that perhaps a certain telescope was more powerful, another more powerful in a particular field, etc. So, we have some limited capacity to compare what has been discovered beyond our senses by means of the telescope, even though we ourselves may not have a telescope.
The subject of the higher things discovered by the mental ‘telescope’ or the soul’s ‘telescope’ has been dealt with in the scriptures. Such subject matter is known by the saints, and we have to take their help in order to have entrance into that land. We are not at present in a position to have experience of the higher plane, but later, by the help of the saints and scriptures, when we ourselves have that type of ‘telescope’ vision, we will be able to have such a higher experience.
स्वे स्वेऽधिकारे या निष्ठा स गुणः परिकीर्त्तितः ।
sve sve ’dhikare ya nistha sa gunah parikirtitah
“Adherence to one’s own plane of qualification is laudable.”
अचिन्त्याः खलु ये भावा न तांस्तर्केण योजयेत् ।
achintyah khalu ye bhava na tams tarkena yojayet
Don’t let the argumentative spirit overshadow everything. Argument is not all-in-all. It is not that it must be the resort of every belief. The spiritual realm is achintya, inconceivable; nonetheless, we must try to understand things according to our capacity, faith, and realisation. Above all, we have to accommodate within our mind that sweetness is sweet, and truth is truth, however incomprehensible it may be, but we should not take any standard from here and apply it to that higher realm.
If one has no eyes but another can see, the blind man will naturally seek help from the one who has vision. We are also blind to what is within ourselves, otherwise what is the necessity of consulting a doctor? The doctor can see what we cannot; he will diagnose the disease, and then we will undergo treatment. Naturally, we will have respect for his diagnosis and will give him something for his assistance. It is not unreasonable.
The Guru is the specialist doctor, and we will understand his qualification when we come to see that what he says is real and not imaginary. Such vision will depend upon the degree of awakenment of the eye. If one who is blind is treated by a capable doctor, he will gradually directly perceive, “Yes, I begin to see something. I now have some eye-experience.” From that time on, he won’t care for the speculative opinions of the other blind people, but he will have his own direct capacity to see. With the coming of sight, he can understand that the application of the medicine has some real effect.
Scientific understanding is also similar. In earlier days when Faraday discovered electricity, many people laughed, “What is this? It is mere curiosity. What utility can we have from this electricity?”
I once read an account of Faraday demonstrating an experiment to show the effect of his discovery. He generated electricity with a machine, and then he showed small pieces of paper being moved by that electric current. Many were satisfied to see his new discovery, but then a lady remarked, “But after all this, Mr Faraday, what practical benefit shall we derive from this luxury play of yours?”
Faraday replied, “Madam, can you please tell me what is the utility of a newborn babe?” His point was that when a baby is born, we have to take care of him, then, when grown, his energy will be put to work usefully. Similarly, some consider that God consciousness is only a luxury, a fashion, or a play—that it has no practical application or direct utility. But when God consciousness becomes intense, those who experience it will see that all other activities, however apparently important, have no value. Why? Because ultimately we want to live. We don’t want to die.
To live is the main and general necessity of us all. None can deny that they want to live, and not only live, but live happily, properly, and consciously. Furthermore, we want to avoid all affliction, misery, and suffering.
When God consciousness arises within someone, he can see clearly, “Why is everyone engaged in a wild goose-chase in this material world? Everyone wants happiness, but all are chasing a phantasmagoria.”
Happiness can never be with mortal things. We are making a transaction with the mortal world, but that won’t bring satisfaction; it can only drain our energy. What we gain on one side disappears on another. A wise man should neither accept nor tolerate this sort of waste of energy as the principle of life. Such a wise person can see another plane of life. He can see that he is not a party to this mortal world which is but a playground. He will feel, “I am immortal. I am a member of the eternal world, but I have somehow become entangled in this mortal aspect of existence. So, as soon as I can shake off this connection, I shall then stand in a normal position.” He will find that he himself—the soul, the feeler, the conceiver—is a member of another soil, but he has become entangled within this mortal pain-producing world. This is a miserable world. With the strength of his realisation, he can make advancement in his progress to the immortal plane.
As positive proof comes before us we shall feel, “Now I see these things and hear these things, and this experience is all more real than the world about me. The world is vague, but what I now see and hear is more real than that.”
A direct transaction is possible with the soul, with God, and with God’s land. Where we are presently living is the plane of indirect transactions. Before we can have experience of this world, our senses receive information which is then conveyed to the mind. But in the case of the soul, we can feel everything directly ourselves without the help of any instrument.
Through a microscope we see one thing, and through the naked eye we see something else. There is a difference. Through the eye, ear, etc., we have some experience of this world, but concerning the soul, if we can withdraw from ‘progress’ in the negative side, we shall be able to feel, “Oh! This is the nature of the soul.” We shall directly feel who we are without the help of any instrument.
The soul can see himself; he can focus upon himself, and through introspection he will realise his very nature. Through the process of introspection, the soul will perceive all possible conceptions of himself directly and without the help of any other instrument. He will then understand his own soil. He will gain the conception of a higher type of soil. On that positive side he will discover, “I do not die.”
The material plane is the plane of misrepresentation and misunderstanding, but in the higher plane there is no misunderstanding. Once admitted there, our conception, though it may be partial, will be clear and true. Anyone having that experience will be convinced, and he will be determined to go forwards.
Socrates could feel that the soul was immortal. He was so intense with his feeling that he did not give any value to his own life in this mundane world. He disconnected himself from this world because with great conviction he knew the soul to be immortal. Christ also was so much convinced of his Lord that he did not care for the happiness and pleasures of this world—he rejected it all.
There are many things invisible to this fleshy eye that are visible with the eye of knowledge. We can concede that the eye of knowledge can see many things which the fleshy eye cannot. Similarly, a deep vision exists by which we can see things in a different, more hopeful way. The eye cannot see when it is covered by a cataract, but when the cataract is removed, the eye can see. Ignorance is like a cataract in our eye that causes us blindness. Our vision is only superficial, but deeper vision can see many things. This eye backed by the eye of knowledge can see many things—deeper and deeper.
Our apparent sight has no value. Real value is present in the seer who can see with deeper vision, and all are not equal. There are the wise, the wiser, the even wiser; there is a gradation, and according to his capacity the seer will see.
It is easy to see that at present we are members of this mortal world, but by what are we connected? It is our body that is the member. If we can rise above the bodily conception, we can reach the mind, then on to the intelligence, then to the soul. We will find that the plane where the souls live is eternal, and the soul itself is also eternal. From there, we can go on to search after the Supersoul, the origin of all our thoughts. The Supersoul is likened to the sun which is the origin of all rays of light. Once we find a ray of light, we can approach the sun from which all rays emanate. Similarly, from the conception of our own selves, knowing ourselves to be particles of consciousness, we can seek out a plane of super-consciousness, super-knowledge, and super-existence. In this way, we can progress to the ultimate cause, the source of all. But we cannot go just according to our own whim and freedom; some sort of help from that plane is indispensable. Such help comes in the form of Guru, the Vaisnavas, and other agents of that land. With their help, we can make honest progress towards the goal.
At present we are as monarchs of all we survey, but what we survey is all transient, mortal, and reactionary. If we examine carefully, we will see it is all reactionary. What is pleasing today will later turn into pain, therefore we must seek a good position somewhere else, a good place to build our home elsewhere. In the course of that search, we will find that we do have our own home, and it is all-perfect.
“Home. Back to God, back to home—sweet, sweet, home.” We shall find this sort of feeling within us if we are fortunate enough to be allowed a little participation by the grace of the canvassers of that land, the agents of the Lord. We shall be taken to that proper soil, and we shall gain some solid familiar type of conception of what our real home is like. In this way, we shall progress to that side.
In the beginning, we may think that we shall be going to some unknown quarter: “Innumerable living entities are here around me in my present world, but where I am now trying to go—that is uncertain. It seems imaginary and abstract.” However, when we begin our journey, we will gradually find that almost all existence is on that side, the side where all are truthful. We shall find that this material side is very meagre and limited, with only a tiny representation of the truth.
We may think that most of existence is in this world and only a very few special souls such as Socrates, Mohammed, Buddha, etc., go from here to the immortal world. But gradually we will come to understand that the higher world is infinitely greater than the mundane portion that we see. We will gradually come to understand that as in a country a small section is confined to a hospital or prison and are suffering, similarly, it is the minority that are here in this mundane plane as punishment. As this becomes clearer to us, we shall feel more courage to proceed, and with greater speed we shall run towards our home. Let us go home, and as we draw nearer to home, our speed will increase more and more, “Oh, this is my homeland!”
At present, we are outside, and our mind is also focused outside. We are moving helplessly. Our hope lies only in the grace of the divine agents. They come to pick us up and warn us, “What are you doing? Don’t go on that side. It is the land of danger, the land of death. Come along with me. I shall take you to the land of eternal nectar.” Those agents come to arouse us from our slumber, our ignorant madness. They are the Vaisnavas, and they have also given the scriptures which give some history of that nectar-land and of the saints who have gone there. Through the scriptures, our faith will gradually develop, and we will increasingly keep association with the sadhus. In so doing, we shall make ever quicker progress.
One’s own feeling is the guarantee as to whether he is making real progress or not. Hrdayenabhyanujnato. He will receive approval from his own heart that he is making real progress. Otherwise, a man may be coaxed in a particular direction only to feel frustration after some time. But such a transaction is not genuine—it is false, a hoax. In the name of religion so many such things go on, like a trade, but that does not mean that real realisation and real emancipation do not exist. Hrdayenabhyanujnato—the ultimate guarantee is the approval of your own heart, “Yes. Really this is what I want. From the innermost core of my heart, I feel the desire to dance, to find that such progress is possible.”
Our Best Interest
Normally in this world, we are men of action, men who exploit the environment and nature in order to gain energy. There is always the attempt to gather more and more energy to use at our command, and to hoard something so it may be utilised in the time of necessity. In general, that is the very nature of those who live here, and if any hindrance comes in that attempt, then it is considered that those circumstances are very bad because they oppose the object of life here, which is to gather more energy. However, to remind us about the importance of the inner wealth, we are advised that the outer nature cannot do as much harm to us as our internal nature can do in its apathy to collect more wealth for the inner existence: the man within. We should be mindful of this point: what comes from outside is not so important—it all comes and goes. Even the body, which is at present the centre of our thoughts, will vanish, so what is the necessity of gathering so much energy in connection with this body? Awaken from within your soul the proper man within you. Try to find him and try to get help for him. This campaign is possible only with the connection of the sadhu, the saint.
We shall be the loser on any day that we do not meet with a saint and hear some discussion about the inner meaning and substance of life. Be conscious of this. Somehow or other, be mindful of your own person. Look after your own interest by finding your own self. Be unmindful towards the external world and circumstances and dive deep into the reality, your inner wealth. Find your inner self and the inner world within, where your inner self is living. Try to find that home. Back to God, back to home. Utilise your energy only for going home, and not for wandering into the land of others—the land of death. Try to avoid the land of death at any cost, and always try to seek out the eternal soil. You must realise that you are a member of that soil. Try to understand what is your home, and why that is your home. What does home comfort mean? It means it is the natural place which is our birthright. We have to face the fact that we are not at home, but if there is some hankering within us to search for that, we are fortunate.
Our necessity is to find how that inner thirst can be quenched. Our feeling should be: “The world is here and I am here, but I am unsatisfied. How can my inner self be satisfied?” We are in want, therefore by what process can this want be removed? For the present, we have this fleshy body, but to know anything and everything about the body—about the bones, nervous system, blood, etc.—is all unnecessary. To know about the composition of the blood, etc., is just unnecessary detail. Our enquiry should be regulated in this way: “Who am I, and why am I troubled? I do not know how to rid myself of these problems.” This is the general question, and we should be concerned with that.
“Athato Brahma jijnasa—from where have I come? How am I living, and what is my future?” These are the main questions that should concern us, and we must concentrate the whole of our energy to find the solution. This does not apply to only one person—myself—but it is the concern of all creation.
To seek the source of everything is the nature of proper enquiry, but to enquire after this and that and so many hundreds of things is simply a waste of energy. The sastric or scriptural enquiry has been couched in such a way: “From where have I come? What sustains me? What is my future? Why am I uneasy, and how can I acquire my inner fulfilment?” All enquiry should follow this standard way, otherwise there is some disease in our enquiry. It won’t be genuine. More and more curiosity may arise endlessly, so we must learn how to question, how to enquire, and in this way our energy will have some value and won’t be wasted.
Enquiry is bona fide when it is directed towards fulfilment of the real goal, therefore we must save our energy and regulate it in the proper channel. This is Kali-yuga—the age of quarrel—and our real and only helpful necessity in life is to have the company of the established saints and the Holy Name of Krishna. Otherwise, deviating from that, we may be misguided at any and every step.
সাধুসঙ্গে কৃষ্ণনাম—এই মাত্র চাই ।
সংসার জিনিতে আর কোন বস্তু নাই ॥
sadhu-sange krsna-nama—ei matra chai
samsara jinite ara kona vastu nai
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave this as the substance of all advice, and there is nothing more useful than this to help us get out of undesirability. He says that to chant Krishna-nam but without the association of the sadhus means that it will be very difficult for us to proceed. Therefore, in one word, the solution is in sadhu-sanga. We are to secure the company of a realised soul of the proper standard, then everything will fall into place. The king of the sadhus is the Guru. Gurudev is the king of the great souls who can give guidance. For one to be guru, it means that he can guide us satisfactorily, otherwise who can we believe and trust to our utmost understanding, and to whom can we fully submit and surrender? The Guru is where our enquiry will be fulfilled to its utmost necessity. From him, higher direction will come from above, from a more and more elevated sphere of love. We have to connect with that high and subtlemost wave, and we will be most benefitted. This is the general idea.
On the whole, we must always try to be at the disposal of the higher agency, at the disposal of the higher thinkers of the higher provinces. In this way, we shall come in connection with the higher and most subtle layer of life. There are different waves of different types and interests, and of different loss and gain, but to connect with the highest should be our aim.
We should see that the charm of this life is finished. Already we have had much experience that this is all stale. After all, wherever there are the four enemies, janma, mrtyu, jara, vyadhi—birth, death, old age, and disease—there cannot be any real happiness. Wherever there is death, there cannot be any happiness. In such a plane, we are always under the threat of death, so there is no charm. All charm is completely finished. Therefore, with eagerness we must enquire as to where we shall be able to live. We must select a higher plane where we can really live.
यद्गत्वा न निवर्त्तन्ते तद्धाम परमं मम ।
yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama
In Srimad Bhagavad-gita (15.6) Krishna says, “That place from which one never returns having once reached it, is My supreme abode.”
आब्रह्मभुवनाल्लोकाः पुनरावर्त्तिनोऽर्ज्जुन ।
मामुपेत्य तु कौन्तेय पुनर्जन्म न विद्यते ॥
abrahma-bhuvanal lokah punar avartino ’rjuna
mam upetya tu kaunteya punar janma na vidyate
He instructs Arjuna, “A permanent position is only possible in My plane. All occupations in this plane, even that of a king, are nothing more than dreams. So if you want to get out of this dreaming state and enter into reality, you must raise yourself to the standard of finding the plane of reality, however elusive it may appear to be, for that cannot be devoured by death. Gather your energy to build up something permanent. At present, you are investing your energy in something that is going to be demolished at the next moment—a foolish attempt.”
उद्धरेदात्मनात्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत् ।
आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मनः ॥
uddhared atmanatmanam natmanam avasadayet
atmaiva hy atmano bandhur atmaiva ripur atmanah
“Note that you are your own friend, but you are your own enemy too. You are your own enemy if you don’t take good care of your own development for your real progress. But you can be your own friend, and none can help you as much as you can help yourself.”
बन्धुरात्मात्मनस्तस्य येनैवात्मात्मना जितः ।
bandhur atmatmanas tasya yenaivatmatmana jitah
“If you can control your mind, then you can save your energy from going astray and direct it to the proper channel where you can really thrive. Then you will be your own best friend. However, if you allow yourself to be led by the various senses of the lower nature which are always trying to move in the land of exploitation, reaction, and suffering, then you will be your own enemy. Consider all these things.”
विमृश्यैतदशेषेण यथेच्छसि तथा कुरु ।
vimrsyaitad asesena yathechchhasi tatha kuru
“Consider deeply, then take the right step forward.” The human form of life is very valuable. You have the power of discrimination, but that will be denied you if, compelled by the reactionary wave, you have to take the body of a tree, a beast, or whatever. Can you say for certain that in your next life you will not be demoted to an animal body? What guarantee is there that you won’t be?
It is not that all action and all progress takes place only in the realm of death. Progress is not limited just to darkness and ignorance, but if you really participate in positive progress, you will be able to feel what real progress is. Hrdayenabhyanujnato—you will feel and conceive this progress with your inner approval, your heart’s approval. It is not that some bogus hope has been given and you will be taken into a foreign land to be murdered, tortured, or mistreated. There is no question of that.
भक्तिः परेशानुभवो विरक्तिर्
अन्यत्र चैष त्रिक एककालः ।
प्रपद्यमानस्य यथाश्नतः स्युस्
तुष्टिः पुष्टिः क्षुदपायोऽनुघासम् ॥
bhaktih paresanubhavo viraktir
anyatra chaisa trika eka-kalah
prapadyamanasya yathasnatah syus
tustih pustih ksudapayo ’nughasam
This famous sloka of Srimad Bhagavatam explains that when you eat something, your belly is the witness. It says, “Yes, I am eating.” Hunger will be satisfied, the body will be nourished and gain strength, and you will feel the fulfilment of having eaten. Furthermore, there will no longer be any feeling of necessity to eat more and more. Similarly, in spiritual life so many symptoms will come to show proof of your progress.
We now have a human body, and this is the most valuable time for us, but it is being lost due to misapplication. Our most valuable energy is being lost through misappropriation. Uttisthata jagrata prapya varan nibodhata—so awake, arise, and engage yourself for your own benefit. Not only that, but address others also to engage in this campaign, and that in turn will give you further help in a particular way.
The main thing is that under the guidance of a higher agent, we should engage ourselves in devotional activities and have a busy programme so there may not be any spare time to go on with any trifling mundane matters. Such a busy programme in the association of the devotees will be very helpful for us.
Internal self-satisfaction, disregarding the present environment of the troublesome world, is a valuable asset. It is nearing the soul area. Real bhakti, devotion, is ahaituki, causeless; it is its own cause. It is causeless and it is ‘by itself’, as Hegel said; reality is by itself. Reality is not an abstract thing, but reality means a system, a system that exists by itself. It is anadi and ahaituki, it is eternal, and nothing can produce it. Bhakti is its own cause. These are the definitions that have been given to help us to understand what is bhakti. It is not created by some other thing, it is there eternally, but it is only covered and should be uncovered—discovered. It is there in a potential form. By outside help, it will gradually and progressively come out. It is in a kind of dormant state—it is necessary to rouse it. Anyabhilas, karma, jnan—fleeting desires and the organised attempts for both exploitation and retirement or indifference, are the covers. We have to remove these covers, and then bhakti will emerge in all its pristine glory.
Affinity and attraction for the higher truth is very rarely found, especially in this modern age where the direction of thought is all towards exploitation, even of knowledge. The fact that even knowledge has become subservient to exploitation is creating havoc. Atomic energy and so many other kinds of scientific research are the cause of great apprehension. The world is threatened with destruction at any moment. This scientific knowledge has brought us to such a position that at any moment the whole thing may be finished. It is suicidal knowledge. The increase of such knowledge in this world leads to a suicidal civilisation. Exploitation means reaction. So, if we accept general, wholesale exploitation, the result will be pralaya or mahapralaya, partial destruction or even full devastation. In any case, whether by the atomic bomb or any natural incident, pralaya will come, and after that, again creation: birth and death, birth and death … each individual will be born and die again, and the whole solar system will also be born and die again and again without end.
To escape this entanglement we must leave this atmosphere experienced by our senses. In Bhagavad-gita and in the Upanisads also, it is mentioned, indriyani parany ahuh. Our senses hold the principal position, because if the eye, ear, nose, touch, etc., are gone, then the whole world is gone from us. Because we have senses we have our world. In the world of experience, our senses are all-important. Then—indriyebhyah param manah—the mind is within. And what is the mind? It is the faculty within us which selects, “I want this, I don’t want that.” We have a liking for something, and a disregard for something else, and this is the principle of the mind within us. It is more important than the senses because if I am unmindful, a person may walk in front of me but it is possible that I will say, “Oh, I did not notice him. I did not see him, and I could not hear him. I was unmindful.” So, mind is in the centre, and that is more important than our senses.
The senses are more important than the external world, and the mind is more important because if the mind does not receive, then the senses, which are like so many doors, are useless. Then—manasas tu para buddhih—there is another principle to be traced within us, a fine thing called reason, buddhi. What is its characteristic? The mind will say, “Oh, I shall take that,” but buddhi says, “Oh no. No, don’t take that, it will cause some damage. You rather take this, it will give you benefit.” That faculty of selection, that reason, is a higher principle in us. Then—buddher yah paratas tu sah—that which is superior to even the intelligence is the soul himself.
In this way, we must trace out the elements. More important than the external world are our senses; more important than our senses is our mind; and above the mind is reason which is even more important, more fine and more reliable; and—buddher yah paratas tu sah—there is another thing above the buddhi, and that is our soul. And what is its nature, its characteristic? It is like light.
In the scriptures, an example has been given that on a moonlit night there may be a cloud in the sky which has covered the moon—but the cloud is seen by the light of the moon. The compiler of the Vedas, Vyasdev, says the atma or soul is like that illuminating moon. Or, like the sun: a cloud has covered the sun, but the cloud is seen by the light of the sun. Similarly, the atma is a point of light within us, and because it is in the background we can feel our mental system. If the light is withdrawn, everything is dead. The mental system, the intelligence, the faculty of choice, and so many channels through which we gain knowledge from outside, will have no value if that light is withdrawn. That light is the atma, a point of a ray of light, and it is quite categorically different from all other things here. The soul is a particle of light, and there is a land of light made of souls, and in this way there is development again: from the subjective to super-subjective, from soul to Supersoul, atma to Paramatma. Just as in this world we find ether, air, heat, water, then earth, then stone, and in this way there is development in material existence, similarly in the finer world there is also development from the intelligence to the soul, then to the Supersoul, to the Super-supersoul … In this way, the subjective side goes towards the infinite. It is super-subjective.
Darwin in his theory of evolution says that everything comes from matter. He says that even within the womb, first there is something material which grows, and from that growth of matter, knowledge also gradually grows. In general terms, he thinks that consciousness comes out of matter. But the followers of the revealed truth do not believe in that. They say that consciousness is all-in-all, and everything is floating on the ocean of consciousness. That is subjective evolution. Darwin talks of objective evolution, but the Vedic scriptures say that everything comes under the category of subjective evolution. As Bishop Berkeley, one European philosopher, said, “It is not that the mind is in the world, but the world is in the mind.” Everything is floating in the plane of consciousness. Consciousness presupposes everything.
Darwin’s section say that in the beginning was the fossil. But what is a fossil? ‘Fossil’ is a particular conception, and that is a part of consciousness. Therefore, we contend that consciousness is the most original subject. Whatever you may say to be the beginning, consciousness existed before that, otherwise no statement about anything can be made. So, the Vedic truth states that Brahma—the all-pervading impersonal aspect of the Absolute—is the source of the souls; and above the soul, atma, is the Supersoul, Paramatma. In the mundane worlds, all development is in the black side, but there is also a bright side—the eternal world, which exists with so many joyful activities, so many waves in the ocean of blissfulness and joy.
In this way, we must understand what should be our duty in this life, what is the special importance of the human life, and how to utilise it. There are so many religious opinions, but we seekers after truth shall have to find a harmonising solution amongst them, and for that we shall have to enter into some comparative study.
It is mentioned in the scriptures that we should not change our position too easily. For example, a commander will say to his army, “Don’t change your position. Rather, die to keep it.” But when the chance comes, he will say, “Go forward.” Similarly, the sastra, the scriptures, have told, “Wherever you are born according to your previous karma, wherever you have taken your stand, don’t try to leave that position otherwise there is the possibility that you may go down.” But at the same time, when a proper chance comes, they say, “March on towards the Absolute! Make further progress.” So, in Bhagavad-gita it is given, “Don’t easily lose your present position acquired by your previous action—rather, die there!” But then again, Krishna comes to say,
सर्व्वधर्म्मान् परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज ।
sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
“When you get the chance of marching towards the Centre, you must do it at all cost.” This is the revolutionary method. There is the constitutional method and the revolutionary method. The revolutionary method is to risk anything and everything and march on, march forward towards the central truth, and, because this human life gives the best opportunity, we shall do whatever is necessary for that.
Only in the human form of life do you have the practical power of your discrimination and decision. If you lose this position and go to animal life or vegetable life, no one knows when you will again come back to be able to take an independent and voluntary decision. Therefore, this human life is most important and you should not misuse it for the practices of animal life: ahara, nidra, bhay, maithuna—to eat, to sleep, to be under apprehension at every minute, and to have sense-pleasure; you will find this everywhere. If you become an animal or go anywhere else—to become a bird, a worm, an insect, etc., you will get all these sense-enjoyments, but to cultivate your soul’s life, spiritual life, your proper function—that is a chance you will not get anywhere else other than in the human form of life. In the company of the saints, the entire position may be discussed, and in this way you can make progress in your life and save yourself. But if, despite having received a human birth, you lose this chance, you are committing suicide or worse. After having received a human birth, it is suicide not to try to help oneself properly, to try for one’s wholesale relief.
An essay by Srila B. R. Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj
originally published in 1934 in The Harmonist
To err is human. To err is inevitable for all, being not perfect. Still, no one wants to remain imperfect. There is an element within all that is animate that tends towards perfection. If it were not so, we would feel no want at all. Our tendency towards perfection is certainly very weak and limited; otherwise we could attain the goal at once. Our limited capacity and tendency for perfection makes room for the guide or Guru.
The imperfect is not so if it is not in need of help, and that also from beyond itself. The perfect is not perfect if He cannot assert Himself or help others, and that too, of His own accord. So the guidance to perfection or Absolute Truth is necessarily a function of the Absolute Himself, and the divine agent through whom this function manifests is Sri Guru or the divine guide.
For a seeker of the Absolute Truth, submission to the Guru is unavoidable. A class of thinkers believes, however, that when scientific research is possible, why cannot higher spiritual knowledge also be evolved from within? Such people are ignorant of the most essential nature of absolute knowledge, that He alone is the Absolute Subject and all else including ourselves constitutionally stand only as an object to His omniscient vision. It is impossible for the eye to see the mind; it can have some connection with the mind only when the latter cares to mind it. In a similar way, our connection with absolute knowledge depends mainly on His sweet will. We must solely depend on His agent, or the spiritual master, through whom He likes to distribute Himself.
Our human society with its finest culture forms but an infinitesimal part of the dynamic Absolute. How, except by the direct and positive method of revelation, dare we hope to comprehend or evolve any conception of the supernatural knowledge of the unconditional Infinite? All intellectual giants prove themselves but pygmies before the absolute omniscient omnipotence who reserves the right to give Himself away through His own agents alone.
To our best knowledge and sincerity, however, we should see not to submit to a false agent. Here of course, we can’t help ourselves very much, because in our present state we are mainly guided by our previous samskar or acquired nature. “Birds of the same feather flock together.” Yet, although we are generally overpowered by habit, there is still the possibility of free choice to a certain extent, especially in the human species, otherwise correction becomes impossible, and punishment mere vengeance. Reality can assert itself. Light does not require darkness for its positive proof. The sun by itself can establish its supremacy over all other lights. Before an open and unbiased eye, the Sad-guru (real guide) shines above all professors of phenomenon.
Sri Guru manifests himself mainly in a twofold way—as the director from within and the preceptor from without. Both functions of the Absolute help an individual soul—a disciple—to reach the absolute goal. In our fallen state, we cannot catch the proper direction of the inner guide, so the merciful manifestation of the preceptor without is our sole help and hope. But at the same time, it is only by the grace of the Guru within that we can recognise the real preceptor without and submit to his holy feet.
A bona fide disciple must always remain fully awake to the fact that his highest spiritual fortune is but a gracious grant from the Absolute Lord, and not a matter of right to be demanded or fought out. Constitutionally, we are equipped only to be proper recipients of God’s favour. In this connection, it should be clearly understood that an individual soul can never be substantially the same as the Absolute Person. Not even in his liberated or fully realised condition can an individual soul be one with Godhead. The misconception of oneness has been introduced from a slothful nondiscrimination between the Absolute Personality and the luminous orb around His eternal, spiritual, and blissful home. In fact, an individual soul constitutes only a part of a particular power of intermediate value of the Supreme Lord, and as such he is capable of being converted from both sides. He differs from the Absolute Entity both in quantity and quality, and is merely a dependent entity on the Absolute. In other words, the Absolute Lord Krishna is the master, and an individual jiva-soul is His constitutional subordinate or servant.
Such a relationship is constant and really wholesome for the jiva. The apprehension of slavery does not arise because of his free choice and immense positive gain. The freedom and individuality of the jiva are not only unharmed by surrender to the Absolute Good, but they really thrive in Him alone. Individual freedom and interest are the part and parcel of those who are of the Absolute, and so they are quite at home there, as a fish is at home in water or an animal in a healthy atmosphere. But the freedom as well as all other qualities of the Supreme Personality are unlimited and transcendental, and so only by their partial functions do they harmonise all relative entities.
Sri Guru is not exclusively the same as the Supreme Lord Himself, but he fully represents the essence of the whole normal potency and embodies the most comprehensive and excellent service and favour of the Lord. As he is the fittest servitor of the Lord, he is empowered by the Lord to reinstate all misguided souls in their best interest. So, Guru is the divine messenger of immortal hope and joy in this mortal and miserable world. His advent is the most auspicious and happy event for the suffering animation, and can be compared to the rising of the morning star that can guide the traveller lost in the desert. A gentle touch of Sri Guru’s merciful hand can wipe away the incessant tears from all weeping eyes. A patriot or philanthropist makes the problem only worse in his frantic and futile attempt to alleviate the deep-rooted pain of a suffering soul, as an ignorant doctor does in eagerly handling an unfortunate patient. O the day when this poor soul realises the causeless grace of Sri Gurudev.
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj appeared in the world in 1895 in West Bengal, India. As a young man he surrendered to his Guru, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, and served him wholeheartedly. Appreciating Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s deep understanding of pure devotion, Srila Saraswati Thakur publicly recognised him as “a fit person to continue my disciplic succession”.
Thereafter Srila Sridhar Maharaj founded Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math on the banks of the River Ganges in Nabadwip. He preached Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings of divine love throughout India and revealed their import in unprecedented depth.
Srila Sridhar Maharaj departed from the mortal world in 1988, leaving behind his faithful followers, his wisdom, and his Mission.
Our real home is full of freedom and comfort. Everything we need is there. It is a place where there are natural transactions of faith, love, and affection.
Misusing our free will, we have somehow gone astray. But now we are being called, “Come home, back to God and back to home, the highest position, the land of love.”