Understanding Krishna’s position as the Absolute Truth.

By Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj

Student: There was a verse you mentioned yesterday that Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur used to explain satya.

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Yes.

satya-vratam satya-param trisatyam
satyasya yonim nihitan cha satye
satyasya satyam rta-satya-netram
satyatmakam tvam saranam prapannah
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 10.2.26)

This verse is from the Garbha-stava in the dasam skandha [10th canto] of the Bhagavat. It was spoken when Brahma and the other gods chanted hymns in praise of Krishna just before His appearance. It was their first verse. What do you ask about it?

Student: Yesterday, you were explaining that there are some persons who are worshipers of satya.

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: There is a particular section found in Gaya of that type. They are not very particular about their creed. So, they invited our Guru Maharaj to their place. What is the true conception of satya? Satya is the basis. So, we have to know much more about the proper conception of satya, truth. What is truth?

First of all, the truth is personal, the truth is an autocrat, and the truth is absolute good. These things to be added to understand the real nature of truth.

vedyam vastavam atra vastu sivadam
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.1.2)

Satya means vastava-vastu: reality, truth. Vastu, substance, or existence, is of two kinds: vastava, real, and avastava, unreal, that is, mayic, misconception. A misconception is a finite aspect of the truth, though it is also part of the truth. Maya is also nitya [eternal]. Vastava-vastu [absolute truth] contains both conditioned and unconditioned existence. According to Hegel, the Absolute contains both the conditioned and unconditioned. The finite and the infinite combined is the Absolute. The infinite in itself is not sufficient. There will also be finite in relativity to it.

Student: What does rta-satya-netram mean?

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Rta and satya are two kinds of truth. According to me, rta means that which can be deduced from the truth. Rt dhatu [the verbal root rt] means gaman. So, rta means gata. In geometry, when data is there, then with a theorem, there can be deduction. A different conception of truth that can be deduced from data, from basic truth, is also truth. That which can be deduced from a basic truth is also true. So, rta is a particular kind of satya: that which we can reach or which can be produced from basic truth.

Rta-satya-netram means that the Lord has two eyes: satya and rta. It also means that He is seen through rta and satya; He comes into our contact through these two processes: consideration of the finite and the infinite, deduced truth and fundamental truth. Fundamental truth is there, and what He creates with that, the different varieties created by Him, are also truth. Anything created by truth or constructed in truth, differentiated characteristics over the fundamental base, vilasa, is also truth. I like to say that rta is what is deduced from satya, the structure which we find on the foundation of truth, sat-chit-ananda vilasa.

Student: Netra here means observing?

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Netra means the instrument, the process by which we observe, by which we come to have a conception and understanding of a thing. Netra means a particular instrument through which we can come in contact with the outside world.

Rk, as in Rg-veda, means sound. Vede pasyanti panditah [“The wise see through the Vedas”]. Our vision and destination will be through Veda, the revealed truth. Rta-satya-netram then can mean one who can be seen or one who sees through these two eyes: one Veda, sastra [scripture], and the other direct perception, the sadhu. Sadhu and sastra, who can be approached and seen by these two eyes, or who sees through these two eyes, is rta-satya-netram. Satya means sat, the sadhu. We can see Him through the sadhu, and we can see Him through rta, meaning rk, sastra, Veda. Sadhu and scripture, these are the two ways by which He can be seen. We can approach Him through scripture as well as through the sadhu. So, He is known as rta-satya-netram.

mahajano yena gatah sa panthah
(Mahabharata: Vana-parva, 313.117)

The real conception in the heart of the sadhu, that is the fundamental conception of the truth, and what has been produced by the sadhus as sastra, through that also we can see Him. So, through the practices of the sadhu (sadhu-acharan) and the advice of the scripture (sastra-upades), He can be seen. This may be another interpretation.

Rta-satya-netram may also mean that He has two eyes, one of justice, and one of mercy. He sees us not only with an attitude of justice, but also through His other eye, that of mercy. Rta can mean that which can attract mercy, that which is deduced from the fundamental truth and can attract mercy; the deduction that can produce mercy in Him. So, He sees with the eye of affection and the eye of justice. According to the circumstances, He may have to distribute justice, but that is not vindictiveness; it done with mercy. So, He is rta-satya-netram. He sees everything with justice and affection, mercy. Satya can mean impartial estimation, equity and good sense, justice, and rta can mean mercy. He sees things in two ways: impartially and practically, theoretically and practically. This also may be a good interpretation.

Satyasya satyam means He who is the foundation of truth, and nihitan cha satye means He whose basis is truth. On one side, He is the support of truth, and on the other, He is standing and playing on truth. Satya cannot stand without Him, and He has also taken His stand on satya. He is both the cause of the truth and the effect of the truth. Nihita means ahita, placed. He is placed on truth; He has accepted satya as His asan [seat], as the plane where He is standing and playing. He is moving with the truth as the ground of His play.

Satya-vratam: what He says, He keeps; He keeps His vow of truth. Satya-param: He is above truth. Trisatyam: He is truth in the three ages, the past, present, and future; He is truth within the three gunas (satya, rajas, and tamas); and He is truth within the three lokas: the mundane world, the spiritual world, and the tatastha loka [marginal plane]. Everywhere, He is true, in all divisions of desa, kala, and patra [place, time, and circumstance]. Amongst, His nitya-parsadas [eternal associates], the nitya-baddhas [conditioned souls], and the mumuksus [seekers of liberation], everywhere He is available and true for all.

Satyasya yonim: He is said even to be the cause of satya. Satya is springs up from Him.

Satyasya satyam: He is the very gist of truth, the very life of truth. He is sarasya saram: the truth of the truth, the very essence of the truth.


Spoken on 31 August 1981.

Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj is the foremost modern exponent of the conception of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the school of Srila Rupa Goswami. Subtle and profound yet vivid and practical, his representation of both the broadest and deepest spiritual truths has and continues to fortify and nurture the faith of spiritual aspirants the world over. For more information on Srila Sridhar Maharaj, please visit his biography page.


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