This important figure in the field of devotional service appeared in India in 1838, and with the help of his son, Sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami, rejuvenated the Hare Krishna Movement begun nearly 400 years earlier by Lord Chaitanya. It was Srila Bhaktivinode who first urged that this message be preached to the Westem world, and he was the first true devotee to write in English on the subject of Vedic religion. The article published here was written in 1896, and the lucidity and simple force of the great Thakur's presentation go far to show us the transcendental timeliness of his mission.
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu properly known as the "Avatari," or Source of all incarnations of God appeared in India in 1486 A.D. In a previous issue (no. 20), we published a brief sketch of His life and activities in initiating the Hare Krishna Movement, in chanting and dancing to the Lord's Names. In the present article, we examine the precepts of this sublime Apostle of Love of Krishna, as they come to us from one of the great saints in Chaitanya's line of disciplic succession.
Lord Chaitanya teaches us in the first place that the rational attributes of men are not capable of approaching the divine sphere of spirit. "Jukti," as He styles reason, is quite incompetent in such a matter. "Ruchi," as He styles the religious sentiment in man, even in very small quantity has the power to comprehend it. It is inspiration which can alone give light to spiritual matters. Inspirations coming down from heaven through purified blessed souls have exhibited themselves in the form of the Vedas. The Vedas, together with their explanatory notes, the Puranas, are therefore the only evidence in matters of spirit, and are eternal in nature.
Vedic truths should, then, be accepted as the only truths in higher matters. Reason, while sincerely helping inspired truth, may be accepted as auxiliary evidence. The Vedas teach us, according to Chaitanya, nine principal doctrines, which are:
1) Hari, the Almighty, is one without a second.
2) He is always vested with infinite power.
3) He is the ocean of Rasa [the transcendental bliss which forms the essence of any relationship].
4) The soul is His "Vibhinnangsha," or separated part.
5) Certain souls are engrossed by "Prakriti," His illusory energy.
6) Certain souls are released from the grasp of Prakriti.
7) All spiritual and material phenomena are "Vedavedprakash" of Hari, the Almighty [simultaneously one and different with the Lord].
8. Bhakti, devotional service, is the only means of attaining the final object of spiritual existence.
9) "Prem," pure love in Krishna, is alone the final object of spiritual existence.
We must explain these points one by one:
1. Hari the Supreme Being is one without a second. In Aryan theology the creative principle of the Deity is personified in Brahma, and the destructive principle in Shiva. Indra is the head of some lower elements, in terms of administration. Hence, they are not the Almighty Himself, but are different representations of different attributes. They have obtained their powers from an original Fountainhead. Hence, they are subordinate beings in the service of Hari or Bhagavan, the Personality of Godhead.
Then again there are three distinct philosophical ideas of the Deity, i. e., (i) the idea of the negative Brahman of the pantheistic school, (ii) the idea of a universal soul, "Paramatman," of the yoga school, and (iii) the idea of a personal Deity with all His majesty, might, glory, beauty, wisdom and supremacy combined in His Person.
The ideas of Brahman and Paramatman are included in the idea of Bhagavan. Spiritually, therefore, Bhagavan is Hari, the Supreme Being. Human ideas are either mental or spiritual. The mental idea is defective as it has relation to the created principles of matter. The spiritual idea is certainly the nearest approach to the Supreme Being.
Then again, the spiritual idea of Bhagavan is of two sorts. In one sort, the person of the Deity is overpowered by His own majesty, and in the other, His personal beauty overpowers all His majesty. The first idea is represented in the great Narayana of Vaikuntha, Who is the Lord of Lords and God of Gods. The second is represented in the all-beautiful Krishna with Radhika, who is the representative of His "Hladini," or superior ecstatic energy. Krishna appears as man amongst men, and is again generally accepted as God above Gods. Krishna attracts, loves and produces ecstasy in all souls. His person and personal attachments are all purely spiritual and have no relation to the material world. The material senses of man cannot approach Him. It is the spirit in man which can see Him directly and commune with Him.
The soul, fettered in matter, has from its own degradation lost its right to see Krishna and His spiritual "Lila" [pastimes] in the spiritual world, but Krishna out of His Own Supreme Power and prerogative may appear with all His Vrindaban Lila before the eyes of all men. The rational man can hardly conceive of or believe in Krishna and His Lila. As his spiritual essence improves, however, he sees and loves Him with all his heart.
The Spiritual Process
In our small compass, we can hardly treat this subject fully and exhaustively. We therefore leave this point to our readers with these words: Give up the shackles of matter slowly. Cultivate your spirit inwards. Give up prejudices which you have acquired from the so-called rational thinkers who deny the existence of spirit. Be humble in yourself and learn to respect those who work towards spiritual attainments. Do these with your heart, mind and strength in the company of spiritual people alone, and you will see Krishna in no time.
Krishna is not an imaginary Being, nor have you a right to think that He is a material phenomenon fancied to be the Supreme Being by fools. Krishna is not understood by the process of distinguishing the subjective from the objective, nor is He to be accepted as an imposition on the people set up by designing men. Krishna is eternal, spiritually true, reflected on the human soul when it is relieved of all pressure of gross matter, and He is the subject of love which proceeds from the soul. Accept Him as such and you will see Him in your soul's eye.
Words fail to describe that Transcendental Being. The highest, best and most spiritual ideal of the Divinity is in Krishna. To bring arguments against Him is simply to deceive oneself and deprive oneself of the blessings that God has kept in store for man. Hence, all descriptions of His Name, person, attributes and Lila should be accepted spiritually, giving up the material portion which words must necessarily convey.
2. Hari is always vested with infinite powers. By infinite powers must be meant powers which know no bounds either in space or in time, as His powers alone created space and time. His powers are identified with His person. In material objects, there is a difference between the person and the powers, between the thing and its attributes, its name, its form and action: but it is a spiritual truth that in spirit the thing is identical with its name, form, attributes and action. This truth cannot be subjected to dry reason which deals with gross matter alone.
Krishna is supreme will in Himself, and He exercises His supreme power at His pleasure, which submits to no law, because all law has proceeded from His will and power.
Power is known from its exercise. In this world we have experience of only three of the attributes of Krishna's power. We see the material phenomena and we understand that His power has the attribute to create matter. This attribute is styled in the Vedas as "Mayashakti." We see man and we understand that the Supreme Power has the attribute to produce limited and imperfect souls. The Shastras [scriptures] call that attribute "Jiva-shakti." We conceive of One Who is Spiritual and Supreme in His realm of eternal spirits. We understand that His power has an attribute to exhibit perfectly spiritual existences. The Vedas call that attribute by the name of "Atma-shakti," or "Chit-shakti."
All these attributes together form one Supreme Power which the Vedas call "Para-shakti." In fact that power (shakti) is not distinguishable from the person of that Being. Still, the powers are separately exhibited in their separate actions. This is styled "Achintya-Vedaved-prakash," or the inconceivable simultaneous existence of distinction and non-distinction. Hari being will above law, He exercises His infinite powers, while He Himself remains unaffected. This is not understood, but felt in the soul as intuitive truth.
3. He is the ocean of "Rasa." Rasa has been defined to be that ecstatic principle which comprehends the various forms of love and affection which can be exhibited between the living being and the Lord. The process of exhibiting of Rasa relates to its exhibition in man while still enthralled in matter. But Rasa itself is an eternal principle identified with the Supreme Hari. Hari is the ocean of Rasa, and in the human soul only a drop of the ocean can be conceived.
Rasa naturally is spiritual, but in man, who is subject to Maya, the progenitor of matter, it has been identified in a perverted state with the sensual pleasure of man in his connection with material objects, the soul losing itself in mind and the mind acting through the senses, enjoying the perverted Rasa in the five different objects of the senses. This is the soul's going abroad with "Avidya," or ignorance of the spiritual self.
When the soul looks inward it obtains its spiritual Rasa, and the perverted Rasa wanes in proportion to the development of the spiritual Rasa. In spiritual Rasa the souls towards each other, and all towards the all-beautiful, have their unfettered action in Vrindaban, rising above material time and space. Hari, the Infinite Supreme Free Will, has eternal ecstasy in His spiritual power or "Chit-shakti."
The Hladini attribute or Chit-shakti (spiritual wisdom) produces all bhabs relations and affections. The "Sandhini" attribute of Chit-shakti produces all existence (other than the free will), including the "Dhams" (abodes), individualities, and other substances in connection with the action of the spiritual Rasa. All these exhibitions are from Chit-shakti, the spiritual power.
The Mayik or material creation, including time, space and gross objects, has no place in Chit-jagat, the spiritual world which is all the same as Vrindaban. Maya-shakti [illusory energy] is a perverted reflection of the Chit-shakti. Hence the particularities in the mayik (material) world have semblance with the particularities in the Chit-jagat or spiritual universe, but are not substantially the same. The Chit-jagat is the model of the Mayik-jagat, but they are not identical.
We must guard ourselves against the idea that man has imagined Chit-jagat from an experience of the Mayik-jagat. This idea is pantheistic, and it may also be styled atheistic. Reason, not spiritualized, has a tendency to create such a doubt, but one who has a wish to enjoy spiritual love must give it up as misleading.
The eternal Rasa of Krishna exists spiritually in Chit-jagat, the spiritual world. To we who are in the netherworld there is a screen which intervenes between our eyes and the great spiritual scene of Krishna Lila. When by the grace of Krishna that screen is drawn up, we have the privilege to see it, and again when it pleases the Almighty to drop the screen, the great Vrindaban Lila disappears. Taste the subject and your conviction will be the same as mine. Brethren! Do not give up such an important subject without due and liberal examination.
4. The soul is His "Vibhinnangsha," or separated part. By soul are meant all sorts of souls, whether animal, human or celestial. It must be understood that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu believed in the very liberal theory of transmigration of the soul. Certain readers may reject this idea on the ground that certain forms of faith do not support that theory, and because it is therefore in antagonism with the dogmas of certain sectarian creeds. Indeed, it is a matter which reason cannot dare to meddle with.
Candidly examining, we do not see any strong reason to disbelieve the theory of transmigration. On the other hand, our unprejudiced mind is inclined to stand for it. The belief that the human soul has only one trial in life is evidently illiberal, unjust and contrary to the belief that God is all good. When our spiritual sentiment supports the theory and the Vedas, the receptacles of inspiration, have taught us the fact of the continual existence of the soul in different stages in creation, we cannot but give up the idea of disbelieving in the theory of transmigration of the soul. However educated and scientific a man maybe, he is always liable to a creeping error. That which holds good regarding a man holds good also regarding a nation or sect.
The soul, according to Chaitanya, is an atomic part of the Divine Soul. It is a sort of God's power to produce beings who are spiritual in essence but liable to be enthralled by Maya when they forget their position as eternal servants of the Deity. God here is compared with the Sun, and the souls are said to be the atomic portions of that Sun's ray, unable to stand freely unless they are protected by another competent attribute of God's power.
By the word "part" is not meant portions cut out of a piece of stone by an axe: part is meant to be understood as one lamp lighted from another, or gold produced from an alchemic stone, as was believed by the ancients. The souls are also compared with separate atomic emanations of the burning fire. Each soul has drawn from its Fountainhead a proportionate share of the Lord's attributes, and consequently a small proportion of free will.
These souls are naturally located between the Chit-jagat and Mayik-jagat. Those who chose to serve their God were protected from fall by the interference of the Hladini attribute of the Supreme Chit-shakti. They have been admitted as eternal servants of the Deity in various ways. They know not the troubles of Maya and the "karmachakra," the rotative principles of Mayik action and its result. Those who wanted to enjoy were grasped by Maya from the other side. They are in Maya's Karmachakra, which ends only when they again see their original position as servants of the Deity.
These souls, whether liberated from Maya or enthralled by her, are separate responsible beings dependent on the Deity. Hari is the Lord of Maya, who serves His pleasure. The soul or "Jiva" is so constructed as to be liable to enthrallment by Maya in consequence of want of power when unassisted by the Hladini-shakti of the Deity. Hence there is a natural and inherent distinction between God and Jiva, the individual soul, which no pantheistic maneuver can annihilate. Please avoid the misleading question, "When were these Jivas created and enthralled?" Mayik time has no existence in spiritual history because it has its commencement after the enthrallment of Jivas in matter, and you cannot, therefore, employ Mayik chronology in matters like these.
5. Certain souls are engrossed by "Prakriti," or His illusory energy. Prakriti, God's Maya, Pradhan, Prapancha and Avidya are different names for the same principle on account of its different phases and attributes. Maya is not an independent Shakti from the supreme Swarup Shakti [Free Will or Power]. She is simply a reflected and outward phase of the supreme power, and serves God in executing His penal order on those who become ungrateful to Him. In fact, Maya is in charge of God's house of correction. Those living beings who, in abusing their free will, forgot that they were eternal servants of the Deity and thought of enjoying for themselves, were grasped by Maya for their penal servitude and correction.
Maya The Nature Of Illusion
Maya has three attributes: Satwa, Rajas and Tamas [goodness, passion and ignorance]. These attributes are just like chains used to tie up the ungrateful souls. Maya then applies a double case on the spiritual form of the soul. The double case is described by the words Linga and Sthul. The Mayik existence has twenty-four substances: the five elements (earth, water, fire, air and firmament); the five properties (sound, touch, sight, taste and smell); and the ten "Indrias," i. e. the five receiving senses (the eye, ear, nose, tongue and touch) and the five working organs such as hands, legs, etc. These twenty form the Sthul, or outer case.
The Mana, the Buddhi, the Chitta and the Ahankar, i. e . the mind, the understanding, the attention and the perverted ego, compose the Linga-deha, or inner case.
After encasing the spiritual form of the soul, Maya employs the fallen souls to work. Mayik work is composed of Karma, Akarma and Vikarma. Karma is conventionally good action done to obtain virtue, such as the performance of duties enjoyed by the Varnashram Dharma [the Vedic system of civilization]. Akarma is the omission to do duty. Vikarma is sin or crime.
Karma procures heavenly elevations up to the Brahma Loka planet. Akarma gives an unpleasant state on earth. Vikarma hurls down souls to hell. The fallen souls travel from body to body with their Linga-deha doing Karma or Vikarma, rising up to the heavens, and again coming down at the exhaustion of their virtues, going down to hell, and after suffering punishment, again rising up to the platform of work. Thus the state of the fallen souls is deplorable in the extreme. They enjoy and suffer massacre and murder, and go on in this state, sometimes smiling as the princess and sometimes suffering in ruin. The world is, therefore, a prison or a house of correction, and not a place for enjoyment as some people assert.
6. Certain souls are released from the grasp of Prakriti. Jivas are travelling in the path of Mayik existence from time out of mind, experiencing all sorts of pleasure and pain. How to get rid of this unpleasant state of existence? No, Dharma (performance of duty), yoga (development of powers of the Sthul and the Linga), Sankhya (the division of substances under the categories and simple knowledge that one is a spiritual being) and Vairagya (abnegation giving up all enjoyments of the world) are not the proper means by which one can actually get what he wants.
When a man comes in contact with a Vaishnava, whose heart has been melted by "Haribhaktirasa," it is then that he loves to imbibe the sweet principle of Bhakti, devotion, by following his holy foot-steps. By constant study of Krishna-Bhakti he slowly washes off his Mayik condition, and in the end obtaining his true nature, he enjoys the sweetest unalloyed Rasa, which is the ultimate status of the soul.
Satsanga, or the company of spiritual people is the only means to obtain the ultimate object of man. Bhakti is a principle which comes from soul to soul, and like electricity or magnetism in gross matter, it conducts itself from one congenial soul to another. The principle of Bhakti is sincere and entire dependence on the Deity in every act of life. The principle of duty is no part of Bhakti, as it acts as gratitude for favour obtained and it works like an obligation which is contrary to natural love. The principle of morality in the mortal world, though good in its own way, does scarcely give spiritual consequence in the end. Faith in the supreme beauty of the Deity, a desire for the eternal unselfish service of that Being and a consequent repulsion of every other thought of pleasure or self-aggrandizement are the three principles which constitute Shraddha, or actual hankering after Bhakti. Bhakti by nature is Ananya, exclusive.
Is it chance, then, which brings Bhakti? No, Sukriti, or good work, is the prime moving principle. Good work is of two classes. One class, passing as morals, includes those works which bring virtue and aggrandizement. The other class of good work includes all acts which have a tendency to bring spiritual culture. This latter class of good work brings one in contact with a sincere Vaishnava, from whom one at the first imbibes Shraddha, or faith in spirit, and being then capable of receiving Bhakti, one obtains a flash of that principle from the Vaishnava who is the actual Guru of the man.
Doctrine Of "One And Different"
7. All spiritual and material phenomena are Achintya-Vedaved-prakash of Hari, the Almighty. Metaphysical discussions are perfectly useless here. The Vedas go sometimes to establish that Jiva, the individual living entity, is distinct from the Deity, and sometimes that Jiva is the same as the Deity. In fact, the Vedas always tell the truth. Jiva is simultaneously distinct from and identical with God. This is not understood by the rationalist. Hence it must be said that in the exercise of His powers beyond human comprehension, God is distinct from Jiva and the world, and again identical with them at all times.
The Vedanta teaches us the Shakti-parinamvad doctrine, and not the erroneous Vivartavad of Shankara Acharya. Shankara's teachings are explained in different ways. Some say that the world and Jiva have emanated from God, and others establish that Jiva and the world are but developments of the Godhead. Shankara, in order to avoid Brahma-parinam, i. e. transformation of the Godhead into the world, established that Vyas [Compiler and Author of the Vedic literature] teaches us Vivartavad, which is this, that God undergoes no change whatever, but it is Maya which covers a part of the Deity (just as a pot encloses a part of the firmament) and creates the world; or, that God is reflected on Avidya, or ignorance, while in fact nothing else than God has yet come to existence.
These are worthless and abstruse arguments. It is plain that the Vedanta teaches us that God is unchangeable and is never subject to modifications. His power alone creates Jiva and the material world, by its own Parinam (modification). The example is in the action of the alchemist's stone, the power of which is manifested in the form of gold, while the stone remains always unchanged. Thus Chit-shakti, the Supreme Will, goes in the form of theChit-jagat, the spiritual world, with all its particularities of eternal Rasa; and Jivashakti, the individual living force, goes in the form of innumerable Jivas, some staying in Vaikuntha as angels and others moving in this world in various shapes and forms and under very different circumstances. Maya-shakti, the material energy, creates numerous worlds for the habitation and entertainment of the fallen souls.
Vivartavad is no doubt an error and is quite opposed to the teachings of the Vedas. Now Shakti-parinamvad [the doctrine of change and variety existing in the energy of the unchanging Godhead] alone is true, and supports the fact that spiritual love is eternal. If Vivartavad were true, the natural consequence would be to declare spiritual love a temporary principle.
8. Bhakti is the only means of attaining the final object of spiritual existence. Karma as it is cannot directly and immediately produce spiritual results. When it does, it does so by means of Bhakti. Hence Bhakti is independent, and Karma (action) and Jnana (philosophy) are dependent principles. Jnana, the knowledge that man is a spiritual being, cannot directly bring the ultimate object. When it does, it does so with the assistance of Bhakti. Bhakti, therefore, is the only means to obtain the ultimate. Bhakti is thus defined. Bhakti is cultivation of a friendly sentiment for Krishna, free from all desires other than those for its own improvement, unalloyed by such other ingredients as Karma and Jnana.
It will be seen that Bhakti is itself both a feeling and an action. Bhakti has three stages, viz ., Sadhana-Bhakti, Bhab-Bhakti and Prem-Bhakti. Sadhana-Bhakti is that stage of culture when the feeling of love has not yet been roused. In Bhab-Bhakti the feeling awakes, and in Prem-Bhakti the feeling is fully set to action. Bhakti is a spiritual feeling towards the spiritual object of love.
Sadhana-Bhakti is of two sorts, one is called the Vaidha-Sadhan-Bhakti and the other is Raganuga-Sadhan-Bhakti. The word "Vaida" is from Vidhi, or rule. Where Bhakti is to be roused by the rule of the Shastras [scriptures], there the Vaidhi-bhakti works as long as the feeling is not roused. Where one out of natural tendency loves Krishna, there is a principle called Rag, which is no other than a strong desire to serve the Lord of the hears. One who is tempted by the beauty of this process to follow Him has a tendency to cultivate his feeling for Krishna. This is Raganuga-sadhan-bhakti. This latter class of Sadhana is stronger than the Vaidhi Sadhana.
Cultivation of the friendly feeling for Krishna is performed in nine different forms:
1. To hear of the spiritual Name, form, attributes and Lila [pastimes] of Krishna.
2. To utter and sing all those.
3. To meditate on and reiterate all those.
4. Service of His Holy Feet.
6. Bowing down.
7. Doing all that pleases Him.
Of all these forms, Kirtan, singing the Name and glories of Krishna, is the best. Humble knowledge is necessary in these forms of worship and fruitless discussions must be avoided. There are some who start at the theory of worshiping Srimurti [the incarnation of God in the apparent form of material elements, such as in a painting or sculpture]. "Oh," they say, "it is idolatory to worship Srimurti. Srimurti is an idol framed by an artist and introduced by no other than Beelzebub himself. Worshiping such an object would rouse the jealousy of God and limit His omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence!" Would tell them, "Brethren! Candidly understand the question and do not allow yourself to be misled by sectarian dogmas."
God is not jealous, as He is without a second. Beelzebub or Satan is no other than an object of imagination, and the subject of an allegory, an imaginary being, should not be allowed to act as an obstacle to Bhakti. Those who believe God to be impersonal simply identify Him with some power or attribute in Nature, her laws and her rules. His holy wish is law, and it would be sacrilege to confine His unlimited excellence by identifying Him with such attributes as omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience attributes which may exist in created objects such as time and space.
God's excellence consists in having in Him mutually contradicting powers and attributes ruled by His supernatural Self. He is identical with His all-beautiful Person, having such powers as omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence the like of which cannot be found elsewhere. His holy and perfect Person exists eternally in the spiritual world, at the same time existing in every created object and place in all its fullness. This idea excels all other ideas of the Deity.
Idolatry And Worship
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu rejects idolatry as well, but considers Srimurti worship to be the only unexceptionable means of spiritual culture. It has been shewn that God is personal and all-beautiful. Sages like Vyas and others have seen that beauty in their souls' eyes. They have left us descriptions. Of course, word carries grossness of matter. But truth still is perceivable in those descriptions . According to those descriptions one delineates a Srimurti and sees the great God of our heart there with intense pleasure. Brethren! is that wrong or sinful? Those who say that God has no form either material or spiritual, and again imagine a false form for worship are certainly idolatrous. But those who see the spiritual form of the Deity in their souls' eyes, carry that impression as far as possible to the mind and then frame an emblem for the satisfaction of the material eye for continual study of the higher feeling are by no means idolatrous.
While seeing a Srimurti, do not even see the image and you are a pure theist. Idolatry and Srimurti worship are two different things; but, my brethren! you simply confound one with the other out of hastiness. To tell you the truth, Srimurti worship is the only true worship of the Deity, without which you cannot sufficiently cultivate your religious feelings. The world attracts you through your senses and as long as you do not see God in the objects of your senses, you live in an awkward position which scarcely helps you in procuring your spiritual elevation. Place a Srimurti in your house. Think that God Almighty is the guardian of the house. The food that you take is His "Prasad" [mercy]. The flowers and scents are also His Prasad. The eye, the ear, the nose, the touch and the tongue all have a spiritual culture, you do it with a holy heart, and God will know it and judge you by your sincerity.
Satan and Beelzebub will have nothing to do with you in that matter! All sorts of worship are based on the principle of Srimurti. Look into the history of religion and you will come to this noble truth. The Semitic idea of a patriarchal God both in the pre-Christian period of Judaism and in the period of Christianity and Mohamedanism is nothing but a limited idea of Srimurti. The monarchic idea of a Jove amongst the Greeks and of an Indra amongst the Aryan Karmakandis of India is also a distant view of the same principle. The idea of a force and Jyotirmaya Brahma of the meditators and a formless energy of the Shaktas is also a very faint view of the Srimurti.
In fact, the principle of Srimurti is the truth itself, differently exhibited in different people according to their different phases of thought. Even Jaimini and Comte, who are not prepared to accept a creating god, have prescribed certain phases of the Srimurti, simply because they have been impelled by some inward action from the soul! Then again we meet with people who have adopted the Cross, the Shalgram shila, the lingam and such-like emblems as indicators of the inward idea of Srimurti. Furthermore, if the Divine compassion, love and justice could be portrayed by the pencil and expressed by the chisel, why should not the personal beauty of the Deity embracing all other attributes be portrayed in poetry or in picture or expressed by the chisel for the benefit of man? If words could indicate time and sign could tell us a history, why should not the picture or figure bring associations of higher thoughts and feelings with regard to the transcendental beauty of the Divine Personage?
Srimurti worship is divided into two classes, the ideal and the physical. Those of the physical school are entitled from their circumstances of life and state of mind to establish temple institutions. Those who are by circumstances and position entitled to worship the Srimurti in mind have, with due deference to the temple institutions, a tendency to worship, usually by Sraban and Kirtan, and their church is universal and independent of caste and color. Mahaprabhu prefers this latter class and shews their worship in His Shikshastak [His eight prayers]. Worship, then, without intermission, with a feeling of resignation and in a very short time you will be blessed with Prem.
9. Prem in God is the final object of spiritual existence. The Karma-margis, fruitive workers, declare that enjoyment in this world and in the heavens hereafter is all that a man requires. Karma, or action, is of two sorts, i.e. Karma done with a view to obtain a material result and Karma done with a view to please God. With the Karma-margis both sorts of Karma have the object of procuring enjoyment. Here is the line of demarcation between Bhakti and Karma. Bhakti aims at procuring the principle of Prem-Bhakti as the final principle of all actions, while Karma aims at self-enjoyment as the ultimate goal of action.
The Jnana-margis, on the other hand, cultivate spiritual knowledge to obtain Mukti, salvation, as the final aim of such cultivation. Mukti is found to be of two sorts. In one sort of Mukti total absorption of the soul in God is effected i. e., the annihilation of the separate existence of the soul from God. In the other sort of Mukti the soul stands eternally separate from God, and when salvation ensues, the soul goes to Chit-jagat, obtaining residence in the Chit region of the Deity, residence closely by the Deity, attainment of a spiritual form like that of God Himself, and attainment of powers similar to the powers of God.
The latter class of Mukti is inevitable when it pleases the almighty to "rant us that state. But then, after obtaining that Mukti, we serve God with pure love.
The first sort of Mukti is rejected by the Bhaktas, the devotees, as not worth taking, in consequence of its tendency to annihilate the highest principle of love. The second class of Mukti cannot be the ultimate object as it acts like an intermediate result of our spiritual disenthralment. Besides that, a hankering after Mukti spoils the action of spiritual cultivation, being a strong desire for something other than the improvement of Bhakti. It has a tint of selfishness which is not in keeping with the unselfish principle of pure Bhakti.
We must therefore cultivate Bhakti being always free from the two contending principles, i. e., a desire for fruitive results, and a desire for Mukti or salvation. We must depend on Krishna to give us Mukti or not as it pleases Him. We must pray for continual development of our religious sentiment of Bhakti alone. Pure love is the final object of our own existence.
Varieties Of Divine Love
Rati, as explained above, is the unit of the principle of pure spiritual love for Krishna. Mixed up with Ullas (zeal), it becomes Priti, pure love. Priti, creates exclusive love for Krishna and repulsion for things and persons other than Krishna and His connections. When the idea that Krishna is my own is added to Priti, it becomes Prem. Here commences the idea that God is my own Lord and I am His servant. Add confidence to Prem and it becomes Pranaya. Here arises the relationship of friendship with Krishna. In Pranaya, the idea of respect loses its hold.
Add to Pranaya the idea that Krishna is my exclusive and dearest Object of love and it curiously turns out into Mana. Krishna with all His greatness and power exhibits a sort of submission to it. Excessive melting of the heart being added, Prem turns out to be Sneha. Here ensues the relation of a son and parents between Krishna and the worshiper. In this stage, too much weeping for Krishna, want of satiety with communion and a desire to watch the interest of Krishna naturally occur.
Desire added to Sneha is Rag. In this stage a moment's separation is unbearable. Here commences the relation of husband and wife between Krishna and the worshiper. Distress attending upon want of mutual interview is happiness. Rag again, seeing its object as new at every moment, and being itself new at every moment, converts itself into Anurag. In this stage reciprocal subjection and a strong desire to accompany the lover everywhere are the principle features.
Anurag, infinitely rising in an astonishing state, mounting as if to madness, becomes Mahabhab. This is indescribable! From Rati to Mahabhab the whole principle is what we have called Sthayibhab. Added to the other varieties of loving relationships with Krishna, the Sthayibhab becomes Krishna Prem Rasa, the eternal ecstacy or beatitude.
We have a perverted picture of this noble Rasa in human life, as human life in thraldom of Maya is but a perverted reflection of the spiritual life. When the soul alone acts towards its proper object, the spiritual Hero Krishna, the Rasa is pure; when the mind and the senses act upon a wrong object, Rasa is degraded and becomes hateful. The perverted Rasa gives a clue of the noble spiritual Rasa to man in general; hence these arguments and descriptions have been attempted in words which correspond with words directly meaning the features of the perverted Rasa. We ask our readers to take care to make a nice distinction between spirit and gross matter; otherwise a fall is inevitable.
One who studies the Name, forms, attributes and the Lila of Krishna as described in the Srimad Bhagwatam with sincere heart, mind and strength, in the company of one who has realized the spirit, is expected to know it by the influence of Bhakti. One who is apt to rationalize everything closely does scarcely acquire the truth in matters of spirit, as by the law of God reason in its present state can never reach the sphere of the spirit.
It is needless to go further on this subject. Those who will have the opportunity to go as far as we have stated, will make a further enquiry from their heart and the all-beautiful Lord will then help them to realise the spirit and to rise higher and higher in its realm. But as long as the mind is confounded with the spirit, there is no way to rise beyond matter and its relations. The great mistake that most of the western philosophers have generally made is to identify the mind, the perverted ego (Ahankar) with the soul or spirit. We are sorry for that.
To summarise man in his present state, the different principles in him are: (i) the Sthul principle, or gross matter composing his body, (ii) the Linga principle, or sublimated matter appearing in the form of mind, attention, rationality and the perverted ego (by which one confounds oneself with the material world). This state has been caused by the influence of Maya, the illusory energy, with the object of correcting the soul in his wrong intention to enjoy, in consequence of forgetfulness of Nature as God's servant. (iii) Man in fact is solely independent of Maya and her connection. The only way to get rid of the present difficulty is by the influence of pure Bhakti imbibed from a true devotee. Bhakti, as a means, elevates the man up to the all-beautiful Krishna; and again as an end, maintains him with eternal Krishna-prem.
While located in the Maylk world man must live peacefully with the object of cultivating the spirit. In his society he must lead a pure life, avoid sins and do as much good as he can to his brother man. He must be himself bearing difficulties of life with heroism, must not brag of any goodness or grandeur due to him. Marriage with a view to peaceful and virtuous life and with a view to procreate servants of the Lord is a good institution for a Vaishnava.
Spiritual cultivation is the main object of life. Do everything that helps it and abstain from doing anything which thwarts the cultivation of the spirit. Have a strong faith that Krishna alone protects you and none else. Admit Him as your only guardian. Do everything which you know that Krishna wishes you to do, and never think that you do a thing independent of the holy wish of Krishna. Do all that you do with humility. Always remember that you are a sojourner in this world and you must be prepared for your own home. Do your duties and cultivate Bhakti as a means to obtain the great end of life, Krishna-priti. Employ your body, mind and spirit in the service of the Deity. In all your actions, worship your Great Lord.
Thus we have said before our English-knowing readers a summary of Mahaprabhu's precepts. If it be necessary we shall try to supply more informations treating these subjects in English in a short time.
Our gentle readers will now find that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu preached pure monotheism and chased out idolatry. We have shewn that he makes a nice distinction between Srimurti-worship and idolatry. He tells us that idolatry is the worship of things and persons that are not God Himself. When the sannyasis of Benares addressed Him as the God Almighty, Mahaprabhu told them that it was the worst of sins to address a Jiva as God. And again He has several times denounced the worship of a form or image other than the true image of God (after which man was created). Its representative emblems are to be used in worship of the true image of the Deity. God is one without a second, "There is none to vie with Him" is the motto of Mahaprabhu's religion.
It will also be seen that Mahaprabhu shewed in his character and preached to the world the purest morality as an accompaniment of spiritual improvement. Morality as a matter of course will grace the character of a Bhakta [devotee]. If it is not seen in the character of one who presents himself as a Krishna-bhakta, his sincerity may be doubted.
There are four classes of thoughts, viz., atheistic, pantheistic, indifferent and theistic. Chaitanya's religion rejects the first three as inimical to religion. He preaches pure theism alone and advises men to avoid the three others.
He preaches that Varnashram Dharma, including the institution of caste, is simply a social institution introduced by the Rishis [sages] to do good to man in society. They should be allowed to decorate the Aryans so long as they do not oppose spiritual improvement. By sending Pradyumna Misra, a rigid brahmin, to Ramananda Rai for spiritualisation, He has shewn that one who is aware of Krishna-tattwa may be Guru, be he a Sudra, Brahmin or Sannyasi.
He preaches the equality of men in the enjoyment of the spiritual aggrandizement. He preaches universal fraternity amongst men, and special brotherhood amongst Vaishnavas who are, according to Him, the best pioneers of spiritual improvement. He preaches that human thought should never be allowed to be shackled with sectarian views. He tells us that a man should earn money in a right way and by sincere dealings with others and their master, but should not immorally gain it. When Gopinath Pattanaik, one of the brothers of Ramananda Rai, was being punished by the Raja for immoral gains, Chaitanya warned all who attended upon Him to be moral in their worldly dealings.
In His own early life He has taught the Grihasthas [householders] to give all sorts of help to the needy and the helpless, and has shewn that it is necessary, for one who has power to do it, to help the education of the people, especially in the case of the brahmins who are expected to study the higher subjects of human knowledge.
The religion preached by Mahaprabhu is universal and not exclusive. The most learned and the most ignorant are both entitled to embrace it. The learned people will accept it with a knowledge of spiritual values. The ignorant have the same privilege by simply uttering the Name of the Deity and mixing in the company of pure Vaishnavas. The principle of Kirtan invites as the future church of the world, offering to all classes of men without distinction of caste or clan the highest cultivation of the spirit. This church, it appears, will extend all over the world and take the place of all sectarian churches which exclude outsiders from the precincts of the mosque, church or temple.
Chaitanya, as a teacher, has taught men both by precepts and by His holy life. There is scarcely a spot in His life which may be made the subject of criticism. His sannyas, His severity to junior Haridas and such like acts have been questioned as wrong by certain persons, but as far as we understand, we think, as all other independent men would think, that those men have been led by a hasty conclusion or a party spirit.
Chaitanya was an undaunted Hero in the execution of His resolutions. When He was told by some malicious brahmins that the Emperor was sending an army against Him, He said He wished that the reigning prince should take cognizance of what He was doing. He was amiable to everybody and stern in the discharge of His duty. Brahmananda Bharati, a religious brother of Keshab Bharati, His Guru, appeared to Him in a tiger's skin. He would not bow down to him until he gave up the skin-dress and wore a linen koupin and Bahirvas. He said that the person before Him was not the Bharati. How is it that His Guru should put on an animal skin? The sannyasis should not support the killing of beasts for the sake of their use. Bharati understood that Chaitanya did not like that and changed his apparel; and Chaitanya bowed down to him in shewing His respect to His Guru's brother.
Chaitanya pressed on His disciples to enter into the spirit of the Shastras without confinement to the words themselves. Pandit Devananda did not understand the spirit of Bhakti while reading the Bhagwat, but when he understood the spirit Chaitanya embraced him and pardoned him for all that the Pandit had done before.
Chaitanya was a jolly Being throughout His life. Though descended from the Eastern Bengal people, He joked with them while a young boy in such a manner that they became angry with Him. While Ballav Bhatta (a pandit of great renown) brought an improved commentary on the Bhagwatam to shew Him and said that he would not submit to Sridhar Swami [whose commentary is standard and authorized in the line of disciplic succession] the Lord said it was an unchaste woman alone who disregarded her swami (husband). This was a taunt which mortified the Pandit and dissuaded him from uttering disrespectful expressions about Sridhar Swami, the commentator of the Bhagwatam.
We leave it to our readers to decide how to deal with Mahaprabhu. The Vaishnavas have accepted Him as the great Lord Krishna Himself. Some have considered Him as the Bhakta-avatar. It is at the request of some Vaishnavas that we have composed the Smaran Mangal verses in the form of a prayer for daily recitation at the time of worship. Those who are not prepared to go with them, may accept Nimai Pandit [Chaitanya] as a noble and holy Teacher. That is all we want our readers to believe.
Readers! If you are inclined after a study of these pages to identify Chaitanya with Krishna we would beg you not to accept Him as God incarnate, for we think that God need not be in a carnal coil like the fallen men. His supreme power can bring Him down to the netherworld with all His glory and particularities without the assistance of the lower energy Maya, who has created the material coil. If we believe otherwise we would commit the sin of lowering His spiritual power.
We make no objection if you do not believe His miracles, as miracles alone never demonstrate Godhead. Demons like Ravana and others have also worked miracles which do not prove that they were gods. It is unlimited Prem and its overwhelming influence which would be seen in none but God Himself.
Noble readers! Pardon us for intruding on you with these pages. As servants of Chaitanya, it was our duty to propagate His supreme teachings and in doing a duty we are entitled to pardon for any trouble we have given you. We are natives of Bengal and in couching our words in a foreign language we might have been liable to mistakes for which you will please forgive us.
In conclusion, we beg to say that we should be glad to reply to any questions which our brethren would like to address us on these important subjects. We feel great interest in crying to help our friends to seek the way to spiritual love.