Religious Views - Part One



śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Edition

Year 9, Issue 7
Posted: 24 August 2016


Dedicated to
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja


Inspired by and under the guidance of
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja


Religious Views - Part One

by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda

prabhupad9

We find that a full view of reality by the complete cessation of all delusions is not obtainable on the path of abstract reasoning. It is attainable on the road characterized by the spiritual guide and the disciple, and by listening to kirtana. The śāstra, along with pious custom, has proclaimed that this road is bhakti, or devotion. Śruti (i.e. hearing) is another name of the Veda.

If we abandon the path of śrauta, or allegiance to the Vedas, and instead go about acquiring knowledge via the instruments of the sense organs – which mutually contradict one another and deceive us at every step – and if we adopt exclusively the testimony of the various types of direct perception – such as inference, tradition and so on; that is to say every form of evidence with the exception of authoritative sources, or Veda – then the conceptual position we shall take is liable to be rendered untenable by a cleverer dialectician. By such methods we shall never be able to gain absolute knowledge.

Comte, a famous philosopher who was born in one of the Western countries, professed this reality of matter. He left to us abundant differential expositions on the method of induction, resting on his own materialistic personal experience. Although he professes to be a realist, his method of exposition rests entirely on an experience of material objects, and therefore, he has necessarily failed to approach Transcendental Reality at all.

In a like manner, most philosophers or religious sects conceive of the undifferentiated Truth – because it the opposite of differentiated matter – as the ultimate object of attainment. Thus they endeavour to approximate that undifferentiated Truth with the help of their personal experiences, which in turn are a product of their material senses.

By such efforts, notwithstanding any success in elaborately embellishing the particular body of opinions of their respective sects, those thinkers have only helped to increase and consolidate the narrowness of their own clique, party or sect. Because all those religious or philosophical speculations are not creating universal harmony, or unity, due to not being based on the principle of one Absolute Truth, they have actually spread narrowness of conception.

Moreover, all those bodies of sectarian opinion stray an ever-increasing distance from the basic ideal of the knowledge of the one Absolute Reality. Instead of harmony, they are steadily erecting, in the name of equality, vast dividing barriers. If we inquire about the cause of this, we find that sectarian differences are the product of the differences of inclination resulting from the great force of the mental function. There is no doubt that perpetuating such differences is in fact second nature for beings that have, from time without beginning, turned their faces away from God.

The various schools of opinion that have arisen as advocates of a variety of different inclinations are due to differences in how the world is experienced through the exercise of the external senses. As a result, narrowness has been generated, and mutual differences and hostilities have continued to steadily increase. It is for this reason that the many different religious or philosophical views are technically styled sampradaya-vāda (sectarian, controversial theories or creeds).

Through a little reflection, we find that the ultimate object of attainment for those theories or creeds is one of the four puruśārthas (principle “objects of human life”) – namely dharmaarthakāma, and mokṣa (religious merit, worldly prosperity, sensual enjoyment and emancipation). All efforts in attaining the four classical “objects of human life” are based on external, non-spiritual (acit) knowledge of reality and are obtained by means of the senses.

The gratification of one’s senses, or selfish desires, is the fulfilment of those efforts. The inexperience displayed while investigating Absolute Reality by mistaking material knowledge for spiritual knowledge, gives rise to endeavours to affect a compromise between matter and spirit by simply placing them in one and the same category. It is this that is responsible for the increased narrowness of the different speculative schools and religious sects, which aim to attain the “four objects of human life”.

To be continued...

Adapted from The Gaudiya Volume 57
by the Rays of The Harmonist team


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