śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!
Year-2, Issue 6 & Year 15, Issue 6
Posted: 12 July 2009 & 18 June 2022
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Inspired by and under the guidance of
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
What Śrī Caitanya Meant by Theism
by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda
The Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya has asked all sections of the people of this world not to tamper with or mutilate the Absolute Truth with their crippled attempts to regulate Him, but rather to approach Him with an absolutely clean and sincere heart, in which His own feature will be revealed. He may then show His various manifestive aspects in accordance with the eligibility of the person approaching him.
The Supreme Lord has mercifully disclosed the name of the true object of pure theism: “Śrī Kṛṣṇa”. The conception of an impersonal God, devoid of all attributes and stripped of all varieties of potency, is included in the conception of Śrī Kṛṣṇa as one of His partial features where all sorts of perceivable attributes are eliminated.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya has lucidly demonstrated to the people what He meant by theism. We find that He has thoroughly revealed to us the conception of various types of transcendental, unalloyed service to the Supreme Absolute, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, as well as a special type of service which was hitherto quite unknown to theists. He has revealed that special type of service to people everywhere.
Theism before He disclosed this was conceived as being confined exclusively to reverence and regulative principles. Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya has taught us that we may approach Śrī Kṛṣṇa with unconditional service in all sorts of ways and He has shown us the excellence of the most confidential relationship between Godhead and human souls in comparison to other relationships with Him. Until His time, we were quite familiar with the idea of approaching Śrī Kṛṣṇa only through the other principles of devotion, simply by worshipping Him, leaving aside the most attractive aspect of rendering service to the Lord.
The omnipotence and omniscience of the Supreme, which are His secondary aspects, had been prominent in the conception of theists. As such, we had been thinking that service to the object of our worship should be performed by the upper part of the body and that the lower part of our transcendental eternal body* could not possibly offer any acceptable service to the Beloved. We had been neglecting our existence as a transcendental, albeit infinitesimal entity called the ‘soul’ residing within the external frame and within the astral body.
* The transcendental eternal body is called the aprākṛta siddha-deha. It is comprised entirely of sat-cit-ānanda and therefore has no connection with gross or subtle matter.
Consequently, up to that time, we had been confounding ourselves with a philosophy that was no more than mental speculation. We were perpetually restricted by external views of the world and we avoided cognizance of our pure identity, which is meant for rendering eternal service to He who is the Transcendental Object, the Supreme Sentient Being, and the eternal Oversoul. The level of theism that we had reached at that time was therefore not sufficiently elevated, and higher aspects of service to the Lord, such as serving Godhead as a close and confidential friend, as a son, and as a consort, were thus hidden from us.
Thus we had merely been keeping transitory relationships with the perishable objects of this world. But our theism should not restrict our vision and cause us to ignore the confidential service which can be rendered by the free human soul to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Until now, we were not convinced about the existence of the Oversoul and His existential position – that Śrī Kṛṣṇa alone, in all His aspects, should be the object of our devotion.
We find that unless the Supreme Absolute, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, kindly graces us by becoming the willing recipient of our service, we cannot render all varieties of confidential service to Him. And in any other aspect of Kṛṣṇa, such as Matsya, Varāha, Nrsingha, Vāmana and Rāma, the depth of our reverential activities is rather limited.
Here, even in this perverted world, people can offer their confidential services in any of the five rasas*. Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and no other, is the centre, the very fountainhead of all divinity whom we can lovingly satisfy with all aspects of our confidential service.
* The five rasas, or the five overwhelmingly nectarean modes of identity in eternal service, are (1) śānta-rasa, the mood of serene reverence or passive, but unwavering faith in Godhead; (2) dāsya-rasa, the mood of loving service; (3) sakhya-rasa, the mood of deep camaraderie; (4) vātsalya-rasa, the mood of unconditional nurturance as in a mother to her dependent child; (5) mādhurya-rasa, the mood of immaculate, transcendent and selfless amour.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa is akhila-rasāmṛta-mūrti, that is, the fountainhead of all rasas, and we can approach Him in any one of His five different reciprocal features. By performing all our activities for Him with the body of our transcendental soul, we can offer Him our eternal service in one of these five features, whereas, in reciprocation with other forms of Godhead, we cannot offer such confidential service.
Adapted from The Gaudiya Volume 25, Number 11
by the Rays of The Harmonist team