śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!
Year-3 & 16, Issue 10
Posted: 28 October, 2010 & 6 November 2023
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
The Emporium of Everything
by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda
We will be making a sad mistake if we think that the Lord, in the long run, may have nothing to confer upon us, and that by giving up what we have acquired we will only meet with difficulty. We forget that He is the Absolute. He is the emporium of everything. We need not be doubtful of His assurance that He will never fail us. We have free will, which we can exercise. But we are not expected to imagine that we are independent. We are bound to accept that we are His dependants.
If we make a careful enquiry into the nature of phenomenal objects and carefully scrutinize them, we will fail to find anything capable of giving us the sort of satisfaction, relief and poise that the Fountainhead of all things can give us. Hence the Gītā tells us that submission to the Supreme Authority, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, is the only desirable thing, and by such submission all our deepest desires will be fully and duly fulfilled. The question then, is how can we engender such submission when the temperament of corporeally measuring everything stands in the way of our higher purpose?
Proceeding comprehension of our relationship (sambandha) with the Absolute Fountainhead, we must comprehend abhidheya, which signifies how to reach our coveted destination, or, in other words, what course we must adopt for the purpose of achieving our objective. That is the general meaning of abhidheya, and there are a great many varieties of abhidheya. According to some authorities there are sixty-four divisions of abhidheya. According to others, there are five. Although there are a multitude of paths we can adopt by means of which we can come to love the All-love, the Absolute, these methodologies are classified into sixty-four, nine or five divisions. But even among the sixty-four divisions, five are principal, and it is these five divisions that we shall deal with.
They are: (1) bhāgavat-śravaṇa, bhāgavat-kīrtana and bhāgavat-smaraṇa (hearing, chanting and remembering in connection with Godhead); (2) śrī hari-vigraha sevanam; (3) mathurā-vāsa; (4) sādhu-saṅga (associating with saints); and (5) śrī harināma-saṅkīrtana.
Mathurā-vāsa (3) implies eternal residence in Mathurā, the holy place wherein permanent knowledge is present. Śrī harināma-saṅkīrtana (5) is chanting the transcendental Name of the Supreme Lord, Śrī Hari, ceaselessly. Śrī hari-vigraha sevanam (2), or serving the transcendental deity through arcana (formalized worship), is accomplished by worshipping the worshipful deity – which may be manifest as a painting, figurine or some other icon – using either five, sixteen or sixty-four specific articles in conjunction with corresponding mantras.
All material things are spiritualized by the influence of dedication to the Supreme. When we dedicate worldly things to our worshipful deity, we need not consider whether they have any material value that we may enjoy. All sorts of mundane, temporary associations must be eliminated before anything can be offered to our worshipful deity. This is called bhūta-śuddhi (purity of existence).
Our worshipful deity is spiritual, so He must be offered spiritual things by a spiritual agent through spiritual acts. Material things are not welcomed by the Supreme Spirit and we should not bring any material thing before Him. If we were to do so, it would be tantamount to supposing Godhead to be one of Nature’s products, but that is certainly not the case. He should never be considered an object within the domain of ordinary phenomena. All the objects of worldly phenomena serve our purpose, but Godhead is not an object meant to serve us. He is the sole object of adoration and worship for all beings, and all services are to be offered to Him.
We should not demand anything from Him in the same way that we might demand cheques or notes that can be cashed in whenever we need and for our own purposes. He is not our servitor. It is we who are His eternal servitors, and we are to offer our service to Him without expectation of anything in return.
To demand anything in return for our service would render our service no more than a business transaction. When we go to a general store, we get various goods for which we pay some price. That sort of transaction is out of place in dealings with the Absolute. We can have such transactions when dealing with the non-absolute domain, but it is ridiculous to import such transactions into our association with the Absolute.
There is never a need for a business mentality. We should always offer our service to Him and never receive any service from Him. We must not expect Godhead to serve us in any way. He need not come to our material aid as a worldly parent might come. We find that such demands as “dhanaṁ dehi, rūpaṁ dehi, jayam dehi – [O Goddess Durgā!] Give me money, give me a beautiful wife, give me victory, etc...” are frequently made by a class of people who style themselves as Śāktyas*. Our prayers should never be to the same end. We should not pray: “Give us this day our daily bread.” We must not expect Godhead to beckon to our call. Yet we find such wrong attitudes everywhere. Devotion should be our principal aim, not reward seeking activity (karma) or the pursuit of empiric knowledge (jñāna).
* Those who worship energy as the supreme truth and origin, rather than the energetic
Adapted from The Gaudiya Volume 26, Number 12
by the Rays of The Harmonist team