Special On-line Edition for the disappearance day of
Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja
sri sri guru gauranga jayatah!
Year-5, Special On-line Edition
Posted: 17 November 2012
nitya-lila pravista om visnupada
Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja
Inspired by and under the guidance of
nitya-lila pravista om visnupada
Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
Karunaya-avatirnah kalau Part 2
The Most Compassionate Avatara
by Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja
The Perversion of Varnasrama
In Srimad Bhagavad-gita (4.13) the Supreme Personality of Godhead said:
catur-varnyam maya srstam
I created the four social orders based on the divisions of guna (qualities as influenced by the modes of nature) and karma (the subsequent proclivity for work).
Anything created by Him cannot be destroyed. For this reason, in this age of Kali, all four social divisions (varnas) – brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya and sudra, which are based on guna and karma – are extant, but there have been alterations to their hue, or certain given aspects.
The system of varnasrama-dharma as delineated in the scriptures solves, beyond doubt, the problem of birth and death, since its aim is to achieve the favour of Lord Visnu. The currently imperilled system has produced a perversion of these four varnas, or class distinctions, now represented by political diplomats, soldiers, capitalists and the general mass of skilled and unskilled labourers.
Previously, the brahmanas competently used their best intelligence to serve their fellow man by solving the problems encountered in human life. Now politicians have taken the position of brahmanas and are using their best intelligence to execute plans for their own selfish benefit. The only result for society will be disaster.
The current military system is a perversion of the ksatriya class. It is the duty of the ksatriyas to give the people protection, but they now suck the very blood of the mass of citizens in every state by imposing upon them unbearably heavy taxes for their personal squander.
The present capitalists are a perverted representation of the vaisyas, who customarily accumulated wealth to execute the will of Visnu. But now, amassing vast amounts of wealth for their own sense-gratification, these capitalists are the cause of the many problems that have arisen all over the globe, in the form of selfishly motivated political creeds.
And finally, the simple labourers are the perverted representation of the sudra class. They serve the capitalists, who are exploiting them for their own ends. All the while they groan and resort to politics to force the capitalists to solve the problems related to their work.
Thus, although the varnasrama system has not been rejected altogether as some would like, the entire system has become perverted and complex due to the human tendency to transgress codes of conduct. Thus a peaceful atmosphere that supports progress in the human form of life has been intentionally jeopardized. The authentic varnasrama-dharma has been fossilized, and its perverted counterpart is incapable of pleasing the all pervading Godhead, Sri Visnu. Consequently, no one can escape the police action of material nature, regardless of how expert he is in manipulating it through material science.
Thus when Sri Ramananda Raya raised the question of varnasrama-dharma, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu at once rejected it, saying that in regard to pure devotional service, varnasrama-dharma has no value.
There is No Hope for Demoniac Varnasrama-dharma
Out of compassion, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in this age of Kali – karunaya avatirnah kalau. It there-fore follows that His unprecedented gift to humanity is not accessible through varnasrama-dharma, even if one strictly adheres to it. In this context, we must consider two points.
The first is that in this age of Kali, it is of no use to follow a crumbled varnasrama-dharma that is adaiva, or demoniac [in which one’s birth determines one’s varna, or social order]. No particular benefit can be derived by reinstating such a shattered and crumbled system. By remaining inclined toward this adaiva varnasrama-dharma there is no hope of achieving devotion to the Lord (bhagavad-bhakti).
The second consideration is that, within the present system of varnasrama-dharma, there is no benefit even if one meticulously adheres to it. This is because by following it, one’s endeavour to serve the lotus feet of Lord Visnu is based on identifying with one’s external false ego. Thus the benefit of following it is nowhere close to the gift bestowed by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Indeed, with this under-standing, Sri Rupa Gosvami addressed Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as maha-vadanyaya, the most munificent incar-nation who bestows krsna-prema.
The supremely pure varnasrama-dharma, which complies with the principle that someone’s varna is detemined by his guna and karma, not by his birth, is known as visuddha deva varnasrama-dharma. For one who abides by its principles, gradually it becomes possible to attain sadhu-sanga (association with saintly persons). The power and influence of this sadhu-sanga alone becomes the means to attain krsna-prema.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu inquired from Sri Ramananda Raya about the goal of life (sadhya) and the means to achieve it (sadhana) with the sole intention of precisely ascertaining the process to attain krsna-prema. In their discussion, they carefully and systematically analyzed this subject in order to establish that krsna-prema is the transcendental, inherent dharma (occupation) of the jiva and that it cannot be accessed by ritualistically following the principles of the scriptures, or by accepting the ordinary conceptions of the common man.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu will bestow His mercy upon the living entities of Kali-yuga to the extent that they are degraded, and to that extent He grants them the topmost gift. As the most munificent incarnation, He has appeared in this world to do just this. Thus, those who cannot avail the opportunity provided by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s quality of great munificence shall, without doubt, remain deprived forever. The crux of this matter has specifically been delineated by the mahajanas, or highly exalted sages. With the intention of teaching it to us, Srila Prabodhananda Sarasvatipada, has said in Caitanya-candramrta, Text 46:
vancito smi vancito smi
vancito smi na samsayah
visvam gaura-rase magnam
sparso’pi mama nabhavat
I have been deprived, I have been deprived, surely I have been deprived! The whole world became immersed in love for Sri Gaura, but alas! my destiny is such that not a drop of that love has touched me.
Following, and helping others follow, are one and the same
Anarpita-carim-cirat – This topmost of all benedictions, which reveals to the jiva his transcendental, natural dharma, and which can inundate the whole world, has not been bestowed for a long, long time. If we contact it but are unable to understand Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings, or even if we can understand them but do not try to help others understand, then surely we will be deprived of this love for Sri Gaura. In order to give us a firm and thorough understanding of this subject matter, Srila Prabodhananda Sarasvatipada used the term vancito smi three times – “I have been deprived, I have been deprived, I have been deprived.”
Following the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu ourselves and helping others follow them are one and the same. Srila Kaviraja Gosvami wrote the following about Srila Haridasa Thakura:
apane acare keha, na kare pracara
pracara karena keha, na karena acara
‘acara’, ‘pracara’, – namera karaha ‘dui’ karya
tumi – sarva-guru, tumi jagatera arya
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Antya-lila 4.102–3)
Some persons behave properly but do not preach the glories of chanting sri nama, whereas others preach but do not behave according to the principles. In relation to the holy name, you both behave in an exemplary way (acara) and preach to others (pracara). You are the guru of all, for you are the topmost devotee in this world.
Since acara (practice) and pracara (preaching) are one and the same, they should be simultaneously and actively cultivated. Those who maintain that spiritual maturity is an essential prerequisite to preaching do not have an admirable conception because preaching is identical to kirtana. Bhakti has nine limbs, or nine kinds of practice, and the limb that excels all others is kirtana. It is through this one practice alone – kirtana, or preaching – that all the other limbs attain purity.
Indeed, this was Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s teaching to us. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the most munificent incarnation, imparted the same instruction. He commanded one and all to perform the function of guru everywhere. He has apprised us of this order as follows:
yare dekha, tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa
amara ajnaya guru hana tara’ ei desa
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 7.128)
My order is to instruct whomever you meet to follow the instructions of Sri Krsna as given in the scriptures, which advise one to worship Him. In this way become guru and deliver everyone in this land).
If Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Thakura Prabhupada had waited for his disciple-preachers to attain perfection before he engaged them in acting for the welfare of others, his system of preaching would have unfolded quite differently. With the aim of revealing the glory of Sri Gaura’s potency, he personally transmitted that potency to ordinary persons, who generally were only fit to per-form menial work even by the standards of the material world. By thus engaging them in preaching activities in the form of hari-kirtana, his mission attained success.
His Simple and Pure Message
“Mukam karoti vacalam – By the mercy of Sri Guru, even a dumb man can become the greatest orator.” We had the opportunity to directly witness this. How can a dumb man become a great orator? If one preaches the pure, unadulterated teachings of Sriman Mahaprabhu, then and only then is it possible. But the moment we mix His pure teachings with even a few words of our own speculation, it marks our greatest misfortune. This act alone becomes the root cause of our complete destruction.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu did not come to teach anything abstruse that would be difficult for the common people to comprehend. If He had done so, the statement “jagat-plavana – inundation of the whole world with prema” would have no truth.
He is certainly more intelligent than each and every one of us, and He knows how to make the fallen souls of Kali-yuga best understand His high-level teachings. Indeed, His teachings are comprehensible by all. Still, our misfortune prevails. First, we do not accept His teachings. Second, to impress others with our prowess we mix something of our own with them.
This behaviour has been observed in groups like Sahajiya, Aul, Baul and Kartta-bhaja. They have inserted untruths into the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. As a result they have become overcome by mundane inertia and rejected by pure Vaisnavas. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura vigorously strived throughout his life to ensure we understood that their contrived conception of dharma is not the dharma propounded by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Only the endeavour to spread the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in a simple manner, while being careful not to manipulate them even slightly, will be our sole bhajana. But if a person waits till he becomes perfect before he disseminates those teachings, he will be deprived of the service of preaching. Indeed, he will remain in that immature state throughout his whole life.
Offering Without Love
Even if we fully lack the capacity to understand the pure and simple teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, if we just pass them on, carrying them to the next person like a load-carrying donkey, we will still receive Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s blessings. This is, of course, provided we do not adulterate those teachings with any of our own mental speculations.
If by following His instructions to the slightest degree we attract even His mere glance, which is full of compassion (karunya), then we will undoubtedly attain something far superior to the fourfold goals of dharma, artha, kama and moksa. It is to be understood that the benevolent benediction of the most compassionate incarnation is the most exalted of all attainments, yet it is achieved even by meagre effort.
In His conversation with Sri Raya Ramananda, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu informed adherents of the karma-kanda* section of the Vedas who maintain the notion that spirit can be synthesized with matter (cid-jada-samnayavada) that varnasrama-dharma is ineffective. For their benefit, He then said, “age kaha ara – please speak something more than this.”
* The karma-kanda section of the Vedas delineates fruitive activities and their temporary results.
Then, inspired by Sri Mahaprabhu, Ramananda Raya spoke the next highest truth: “krsne karmarpana – sarva-sadhya-sara – to offer Sri Krsna the results of one’s action is the essence of all perfection.” Yet offering the results of one’s activities in this way is not the means to attain krsna-prema. To convey this, Mahaprabhu said, “eho bahya, age kaha ara – This is external. Please tell me a conception higher than this.”
Offering the results of one’s activities to the Lord (karma-arpana) dispels one’s conception that Sri Visnu is impersonal, or featureless. One may then have realization that Sri Bhagavan is a person, but still, the means to achieve krsna-prema remains far away.
The conception of the Absolute Reality of a person who offers the fruit of his activities in this way may be limited to the understanding that Bhagavan will always accept his offerings. But if someone makes an offering without being inspired by bhagavat-prema, he is unable to offer the fruits of his activities in the real sense.
It is not possible to offer one’s hard earned money for the service of Sri Bhagavan if one does not love Him. Without loving Him, one cannot offer anything to Him in the real sense and one’s self identity will be external: “I am a donor.” Nonetheless, the very words “karma-arpana – offering the results of one’s activities” will faintly resound in one’s ears, making the following impression on the mind of the spiritual practitioner (sadhaka): “When I have offered this, the Lord can accept it. If He can accept it, it only follows that He can eat and also give blessings. Certainly, therefore, He could not be devoid of features.”
The awakening of this type of understanding invokes a mood (bhava) that can rescue one from the grip of impersonalism and help one become established in a personal conception of Bhagavan. Yet this realization of personalism is somewhat gross and far from the quest for the supra-mundane personal reality (aprakrta-savisesa-tattva) that Sri Gaurasundara intended to bestow.
Since it is not possible to achieve love of God (bhagavat-prema) through this type of karma-arpana (offering the results of one’s activities) Mahaprabhu also rejected it, labelling it “external”. He then requested Sri Ramananda Raya to elaborate further.
To be continued...
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Translated from Sri Gaudiya Patrika, Year 7, Issue 2, 1956
by the Rays of The Harmonist team
CC-BY-SA Rays of The Harmonist – “Govinda-devah Saranam Mamastu”, No.17 (Karttika 2007)