śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Edition

Year 7, Issue 8
Posted: 13 September 2014

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

What becomes of an atheist?

by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda

(Portrait of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda)

Question 1: Is the holy name of Śrī Hari and Śrī Hari Himself one and the same entity?

Answer: Śrī harināma – the names of the Supreme Lord – and Bhagavān Śrī Hari: these two are not separate entities; they are the same. Śrī Nāma and Nāmī are non-different. It is only by the mercy of Śrī Nāma Prabhu that His beautiful form, His qualities, the speciality of His associates, and His pastimes become manifest within the holy name itself. In this way, harināma so firmly establishes the conditioned soul in transcendence that he becomes oblivious of the existence of the external world.

At that stage, all other worries and the restlessness of the mind cease to exist for the conditioned living being. When Śrī Nāma bestows mercy upon someone, they alone can pray to Him in every respect from the core of their heart. When someone is still in the stage of anarthas, it is not appropriate to engage in aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā-smaraṇa – meditation on the eightfold daily pastimes of the Supreme Lord.

By engaging in kīrtana (speaking or singing the glories of the Supreme Lord), śravaṇa (hearing about His glories) becomes possible. From that, one is granted the opportunity to remember His glories, and only then does the realization of serving in the eightfold pastimes of the Supreme Lord become possible. Until then, one should not artificially engage in remembering the eightfold pastimes of the Supreme Lord.

Question 2: Should one worship all devotees, even if they have a low birth?

Answer: From a spiritual perspective, anyone who has taken shelter of bhakti – devotional service to Śrī Bhagavān – is most certainly worthy of our respect and honour. It does not matter if they belong to a high or low caste in mundane society. Indeed, it is an offence to differentiate between devotees based on their low or high birth.

If a person is materially wealthy or respected by mundane society but they engage in atrocities against a devotee who is less materially prosperous, that person will have to answer to Lord Śrī Nṛsṁhadeva, who shall deal with him appropriately.

Question 3: What is the difference between Vaikuṇṭha, the spiritual world, and jagat, the material world?

Answer: The spiritual world is the most agreeable, original realm, while the material world is its insignificant reflection. The difference is that the transcendental senses, which are used to carry out varieties of loving service in the transcendental world, are not restricted by a mundane lump of flesh. All of the transcendental qualities manifest there may be similar to the attributes of the material world from the standpoint of their variegations, but this temporary material world is no more than a distorted reflection of that eternal world.

In the temporary material world, all people, everywhere, at all times, are tormented by a dark shadow: material objects are transient in nature, the experience of happiness here is mundane, and there exist all kinds of deficiency. The transcendental world is eternal, and temporariness has no place there. It is all-auspicious and replete with all varieties of happiness. It is embellished with all the transcendental qualities and is the source of eternal joy at every moment. But in this material world, the path to realizing our dreams is wrought with all kinds of obstacles born of inferiority, ineffectiveness and deficiency. We all come across such experiences during the course of our daily lives.

Question 4: What becomes of an atheist?

Answer: Śrī Bhagavān Himself arranges everything for our welfare. We believe this. Atheists can never be truly celebrated in this world. After exulting for a few days, they are all subdued eventually by the punishment of the lord. The atheists face material as well as spiritual inauspiciousness because they are hostile toward the Vaiṣṇavas.

Question 5: What is the means to gain respite from the clutches of kāma (lust)?

Answer: “The desire to satisfy oneself” is synonymous with the word kāma. The only activity prescribed for the part is to render service to the whole. Averseness to rendering service to the whole is the very thing that drowns us in misery. We should know that the only medicine to gain freedom from that misery is to render service to the servants of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who are all nirmatsara (un-envious).

In this world, only the servants of Śrī Kṛṣṇa can liberate us from the clutches of kāma, which is the opposite to love for Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Absence of the inclination to serve Śrī Kṛṣṇa – who is the transcendental cupid – is the root cause of our propensity for material kāma – our desire for sense gratification. The slightest obstacle or constraint in the fulfilment of our kāma causes anger to arise in us. Presently, this kāma should be understood as the origin of our diseased condition wherein we are compelled to enjoy our senses. On the other hand, the healthy soul’s single most prominent inclination is solely to satisfy the senses of the transcendental cupid, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Surrender to Śrī Kṛṣṇa and rendering service to Him is the only way to destroy the seed of mundane kāma and the only means to get rid of it for good.

Question 6: Does a person who is always sceptical in nature achieve any welfare?

Answer: No. A person who is sceptical in nature is bound to encounter grave inauspiciousness – that is, they will remain in material bondage. It is inappropriate to imitate saintly people and the spiritual master, all the while neglecting to actually follow in their footsteps, instead of closely and lovingly associating with them. We have nothing to offer he who holds a return-ticket. Why? We consider every single object to be meant for the pleasure of the supreme enjoyer, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Those who believe otherwise are the only ones who unfortunately develop doubts and therefore do not engage in praṇipatya (surrender), paripraśna (relevant and submissive inquiry) and seva (loving service).

Question 7: Is Śrī Gaurāṅga-deva truly Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself?

Answer: Śrī Gaurasundara, being non-different from Śrī Kṛṣṇa in every respect, possesses all twelve rasas (transcendental humours) in their absolute completeness. The only difference between them is that Śrī Kṛṣṇa is in the mood of the enjoyer in union, while Śrī Gaurasundara is in the mood of the enjoyer in separation.

Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the embodiment (mūrti) of supreme worshipful (sevya – one who enjoys service), while Śrī Gaurāṅga-deva is enacting the role of the supreme servant. The combined manifestation of Śrī Rādhā and Śrī Govinda is none other than magnanimity personified: audārya vigraha Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya-deva. Śrī Gadādhara is His āśraya jātīya śakti – the supreme abode of the potency of transcendental love. When we identify the Transcendental Entity of Śrī Gaurasundara as being the predominating half, then we concurrently identify that His potency, Śrī Gadādhara, is the predominated half of that Transcendental Entity, and that both exist in the prakoṣṭha (partition) of the spiritual domain characterized by magnanimity.

Translated by the Rays of The Harmonist team
from Śrīla Prabhupādera Upadeśāmṛta
Questions re-numbered for this on-line presentation

Śrīla Prabhupādera Upadeśāmṛta is a compilation of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda’s instructions, in question-and-answer form.

Rays of The Harmonist On-line, Year 7, Issue 8, "What becomes of an Atheist?" by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License to ensure that it is always freely available. You may redistribute this article if you include this license and attribute it to Rays of The Harmonist. Please ask for permission before using the Rays of The Harmonist banner-logo.