The Land of Absolute Reality

From an address given by our Param Gurudev Om Vishnupad Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj in 1966 at  Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nabadwip, India, on the occasion of the His Divine Grace’s appearance day, in the presence of revered Vaishnavas, including Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj (ISKCON Founder-Acharya) accompanied by disciples from USA, Srila Bhakti Kamal Madhusudan Maharaj and Sri Bhakti Baridhi Sourindra Nath Sarkar.

You are aware that this body of mine is completing seventy-two years of its mortal existence. In a physical sense, my association with the maṭh is well over forty years, and out of that period of time I spent thirty-seven years of my life as a sannyāsī. Therefore you can see that I have had three different births altogether. Today I would like to present some of the teachings of that holy descent of the Lord, Oṁ Viṣṇupād Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Goswāmī who fulfilled the spiritual quest of this world through the Lord’s own ways, means and goals. He was the mainspring of my spiritual inspiration, and imparted to me a rare spiritual awakening and brought about a radical change in my life. His ever-merciful divinity bequeathed that I take this revered seat without any burden of fear and accordingly I sit here to fulfill his divine wish.

The land where he wanted us to become its denizens is the Land of Absolute Reality. In that land everybody sees each other as a divine entity in an abundant measure. This is the very nature of that world. When Lord Kṛṣṇa gave a building to Sudåmå, he received that with his ever service-centric mindset. It is a nirguṇ state of consciousness, a sort of position where external conditions cannot stake any claim whatsoever on it.

vanaṁ tu sāttviko vāso
grāmo rājasa uchyate
tāmasaṁ dyūta-sadanaṁ
man-niketaṁ tu nirguṇam
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 11.25.25)

(“Residence in the forest is in the mode of goodness, residence in a town is in the mode of passion, residence in a gambling house displays the quality of ignorance, and residence in a place where I reside is transcendental.”)

There is no scope to attach any conditionality in that state. No claimant is found there. Whatever is available or given there is entirely free. This is the manifestation of a state of pure harmony, a condition where the duality of action and reaction is totally absent. Perfect autonomy is possible in such a conception because the forces of giving and taking never oppose each other there. That world, therefore, should be our destination. Everything there is divine. There, the master sees his servant as a divine entity and reciprocates his service in the same way as he received it from him. The master considers that it is but the kindness shown by the servant towards him. There everybody is showing compassion towards one another by way of rendering his service. In that state everything is possible. This is not an expression of indifference, but the manifestation of positive dynamic harmony, and, by virtue of its power anything can be done and accepted wholeheartedly.

Srila Prabhupad used to say that religion is but proper adjustment. In the celestial Goloka it is possible to have the finest and the highest form of adjustments. The cause and effect are not intrinsically associated there. It’s a free world. By means of Divine Love and radiantly divine service-centric life one can have entrance into that highest world. This is not just a story or history but a pure, sublime and infinitely superior promise of existence (artheṣu abhijṇaḥ svarāt). Theoretically the same thing exists in this terrestrial plane, if seen from that point of view. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākur has written,

ye-dina gṛhe, bhajana dekhi,
gṛhete goloka bhāya
(Śuddha-bhakata)

If we enter that world by means of such a realisation we too will be able to witness those things. Our sacred key is the divine consciousness. So, adjust yourself in that divine way. By his divine touch he wanted to give us that world where everybody is divine and worthy of worship. He used to address all his disciples in the most humble way as “Prabhu” (Master). He repays them respect in the same manner in which they offer it to him.

I cannot do all services in spite of knowing what is necessary. I owe much to the devotees for their pure desire to help me in performing my duties. I admit myself as one of the most worthless servitors of all. Once, my Godbrother, Rāmgopāl Bābu, found it difficult to understand a passage from Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, where a devotee is saying, “I will serve my Master exclusively; neither the Goddess Lakṣmī nor even Baladev will be allowed if they come to serve Him.” Rāmgopāl Bābu asked me whether or not the devotee is showing arrogance here. I read the śloka a couple of times and, by the grace of Prabhupād, I realised its purport. There is no arrogance in his attitude. There is no question of establishing his superiority as a servant over others. His attitude is that, “You are all worthy to be served, and I am the servant. You please wait; it is my exclusive duty to serve you. You are all my masters and I am to serve you all.” This very conception of considering oneself as a sole servitor promises us the celestial charm of the world of that highest realm.

Śrīla Prabhupād always said that it was his duty to do all the work, right from the cooking down to begging alms. Since he cannot do them all in spite of giving the best of his effort, he takes the help of the devotees in performing them. This is the philosophy of the celestial Goloka and also of the mahā-bhāgavat. There is nothing to rule over, all are showing mercy upon each other. There the master is requesting his disciples to shower their divine mercy by way of paying attention to his words. This is absolute reality; only love, devotion, compassion, etc., can substantiate that highest truth. The primary stage of those rarest of qualities is respect. The more respectful one is, the nearer he is to that world. He can even experience Goloka in this mundane world. The offering of service to Lord Hari that goes on here is not different from what is going on in Goloka. Śrī Guru tries to inculcate in us that great philosophy of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākur. Other concepts are all insignificant and ludicrous to the extreme. Some are making an inch of advancement but boast laughable assertions of reaching Venus and touching the surface of the Moon. They are ecstatically proclaiming that they have the ability to throttle God to death. What a progress of science! They claim it would be a matter of a minute or a second to achieve those feats. But is it possible to kill Him by pursuing this line of thought? “Space is infinite”, is there any possibility to make that infinite, finite? Besides, there are many factors aside from the factor of time. Thought encapsulates our mental space and time. The law of thought originates from this space and time. There is no doubt that myriad numbers of inconceivable riddles and mysteries of impenetrable dimensions are there at the centre. Those whose minds have the absolute vision of reality, to them these thoughts are but jokes, the dance of madmen. By lifting themselves an inch or two in their cage, they dance and give an ear-deafening cry, maddened by their so-called progress.

These things we came to know from Guru Mahārāj and they must be the subject of our discussion. There is actually no famine in this earth. There is only acute hunger and thirst for want of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. No revolutionary set of concepts can become at par with Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is ultra revolutionary, and it is without a second, for there are hardly enough people to justify the potential revolutionary essence within it. It is necessary to create loyalty and faithfulness, and it is sad to see rebellion. Opposing the all-conquering Divinity is the cause of this rebellion. So don’t rebel. You will see everything in its most serene glory. The ever sacred sweetness of holy kīrtan could save and sanctify all rebellious instincts and impulses in you, and assures the bounties of divine pleasures here and hereafter. Needless to say, the sacred vibration of the name of “Hari” in kīrtan brings about a feeling of reality in our existence, and it can bring about the attitude of proper adjustment. You will find all things are here in this world but we cannot claim them because we deserve them not. First deserve, and then claim. There is no scarcity of anything else in this world. The scarcity of all other things is nothing but the figment of our imagination. We are wrestling with our shadow and crying foul. There is a proverbial expression; “A bad workman quarrels with his tools.” The problems that you see are merely the creation of “bad workmen.” In Vaikuṇṭha everything is opulent in its pristine glory. It is possible by the grace of the Lord. How much do we know about our own selves? He is alive to my well-being. His Love is more than my love towards myself. Guru Mahārāj gave the inner essence of that transcendental world.

Today, we have Śrīpād Swāmī Mahārāj here with us and you can see two other souls have come to the lotus feet of Guru Mahārāj being attracted by his ineffable charm. Swāmī Mahārāj’s soft melodious talks on establishing Divinity, breaking the stubborn worldliness, inspire the people in large numbers from the far West to become his followers. They all are the unparalleled preaching and sanctifying grace of my Guru Mahārāj. The preaching sign of Śrīla Guru Mahārāj was to climb on the top of the tower completely.

Once, an advocate from Krishnanagar told us we should go the mountains and forests, instead of coming to the mundane people like him. I said Guru Mahārāj is not an ordinary saint to be disturbed by the existent mundanity of the place and so leave for a forsaken place for meditation. He descended from his celestial Goloka to capture this world by waging a totalitarian war in order to change it. He came to capture the forts of illusion. He came to overwhelm the moneyed people, the advocates, judges, barristers, kings, queens, emperors, and all the beautiful places of this world for the service of the Lord. He was fearless and ready to face any consequence. He said that whatever lesson I had learnt from the lotus feet of my Guru Mahārāj is to be given to this world and I have nothing to receive from here. Even an iota of his treasure would offer a sacred sublimity to this world. He said, pariṇāmitvād ā-viriñchyād amaṅgalam (SB 11.19.18), “What else can you offer me when even Brahmā, the creator of this universe, suffers for failing to reach Him through meditation?” Sva-dharma-niṣṭhaḥ śata-janmabhiḥ pumān
viriñchatām eti tataḥ paraṁ hi mām
, sudurlabhā Bhāgavatā hi loke, “Everything is within the periphery of my knowledge. How can you trouble me? What logic do you have to convince me? What protection would you vouchsafe me while being deeply absorbed in this worldly existence?” His knowledge of this world was vast, and he knew well what was needed in the context of all truths and realities.

When he went to Vṛndāvan after taking sannyās, he took two of his disciples in chaste Western dress. People jeered him and said that Vṛndāvan must be visited in utter simplicity, wearing only a piece of cotton cloth. In Vṛndāvan, he said that the piece of cotton cloth that you put on as a requirement for worship does not necessarily mean that you are qualified for worshipping the Lord. Worship of the Lord is not such an easy thing. Your dress does not speak whether you are as humble as a blade of grass, but your conduct, and that is what has to be achieved. Non-violence, according to Mahātmā Gandhi, is the weapon of the powerful. Although my Guru Mahārāj and all those revered Vaiṣṇavas possessed humility and renunciation, still they were opulent beyond measure. Even to see their humble clothing was a blessing to the eye. Such things cannot be attained by means of hypocrisy. They have the spirit to capture the world and they did that with élan (Rāja Rām Mohan Roy tried to stop that influence by quoting from the Upaniṣads, Brahma-sūtra, etc.). Nothing would be more beneficial than desiring intensely, from the core of one’s heart, to roll about in the dust of Vraja, even while ostensibly riding in a motorcar. It is dangerous if one is internally attracted towards sensual pleasures while pretending to be a picture of renunciation. What is the utility of dressing that way when the core of one’s heart craves for earthly pleasures? It is but depriving oneself from the realisation of the ultimate sense of the term. It would be unwise if one is unaware of the real purport of the dress, but puts it on just to follow its ritualistic significance.

Prabhupād radically cured the ailments of the Vaiṣṇavas and made them healthy. Like a surgeon he cut open the diseased part, removed the pus, and applied medicine to cure the affected area. He imparted a new vision to save and sanctify the values of the frail mortals in an age of chaos and conflict.

Those who are present here, many of them enlightened themselves by the touch of his golden wand. Knowledge is power, but Love is more powerful, and any price should be paid for that. All treasures can be sacrificed for attaining that blissful and sublime Love with which to enter that world of highest Divinity. We are unaware that we are caught in a web of fear (bhayaṁ dvitīyā-bhiniveśataḥ syād). We feel ourselves independent in spite of living without the liberty of Divine Love. In Śrīmad Bhāgavat this attitude of ours is stated as an act of committing treachery to one’s own self. Finite beings are all suicidal. More or less we are keeping ourselves busy in suicidal activities, and that is why he made an illuminative arrangement for the sake of redeeming the fallen, faithless, and servile creatures like us. His promise of the deliverance of this world and its living beings bears the stamp of the highest Divinity. Therefore to praise his lotus feet will bring us unimaginable benefit. His principle of all consciousness needs to be upheld with all its glory and spell. The web of illusions cannot entangle us if we uphold his philosophy of divine well-being; otherwise there is every possibility of getting lost in the vortex of worldly illusion. Tad Viṣṇoh paramaṁ padaṁ sadā paśyanti sūrayaḥ divīva chakṣur ātatam. Like the universal eye, the light-giving sun exists in the sky; similarly the lotus feet of Viṣṇu also spread across the realm above. To us, He is the Observer, not the object to be observed. He is the Knower, not the object to be known. If one’s mind is fully absorbed in selfless service towards the Lord, then he can observe that Observer and know the Knower.

He is in fact transcendental. The term ‘transcendental’ is a much-loved term of Śrīmad Bhāgavat, where materialism is dealt with in a scientific way and in accordance with the purest form of knowledge and not abstractionisms. It is said in the Bhāgavat that we must have devotion to that which is beyond the ken of our material perception (mṛyate anayā). The thing which is perceived within the range of inferior faculties of living beings are all gross. The transcendental is by its definition, beyond you (yato bhaktir adhokṣaje… adhah-kṛtaṁ akṣajaṁ indriya-jñanaṁ yena), it is far above matter. It exists prevailing over matter but remains inconceivable to our empirical minds. It is present like our guardian but our physical sense is unaware of its existence. Devotion is the path to transcend the barrier of our limitations, to have a tryst with that Unknown. Awakenment of devotion causes the evolutionary growth of the soul of the living being. And in the highest phase of evolution the soul’s supermost divinity will appear if the Lord is merciful.

It is said in Bhagavad-gītā,

ūrdhva-mūlam adhaḥ-śākham aśvatthaṁ prāhur avyayam
chhandāṁsi yasya parṇāni yas taṁ veda sa veda-vit
(Srimad Bhagavad-Gita: 15.1)
[“It is said in the scriptures that this material world is like a Peepul tree, roots up, branches down, endless, yet transient. Its leaves represent the nourishing verses of the Vedas. One who knows this tree is a knower of the Vedas.”]

 

“Who is the master of the Veda? He, who is able to offer such a conception of the world. What kind of conception? ‘It is like a banyan tree, whose roots grow at the top of it and spread themselves like a burgeoning coral reef at the bottom.’ It conceives of the eye as the birthplace of beauty and the ear, the birthplace of sound.”

Śrī Śaṅkarāchārya gave an example while explaining the Vedānta. He said that while strolling in a garden in a dream it appeared to the dreamer that he was long acquainted with the trees of that garden. Although the trees were only dreams yet they appeared to the dreamer as real. Accordingly the visible world is the creation of our minds. When our mundane mind gets trapped in myriad numbers of our partial thoughts and fragmented feelings, they all appear to us as stark realities.

In Manu Saṁhitā it is stated,

yadā sa devo jāgarti tadevaṁ cheṣṭate jagat
yadā svapiti śāntātmā tadā sarvaṁ nimīlati

“When that Great Being is in slumber then everything is in deep slumber. There is no creation, no destruction or anything else. With His awakening everything becomes active.”

These are the kinds of finest conceptions given by those great souls. We can make our life truly enlightened and enrich our existence here and hereafter by associating ourselves with these supreme understandings of the all-embracing reality.

It is the blessings of that Divinity that I am here with my friends. He deserves all the praises that you heap on me. If I deserve anything, it is certainly not for holding this mortal body, not for having material knowledge that I gather from this world, but for being a chosen emissary for carrying the messages from that transcendental world. Yes, there is justification for having your praise. As the glory of fire is expressed when iron becomes red hot in fire, similarly the glory of the highest Divinity is expressed when the light of divine consciousness enlightens a man. Therefore, I consider that the glory, praise, etc., that you shower upon me is actually made for the lotus feet of my Śrī Guru and I pray that by the touch of the lotus feet of his ever illuminant resplendent glory, the world will find the perennial stream of spiritual fulfilment of the highest magnitude.

This article was originally published in Sri Gaudiya Darshan (Vol 15, No 4) by Sriman Devashis Prabhu.

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