The All-Auspicious Name of
Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math
(Transcribed from an informal conversation
at Nabadwip Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math on 27 January, 1983
by Ananta-Sri-vibhusita Om Visnupad Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj)
Question: You have given the name of your Mission as ‘Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.’ What is the meaning of ‘Chaitanya Saraswat’?
Srila Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj: First there was ‘Chaitanya Math’, and ‘Saraswati’ is our Gurudev. So Chaitanya-Saraswat—this name indicates the line from Chaitanya to Saraswati, our Gurudev—the knowledge that has come from Sri Chaitanyadev up to Prabhupada Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur. Within that Divine Dispensation we are to revere, accept and preach. It is indicating the angle of vision of our Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, about Sri Chaitanyadev; the way he saw it with his divine eyes. It is available here, and we are concerned with that. From Chaitanya to Saraswati, the whole of our Guru Parampara is covered, considered, cultured and being preached and spread. This is Chaitanya Saraswat.
Also, Chaitanyanuga Saraswati. Saraswati means vani, vakya: the words or expressions of Chaitanya. Chaitanya-vani is the real preaching and instructions of Sri Chaitanyadev.
So the substantial meaning is ‘from Chaitanya to Saraswati’. It is the culture of Srimad Bhagavatam as viewed by Sri Chaitanyadev and His followers up to Saraswati. This is the object, theme and purpose of our life. Our nature and acquaintance is there. They are our masters, and we are the servants of that group. We want to revere them, to propagate knowledge about them, and to ask people to accept them. Our whole concern is there.
There is a class of Saraswata brahmanas in the Maharastra area of India who say they are Gauda Brahmanas or Saraswata Brahmanas. Saraswat are a particular group who are under Sri Chaitanyadev. This may be another meaning.
Additionally, in Manu-samhita it is mentioned:
deva-nadyor yad antaram
tam deva-nirmmitam desam
The Aryan civilisation came from upcountry. First it was between the two rivers Saraswati and Drsadvati. Vyasadev and other authorities all belonged to Badarikasram, in that quarter. Badarikasram is just on the banks of the River Saraswati. Vyasadev used to live there, and Narada Muni came to give dictation about the principles of Bhagavatam there at Badarikasram on the banks of the Saraswati. Vyasadev also taught the principles of Bhagavatam to Sukadev at Badarikasram on the the banks of the Saraswati.
Ambarisa Maharaj also lives in that area. It is mentioned that he used to live by the Saraswati River which joins the Ganges near Badarikasram. It is mentioned in Bhagavatam that he performed hundreds of sacrifices on the two banks of the Saraswati River. These took place in very ancient times. At that time the Himalayas were considered as the most recently formed mountains. Though the Himalayas were the highest mountains, they were also considered to be the youngest. Where the Himalayas rose became very cold, and the people came down to inhabit the plains.
With the rising up of the Himalayas the plains also rose up out of the sea, thus increasing the land mass of India. The seat of ancient civilisation was there, but, as it rose in height, the people came down to the warmer coastal regions. The original seat of Vedic or Aryan civilisation was on that side, and gradually it spread itself towards the coast. It is from the banks of the Saraswati that the Vedic culture began. Gradually it has been extended towards this side. East Bengal and this area by the Ganges is ancient, but many other areas have sprung up from the sea. In the south of India some areas are also ancient.
So, the Saraswata Brahmanas are a particular group of Brahmanas who uphold the Vedic culture. They are supposed to have their residence now in the Upper Himalayas, and they are gradually coming this side.
Our Temple is ‘Chaitanya-Saraswata’, distinct from the Saraswata Brahmanas. So, Chaitanya-Saraswata is the line of Bhagavatam as enhanced by Sri Chaitanyadev. Of all the Acharyyas, Chaitanyadev preached about Love Divine. Clearly and in a developed, scientific way, only Chaitanyadev preached the fifth end of life: Bhagavat-Prema. The end of life is to acquire Love, affection and attraction for Godhead, for Krishna. Krishna is the Lord of Love and He is the innermost conception of Godhead. The highest conception of Godhead is in Krishna. The jiva can have a relationship with Him—the relationship of Love—and that is the highest achievement for all souls, ever known to have come down to the world.
Thus Chaitanya-Saraswata is exclusively Chaitanyanuga Saraswata—Saraswata that belongs to the School of Sri Krishna Chaitanyadev. They are believers in Krishna consciousness and Chaitanyadev’s instructions.
Saraswat means that the communication is with sound or words—a treasure of words. Here, sound refers to the Holy Names. Their business is with Divine Sound. Their duty is with the transaction of Divine Sound. And what sort of Divinity? Krishna consciousness sound business. That is their trade. They are engaged in the transaction of the Divine Sound of Krishna: Krishna consciousness.
Krishna consciousness is a philosophical, ontological expression, but Krishna Chaitanya consciousness means that Chaitanya is there. His name is Krishna Chaitanya. Srila Swami Maharaj called his society Iskcon, but the public has given it a very warm welcome by calling it ‘the Hare Krishna Movement.’ But ‘Krishna consciousness’ is an ontological expression that can be realised by the philosophically-minded. In the Name ‘Krishna Chaitanya’—’Chaitanya’ means ‘consciousness’—so ‘Krishna consciousness’ means ‘Krishna Chaitanya’. The Name is there personified.
When I asked Sripad Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj why he was fond of the name ‘Iskcon’ he had given for his society, he replied, “‘Isa-con’—isavasyam idam sarvvam!”
Question: Who, or which races, are the descendants of the Aryans? There seem to be differing opinions.
Srila Guru Maharaj: I do not know the conclusions of the present-day historians, but as a matter of faith we find that those who follow the Vedic culture are Aryans. ‘Aryya’ means venerable, principal. Here in India there is a custom that the wife addresses the husband as ‘Aryya-putra’. ‘Aryya’ also means ‘grand’—’those who are revered, those who hold the highest culture’. At the beginning of creation those who held the highest culture commanded such reverence from all. In the course of time, under different circumstances, perhaps they had to move to different places. Of course, it may be thought that they are somewhere near the Caspian Sea. Caspian: Kasyapa. Kasyapa is understood to be the father of the gods. Nearby, the rsis are mainly residing on the other side of the Himalayas.
Then, as I mentioned before, it is said that the Himalayas gradually rose up and formed some sort of partition. Some ended up on the other side, some on this side. That does not matter so much, as we are not as concerned with the geography as the culture. We have to make a comparative study of all available cultures and try to conceive their height, and wherever the high culture may be found we will accept that. It does not matter where it is found.
ABSOLUTE AND RELATIVE
In recent days you have asked me many questions about the Siksa and Diksa Gurus. The Diksa-Guru and Siksa-Guru can also be seen from both the relative and the absolute position. Sometimes in this connection I like to quote a barrister by the name of Norton. Now, Aurobindo Ghosh was a very powerful writer. He knew good English and was very forceful in his writing. Once, when he had absconded and was being searched for by the authorities, Mr. Norton, a barrister of strong common sense, read an article in the newspaper; he recognised its style and declared: “Here is Mr. Ghosh!”
In this way we have to find where Krishna is. Vyasadev has given the Krishna conception of Godhead in his Srimad-Bhagavatam. Devarsi Narada came to instruct Vyasadev to spread Krishna consciousness of Godhead, for without that everything is tasteless: “Whatever you have delivered until now, will all be tasteless and redundant if you do not ultimately connect it with Krishna consciousness.”
The general Vedic culture could not reveal the meaning of Krishna consciousness properly. At the time of Rasa-Lila the Sruti, the higher Vedas personified, are admitting, “We failed to express You, my Lord. We could not understand that You are so beautiful and so loving. We failed to distribute Your such higher conception to the public.” The Srutis are confessing this. “Mostly what we have so far given the public to understand is somewhat Brahma or Paramatma, but now we are charmed! There is such beauty within! So charming, so loving. We failed to understand, and we also failed to deliver. May we be forgiven for our failure.”
Then Srimad-Bhagavatam came. Srutibhir vimrgyam: all the revealed truth is only trying to show the direction, “Go this side. We do not know it fully, but we can say that it must be somewhere this side.” This is the general instruction of all the revealed truth in the world. “It is very sweet. It must be very sweet, high and fulfilling our highest need, and more. But we could not understand this. It is so loving, so charming and so beautiful as to attract us to the utmost—we even forget our own existence. We could not understand thiss” This is the confession of the general revealed truth of different types. This has been given in Srimad Bhagavatam by Vedavyas and by Narada, Suka, etc..
Krishna is there at the very root. And Sri Krishna as Chaitanyadev is at the root of the distribution of the highest degree of sweetness of the Lord. So we are surrendered to Him. And He says that this should be spread throughout the length and breadth of the infinite world. Although prthivite achhe has been mentioned in different places, prthivi ‘paryanta’ yata nagaradi-grama… must be noted. This means that Mahaprabhu’s preaching of Sri Hari-Nama will spread to not only the towns and villages on the earth, but to all the villages and towns of all the planets—wherever there are villages and inhabitants to be traced anywhere. Brahmanda tarite—His Mission is to deliver the whole universe. Brahmanda means that which is created by one Brahma. Space and time is controlled by one Brahma. There are so many andas. Anda means egg. There are so many egg-like solid objects floating in the air. Again, like so many eggs innumerable planets are floating in the air.
DISTRIBUTE IN DANGER
Question: This year of 1982 there are many eclipses and inauspicious astrological circumstances have been forecast which indicate the likelihood of natural disasters. Should a devotee in the service of Krishna take these things into consideration? For example, I am due to go to an earthquake-prone area for preaching; but is it important to protect oneself so he can serve Krishna nicely, or should one depend on Krishna’s mercy in every situation?
Srila Guru Maharaj: In 1927 perhaps, there was a big solar eclipse. At that time the Kuruksetra Math was newly started and I was the Math Commander there. Prabhupad Srila Saraswati Thakur went there and a spiritual exhibition was also arranged. This exhibition depicted how Dvaraka Krishna and the Gopis met. At that time, I first heard from our Guru Maharaj why on solar and lunar eclipses, especially the solar eclipse, people come in lakhs and crores to a holy place and take bath.
I remember his explanation. The planets come in a particular line at that time, and there is the possibility that by increased attraction they may clash and everything may be finished—pulverised by that clash. With this apprehension of a natural disaster, the people try to utilise their time in the best way possible by coming to a holy place, taking bath, chanting the Name of the Lord and concentrating their spiritual activity in what may be their last moments. According to their religious beliefs they may chant certain prayers or engage in Nama-sankirttana.
So when the general apprehension of destruction comes, whether individual or collective, we shall try our best to utilise our time with the high conception, within divinity. That is very good. It is also appreciable that where the apprehension of danger is acute, one runs there for relief work. That is laudable. Circumstances may vary, and how far the intention is correct in a particular case is to be judged.
When I was in Madras, one man came to me and preached about the Ram Krishna Mission’s activities. He challenged, “You want to deliver the people, but they are dying of famine and disease. You do not go to help them, but if they die, to whom will you preach? So relief work is necessary. First give them food, medicine and good health. After that you can give them inspiration about God. This process is good. But if they die then who will you help in a spiritual way?”
My reply to him was: “If there is a famine in the country, and I have some food and am distributing it to thousands who are flocking around me, but someone runs away, what should I do? Should I continue distributing food to those who are nearby, or, stopping that, should I run after the man who ran away to catch him and give some food to him? What should I do?” I asked him in this way.
Similarly, men are indeed dying, but there are also those who surround me, ready to take what I have to give them. Why should I interrupt the important function of distribution to chase the fleeing man? I will lose my time by running and leaving the distribution. So many living persons are coming, so why should I be partial only to the dying? There are already hundreds and thousands around me. The very needy persons are already around me. It must be judged as to which policy will be more fruitful.
Of course if there are so many attendants to look after those who are crowded here, then it may be considered that I can go to chase the others and give them nourishment, otherwise there is no need to lose time running or travelling.
Our aim will be to engage ourselves always in this distribution. Again, distribution may not be the only work. Some are seen to distribute, some are supplying, and others are cooking. Different functions are necessary to save the people.
Some disasters are acute and some minor, but disasters are always occurring. It is not only limited to the human beings, but so many insects, animals and others are also in need of receiving such vibration that comes from the Divine layer.
When Mahaprabhu went through the Jharikhanda forest, even the lions, elephants and deer received benefit from His Nama-sankirttana. Nama-sankirttana should be done properly. We shall always emanate that divine energy. We shall try to invite and distribute, as a mediator to draw and distribute. Therefore we shall engage ourselves in the most intensified duty of serving as a mediator. This is the primary thing. “I may be deeply engaged in drawing from the upper layer, and emanate that towards the environment.” That sort of high ray or wave is necessary.
Some say that underground towns are being constructed in case of nuclear war. We need to get out of this world of blood and flesh and bones. We are more in danger when we live in this cage. If we can live outside this cage, then we will have no fear. The only thing that is in danger is this fleshy body.
The body is always inviting death. This body means an invitation to death. This body is so dear to us, but our real welfare is to get out of this body and not re-enter such a body which is so cherished by us at present. It is with the association of this body that I am dying and in danger. This body is only an outer product, but the mental body is responsible for everything.
We see with the mental body in dream. There is a ‘country’ where those bodies move and live, with its own government also. That is called Pitrloka.
DARK AND LIGHT PATHS
According to Hindu Scripture, generally the departed souls live on the moon. Two terms are used: Uttarayana and Daksinayana. Daksinayana refers to the period ruled by certain gods; during that time, the soul that passes from the body must return to this soil. Such is the karma of those persons. Their mental body is of such quality that it will again come here. After death they go to the moon to take rest for some time. There is also some arrangement in the Sastra to send some food to them. Food is offered in their name, and that food is given to the sadhus, brahmanas and cows, etc. Thereby, they get that food.
The departed souls have left their energy here. Their heirs take possession of this accumulated energy, and the heirs should offer something to the forefathers by the process of mantram. Such subtle association is there that if it is done under proper direction it will reach the place of the departed soul—the subtle body of the departed soul will receive it. It is taken there by the process of mantram. There is a society of rsis that look after the affairs of transmitting it to them. In this way, according to their necessity, the forefathers will receive that food from here.
This process is something like sending a money-order from here, India, in rupees. It will be converted to dollars through the exchange system and given to someone in America as dollars. Similarly whatever I offer to the forefathers will be converted by the rsis to the appropriate need of the souls living there. That place is generally Chandraloka, the moon.
For those whose karma is that they will not take birth here again, they go towards the sun. The moon revolves around the earth, but they cross the limit of the attraction of the earth and go elsewhere to have their life nearby the sun. That is Uttarayana. Light predominates there. Chandraloka is dependent light and it circumambulates this earth, but the sun is above the earth and it represents light, knowledge.
The souls who go there go beyond the boundary of this earth. They go away in their subtle bodies, never to return to this earth again. Those souls leave earth forever. According to their karma they go somewhere else and live there. But in both cases, this is a relative direction only.
LIGHT IS KNOWLEDGE
We are asked to have our direction through the sun, through light, through knowledge. Jyotir abhyantare rupam atulam syamasundaram. What is light? In the proper conception light is knowledge. In reality, knowledge is light; ignorance is darkness.
Piercing even the light—knowledge—we shall try to find ‘Syamasundara’. We have to try to seek that through the ‘sun’, through the ‘light’. That is the remote direction given to us by the revealed mantras of the Vedas: “Go to the light. Avoid darkness. Welcome light.” Light is the representative of knowledge. Tackle the knowledge in such a way that you can find a cosmos which is very beautiful and personified as evergreen or kisora. Satyam sivam sundaram—that is Truth, that is Good, that is Beautiful. We are given such direction in a symbolic way. We are far from that, so for a person in such a remote place a symbolic expression is extended.
GAYATRI—THE MOTHER OF THE VEDAS
Tad Visnoh paramam padam. Gayatri is the Mother of the Vedas. In only one sentence the whole Vedic truth is contained: Bhur bhuvah svah tat savitur varenyam: You are in the midst of different stages of experience, ranging from gross to subtle.
Here begins tat savitur—a categorical change (beyond our general thought). That which is divulged to you or makes you conscious of the gross and subtle experience—catch that light which is showing these things.
Light does not create a thing. Light shows a thing. Knowledge is showing, so try to achieve that type of knowledge which is showing. That is, go to the subjective aspect of things. Try to catch the one who is showing, that is consciousness. Not what is being shown, but who is showing. Try to enter into that subjective realm if possible. There you will find the illuminator—savita—that which is giving birth to all this material experience. The light. The sun is giving birth to all this by sending his ray. The universal subject is helping your dependent subjective identity to see and experience this world. Try to connect with that.
Varenyam—then, try to trace some respectful, reverential cause. Try to go beyond that which is showing everything to you, that grand super-subject, and find the world on the transcendental side, the upper side. There we will find varenyam: that is, varaniya, pujya, a venerable world. Here comes the question of submission and devotion. It is not only light, not only knowledge, but there we will find that a venerable plane is on the other side, which we should serve, worship and respect. Varenyam bhargo: it is full of all knowledge but it is mixed with veneration, devotion, dedication and worship. That world is of such nature. Devasya dhimahi: and we should try to exert all the nerves of our conscious selves to that.
The root meaning of Deva is ‘He who is very beautiful and playful.’ His character is dynamic, not static; a character of Lila and saundaryya—beauty and pastimes. Thus bhargo devasya, His bhargo—His paraphernalia of venerable and knowing substance.
Dhimahi, dhiyo yo nah prachodayat. If we use our venerative, knowing faculty, we will embrace that. If we can engage ourselves in that endeavour, the result will be our increased capacity to go higher and higher in that direction. There will be no other remuneration for such an endeavour.
This is the substance within Gayatri, which, in a nutshell, is considered to be the Mother of the whole Revealed Truth.
In Srimad-Bhagavatam: dhamna svena sada nirasta-kuhakam satyam param dhimahi. Here also, Gayatri says ‘dhimahi’. ‘Dhimahi’ means chidanusilana or spiritual cultivation. In that stage it will be venerable, spiritual cultivation.
Dhamna svena sada nirasta-kuhakam: by the halo of that noble substance, all misunderstandings will be cleared and we shall have the connection of the real Truth as a whole. In addition, we shall be blessed by the higher rewards of our attempt when properly guided in that direction.
Satyam param dhimahi: it is the realm of prajnana (prakrsta-jnana), the mystic, higher, inconceivable, conscious experience. It is proper knowledge in the universal characteristic, and whatever we find in this world is defective knowledge.
Gaur Sundar! Gaur Haribol!
Originally published in Sri Gaudiya Darshan magazine, Sri Gaura Purnima 1997 edition.