The Doctrine of Illusion vs. Vaishnavism II
By Aprakrita Bhaktisaranga Goswami
As published in The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani)
Edited by Paramahamsa Paribrajakacharyya Sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj
JANUARY 15, 1935
Shankar's disregard of considerations in favour of the distinctive transcendental activities of pure souls is altogether untenable. The point of view of Shandilya Rishi whom he attempts to refute stands fully vindicated to all sincere souls. This has been conclusively shown by many distinguished writers.
I do not see, because my vision is liable to be eclipsed when I am located in the realm of three dimensions. These wrong conceptions are not get rid of till I am established in the purely spiritual state which is free from all mundane limitations. They have established their firm hold on me by my neglect to take into my serious consideration the claims of the transcendental existence. In the Bhagabatam "Viswanath" instructs "Satee" as to the proper nature of Vasudeva. He tells her of the activities and realisations of the unalloyed spiritual essence. Viswanath makes his obeisance to Vasudeb. Those who are willing to hear his words in the spirit of humility displayed by Viswanath, can, indeed, hear them. Those who covet fame and wealth are given those things by Mahamaya (the great deluding power).
The Teachings of Sree Krishna Chaitanya refer to the unalloyed function of the soul. The person in whom the real hankering for listening to Hari-katha (Word of Godhead) manifests itself, displays total absence of every form of worldly pedantry and vanity. To such a person it is not the summum bonum for man to attain a high degree of material civilisation. The alternative of merging in the undistinguished spiritual essence of the Brahman presents itself to the choice of the soul as the summum bonum in the concluding stages of the development of mental speculation. The formulation of such a doctrine marked an advance on the Buddhistic position which had put the principle of mercy in the shape of mere toleration of all animation, above the requirements of sense-ridden worldly elevationism. But the service of the Supreme Predominating Personality (Purusottama), or Vasudeva, is beyond the range of speculation of even who regard merging in the indivisible instinct cognitive principle as the goal. Srimad Bhagabatam has accordingly advised us to cease all speculative activities and concentrate on the consideration of the Mercy of the Real Entity made available to us by His Descent to the plane of our cognitive vision. It is, therefore, necessary to turn our attention to the serious consideration of the function of pure souls who belong to the positive eternal world.
This truth was revealed in the heart of Brahma before he began to create this world. Subsequently, when by the operation of the influence of time differing speculations on the subject of the ultimate Reality made their appearance in this world, Krishna himself came down to the mundane plane in different visible forms to prevent erroneous views regarding the nature of the Absolute which have always been eclipsing from our view the knowledge of the Absolute handed down by Brahma through the medium of successive bona fide spiritual teachers. The Ten Avataras of Krishna were for the purpose of re-establishing in this world the eternal function of the soul (Sanatan Dharma).
That function is not limited even to the essentially true but not fully developed spiritual visions of Bodhayana Rishi and Lakshmana Desika Anandatirtha mercifully gave to the world the conception of the worship of Boy Gopala. The Sonhood of Krishna is inconceivable to the reverential serving attitude. Sree Ramanuja has offered his arguments against the desirability of intimate unconventional relationship of Godhead lest it might give rise to every great evil. But Sree Krishna Chaitanya and His followers have extended our spiritual vision to the highest sphere of transcendence.
The worship of those who are eligible to praise Godhead by the offer of their unalloyed spiritual reverential homage is relatively undeveloped in comparison with the intimate all-loving service of Braja. We should not remain contentedly pinned to the level of the service of even Arjuna. Chitraka, Patraka, Sridam and Sudama stand on a much more intimate footing. They are eligible to offer to Krishna even the remainders of their tasted food. Godhead is cherished with the tendermost affection by them. They know Krishna as nothing more nor less than a friend. They know familiarly that He is theirs. The Divine Son is served by His parents from His infancy. Krishna is not served by Nanda and Yasoda in expectation or otherwise of any return of a commercial equivalent of service from Him in their old age.
In offering our pure worship to the Absolute Personality Sree Krishna we may stand in one or other of the relationships of absolute neutrality, of a servant, friend, parent, wife or consort i.e., of Shanta, Dasya, Sakhya, Batsalya or Madhura Rasa-- the fivefold possible personal relationships that are also to be found on this earth. In Shanta, Dashya and the reverential moiety of Sakhya Rasas we approach Godhead with the reserve of reverential attitude. More intimate and even more laudable service can be rendered to Him by the confidential moiety of Sakhya, Batsalya and Madhura Rasas. When we look up to Goloka from below we see only the lower half of the Highest Sphere, not the upper half. Half the thing is placed for our ocular activity, not the other half. In the other half we find confidential Sakhya Batsalya and Madhura. Even those who are privileged to approach Godhead by the pure reverential aptitude, may miss the more confidential and intimate service. I mean that the upper two and half "rasas" for more confidential and intimate service are withheld for their own purpose. Sonhood and Consorthod of Godhead would not be understood. If we choose to remain confined to the two and a half varieties of reverential service by accepting the tidings of Ramanuja we would not be enable thereby to practise the remaining two and a half varieties of intimate relationships to be found in Goloka. There can be no permanent absence of fullness in Godhead. The upper two and a half Rasas which are open to His servitors may, through deliberate neglect of their proper cultivation hurl us down to Godlessness. We are also not to confine ourselves to the level of the worship of Ram-Sita which is no doubt higher that the worship hinted by Shankara and developed by Ramanuja, but which nevertheless stands in the way of our participating in the pastimes of nonconventional Divine Amour. Godhead should not be restricted. It is not possible for us to realise the nature of pure reverential worship not to say of the service of the milkmaids of Braja, as long as the existence of the gross and subtle physical bodies persist to obscure our vision. The pure-hearted Rishis of Dandakaranya alone could conceive the transcendental desire for serving Ramachandra in the relationship of consorthood, but their, desire was not fulfilled till after they had been reborn in Braja. Vasudevism as imagined by even the late R.G. Bhanderkar and most European scholars is not reconcilable with the needs of complete self-realisation. The level of transcendental service is not attained thereby.
We should be disposed to accept as our eternal function nothing short of the ideal of the service of the milkmaids of Braja taught and practised by Sree Chaitanya. Consorthood constitutes the highest plane of the service of Sree Krishna.
Other opinions are for deceiving or cautioning the ignorant They are of no further use on the attainment of enlightenment. The other opinions have different interpretations on the scriptural evidence. They are hampered by this radical defect of their poverty of the fullest convincing power. The Sankarsana Sutra has dealt with this vital point. The enlightening potency of the Transcendental Sound purges our mind of all preventive dirts and enables us to accept the true meaning of the words of the scriptures. We are thereby enabled to avoid all hasty conclusions which have a tendency to drive us more or less to seek to merge in the impersonal derivative aspect of the Absolute.