Circumambulation of the Circle of Braja
As published in The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani)
Edited by Paramahamsa Paribrajakacharyya Sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj
THE long looked-for circumambulation of Sree Brajamandal, under the guidance of the Acharyya, which had been announced and postponed twice during the last year, is to materialise during the present Autumn. The announcement has already been made that the circumambulation will take place during October 9 to November 11 of this year. The public had been invited, through the Press and from the platform, to participate in the approaching devotional function.
The reader will recall that the subject was presented in a series of three articles in the last volume of this Journal, from the point of view of pure loving devotion as the only natural function of the jiva soul, of which the Ideal is offered by the Career of Sree Krishna Chaitanya. It was our purpose in those articles to try to understand the performance of the circumambulation of Sree Brajamandal by Sree Krishna Chaitanya during the autumn the winter of 1513-14 A.C. in the light of His own teachings.
Srila Thakur Bhaktivinode is the pioneer of the revival of the Religion of unalloyed devotion in the present Age. He was actuated by his genuine serving impulse to undertake the self-imposed task of making the circumambulation of Sree Brajamandal available to the people at large. The lead, which was thus given by the most beloved servant of Sree Chaitanya, was not followed up also by himself during the latter part of his own career, as he was commanded by the Lord to direct his services to the restoration of tirthas in the Circle of Gauda. It is not possible for any person to attain to the service of Sree Brajamandala except through the service of Sree Gaudamandala. Unless one is prepared to understand and follow the Career and Teaching of Sree Krishna-Chaitanya one is denied the sight of the Transcendental Realm of Braja. It was therefore, quite in the fitness of things that Srila Thakur Bhaktivinode applied himself to the restoration of the latent Tirthas of Sree Gaudamandal for enabling all persons to perform the service of the Realm of the Supreme Lord Sree Krishna-Chaitanya in order to obtain thereby the eligibility for the service of Braja. The circumambulation of Sree Sree Brajamandal is, therefore, a continuation of the activities of Srila Thakur Bhaktivinode that led up to the restoration of the forgotten Tirthas of the Circle of Gauda.
The eternal function of the soul, which is latent in conditioned state, is performed on the transcendental plane. The categories of mundane space and time have nothing to do with the eternal function. In the conditioned state the soul is prevented from having any access to the transcendental plane by the factors of the mental and physical bodies functioning on the plane of mundane space and time. It is not given to man to get rid of these factors, even if he really wishes to go without them. It is also not conceivable by our present cognitive faculty how we can have any function independently of the agencies of our mind and physical body, or beyond the conditions of mundane time and space. But the fact that we cannot at present have any conception of the nature of the eternal function, that is described in the Scriptures, does not disprove the actual existence of such function. Those, therefore, we try to explain the Scriptures in terms of their experience of this world, commit a deliberate offence against their own rational nature.
Such an objection for example as that, which is ordinarily taken to all devotional functions of a tangible character by the generality of persons nurtured on idealistic thought that is so current now-a-days all over the world, for the very reason that they are tangible and, therefore, less admissible as being akin to the spiritual function than abstract notions which are of a more refined character, should be found to be wholly untenable in the light of the above statements. The transcendental plane is not at all accessible either to the physical senses or to the conceptual faculty. There is, therefore, no reason for preferring the one to the other. The idealistic argument against tangible worship applies equally to the idealistic worship itself. The physical and the idealistic functions have unavoidably to be used also by a soul who is in the process of liberation, i.e., by one who is in some form or other really cognisant of the substantive nature of the transcendental plane and the relation of the same to the mundane.
If the number of persons, who are to care to be so enlightened , happen to be very small, they still deserve an attentive hearing from materialists and idealists alike for reasons that are perfectly admissible by the latter. The Circle of Braja is a transcendental entity. It is accessible to the serving faculty of the soul who is cognisant of his real nature. The tangible character of the Circle of Braja, as it appears to the materialistic and idealistic critics, has a positive merit, in as much as it can really supply the only condition for any possible activity by means of the mental and physical bodies. It does not, at any rate, lead to the hollow form of idealism that has no basis in actual experience. There is the danger that the mundane country of Braja perceived by the physical senses may be worshipped by the idealistic method. Such a process cannot yield any spiritual result. Those, who are disposed to worship the land of Braja without trying to idealize, may similarly commit the equally avoidable blunder if they think the tangible mundane to be identical with the super-mundane.
If we steer clear of both forms of the fallacy that warps the judgment of all dogmatic empiric thinkers whenever they speculate about Scriptural subjects, we should be in a position to offer our unprejudiced hearing to the exposition of the nature of Transcendental Realm of Braja from the lips of self-realised souls who have a clearer perception of the whole issue. The spiritual novitiate is impossible unless one can be put in actual touch with the Transcendental Realm in some form. The entities of space and time are not the monopoly of the conditioned state. The plane of the Absolute possesses all, and more than all, the specific features of the mundane plane. There is also the relation of subordination of the mundane plane to the spiritual. The temporal is only a deluding aspect of the eternal. Those, who have an eye for the eternal aspect of the temporal, can avoid being deluded even when they have actually to deal with the temporal aspect. The temporal aspect is a real, although deluding, aspect of the eternal, and as such can be realised as possessing a real subservient value in regard to the Absolute.
There is such a thing as a mundane country of Braja. But it has a real subservient relationship with the Transcendental Realm of Braja. If our mind and body be enabled to realise the nature to this relationship by the impulse from the soul, they should be in a position to follow the performances of the eternally free souls on the actual plane of transcendence, by cultivating the corresponding relationship with the subservient aspect of the mundane entity. If the circumambulation of Sree Brajamandal is performed with the object of trying to realise the reference to the Absolute in the function by listening attentively to the word of the Sadhu in order to understand how the subservient function is to be performed, it should be possible, by the exercise of our unprejudiced judgment, to progress in the knowledge of the actualities of the Transcendental Realm in the measure of our endeavours.
The summum bonum is a positive function. There is incorporated also negative aspect with the same. But the pursuit of the negative aspect brings about the abeyance of the function itself. The negative aspect is that aspect which should not be pursued if it is our object to have the function at all. The negative aspect perpetually tries to deprive us of the positive function. But we can never be really deprived unless we ourselves consent to be so deprived.
The positive function of the soul involves the negation of the seeming positive function of the body and mind, which is, however, only the alternative constituents of the pursuit of the negative aspect of the spiritual function. Everyone in this world is a sectarian in the wholesome sense. A person, who is addicted to anything else than the positive function of the soul, has no love for anybody including himself; on the contrary, he finds an abnormal pleasure in indulging in all kinds of malicious activities. But the malicious person can never be convinced either that he is malicious or that the Biblical text 'do unto others as you would that they should be unto you' does not advocate the practice of competing worldliness. The opposition, that is offered by the sadhus to the activities of the body and mind, is not due to malice. The opposition that is offered to the same activities by a person, who is addicted to worldliness for any worldliness for any worldly purpose, is certainly malicious and does no good to anybody.
The opposition of impersonalists and the advocacy of the psilanthropists as regards the bonafide devotional function, are alike malicious and lead nowhere. The impersonalist argument constitutes the greater danger in as much it is ordinarily practised by so-called intellectual persons who are superficially versed in the silly arguments of cultivated atheism. The garb of Religion is often misappropriated by both types of deluded persons, and the mere assumption of the garb of Religion need not be considered as proving the bonafide of a preacher of Religion. It is not incumbent on any person to be a partisan of untruth. But there should be only one sect viz., that of the partisans of the Absolute Truth.