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By Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati

Published in The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani)

The ordinary meaning of the word "Chit" is knowledge. Knowledge possesses the quality of mastership. From the words of Shri Chaitanyadeva we are enabled to know that the Son of the Chief of Braja is the real indivisible Knowledge. Krishna-chandra is specifically the Possessor, Source and Concentrated Embodiment of the Cognitive Power. The source from which all knowledge emanates is of three kinds viz., (a) pure cognition, (b) cognition, adulterated with non-cognition and (c) non-cognition. Those who hold that direct perception by the senses is the only source of knowledge maintain that knowledge or consciousness is a product of non-cognition or matter. These persons believe that non-cognition is the final principle. The propensity that comes into play as the result of such speculation is called tarka or hypothetical controversy. Those who want to make matter produce the principle of consciousness, find themselves, in the sequel, necessarily occupied with consideration as to how it is possible to gradually neutralise the cognitive principle, how to make it effervesce altogether into the original state of non-cognition. These persons by their austerities try to reduce that temporary consciousness into the state of complete unconsciousness. If a person begins to perform worldly activities, if he continues to do so in a liberal measure, he is liable to become too much fatigued in the course of such activity. It is at such a stage of exhaustion that the desire for becoming unconscious matter, the desire of liberation in the form of annihilation of consciousness described above, makes its psychological appearance. It is a good thing to practice open-handed liberality. It is a good thing to nurse the sick and to help the needy in different ways. Ideas like these make a tempting appeal to our judgment and seem to promise even a temporary relief to sufferers when man is terribly oppressed by the normal condition of existence in the realm of matter. We are then attracted towards processes that are dangled before our eyes by the external world. It is in this manner that we become performers of 'useful' work, we practice 'virtue', we worship a relieving god, we become moral, or, sometimes, we do bad deeds, commit sinful acts, become irreligious or immoral. We are driven into all such predicaments by the hostile pressure of the external world.

There is no grossness in the subtle material principle. But the subtle owes its birth to gross matter. Subtleness manifests itself by abstracting its ingredients from the gross things of the external world. Gross matter is the parent of the subtle existence.

In this world the function of non-cognition has become more or less adulterated with that of cognition. The mind and intelligence are occupied in gathering knowledge from the realm of non-cognition. There is a world in which there is no such subject as non-cognition which is professed to be the final reality by the propounders of the theory of the finality of the atom or the material force. In that world everything is cognition. There are some who say that there must be the realisation of utter powerlessness in undiluted cognition. It is true that the possessor of empiric knowledge has bitter experience of material force in this world. It is only when one is anxious to fly from the bitterness of such experience that the opportunity of rendering cognition, of which we stand in need, devoid of all power, presents itself to us. The Gaudiya Vaishnavas have a language of their own. They call the material force "Bahiranga-Shakti," the power that manifests itself in the extraneous members of the Divine Person. The Professors of undifferentiated knowledge want to designate the Entity who is devoid of this extraneous power as the Brahman. They form their idea of the Brahman by repudiating the material force. They have got the experience of that power from the phenomena of radio-activity and molecular movement in this world in which the cognitive principle is found adulterated with the material principle. But the Brahman also means the Great, the Whole. Those who are privileged to have the sight of the Greatness, the Wholeness, know that the word Brahman means only Bhagavan "the Possessor of all Power." In the words of Shri Chaitanya Deva the Primary meaning of the Word Brahman is "Bhagavan".

The Sankarsana Sutra uses the word Brahman to denote Vishnu. In the concluding portion of the Bhagavatam we find the following Shloka, "The essence of all Vedanta is Brahman Who is identical with the Supreme Soul. He is the only substantive Reality. He is one and without a second. The one thing needful is exclusive and eternal devotion to Him."

Every Sound has a two-fold potency, viz. (1) the enlightening natural potency and (2) the natural potency productive of ignorance. That potency of the sound which, diverging from Krishna, Vishnu, Shri Chaitanya Deva, points to something else, is the potency that is productive of ignorance. By their enlightening natural potency all words express Krishna, point to Krishna. Those words that obey us as their master, help us in the function of enjoying the things of this world, being promotive of enjoyment, are thereby separated from the Divinity and, therefore, exhibit the natural potency that produces ignorance. The Sound 'Krishna' points to the sabstnative [sic] Reality. In this world made of material, limiting quality, the meaning that is offered of the Sound 'Krishna' and what is understood by the common run of people by the Sound 'Krishna' are neither of them the entity who is the real Meaning of the Sound 'Krishna'. In other languages such sounds as "God", 'Allah' etc., or, even in the Sanskrit language such sounds as 'God' 'Iswara' 'Paramatma', etc., express a certain conglomerate of distinctive power which is an adulterated entity separate from Krishna. Those sounds fail to accommodate the full commanding potency of the Sound "Krishna". The full meaning of the Sound "Krishna" may be thus set out: 'Krishna' is the Supreme Lord. He has a specific Form, the concentrated embodiment of the spiritual principle of Existence, Cognition and Bliss. He has no beginning. He is the beginning. He is nourishing the whole world. He is the Cause of all Causes'.

The above Meaning of the Sound 'Krishna' was brought from the south of India by Shri Gaursundar and made known to all the people. No other country except Bharatvarsha knows the Meaning of the Sound 'Krishna'. In Bharatavarsha also there are divergent currents of thought in which the sounds: Iswara, Paramatma, Brahman, etc., have manifested themselves. These currents of thought indicate the secondary potencies of the Sound Krishna or even postulate powerlessness of the Divinity. They are also unable to convey the knowledge of the fullness of meaning of the Sound "Krishna". Anything that is seen, heard, smelt, tasted or touched by our senses giving rise to empiric knowledge, is an entity produced by physical Nature. The Sound 'Krishna' has not been used with reference to these products of physical Nature. The Entity Krishna is not comprehensible to knowledge dependent on material senses of absence of material senses. He is an Entity Who transcends physical senses and physical nature. Truth can never be served by the faculty that diverges from the Lord. The service of Truth is the function of the soul. It is incapable of being diverted from the Truth. It is causeless and uninterruptible. Truth is identical with the Teacher of the Truth. There can be no knowledge of the conclusions of the Vedas without undeviating service at the lotus-feet of Shri Guru-deva. No one can be the Teacher of the Truth except the devotee of God. This is not the dogma of irrational orthodoxy. It is the real Truth. One cannot be the Guru although he be descended from the highest lineage, be initiated in all sacrifices, has studied the thousand and one branches of the Veda, if he be not a true Vaishnava.

In ancient times there was a city called Kanchi in the South of the country. In that city there lived a very famous Professor whose name was Yadavaprakasha. There is a tradition that at that time there was no other Professor in the whole of that part of the country who was his equal in learning. Laksmandesika (Ramanuja) went to him for the purpose of study. He resided with his teacher. He was devoted to his studies with his whole heart. He was perfectly sincere in his conduct towards his teacher. These excellent qualities soon attracted the attention and captured the heart of this teacher. One day Yadavaprakasha following the interpretation of Shankaracharya was explaining the well-known text of the Chandogya that the two eyes of God-head are red like the hind-part of a monkey. This caused intense-pain to the heart of Ramanuja. Ramanuja was at the time engaged in tending the person of this teacher. He felt very much pained on hearing the blasphemy against the Holy Form of God-head. The warm tears from his eyes fell in drops on the back of Yadavaprakasha. This sudden fit of weeping surprised Yadavaprakasha who asked Ramanjua about the cause of his grief. Ramanuja then said that there was no necessity of explaining the word 'kapyasam' in such a filthy and blasphemous manner especially as the word possessed an excellent meaning. Was it not a most highly offensive act to compare the Eyes of God Himself the most Revered Lord and Master of us all, with the worst part of the body of a monkey?

Yadavaprakasha was very angry on hearing these words of Ramanuja. He reprimanded Ramanuja in most severe terms, 'How highly impertinent for a mere lad to find fault with the interpretation of Acharya Shankara! Was it possible that there could be any other explanation of the text than that of the Acharya'? Ramanuja replied in words that were expressive of modesty: "Yes", said Ramanuja "there is another meaning of the text which augments the happiness of the spiritually enlightened. Acharya's explanation is intended for deluding those persons who are endowed with the unspiritual aptitude. I am telling you the other meaning. Deign to listen to my words".

There-upon Ramanuja offered this famous explanation of 'Kapyaasam' in the text. 'Kam' means water. That which drinks water is 'kapi'. 'Kapi' is thus no other than the stem of the lotus. That which is placed on the stem is 'kapyasam'. In other words the two Eyes of that Supreme Person are tinged with red like the undimmed lustre of the unplucked lotus on its stem shining on the bosom of the blue waters.

Yadavaprakasha was filled with the greatest astonishment on hearing this explanation of the Scriptural text. He felt most keenly the disgrace of his defeat at the hands of his own disciple. Maddened with anger he plotted to do away with Ramanuja in secret.

No teacher of undifferentiated Cognition, or of utilitarian works, or of any worldly state of union with the Supreme Soul (Yoga) or of the performance of activities resolved upon by one-self (vrata) or of asceticism, or of magic, or of hypocrisy can really be designated as the superior Guru. They are all of them only triflers and being really very light-headed indeed, are capable of being easily manipulated. They are never the benefactors of the conditioned soul. They are on the contrary the enemies of themselves as well as of all others.

But the Maha-Bhagavata, the best of devotees, the Vaishnava Guru, alone is causelessly merciful to all souls, is alone grieved by their misery. It is for this reason that our former Guru Shrila Raghunathadas Goswami Prabhu has instructed us to place ourselves under the guidance of Shri Sanatana Prabhu who alone is really grieved for all of us and can alone impart the knowledge of our relationship with Godhead. The actual words of Shrila Das Goswami Prabhu require to be quoted in full: "I place myself under the protection of my Master Shri Sanatana Prabhu. Shri Sanatana Prabhu is the ocean of mercy. He is always grieved at the misery of others. He makes me drink, with the greatest care, of the liquid-sweet of the service of God-head. The attachment to that service weans one completely from any hankering after any other thing. I was quite ignorant of this and was wholly unwilling to serve God-head. But he, nevertheless, took infinite pains with me and prevailed over my stubborn opposition to his good counsel. Such is Prabhu Sanatana".

What is really the source from which we derive knowledge of the Truth? Is it pure or mixed cognition? Is it also the only thing needful? It is necessary first of all to decide whether the above propositions have proceeded from the theory of undifferentiated cognition, of undifferentiated non-cognition, or from activities of pure cognition which are full of eternal bliss. To become one with non-animation is the goal of the theory of undifferentiated non-cognition. To merge completely in the featureless existence of undifferentiated cognition is the goal of the theory of undifferentiated knowledge. The realisation of the blissful eternal service of God-head in the realm which is free from all ignorance establishes one in the unconditional safe function of pure cognition.

The emancipation that is spoken of in the Bhagavatam is not destruction of the triple envelope of the bound soul. It is nothing less than the actual establishment in one's own natural condition. Mukti is establishment in one's own proper condition by discarding the contrary. When one is established in one's own proper condition one gets beyond the reach of ignorance. Then the true function of the cognitive faculty, which is no other than the service of God-head manifests itself fully. The distinctive service that is natural for every individual soul is then uninterruptedly and fully manifested. 'There are different ways in which different persons choose to obey Me. I also serve them in correspondingly different ways. Men, O Partha by every method follow the path that is Mine.' [1] God-head Himself here says in effect that He worships His worshipper in exactly the same way in which the latter worships Him. In the mood of a consort the devotee serves God-head with all his faculties, and accordingly Krishna gives up all His limbs to him. Krishna regards Himself as under obligation to his devotee even after giving Himself completely to him.

In the Sholka of the Gita referred to above the word "Mam" Me should be specially observed. The word referred directly to Krishna. It is Krishna who is the speaker. He says, "He who worships Me does so in one of five different ways, each one of which is characterised by the quality of utmost submission. But the mood of the consort displays the highest measure of submission. If the submission be not to Myself it would be rendered to My shadow or to My external deluding power (Maya), it is then no submission to Me". It will not do if curd is called milk. Curd is no doubt derived from milk as its source. But the spoilt milk is never curd. It is possible for a person to be able to see the perverted, imaginary from of Vishnu. If such a person submits to his perverted vision it will be no submission to the real Vishnu. Vishnu is not perverted. It is possible for a person to see, to experience a vision of His which may be the product of his own wrong way of looking at Him. If this happens to be the case it is to be understood that the person fails to have any real signs of Vishnu. The Gita has this Shloka, "Those who worship with reverence other Devatas", O son of Kunti, also worship Me, indeed, but by the method that is improper." [2]

To see any object other than Krishna, is the improper process of seeing. This improper method of seeing is identical with all our evils and disruptive differences. It is possible to get rid of the condition of this improper seeing. Thereafter it is really possible to see Krishna. Krishna is the ocean of infinite undying sweetness. There are twelve rasas (leavening qualities) in Krishna. Five of these rasas are primary. There are seven secondary rasas which help to increase the sweetness of the primary rasas. All these rasas are completely harmonised in Krishna alone.

Shri Shukadeva Goswami said to Maharaja Parikshit, 'Listen O King I am going to give you an account of some of the rasas of Shri Krishna. Shri Krishna is in Himself the shining sphere of infinite rasas. When Shri Krishna made His appearance in the company of Baladeva in the amphitheatre for the exhibition of feats of strength set up by king Kamsa each one of the spectators saw Krishna according to his own individual disposition. Wrestlers, fond of the martial qualities saw that Krishna was terrible like the thunder. Females, fond of the quality of love, saw that Shri Krishna was the God of Love Himself. The masses of the people saw that Krishna was the only King of all men. The cow-herds, with friendly and paternal love, saw Him as their Kinsman. All the frightened, wicked kings saw Krishna as the Punisher of evil-doers. Every father and mother beheld Him as a most beautiful Child. The king of the Bhoja, Kamsa saw Him as Death himself. Persons, who are saddled with a materialised understanding, viewed Krishna as the vast cosmos. The great yogis with tranquil disposition beheld Krishna as the Ultimate Entity. All the males of the Vrishni race saw Him as the Supreme Object of their worship'. [3]

Every one will obtain the service of Krishna; even those will obtain it who are wandering in pursuit of other and diverse speculations. There will be in the long run an end of the wanderings of those who have gone astray. Because Krishna is the only Attracter and we are all of us attractable by Him. But there may appear temporarily a barrier between the Attracter and the attractable. As soon as the barrier is removed we shall experience directly the real nature of the attraction of our Attracter.

There may be companionship with the non-animate. This is called bad company. This bad companionship is practised by means of the physical body and the ignorant mind. It is necessary to give up this bad company. If we do so our real self, whose nature it is to be attracted by Krishna, experiences the direct attraction of Krishna. Krishna attracts the pure cognition. Exclusive devotion is a characteristic of pure cognition. One has no access to the spiritual realm till this quality of exclusive devotion makes its appearance.

The external world is also a source of one kind of knowledge. This knowledge is nothing but the entities of the external world in a refined form. The attraction exercised by these entities is accordingly also exerted towards the material cases. There is quite a variety of such knowledge, none of which is knowledge of Krishna. The knowledge of the undifferentiated Brahman, or that of the Supreme Soul, or that of the phenomenal world, which is gathered by the cognitive principle independently of the knowledge of Krishna, are all of them only different layers of the same class of knowledge. The Brahman which is a concoction of the mind of the professors of the creed of the so-called undifferentiated Brahman, can afford no glimpse of the real Brahman. The sight of the Supreme soul or undifferentiated union with Ishwara fancied by the pseudo-yogis is even a greater blasphemy than the dogma of the undifferentiated union with the concocted Brahman. The Professors of undifferentiated union with their concocted Brahman do not admit the existence of the Individual soul. The professors of undifferentiated union with Ishwara admit the existence of the individual soul. They want to enable the individual soul to usurp the seat of God-head. This surely is an instance of a far more rebellious attitude towards Godhead than even that of the votaries of the concocted Brahman. It is for this reason that Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has said that union with Ishwara is even more condemnable than merging with the concocted Brahman.

In order to discuss these subjects it is first of all necessary for us to have the pure source of knowledge. Are these discussions derived from adulterated cognition? Or is pure cognition their source? Are they derived from any source made by man? Or is their source made by Godhead? If the source happen to be made by man there must exist the defects of mistaken judgment, inadvertence, etc.

What is the entity known as 'I'? Am I the body that I have obtained from my parents? Or am I the mind-intelligence-ego by means of which I am busy making and breaking my resolves? This topic contains a great many issues. We have had the opportunity of listening to these discussions from a very early beginning of our life. We have been discussing these subjects all through these fifty years. We had much time for a good deal of discussion all through the twenty-four hours of the day. We have discussed these topics throughout the whole of the twenty-four hours of every day. We have discussed them while we slept as well as when we lay awake. This body also will fall away in the course of discussing them for its further allotted period.

It is very difficult to get into the inner apartment of the discussion regarding 'I'. There stand ready at the two consecutive entrances two gate-keepers who are preventing all access to the vicinity of the 'I'. Why can't we get the sweet scent of the Body of Krishna? Why does not the fifth scale note of Krishna's flute enter my ears? Why do the tumult of the streets, the noises of the busy world pour incessantly into my ears? At present the soul is asleep. His agent the mind, as manager of its sleeping master's concerns, is cheating me as intermediary. I am accustomed to go by the function of the mind. The mind who business it is to cheat the soul by its evil counsel is keeping me occupied on the path of selfish enjoyment. The soul is the master of the mind and the body. Speech functions as the foreman of a jury. The speech of pure cognition is of one kind, that of non-cognition is of a different kind. The mind is non-soul. This is borne out by the Gita, 'The earth, water, fire, air, sky, mind, intelligence and ego are My eightfold material Nature. Besides these there is another entity of a quite different kind who is non-material. This last is no other than My manifestation as the individual soul. By means of the individual soul the material universe is maintained.'

The individual soul, (Jiva) is then super-material. But he is, nevertheless, possessed of the marginal function. He has relationship with the process of birth-life-death. But the individual soul has also his place in the super-material sphere. The activities of the individual soul in this latter condition are called also transcendental. All that is perishable is included under 'Apara-Bidya' (empiric knowledge). All that is imperishable comes under Para-Vidya (transcendental knowledge). Transcendental knowledge stands on 'sumati' or the good disposition. The term 'sumati' occurs in the Veda. 'O Vishnu, we shall serve 'sumati' by simply uttering Thy living Name even with very little knowledge of His real meaning'. [4] May all of us gain this good disposition. May we gain that good disposition which prompts us to serve 'sumati'.


[1] Gita IV-11

[2] Gita IX-23

[3] Bh. X/43/17

[4] Rig. 1-156-3