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Chapter Sixteen


DEVOTEE: The Vedas inform us of the Sudarshan Cakra, a manifestation of the Lord's spiritual potency which acts in different capacities according to the Lord's desire. Generally the Sudarshan Cakra appears as a weapon like a discus with a razor sharp edge that may also exhibit intolerable heat. In his prayers to the Sudarshan Cakra, Ambarisa Maharäja said, "O master of speech, by your effulgence, full of religious principles, the darkness of the world is dissipated, and the knowledge of learned persons or great souls is manifested. Indeed, no one can surpass your effulgence, for all things, manifested and unmanifested, gross and subtle, superior and inferior, are but various forms of you that are manifested by your effulgence. [Bhag. 9.5.7] One of the functions of the Sudarshan Cakra is to chastise the demons, but another is to uplift the consciousness of the living beings. Do the Jewish scriptures give any information about a weapon of the nature of Sudarshan Cakra?

RABBI: There is one verse in the Torah, after God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. It is said, "He drove away the man, and stationed the cherubim (angel of destruction) at the east of Eden, along with the revolving sword blade, to guard the path of the Tree of Life." [Torah, Genesis, Bereshith 3:24] "Man is told that he must eventually die and is banished from paradise. He can only return to paradise after death, and before doing so, he must pass by these angels of purgatory (Bachya). The prophet must also pass these angels to approach the Tree of Life." [Torah, Note: 3:24]

Regarding the revolving sword or flaming sword that revolves, it is said "the manner in which the sword rotates depends on the readiness of the individual attempting to enter. If he is worthy, it becomes the mirror through which he perceives, while if he is not worthy, he is burned out and cut off by the fire of this sword. The one who oversees the sword, preventing the unworthy from entering, is the angel Metatron." [Meditation and Kabbalah p 80 Chapter 4, Teachings of Rabbi Abraham Abulafia]

DEVOTEE: There is a long history in the Vedas in which the Sudarshan Cakra functioned both to punish a demon and to ultimately enlighten him. Very briefly, one day, the great mystic Brahman Durvasa Muni came to visit Ambarisa Maharäja at his palace. The king was eager to serve Durvasa royally. While Durvasa took his bath, the king, not wanting to eat before his guest, but obligated to break his religious fast, took only a little water. Durvasa understood that Ambarisa Maharäja had drunk water and felt unlimitedly offended that the king had eaten before him. Due to extreme anger, Durvasa created a fiery demon to kill the king, but the Lord's Sudarshan Cakra immediately came and killed the demon. Then, the cakra started chasing Durvasa Muni all over the universe until finally the sage approached the Supreme Lord Himself for protection. The Lord refused him protection and sent him back to Ambarisa Maharäja to seek forgiveness for his offenses to the king. At the humble request of the king, the Sudarñana Cakra ceased pursuing Durvasa. After this incident, Ambarisa Maharäja sumptuously fed Durvasa Muni and they became very good friends. By the grace of the Sudarshan Cakra, Durvasa Muni was enlightened as to the exalted spiritual position of the king. Thus, the Sudarshan Cakra simultaneously punished Durvasa and enlightened him.

RABBI: Do the Vedas describe any other functions of the Sudarshan Cakra?

DEVOTEE: It is also said, "You [Sudarshan Cakra] are the original vision of the Lord, and therefore you are known as Sudarshan. Everything has been created by your activities, and therefore you are all- pervading." In his explanation to this verse, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says, "The word Sudarshan means auspicious vision. From Vedic instructions we understand that this material world is created by the glance of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (sa aikñata, sa asåjata). The Supreme Personality of Godhead glanced over the mahat-tattva, or the total material energy, and when it was agitated, everything came into existence. Western philosophers sometimes think that the original cause of creation was a chunk that exploded. If one thinks of this chunk as the total material energy, the mahat-tattva, one can understand that the chunk was agitated by the glance of the Lord, and thus the Lord's glance is the original cause of material creation." [Bhag. 9.5.5 Purport]

RABBI: There is a statement in the Zohar that "When God was about to create the world, He produced a secret spark from which there issued and radiated all the lights, which constitute the upper world. Then it continued its radiation, and the Arificer made it into a light without brightness, and thus He made the lower world. [Zohar II, 156b]

DEVOTEE: After Durvasa Muni begged forgiveness from Ambarisa Maharäja, the king offered prayers to Sudarshan Cakra. He said, "O master of speech, by your effulgence, full of religious principles, the darkness of the world is dissipated, and the knowledge of learned persons or great souls is manifested. Indeed, no one can surpass your effulgence, for all things, manifested and unmanifested, gross and subtle, superior and inferior, are but various forms of you that are manifested by your effulgence." In his explanation, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada said, "Without illumination, nothing can be seen, especially in this material world. The illumination in this world emanates from the effulgence of Sudarshan, the original vision of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The illuminating principles of the sun, the moon and fire emanate from Sudarshan. Similarly, illumination by knowledge also comes from Sudarshan." [Bhag. 9.5.7, Purport]

Chapter Seventeen


DEVOTEE: Rabbi, earlier we discussed that God has an eternal personal identity. But the Vedas also speak of an impersonal aspect of God, which is actually the effulgence from His body. That effulgence, the brahmajyoti, is ultimately the source of all illumination. The brahmajyoti diffuses light from the transcendental body of the Lord, and the same light is reflected in many varieties: the light of the sun, the light of the moon, the light of fire, or the light of electricity. [Bhag. 2.9.34 Purport] Do the Jewish scriptures give any information of an effulgence coming from God and how it illuminates everything?

RABBI: There is one verse in the Zohar: "The Most Recondite is beyond cognition, but reveals of Himself a tenuous and veiled brightness shining only along a narrow path which extends from Him, and this is the brightness that irradiates all. This is the starting point of all esoteric mysteries, itself being unknowable." [Zohar IV 146b]

DEVOTEE: The verse you just quoted form the Zohar indicates that there is a higher understanding of God than "the brightness that irradiates all." The Vedas emphatically conclude the same. "The Absolute Truth (God) is realized in three phases of understanding by the knower of the Absolute Truth, and all of them are identical. Such phases of the Absolute Truth are expressed as Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavän." [Bhag.1.2.11] Brahman refers to the impersonal all-pervasive spirit. That is the same as the brahmajyoti, the effulgence of the Lord. Paramatma realization means to realize the localized aspect of the Lord as He is situated in the heart of every living being. And the highest realization of the Absolute Truth is Bhagavän, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Who is full in all opulences.

RABBI: I am a little confused of your explanation a few moments ago. You told me that according to the Vedic version, the brahmajyoti was the source of illumination for the sun, the moon and fire. But previously you said that the Sudarshan Cakra was the illuminating principles of the sun, the moon and fire. Why do the Vedas give such contradictory information?

DEVOTEE: There is no contradiction at all, for since the Lord is Absolute, all apparent contradictions can be rectified within Him. Sudarshan is the glance of the Lord, and the Brahmajyoti is the effulgence of the Lord. The Lord has the ability to perform any function with any part of His body. According to the Brahma-samhita, the body of the Supreme Personality of Godhead can enjoy anything and do everything with any of His limbs. On the absolute platform, the Lord's name, fame, form, pastimes, effulgence and glance are all on an equal level. Just like when we chant the Lord's names He is present with all of His potencies. When we speak about His pastimes and activities, He is also present with all of His potencies. Similarly, the effulgence of the Lord or the glance of the Lord contains all of His potencies and thus both can perform the same functions. Since we only have experience within the material atmosphere, it is difficult to comprehend spiritual principles that are fully outside of our experience.

Chapter Eighteen

The Oral and Written Traditions of the Torah and the Vedas


The Black and White Hidden Mysteries Of the Torah and Vedas

DEVOTEE: The Vedas have an oral and a written tradition. Originally they were handed down from guru to disciple orally. Five thousand years ago the Vedas were compiled by Srila Vyäsadeva in Sanskrit for the benefit of mankind. Do the Jewish scriptures also have oral and written traditions?

RABBI: Yes. There are both oral and written traditions of the Torah. First it existed in oral form and later as the written Torah. It is said, "It [the written Torah] is explicitly mentioned in section 99 [of the Bahir] as the light that nourishes the lamp of the oral Torah: "Such is the oral Torah: although it is a lamp it has need of the written Torah in order to resolve its difficulties and explain its mysteries." [Origins of the Kabbalah, page 145] Were the written Vedas required to help understand the oral tradition?

DEVOTEE: In this age, Kali-yuga, people are generally less intelligent than in previous ages. That is why Srila Vyäsadeva gave us the Vedas in written form about five thousand years ago. He divided the Vedas into sections and expanded on them so that they would be easier to understand. In former ages, people in general had keen memories, having heard the Vedic instructions once from their spiritual master, they would perfectly understand and remember them for the rest of their lives. There was no need for written words.

RABBI: It is said, "And thus the written Torah cannot adopt corporeal form, except through the power of the oral Torah: that is, that the former cannot be truly understood without the latter, just as the mode of divine Mercy can only be grasped and perceived through the mode of Judgment." [Origins of the Kabbalah, page 288]

DEVOTEE: This verse seems to say that one cannot understand the written Torah without the help of the oral Torah. Yet a few minutes ago, you quoted a verse that seemed to indicate the opposite - that to understand the mysteries of the oral Torah, one must take the help of the written Torah. Can you explain this apparent contradiction?

RABBI: As I understand it, the written Torah is required to fully understand the oral Torah, another aspect of the oral Torah is the rabbi's personal teachings, using the written Torah as a guide, the realized rabbi teaches the qualified student its inner meanings. This is especially important when the rabbi is teaching, not only the part of the Torah known to the Christians as the Old Testament, but especially the more complex expanded body of Jewish religious law, including the Bahir, the Talmud, the Zohar, and the Sefer Yetzirah. The Zohar itself is composed of innumerable discourses, which expand on the verses of the Torah. In this way, the oral tradition is continuing and assisting in the understanding of the written Torah, and with that understanding there is no contradiction at all between the two verses I have quoted.

DEVOTEE: Thank you for your explanation, Rabbi. Exactly the same principle holds true regarding the Vedas. By including the bona fide commentaries on the already existing Vedas, the Vedas are being expanded. Veda means knowledge. As Srila Vyäsadeva has divided and expanded the original Vedas to make them easier to understand, the various representatives of Srila Vyäsadeva are also writing commentaries on his works, toward the same end. The most recent representative of Srila Vyäsadeva is His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, whose translations and commentaries on the Vedas I have quoted many times in our discussions.

RABBI: It is said, "First, God took two names. The first became the great fire or the sefirah geburah, while the other unfolded to become the 'form of the written Torah, which is the color of white fire.' It corresponds to the sefirah of the divine Mercy, or tif'ereth. The lowest sefirah, on the other hand, contains, by virtue of its correspondence to the action of divine judgment in the world, the oral Torah, which is black fire burning upon an underlayer of white fire." [Origins of the Kabbalah, Page 288] Is there anything in the Vedas that seems to correspond with this statement?

DEVOTEE: According to the Vedas, the original name of God is Krsna, and the name of His first expansion is Balaräma. Lord Krsna appears blackish in color (and is the hidden secret of the Vedas), and Lord Balaräma appears whitish. Lord Balaräma is known as the original spiritual master (one who reveals the hidden knowledge of God), as is Srila Vyäsadeva who compiled the Vedic literatures. It is with the help of Lord Balaräma or Srila Vyäsadeva, or their bona fide representatives that the Vedas can be understood. It was Srila Vyäsadeva who actually compiled the Vedas in written form, and he is ultimately a representative of Lord Balaräma who is the source of the Vedic oral tradition.

Chapters 13 to 15 Chapters 19 to 21