The Principle of Vaishnavism

The Principle of Vaishnavism.

(Substance of a Speech delivered by the Editor at Goalpara, Assam on 27-10-28.)

Let me first of all perform the duty of making my obeisance of the lotus feet of the Vaishnavas.

All animate beings of this world are Vaisnavas or Servants of Vishnu, the all-pervasive Supreme Lord. All lifeless objects are also Vaishnavas. Those who possess the faculty of taking the initiative are Vaishnavas as also those who do not possess the power of initiative. The Highest of all persons Whom all these Vaishnavas serve, Who is the root and support of everything is Vishnu.

In this world some of the objects are found to possess the power of consciousness while some to them appear to be devoid of such power. In our quest after the source of animate and inanimate objects we come across different views as the result of the mental speculations of different persons. Instead of adopting any conclusions that have been derived from such speculation we shall in the present discourse place ourselves under the guidance of the heard-transcendental word (word in Sanskrit).

Of those who engage themselves in the quest of the ultimate Reality some denote it by the name of the Great, (Brahman) some call it the Supreme Soul (Paramatma), while others describe Him as the Possessor of all Power (Bhagaban). By the judgement of man the ultimate Reality is apprehended in one of these three ways. The Master Himself is not many. The Proprietor of all animate and inanimate objects is but one. He is Brahma because He is the Greatest of all things.

The very same Entity is Paramatma or the Supreme Soul in as much as He enables all animate and inanimate objects to maintain their existence, from Whom all objects emanate and by Whom they are managed, Who is pervasive and nourishes all things as their mother. Or in other words all things emanate from Paramatma in Him they find shelter and support and into His bosom they return in the long run.

The name of the full ultimate Reality is Bhagaban as He is the Possessor of all power on whose lap is cradled the quality of greatness and in the partial manifestation of Whose plenitude appears the function of nourishing the universe. He is the supreme controller of all who exercise any power and the ultimate of the ultimate. By means of His power all the different gods exercising authority over this world manifest themselves and all the paraphernalia of Supreme power have become manifest.

The Veda says, for Him there is no work nor any instruments for doing work. Nothing is found to be equal to or greater than He. The power of the Supreme is heard to be various and is normally three viz. Knowledge, Power and Work. ‘He knows. But for Him’ there is no object of knowledge or knower. We target Him by the terms of the fourth dimension (Turiya) or the unlimited (Vaikuntha). He is the scorner of the knowledge derived from the senses (Adhokshaja). Such is Bhagaban, Who by virtue of His own immeasurable power without being reduced to a position of Subordination to the senses of the jiva chooses to maintain His own full independent existence.

We can understand the qualities of length, breadth and height. But the Entity denoted by the term Vishnu is not any of the objects included within the scope of the three dimensions. The Entity called Vishnu has an external form which is a mere toy for keeping our senses in play. Those who possess the knowledge of the Reality call them who mistake as Vishnu any Entity of three dimensions by the term Illusionist (Mayavadins). The Vishnuvite Entity is not any of the products of physical Nature. That which is not apprehensible by the senses of man, from the fourth to infinite dimensions, is termed Vishnu. He possesses the three-fold power called bliss-giving (Hladini), cementing (Sandhini) and perfectly knowing (Sambit) respectively. By the proposition that all peculiarities from the fourth dimension upwards are located in Vishnu is not an Entity that is confined to three dimensions.

The sensuous knowledge of man is compulsorily limited to the linear, superficial and cubical. The empiricist can understand no more than the linear, superficial and cubical. He in Whom all supremacy, power, glory and the potency, all beauty are ever-present is alone Bhagaban.

He is indivisible of fully knowing, Entity. Vishnu is not supposed to be only one more of such objects as are observable within the circle of the horizon. He is indivisible, real, full knowledge. Indivisible knowledge is not to be identified with partible knowledge. He is the basis of the principle of all renunciation. Is there anything that can be the measure of his detachment from selfish enjoyment? Renunciation signifies the absence of pleasurable activity. Whatever can be touched by the sensuous consciousness is liable to be enjoyed. But no contact with the Most Excellent Person can be attained, no search can find Him in this world. In this world the indivisible manifestation of Vishnu is crossed by the divided manifestation of the creator (Brahma) and the destroyer (Rudra). Here the manifestations of Brahma and Rudra can be understood, but it is not possible in this world to reach the manifestation of Vishnu by avoiding those of Brahma and Rudra. Nothing that is attainable in this world possesses the quality of renunciation of selfish enjoyment. If Vishnu could have been found in this world He could not have been declared the basis of the principle of all renunciation. He would then have been reduced to a god resembling ourselves bound with the eightfold chain but He ever dominates over the limiting power. All renunciation has its support in Him. It is for this reason that His Name is the Surpasser of all sensuous knowledge (Adhikshaja). This world is created by the external limb of Vishnu. Whatever has obtained a locus standi within the Vacuum is not Vishnu. To be a divisible part of Vishnu is to be His illusory power.

Bhagaban can be served by the quality of devotion. If we regard Him in connection with abstract knowledge He is designated as Brahma. In connection with knowledge regarding the Supreme Soul we are enabled to approach close to Him. If after gaining His proximity we engage in serving Him then the Entity Who is the eternal object of service is called Bhagaban.

Vishnu is not a changing Entity, Vishnu has not sprung from any other entity that is different from Him. The thing which is the changing product of empiric knowledge or the processes of control over the mind is subordinated to the senses. By knowledge Brahma is attainable, by Yoga the Supreme Soul is attained, and by the principle of service alone embodying full knowledge and mental control (Yoga) Bhagaban is attainable.

It is by all means our duty to restrain the faculties of the mind from meddling with external objects. But is it practicable? Says the Bhagabat, ‘the soul which is being always overtaken by lust and greed cannot be tranquillized so effectively by the methods of Yoga such as Yama etc. as by the service of Mukunda’. There are bears and tigers in the forest. If one enters the forest with the resolve of making a club by which to slay them so soon as they attempt to bite and with this intention begins to cut timber for making the club he has to forego the chance of killing the tiger if it makes its appearance before he has finished making the club. If before the attainment of realisation (Siddhi) or the exclusive state (Samadhi) by means of Yoga one is liable to be slain by the tigers and bears in the shape of lust, anger etc,—the predicament that over-took Vishwamitra the model Yogi on his meeting with Menaka,—then the attainment of the wished for goal in the shape of the abeyance of the functions of the mind is rendered impracticable for good. The honey secured on the path of work for worldly well-being attainable with so much difficulty is doomed to drain off like the honey of the lotus flower accumulated with arduous toil in an earthen pot with a hole that lets it out. By concentrating upon the activities of the out-side world temporary peace of mind for the time being may be produced but by its means real, lasting happiness or the supreme peace of the soul is not gained. Success is not attained by serving the shadow or without worshipping Mukunda, the Reality that delivers from the bondage of worldly ignorance. Those who serve the symbol or shadow postulate the function of God in accordance with the requirements of the formula ‘Iswara pranidhanad ba’ or in other words, although they admit God in a secondary way as a minor and not a necessary means of attaining their object they do not recognise any relationship with or necessity of God for themselves; their only object being the suppression of the functions of the mind. But those inexperienced schools do not understand that the suppression of the functions of the mind is never attainable by such methods. Salvation can never be gained except by the service of Mukunda. When we discard the service of the Lord we are swallowed up by the service of inanimate Nature. There is, therefore, no possibility of deliverance except by serving Hari.

The question is how we can be free from ignorance in this life. He is called ‘free in this life’ who has an active desire to serve Hari by work, mind and speech in all circumstances. If I chance to meet with the damsel Menaka in the midst of my activities for controlling the breath I am sure to be ruined. If I am attacked by the tiger while still busy in cutting the tree for making my club success will no longer be possible. If Hari is worshipped why should one practice asceticism? If Hari is not worshipped why need a person practise asceticism? If Hari is both inside and outside what is the necessity of practising asceticism? We find many methods laid down in the Shastras but the best path is that of taking the Holy Name. So says Rigveda—(verse in Sanskrit, Rig Veda M I.5.156 R K3)

The Puran Shastra proclaims at the top of its voice the formula of the holy name ‘Harey Krishna Harey Krishna Krishna Krishna Harey Harey; Harey Ram Harey Ram Ram Ram Harey Harey.’ It says that if you want to be saved from the state that is normal for this age of discordant speculation adopt the name which will enable you to swim across this ocean of Discord (Kali). Between the absolute name and its possessor there is no such difference as separates the names of this limited world from their possessors. For those who take the absolute name there is no necessity for the performance of the daily ceremonial (Sandhya). Bhakti is nothing but activities laid down by the Shastras that are performed with reference to Hari. If we pretend to worship Vishnu with the object of filling the belly then such activity is not devotion (Bhakti) but is only improper work (Bikarma) or offence (Aparadh). All endeavours for the satisfaction of relatives and the adventitious physical body is work (Karma) not devotion (Bhakti). Whatever function happens to be of the nature of the search for a way out of the miseries of this world is not worship of Vishnu. To all external appearance these, indeed seem to act as servants of Vishnu, but as they do not admit at the subsequent stage the eternal nature of the service of Vishnu therefore, in the words of the Bhagabat, ‘they fall headlong into the abyss after having climbed with great difficulty to the steep edge of the transcendental position by reason of undervaluing the support of Thy feet.’ The sojourners on the path of work with the object of benefiting themselves ‘enter the realm of death, after their merits wear off.’

By worldly work or worldly knowledge the summum bonum desired by the transcendental seers is never gained.

It is only if one has the good fortune of listening to the tidings of Hari from the mouth of one who serves Hari in the measure of cent per cent of his activities that he is enabled to obtain the sight of the transcendental good and the bonds of his heart are snapped, all doubts are cut through and all worldly work is worn off. The continuous remembrance of the twin lotus feet of Sri Krishna by destroying all the evils and dangers of the jiva multiplies his unbounded well-being. By the recollection of His feet purification of the heart and devotion characterised by knowledge, wisdom and love attended with detachment from the world are gained. From the most effectual association with the saintly devotees (Sadhus), by continually serving with love those pure words on which they discourse that draw the attachment of the heart and the ear, these will soon arise and grow gradually faith, then liking and lastly amorous devotion for Me Who am the Path for the stoppage of ignorance. The desire for one’s own sensuous gratification is called lust. The desire for the gratification of the spiritual senses of Krishna is known as Love.

Krishna is the only Enjoyer of all objects in their unconditional state of existence, the only Master of all entities, the only Friend of all things, the only Son of all parents, the only Sweet Heart of all maidens. One to whom Krishna manifests Himself as the object of worship no longer serves any other object.

‘What I am able to understand, what pleases me, what flatters me. I will approve and what is not so I will discard’—This is what the seeker of selfish pleasure says to himself. What the Bhagabat says, the message of the good, is like the myrobalam. The servants of Bhagaban (Bhagabats) go about chanting this good tidings. For those who are disinclined to listen to the message of the good the Bhagabat has the following provision of imprisonment with hard labour. The god who executes the cosmic law of doom (Yama) declares to his emissaries frustrated in their mission of death by the messengers of Vishnu. ‘Bring up before me for receiving their due punishment those sinful mortals who are always averse to the sweet taste of the service of the Supreme Lord and being constantly addicted to mere domestic pleasures that lead to hell are deprived thereby of the bliss of association with the Paramahamsas who are free from all selfish desires…Bring up to me for punishment those worldly people devoid of the service of Vishnu whose tongues desist from chanting the glories of the Lord, whose minds do not recollect the lotus feet of the Lord and whose heads never bend to the feet of Krishna.’

Vishnu is not a thing that is located within the jurisdiction of our senses. Brahma, the creator, stole the calves of Krishna under the supposition that Krishna was one of the objects subject to Himself and included under his creation. When Krishna broke the pride of Brahma by making manifest the exact visible figures of the identical herd of calves by the force of His own inconceivable power Brahma realising the omnipotence of Krishna addressed Him in the following prayer.—‘Thou Invincible One, thy alone in all the three worlds can conquer Thee Who remaining in their own positions with the help of their ears listening to the tidings of Godhead chanted by the mouths of Sadhus, giving up with body, mind and speech the desire for accumulation of empiric knowledge by adopting the ascending method of reasoning dedicated to selfish enjoyment, turn their faces in the direction of service by being, firmly disposed to submission. Great one, those who for the purpose of gaining an isolated existence adopt as beneficial the knowledge regarding worldly enjoyment by giving up the service of God-head obtain only misery. Just as a person is disappointed by pounding husk from which the grain has already been extracted by finding nothing inside it, so also only suffering is found in the end to be the fruit of their labour.’

Krishna is the only cause of all causes. He is the cause of Brahman (the Great), the cause of Paramatma (the Supreme Soul), the cause of all existences of Vishnu. ‘Krishna is the Supreme Ruler, the Embodiment proper of the principles of existence, cognition and bliss, the primal Lord without a beginning, the ultimate cause of all causes.’

If Krishna is supposed to be amenable to the canons of history there forthwith ceases to be any real quest of Krishna. The materialistic judge is thereby enveloped in the fog created by Krishna’s delusive power ‘this delusive power of Mine is supernatural and is possessed of the triple quality of worldly knowledge, sensuous activity and inanition. Those who seek only My protection can cross the ocean of this illusion.’

All the Acharjyas without exception are preachers of devotion which is more or less adulterated with either worldly activity or worldly knowledge. But Chaitanyadeva is the only preacher of pure devotion free from all selfish desire.

There is no other method of well-being than His service, than listening unceasingly and with care to discourses about Hari from the highest devotee who is the best beloved of Krishna.

At present our eternal function in a perverted form is spread over a variety of objects. If we are enabled, as the result of obediently following the persons who is the greatest of all great persons and the best-beloved of Krishna, to obtain the sight of Krishna in the neighbourhood of the Keshi Tirtha there no longer remains in us any desire for seeing anything else. When Brahma speaking with four mouths, Anantadeva speaking with a thousand tongues are unable to complete the discourse on the Vaishnava religion how little can I say of it whom so insignificant? Yet may I continue to listen to my last day to discourses about Hari from those who really serve Hari and to chant to my last day the discourses about Hari, about the religion of the Vaishnabs.

Where the love of the physical senses and God’s love are not identical it can not be said to be the love of God. As for instance if the goat is eaten there is, indeed, realised love full of selfish interest of the person who is greedy of goat’s flesh with the help of his material senses but by the process no love but its opposite is produced in the victim of such ‘love’.

He who listens to or describes with faith the pasties of Vishnu with the spiritual damsels of Braja attains to the transcendental love of God-head and thereby that patient person is quickly cured of all lust which is the disease of the worldly heart.