Srila Sridhar Maharaj: (laughing) Then he should have concocted a case, filed a case against that devotee, that “You have come to introduce this idea, of God’s stealing? Then, all here in this world, imitating Him, will be thieves!”
Student: He could claim, “Your God is teaching anti-religious principles, adharma !”
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: But by his own reasoning, that lawyer must also have to conclude that not God, but all here in this world, including he himself, is culprit. Because, if God is advaya-jnana, the Perfect Whole, and abhijna-svarat, the fully independent Absolute, and if He happens to be a thief, then all here who try to imitate Him in that way are envious of Him. To become jealous of His activities, they must first be thinking that they are an equal party to Him. But that is not the fact. He is Absolute- you are a culprit! And, nirmatsaranam- satam- only those who are not envious can accept this truth (Srimad Bhagavatam 1:1:3). And if God is a thief, also, we can consider that we have some hope. How is that?
When I was a college student, once I went to hear a lecture given by a gentleman, one Goswami. There he told, “Because Krsna is a thief, we have got some hope! We have erected such a good fence, such strong fencing all around us, on all sides of us, so that nothing good may enter. We have made a boundary wall, and its gates are all locked; there are so many locks there, so much opposition, that nothing can enter. But, Krsna is a thief; by stealth that thief will come, of his own interest!”
So we have tried our best to construct a boundary line all around our heart, that no God consciousness can enter, but as a thief Krsna will enter, and that is our solace: that one day, He may stealthily enter as a thief into our heart, and capture it. Only that is our hope. Consciously we won’t invite Him to come within our heart, so only the ‘thief-God’ is our solace. So, let God be thief! And when goodness comes in that way- stealthily- such mercy is above the consideration of justice.
There was one Mohammedan gentleman living in the Hooghly district of Calcutta, his name was Haji Mohammed Mahasim. He was a bachelor, and owned much property; a rich man but of very charitable disposition. In Hooghly there is a big mosque commemorated to his name. Stealthily, he used to give charity. He would move around in the poorest areas of the city at night, disguised in very plain clothes, and unseen he would throw bags of coins into the dwellings.
If money comes stealthily to someone in such a way, it is not considered undesirable. And if Krsna comes stealthily into our heart, as a thief, how easily we may get Him! But such dealings are all above justice, in the plane of mercy. Above the plane of justice, in the land of mercy and affection and love, such things are possible. The good enters stealthily into the bad, the undesiring party, the exploiter, and makes him good.
First we must understand our present undesirable position as exploiter. The conditioned soul is the exploiter of nature; but, in actuality, he himself is being exploited by her. Matter has come to exploit us. And we have to be able to see clearly, in this interaction: what is the gain and what is the loss? Firstly we must be able to discriminate properly between matter and spirit: that there is the action, and behind it the consciousness. Srila Swami Maharaj Prabhupada gave this example: there are two men, one has got eyes, but is crippled; the other can move, but he has no eyes, he is blind. Matter, the machine, though moving, has no feeling- it is not the real party, the conscious party; that position belongs to the man, who is endowed with feeling. In Bhagavad-gita we find:
karya-karana-kartrtveWho is the important factor- the feeler or the felt? The criterion of happiness is confined in the feeler. And we have to consider, fundamentally: is happiness necessary? And if so, why it is necessary? Happiness is possible only in the subjective existence- it is possible for the soul. And avoiding this material engagement, he may feel more happiness: he will be atmarama, self- satisfied. Presently entangled in the non-joyful substance, non-happy substance, he must seek to become self-established, atmarama. Atmarama means who is established in his own self, and not outside himself.
hetuh prakrtir ucyate
bhoktrtve hetur ucyate
“Material nature is said to be the cause of all conditioned activities of the mundane senses, and their effects, the material body; whereas the living entity himself is the cause of his own sufferings and enjoyments in this world.”
And even they who are atmarama, who have attained that standard, find more happiness when they come in contact with the Super-atma- with Paramatma, the Supreme Soul. In this way, in Srimad Bhagavatam the existence of the higher atma, of the Supersoul world, is fundamentally established:
suta uvacaThose who are self-sufficient are also attracted by some higher kind of ecstasy. So this is the positive proof that higher ecstasy is existing. Though of so very much finer type, still it has got its real existence, because the self-sufficient people, they also find joy when coming in contact with that apparently abstract thing. And that is the proof: that a man who does not care for anything of this world, who is independent, almost independent of material existence can be drawn by that transcendental substance.
atmaramas ca munayo
nirgrantha apy urukrame
kurvanty ahaitukim bhaktim
(Srimad Bhagavatam 1:7:1)
“Suta Goswami said: All the atmaramas, those who find satisfaction in the self, and especially those who are situated on the path of spiritual realisation, being already free from slavery to matter, feel the desire to serve the Supreme Person with pure devotion. The Lord, being the Possessor of all transcendental qualities, is able to attract all living beings, even those who are liberated.”
Consider Sukadev Goswami. Already self-realised from before his birth, he does not want anything in this world; even he doesn’t wear any clothes. He only takes, sometimes, a cup of milk, if it comes easily. He does not care for anything in this mundane plane- this is a quite independent life. He is atmarama, engaged in himself, not in any material, objective consciousness. And he has become attracted by some high things of seemingly abstract nature. So, there must be something above the soul’s own, subjective existence, in a still higher plane that is adhoksaja, beyond ordinary perception.
When that plane comes down to contact us, we can feel it, and when it withdraws, we are helpless- we cannot contact it, cannot touch it. It is similar to the phenomenon of the ‘flying saucer’. You have heard of flying saucer?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Recently it was reported in the newspaper: there was a rumour that a craft of some kind- a UFO, unidentified flying object, or flying saucer- was coming to make contact with the Earth. From here, the airforce pilots apparently sighted it, but when they tried to follow it, when they gave chase, it disappeared.
The adhoksaja plane of existence is something like that: it can come down to make contact with us, but when we chase after it, when we try to capture it, suddenly it is nowhere to be found. That is the proof, and the nature, of the higher existence. Just as with the flying saucer, the aeroplane pilots see that “something is coming down, coming towards us!”; but when they give chase, it disappears, so, a world of more efficient machinery is existing on the other side. Based on their experiences, those pilots and other aeronautical experts are now admitting some higher existence, the existence of some higher plane of life.
In Srimad Bhagavatam, Sukadev Goswami informs Maharaj Pariksit:
prayena munayo rajan,There is such taste in the topics of the Lord, in His Names, Forms, Pastimes, Paraphernalia and Associates. All are existing in the higher plane. But how are we to prove the existence of this higher plane? We cannot enter at our will to have any experience of it. Then what is the proof that such a plane is existing at all? Only, that some accomplished transcendentalists of this world, experts of the highest class, they find that something is disturbing their complete experience of self-satisfaction; it is disturbing them from that, and attracting them towards Itself.
nairgunya-stha ramante sma
(Srimad Bhagavatam 2:1:7)
“O King, even the most advanced transcendentalists who are above the regulative principles and their restrictions, feel the greatest pleasure in describing the glories of the Supreme Lord.”
In the present day also, we find that there is a particular section, a group of people who make research in order to prove scientifically that there is rebirth, transmigration of the soul. Through methods such as hypnosis, they claim that in their previous birth they were in a certain place: “Yes, I was here... this was my room. I put my things here, in this almira, this chest. They are still left there.” And later, when they are actually taken to that place, it appears just as they have described. Those who want to show scientific proof of rebirth, they are collecting such examples, and they are demonstrated as the basis to prove the theory of the soul’s transmigration, its continued existence birth after birth.
In a similar way also, the atmaramas, those who have superceded any charm of this mundane plane, stand as proof that there is a higher dimension of existence- because they find that such an area is attracting them, irresistably.
So that higher plane does exist, and it is not mundane. Sukadev Goswami says, “You all know that I am well established in the non-material world, that no charm for any form of the material world exists in me. But, some new, unknown type of lila, some ecstatic pastimes full of personality have attracted my heart; don’t think that this is mundane, no mundane thing can have any attraction for me. This is transcendental, you may take it for certain- I stand as evidence to the fact, that there is a transcendental world made of a higher stuff, of higher dignity, higher quality. I stand as evidence to the fact, because nothing of mundane character can affect me, can disturb my balance, my equilibrium. The equilibrium of such full, all-spiritual consciousness cannot be disturbed by any worldly attraction; some supernatural attraction has come to disturb my equilibrium, and attract me towards Itself.”
atmaramas ca munayo,This verse is describing the attraction felt for the super-subjective plane of life by those who have already attained self-realisation. But for those who are in the disciplic order, the lineage of descending knowledge in devotion, though what they experience may seem to be of less degree, less intensity than what is described here, still, through their sukrti, their fortune, and their sraddha, faith, those devotees feel themselves to be most extremely fortunate. They are like witnesses: though themselves very small, very insignificant, they are the most fortunate witnesses to something that is infinitely great.
nirgrantha apy urukrame
kurvanty ahaitukim bhaktim
(Srimad Bhagavatam 1:7:10)
Their feeling is: “Here there is something extraordinary, something unexperienced; and the heart of my heart is hankering for that. All the charms of this world are finished for me, forever. Now if I want to live at all, I shall live for that- at any risk. Whatever little taste I have got for that wonderful thing, my whole future is invested in it, at any risk. I can’t do without it; I can’t stand to live without it. I can’t live without that great thing. I must have it, I must attain such a position, otherwise I do not like or want any sort of existence. I have had a little peep into that beauty; now, that is my life. My life is there. If I want to live at all, I must get it; without it, everything is tasteless. I have finished with all other standards of life; they hold no charm for me, they are all tasteless. I only want that thing. That is the fulfilment of my life, what makes my life worth living. Life is worth living only because it has got that ultimate connection, connection with that fulfilment.”
How is one to attain that fulfilment? Only with the association of those who are eager for it. “Birds of a feather flock together”- there are others also, of similar nature and if you want such a thing, then go, and mix with them, and jointly try to get it, by mutual help. In that field of divine aspiration there are the experts and the beginners. The newcomers advance by the association of those who are in a position to help them; and through giving their assistance, the helpers are also helped, given nourishment, as so many things of substance are drawn out of them.