The Presence of the Lord

by Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja

sbrsm16.jpg - 5634 Bytes In the beginning, when I went to the Gaudiya Math, the murti – the Deity of Mahaprabhu – was there in another room. I asked, “this murti is made of what substance, earth or wood?” The devotee attending the Deity told me, “He is Mahaprabhu Himself. Do not try to see wood, earth or anything else. Mahaprabhu Himself is present there.”

So I, questioned them further, “If Mahaprabhu Himself is there, then why is your Guru Maharaja – who is the greatest devotee – upstairs in another room?

If Mahaprabhu Himself would have been present here, then whoever is the highest devotee amongst you should have stayed at His side. But he is staying upstairs in another room and Mahaprabhu is placed in a separate room near the street where everyone can see Him easily. Why your Guru Maharaja is not here by His side if He is Mahaprabhu Himself?”

They replied, “He is also at the side of Mahaprabhu in his heart.” That is the higher conception, a more real conception of Mahaprabhu. Mahaprabhu’s presence is here and also in his heart. This is a higher conception of Mahaprabhu than the Deity conception. He is always enjoying the presence of Mahaprabhu in his heart. Such a devotee is of a higher type.

So, Krsna Consciousness, God Consciousness is like that. It is cin-maya – it is conscious and spiritual. The Lord has manifested Himself in this mundane plane of our sense experience for our benefit. He is not to be neglected. However, this conception, this presence of His grace, is considered to be for the lower section. Yet the Deity should not be considered as an idol. The Deity is also His presence manifested for our gross senses. However, a devotee always sees all things connected to the Lord, the Centre.

arcayam eva haraye, pujam yah sraddhayehate
na tad-bhaktesu canyesu, sa bhaktah prakrtah smrtah (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.2.47)

“When we do not learn to appreciate the presence of the Lord in the heart of His devotees, but only confine ourselves to such symbols connected with Him, our standard of devotion is meagre.”

We cannot eliminate the plane of affection and love that we find here and there scattered in different ways. We are to trace the causal existence of everything. What is the unity in the background that is really harmonizing all these scattered experiences? One whose consciousness is raised to such a standard can see the background of everything as one, from one centre. All these creations are handled, controlled and managed form one centre. “Wherever he goes, he is always with My connection. I am not lost to him.” In Srimad Bhagavatam it is said:
sarva-bhutesu yah pasyed, bhagavad-bhavam atmanah
bhutani bhagavaty atmany, esa bhagavatottamah

(SB 11.2.45)

“One who can see everywhere the connection of the Centre in the background, sees all things correctly. He sees the cause, the connection, the central position, the background, and also his own relationship to the whole in that position.”

In any particular experience, there are three things: The deepest root (Sri Krsna), the seer’s connection (Sri Guru), and that which is having the experience of his connection (jivatma). This is in accordance to his position with the Centre and it is also interdependent on his adjustment with that environment. That adjustment is concomitant with his relationship to the Centre. Everything will be considered in relation to the position and desires of the Centre, and not any independent transaction with part and part. It is from the part to the Whole, and from the Whole to the part.

‘What will be my position, my relationship to this part?’ It must be calculated through the Centre, and that will be real. This relationship of, “I and he,” is considered a misconception. This misconception will not remain, as it is unreal. But if it comes through the Centre, then it will be real and we will not be frustrated or disappointed. This sort of measurement or estimation would be one of substance. The part-to-part relationship is unstable. It is truly unreliable and will not remain. However, the connection that comes through the Centre is substantial, real and will not frustrate us.

Philosophy in India means darsana – allow me to see, allow me to experience things – What is what? Our superficial estimation is not the whole conception. We should learn to see things and to know things properly. This is sambandha-jnana. What is our position in the environment? Is the environment real? Why? Is it only our eye experience, ear experience or, something more is in the background – behind everything? How can that be understood – only by our reason? ……….. Never!

Applying our reason to understand the Infinite is futile. Then, how can He be known? The Infinite is not – cannot be by definition – the object of our experience, our inspection. He is far above that. He has got His own responsibility to make known to us His position as the controller of the whole. He sends His agents and His announcements to make us understand that our creation, our sustenance and our destruction is being controlled by Him. We shall try to meet with Him and attain some understanding with that superior power about our own goal of life. Athato brahma jijnasa.

Inquire about the place where you are living. This inquiry must be extensive – not superficial. It should be real. Wherever you are, inquire into your environment, not superficially, but with real attention to understand where you are and who you are. Who is above you? Who is lower than you? Study all these things. This will really be beneficial to your own interest. Otherwise, all your attempts will be useless and perishable. Your treachery is to your own self. The way you are living, that is a treacherous life – towards your own self. Therefore, try to understand things clearly, what is what and then live accordingly.

Ordinary persons cannot give up their livelihood – their everyday duties and necessities – so they miss the association of the higher agents in their daily activities. In daily life, so many duties must be discharged, so many necessities are there for us to procure and so, that is mixed – not unalloyed. Therefore, “Give up these duties and make exclusive inquiry about the environment and its relationship to one’s self. This is jnana.” In the third plane, the practical life in connection with that Infinite is possible. In connection with the Infinite, there is also such a life – so many duties – and that is mixed with the central interest – the deepest interest. Jnana-sunya-bhakti means, “Pursuance and maintenance of duties connecting us with the Centre.”

This is in the eternal position. No death can remove us from there because that is in connection with the Centre. When we are doing some duty, no death can challenge that eternal conduct. In other words, there is the plane of service, and the plane of exploitation, or enjoyment. In the middle is the plane of renunciation, the abscissa – no man’s land – the border of the two planes, brahman and viraja.

We are to study these details. There are five stages: The stage of inquiry, the stage of admission, the stage of temporary duty, the stage of being established in one’s own post of service and then the stage of being harmonized totally with the Centre. These five stages are again subdivided. They pass through such inquiry in eternal life: sraddha (faith), our association with those who are expert in that plane, sadhu-sanga; whatever duties are recommended by Him we are to go on doing, bhajana-kriya; the undesirable things are eliminated wholly, anartha-nivrtti; we get our continued position in divine life.

We then experience the real worth and attraction for that sort of spiritual life, then so many symptoms of divine life descend in our own existence. Gradually, we shall merge into the interest of God and find our true self there in His relationship. Faith is so real that Christ left this life, finished this life playfully, totally forgetful of the interests of this life. Socrates also gave his life for faith. So, faith is something much more substantial than our fleeting desires in the lower life. We are running towards plurality. So many separate interests, many thousands of things are not necessary. Therefore engage your self with the One, connect yourself with the One Centre. Thereafter no more running hither and thither to connect with the unwholesome appeal of this world. The One is sufficient. Connect with the One Centre. Try to find the Centre of all-Knowledge.

When we understand the particular laws of mathematics, then so many sums are automatically done. So, if we get the law – the basic formula in our own hands – then, we have got everything. What is apparently impossible becomes possible. We are to connect ourselves with this sort of understanding – this is the domain of faith proper. When we connect with the All-Controlling Central Point, then we shall be able to know everything that is necessary. If we go to the higher office, then from there we can gather everything about the branch offices. So, inquire about that substance. If we get information from the Centre, then we have information from all the different sub-offices and branches.

All the branches are “controlled” by the All-Controlling Centre. Therefore, we are to connect ourselves with that Centre. We have this necessity: “By knowing Him, we can know everything; by obtaining Him, we can obtain everything.” We will go directly to the Centre. This is the direction – the path to trod – and it is possible. He who thinks it is possible and engages himself in this pursuit – he is sraddhavan. Such a devotee has got sound faith, sraddha. Then his inquisitiveness (of the intellect) is satisfied. The whole substantial, practical life he will also find fully present there; it is not imagination.

Mahaprabhu came to give not only theoretical solution, but to help your whole practical life which will also be benefited by knowing, inquiring and understanding this eternal Truth. Your practical life at every point will find its fullest satisfaction – if you inquire on the basis of this background. You will be benefited in every detail of your life’s necessity. All your practical necessities that you are not conscious of at present – all will find their fullest satisfaction there. You will have engagement, and you will feel that you are deriving more satisfaction than you could have ever imagined. All your attempts are procuring fulfilment in that plane.

ceto-darpana-marjanam bhava-mahadavagni-nirvapanam
sreyah-kairava-candrika-vitaranam vidyavadhu-jivanam
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamrtasvadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam

(Sri Siksastakam,1)
“You will obtain your fullest satisfaction beyond your most satiated imagination. You will feel not only in connection with an ocean of joy, but at every step, you will find full enjoyment that is ever new. You will have to experience new fulfilment of life at every moment. Every moment is new fulfilment beyond your estimation and by that fulfilment – by that satisfaction, you will not be the loser. You will not be responsible for any reaction. You will feel you are being purified at every moment. By enjoyment here, you are impure with reaction. But in that process in connection with the Infinite, whatever satisfaction or enjoyment you will experience even though new at every step, will not draw any reaction. You will feel wholesale purification when you do that, you will feel the ecstasy which is drawn only by your dedication.”
Dedication, ecstasy, satisfaction in your search – these things will give you joy – but that joy will not mix with dirt: it will only purify you. Whatever you learn will only be purifying. It is so novel because the basis is dedication – not exploitation. Cultivation of Krsna Consciousness in its highest stage is such: the more you enjoy, the more you are purified. Such a program Mahaprabhu has recommended to us from Srimad Bhagavatam, the last projection of revealed Truth from that great expounder, Sri Vedavyasa.

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