Lecture at Bäëé-bhavan (Benares City)


Çré Çrémad Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura Prabhupäda


[NOTE: This page uses Balarama font (available here)
for better transliteration of Sanskrit into English]


Originally Published in The Harmonist February 1932


There was a large gathering of residents and visitors at Bäëé-bhavan on 18th Nov. 1931, to listen to lectures that had been arranged to be delivered by the Bengali Öola Durgä-püjä Association. The speakers were His Holiness Tridaëòi-svämé Çrémad Vana Mahäräja and His Divine Grace   parivräjakäcärya Çré Çrémad Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Gosvämé Mahäräja, äcärya of the Gauòéya Vaiñëava Community, who follows the Supreme Lord Çré Kåñëa Caitanya. His Divine Grace was President of the meeting. The subject of the discourse was “sanätana-dharma (the eternal natural function of the soul).


After Çrémad Vana Mahäräja had placed before the audience the general bearings of the subject by his speech, the President delivered his learned discourse. A few of the points of the lecture, which took about two hours in delivery, are presented in the following imperfect summary.


The speaker introduced himself as the “meanest of the mean” in the language of one of his superiors, namely the äcäryas, who had adequately dealt with the subject, and requested his audience to overlook any austereness of his language on the ground that he has been tied to

his method by long habit.


Power and the Source of All Power


The soul’s eternal function is that which is unchangeable and suitable for all time and all persons, and which has for its support the one eternal, supreme puruña. In the sphere of pure cognition, puruña signifies dominating activity. The reciprocal term to puruña is prakåti, whose function is to be dominated by the puruña. The eternal function may be located in the sphere of the dominated or it may be supposed to belong to the realm of the Possessor of Power. In this mundane world we find ourselves in the realm of the dominated, supposing ourselves to be the possessors of dominion.


The eternal function is not directed to Power but to the Possessor or Source of Power, the real entity of the Bhägavatam, as distinct from the plurality of entities that are the products of nature. The Absolute Reality of the Source of all Power distinguishes Himself from the category of Power. The Source of Power is not identical with Power. The Bhägavatam does not tell us of the products of nature, but of non-produced, eternal entities. The terms used to designate the two divisions of entities are präkåta (products of nature) and apräkrtä (entities not produced by nature).


Knowledge, the Knower and the Known


The objects that are knowable to man are products of nature, and are also made cognizable to him by the same agency. They are part and parcel of the mundane power. They do not take us beyond the category of that power. There can be no function without power. Philosophy accordingly aims at the elimination of the normal activity, characterized by the triple texture of knowledge, the knower and the known, in order to get at the source of power. The cognitive function of our senses is confined to the activities of nature. The empiricist is limited to the examination of the transformations of physical power. Such examination leads to the proposal for elimination of the triple condition. Indivisible knowledge has the opportunity of manifesting His appearance only on the elimination of the triple mundane quality.


Transitoriness is the characteristic of all phenomena on this mundane plane. The transitory activity cannot be designated as the eternal function. That which transcends a-tat (the non-Absolute) is “tat” (the Absolute) – the real, indivisible knowledge. That knowledge is different from all so-called knowledge obtained by us as enjoyers or as abstainers from worldly enjoyment. Inanimation offers itself to our consciousness as the goal, at the point where the faculty of mundane enjoyment is sought to be artificially extinguished. The triple specification of knowledge, the knower and the object of knowledge, is concomitant of the limiting activity of the senses. This activity creates all difference and discord, and is the real impediment of uninterrupted harmony and love. In the attempt to avoid limitation, the dualistic principle is sought to be discarded by dint of mere metaphysical argument. We seek to get rid of our separate free existence to extinguish the triple texture of the mundane activity. Those conclusions are the products of imagination and do not touch the real issue. They are the products of the operation of the deluding potency, the result of the inaptitude to receive the enlightening meaning of the words of the scriptures.


Had this not been so, our pure spiritual essence would find Väsudeva in everything. The opening verses of the Bhägavatam instruct us to address our prayers to the Ultimate Truth as distinct from the mundane. The Ultimate Truth cannot be realized except by His own light. Those who realize Him are many. There are distinctive, individual personalities of servitors in the realm of the Absolute.


How to Access the Unalloyed Spiritual Essence


I do not see because my vision is liable to be eclipsed when I am located in the realm of three dimensions. These wrong conceptions are not got rid of till I am established in the purely spiritual state, which is free from all mundane conditions. They have established their firm hold on me by my neglect to take into my serious consideration the claims of the transcendental existence. In the Bhägavatam, Viçvanätha (Lord Çiva) instructs Saté as to the proper nature of Väsudeva. He tells her of the activities and realizations of the unalloyed spiritual essence. Viçvanätha makes his obeisance to Väsudeva. Those who are willing to hear those words, in the spirit of humility exhibited by Viçvanätha, can hear them. Those who covet fame and wealth are given those things by mahä-mäyä.


The Eternal Function of the Soul


The teachings of Çré Gaurasundara refer to the same unalloyed function of the soul. The person in whom the real hankering for listening to hari-kathä (word of Godhead) manifests itself, displays total absence of every form of worldly pedantry and vanity. To such a person it is not the summum bonum to attain even a high degree of material civilisation. The alternative of merging in the Brahman presents itself to the choice of the soul as the summum bonum at a certain stage of of mental speculation. The formulation of such a doctrine marked an advance on the Buddhist position, which had put the principle of mercy to all animation above the acquirements of worldly elevationism. The service of Puruñottama is beyond the range of speculation of those who regard merging in the indivisible cognitive principle as the goal. Çrémad-Bhägavatam has accordingly advised us to cease from all such speculations and concentrate on the consideration of the real entity. It is, therefore, necessary to turn our attention to the serious consideration of the function of the pure soul in the positive eternal world.


The unborn has precedence over the born. The Truth was revealed in the heart of Brahmä before he began to create this world. Subsequently, by the operation of the influence of time, different speculations on the subject of the Ultimate Reality made their appearance in this world. At that time, Kåñëa came down to the mundane plane in different forms to prevent different erroneous views regarding the nature of the Absolute, which had sprung into existence, from eclipsing the knowledge handed down by Brahmä through the medium of the bona-fide spiritual teachers. The ten avatäras of Kåñëa were for the purpose of reestablishing in this world the eternal function of the soul (sanätana-dharma).


That function is not limited to the narrow scope of the partial visions of Bodhäyaëa Åñi and Lakñman Deçika. Änanda-tértha could rise above them to the conception of the worship of boy Gopäla. The son-hood of Kåñëa is inconceivable to the reverential serving attitude. Çré Rämänuja has offered his arguments against the desirability of intimate relationship with Godhead on the ground that it would give rise to great evils. But Çré Caitanyadeva, Bilvamaìgala Öhäkura, Vidyäpati, Caëòédäsa, Jayadeva and the followers of Çré Caitanyadeva have helped to extend our spiritual vision.


The Pinnacle of Theism


We are disposed to accept, as our eternal function, nothing short of the ideal of the service of the milkmaids of Vraja, taught and practised by Çré Caitanya. Consort-hood constitutes the highest plank of theism. Other opinions are for the enlightenment of the ignorant. They are of no further use, on the attainment of enlightenment. Those opinions have different objects in view, and have put very different interpretations on the scriptural evidence. They are hampered by this radical defect and by their poverty of convincing power. The Saìkarñaëa-sütra has dealt with this vital point. The enlightening potency of the transcendental sound purges our minds of all preventive dirts and enables us to accept the true meaning of the words of the scriptures. We are thereby enabled to avoid all hasty conclusions that have a tendency to drive us, more or less, to seek to merge in the impersonal aspect of the Absolute.


The worship of those who praise Godhead by offering their reverential homage, is inferior to the intimate service of Vraja. We should not remain content with the level of service of Arjuna. Citraka, Patraka, Çrédämä and Sudäma stand on a much more intimate footing. They offer to Kåñëa the remainders of their tasted food. Godhead is cherished with the tenderest affection. They do not know whether Kåñëa is any other’s friend. They really know that He is certainly theirs. The son is served by his parents from his infancy. Kåñëa is not served by Nanda and Yaçodä in expectation of any return of service from Him in their old age


If we remain confined to the two and a half varieties of reverential service by accepting the tidings of Rämänuja we would not be relieved thereby from the cultivation of the remaining two and a half varieties of intimate relationships to be found in this world. But there can be no absence of fullness in Godhead. In the theistic exhibition it has been demonstrated how we can see only the lower half of the Supreme when we look up to Goloka from below. Çaìkara and some of his followers have taken exception to Vaiñëavism, alleging that it is opposed to the Vedas. Çaìkara’s views had an undoubted efficacy for his times to prevent the abuses of the Buddhist thought. But his disregard of considerations in favor of the distinctive transcendental activities of pure souls, is altogether untenable. The point of view of Çäëòilya Åñi, whom he attempts to refute, stands fully vindicated to all sincere inquirers. This has been conclusively shown by many distinguished writers.


We are also not satisfied by the level of worship of Räma-Sétä, which stands in the way of the pastimes of non-conventional divine amour. It is not possible for us to realize the nature of the service of the milkmaids of Vraja as long as the existence of the gross and subtle physical bodies persist to obscure our vision. The desire of the Åñis of Daëòakäraëya to serve Rämacandra in the relationship of consort-hood was not fulfilled till after they had been reborn in Vraja. The cult of Väsudevism as imagined by Bhandarkar and European scholars is not reconcilable with the needs of complete self-realization. The perfection of service is not thereby attained.



No. 12 Gaura Purnima 2003


[Home Page]Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Page

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta
Saraswati Thakura Page