Further Talks with Prakasananda
The transcendental ecstatic attachment for Krsna which results from perfectly understanding that Krsna's person and name are identical is called bhava. One who has attained bhava is certainly not contaminated by material nature. He actually enjoys transcendental pleasure from bhava, and when bhava is intensified, it is called love of Godhead. Lord Caitanya told Prakasananda Sarasvati that the holy name of Krsna, called the maha-mantra (great chanting), enables anyone who chants it to attain the stage of love of Godhead, or intensified bhava. Such love of Godhead is the ultimate human necessity, for when one compares it with other necessities (namely religion, economic development, sense gratification and liberation), these other so-called necessities seem most insignificant. When one is absorbed in temporary designated existence, he hankers after sense gratification and liberation. However, love of Godhead is the eternal nature of the soul; it is unchangeable, beginningless and endless. Therefore temporary sense gratification or a desire for liberation cannot compare with the transcendental nature of love of God. Love of God is the fifth dimension in the human endeavor. Compared with the ocean of love of transcendental pleasure, the conception of impersonal Brahman is no more significant than a drop of water.
Lord Caitanya next explained that His spiritual master had confirmed the validity of His ecstasy which resulted from His chanting the holy name of God and also confirmed that the essence of all Vedic literature is the attainment of love of Godhead. Lord Caitanya's spiritual master had said that the Lord was fortunate enough to have attained love of Godhead. By attaining such transcendental love, one's heart becomes very anxious to attain direct contact with the Lord. Feeling such transcendental sentiment, one sometimes laughs and sometimes cries, sings and dances like a madman, and sometimes traverses hither and thither. In this way there are various ecstatic symptoms evinced: crying, changing bodily color, madness, bereavement, silence, pride, ecstasy and gentleness. Frequently the person in love with God dances, and such dancing places him in the ocean of the nectar of love of Krsna.
Lord Caitanya said that His spiritual master told Him: "It is very good that You have attained such a perfectional stage of love of Godhead. Because of Your attainment, I am very much obliged to You." The father becomes more enlivened when he sees his son advance beyond himself. Similarly, the spiritual master takes more pleasure in seeing his disciple advance than in advancing himself. Thus Lord Caitanya's spiritual master blessed Him, telling Him to "dance, sing, propagate this sankirtana movement, and by instructing people about Krsna, try to deliver them from nescience." Lord Caitanya's spiritual master also taught Him the following verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.2.40):
jatanurago druta-citta uccaih
hasaty atho roditi rauti gayaty
unmada-van nrtyati loka-bahyah
"A person who is constantly engaged in devotional service to Krsna and who chants His holy name becomes so transcendentally attached to the chanting that his heart becomes softened without extraneous endeavor. When this happens, he exhibits transcendental ecstasies and sometimes laughs, sometimes cries, sings and dances-not exactly in an artistic way, but just like a madman."
Lord Caitanya further informed Prakasananda Sarasvati: "Because I have full faith in My spiritual master's words, I am always engaged in chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. I do not exactly know how I have become just like a madman, but I believe the name of Krsna has induced Me. I realize that the transcendental pleasure derived from chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is just like an ocean. In comparison, all other pleasures, including the pleasure of impersonal realization, are like shallow water in channels."
It appears from the talks of Lord Caitanya that a person who cannot keep his faith in the words of the spiritual master and who acts independently cannot attain the desired success in chanting Hare Krsna. In the Vedic literatures it is stated that the import of all transcendental literature is revealed to one who has unflinching faith in the Supreme Lord and his spiritual master. Lord Caitanya firmly believed in the statements of His spiritual master, and He never neglected the instructions of His spiritual master by stopping His sankirtana movement. Thus the transcendental potency of the holy name encouraged Him more and more in chanting Hare Krsna, the maha-mantra.
Lord Caitanya immediately informed Prakasananda that in the modern age people in general are more or less bereft of all spiritual intellect. When such people come under the influence of Sankaracarya's Mayavadi (impersonalist) philosophy before beginning the most confidential Vedanta-sutras, their natural tendency toward obedience to the Supreme is checked. The supreme source of everything is naturally respected by everyone, but this natural tendency is hampered when one takes to the impersonalist conceptions of Sankara. Thus the spiritual master of Lord Caitanya suggested that it is better that one not study the Sariraka-bhasya of Sankaracarya, for it is very harmful to people in general. Indeed, the common man does not even have the intelligence to penetrate into the jugglery of words. He is better advised to chant the maha-mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. In this quarrelsome age of Kali there is no alternative for self-realization.
After hearing the arguments and talks of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, all the Mayavadi sannyasis who were present became pacified and replied with sweet words: "Dear sir, what You have spoken is all true. A person who attains love of Godhead is certainly very fortunate, and undoubtedly You are very fortunate to have attained this stage. But what is the fault in Vedanta? It is the duty of a sannyasi to read and understand Vedanta. Why do You not study it?"
According to Mayavadi philosophers, Vedanta refers to the Sariraka commentary of Sankaracarya. When impersonal philosophers refer to Vedanta and the Upanisads, they are actually referring to the commentaries of Sankaracarya, the greatest teacher of Mayavadi philosophy. After Sankaracarya came Sadananda-yogi, who claimed that the Vedanta and Upanisads should be understood through the commentaries of Sankaracarya. Factually, this is not so. There are many commentaries on Vedanta and the Upanisads made by the Vaisnava acaryas, and these are preferred to those of Sankaracarya. However, the Mayavadi philosophers influenced by Sankaracarya do not attribute any importance to the Vaisnava understandings.
There are four different sects of Vaisnava acaryas-the Suddhadvaita, Visistadvaita, Dvaitadvaita and Acintya-bhedabheda. All the Vaisnava acaryas in these schools have written commentaries on the Vedanta-sutra, but the Mayavadi philosophers do not recognize them. The Mayavadis distinguish between Krsna and Krsna's body, and therefore they do not recognize the worship of Krsna by the Vaisnava philosophers. Thus when the Mayavadi sannyasis asked Lord Caitanya why He did not study the Vedanta-sutra, the Lord replied, "Dear sirs, you have asked why I do not study Vedanta, and in answer to this I would speak something, but I am afraid that you would be sorry to hear it."
"We shall be very much pleased to hear You," all the sannyasis replied. "You appear just like Narayana, and Your speeches are so nice that we are taking great pleasure in them. We are very much obliged to see and hear You. Therefore we shall be very glad to hear patiently and accept whatever You say."
The Lord then began to speak on Vedanta philosophy as follows: Vedanta-sutra is spoken by the Supreme Lord Himself. The Supreme Lord, in His incarnation as Vyasadeva, has compiled this great philosophical treatise. Since Vyasadeva is an incarnation of the Supreme Lord, he cannot be likened to an ordinary person, who has the four defects which arise due to contact with material existence. The defects of a conditioned soul are: (1) he must commit mistakes; (2) he must be illusioned; (3) he must possess the tendency to cheat others; and (4) all his senses must be imperfect. We must understand that the incarnation of God is transcendental to all these defects. Thus whatever has been spoken and written by Vyasadeva is considered to be perfect. The Upanisads and Vedanta-sutra aim at the same goal: the Supreme Absolute Truth. When we accept the import of Vedanta-sutra and the Upanisads directly as they are stated, we become glorified. The commentaries made by Sankaracarya, however, are indirect and are very dangerous for the common man to read, for by understanding the import of the Upanisads in such an indirect, disruptive way, one practically bars himself from spiritual realization.
According to the Skanda and Vayu Puranas, the word sutra refers to a condensed work which carries meaning and import of immeasurable strength without mistake or fault. The word vedanta means "the end of Vedic knowledge." In other words, any book which deals with the subject matter indicated by all the Vedas is called Vedanta. For example, Bhagavad-gita is Vedanta because in Bhagavad-gita the Lord says that the ultimate goal of all Vedic research is Krsna. Thus Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, which aim only at Krsna, are to be understood to be Vedanta.
In transcendental realization there are three divisions of knowledge called prasthana-traya. That department of knowledge which is proved by Vedic instruction (like the Upanisads) is called sruti-prasthana. Authoritative books indicating the ultimate goal and written by liberated souls like Vyasadeva (for example, Bhagavad-gita, Mahabharata and the Puranas, especially Srimad-Bhagavatam, the Maha-Purana) are called smrti-prasthana. From Vedic literatures we understand that the Vedas originated from the breathing of Narayana. Vyasadeva, who is an incarnation of the power of Narayana, has compiled the Vedanta-sutra (nyaya-prasthana), but according to Sankara's commentaries, Apantaratama Rsi is also accredited with having compiled the codes of Vedanta-sutra. According to Lord Caitanya, the codes of the Pancaratra and the codes of Vedanta are one and the same. Since the Vedanta-sutra is compiled by Vyasadeva, it should be understood to be spoken by Narayana Himself. From all descriptive literatures dealing with Vedanta-sutra, it appears that there were many other rsis contemporary with Vyasadeva who also discussed Vedanta-sutra. These sages were Atreya, Asmarathya, Audulomi, Karsnajini, Kasakrtsna, Jaimini, Badari and other sages such as Parasari and Karmandi.
Actually in the first two chapters of Vedanta-sutra the relationship between the living entities and the Supreme Lord is explained, and in the Third Chapter the discharge of devotional service is explained. The Fourth Chapter deals with the relationship which results from discharging devotional service. The natural commentary on Vedanta-sutra is Srimad-Bhagavatam. The great acaryas of the four Vaisnava communities (sampradayas)-namely, Ramanujacarya, Madhvacarya, Visnusvami and Nimbarka-have also written commentaries on Vedanta-sutra by following the principles of Srimad-Bhagavatam. At present the followers of all the acaryas have written many books following the principles of Srimad-Bhagavatam as the commentary on the Vedanta. Sankara's commentary on Vedanta-sutra, known as Sariraka-bhasya, is very much adored by the impersonalist scholars, but commentaries written on the Vedanta written from the materialistic point of view are completely adverse to the transcendental service of the Lord. Consequently Lord Caitanya said that direct commentaries on the Upanisads and Vedanta-sutra are glorious, but that anyone who follows the indirect path of Sankaracarya's Sariraka-bhasya is certainly doomed.
Lord Caitanya admitted that Sankaracarya was an incarnation of Lord Siva, and it is known that Lord Siva is one of the greatest devotees (a mahajana) of the Bhagavata school. There are twelve great authorities on devotional service, and Lord Siva is one of them. Why, then, did he adopt the process of Mayavadi philosophy? The answer is given in Padma Purana, where Lord Siva states:
"The Mayavadi philosophy is veiled Buddhism." In other words, the voidist philosophy of Buddha is more or less repeated in the Mayavadi philosophy of impersonalism, although the Mayavadi philosophy claims to be directed by the Vedic conclusions. Lord Siva, however, admits that this philosophy is manufactured by him in the age of Kali in order to mislead the atheists. "Actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead has His transcendental body," Lord Siva states. "But I describe the Supreme as impersonal. I also explain the Vedanta-sutra according to the same principles of Mayavadi philosophy."
In the Siva Purana the Supreme Lord says:
"In the beginning of the Dvapara-yuga, directed by My orders, many sages will bewilder the people in general by Mayavadi philosophy." In the Padma Purana Lord Siva personally tells Bhagavatidevi:
"My dear Devi, sometimes I teach Mayavadi philosophy for those who are engrossed in the mode of ignorance. But if a person in the mode of goodness happens to hear this Mayavadi philosophy, he falls down, for when teaching Mayavadi philosophy, I say that the living entity and the Supreme Lord are one and the same."
Sadananda-yogi, one of the greatest Mayavadi acaryas, has written in his book, Vedanta-sara: "The Absolute Truth of eternity, knowledge and bliss is Brahman. Ignorance and all products of ignorance are non-Brahman. All products of the three modes of material nature are covered by ignorance, and all are different from the supreme cause and effect. This ignorance is manifested in a collective and individual sense. Collective ignorance is called visuddha-sattva-pradhana. When that visuddha-sattva-pradhana is manifest within the ignorance of material nature, it is called the Lord, and the Lord manifests all kinds of ignorance. Therefore He is known as sarvajna." Thus according to Mayavadi philosophy, the Lord is a product of this material nature, and the living entity is in the lowest stage of ignorance. That is the sum and substance of Mayavadi philosophy.
If, however, we accept the import of the Upanisads directly, it is clear that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is a person with unlimited potency. For example, in the Svetasvatara Upanisad it is stated that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the origin of everything and that He has multiple potencies. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is transcendental to the cosmic manifestation. He is the origin of all religion, the supreme deliverer and the possessor of all opulences. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is just like the sun, profusely distributes His energies while situated beyond the cloud of this material cosmic manifestation. He is the master of masters, and He is the Supreme of the supremes. He is known as the greatest Lord, the Personality of Godhead. His energies and potencies are multiple and variously distributed. It is also stated that Visnu is the Supreme and that saintly persons are always anxious to see His lotus feet (Rg Veda 1.22.20). In the Aitareya Upanisad it is also stated that the cosmic manifestation came about when the Lord glanced over material nature (1.1.1-2). This is also verified by the Prasna Upanisad (6.3).
In the negative descriptions of the Lord which occur in Vedic literature (as in apani-padah) there are indications that the Lord has no material body and no material form. However, He does have His spiritual transcendental body and His transcendental form. Because the Mayavadi philosophers misunderstand His transcendental nature, they explain Him as impersonal. The Lord's name, form, quality, entourage and abode are all in the transcendental world. How can He be a transformation of this material nature? Everything connected with the Supreme Lord is eternal, blissful and full of knowledge.
In effect, Sankaracarya preached Mayavadi philosophy in order to bewilder a certain type of atheist. Actually he never considered the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead, to be impersonal or to have no body or form. It is best for intelligent persons to avoid lectures on Mayavadi philosophy. We should understand that the Supreme Personality of Godhead Visnu is not impersonal. He is a transcendental person, and the basic principle of the cosmic manifestation is His energy. Mayavadi philosophy cannot trace the energy of the Supreme Lord, but all Vedic literatures give evidence of the Supreme Lord's various energetic manifestations. Visnu is not a product of material nature, but material nature is a product of Visnu's potency. The Mayavadi philosophers understand Visnu to be a product of material nature, but if Visnu is a product of material nature, He can only be counted amongst the demigods. One who considers Visnu to be a demigod is certainly mistaken and misled. How this is so is explained in Bhagavad-gita: "Deluded by the three modes, the whole world does not know Me who am above the modes and inexhaustible. This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome, but those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it." (Bg. 7.13-14)
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