eta suni' hasi' prabhu balila vacana
duhkha na manaha yadi, kari nivedana
eta—thus; suni'-hearing; hasi'-smiling; prabhu—Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu; balila—said; vacana—His words; duhkha—unhappy; na—do not; manaha—take it; yadi—if; kari—I say; nivedana—something unto you.
After hearing the Mayavadi sannyasis speak in that way, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu smiled slightly and said, "My dear sirs, if you don't mind I can say something to you regarding Vedanta philosophy."
The Mayavadi sannyasis, appreciating Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, inquired from Him why He did not discuss Vedanta philosophy. Actually, however, the entire system of Vaisnava activities is based on Vedanta philosophy. Vaisnavas do not neglect Vedanta, but they do not care to understand Vedanta on the basis of the Sariraka-bhasya commentary. Therefore, to clarify the situation, Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, with the permission of the Mayavadi sannyasis, wanted to speak regarding Vedanta philosophy.
The Vaisnavas are by far the greatest philosophers in the world, and the greatest among them was Srila Jiva Gosvami Prabhu, whose philosophy was again presented less than four hundred years later by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Maharaja. Therefore one must know very well that Vaisnava philosophers are not sentimentalists or cheap devotees like the sahajiyas. All the Vaisnava acaryas were vastly learned scholars who understood Vedanta philosophy fully, for unless one knows Vedanta philosophy he cannot be an acarya. To be accepted as an acarya among Indian transcendentalists who follow the Vedic principles, one must become a vastly learned scholar in Vedanta philosophy, either by studying it or hearing it.
tac chraddadhana munayo
pasyanty atmani catmanam
aikantiki harer bhaktir
"Devotional service performed without reference to the Vedas, Puranas, Pancaratras, etc., must be considered sentimentalism, and it causes nothing but disturbance to society." There are different grades of Vaisnavas (kanistha-adhikari, madhyama-adhikari and uttama-adhikari), but to be a madhyama-adhikari preacher one must be a learned scholar in the Vedanta-sutra and other Vedic literature because when bhakti-yoga develops on the basis of Vedanta philosophy it is factual and steady. In this connection we may quote the translation and purport of the verse mentioned above (Bhag. 1.2.12):
The seriously inquisitive student or sage, well equipped with knowledge and detachment, realizes that Absolute Truth by rendering devotional service in terms of what he has heard from the Vedanta-sruti.
The Absolute Truth is realized in full by the process of devotional service to the Lord, Vasudeva, or the Personality of Godhead, who is the full-fledged Absolute Truth. Brahman is His transcendental bodily effulgence, and Paramatma is His partial representation. As such, Brahman or Paramatma realization of the Absolute Truth is but a partial realization. There are four different types of human beings-the karmis, the jnanis, the yogis and the devotees. The karmis are materialistic, whereas the other three are transcendental. The first-class transcendentalists are the devotees who have realized the Supreme Person. The second-class transcendentalists are those who have partially realized the plenary portion of the absolute person. And the third-class transcendentalists are those who have barely realized the spiritual focus of the absolute person. As stated in the Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic literatures, the Supreme Person is realized by devotional service which is backed by full knowledge and detachment from material association. We have already discussed the point that devotional service is followed by knowledge and detachment from material association. As Brahman and Paramatma realization are imperfect realizations of the Absolute Truth, so the means of realizing Brahman and Paramatma, i.e., the paths of jnana and yoga, are also imperfect means of realizing the Absolute Truth. Devotional service which is based on the foreground of full knowledge combined with detachment from material association, and which is fixed by dint of the aural reception of the Vedanta-sruti, is the only perfect method by which the seriously inquisitive student can realize the Absolute Truth. Devotional service is not, therefore, meant for the less intelligent class of transcendentalist.
There are three classes of devotees, namely first, second and third class. The third-class devotees, or the neophytes, who have no knowledge and are not detached from material association, but who are simply attracted by the preliminary process of worshiping the Deity in the temple, are called material devotees. Material devotees are more attached to material benefit than transcendental profit. Therefore, one has to make definite progress from the position of material devotional service to the second-class devotional position. In the second-class position, the devotee can see four principles in the devotional line, namely the Personality of Godhead, His devotees, the ignorant and the envious. One has to raise himself at least to the stage of a second-class devotee and thus become eligible to know the Absolute Truth.
A third-class devotee, therefore, has to receive the instructions of devotional service from the authoritative sources of Bhagavata. The number one Bhagavata is the established personality of devotee, and the other Bhagavata is the message of Godhead. The third-class devotee therefore has to go to the personality of devotee in order to learn the instructions of devotional service. Such a personality of devotee is not a professional man who earns his livelihood by the business of the Bhagavatam. Such a devotee must be a representative of Sukadeva Gosvami, like Suta Gosvami, and must preach the cult of devotional service for the all-around benefit of all people. A neophyte devotee has very little taste for hearing from the authorities. Such a neophyte devotee makes a show of hearing from the professional man to satisfy his senses. This sort of hearing and chanting has spoiled the whole thing, so one should be very careful about the faulty process. The holy messages of Godhead, as inculcated in the Bhagavad-gita or in Srimad-Bhagavatam, are undoubtedly transcendental subjects, but even though they are so, such transcendental matters are not to be received from the professional man, who spoils them as the serpent spoils milk simply by the touch of his tongue.
A sincere devotee must, therefore, be prepared to hear the Vedic literature like the Upanisads, Vedanta-sutra and other literatures left by the previous authorities, or Gosvamis, for the benefit of his progress. Without hearing such literatures, one cannot make actual progress. And without hearing and following the instructions, the show of devotional service becomes worthless and therefore a sort of disturbance in the path of devotional service. Unless, therefore, devotional service is established on the principles of sruti, smrti, Purana and Pancaratra authorities, the make-show of devotional service should at once be rejected. An unauthorized devotee should never be recognized as a pure devotee. By assimilation of such messages from the Vedic literatures, one can see the all-pervading localized aspect of the Personality of Godhead within his own self constantly. This is called samadhi.
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