Kaliyuga, as described in the pages of Vedic history is 432,000 years in duration. Roughly speaking 5,300 years have passed, leaving a remaining 427,000 before the great cycle of four yugas starts over again. Initially, the first age of Satya was followed by the second age of Dwarpar, but a strange set of circumstances changed the progression of yugas, such that the third age of Treta was switched with the second Dwarpar.
During the Satyayuga sages and rishis were conspicuously powerful to the point of making the possible impossible and conversely, the impossible possible. Gautama was such a sage. When Ahalya, the wife of Gautama was caught with Indra, the chief of the ‘suras’ or demigods in love’s embrace the sage cursed them both. Ahalya was really innocent of the crime since Indra had veiled his form with the form of Gautama and thus, she was unable to tell the difference between her husband and Indra. Nonetheless, the fury of Gautama was that she would turn to stone for the duration of Dwarpara Yuga, which at that time was 1,296,000 years.
Upon being petitioned by his wife and Indra, Gautama lessened their grief; in Indra’s case by converting the vaginas to eyes and in Ahalya’s case by switching Dwarpara Yuga with Treta Yuga. As Treta was 864,000 years compared to 1,296,000 years, it meant a savings of 432,000 years after which time she would be blessed with being by the touch of the lotus feet of Lord Shree Rama and thereby liberating from being stoned.
It is said that rishis and munis never curse without at least some strain of ‘kripa’ or mercy. Just see how merciful was the sage Narada who cursed the two sons of the treasurer of the demigods, Kuvera, to take birth as twin Arjun trees, but in the backyard of the Supreme Lord incarnate, Bhagavan Shree Krishna. Lord Damodar, mercifully released Nalakuvera and Manigreeva from being cursed to stand as trees, and had them reconstituted to become His dearmost chroniclers for all time to come.
Satya , being the first age, is considered to be like unto gold. People were, as far as their character, like gold- pure. Sin would slowly ingress into the age by virtue of the nature of material existence to the extent that by the end of the age, virtually twenty-five percent of the people would be affected by impiety. Thereafter, Tretyuga, being next age would see the course of impiety increase from one quarter to one half of the population. Piety would continue to diminish as time marched on through the different yugas, until we get to Kali- the iron age.
Initially 75 percent of the population of Kaliyuga are marked by selfishness in action, word and deed. The impropriety of the people rages disgustingly until the appearance of Shree Chaitanya, the most merciful form of complete transcendence. The inherent decadence of the age of quarrel and hypocrisy is interspersed with a gradual evolution by this rare appearance of the combined form of Shree Shree Radha and Krishna.
Yet, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would be belittled by a number of stalwart Mayavada impersonalist scholars like Sarvabauma Bhattacharya and Prakashananda Saraswati , who were so stymied by the intellectual sophistry of their mentor Sripad Shankaracharya that they failed to recognize God when they saw Him. As erudite as they were, both would completely surrender and become victory feathers in the hat of Shree Chaitanya. But let us see just what kind of powerful philosophy Shankaracharya introduced to completely beguile the most sober and sophisticated intellectuals at the time.
As stated by Lord Vishnu in the Padma Purana to Lord Shiva and later reiterated by Shankar in conversations with his wife, this didactic will be the cause of the destruction of the world. It is a most dangerous philosophy. Lord Chaitanya , who incarnated in Bengal, India some 540 years ago proclaimed also that anyone who hears this Mayavada-bhashya will be ruined. Therefore, without being caught up in its bewildering didactics, we need to know a little about this concept of impersonalism in order to protect ourselves from it´s insidious bluff.
The reason it is called Mayavada is due to the fact that it is a theory of illusion. Maya means illusion and vada means philosophical ground. ´Brahma Satya, Jagat Mithya´ is a Sanskrit axiom integral to Mayavada which states that Brahman or the all-pervasive spiritual domain is the only truth and that all else , namely this world and the individual living beings are Maya or false. Now here Brahman is the non-qualitative indescribable eternal existence which transforms into matter and the living entity (jiva) . This transformation of spirit into matter and jiva is also why Mayavada is called Vivartavada, the theory of transformation. Due to the fact that Mayavada denies the existence of any personality, personal-attributes, personal-qualities, and personal-activities (lila) in relation to God, it is termed impersonalism. It is atheism with a Vedic external dress, which is in reality more dangerous than a ‘shism’ which openly denies the existence of the Person God, as in the case of Mahayana Buddhism.
What is more dangerous; a venomous snake or the same poisonous snake with a jewel on top of it´s head? The jewel may be very attractive, but if you come too close you will get bit and die. Such is the case with Mayavada. It is attractive to those who do not know better, or who lack the proper qualifications to enter into the realm of devotion to God , or bhakti.
We have identified the non-Vedic impersonal Mayavada jargón as a bejeweled venomous snake capable of destroying the living entity who unbeguillingly listens to and hears this dangerous philosophy. Initiated by Sri Shankaracharya, India which had been so influenced by Buddhism began to return to it’s Vedic roots. Although Sri Shankar was able to drive Buddhism beyond the borders of India, the twist he gave to the Vedic literature was counterproductive to individual bhakti, devotion to the Supreme Person.
Certainly , people can believe whatever they want but what are the advantages and disadvantages of such philosophical system? The soul being eternal hardly needs anything to maintain its existence, but where it remains and how it is aligned is the subject matter we wish to pursue here. This will require some attention .
The first establishment of knowledge is the identification of our self- who we are. The second chapter of the Bhagavad-gita , verses 12 though 30 give a good understanding of eternal franchise. We are non-dying eternal parts of the greater whole, Who is our foundation. We are not the prime-mover but parts and parcels of the absolute eternal all-powerful source. This is certainly reiterated in the 15th chapter of the same Gita, verse number 7. As particles of light are to the sun, so in a similar way we are eternal fragmental parts of the spiritual sun- God or Krishna.
Next, our residence is changeable . We do not have to remain in the material world. In fact, in the 15th chapter of the holy Gita the Lord in the beginning of the chapter describes the tree of material existence and how one should chop down this tree of binding influence and look for the eternal realm where having gone one does not return to this world of death again. The option here is to move into the spiritual eternal domain where material inebriety is conspicuously absent.
Good idea. Yes, by all means let us find a better place. But then once there what do we do? Well, we must understand that God has His place and pastimes of love, above. The one who develops divine love can inherit not only that realm but a composite form of eternity, knowledge and bliss which is called ´siddha swaroop´. This form is there within you all the time. All that is required of you is to remove the veil of illusion from your consciousness and revel in your pure spiritual identity. For this there are various disciplines to understand where he/she should be and how to act in relation to the supreme Proprietor. That Supreme being possesses a form and attributes of ever-blissful and eternal status. As He is a person of unlimited qualities, we are persons but of limited qualities and loving reciprocation between us and Him is the aim of bhakti, pure devotional service.
But here the divine picture can fade away with the onset of nihilistic demonic impersonalism in which the form and qualities of the Supreme being are denied.
God is Krishna and Krishna is God. God is love and love is God. Prema is spiritual love of God. Krishna is the enjoyer and we are the enjoyed. He is master and we servants, eternally. But when we fall into the material world of repeated birth and death then the natural constitutional nature becomes obfuscated. We loose touch with the Supreme and relish the bitter fruits of material existence thinking somehow that we will be happy here if we make the proper adjustments. But to date no one has been successful since matter is temporary and becomes stale over time. Therefore, there needs to be a great leap from the mundane to the spiritual platform by the grace of God and guru. This is best case senario. Worse case senario is as follows:
We get the idea that there is no God from hearing such from those who are blind, ignorant or scheming for our patronage. Principal among the deceptors are Shankaracharya and Buddha (from Nepal). Buddha or Sakhya Singh was a nihilistic philosopher inspired by the original avatar Buddha who taught non-violence and duly so, as the Indian population some three thousand years past had plundered the poor animals using the pretext of Vedic sacrifice. So, Buddha was necessary as an incarnation of the Supreme to set things straight although in the course of doing so, he had to deny the Vedas.
Now if we examine the philosophy of Sakhya Singh Buddha we will come to the point of zero or ´sunya´; that is the source of everything is nothing tangible or intangible. The veritable goal of life is to become or merge into the void. In Shankar´s dictum we had something described as the original cause and final end, but it had no shape, form, quality or activity. It was Brahman, the absolute non-differentiated homogenous One. In the system of Sunyavada which is the precussor to Mayavada we have Zero, nothingness, emptyness, void, absolute non-existence as the Ultimate End and Be-all.
Impersonal Hinduism based on Shankaracharya´s polemics and Mahayana Buddhism accept this nihilistic non-devotional idea, though from outward appearance the members may certainly seem very devoted and catholic.
Both Sakhya Singh Buddha and Shankaracharya have virtually the same idea about everything since Shankara really copied his complete doctrine from Buddhist dogma. As far as action and activity, the two nihilists prefer to do nothing and achieve nothing other than nothing, since no thing started it all and no thing is to be gained ultimately, other than release from the pain of suffering repeated birth and death.
‘Just be’ or ‘just be silent’. Either way or doctrine you fancy, if you meditate then meditate on being nothing or doing nothing. Action is equated with karma and for such liberationists any deed is feared for its inherent reaction. Karma is entangling and once it touches you it is most difficult to remove. Therefore don´t do anything to anyone , anywhere and anyhow. That is the limited conception of course, on how to circumvent karmic reactions. Their custom designed T-shirts would read something like ´Just Don´t Do It´.
As regards the voidist Buddhists there is no vision since they have ignored Reality the Beautiful in the form and features of the Supreme Person. With regard to impersonal Mayavadis, there is some vision but no idea what exactly it is they are barely seeing. They have some connection with the Vedas but are forced to conclude that the forms and features of the ‘gods’ they worship are simply imaginary.
Whether you call it Brahman, the One, The Light, The Force, The Universal Self, etc. the resultant picture is blurred. Whereas, in the case of Vaishnava devotees there is not only something there, but He and His energies are clearly defined. If you walked into a shop and bought glasses which would you buy : the ones that were blurred, the ones which did´t let you see anything or the ones which were the perfect lenses that clearly showed everything?
Although the Vaishnava transcedentalists will point out the personal features of the Supreme Truth, the fact is that the impersonalist voidist and featureless-somethingist will say that anything with form or substance is false and illusory- ´jagat mithya´. However, they themselves worship forms of Buddha and Shiva principally for lack of their ability to meditate on the Void or Brahman. Can anyone think of nothing or something without any trace of form or flavor? Therefore, to subscribe to the nonsense of gearing up for being eternally nothing or eternally indistinct is fodder for fools.
If we take zeros as the ultimate philosophical conclusion of Buddhists then to set things straight ontologically all we have to do is and one. That is whatever field of human endeavor is performed a Buddhist will consider that it is really only zero as nothing is really gained and so much is lost in the activity. Now if a one is put in front of zero or two zeros or three zeros then the value increases according to the number of zeros. That one is the transcendental personal service to the supreme personal form of the Supreme absolute entity. The one Supreme Lord is the cause of the worlds, the sustainer of the worlds and the final destroyer of the worlds. If he is not recognized one is a fallen, fallen conditioned soul (bad baddha-jiva). By entering the material plane we are incarcerated and intoxicated by virtue of the environment. Still within that erroneous-zone we can transcend by the grace of God and guru. Otherwise, we remain not only fallen but foolish, feeble, and forlorn.
Buddha (Sakhya Singh) proclaimed emphatically that all is really nothing at all, an illusion of vast proportions that can only be counteracted by doing nothing and thinking nothing. Everything is nothing, everything that is, came from nothing and thus nothing is the highest ontological truth. But if everything is nothing then Buddha must also be nothing, as well as everything he said. Thus, there is no need to figure out any mind-bending word games like,” what is the sound of one hand clapping?” Don´t even bother with the contemplation and dynamics of grammatical word twists, since such games and grammatics are also nothing.
Is there something of value? Is there a concrete realizable truth and action pertaining to it? No. Nothing means nothing. But really who in their right mind wants to do, be, see, have, end up in nothingness? We are sentient. The absolute is sentient. Love is real. Love is the hottest topic anywhere because the origin, the , efoundation for truth is not devoid of feelings, especially love . If there is anything lacking in the Source then it can hardly manifest in the reflection. Something comes from something. Nothing comes from nothing or nothingness. But not that something comes from nothing or nothingness. We have to be sure of that and take whatever Shankaracharya or Sakhya Singh Buddha said with a grain of salt, or in other words without credence. But, at least in the case of Shankar we should see his the reason behind his ploy as a means to reestablish the authority of Vedic shastra or scripture despite his Mayavada-twist.
After the Vedas were put back in proper respect the Supreme Lord mercifully flooded the continent of India with powerful Vaishnava preachers who clearly established the personal theology.
Ramanujacharya, Madhavacharya,Vishnu Swami, Nimbarkacharya and others defeated easily the jargon of impersonalistic thought in debate and argument. Vaishnavism reigned supremely and taking all the prominent points of each school of thought – vishishtadvaita, dvaitadvaita, shuddhadvaita, and dvaita- Shree Chaitanya Mahaprabhu uprooted all the weeds of Mayavada and brought the sub-continent of India back to the pure Vedic track. His debates with Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya in Jagannath Puri and in Varnasi with Prakashananda Saraswati were the most classic of encounters, chronicled by Krishnadas Kaviraja and other Gaudiya Vaishnavas in their epic literary .
The two perspectives on Vedanta as given by Gaudiya Vaishnavas and Shankaracharya adherents can be summed up as the differences between seeing Bhagavan (God) being directly transformed into Maya, matter and Jiva, spirit soul; and God’s energy being transformed. If we think that God is transformed into matter and the spiritual spark or soul then we are drawn to wonder why the Supreme Absolute would opt for such a diversion when Brahman is described an unchanging in nature. It is a question which hangs over Mayavada-impersonalism and which nags continually at their supposed superior understanding of the Vedic aphorisms. What is it that prompts the non-sentient, non-qualitative spiritual whole to diverge from normalcy to material variety in a material world?
The answers given by such men of conviction is utterly hopeless and hardly worth consideration in light of the basis of their whole thesis. God is all-one but then again something else? Their retort is that whatever that something else is, is just illusory and unreal, like a dream. It does not really exist. All is one and all is unchanging, it is only falseness or error to think otherwise.
This however would contradict the statement of the Ishopanisad verse, om purnam adah purnam idam purnat purnam udacyate purnashya purnam adaya purnam eva vashishyate. This verse points out the whatever emanates from the Supreme Truth is complete in and of itself. In other words it is also complete. But on the contrary Shankar’s modern followers say that the manifestation of the material energy Maya and the manifestation of the individual living entity, jiva, is illusory and false. Thus their basic philosophy is incorrect, at odds with the Vedic version and as imaginary as they say these two manifestations of Maya and the jiva are, their very understanding is imaginary. It is a concocted aberration from the pure established tattva of our Vedic line of teaching.
Can we put any faith or trust in their words? If the basic philosophy is skewered then certainly there must be more that follows in it’s wake. Therefore the Padma Purana states that if we receive a mantra from someone who does not come in one of the four bona-fide sampradayas (Rudra (Shiva), Shree (Laxsmi), Kumar, and Brahma) then the value of the initiation is nill and one had better be re-initiated by one in a true sampradaya.
Shankaracharya’s own father-in-law had a dream one night of the child within the womb of his daughter. He ran to warn his daughter not to commit suicide due to an embarrassing pregnancy. Had he not warned his daughter then there would have been no appearance of Shree Shankaracharya in the world. She and he (Shankara) were saved by a dream. If Shankaracharya’s father had had the same conviction of the falsity of a dream, then there would have been no Shankaracharya to invent the theory of illusion, Mayavada.
Looking at the same fault-ridden logic , if we are all God or Brahman dispersed into fragmental parts and there is no individual self existing then how is it that we are not aware of our innature Godness? Why would the Absolute dally with nonsense and get so involved in petty material affairs? Does God, Brahman desire to forget Himself, to be made into a laughing stock, to run though millions of lifetimes of sorrow and suffering and then to be ultimately reinstated once the light of light dawns! How crazy is that?
What is missing is a definition that holds God to what He truly is. Is God not the supreme perfect? Whether personal or impersonal, perfect must be perfect. Not that God is perfect and unchanging except when He is not perfect and changes. The very theory of illusion is an illusion. As the Buddha said ,’ All is shunya or nothing and that includes the Buddha’. This being the modern Nepalese Buddha.
In Vaishnava siddhanta philosophy the Supreme Person, God is perfect. His parts and parcels, the jiva-souls are minute and therefore subject to the influence of Maya or illusion when placed within the material realms. When the spirit-soul within the material world takes to the process of pure devotional service and transfers to the spiritual world then he is considered as nitya-siddha or perfect, incapable of falling down into the material energy. But as long as he remains within the domain of the three modes of material nature, sattva, rajas, and tamas, he is prone to fall prey to the spell of Maya.
Thus, Maya is like a witch. She operates the material world of illusion and casts her spell on one and all. She is formidable and her last snare of nescience is to convince the living entity that they are the supreme absolute truth. This concept is at odds with reality to the upteenth degree and yet the vast majority of modern Hindus and a plethora of new age gurus and cultists cling to such a gigantic proposition. It is however, only the play of the material energy with not the least provable facts which is all due to a lack of faith and knowledge in the actual Person of God. The Personality of Godhead, Purushottam, is complete and perfect and the manifestation of Maya, the material world is also a complete whole. The world is self-sustainable by virtue of the perfect arrangement of the Supreme. All we have to do is plant a seed to grow food and in many cases the seeds of certain trees fall and germinate in the soil without any help from man. Mankind just puts them in rows and columns with weed control. But the natural cycle of water from cloud to rain, to river, back to the sea and then to cloud is a perfect arrangement for the irrigation of land and cultivation of food. God is the provider for all the living beings, in all 8,400,000 different species. Again, as the Katha Upanishad says, nityo nityanam chetanas chetananam eko bahunam yo vidhadati kaman, that there is one Supreme eternal providing for all of the subordinate eternals. That one Supreme God is declared over and over again in the Puranas, and especially the Srimad Bhagavatam or Maha-purana as Shree Krishna.
Vaishnavism has to contend with many purveyors of false logic and speculation and until such agents of illusion come to appreciate the complete understanding of the Absolute there will be obstacles in establishing the Truth.
Perhaps it is the very impersonal nature of the modern century that brings people in certain circles, particularly the scientists, physicists, logicians, and scholars; to accept such false conclusions. That is an unenviable fate. The Ishopanishad states of such unfortunate souls who swallow the voidist and impersonal conclusions:
andham tamah pravishanti
ye ‘sambhootim upaasate
tato bhooya iva te tamo
ya u sambhootyaam rataaḥ
“Those who are engaged in the worship of demigods enter into the darkest region of ignorance, and still more so do the worshipers of the impersonal Absolute.”
While we are on the Upanishads we might as well quote the Katha Upanishad who describes the plurality of spirit in these words:
‘nityo nityanam chetanas chetanaanam eko bahunam yo vidhadati aham’
That is to say that there is One eternal who is conscious of the smaller eternals and is maintaining them.
So in one sense the Vaishnavas are for the One. It is all One in the sense that He, the Supreme Person, is the One from whom everything has come from time immemorial and who is maintaining everything from time immemorial and will destroy everything in the end but continue to remain unaffected and absolute. Whereas, the Mayavada/Impersonalist/Voidists are for the Zero. Make it all zero. Realize it is all nothing. There was nothing in the beginning and will remain nothing in the future. Call it Brahman or the Conscious Reality makes no difference at all in the end.
Such dry impersonal logic supposedly based on Vedanta is just like a dry cake. No sugar. Nothing sweet. Not even butter. Butter makes it better. How can anyone eat dry tasteless cakes of voidist logic. Taste the sweet luscious cakes of Vaishnavism and you will never ever again try to relish such dry cakes of illogical impersonalism. Pity the poor lost snobs of empty logic. Even the great Shukadeva Goswami trashed their conclusions and pride with his verses of Srimad Bhagavatam.‘ ye anye aravindaksha vimukta maninas tvay astad bhavad avishuddha buddhaya’ 10.2.32 . Avishuddha buddhaya means impure or no intelligence. They are proud of their conclusions and boastful, but yet in the words of the most intelligent Vaishnava preceptor who enlightened Raj Parikshit in seven days on the bank of the river Jamuna, such men are doomed to fall. patanti adah. They are fallen and will fall more due to such lack of devotion to the Supreme Lord. Such ill-fated people unfortunately disregard the advise of the devotees of the Lord.
Bhagavad-gita is the simple and straightforward clue to what is what. It is the first primer and basis of transcendentalism. If it is received in the line of bona-fide commentators then the next step is the Srimad Bhagavatam for immersing oneself in the divine pastimes of the Lord and His pure devotees. The speaker of the Gita, Krishna, says in the fifteenth chapter, verse seven that all living beings are eternally separated parts and parcels of Him. The realization of one’s eternal connection with the Divine Person blossoms into loving service under perfect guidance leading to migration into an eternal world of blissful ecstatic association. This entrance into the eternal pastimes of the Lord is a culmination of a life of devotion.
Yet, the agnostics will say that such ‘lilas’ or pastimes are all Maya, illusion. ‘Jagat mithya’. Everything is illusory. That being the case, then their logic and conviction is also illusory. Lord Shiva told his beautiful wife, Parvati, that he would concoct a philosophy so expertly that the whole world would fall into its trap. Fortunately, the Vaishnavas escape the fate of being eternally merged into nothing or Brahman. Being stoned forever lacks luster. The lack-luster fate of a stone awaits those who prescribe to this heinous disease of the weak minded who misconstrue practically everything by identifying themselves as the Supreme Absolute. Talk about pretenciousness! My God!
We all have some past associations which certainly may have tainted our hearts with the black durge of Mayavada. Shukadeva Goswami, has been mentioned in the Bhagavatam as being merged in Absolute Oneness as were the four young Kumaras, sons of Lord Brahma, and yet by coming into contact with the flavor of the tulasi buds attached to the lotus feet of the Lord and the sweet association of paramount Vaishnavas they rejected impersonalism for eternal loving service to the lotus feet of the Surpreme forever.
In the second canto of Srimad Bhagavatam spoken by the young teenager Shuka, there are four essential seed-verses know as the ‘chatusloka’. In the verse ‘yahaa mahaanti bhutani bhuteshucchaavacheshvanu’ Shuka says that ‘ pravishtaany apravishtaani tathaa teshu na teshvaham’, that the Lord enters into all living beings as the Supersoul and simultaneously exists independently in His own eternal form as Krishna who appears both internally and externally to His surrendered loving servants. Thus, the fact is that each individual soul is accompanied by the Lord in His feature as Paramatma, which is but an expansion of an expansion of an expansion of Shree Sankarshana, who is a manifest form of ‘sandhini shakti’ Shree Baladeva, the brother of Lord Krishna. This is all explained perfectly by Shree Shuka and has been reiterated and passed on since that time by many astute and purified saints of the highest caliber in the bonafide lines of Vaishnava authority. Thus, the Lord and the ‘jiva’ or individual soul exists simultaneously within each and every material form of life. The Paramatma is accessed through the medium of bhakti or devotional love by which the fallen souls revive their dormant love of God.
‘Evam evam hi jivo ‘pi‘ is the first line of the verse from Skanda Purana which clearly states that the jiva or spirit soul cannot mix with the Supreme as when one pours water into a large container of water. This Purana states that the Paramatma or Lord always remains distinct as does the individual soul.
So when the impersonalists Mayavada proponents explain that there is only one soul Brahman and that individuality does not exist we have to laugh.
In the Chandogya Upanishad part 8, chapter 12, verse two: ‘evam esha samprasaado’ the revealtion is that on liberation from the material body an individual will attain a spiritual form of his own identity. That is our identity forever and by which one can engage in ‘bhagavat-seva‘ or service to the Supreme Lord. That form is within each and everyone of us. All that is required is for the revelation to occur is complete knowledge and detachment from the world of forms and names. This detachment and spiritual knowledge develops in one who devotes himself/herself to the personal form of the Supreme Absolute Truth. This is confirmed in one verse from the Srimad Bhagavatam, canto one, wherein it is stated;
‘vasudevah bhagavati bhakti-yoga prayojitah janayaty asu vairagyam gyanam cha yad ahaitakam‘
That is to say that as soon as one devotes himself/herself to the Supreme Absolute Truth Vasudeva then causeless knowledge and detachment from the material world automatically take place. As far as the details of how to serve and devote oneself to the Lord Vasudeva, Rupa Goswami has written a wonderful book of knowledge-in-practice called the ‘Bhakti-rasamrita-sindu’ or the great ocean of devotion. Here one can step-by-step develop love for God, Vasudeva. Then just as one feels full after eating a large meal , so one will feel the body and mind consummated with Transcendence by following the directions and advise in this monumental work.
There are gradations of knowledge available and manifest as per the interests of the individual. For one who is only captivated by material knowledge he is considered to be still in ignorance. However, for one who enters into knowledge of the impersonal Brahman or all-pervasive Oneness Absolute the mode of goodness or sattva-guna predominates the life of the individual. However, above and beyond these two is transcendental knowledge beyond the modes of nature which delineates the subject matter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva.
The grand merger is when the individual soul enters into the Supreme Absolute Brahman. This is the final step in the world of impersonal logic. Shankaracharya did not have to look to far to substantiate his claims by quoting from the Upanishads. For there are many verses which point in that direction and even select verses from the best of Upanishads, the Geeta-Upanishad seem to be of accord.
For instance in the fourteenth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita Shree Krishna says ,
idam gyanam samashritya mama saadharmyam aagataha, inferring that the individual soul becomes like unto Him by understanding the knowledge imparted.
Furthermore, by the logic of those intent on reduction of their individual selves we find the word praveshtum used in the 54th verse of the eleventh chapter where it may possibly seem that one enters into the Supreme literally as in the pronouncment of brahma-bhuyaaya kalpate of the 26th verse of the 14th chapter.The same could be said for the words vishate tad-anantaram of the 55th verse, chapter 18.
Such findings are partial towards the impersonalist´s absolute reductionism but diametrically opposed to the actual message and meaning of the Gita and Upanishads. As we had earlier quoted and herein repeat the words of the Katha Upanishad, nityo nityanam chetasa chetananam- there is One Supreme Eternal amongst many smaller eternals who are maintained by Him.
When the Skanda Purana mentions the example of water from one pitcher being merged with the water of another , a subsequent verse states evam evam hee jeeva ´pi tad-aatmyam parameetmanaa prapto ´vinaasau bhavati svaatantryaadi-visheshanaat, which says that the individual souls never actually merges with the Supreme Being as He eternally remains a separate distinct Person with personal qualities.
If we scrutinize the Chandogya Upanishad 8.12.2 we find the following words, param jyotir rupam sampadya svena rupenaabhinishpadyate. indicating that the liberated soul attains a spiritually effulgent form which affords him/her the opportunity to see the Supreme Lord. Thus the idea of extinguishing the soul-atma- into the all-accomodating energy of Brahman is repudiated in this instance; meaning that even if one were to follow the particular goal of merging with the unlimited impersonal absolute, still an inherent spiritually effulgent form would be in waiting. That-is-to-say we all have such an effulgence with form and personality dormant within. Rather than deny that form and personality the Vedas, and therefore the Vaishnavas, extoll the living beings to apply the method of revelation by which one’s actual eternal self will self-manifest. The next step, once such a ESEF (eternal spiritually effulgent form) is manifest and given darshana(direct audience with the Supreme Lord) is to serve the Lord for His pleasure as an eternal loving servant. In this manner all false materially motivated relationships will disappear from a consciousness purified by hearing chanting and remembering the transcendental names, forms, qualities and pastimes of the Supreme Lord and His associates.
In very strong terms the Vishnu Purana states unequivocally 2.14.27 that the individual soul or jeeva can never become the Supreme Almighty Lord, Paramatma. Paramaatmaatmanor yogahparamaarthe iteeshyate. The Shvetaavatara Upanishad 6.8 also declares the unique position of the one Supreme Lord as being unequalled and unrivaled –na tasya kaaryam karanam cha vidyaate na tat samash chaabhyadhikash cha drishyaate.
As the Lord has many forms and especially manifests the form to a devotee that is most appreciated by that devotee. That a liberated soul can manifest many forms is spoken of in the Chandogya Upanishad 7.26.3 sa ekadhaa bhavati, dvidhaa bhavati, tridhaa bhavati….. The Srimad Bhagavatam 3.15.14 describes the forms of the liberated residents as similar to that of the Lord Narayana for Whom they render pure devotion, vasanti yatra purusah sarve vaikuntha-murtayah.
Narada, the great servitor of the Lord had accepted the position of a maidservant`s son. When his mother died he began roaming the jungles until he came upon a group of saintly persons discussing the Absolute Truth. By that association his heart was further transformed till the day arrived when his pure resurrected self manifested after leaving the old body behind. This magic moment was spoken of by Shree Narada in the Srimad Bhagavatam 1.6.28 prayujyamaane mayi taam shuddam bhagavateem tanum. Here the word `tanum` means a form given by the Lord. That is the ESEF, your eternal spiritually effulgent form, and the Lord Himself says further in Srimad Bhagavatam 8.3.19 that to the eager soul tam dharma-kaamaartha, He sometimes givesa spiritual form of bliss raaty api deham avyayam.
The purport here is quite obvious . We are going forward along the path of bhakti by which we can attain a ESEF, eternal spiritually effulgent form of bliss. The type of sweet nectar that well-endowed person achieves by rendering services to the Lord is a topic Srila Rupa Goswami elaborates upon in his two books, Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu and Shree Ujjavala-nilamani.
Dhruva, the young five-year-old who was materially repulsed by his father but encouraged by his mother devotionally went to the forest for six months alone and came back with a brilliant golden form as described by Shukadeva Goswami in the Srimad Bhagavatam 4.12.29, rupam hiranmayam. It is later in the 4th Canto that a swan-plane is sent to bring Dhuva to the spiritual world whereupon he laments over the absence of his mother, who the escorts-Vishnudutas-point out that she is being carried behind them in another plane.
Thus, we are incorrect if we think that there is no variegatedness in the abode of the Lord. What we experience in this world of names and forms is the illusory reflection of the real thing. In Vaikuntha variety happens, devotion happens and of course bliss happens. To deny the great reward of simple devotion to the Lord and say it is all illusion, Maya, is tatamount to insanity, despite whatever recognition one may have in this temporal world.
Both Buddha and Shankaracharya deny the world and say that is an illusion, unreal. This is well documented in the book Beyond Nirva, which is available on Audio.com for those who don’t have the time to read. But if we investigate the life-history of Sripad Shankaracharya we find a very interesting anecdote since his life was virtually saved by a father-in-law who warned his daughter, the mother of Shankaracharya not to commit suicide. It seems that the girl who had been attending the local temple of Shiva was suddenly pregnant with no other suspect that the Temple priest. Embarrassed practically to death, the poor girl concluded that suicide was the only viable option . Then by God´s grace the father had a dream in which he was told to stop his daughter before it was too late, as the child within her womb would be a major spiritual personality. The father rushed to give the news to his daughter who providentially was still contemplating her resolve. The daughter, heeding the words of her father took special care duringgestation and in due course Shreepad Shankaracharya took birth.
Now, if we had applied the axiom that the world is false. It is just a dreamer´s dream then what would have been the consequences? Fortunately, for Shankaracharya´s sake such dreams were taken very seriously quite to the contrary of the child´s later convictions.
Although there are forms of personalities bothin Vaikuntha and Goloka there is a difference. Vaikuntha represents the abode of majesty and opulence whereas Goloka is a completely rural environ without the tinges of opulence. Both have residents with particular features. The residents in Vaikuntha, however, have forms that are similar in features to that of Lord Vishnu. As it is stated in the Srimad Bhagavatam 3.15.14 vasanti yatra purushah, ” The residents of Vaikuntha all have forms similar to that of the Lord (four handed form) and engage in his devotional service free from the desire for personal gratification.”
Shree Narada Muni, the great preacher of devotional service to the Lord describes his own experience, from the Srimad Bhagavatam 1.6.28, parujyamaane mayi tam shuddaam bhagavateem, ” I was awarded a transcendental body, befitting an associate of the Lord.”
The former body which contained not only the gross elements but a subtle mind, intelligence and material ego is completely relinquished for the first-class transcendental form of bliss. This is wanted! Why settle for less! It is our eternal legacy. We have such a form-potential which when manifest destroys all previous past karma. We should be ever so eager to know and experience our real self. The many material gross forms that we were forced to take due to our unnatural absorbtion in matter are past. We have no desire to take on more and more such gross physical selves. We deserve better.
That pure self is completely ready and able to engage in direct service of the Lord as also evidenced in the life of Ajameel who although a fallen and degraded Brahmin was able to evoke the transcendental sound of Narayana at death’s calling whereby the dim reflection of the pure holy name of the Lord saved him from hell. Given a second chance in life his dedication and renewed vigor blessed his soul with a spiritual body when he finally did exit the mundane establishment as mentioned in the second chapter of the Srimad Bhagavatam , verse 44:
hitvaa kalevaram teerthe gangaayaam darshaanaad
anu sadyah svarupam jagrihe bhagavat-paarsva vartinaam
“Upon seeing the Vishnudutas, Ajameel gave up his material body at Hardwar on the bank of the Ganges. He regained his original spiritual body which was a body appropriate for an associate of the Lord.”
Thus, with dedication one can surmount even destiny and enter the spiritual world with the form and features of eternity and bliss impacted within the individual soul from inception. Everyone has an internal identity and relationship that could be compared to a zip-drive. The whole personality is a potencial within the can be unlocked by the devoted soul with the proper guidance. The full potential of the individual is discoverable and once revealed has a particular service, place in the divine abode, form, family etc. In a person who achieves such a siddha-svaroop the material body is no longer necessary and is rejected. In fact, the whole of the material world is rejected. All material relationships are dissolved. A whole new world opens up with relations that are never broken and ever-existing. As the Lord says in the Bhagavad-gita, yat gatwa na nirvartante, once entering that realm of love there is no return. In the words of a TV serial , this is the final fronteir. It is the culmination of all knowledge, the end of all austerities and penances, the perfection of life, the be-all and end-all.
It is the world of perfection. Whereas this world is full of imperfection, that world is always exceptionally free from all contamination. As it is stated in the Brahma-vaivarta Purana;
harer upaasanaa chaatra sadaiva sukha-rupini
na cha saadhana bhuta sa sidhhir evaatra sa yatah
“In the spiritual world there are forms of bliss and there they do not make gradual progress but rather their devotional service is fully perfect.”
It would be hard for us to even contemplate such an existence. The only approximation we can surmise would be through the association of those fully perfect devotees. Therefore, to gain an appreciation of the realm of pure devotion we should endeavor to find the personalities who have reached perfection or are fully endowed with perfect knowledge and devotion. Such association is certainly not only rare but difficult to understand being that we are having only reference to the world of imperfection. Therefore, to really come to realize such perfection we require the mercy of such liberated souls.
As stated in the Brahma vaivarta Purana:
vidvat -pratysksha- siddhatvaat kaaranaabhavata ‘numaa
“The liberated soul has perfect knowledge and is beyond all material cause and effect.”
Shree Shankaracharya who we have explained previously is none other than the great devotee and Lord, Shiva encarnate in the Kali-yuga to disseminate Mayavada philosophy none-the-less has said;
yathaa muktaa api leelayaa vigraham kritva bhagavantam bhajante
“The liberated souls all attain spiritual bodies by which they can worship the Supreme Lord and enter into His pastimes (leela).”
So, if even the head of the school of impersonal Mayavada admits to the fact that real liberation means achieving a spiritual form of eternity and bliss and then in that capacity being fit to enter into the divine eternal pastimes of the Supreme Lord , then who can argue otherwise. Not withstanding there are so many Vaishnava acharyas who proclaim the very same facts, such as Ramanujacharya and Madhvacharya. It would therefore behoove anyone from either discipline , be it Advaitavada or Dvaitavada, to accept this idea wholeheartedly. After all we need to know our real self, who we are. Our identity is as an eternal servant of the Supreme Lord but that form and personality is unbeknownst to us at the present moment. Therefore, is it not judicious to follow the persons and process by which we can ultimately see and realize our actual nature and person?
The process is revealed to us in books like the Varaha Purana wherein it is stated:
krishna krishneti krishneti svapan jaagrad vrajams tathaa yo jalpati kalau nityam krishna-roopee bhaved dhi saha.
Which is to say that “While dreaming, waking or walking, those who always chant ‘Krishna, Krishna, Krishna’ in the age of Kali attain a form like that of Krishna Himself.”
svapane jaagrate yebaa jalpe krishna-naama kalite se krishna-rupee krishnera vidhaana
“Those in the age of Kali who chant the name of Krishna while dreaming or awake attain a form like that of Krishna. This is Krishna’s arrangement.”
As we have mentioned previously, the Bible , the holy book of the Christians states that man is made in the image of God. Of course, who that God is they have no idea. But the Vedic perspective is so wholesome and complete. The Puranas describe Krishna and we therefore simply have to note the descriptions therein. We also have so much poetry detailing the form and features of the Absolute that explicitly describe the transcendental body of the Supreme Person .
Now at this point we need to make it known that although Shree Krishna is declared throughout the Vedas to be the Supreme Godhead, still He is considered to be non-different from His primary pleasure potency-hladini shakti- Srimate Radharani. She is His counterpart in feminine form. Thus one can achieve a female or male form depending on the existent form within one or the swaroop of the jiva, spirit soul. Thus the eternal form is existent now in potential. All that is required is the magic of bhakti , pure devotional service, to awaken the sleeping soul from it’s slumber and bring it into full manifestation , siddha swaroop. It can happen in one lifetime or it may take several lifetimes. It all depends on one’s good fortune. That good fortune is awakened by the genuine spiritual master who draws out the spiritual form of the individual by instructing his disciples in rudimentary and progressive bhakti, pure devotional service following the principles laid out by the abhideya acharya, or professor of practical service, Shree Rupa Goswami. As the heart becomes pure and free from the contamination of our previous conditioning the spiritual form begins to manifest more and more.
It is understood that the combined form of Shree Radha and Krishna manifested in the form of Shree Chaitanya. Shree Chaitanya is often considered an avatar of Krishna, or golden avatar due to His resplendent golden complexion. Yet, in truth, we cannot say who came first Krishna or Chaitanya. Both are to be considered the original Personality of Godhead. So, in this respect we attain in the final end of the devotional trail by performing activities pleasing to the Lord ; krishnanushilanam, chaitanyanushilanam.
There is no need ever to re-invent ourselves. This is a material concept for people who outgrow their previous duties and attachments. But in the context of atma we only need to discover ourselves since the eternal self is never lost, just hidden under the covering of Maya, illusion. Quite naturally the devotee whose swaroop is that of a gopi , milkmaiden or gopa, cowherd will be attracted to the worship of Shree Krishna. Others whose eternal forms are of the quality and nature of Vishnu or Narayana will be automatically attracted and attached to the form of the Lord in Vaikuntha. Likewise, those whose forms are humanlike but diverted to the worship of Lord Ramachandra or Lord Shiva will similarly find that they are spontaneously drawn towards the forms and activities of these respective personalities.
In our case we will speak only of the service of Krishna in Goloka Vrindavan, the summit of spiritual evolution and the most sublime and lovely abode of prema. In this abode we find the Personality of Godhead differentiated from Vaikunthanath, the Lord of Vaikuntha, by a lack of awe and reverence or any consideration of majesty. The Lord is described by Brahma in the following way:
naumidya te ‘bhra-vapuse tadid-ambaraya gunjavatamsa-paripiccha-lasan-mukhaya vanya-sraj e kavala-vetra-visana-venulaksma-sriye mrdu-pade pasupangaj aya
“My dear Lord, You are the only worshipful Supreme Lord, Personality of Godhead. Therefore I am offering my humble obeisances and prayers just to please You. Your bodily features are of the color of clouds filled with water. You are glittering with a silver electric aura emanating from Your yellow garments.* “Let me offer my respectful repeated obeisances unto the son of Maharaja Nanda who is standing before me with conchshell, earrings, and peacock feather on His head. His face is beautiful. He is wearing a helmet, garlanded with forest flowers, and He stands with a morsel of food in His hand. He is decorated with cane and bugle, and He carries a buffalo horn and flute. He stands before me with small lotus feet.”*
Thus the opulence of Vaikuntha being absent the son of Nanda Maharaja is treated with various loving sentiments-preeti. The cowherds can wrestle with Him, the cowgirls can rebuke Him and His mother chastise Him. Such sentiments are symptoms of love. For Brahma at first this was bewildering and he stole the cows and cowherds from the forest of Vrindaban to see if actually a small cowherder was in fact the orginal Supreme Personality of Godhead. His attempt to confound the Lord backfired, of course, and he then began to completely glorify Krishna as described in the fourteenth chapter of the Bhagavatam’s tenth canto.
naumidya te ‘bhra-vapuse tadid-ambaraya gunjavatamsa-paripiccha-lasan-mukhaya vanya-sraj e kavala-vetra-visana-venulaksma-sriye mrdu-pade pasupangaj aya
“My dear Lord, You are the only worshipful Supreme Lord, Personality of Godhead. Therefore I am offering my humble obeisances and prayers just to please You. Your bodily features are of the color of clouds filled with water. You are glittering with a silver electric aura emanating from Your yellow garments. Let me offer my respectful repeated obeisances unto the son of Maharaja Nanda who is standing before me with conchshell, earrings, and peacock feather on His head. His face is beautiful. He is wearing a helmet, garlanded with forest flowers, and He stands with a morsel of food in His hand. He is decorated with cane and bugle, and He carries a buffalo horn and flute. He stands before me with small lotus feet.”
This child who plays in the forests with other resplendent kids and adored by the girls of Vrindaban as their beloved has no equal and yet appears to be almost as if an ordinary human being. But, the difference is that all the personalities in His association are immaterial, non-dying, and full of devotion. It is that timeless realm where our spiritual forms reach perfection in connection to a service we will perform, a group-leader we will accept, a parentage we inherit and a particular eternal age.
All of what we are and will be is embedded in our spiritual essence or soul. Like the genie who appeared from a bottle that was being polished by it’s owner manifested a form and personality, so by repeatedly performing the limbs of pure devotional service, bhakti, our self eventually manifests before us. It is miraculous and yet practical. We simply have to follow.
The world we live in , the realm of Maya is but a perverted reflection of the real world, Goloka. The difference being that here envy predominates, whereas in Goloka, pure love predominates. The forms and figures here perish, whereas in Goloka there is no diminishing or death. Goloka literally means the planet of cows. God’s abode is replete with bovine. There is not a day that passes without hearing the sound of ‘mooouu’ from the mouths of the anxious four-legged milk-givers. From the milk is produced a great variety of yogurt, curd, cheese, ghee and when mixed with sugar and spice, a delectable range of sweets like burfi, gulab jamin, rasagulla, etc.
Where the cows are happy, people are happy and where the cows are sad, people are sad. The health of the planet is seen in the care and culture of the cow and bull. We call God, Govinda as He is the lover of ‘go’ or cows. Religion means protecting the cow and bull. If they are seen to be exploited then the future of civilization will be tainted with their blood or in other words disease and war.
All of the eternal associates of the Lord in this topmost transcendental abode are servants of the cows and bulls from morning to night, including the Lord Himself Who takes delight in cowherding and milking. As much as we distance ourselves from the care and protection of the cattle, the more we distance ourselves from God. Mercy flows when pure milk flows. Milk is a godly gift and the vehicle for that gift is Lord Gopal. The cow is an eternal citizen of Goloka and that master original form of bliss is manifest in a variety of forms in this world. Unfortunately, due to the predominance of low-class citizenry the poor cow and bull are treated inhumanely and subject to the most cruel devices of modern men. It is a sad state of affairs and for this act of total ignorance mankind will suffer economically and spiritually, not to mention of course the fact that all who participate in such a degraded industry will themselves see the same fate in their next lives. Karma is God’s way of turning the tables around to do justice to the evil doers.
A popular food shop is called ‘Dairy Queen’, but along side of milk shakes are grilled cow’s flesh. The idea to make money off of the slaughter of bovines is a hellish creation ignorant of the tears of man’s mother. The cow is ‘mata’ or mother to man. Particularly in rural villages dedicated to growing food, the cow can provide fuel, oil in the form of ghee, fertilizer in the excreted dung and tilling by the bulls.
We should take the Biblical commandment as universal law- do not kill. Non-violence paves the way for peace and prosperity. Violence and murder open up the doors of hell on Earth and the hereafter. Because people have no understanding of God and His abode of Goloka they cannot see what the perfect platform of livelihood would be. Cows are meant to be free to wander anywhere and everywhere without disturbance. The householders can take all their organic waste and leave it outside the house for the cow and bull. Fertilizer factories on four legs . Or you may call them rustic fuel depositors for those who cook with dung. Or you may call them baby-food suppliers. Either way the enormity of benefit from this one animal to the human society is worth it’s weight in gold.
24 Carat gold. This is something we hardly ever see except in showrooms. When gold was money and thieves were publicly punished severely for even petty crimes then jewelry could be worn without fear, although in the ancient cultures we would not find the women-folk strolling either singly or with their spouse. In times of need the jewelry could be easily pawned for a good price.
Gold is resplendently manifest in the body of eternally liberated souls dwelling in the spiritual world. Specifically we can cite the personality of Gaurangi, the daughter of Vrishabanu Maharaja and topmost consort of the Personality of Godhead, Shree Krishna. That gold is compared to the very rare pigment that emanates from the hoofs of cows during the ‘swati nakshatra’. In fact, more than just gold is the color of molten gold. Another example would be the color of 24 carat gold on a black ‘gold-testing stone’. Then of course, these are all material comparisons that really cannot come close to approximating the transcendental spendor that shines from the form of Krishna’s own ‘shakti’.
When the Supreme Lord Himself takes her ‘kanti’ or splendor He becomes Gauranga, Shree Chaitanyadev. Mahaprabhu Shree Chaitanya is called the golden avatar for this reason. He is Krishna with the hue of Radha and the mood of this topmost lover of God.
All the residents of the divine realm Goloka have a specific hue or complexion that is there eternal identity. In addition there is another identity in the color of the dress. In the case of Radharani, she has two specific colors, being blue and red. Blue is the color of her lover Krishna and red is the color He prefers the most. There are in the case of each eternal resident the identity of a unique complexion and dress. As each has an age then that also is a mark of distinction. For the parents of the Lord and His seniors the age is old but without any of the material considerations that go along with old-age. That is to say, no gets senile in the spiritual world. Diseases like alzheimers is unhead of since material nature is absent totally. No one dies; no one grows old, no one takes birth; and no one gets sick. It is a nevernever land. Nothing there is bad. In fact everything is more than good-transcendental par excellence.
So, our specifics are yet to be revealed as we continue treading the path of liberation and eternal perfection. But revelation means knowing and realizing these particulars with the help of Shree Guru’s grace. As we are told the specifics gradually manifest as the perks of bhakti-yoga sadhana, but are confirmed by the fully realized sad-guru. In the glorious stage of ‘bhava’ or ecstacy in devotion the perfected form , siddha-swaroop awakens in the conscious. At our stage of ajata-rati we can just contemplate what a glorious form of bliss our dear preceptor guru has as his eternal swaroop and pray that in due course our own divine form will begin to manifest, more and more.
In a biography of Srila Bhaktipragyan Keshava Goswami, the divine founder of the Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti as well as the Devananda Gaudiya Math ( here Math refers to the temple) in Navadwipa, W Bengal the is a conversation regarding the sacred altar on which the divine images of Sri Sri Radha-Vinodbehari stand next to the murti or form of Srila Keshava Maharaja and the vigraha, Deity of Sri Varahadev, the incarnation of the Lord who lifted the Earth from the Garbodhak ocean and placed it back in its original place using His two tusks as if they were fork-lifts.
The Maharaja, Sri Keshava, was explaining the different aspects of the temple and when devotees curiously asked about the colors on the steps leading up to the platform on which the Deities stood, he explained that blue and gold were the respective colors of Krishna and Radha. On a lower step there was a saffron color which is often described as the color of ‘anuraga’, the deep transcendental affection for the Divine Couple. When the devotees asked about it’s significance then Maharaja admitted to it being his specific color or complexion.
It is almost humorous to think how self-realization which generally generates a kind of deep cosmic perception of bliss actually manifests in the matter of complexion and dress almost like a premier fashion debut.
The question then may arise quite naturally as to how the present form of matter, our body came into this existence in the first place. Are we here at the insistence of the Divine, is it a fault of our own, or both? Indeed, to be aware of things in the now, we can comprehend without too much thought the incumbrances that are sometimes in the background and other times starring at us intently. Diseases, frailties, weaknesses, genertive defects, afflictions, allergies and the lot show up at different times to remind us of our predicament in this world. I am sometimes reminded of the character of Superman, who was a great hero for sure, but who none-the-less had a fear of cryptonite. Whenever and wherever this metal manifested his powers of mobility and strength were severely compromised such that his intentions and will were taken to task.
We may think ourselves heroes in one sense, or we may not. But everyone of us knows that certain foods, certain even supplements, certain gases, or certain metals are our demise and of course even something that is considered good and healthy may if taken in excess prove to be a huge obstacle to our well-being. Life is so uncertain and precarious at times that we can never be sure about anything, really.
Another thing that hits on the provocative nerve is the facts that appear in our astrological charts wherein certain planet phases put us in difficulty despite every desire in our hearts to be healthy and happy. Whether its Saturn, Mars, Rahu, Ketu or even in certain instances the Sun and Mercury, the effects are deliterious-not good. Those who are trained in astrology also know of a monthly time window which spells death. This gruesome window can be a close-call or an out-of-body experience for some while for others it is death itself. How many of us have had those close-calls with death that fortunately were side-stepped, but close enough to let us know that danger exists in this world every step of the way.
If we are locked into the world then there will not be a thought of an alternative place. For the completely covered soul not the least bit of contemplation comes of venturing to another world. Yet, that is the prescription of divine wisdom and scriptures-to get out of this place and relocate. To do that requires the necessary knowledge and thus there are strong words in both the scriptures and by the itinerant preachers of dharma to look outside this world of death and disease for the eternal blissful abode of liberty and freedom.
A hungry man needs food. Similarly, a suffering soul needs reprieve and we cannot get real solace in a world designed specifically to frustrate and confound. God has it in mind to spoil everything for us until we realize the whole inherent folly of this place we mistakenly call home. If we want God’s opinion on this, then we only have to look into the pages of the holy writ, Bhagavad-gita to see our premonitions confirmed. ‘Anityam asukham lokam’ are the words used by Lord Krishna in the ninth chapter, verse 33. That is referring to this world as a temporary, miserable place. He made it and He knows it. Why? Why He made it so? Logically, we fall into the category of wanton babes looking for pleasure. We seek pleasure, but unfortunately in the wrong place. God has His kingdom where service to Him predominates and love reigns supreme, but for the soul averse to such service and addicted to personal preferences separate from the Magic Kingdom of devotees and devotion comes the world plagued with pain. Botheration can somehow be tolerated . But when pain arises then something generally has to be done and of course, when pain is acute then panic pushes us to search out relief at any cost.
In our daily grind, how many of us think that there must be a better place where life is free of disturbance and completely blissful. The specifics of such a place, Vaikuntha are given in the Vedic literatures like the Srimad Bhagavatam. In the 2nd Canto of this divine Purana or history the description of the kingdom of God is detailed. Sri Brahma-samhita, a text issuing from the mouth of the engineer of our universe also describes the land of ‘chintamani’ , that is the place where the bricks and mortar are wish-fulfilling gems. A place where walking appears as dancing and talk seems to be song. Brahma, is the engineer and each universe we are told, has a Brahma with many heads. In our case his heads number four, but in others there are multiple heads according to the size of the universe. Despite the longevity of Brahma, he is also destined to die along with the whole of existence in which he is situated. That is spelt out by the Lord again in the Gita wherein He says, ” From the highest planet in the universe to the lowest, all are places of repeated birth and death.” Then as a comfortable reminder He states that ” However, one who returns to My abode is free from such misery.” Bhagavad-gita 8.16.
The Bhagavad-gita or literally the Song of God proposes that we look for a permanent place free from the inadequacies of material existence. In chapter fifteen Lord Krishna says ‘yasmin gataa na nivartanti’ or seek that place where one never returns and surrender to that Supreme Personality ( tam eva chaadyam purusham prapadye). Such advise comes from the guru of all, jagat guru, and therefore we should take such words to heart fully.
For those who meditate on Vishnu, the Lord of Vaikuntha, with a controlled mind and senses , the body we will obtain in the spiritual world will be like that of the Lord. That is we will also become four-handed with opulences similar to that of Narayana. Not that we become God, but in appearance we shall seem to be non-different except for the golden streak on the chest of the master and controller of Vishnuloka, Sri Vishnu. Despite such similarities in appearance the liberated souls are all fully surrendered souls eager to serve the Lord as His unpaid servants.
From the second Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam we can hear of the transcendental land of Vaikuntha from Shree Shukadeva Goswami. There love is in the mood of servitude which is called technically, dashya rasa. This rasa is stifling to someone who wants a greater friendship on a very personal level as we can see in the account of Shree Gopa Kumar in the great literature of the name Brihad Bhagavatamrita by Shree Sanatana Goswami.
When Gopa Kumar was in Vaikuntha his heart was pleased with the atmosphere and cordiality but yet his inner hankering for intimate friendly love of the nature of cowherds made him feel like a estranged. However, when by providential arrangement he was able to leave Vaikuntha for Goloka Vrindavan, the most sweet of all rural spiritual abodes wherein Krishna was reciprocating fully with each and every cowherd, he felt supremely satisfied.
Thus, there exists a higher gradation of spiritual love above Vaikuntha in Goloka and there the forms of cowherds, both male and female exist. One achieves a body like Krishna’s if he or she meditates on Krishna, completely controlling the mind and senses as in samadhi.
There is a difference in the divisions of the spiritual world based on the height of transcendental love achieved by the respective devotee. Where service or dashya rasa predominates and love is also full of great awe and reverence one inherits the land of Vaikuntha. By following the process of viddhi marg, in sadhana bhakti one adheres strictly to the different rules and regulations of the scripture feeling greatly obliged. However, when bhakti is practiced with deep affection and love in the stage of raganuga bhakti then the devotee has an appreciation for the Lord that goes beyond awe and reverence. In such a state of mind one even dismisses the Lord as God! The love of the devotee is actually compromised by reverence. The Lord wants real love, love that denies a type of regimented salute. He wants love that is free from majestic awe and reverence. That is Krishna only.
In Ayodhya Rama and Dwaraka Krishna we have a deeper affection but none-the-less, there remains the strong scent of deep reverence. It is a stinted love that can never really change for those eternally bound in Vaikuntha rasa, or even Ayodhya rasa. Nay, even Dwaraka rasa.
The Lord of Dwaraka has 16,108 queens. The queens all have servants and yet take the impetus always to render personal service to the Lord despite being classified in madhurya rasa. Certainly love is greater there than in Vaikuntha as far as intimacy but it is not free and unfettered as in the land of Vrindaban, or Goloka. The more the attitude of reverence rules the heart, the less intimacy. Although this seems to be akin to disrespect and ignorance, love freed from formality actually brings us closer to the Lord of All.
A lover of God can even ride on His shoulders fearlessly and proudly boast of a victory in wrestling. Or a girl may chastise the ‘Lord’ by verbal abuse for certain impropriety. Examples of these loving battles, quarrels and all other manner of frolic are detailed by the professors of bhakti, namely the six Goswamis of Vrindaban and their heirs.
Now, the point we are wanting to focus on here is the body one will achieve in that intimate circle depends on the flavor of love in the heart during meditation. When one meditates on Laxsmi-Narayana then he or she obtains a male or female majestic form in Vaikuntha. However, depending on the attachment for a particular servant of Sri Krishna or Sri Radha, one obtains a similar form. There are five particular gradations of divine eternal rasa; servant (dashya), friendship (sakhya ), parent (vatsalya) or lover (madhurya). In each category there are unlimited personalities but a certain number stand out from the others. These personalities all have male and female forms of gopis and cowherds, whereas those in shanta rasa or neutrality have forms of animals, birds, plants, trees and other non-human forms.
A person who is attracted by the love of a particular cowherd like Subal, Sridham, or Ujjval and meditates on their service can obtain a male cowherd form in the spiritual world. Similarly, one who meditates on a particular cowgirl like Lalita, Radha or Vishaka can obtain a cowgirl form in the land of Goloka Vrindaban in the spiritual world, although for a fact, one will first be transferred to the particular material universe in which Lord Krishna and His associates are about to appear initially before being finally transferred to the eternal planet of Goloka.
As we are all eternally servants of the Lord with a fixed eternal relationship then it stands to reason that according to our particular eternal rasa we will in the course of material existence eventually be drawn to associate and serve those devotees in whom that same rasa is manifest or realized. Of course, such devotees are very rare and the chances of a person actually coming to the point of seeking and finding a soul in divine love of God is compared to a tortoise in the ocean rising to the surface and by chance or fortune sticking its nose through the center of a life-buoy. That is beyond rarity and bordering on impossible. Yet, it is also a fact that over time all souls will be delivered from the grips of the material energy.
Now the great mercy of the Lord and His devotees is that there is a constant solicitation of souls for realizing their eternal form and service. Of course, many of us are familiar with the preaching of the Bible and Koran in parts of the world. These are scriptures as are the Buddhist texts and act in many cases to initially bring one into greater and greater divine association. The teachers of yoga, meditation, inner fulfillment and balance are also in many cases working to uplift humanity. Yet, in and of themselves these religions and organizations cannot give the necessary information to complete the transfer of a soul to its eternal service in the spiritual world. Even if one actually comes to the platform of performing devotional service under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master, if he or she has not reached the platform of spontaneous love or technically raganuga bhakti then one will not be eligible to enter the planet of Goloka in his perfect spiritual form. One may, however, enter the planets Vaikuntha and achieve a form of Vishnu where love is limited to dashya rasa- reverential service.
At this point some geographical information may be necessary as we must also take into consideration those who are heart and soul devoted to Lord Rama and Lord Shiva. Where do they go when their lives are expended and they have their minds focused on serving their Lord forever. To this end we should understand that we are in one of the many material universes situated in the material cosmos manifested by the three modes of nature in the domain of the mahat tattva-a cloud of material potential.
This entire material creation is but one forth of the entire picture as the other three forth-creation is the eternal spiritual world. Between the material and spiritual world lies the river Viraj. The living entities are packed up as rays of the Brahmajyoti-the spiritual effulgence generated from the body of the Supreme Lord before entering the material or spiritual universes. They are known technically as tatthashta jivas or marginal energy of the Lord. These souls are manifest from the body of Sri Maha-Vishnu although for a fact all spirit souls are eternally existing. They have no creation as such, but are manifest by the agency of Maha-Vishnu. Above the Brahmajyoti we will find the transcendental abode of Lord Shiva-Kailash. For those devotees of Lord Shiva who are sincere and not simply idolaters or praying for material rewards in this world, Kailash will be their eternal home.
Similarly, the abode of Lord Ramachandra, husband of Sita will become a permanent home to those devoted souls in Ayodhya. Like Vrindaban which was manifest on Earth but at the same time eternally existent in the spiritual sky, this abode of Rama is the eternal substantive existence which manifests also in the material universes where the Lord will appear.
As the soul has it’s relationship with the Absolute Supreme Person fixed, no amount of preaching or teaching can convert such a surrendered soul to worship or serve any other form. Thus, when Lord Chaitanya attempted to convert Murari and Anupam, the younger brother of Rupa and Sanatan Goswamis to adore Radha and Krishna it became impossible.
What this means is that our identity cannot be adjusted or converted by any type of association. We are what we are. Therefore, to discover one’s true identity is the key to God-realization as your form and figure are just appropriate for rendering service to the Supreme Lord. This service is revealed as well as where you will be situated once the level of bhava begins to manifest and even prior in the stage of ashakti.
This revelation can only manifest with the help of a bona fide guru or spiritual master coming in the line of Shree Chaitanya or the Gaudiya sampradaya. The Brahma Madhva line of acharyas is the same line and headed by such powerful perfected souls as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati and Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur.
The generations of gurus all speak the same tattvas or truths and only add their personal testimony and realizations. Once one has identified a proper vehicle for understanding Gaudiya philosophy then the next step is to take initiation from such a personality and render diverse services as per his or her instructions. There is no sexual discrimination as anyone who knows Krishna-tattva is a fit personality to impart instructions and divine knowledge.
The please of the Supreme Lord is automatically achieved by pleasing the devotee of the Lord. As time progresses higher and higher levels of realization and faith will manifest. Then as all attachments to the world and the physical self fall away the spiritual form begins to manifest internally.
There are various organizations and individuals all belonging to and serving in the lineage of Shree Chaitanya. However, not all are in agreement with the instructions of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur and his dear father Srila Bhaktivinode. Once one has ascertained the true followers then things should all fall into place. After that only patience and perseverance is required.
We are transmitting this knowledge to inspire others to begin the process of self-discovery now. Once anyone has come to realize their form and identity then they will certainly be the most glorious of personalities on the planet. The others who are unknown to themselves should surely come into the association of souls on the path and begin the course. Life is only for this purpose. There is no other purpose and everything and everyone who helps on the way is your real friend.
Finally, we wish to thank all of our personal guides and guardians who helped us on our way. They are the Bhaktivedantas and are the most merciful personalities I have ever had the pleasure to know and serve.
Wishing everyone the best that life has to offer and I do hope that we can meet in the Divine World of Goloka where we can all eternally revel in the service of Sri Sri Radha and Govinda.