The Presence of the Lord
by Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja
In the beginning, when I went to the Gaudiya Math, the murti – the Deity of Mahaprabhu – was there in another room. I asked, “this murti is made of what substance, earth or wood?” The devotee attending the Deity told me, “He is Mahaprabhu Himself. Do not try to see wood, earth or anything else. Mahaprabhu Himself is present there.”
So I, questioned them further, “If Mahaprabhu Himself is there, then why is your Guru Maharaja – who is the greatest devotee – upstairs in another room?
If Mahaprabhu Himself would have been present here, then whoever is the highest devotee amongst you should have stayed at His side. But he is staying upstairs in another room and Mahaprabhu is placed in a separate room near the street where everyone can see Him easily. Why your Guru Maharaja is not here by His side if He is Mahaprabhu Himself?”
They replied, “He is also at the side of Mahaprabhu in his heart.” That is the higher conception, a more real conception of Mahaprabhu. Mahaprabhu’s presence is here and also in his heart. This is a higher conception of Mahaprabhu than the Deity conception. He is always enjoying the presence of Mahaprabhu in his heart. Such a devotee is of a higher type.
So, Krsna Consciousness, God Consciousness is like that. It is cin-maya – it is conscious and spiritual. The Lord has manifested Himself in this mundane plane of our sense experience for our benefit. He is not to be neglected. However, this conception, this presence of His grace, is considered to be for the lower section. Yet the Deity should not be considered as an idol. The Deity is also His presence manifested for our gross senses. However, a devotee always sees all things connected to the Lord, the Centre.
arcayam eva haraye, pujam yah sraddhayehate
na tad-bhaktesu canyesu, sa bhaktah prakrtah smrtah (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.2.47)
“When we do not learn to appreciate the presence of the Lord in the heart of His devotees, but only confine ourselves to such symbols connected with Him, our standard of devotion is meagre.”
We cannot eliminate the plane of affection and love that we find here and there scattered in different ways. We are to trace the causal existence of everything. What is the unity in the background that is really harmonizing all these scattered experiences? One whose consciousness is raised to such a standard can see the background of everything as one, from one centre. All these creations are handled, controlled and managed form one centre. “Wherever he goes, he is always with My connection. I am not lost to him.” In Srimad Bhagavatam it is said:
sarva-bhutesu yah pasyed, bhagavad-bhavam atmanah
bhutani bhagavaty atmany, esa bhagavatottamah
“One who can see everywhere the connection of the Centre in the background, sees all things correctly. He sees the cause, the connection, the central position, the background, and also his own relationship to the whole in that position.”
In any particular experience, there are three things: The deepest root (Sri Krsna), the seer’s connection (Sri Guru), and that which is having the experience of his connection (jivatma). This is in accordance to his position with the Centre and it is also interdependent on his adjustment with that environment. That adjustment is concomitant with his relationship to the Centre. Everything will be considered in relation to the position and desires of the Centre, and not any independent transaction with part and part. It is from the part to the Whole, and from the Whole to the part.
‘What will be my position, my relationship to this part?’ It must be calculated through the Centre, and that will be real. This relationship of, “I and he,” is considered a misconception. This misconception will not remain, as it is unreal. But if it comes through the Centre, then it will be real and we will not be frustrated or disappointed. This sort of measurement or estimation would be one of substance. The part-to-part relationship is unstable. It is truly unreliable and will not remain. However, the connection that comes through the Centre is substantial, real and will not frustrate us.
Philosophy in India means darsana – allow me to see, allow me to experience things – What is what? Our superficial estimation is not the whole conception. We should learn to see things and to know things properly. This is sambandha-jnana. What is our position in the environment? Is the environment real? Why? Is it only our eye experience, ear experience or, something more is in the background – behind everything? How can that be understood – only by our reason? ……….. Never!
Applying our reason to understand the Infinite is futile. Then, how can He be known? The Infinite is not – cannot be by definition – the object of our experience, our inspection. He is far above that. He has got His own
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