Pure Devotion

by Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja

bhidyate hrdaya-granthih, chidyante sarva-samsayah
ksiyante casya karmani mayi drste ‘khilatmani

“Our inner aspiration for rasa, ecstasy, is buried within our hearts which are tied down and sealed. But hearing and chanting the glories of Krsna breaks the seal on the heart and allows it to awaken and open to receive Krsna – the reservoir of pleasure, ecstasy Himself.”

Here, Srimad-Bhagavatam is saying: “There is a know within the hearts but that knot will be torn asunder by Krsna consciousness. At that time, the flow of our innate tendency for divine love (svarup sakti) will inundate the whole heart. When the knot of the heart is torn apart, then, as the sleeping soul awakens, the Goloka conception within will emerge and inundate his entire being.”

But this is apparently a difficult problem. How is it possible that all our doubts may be cleared? Is it possible for the finite to know everything? This statement seems rather inconsistent. It seems absurd. The Upanisads, however say: “Who knows Him, knows everything. Who gets Him, gets everything.” How will the finite know that he has everything, that he has known everything? It appears absurd, but it is confirmed in the scriptures. And if this problem is solved, then all problems are solved automatically. The finite will realize wholesale satisfaction; all his inquisitive tendencies will be satisfied. This is confirmed not only in the Upanisads, but also in the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

When I first came to the Gaudiya Math, I mixed very carefully with the devotees. I thought, “They say that what they teach is the only truth and that all else is tales – this is a bitter pill to swallow. They say, ‘Everyone is suffering from ignorance. And what we say is the right thing.’ I thought, “What is this! A sane man cannot easily swallow such a pill.” I also could not digest it so easily at first. But what they were saying was confirmed by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, and the Upanisads. All these authorities say, “Yes, it is so. If you know Him, everything is known. If you get Him, everything is gotten.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam (4.31.14), in a verse similar to the above line from the Upanisads, also says that all doubts are cleared by Krsna consciousness, and as a result, we come into real knowledge. There it is written:

yatha taror mula-nisecanena
trpyanti tat-skandha bhujopasakhah
pranopaharac ca yathendriyanam
tathaiva sarvarhanamacyutejya

“By watering the root of a tree, all the leaves and branches are automatically nourished. Similarly, by supplying food to the stomach, all the limbs of the body are nourished. In the same way, if we satisfy the central conception of the Supreme Absolute, all our obligations are automatically fulfilled.”

If we put food into the stomach, the whole body is fed. If we pour water on the root of the tree, the whole tree is fed. In the same way, if we do our duty towards the centre, then everything is done. This is the greatness, the mysterious position of the absolute centre. He has control over the complete whole. This is the peculiar position of the centre in the system of the organic whole.

If a particular position of the brain is captured, then the whole body is controlled: one needle in that particular section of the brain, and all the functions of the body will be paralyzed. The peculiar position of the absolute centre is some thing like that. So the impossible becomes possible.

Suppose I am a poor girl who has nothing. Ordinarily it would not be possible to acquire anything. But if I marry a rich man who is the owner of a big property, I can have command over many things by my relationship with him. Although we may be poor, our relationship with a powerful master makes us the master of many things. In the same way, the Absolute Centre controls everything, and our affectionate relationship with Him may endow us with the command of many things. This is how it is possible for the finite soul to have possession of everything – through the subtle link of affection.

Through Krsna everything is possible. And the nearer we come to Him, the more we shall catch. His influence inspired His devotees, and all His qualities fill their hearts (sarva maha-guna gana vaisnava-sarire, krsna-bhakte krsnera guna sakali sancare – Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, 22.75). In that way, although a devotee is not himself a master, through the link of love he can be master of anything. This is the line of thought explained by Srimad-Bhagavatam and the Upanisads.

Without having a real connection with the Absolute centre, your attempts to know everything will be useless. If you try to know even a particle of sand, lifetimes will come and go, millions of lives will pass, and you will continue to analyze the sand, finding no end to understanding even one particle.

The Absolute Centre

We are told “If you want to inquire – inquire about the centre.” That is the call of the Upanisads: “Don’t waste your time trying to analyze the smallest part of this creation, trying to be its master; it is not possible, Your inquiry should be properly guided.” Krsna says, “I am the centre, and I say, ‘Come to know Me, and through Me you will be able to know everything because I know everything and I control everything. Your connection with Me can give you that capacity. Approach everything through Me. Then you will be able to know the proper position of all things. Otherwise you will become acquainted with only a partial aspect of reality and that will be external and incomplete. And you will pass millions of lives trying to know and understand reality to no end. Bhagavatam says:

athapi te deva padambhuja-dvaya
prasada-lesanugrhita eva hi
janati tattvam bhagavan mahimno
na canya eko ‘pi ciram vicinvan

“Only one who is blessed with the mercy of the Lord can know His true nature. On the other hand, those who try empirically to understand His inconceivable glories can study and speculate forever without arriving at the proper conclusion.”

Here, through Bhagavatam, Krsna tells us, “You may devote yourself for eternity in an erroneous direction, with no possibility of coming to the end of understanding. But if you try to approach the absolute centre, then in no time you will be able to know what is what.” That is the direction given by the Upanisads and Srimad-Bhagavatam, that is the direction we must take, and that is devotion.

It is so satisfying that once you have attained it, you won’t care to know any other thing. We need only concentrate on Krsna’s service. Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.14.3) declares:

jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva
jivanti san-mukharitam bhavadiya vartam
sthane sthitah sruti-gatam tanu-van-manobhir
ye prayaso ‘jita jito ‘py asi tais tri-lokyam

“Hatefully giving up all intellectual attempts to understand the Supreme Truth, those who want to realize You should completely surrender unto You. They should hear from self-realized devotees about Your holy name and transcendental pastimes. Whatever situation they may find themselves in, they should progress by fully dedicating their mind, body, and words to You. In this way the infinite, who is never conquered by anyone, becomes conquered through love.”

We can approach the Supreme Lord only through submission, and when we achieve Him, we won’t care for knowing anything else. We will have no regard for what is happening or not happening in the outside world. We will deeply engage in His service for His satisfaction. There, in His service, we will find the object of our lives fulfilled. And this external knowledge of “thing outside” will seem to us as rubbish. We will realize, “What is the necessity of wasting time with all kinds of calculation – the nectar is here! It is far deeper than what is found in the external plane. And at that time, we shall give all our attention to His service.

The question is often asked why varnasrama-dharma, the Vedic system of social stratification, was ignored by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and why it is that anyone from any social position is accepted by our devotional school. We have to cross over the constraints of the caste system (varnasrama-dharma), offering the results of our work to Krsna (krsna karmarpanam), devotion mixed with the desire to enjoy the fruits of work (karma-misra-bhakti) and devotion mixed with the desire of liberation (jnana-misra-bhakti). They have all been rejected by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. His slogan was “eho bahya age kaha ara:” “These things are external; go deeper, go deeper.” When Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu asked what is further and higher than all these different conceptions of theism, Ramananda Raya suggested jnana-sunya bhakti, unalloyed devotion. When this was suggested by Ramananda Raya, Mahaprabhu said, “Yes, here real theism begins.”

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