The first annual
function at Çré Indraprañöha Gauòéya Maöha, Delhi, a branch of Çré Gauòéya
Saìgha founded by Çré Çrémad Bhakti-säraìga Gosvämé Mahäräja was held on
29th/30th January 1964, with great celebration. On this occasion, an assembly of
learned religious scholars gathered in the evening of the January 30th under
the presidency of the Chief Commissioner of
The first annual function of
Çré Indraprañöha Gauòéya Maöha
Tridaëòi Svämé Çrémad Bhaktivedänta Näräyaëa Mahäräja (speaking), Tridaëòi Svämé Çrémad Bhakti-saurabha Bhaktisära Mahäräja (seated on left side), Tridaëòi Svämé Çrémad Bhaktivedänta Svämé Mahäräja (seated in the center), Tridaëòi Svämé Çrémad Bhakti-säraìga Gosvämé Mahäräja (seated on right side).
[NOTE: This page uses Balarama font (available here)
for better transliteration of Sanskrit into English]
This is the lecture given in that auspicious assembly
by Çré Çrémad Bhaktivedänta Näräyaëa Gosvämé Mahäräja.
by Çré Çréman Bhaktivedänta Näräyaëa Gosvämé Mahäräja
The Story of Indra and Virocana
The words nitya-dharma (eternal religion) automatically presuppose the inherent and unavoidable object of that nitya-dharma, he who performs it. This is due to the inseparable connection between dharma and dharmé (the practitioner of religion). The example is given of the inseparable relationship between water and liquidity or between fire and warmth. Before considering the dharma of any entity, it is essential to first reflect on the tattva of that entity. Thus, first we consider what tattva “I” actually is. The Chändogya Upaniñad narrates the story of Indra and Virocana by which this tattva of the soul can easily be understood.
At the beginning of Satya-yuga, the entire universe was divided into two camps, the demigods and the demons. The head of the demon party was King Virocana, and the leader of the demigods was Devaräja Indra. They rivaled for the attainment of unparalleled happiness and enjoyment. Thus bearing envy and spite towards each other, they approached Prajäpati Brahmä, the father of the universe, and asked him how they could fulfill their desires.
Prajäpati Brahmä said: “One is able to easily attain all the enjoyment available in all the worlds and to satisfy one’s every desire when one knows the soul. That soul is free from sin, old age, death, lamentation, hunger and desire, and he is satya-kama and satyasaìkalpa – that is, his every endeavor and resolve is truthful and just.”
To realize the soul both Indra and Virocana resided with Brahmä and practised celibacy for thirty two years. They then prayed to Prajäpati to tell them about the soul. Prajäpati said, “That person (self) you are now seeing with your eyes is the soul, and he is fearless and immortal.”
They enquired further, “Is the soul that person (self) seen in water or in a mirror?”
Prajäpati told them to look into separate clay pots filled with water. He asked them, “What do
Upon seeing their reflections in the water they said, “O Lord, we see the whole soul just as it is, from the hair on his head down to his toenails.” Prajäpati then asked them to cut their nails and hair and decorate themselves with ornaments. He again requested them to look into the clay pots. “Now what do you see?”
“We see that the two persons in these reflections have also been cleaned and decorated in very beautiful clothes and ornaments, just as we have; and thus they resemble us perfectly.”
Prajäpati said, “This is the soul and he is fearless and immortal.”
Hearing this Indra and Virocana departed with satisfied hearts. Upon reaching the abode of the demons, Virocana, who now understood the body to be the soul and the object of worship and service, declared: “O demons, he who worships his body as the soul attains this world as well as the upper planets. All his desires are fulfilled and he attains full enjoyment.”
But Indra deliberated upon this on his journey home. “This body takes birth, dies, undergoes transformations, is subject to disease and so forth. How, then, can this be the immortal soul who is without birth, death, distress and fear?”
Although halfway home, Indra now returned to Prajäpati and told him about his doubt. Prajäpati made Indra live in celibacy for another thirty-two years and then said to him, “That person who is understood to be “I” within a dream is the soul, and he is fearless and immortal.”
Hearing this, Indra left with a peaceful heart; but upon his journey home he again began to reflect. He thought: “When someone is awake his body may be blind, yet in a dream his body will not be blind. Someone’s body may be diseased, yet in a dream that person may remain free from disease. But suppose that within a dream the person identified with as the self is beaten or killed. He still fears and cries, and upon awakening that ‘self’ ceases to exist. Thus, the form seen in a dream cannot in fact be the soul.”
Thinking like this Indra returned to Prajäpati. After practising celibacy for another thirty-two years, Prajäpati instructed him as follows: “The soul lies in that state of deep sleep where there is no vision or even the experience of dreaming.”
But as before, Indra began to contemplate Prajäpati’s words on his way home. “In the condition of deep sleep,” he thought, “there is no understanding of who one is, nor is anyone else being perceived. This condition is therefore a type of destruction.”
Thinking like this, Indra returned to Prajäpati once again. This time, after five years of celibacy, Prajäpati instructed him anew. “Indra, the physical body, which is naturally subject to death, is only the abode of the soul. The ätmä is attached to the body, just as a horse or bull remains harnessed to a cart. In reality it is the person who has desires – such as “I shall look” – who is the soul. For this task there are senses, like the eyes. He who desires “I shall speak” is the soul, and for the act of speaking there is the tongue. He who wills “I shall hear” is the soul, and for the act of hearing there are ears. He who desires to think is the soul, and the mind carries out that thinking for him.
From this tale it is clear that the soul has three abodes, just as a peanut has three elements (the shell, the skin and the nut itself). The soul’s abodes are (1) the gross body consisting of five mundane elements; (2) the subtle body which possesses a semblance of consciousness;
and beyond these, (3) the pure body of the soul. Each of these bodies has its own separate dharma. The gross and subtle bodies are both impermanent. Thus their respective dharmas are also temporary. The soul, however, is eternal and everlasting. This is the established doctrine of Veda, Vedänta, the Upaniñads and the Puräëas. Therefore the dharma of this soul is indeed nitya-dharma or sanätana dharma (eternal function). It is also called Vedic dharma or bhagavat-dharma.
The Soul’s True and Acquired Natures
That which is called dharma should be understood. The word dharma is formed from the root syllable dhå, which means dhäraëa, “to retain”. Therefore, dharma means “that which is retained”. The permanent nature or quality that is retained by a being is that being’s nitya-dharma. When, by the desire of the Lord, any being is created, that being’s eternal nature (svabhäva) also becomes evident simultaneously. This nature or quality is that being's nitya-dharma. If a transformation later takes place within that entity, incidentally or because of any connection with another object, then that entity’s eternally present nature becomes transformed or distorted. Gradually the distorted nature becomes steady and it appears to be eternal and pure like his previous nature. Yet this transformed nature is not his actual nature. This nature is called nisarga (“acquired nature”), and it is temporary.
This acquired nature takes prominence over a person’s true nature, and begins to assert its own identity as the ‘real’ nature. Water is a substance whose dharma is fluidity; but when water solidifies into ice its dharma, or nature (i.e. fluidity), also transforms and
becomes hardness. This quality of hardness has become the nisarga, distorted nature, of the water and it now acts in place of the water’s true nature of fluidity. Nisarga, however, is not permanent; it is temporary. Because it has come about by some cause or force, when this force is removed the nisarga itself is removed and the true nature manifests once more, just as ice again becomes liquid when placed near heat.
The Nature of the Infinitesimal Jéva
To understand this subject of the soul properly it is essential to understand the tattva and eternal nature of the jéva. By this knowledge one can very easily understand nitya-dharma (the living entities’ eternal function) and naimittika-dharma (the living entities’ temporary
Bhagavän Çré Kåñëa – the creator, maintainer and annihilator of the universe, the origin of all and the cause of all causes – is the undifferentiated Absolute Truth. He is not formless (niräkära) or devoid of features (nirviçeña); these are only his partial manifestations (äàçika-bhäva). In reality He possesses a transcendental form. He is the inconceivable possessor of all power and He is endowed with six opulences. By the influence of His inconceivable aghaöana-ghaöanaçakti, the potency that makes the impossible possible, the supreme tattva, Çré Kåñëa, manifests in four aspects as svarüpa, tad-rüpa-vaibhava, the jéva and pradhäna.
To help us understand this, these four can be compared to the sun, the surface of the sun globe, the atomic particles within the sun’s rays, and a reflection of the sun, respectively. Çréla Jéva Gosvämé states:
ekam eva parama-tattvaà sväbhavävikäcintya-çaktyä
caturdhävatiñöhate süryäntar-maëòala-stha-teja iva
The Absolute Truth is one. His unique characteristic is
that He is endowed with inconceivable potency,
through which He always manifests in four ways: (1)
svarüpa (as His original form), (2) tad-rüpa-vaibhava
(as His personal splendor, including His abode and
His eternal associates, expansions and avatäras), (3)
the jévas (as individual spirit souls), and (4) pradhäna
(as the material energy). These four features are
likened to the interior of the sun planet, the surface of
the sun, the sunrays emanating from this surface, and
a remotely situated reflection, respectively.
Çréla Jéva Gosvämé further states that if we liken Kåñëa, the complete conscious entity (purna-cit-tattva), to the sun, the jévas may be compared to the localized particles of the sun's rays. The description of the jéva’s svarüpa is found in Bhagavad-gétä (15.7): “mamaiväàço jéva-loke jéva bhütaù sanätanaù – the eternal jévas in this material world are certainly My separated parts and parcels.” It is found in the Båhadäraëyaka Upaniñad (2.1.20): “yathägneù kñudrä visphuliìgä vyuccarnti – innumerable jévas emanate from para-brahma just as tiny sparks emanate from a fire.” It is found in the Çvetäçvatara Upaniñad (5.9): “bälägraçata- bhägasya çatadhä kalpitasya ca, bhägo jévaù sa vijïeyaù sa cänantyäya kalpate – one should know that the jéva is the size of one ten-thousandth of the tip of a hair.” It is also found in Çré Caitanya-caritämåta (Madhya 20.109): “süryäàça-kiraëa, yena agni-jväläcaya – like a molecular particle of sunshine or fire.”
These quotes confirm that the jéva is the separated part of the transformation of sarva-saktimän Çré Kåñëa’s marginal potency. The Çvetäçvatara Upaniñad (6.8) states: “paräsya çaktir vividhaiva çrüyate – a single supreme potency of Çré Kåñëa manifests as numerous powers (çaktis), of which three are prominent – namely, cit, jéva and mäyä.” By the Lord’s desire, the
jéva-çakti, being situated between the cit- and mäyäçaktis, manifests innumerable insignificant, atomically conscious jévas. These jévas are spiritual entities (cidvastu) by nature and are capable of wandering throughout the spiritual or the material worlds. For this or marginal potency, and the jévas themselves are called tatañöhä-dharmé-jévas, “jévas who are neutral by nature”.
The Relationship Between Kåñëa and the Jéva
Çakti-çaktimat or abhedaù. According to this aphorism from Vedänta-sütra, Kåñëa and Kåñëa's çakti are non-different from each other. Therefore Kåñëa and the transformation of His çakti, the jévas, are also non-different. But this oneness is only from the perspective of their being equal as spiritually conscious beings (cidvastu). Kåñëa, however, is the complete conscious being and the master of mäyä, while the jévas are atomically conscious. Because of their marginal nature, the jévas are capable of becoming subject to mäyä even in their pure state. Kåñëa is the possessor of all power and the jévas are devoid of power. Thus there is an eternal difference between Kåñëa and the jévas.
From the philosophical perspective this difference and non-difference is beyond human intelligence, and is therefore called the doctrine of acintya-bhedäbhedatattva, the science of inconceivable difference and nondifference. Çré Kåñëa Caitanya Mahäprabhu, who is Svayam Bhagavän, completely harmonised the contextual doctrines of the Vedas with those of the previous Vaiñëava äcäryas. He took Çré Rämänuja Äcärya’s viçiñöädvaita doctrine, Çré Madhväcärya’s çuddha-dvaita doctrine, Çré Viñëusvämé’s çuddhädvaita doctrine and Çré Nimbäditya Äcärya’s bhedäbheda doctrine and revealed their synthesis – the acintya-bhedäbheda doctrine, which is the universal, absolute understanding of the Vedas.
Thus, Kåñëa is aàçi, the source of all expansions, and the jévas are His vibhinnäàça-tattva, or separated parts and parcels. Kåñëa is the attractor and the jévas are the attracted. Kåñëa is the object of service and the jévas are the performers of service. Service to the completely conscious being, Çré Kåñëa, is the real nature (svabhäva) of the atomically conscious jévas. This service is indeed called aprakåta prema-dharma, the transcendental religion of unalloyed love for Çré Kåñëa. Thus, this service to Kåñëa, this kåñëa-prema, is the constitutional nature (nitya-dharma) of the jéva. “Jévera svarüpa haya kåñëera nitya däsa – the constitutional nature of the jéva is to be an eternal servant of Çré Kåñëa (Çré Caitanya-caritämåta, Madhya 20.108).”
But if that jéva, whose nature is marginal, and who is atomically conscious, becomes adverse to the service of Kåñëa, then Kåñëa’s mäyä-çakti covers that pure jéva’s atomic, conscious nature with the subtle and gross material bodies. Mäyä thus causes these jévas to habitually
wander throughout the 8,400,000 species of life.
When the jévas are reinstated in their service to Kåñëa, they are released from their bodies imposed by mäyä. As long as the jéva fails in his inclination to serve Kåñëa he will continue to be scorched by the threefold miseries. At this time the jéva’s pure svarüpa is covered by the curtains of mäyä, and his nitya-dharma, eternal nature, is also covered or perverted. This perverted nature is the jéva’s occasional function (naimittikadharma), just as water becomes solid when transformed into ice. This temporary dharma is of many types according to the time, place and recipient.
Divisions of Dharma
All the varieties of dharma in this world can be divided into three general categories: nitya-dharma, naimittika-dharma and anitya-dharma. Anityadharma is that dharma which does not accept the existence of the Lord and the eternality of the soul. Naimittika-dharma is that dharma which accepts the eternality of the Lord and the jévas, but only prescribes temporary means to attain the Lord’s mercy. And nityadharma is that dharma which endeavors by the
means of pure love to obtain the servitorship of Kåñëa. This nitya-dharma is one, although different countries, castes and languages identify it by various names. This is the supreme occupation of all jévas.
sämänyam etat paçubhir naräëäm
dharmo hi teñäm adhiko viçeño
dharmeëa hénäù paçubhiù samäna
Human beings are equal to animals in the matter of
eating, sleeping, fearing and mating. Yet the quality of
religion is unique to human beings. Without religion,
they are no better than animals.
That dharma in which the nature of the self (the soul) is not cultivated; in which endeavors are made to increase eating, sleeping, mating and defending; and in which enjoyment of the temporary sense objects is supported as the ultimate objective of human life, is the dharma of animals. In this so-called dharma, it is in fact completely impossible to escape all sorrow and
attain pure happiness, which is the goal of human life. Therefore, it has been stated in the Çrémad- Bhägavatam (11.3.18):
duùkha-hatyai sukhäya ca
All men in this world are inclined to perform karma
for the purpose of becoming liberated from sorrow
and attaining happiness. But the opposite results are
seen. In other words, sorrow is not dispelled and happiness
is not attained.
For this reason Çrémad-Bhägavatam gives the highest instruction for all people of the world:
labdhvä su-durlabham idaà bahu-sambhavänte
mänuñyam artha-dam anityam apéha dhéraù
türëaà yateta na pated anu-måtyu yävan
niùçreyasäya viñayaù khalu sarvataù syät
After wandering throughout 8,400 000 species of life
one achieves the rare human form of life, which,
although temporary, affords one the opportunity to
attain the highest perfection. Thus, a sober human
being, without wasting even a moment, should
endeavor for the ultimate welfare of life as long as
his body, which is always subject to death, has not
fallen down and died.
Some persons accept karma, while others accept jïäna or yoga to be the means to attain ultimate prosperity. But this is refuted in Çrémad-Bhägavatam (1.5.12):
naiñkarmyam apy acyuta-bhäva-varjitaà
na çobhate jïänam alaà niraïjanam
Knowledge of self-realization, even though free from
all material affinity, does not look well if devoid of a
conception of the Supreme Lord.
Çrémad-Bhägavatam (11.14.20) further states:
na sädhayati mäà yogo
na säìkhyaà dharma uddhava
na svädhyäyas tapas tyägo
yathä bhaktir mamorjitä
O Uddhava, yoga, säìkhya, study of the Vedas, austerity
and giving in charity cannot overpower Me as
does the intense bhakti performed solely for Me.
The meaning of this verse is that bhagavad-bhakti is the only means by which one can attain his ultimate benefit. This instruction is also given in the Çrutis: “bhaktirevainaà nayati bhaktiraàvainaà darñayati bhaktirvaçoù puruño bhaktireva bhüyasé – It is Bhakti that reveals Bhagavän to the jévas. That Supreme Person is controlled by this bhakti only.” Therefore bhakti is superior to all other practices and is the nityadharma of the jéva. In Çrémad-Bhägavatam (11.14.21) Kåñëa also says: “bhaktyäham ekayä gräùya – I can be attained by bhakti alone.”
The Nature and Science of Bhakti
What is the svarüpa of bhakti? Çaëòilya-sütra states: “sä paränuraktiréçvare – bhakti is supreme
attachment or love for the Lord; moreover, since it has the propensity to control the supreme controller, its nature is immortal.” Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé describes the intrinsic nature of bhakti as follows:
anyäbhiläñitä çünyaà jïäna-karmädy-anävåtam
änukülyena kåñëänuçélanam bhakir uttama
Uttamä-bhakti, pure devotional service, is the cultivation
of activities that are meant exclusively for the pleasure
of Çré Kåñëa – in other words, the uninterrupted
flow of service to Çré Kåñëa performed through all
endeavors of body, mind and speech, and through
the expression of various spiritual sentiments (bhävas).
It is not covered by jïäna (knowledge aimed at
impersonal liberation) and karma (reward seeking
activity), yoga or austerities; and it is completely
free from all desires other than the aspiration to
bring happiness to Çré Kåñëa.
Bhakti has two stages: the stage of practice and the stage of perfection. The stage of practice is called sädhana-bhakti and the stage of perfection is called sädhya-bhakti or prema-bhakti. Eternally perfect love for Kåñëa is sädhya-bhakti, and it is the jéva’s only eternal religion
(nitya-dharma or svarüpa-dharma). This sädhya-bhakti, although eternally perfect, remains covered in those jévas who have fallen into materialism. When a person in this state attempts to uncover this kåñëa-prema by the practice of bhakti through his present senses, it is called sädhana-bhakti. This sädhana-bhakti is also nitya-dharma. It is the immature state of
nitya-dharma, whereas sädhya-bhakti is said to be the fully matured and ripened state of nitya-dharma. Thus, although nitya-dharma is one, it has two stages.
Sädhana-bhakti is also of two types: vaidhé and rägänugä. Until a spontaneous attachment and taste for Kåñëa appears in the heart of a sädhaka, he follows the regulative activities and rules prescribed in çästra. In this way, by observing the discipline of çästra, he engages in kåñëa-bhakti. Performance of such sädhana-bhakti is called vaidhésädhana-bhakti. By contrast, one is engaged in rägänugä-sädhana when a spontaneous attachment (räga) and taste arises in the
heart; when, without regard to the rules and regulations of çästra, one becomes intensely eager to possess the moods of the vrajaväsés, which are full of attachment for Kåñëa; and when one performs sädhana to follow those vrajaväsés.
The Glories of Saìkértana
Generally there are sixty four limbs of this sädhana-bhakti. After taking shelter of the lotus feet of çré guru (gurupädäsraya) the prominent limbs are hearing (çravaëam), chanting (kértanam),
Remembering (smaranam), offering prayers (vandanam), worshipping (arcanam), rendering service (däsyam), friendship (sakhyam) and offering one’s very self (ätma-nivedanam). Of these nine limbs, the three limbs of hearing, chanting and remembering are superior to the others; and of these three, hari-kértana is supreme. All the limbs of bhakti are fully included in harinäma-saìkértana.
According to tattva, Kåñëa and Kåñëa’s names are non-different from each other. The glories of harinäma are found in profusion throughout çästra. Especially in Kali-yuga, harinäma-kértana is the sole dharma or refuge:
harer näma harer näma harer nämaiva kevalam
kalau nästy eva nästy eva nästy eva gatir anyathä
In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only means of
deliverance is chanting the holy name of the Lord.
There is no other way. There is no other way. There is
no other way.
Çrémad-Bhägavatam (6.3.22) also states that harinäma-saìkértana is the only supreme dharma of the living beings:
etävän eva loke ’smin
puàsäà dharmaù paraù småtaù
Devotional service, beginning with the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, is the ultimate religious principle for the living entity in human society.
The Development from Çraddhä to Prema
The sequential progression of the cultivation of nitya-dharma as revealed by Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé is surely unparalleled and most wonderful in this world:
ädau çraddha tata sädhu-saìgo ’tha bhajana-kriya
tato ’nartha-nivåtti syattato niñöhä rucistataù
athäsaktis tataù bhävstataù premabhyudaïcati
sädhakänämaya premnaù prädurbhave bhavet kramaù
Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu (Eastern Division 4.11)
In the beginning, faith in bhakti will arise in a very fortunate person due to the accumulated result of sukåti, previous transcendental pious activities. This faith is the seed of the bhakti creeper. Thereafter comes the association of sädhus and guru, and under their guidance one performs bhajana. As a result of performing bhajana, anarthas are destroyed. One thus attains niñöhä and then ruci, äsakti and bhäva. Bhäva is said to be the sprout of prema. When the fully matured state of bhäva becomes condensed it is called prema. This prema alone is the nitya-dharma of the jévas. This is also the advice of the Supreme Lord Himself, Çré Kåñëa Caitanya Mahäprabhu. It is the most confidential, established subject matter of Veda, Vedänta, çästra, the Upaniñads and the Puräëas.
True Dharma and Cheating Religions
In the world today the majority of dharmas are, in the words of Çrémad-Bhägavatam,
kaitava-dharma, “cheating religion”. Çré Caitanya-bhägavat also states: “påthivéte dharma näme yata kathä cale, bhägavata kahe tähä paripürëa chale – all worldly ideas that go by the name of religion are, according to Çrémad-Bhägavatam, nothing more than a deception.”
Anitya-dharma is that dharma in which prayer for bread and butter is the highest form of worship of the Lord; in which one changes his moral conduct from that of a Hindu to that of a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Christian and a Hindu once again; and in which one attempts to rid oneself of bodily diseases, considering his body to be his soul (self) and his soul to be the Lord. Feeding the people kicharé with the misconception that they are poor; constructing hospitals and godless educational centers believing this to be the topmost service to God; thinking that nitya-dharma, anityadharma and all other varieties of dharma are one; neglecting
nitya-dharma and propagating secularism; sacrificing harmless animals and birds in the name of love for the world; and serving man and nation, are all anitya-dharma. None of these activities ever brings permanent welfare to the world.
However, if we consider nitya-dharma to be like a temple – in other words, to be our highest objective – we may accept these other dharmas partially, but only as steps to reach this temple of nitya-dharma. Wherever these other dharmas contradict, cover or dominate nitya-dharma, they should be completely abandoned. Morality, humanity or worldly love that are devoid of nitya-dharma are meaningless and unworthy of any glorification. The real objective and only purpose of humanity and morality is to attain kåñëa-prema, love for Kåñëa.
If there is just one true performer of this nitya-dharma who keeps the fire of hari-saìkértana ablaze, then his nation, caste and society can never be ruined – even after that nation is oppressed and kept dependent by another country and has its treasures looted, its scriptures burned to ashes, and its culture and prosperity destroyed. This saìkértana makes possible the eternal welfare of the world and of one’s country, society, caste and self.
I complete my lecture by repeating the final instruction of Çré Kåñëa, the founder of
dharma, as found in the Gitopaniñad (18.66):
mäm ekaà çaraëaà vraja
ahaà tväà sarva-päpebhyo
mokñayiñyämi mä çucaù
Completely abandon all varieties
of dharma relating to your body
and mind, and just surrender
fully unto Me. I shall deliver
you from all sinful reactions.
Do not fear.
[Translated from Çré Bhägavata-patrikä 9/9]
RAYS OF THE HARMONIST No. 12 Gaura Purnima 2003