What Sri Caitanya Meant by Theism
by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Prabhupada
The Supreme Lord Sri Krsna Caitanya has asked all sections of the people of this world not to tamper with or mutilate the Absolute Truth with their crippled attempts to regulate Him, but rather to approach Him with an absolutely clean and sincere heart, in which His own feature will be revealed. He may then show His various manifestive aspects in accordance with the eligibility of the person approaching him.
The Supreme Lord has mercifully disclosed the name of the true object of pure theism: “Sri Krsna”. The conception of an impersonal God, devoid of all attributes and stripped of all varieties of potency, is included in the conception of Sri Krsna as one of His partial features where all sorts of perceivable attributes are eliminated.
Sri Krsna Caitanya has lucidly demonstrated to the people what He meant by theism. We find that He has thoroughly revealed to us the conception of various types of transcendental, unalloyed service to the Supreme Absolute, Sri Krsna, as well as a special type of service which was hitherto quite unknown to theists. He has revealed that special type of service to people everywhere.
Theism before He disclosed this was conceived as being confined exclusively to reverence and regulative principles. Sri Krsna Caitanya has taught us that we may approach Sri Krsna with unconditional service in all sorts of ways and He has shown us the excellence of the most confidential relationship between Godhead and human souls in comparison to other relationships with Him. Until His time, we were quite familiar with the idea of approaching Sri Krsna only through the other principles of devotion, simply by worshipping Him, leaving aside the most attractive aspect of rendering service to the Lord.
The omnipotence and omniscience of the Supreme, which are His secondary aspects, had been prominent in the conception of theists. As such, we had been thinking that service to the object of our worship should be performed by the upper part of the body and that the lower part of our transcendental eternal body* could not possibly offer any acceptable service to the Beloved. We had been neglecting our existence as a transcendental, albeit infinitesimal entity called the ‘soul’ residing within the external frame and within the astral body.
Consequently, up to that time, we had been confounding ourselves with a philosophy that was no more than mental speculation. We were perpetually restricted by external views of the world and we avoided cognizance of our pure identity, which is meant for rendering eternal service to He who is the Transcendental Object, the Supreme Sentient Being, and the eternal Oversoul. The level of theism that we had reached at that time was therefore not sufficiently elevated, and higher aspects of service to the Lord, such as serving Godhead as a close and confidential friend, as a son, and as a consort, were thus hidden from us.
Thus we had merely been keeping transitory relationships with the perishable objects of this world. But our theism should not restrict our vision and cause us to ignore the confidential service which can be rendered by the free human soul to Sri Krsna. Until now, we were not convinced about the existence of the Oversoul and His existential position – that Sri Krsna alone, in all His aspects, should be the object of our devotion.
We find that unless the Supreme Absolute, Sri Krsna, kindly graces us by becoming the willing recipient of our service, we cannot render all varieties of confidential service to Him. And in any other aspect of Krsna, such as Matsya, Varaha, Nrsingha, Vamana and Rama, the depth of our reverential activities is rather limited.
Here, even in this perverted world, people can offer their confidential services in any of the five rasas*. Sri Krsna, and no other, is the centre, the very fountainhead of all divinity whom we can lovingly satisfy with all aspects of our confidential service.
Sri Krsna is akhilarasamrtamurti, that is, the fountainhead of all rasas, and we can approach Him in any one of His five different reciprocal features. By performing all our activities for Him with the body of our transcendental soul, we can offer Him our eternal service in one of these five features, whereas, in reciprocation with other forms of Godhead, we cannot offer such confidential service.