Chaitanya Mahaprabhu His Life and Precepts – His Precepts
by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura
Lord Chaitanya teaches us first that the rational attributes of people are not capable of approaching the divine sphere of spirit. He considers reason to be quite incompetent in such a matter. However, He considers that the religious sentiment in man, even in a very small quantity, does have the power to comprehend spirit. Inspiration alone can give light to spiritual matters. Inspiration coming down from the higher realm through purified and blessed souls has been exhibited in the form of the Vedas. The Vedas, together with their explanatory notes, the Puranas, are therefore the only evidence in matters of spirit, and are eternal in nature. Thus, Vedic truths should be accepted as the only truth in higher matters. Reason, while sincerely helping the inspired truth, may be accepted as auxiliary evidence. According to Lord Chaitanya, the Vedas teach us nine principal doctrines:
- Hari (the Almighty) is one without a second .
- He is always vested with infinite power .
- He is .an ocean of rasa (sweetness) .
- The soul is His vibhinnangsha, or separated part .
- Certain souls are engrossed by prakriti, or His illusory energy.
- Certain souls are released from the grasp of prakriti.
- All spiritual and material phenomena are the achintya-bhedabheda-prakash of Hari, the Almighty.
- Bhakti is the only means of attaining the final objective existence.
- Krishna–prema alone is the final object of spiritual existence.
In Vedic theology, the creative principle of the Deity is personified in Brahma and the destructive principle in Shiva. Indra is the head of some of the lower elements of administration. Hence, they are not the Almighty Himself, but are different representations of different attributes of the Almighty. They have obtained their powers from an original fountainhead. Thus, they are subordinate beings in the service of Hari. Then again there are three distinct philosophical ideas of the Deity:
- The idea of the all-pervading Brahman of the pantheistic school
- The idea of a universal soul (Paramatma) of the yoga school, and
- The idea of a personal God (Bhagavan) with all His majesty, might, glory, beauty, wisdom, and supremacy combined in His personality.
The ideas of Brahman and Paramatma are, therefore, included in the idea of Bhagavan. Thus, Bhagavan is Hari, the Supreme Being.
Human ideas are either mental or spiritual. The mental idea is defective, as it has its relation to the created principle of matter. The spiritual idea is certainly the nearest approach to the Supreme Being. Then again, the spiritual idea of Bhagavan is of two kinds. In one kind, the person of the Almighty is overpowered by His majesty, and in the other, His personal beauty overpowers all His majesty. The first idea is represented in the great Narayana of Vaikuntha, who is the Lord of lords and God of gods. The second is represented in the all-beautiful Krishna with Radhika, who is the representative of His hladini or superior ecstatic energy.
Krishna appears as a man among men, yet is generally accepted as God above gods. Krishna attracts, loves, and produces ecstasy in all souls. His qualities and personal paraphernalia are all purely spiritual, and have no relation to the material world. The material senses of man cannot approach Him. It is the spirit in man which can see Him directly and commune with Him. The soul fettered in matter has, from its own degradation, lost its right to see Krishna and His spiritual lila in the spiritual world, but Krishna may, out of His own supreme power and prerogative, appear with all His Vrindavan lila before the eyes of all men. The rational man can hardly conceive of or believe in Krishna and His lila, but as man’s spiritual vision improves, he sees Krishna and loves Him with all his heart. This subject can hardly be explained fully and exhaustively. We therefore leave this point to our readers with these words: “Give up the shackles of material life slowly. Cultivate your spiritual consciousness internally. Give up prejudices that you have acquired from the so-called rational thinkers who deny the existence of spirit. Be humble and learn to respect those who work toward spiritual attainments. Do this with your heart, mind, and strength in the company of Vaishnavas alone, and you will see Krishna in no time. Krishna is not an imaginary being, nor have you a right to think that He is a material phenomenon fancied to be the Supreme Being by fools. Krishna is not understood by the process of distinguishing the subjective from the objective, nor is He to be accepted as an imposition on the people set up by self-interested men. Krishna is eternal, spiritually true, reflected on the human soul relieved of all attachment to dull matter, and is the subject of love which proceeds from the soul. Accept Him as such, and you will see Him with your soul’s eyes.”
Words fail to describe the Transcendental Being. The highest, best, and most spiritual ideal of the Divinity is to be found in Krishna. To bring arguments against Him is simply to deceive one’s self, and deprive one’s self of the blessings that God has kept in store for man. Hence, all descriptions of His name, form, attributes, and lila should be accepted spiritually, giving up the material conceptions which words must necessarily convey.
Infinite powers means powers that know no bounds either in space or in time. As God’s powers alone created space and time, His powers are identical to Himself. In material life, there is a difference between a person and his powers, between a thing and its attributes, its name, its form, and its activities; but it is a spiritual truth that in spirit, a person is identical with his name, form, attributes, and activities. This truth cannot be subjected to dry reason which deals with gross matter alone. Krishna is the supreme will in Himself, and He exercises His supreme power at His pleasure, which submits to no law, because all law has proceeded from His will and power.
Power is known by its exercise. In this world we have experience of only three of the attributes of God’s power. We see the material phenomena and we understand that His power has the attribute to create matter. This attribute is known in the Vedas as maya-shakti. We see a man and we understand that the Supreme Power has the attribute to produce the limited and imperfect souls. The shastras (scriptures) call that attribute jiva-shakti. We conceive of One who is spiritual and supreme in His realm of eternal spirits; thus, we understand that His power has an attribute to exhibit perfectly spiritual existences. The Vedas call that attribute by the name of atma-shakti or chit-shakti.
All these attributes together form one supreme power which the Vedas call para-shakti. In fact, power (shakti) is not distinguishable from the personality of that Supreme Being. Still, the powers are separately exhibited in their separate actions. This is styled achintya-bheda-bheda–prakash or inconceivable, simultaneous existence of distinction and non-distinction. Hari, being the Supreme Will above law, exercises His infinite powers while He Himself remains unaffected. This is not understood by reason, but felt in the soul as an intuitive truth.
Rasa has been defined as that ecstatic principle that comprehends sthayi-bhava, vibhava, anubhava, sattvik, and sanchari. Vibhava is divided into alambana and uddipana. Alambana is subdivided into vishaya and ashraya. Ashraya is that person who has in himself the principle of sthayi-bhava and vishaya is that person to whom the sthayi-bhava directs itself. Sthayi-bhava has been explained to be rati or the tendency of the pure spiritual heart. By a connection of ashraya and vishaya the sthayi-bhava arrives at its stage of action. When it obtains its active stage, certain signs are exhibited in the person which are called the anubhavas. These are thirteen in number. Eight other bhavas exhibited in the body are known as sattvika-bhavas, such as tears, shivering, etc. Thirty-three other bhavas, such as harsha, vishad etc. have been shown to be sanchari–bhavas. These combined in the soul form the rasa.
This process of exhibition of rasa relates to the exhibition of rasa in the person enthralled by matter. But rasa itself is an eternal principle identified with the Supreme, Hari. Hari is the ocean of rasa, and in the human soul only a drop of that ocean could be conceived. Rasa naturally is spiritual, but in man subjected to maya, the progenitor of matter, it has been identified in a perverted state with the sensual pleasure of man in connection with material objects. In this condition, the soul loses itself in the mind, and the mind acting through the senses enjoys the perverted reflection of rasa in the five different kinds of objects of the five senses. This is the soul’s going abroad with avidya, or ignorance of the spiritual self. When the soul looks inward, it obtains its spiritual rasa, and the perverted rasa wanes off in proportion to the development of the spiritual rasa.
In spiritual rasa, the souls with each other and with the all-beautiful Lord have their unfettered action in Vrindavan, rising above material time and space. Hari, with His infinite supreme free will, has eternal ecstasy in His spiritual power or chit-shakti. The hladini attribute of chit-shakti (spiritual wisdom) gives Him infinite pleasure. The samvit attribute of chit-shakti produces all bhavas, relations, and affections. The sandhini attribute of chit sh-a1zptiroduces all existence (other than the free will), including the dhams (abodes), individualities, and other substances in connection with the action of the spiritual rasa. All these exhibitions are from chit-shakti or the spiritual power.
The mayik or material creation, including time, space, and gross objects, has no place in chit-jagat or the spiritual world, which is the same as Vrindavan. Maya-shakti is a perverted reflection of the chit-shakti, hence, the qualities in the mayik-jagat (material world) resemble the qualities in the chit-jagat (spiritual universe), but are not substantially the same. The chit-jagat is the model of the mayik-jagat, but they are not identical. We must guard ourselves against the idea that man has imagined chit-jagat from an experience of the mayik-jagat. This idea is pantheistic, and it may also be styled atheistic. Reason not spiritualized has a tendency to create such a doubt, but one who has a wish to enjoy spiritual love must give it up as misleading. The eternal rasa of Krishna exists spiritually in chit-jagat. To us who are in the relative world, there is a screen which intervenes between our eyes and the great spiritual scene of Krishna lila. When by the grace of Krishna that screen is drawn up, we have the privilege to see it, and again when it pleases the Almighty to drop the screen, the great Vrindavan lila disappears. “Taste the subject and your conviction will be the same as mine. Brethren, do not give up such an important subject without liberal examination.”
By ‘soul,’ the Vedic literatures refer to all sorts of souls, whether animal, human, or celestial. It must be understood that Mahaprabhu taught the very liberal principle of transmigration (reincarnation) of the soul. Although certain readers may reject this idea on the grounds that certain forms of faith do not support this theory, it is not prudent to reject a theory because it differs with the dogmas of certain sectarian creeds. Indeed, it is a matter that reason cannot dare to meddle with. Candidly examining, we cannot find any strong reason to disbelieve the theory of transmigration. Rather, our unprejudiced mind is inclined to accept it.
The belief that the human soul has only one trial in life is evidently dogmatic, unjust, and contrary to the belief that God is all good. When our spiritual sentiment supports the Vedic conclusions, which have taught us the facts about continual existence of the soul in different stages of creation, we must give up the idea of disbelieving in the principle of transmigration of the soul. However, educated and scientific a man may be, he is always liable to a creeping error, and that error may even be supported by an entire sect or nation.
The soul, according to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, is an atomic part of the Divine Soul. It is a part of God’s power to produce beings who are spiritual in essence, but liable to be enthralled by maya (illusion) when they forget their position as eternal servants of the Supreme. God here is compared with the sun, and the souls are said to be the atomic portions of that sun’s rays, unable to stand freely unless they are protected by another attribute of God’s power. The word ‘part’ is not meant in the same way as to describe portions cut out of a piece of stone by an axe, but should be understood by the example of one lamp lit from another, or gold produced from an alchemical stone.
The souls are also compared with separate atomic sparks of a burning fire. Each soul has drawn from its fountainhead a proportionate share of the attributes of the Supreme, and consequently, a small proportion of the free will. These souls are naturally located between the chit-jagat and mayik-jagat. Those who chose to serve their God were protected from fall down by the interference of the hladini attribute of the Supreme’s chit-shakti. They have been admitted as eternal servants of the Lord in various ways. They know not the troubles of maya and the karma–chakra, or the rotative principles of mayik action and its result. Those who wanted to enjoy were captured by maya from the other side. They are in Maya’s karma cbaizr-ending only when they again see their original position as servants of the Supreme Lord. These souls, whether liberated from Maya’s charm or enthralled by her, are separate responsible beings depending on the Supreme, Hari.
Hari is the Lord of Maya; she serves Him at His pleasure. The soul or jiva is so constructed as to be liable to be enthralled by maya when unassisted by the hladini-shakti of the Lord. Hence, there is a natural and inherent distinction between God and the jiva that no pantheistic maneuver can annihilate. Please avoid the misleading question, “When were these jivas created and enthralled?” The mayik time has no existence in spiritual history because it has its commencement after the enthrallment of jivas in matter; one cannot, therefore, employ mayik chronology in matters like these.
Prakriti, maya, pradhan, prapancha, and avidya are different names of the same principle according to its different phases and attributes. Maya is not an independent shakti from the supreme svarup-shakti. She is simply a devotee serving God executing His orders to reform those who become ungrateful to Him. Maya is in charge of God’s house of correction, and her energy is a reflection of God’s supreme power. Those jivas who, in abusing their free will, forgot that they were eternal servants of the Lord and thought of enjoying for themselves, were captured by Maya for their penal servitude and correction.
Maya has three attributes: sattva, rajas and tamas. Those attributes are just like chains used to bind the ungrateful souls. Maya then applies a double casing on the spiritual form of the soul. The casing is described by the words linga and sthula. The mayik existence has twenty-four substances. The five elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether), the five properties (sound, touch, sight, taste, and smell), the five knowledge-acquiring senses (eye, ear, nose, tongue, and skin), and the five working senses (the hands, legs, speech, genital, and organ for evacuation); these twenty form the sthula or outer-casing. The mind, intelligence, contaminated consciousness, and false ego comprise the linga-deha or inner-casing. Then, after encasing the spiritual form of the soul, Maya employs the fallen souls in different kinds of work. Mayik work is composed of karma, akarma and vikarma. Karma is conveniially good action done to obtain punya or virtue, such as performance of duties enjoined by the varnashram-dharma of the Smartas. Karma elevates one to the heavenly realm. Akarma (failure to perform one’s duty) places one in an unpleasant state on Earth, and vikarma (sinful or criminal actions) hurls souls down to hellish life. The fallen souls travel from body to body with their linga-deha, doing karma or vikarma, rising up to the heavens and again coming down at the exhaustion of their virtues, going down to hell, and after suffering punishment, again rising up to the platform of fruitive work. Thus, the state of the fallen souls is deplorable to the extreme degree, as they sometimes suffer massacre and murder, and sometimes enjoy as princes. The material world is, therefore, a prison or a house of correction, and not a place for enjoyment, as some people assert.
Jivas are traveling on the path of mayik existence from time immemorial, experiencing all sorts of pleasure and pain. How can one become free from this unpleasant condition. Religious rituals, performance of duty, yoga, development of powers of the body and the mind, sankhya (empiric philosophical analysis), simple knowledge that one is a spiritual being, and vairagya, giving up all enjoyments in the world, are not the proper means by which one can actually achieve what he or she genuinely wants. When a person comes in contact with a Vaishnava whose heart has been melted by hari-bhakti-rasa, it is then that he or she may desire to imbibe the sweet principle of bhakti and follow in the holy footsteps of the devotee by constantly practicing krishna-bhakti. They slowly wash off the mayik condition, and in the end, after obtaining their true nature, enjoy the sweetest unalloyed rasa, which is the ultimate attainment of the soul. Satsanga, or the company of spiritual people, is the only means to obtain the ultimate object of life. Bhakti is a principle which comes from soul to soul, and like electricity or magnetism in gross matter, it conducts itself from one congenial soul to another. The principle of bhakti is sincere, entire dependence on the Supreme Lord in every act of life. The principle of duty is not part of bhakti, as it acts on the basis of gratitude for favors obtained, and it involves obligation, which is contrary to natural love.
The principle of morality in the mortal world, though good in its own way, scarcely brings spiritual results in the end. Faith in the supreme beauty of the Lord, a desire for the eternal unselfish service of that Supreme Being, and a consequent repulsion of every other thought of pleasure or self-aggrandisement are the three principles which constitute sraddha, or actual hankering after bhakti.
Bhakti by nature is ananya or exclusive. Is it chance, then, which brings bhakti. No, sukriti or good work is the prime moving principle. Good work is of two types. One type, passing as morality, includes those works that bring virtue and aggrandisement. The other type of good work includes all activities that have a tendency to bring about spiritual progress. This latter type of good work or sukriti brings one in contact with a sincere Vaishnava from whom one can initially imbibe sraddha or faith in spirit; and being then capable of receiving bhakti, one obtains the seed of devotional service from that Vaishnava, who is actually the person’s guru.
Metaphysica2 discussions are perfect2y use2ess.
The Vedas sometimes establish that the jiva is distinct from the Lord, and sometimes the jiva is the same as the Lord. Factually, the Vedas always tell the truth. The jiva is simultaneously distinct from and identical with God (achintya-bhedabheda-prakash). This is not understood by the rationalist. Hence, it must be said that in the exercise of His powers beyond human comprehension, God is distinct from the jiva and the world, and yet identical with them at all times. The Vedanta teaches us the shakti-parinamavada, and not the erroneous vivartavada of Shankaracharya. Shankara’s teachings are explained in different ways. Some say that the world and the jiva have emanated from God, and others establish that the jiva and the world are but developments of the Godhead. Shankara, in order to avoid brahma parinama (transformation of the Godhead into the world) theorizes that Srila Vyasadeva teaches us vivartavada (that God undergoes no change whatsoever, but it is maya that covers a part of the Supreme, just as a pot encloses a part of the sky); or that God is reflected on avidya or ignorance, while in fact nothing other than God has yet come into existence.
These are worthless and abstruse arguments. It is plain that the Vedanta teaches us that God is unchangeable and is never subject to modifications. His power alone creates the jiva and the material world by its own parinama (modification). The example is in the action of the alchemist’s stone, the power of which comes in the form of gold while the stone remains unchanged. Thus, chit-shakti appears in the form of the chit-jagat, with all its particularities of eternal rasa, and jiva-shakti appears in the form of the innumerable jivas, some staying in Vaikuntha as parishads or ‘angels,’ and others moving in this world in various shapes and forms under very different circumstances. Maya-shakti creates numerous worlds for the habitations and entertainments of the fallen souls.
Vivartavada is no doubt an error and is quite opposed to the teachings of the Vedas, whereas shakti- parinamvada alone is true and supports the fact that spiritual love is eternal. If vivartavada were true, the natural consequence would be to declare spiritual love to be a temporary principle.
Karma alone cannot directly and immediately produce a spiritual result. When it does, it does so by means of bhakti. Hence, bhakti is independent, and karma and jnana are dependent principles. Jnana or the knowledge that man is a spiritual being, cannot directly bring the ultimate result. When it does, it does so with the assistance of bhakti. Bhakti, therefore, is the only means to obtain the ultimate goal. Bhakti is thus defined as the cultivation of a friendly sentiment for Krishna, free from all desires other than those for the sentiment’s own improvements, and unalloyed by such other ingredients as karma and jnana etc. It will be seen that bhakti is itself both a feeling and an action. Bhakti has three stages: sadhana-bhakti, bhava-bhakti and prema-bhakti. Sadhana-bhakti is that stage of culture when the feeling of love for Krishna has not yet been aroused. In bhava-bhakti the feeling awakens, and in prema-bhakti the feeling is fully set into action. Bhakti is a spiritual feeling toward the spiritual object of love.
Sadhana-bhakti of two kinds: one is called vaidhi-sadhana-bhakti and the other is called raganuga–sadhana-bhakti. The word vaidhi is from vidhi, or ‘rule.’ Vaidhi–bhakti is practiced by following the rules of the shastras as long as feeling is not aroused, whereas in raganuga-bhakti, one out of natural tendency loves Krishna, and there is a strong desire to serve the Lord of the heart. One who is charmed by the beauty of this process is quickly able to cultivate his feeling for Krishna; but of the two, raganuga-bhakti is stronger than vaidhi-bhakti.
Cultivation of the friendly feelings for Krishna is performed in nine different ways:
- Hearing of the spiritual name, form, attributes, and lila of Krishna.
- Speaking about and singing the glories of all those.
- Meditating on and remembering all those.
- Serving His holy feet.
- Bowing down.
- Doing all that pleases Him.
- Developing friendship toward Him.
- Complete surrender to Him.
Of all these processes, kirtan, or singing the name of Krishna, is the best.
Humble knowledge is necessary in these types of worship, and fruitless discussions must be avoided. There are some who object to the idea of worshiping Srimurti (the Deity form of Krishna). They say, “It is idolatry to worship Srimurti. Srimurti is an idol formed by an artist and introduced by no one other than Satan himself. Worshiping such an object would arouse the jealousy of God and limit His omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence.”
To this we reply, “Brethren! Candidly understand the question and do not allow yourself to be misled by sectarian dogmas. God is not jealous, as He is one without a second. Satan is none other than an object of the imagination or the subject of an allegory. An allegorical or imaginary being should not be allowed to act as an obstacle to bhakti.”
Those who believe God to be impersonal simply identify Him with some power or attribute in nature, though in fact He is above nature, her laws, and her rules. His holy wish is law and it would be sacrilege to confine His unlimited excellence by identifying Him with attributes which may exist in created objects such as time, space, etc. His excellence lies in His having mutually contradicting powers and attributes ruled by His supernatural Self.
He is identical with His all-beautiful form, having such powers as omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence, the like of which cannot be found elsewhere. His holy and perfect personality exists eternally in the spiritual world, and at the same time exists in every created object and place in all its fullness. This idea excels all other ideas of the Deity. Mahaprabhu rejects idolatry, yet considers the worship of srimurti to be the only unexceptionable means of spiritual culture.
It has been shown that God is personal and all beautiful. Sages like Vyasadeva and others have seen that beauty in their soul’s eyes and left us descriptions. Of course, words carry the grossness of matter; but truth is still perceivable in those descriptions. According to those descriptions, one delineates a srimurti and sees the great God of our heart there with intense pleasure. Brethren! Is that wrong or sinful?
Those who say that God has no form, either material or spiritual, and at the same time imagine a false form for worship, are certainly idolatrous. But those who see the spiritual form of the Deity in their soul’s eyes carry that impression as far as possible to the mind, and then frame an emblem for the satisfaction of the material eye for continual study of the higher feeling, are by no means idolatrous. While seeing a srimurti, do not even see the image itself, but see the spiritual model of the image and you are a pure theist. Idolatry and srimurti worship are two different things! But my brethren, you simply confuse one with the other out of hastiness.
To tell you the truth, srimurti worship is the only true worship of the Deity, without which you cannot sufficiently cultivate your religious feelings. The world attracts you through your senses, and as long as you do not see God in the objects of your senses, you live in an awkward position, which scarcely helps you in procuring your spiritual elevation. Place a srimurti in your house. Think that God Almighty is the guardian of the house. Offer food to Him and take it as His prasada (mercy). Flowers and scents should also be offered to Him and accepted as prasada. The eye, ear, nose, skin, and tongue all have a spiritual culture. You do it with a holy heart and God will know it and judge you by your sincerity. Satan will have nothing to do with you in that matter!
All sorts of worship are based on the principle of srimurti. Look into the history of religion and you will come to this noble truth. The Semitic idea of a patriarchal God, both in the pre-Christian period of Judaism and period of Christianity thereafter, and Mohammedanism, are nothing but limited ideas of srimurti. The monarchic idea of a Jove among the Greeks and of an Indra among the Aryan karma-kandis also a distant view of the same principle. The ideas of a force and jyotirmaya Brahma of the meditators, and a formless energy of the Shaktas are also very faint views of the srimurti
In fact, the principle of srimurti is the truth itself differently exhibited in different people according to their different phases of thought. Even Jaimini and Comte, who are not prepared to accept a creating God, have prescribed focusing on certain aspects of the srimurti, simply because they have been impelled by some inward action from the soul! And of course, we meet with people who have adopted the Cross, the shalagram-shila, the shiva-lingam, and other such emblems as indicators of the inward idea of srimurti.
Furthermore, if divine compassion, love, and justice could be portrayed by the pencil and expressed by the chisel, then why shouldn’t the personal beauty of the Deity be portrayed in poetry or in picture or expressed by the chisel for the benefit of man. If words can impress thoughts, a watch can indicate time, and a sign can tell us a history, then why can’t a picture or figure bring associations of higher thoughts and feelings related to the transcendental beauty of the Supreme Lord?
Srimurti worshipers are divided into two classes: the ideal and the physical. Those of the physical school are obliged from their circumstances of life and state of mind to establish temple institutions. Those who are by circumstances and position entitled to worship the srimurti within the mind have, with due deference to the temple institutions, a tendency to worship usually by shravana (hearing) and kirtan (glorifying), and their church is universal and independent of considerations of caste and color. Mahaprabhu preferred this latter class, and exemplified their worship in his Shikshastaka. Worship, then, without interruption in a mood of surrender, and in a very short time you will be blessed with prema.
The karma-margis declare that enjoyment in this world and in the heavens hereafter is all that a man requires. Karma, or action, is of two types: karma done with a view to obtain a material result, and karma done with a view to please God. To the karma-margis, both types of karma have the object of procuring enjoyment. God is worshiped simply to grant material enjoyment. Here is the line of demarcation between bhakti and karma. Bhakti aims at procuring the principle of priti or divine love as the final result of all actions, while karma aims at selfish enjoyment as the ultimate goal of action.
The jnana-margis, on the other hand, cultivate jnana or spiritual knowledge to obtain mukti or salvation as the final aim of their cultivation. Mukti is defined to be of two kinds. In one kind of mukti, total absorption of the soul in God is effected, bringing about the annihilation of the separate existence of the soul from God. This is known as sayujya. In the other kind of mukti, the soul stands eternally distinct from God, and when salvation ensues, the soul goes to the spiritual world, obtaining either: salokya or residence in the kingdom of God; samipya or close association with the Lord; sarupya or attainment of a spiritual form like that of God Himself; or sarshti, the attainment of powers similar to the powers of God.
The latter class of mukti is inevitable when it pleases the Almighty to grant us that state. But then after obtaining that mukti, we serve God with priti or pure love. The first kind of mukti is rejected by the bhaktas as not worth having because of its tendency to annihilate the highest principle of love. The second type of mukti cannot be the ultimate objective, as it acts like an intermediate condition of the soul, priti there acting as the ultimatum. Mukti therefore must be treated as an intermediate result of our spiritual disenchantment.
Besides that, a hankering after mukti spoils the action of spiritual cultivation, since it is a strong desire for something other than the improvement of bhakti. It has a tint of selfishness which is not in keeping with the unselfish principle of pure bhakti. We must therefore cultivate bhakti, being always free from the two contending forces, i.e., a desire for bhukti, or selfish enjoyment, and a desire for mukti, or salvation. We must depend on Krishna to either give us mukti or not as it pleases Him. We must pray for continual development of our religious sentiment, or bhakti alone. Priti, or pure love, is the final object of our existence.
Rati, as explained above, is the unit of the principle of pure spiritual love of Krishna. When rati (attachment) is mixed with ulas (zeal), it becomes priti. Priti creates exclusive love for Krishna and repulsion for things and persons other than Krishna and His entourage. When the idea that, “Krishna is mine” is added to priti, it becomes prema. Here begins the idea that, “Krishna is my own Lord and I am His servant.” Add confidence to prema and it becomes pranaya wherein arises the relationship of friendship with Krishna. In pranaya, the idea of respect loses its hold. Add to pranaya the idea that, “Krishna is my exclusive and dearest object of love,” and it curiously turns into mana. Krishna, with all His greatness and power, exhibits a sort of submission to it.
With excessive melting of the heart being added, prema turns into sneha. Here ensues the relationship of a son and parents between Krishna and His devotee. In this stage, much weeping for Krishna, want of satiety in communion, and a desire to protect the interest of Krishna naturally occur. Then, an increase in desire added to sneha is raga. In this stage, a moment’s separation is unbearable. Here commences the relationship of husband and wife between Krishna and His devotee. Distress attending upon want of mutual interview is happiness. Raga, seeing its object as new at every moment, and being itself new at every moment, converts itself into anuraga. In this stage, reciprocal subjection and a strong desire to accompany the lover everywhere are the principal features. Anuraga, infinitely rising in an astonishing state, mounting as if to madness, becomes mahabhava. This is indescribable. From rati to mahabhava, the whole principle is what is known as sthayi-bhava. Added to vibhava, anubhava, svastika, and sanchari, the sthayi-bhava becomes krishna-prema-rasa, the eternal ecstasy and beatitude.
We have a perverted picture of this noble rasa in human life, as life in the kingdom of Maya is a perverted reflection of spiritual life. When the soul alone works toward its proper object, the Supreme Lord Krishna, the rasa is pure; when the mind and the senses work toward a wrong object, rasa is degraded and becomes deplorable. The perverted rasa gives us a clue as to the nature of the noble spiritual rasa, hence these descriptions have been attempted in words which may also be used to describe features of the perverted rasa. We ask our readers to take care to make a definite distinction between spirit and gross matter, otherwise a misunderstanding is inevitable.
One who studies the names, forms, attributes, and lila of Krishna, as described in the Srimad Bhagavatam, with a sincere heart, mind and strength in the company of one who has realized the spirit, will rise higher and higher by the influence of bhakti. One who is apt to analyze everything in an academic way can scarcely acquire the truth in matters of spirit, as by the law of God, reason in its present state can never reach the sphere of spirit.
In order to have the opportunity to go as far as we have stated, one must make a further inquiry from the heart, and the all-beautiful Lord will then help him to realize the spirit and rise higher and higher in its realm. But as long as the mind is confounded by material allurements, there is no way to rise beyond matter in its various forms. The great mistake that most Western philosophers have made is to identify the mind and the perverted ego (ahankara) with the soul or spirit. This is most unfortunate.
To summarise, man in his present state has three different principles in him: (I) The sthula principle, or gross matter composing his body; (2) the linga principle, or sublimated matter appearing in the form of mind, intelligence, contaminated consciousness, and the perverted ego, by which one is bewildered within the material world. This state has been caused by the influence of maya, or the illusory energy, with the object of correcting the soul in his wrong intention to enjoy in forgetfulness of his nature as God’s servant. (3) Man in fact is solely independent of Maya and her connection. The only way to get rid of the present difficulty is by the influence of pure bhakti imbibed from a true bhakta. Bhakti, as a means, elevates man up to the all-beautiful abode of Krishna, and again, as an end, maintains him with eternal krishna-prema.
While located in the mayik world, man must live peacefully with the object of cultivating the spirit. In this society he must lead a pure life, avoid sins, and do as much good as he can to his fellow man. He must be humble, bearing the difficulties of life with heroism. He must not boast of any virtues or grandeur that he has, and he must treat everyone with the respect due to them. Marriage with a view toward a peaceful and virtuous life and with the intent to procreate servants of the Lord is a good institution for a Vaishnava. Spiritual cultivation is the main object of life. Do everything that helps it and abstain from doing anything which thwarts the cultivation of the spirit.
Have strong faith that only Krishna can protect you. Admit Him as your only guardian. Do everything Krishna wants you to do, and never act independent of the holy wish of Krishna. Do all that you do with humility. Always remember that you are a foreigner in this world, and be prepared to go to your own home. Do your duties and cultivate bhakti as a means to obtain the great goal of life, krishna-priti. Employ your body, mind, and spirit in the service of the Lord. In all your actions, worship your great Lord.
Thus we have presented a summary of Sriman Mahaprabhu’s life and precepts. Our gentle readers will now find that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu preached pure monotheism and chased out idolatry. He taught us that idolatry is the worship of things and persons that are not God Himself. When the sannyasis of Benares addressed Him as God Almighty, Mahaprabhu told them that it was the worst of sins to address a jiva as God. And He has several times denounced the worship of a form or image other than the true image of God (after which man was created). God is one without a second. “There is none to compete with Him” is the motto of Mahaprabhu’s religion.
Also, Mahaprabhu showed, both in His character and preaching, the purest morality as an accompaniment of spiritual improvement. Morality, as a matter of course, will grace the character of a bhakta. If it is not seen in the character of one who presents himself as a krishna-bhakta, his sincerity may be doubted.
There are four classes of thought: atheistic, pantheistic, indifferent, and theistic. Chaitanya’s religion rejects the first three as inimical to religion. He preaches pure theism alone and advises men to avoid the others.
He preaches that varnashram-dharma, including the caste system, is simply a social institution introduced by the rishis (sages) to do good to man in society. Such social institutions should be allowed to decorate the devotees as long as they do not oppose spiritual improvement. By sending Pradyumna Mishra, a rigid Brahmana, to Ramananda Raya for spiritualisation, Mahaprabhu has shown that one who is aware of krishna-tattva may be a guru, be he a Shudra, Brahmana, or sannyasi.
Mahaprabhu preaches the equality of men in the enjoyment of spiritual fulfillment. He preaches that human thought should never be allowed to be shackled with sectarian views. He preaches universal fraternity among men and special brotherhood among Vaishnavas who are, according to Him, the best pioneers of spiritual improvement. He tells us that a man should earn money in a befitting way through sincere dealings with others and should not immorally obtain it. When Gopinath Pattanayaka, one of the brothers of Ramananda Raya, was being punished by the King for immoral gains, Lord Chaitanya warned all of His associates to be moral in their worldly dealings.
In His own early life, Mahaprabhu taught the grihasthas (householders) to give all sorts of assistance to the needy and the helpless, and has shown that it is necessary, for one who has the power to do it, to assist in the education of the people, especially the Brahmanas, who are expected to study the higher subjects of human knowledge.
Sri Chaitanyadeva, as a teacher, has taught men both by precepts and His holy life. There is scarcely a spot in His life that may be made the subject of criticism. His taking sannyas, His severe treatment of junior Haridas, and other such acts, have been viewed as objectionable by certain persons, but we believe that those men have either been led to a hasty conclusion or suffer from party spirit. Mahaprabhu was an undaunted hero in the execution of his resolutions. When he was told by some malicious Brahmanas that the emperor was sending an army against him, he said that he wished the reigning Prince would be cognizant of what he was doing. He was amiable to everyone, yet stern in the discharge of His duty.
Once, Brahmananda Bharati, the godbrother of Mahaprabhu’s sannyas-guru, Keshava Bharati, appeared before Him dressed in a tiger’s skin. Mahaprabhu would not bow down to him until he gave up the tiger skin and wore linen cloth. He said, “The person before Me is not Bharati. How is it that one equal to My guru could put on an animal’s skin? The sannyasis do not support the killing of beasts for the sake of their personal use.” Bharati understood that Mahaprabhu did not like that, and he changed his apparel. Lord Chaitanya then bowed down to him, showing proper respect to His guru’s godbrother.
Another time, Vallabha Bhatta (a scholar of great renown) wrote what he thought to be an improved commentary on the Srimad Bhagavatam and showed it to Mahaprabhu, saying that he would not submit to Sridhar Swami. The Lord said that it was an unchaste women who disregarded her swami (husband). This was a remark which mortified Vallabha Bhatta and dissuaded him from expressing further disrespectful opinions about Sridhar Swami, the commentator of the Bhagavatam.
Finally, Mahaprabhu impressed upon His disciples that they should enter into the spirit of the shastras without being confined by the words themselves. Devananda Pandit did not understand the spirit of bhakti while reading the Bhagavatam, and so he incurred offense in the course of his dealings with the Lord’s devotees. But when he captured the true spirit of bhakti, then Lord Chaitanya embraced him and pardoned him for all that he had done before.
The religion preached by Mahaprabhu is universal and non-sectarian. The most learned and the most ignorant are both entitled to embrace it. The learned people can accept it by studying the literatures left by the great acharyas. The ignorant can have the same privilege by simply chanting the name of the Lord and mixing in the company of pure Vaishnavas. The church of kirtan invites all classes of people, without distinction as to caste or clan, to engage in the highest cultivation of the spirit. This church, it appears, will extend all over the world, and take the place of all sectarian institutions which exclude “outsiders” from the precincts of the mosque, church, or temple.
If you are inclined, after a study of these pages, to identify Sri Chaitanyadeva as the Supreme Lord, we would beg you not to think that God has entered into the carnal coil like the fallen men. His supreme power can bring Him down to the material world with all His glory and attributes without being touched by the lower energy of maya. To believe otherwise would be to commit the sin of minimizing His true position.
We make no objection if the reader does not believe His miracles, as miracles alone never represent the Godhead. Demons like Ravana and others have also performed miracles, which do not prove that they were God. It is unlimited prema and its overwhelming influence which can be seen in no one other than God Himself. In conclusion, we leave it to our readers to decide how to view Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The Vaishnavas have accepted Him as the Supreme Lord Krishna Himself. Others have regarded Him as a bhakta-avatara (a divine incarnation to distribute love of God). It is at the request of some Vaishnavas that we have composed the Smarana Mangala verses in the form of prayers for daily recitation at the time of worship. Those of you who are not prepared to accept them in that way may accept Nimai Pandit as a noble and holy teacher. That is all we want our readers to believe.
Noble readers! Pardon us for intruding on you with these pages. As servants of Sri Chaitanyadeva, it was our duty to propagate His supreme teachings and in doing a duty we are entitled to pardon for any trouble we may have given you. We are natives of Bengal and in couching our words in a foreign language we might have been liable to mistakes for which you will please forgive.
In conclusion, we beg to say that we should be glad to reply to any questions which our brethren would like to address to us on these important subjects. We feel great interest in trying to help our friends to seek the way to spiritual love.