Doctrines of Sri Chaitanya V


February 1931

The doctrines of Sri Chaitanya are identical with those of the revealed Scriptures. They are transcendental. They have come down to us through the eternal chain of the teachers of the Word. The Word is the Veda. It is not possible for us to approach the Word unless we are enlightened by the mercy of the teacher of the Word. The only way by which we may have access to the Word is by submissive listening to the exposition of the Word from the lips of his eternal teacher.

There are books from the pens of great devotees that contain the true exposition of the doctrines of Sri Chaitanya. Sri Chaitanya practised the doctrines that He taught. It should, therefore, be possible to understand His teaching by a careful study of His biography. Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita presents us in detail the Life of Sri Chaitanya as sannyasin that is to say as Teacher of the people. Everyone should read that book. But the book itself is really unintelligible to the convinced empiricist. It is open to everyone to admire the book without really understanding anything of its contents. It is in the same way also practicable to model one’s life on those teachings without really understanding them. Such conduct will not, however, take us one step forward in the direction of the Truth. In the light of what has already been said on the necessity of receiving the Truth in the form of the transcendental sound from the lips of the bonafide teacher we should not also be discouraged by our failure to approach the absolute by the empiric method of studying the biography of the Lord. We require to be introduced to the proper method of study by the mercy of the teacher. He holds the key that will admit us to the plane to which the Life of the Lord belongs.

It is necessary to know the nature of our real self. It is also necessary to preserve ourselves from the delusion, which has such a strong hold on us at present, that we are non-soul. We are now under the power of the physical body and the ignorant mind. We have forgot the nature of our real self. It is necessary for us to regain the knowledge of our own selves. We can do so by accepting the teaching of Sri Chaitanya. But in our present condition it is not really possible for us to accept His teaching. We cannot accept His teaching as long as we are ignorant of our own selves. It is for this reason that it is necessary to accept the teaching of the Lord by the method of submissive listening to the words spoken by the bonafide teacher in pursuance of the Vedic method.

It is possible for our soul to understand the word of the teacher of the Truth. Our souls in the pure state possess consciousness which is fully open for receiving the Truth. Our souls are free from all hankering for ignorance. The soul is fully self-conscious. At present he is not so. He supposes that he is something else, that he is full of ignorance. This ignorance is of various kinds. They are either sattvic, rajasik, or tamasik. The deluded soul regards himself as capable of knowing everything and thereby getting rid of all ignorance; or he may think that his proper function is to do all kinds of work; or he may prefer to remain passively inactive and ignorant. As a matter of fact the soul is the possessor neither of empiric knowledge, activity nor of inactivity. These ambitions are possible only in the deluded condition. All these different mistaken ideas regarding the nature of oneself give rise to differences of opinion in religion. It is in this way that the different religious sects have been formed.

Sects are the result of the attempts that are made by persons who are under the power of the physical body and ignorant mind, to understand and teach the Scriptures by their own efforts. These persons follow such method under the impression that thereby they will become happy. It is the apparently pleasant prospect promised by the method that appeals to them. But what is pleasant for the time being may not also be always for our benefit. Empiric controversy does not help in solving this difficulty. If I choose to think that ignorance is knowledge and that such knowledge makes me happy and if I also desire to be happy in this way, how can I be persuaded to give up my ignorance? The teacher of the Truth, who alone can realise my plight, is always anxious to remove my delusion. But it will not be possible for me to understand what he says, if I do not give up my habitual preference for untruth on the ground that it is likely to make me happy. The teacher of the Truth desires to serve my soul who is perfectly self-conscious. He does not want to serve my ignorance. But as I like to think that I am ignorant by my nature I suppose him to be my enemy. The teacher of the Truth does not want me to give up anything but only to serve the Truth. Everything is to be gained, and nothing can be lost, by the service of the Truth. But the mind in its ignorance does not understand the real nature of the spiritual function. It persists in confounding the function of the soul with a certain form of mental activity. But the function of the soul has nothing to do with the ignorant mind or the physical body, or with this phenomenal world. It is the function of the mind that now-a-days ordinarily passes, even with the most educated persons all over the world, for that of the soul or, at any rate, as being akin to that of the soul.

This is the root-cause of all trouble. The mind is not the soul. The mind cannot understand the nature or the function of the soul. It is apt to attribute its own nature and function to the soul. The mind can serve only what is non-conscious. This is so because it cannot understand nor approach the entity that is termed unclouded consciousness. The mind has no cause to be dissatisfied by such service, as such service is in accordance with its own nature.

The mind is thus enabled to dominate and dictate to the soul. This is, however, an abnormal state of things. The soul is higher than the mind. The mind is also always dimly aware of this. It, therefore, uses the method of persuasion in its dealing with the soul. Aversion to Truth leads the soul to agree with the mind and serve the latter. This service of mind is of two-fold nature. It is either an attempt to gratify the senses by the method of enjoyment or an endeavour to recoup the power of enjoyment by the method of abstinence. The latter method is also called the path of renunciation. It is the path of the pseudo-salvationists and liberationists. The method of enjoyment is the path of the elevationists.

We can at once see how it is possible for liberationists and elevationists to understand the function of the soul which is the subject-matter of the spiritual Scriptures. The difference between the mind and the soul is substantive and is not capable of being brought home to the mind by the method of controversy that is intelligible to the mind. Such controversy is apt to confound the mundane with the spiritual. Or it may take the form of an attempt to reconcile the two. As a matter of fact, the mundane is wholly incompatible with the spiritual. Perfect ignorance is not in any sense compatible with perfect knowledge. It is this illogical trick of the mind that ordinarily passes for the quality of liberalism or toleration, with empiric thinkers. But this is really an uncompromising attitude of refusal to recognise the categorical nature of the difference between the Truth and non-truth and untruth. This is the chief obstacle in the way of empiric thinkers to accept the Scriptural method of search. They are apt to regard it as illiberal and dogmatic. This reservation prevents them from lending their whole attention to the representations of the other side in a really impartial manner.

Sri Chaitanya teaches the function of the soul. It is natural for the soul to serve Godhead exclusively and uninterruptedly. The service of Godhead is neither enjoyable, nor abstemious of enjoyment which alternatives alone are possible for the mind. The natural eternal function of the soul has been revealed in the Vedas. Its nature can be realised by the soul who happens to be under the power of the physical body and ignorant mind by his own choice effected by Maya following the method that is laid down in the Vedas. That method is the srauta-pantha or the path of submissive listening to the transcendental sound appearing on the lips of the bonafide teacher of the Truth. There is no other method by which the fettered soul may be re-established in his natural condition of the willing service of Godhead.

The Brahma-Sutra contains the systematic exposition of the revealed Scriptures. The Srimad-Bhagabatam is the genuine exposition of the Brahma-Sutra. It is not possible to understand the Brahma-Sutra without the help of the Srimad-Bhagabatam. Those who try to explain the Brahma-Sutra in any other way deviate from the method of exposition laid down in the Scriptures. Those who are enabled to understand the real meaning of Srimad-Bhagabatam by the mercy of the bonafide teacher of the Truth find the Bhagabatam to be the crest-jewel of all the Shastras. To such a person there is no longer any irrelevancy or inconsistency or obscurity in any part of the whole body of the revealed Scriptures.

Sri Chaitanya taught the meaning of the Srimad-Bhagabatam by practising the pure service of Godhead as revealed in the Bhagabatam. This is the highest gift of Mahaprabhu. His Life has been made available to all persons by the biographers of the Supreme Lord. But the biographies themselves are also unintelligible unless one hears their exposition from the lips of the pure devotees of Godhead. The Bhagabatam or its exposition can be understood by no other method. Sri Chaitanya does not replace but only fulfils the Shastras.