Insights From The Harmonist

Selected articles from the magazine
Edited by Paramahamsa Paribrajakacharyya
Sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj
Published between 1927 - 1936

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.

THE fallen soul cannot attain to or maintain his normal condition of freedom from ignorance and misery except by the willing service of the Supreme Lord. He cannot obtain the service of Godhead except by the service of His devotees. The service of the devotees is identical with the service of Krishna. The individual soul has to be a servant of all the devotees if he really wants to serve Krishna. The community of the Vaishnavas is a community of the servants of one another. This is not self-contradictory as all service is offered and accepted for the Supreme Lord. In the spiritual community Sri Krishna is the only Recipient of all service immediately. The last named condition supplies the principle of spiritual fellowship and the formation and maintenance of the community of the devotees.

The service of the devotee is therefore the only thing needful. The service of the devotee is as unconditional as that of the Supreme Lord Himself, being identical with the latter. The spiritual preceptor is the foremost of devotees who alone is capable of initiating the fallen soul into the mystery of the service of the ' devotees. This power distinguishes the Saviour Guru (Diksha Guru) from other devotees. The Diksha Guru or Saviour wields the Divine prerogative of causeless mercy to fallen souls. This is special grace. The bestowing of this grace to fallen souls is the function reserved solely to the Saviour Guru. The Dikhsha Guru imparts the spiritual vision by redeeming from sin.

IN Madhya, ch. III. the author says that the ascetic should not indulge the palate but should practise self-restraint. He must not leave anything on the dinner plate. It is not proper for him to remain in his native village with his friends and relations. The lord strictly forbids us to practise hypocrisy in the garb of ascetic but tells us to use the things of the world without being swayed by attachment to them. The ascetic should not gossip about worldly matters nor hear such talks nor eat well nor put on gaudy dress; he should respect others, not crave for honour and should worship Radha and Krishna with his whole heart. He should not accept anything from worldly people even for the purpose of serving saintly Vaishnabas. If he eats food given by a worldly man, his mind becomes polluted and with such a mind he cannot remember Krishna. He should worship Krishna with a pitcher of water and a twig of tulasi, put on rags and eat only that which barely sustains his life (Part 3. ch. 6).

SUCH is the inconceivable power of the mercy of Nityananda that it could bring the Supreme Lord Himself to feast out in the open on the river-bank. Sri Ramdas and others as cowherds were overwhelmed with love and perceived the high bank of the Yamuna on the side of the Ganges.

As the festivity progressed its tidings drew to the spot the vendors of articles of food from the different villages who brought chinra, curds, sweetmeats and plantains for sale. Purchasing all this ware from their vendors at their proper price Raghunath das made the vendors themselves feast on their own sold articles. All the people who chanced to arrive there to witness the festivity were also made to dine on the purchased chinra, curds and plantains.

The question that should naturally arise at this stage is, ‘Is it possible for the fleshy ear to receive the transcendental sound?’ To that the answer is in the affirmative; for the simple reason that the Absolute is self-communicative and requires no other co-operation for His appearance to the free consciousness of the individual soul than the latter’s unconditional wiling submission. Can He also communicate the willingness for such submission? He can, and as a matter of fact does, communicate by degrees the willingness for submission as the result of communion with Himself.

If we ask further, ‘Why does not the Absolute appear to the other senses at first?’ The answer is that He appears fully, or in other words to all the senses, by gradual stages. In the initial form He appears to the spiritual ear as transcendental sound. Thence He appears on the tongue, then to eye, then to all the spiritual senses, then as a person engaged in various activities and lastly in actual active relationship with the perceiving soul.

He appears to the ear in order to give Himself away. If He is received by the ear He becomes our own and begins to connect Himself with us. He now begins to speak with our tongue. He then sees with our eye. And so on. Of all the organs of sense appertaining to the fleshy house in which the individual soul happens to be confined in this world it is the tongue alone that can communicate any information regarding anything and that also only to the ear. This nature of the tenement of clay coincides with the order of appearance of the Absolute to the spiritual senses.

THE Absolute communicates Himself to man through the organ of hearing by appearing in this phenomenal world in the form of the transcendental word (sound) on the tongue of the spiritual teacher. The Word is the Supreme Person or Godhead Himself. The spiritual teachers confirm and explain themselves and the revealed scriptures. Godhead is always appearing in this world through the medium of the spiritual teachers, His sincere devotees, who form the eternal series of communicants of the living Truth, embodying in their lives the mode of receiving and transmitting the same by unconditional but fully rational submission to the devotees of God. There is no break in the chain of spiritual transmission. Neither is there any other way of realising the Absolute except by forming a link of this eternal spiritual community.

‘KNOW thyself’, said Solon. ‘Be true to thyself’, says Shakespeare, ‘and it follows as the night the day that thou can’st be false to any man’. Neither of them appear to have supposed that it is very easy to know or be one’s real self. But neither do their words imply that any of them suspected that it is impossible for the mind by its own effort to attain to the knowledge of self.

Sri Chaitanya Deva, in conformity with the teaching of all the Shastras, makes a distinction between the self and mind. The mind appears to us to be identical with the self but is not really the self. The mind is only the apparent self. It functions on the limited plane left without guidance it is in perpetual fetters. The mental is the unfree, bound or fallen state of the self. There is no option for the mind but to submit to the constituent conditions of its nature which impose palpable and severe restrictions on all its activities. The mind is punished by failure if it tries to override any of the limitations of its nature. The fallen soul striving to lead a mental existence chafes against these limitations which are foreign to the nature of the self. But he can never break through the bars of his iron cage so long as he happens to identify himself with the mind, as these form the very stuff of the mental existence of sensuous enjoyment.

WE learn from Chaitanya Charitamrita that we should incessantly recite the Name of Krishna as He is the essence of all mantras. It relieves the devotees from the bondage of the world and leads him to the Holy Feet of Krishna. In this Iron Age there is no other religious observance than the utterance of the Name. Whoever recites the Name is filled with an ecstasy of love for the all-loving God, this is the special characteristic of the Name. Love for God is the highest object of human achievement. Piety, acquisition, predilection and deliverance are as straws in comparison. The joy derived from love for Krishna is to the joy that the aspirant derives from the knowledge that he is Brahma, is to him as the ocean of nectar to a drop of water, or the resplendent sun to the phosphorescent glow-worm. It is the nature of that love to raise the mind to a divine elevation and generate a desire for the attainment of the Holy Feet of Krishna. It makes the devotee laugh and weep and sing and dance in an ecstasy of joy. He perspires, shivers and becomes discoloured and is merged in the nectarine ocean of love...