Saturday, December 15, 2018

Is sense control relevant in the path of bhakti?





Some so-called Vaiṣṇavas advocate that one can indulge in unrestricted sense enjoyment or even in sinful activities and at the same time advance in devotional service, as if there were no relation between both things. Pathetically, they even try to justify their claims by giving the pastimes of the Supreme Lord as examples of how sense indulgence is all right. Centuries ago, some followers of Mīmāṁsā propounded quite similar ideas to corroborate their view that sense enjoyment is the highest goal, since even Lord Hari is attached to women and so on. In this regard, in the Siddhānta-ratna (our upcoming publication), Gauḍīya-vedāntācārya Śrī Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa states the following:

ucyate — pāmaraṁ bravīṣi viṣaya-rasiko viśuddhānandānabhijñaḥ | asti hi vaiṣayikātirikta-sukha-sampat | sukham aham asvāpsaṁ na kiñcid avediṣam iti śruteḥ | iha hi suṣupti-sukhaṁ nirviṣayaṁ pratīyate sārva-laukikaṁ caitat | evaṁ ca jīvasyāṇu-bhūtasyājanya-sukha-rūpatve siddhe vibhor bhagavatas tu tādṛśa-vipula-sukha-rūpatvaṁ sidhyati | yo vai bhūmā tat-sukham iti, ānando brahmeti vyajānād iti ca śrutis tathāha | kiṁ ca vaiṣayikaṁ nāma sukham indriyair viṣaya-grahe’bhiniṣpadyate tad-agrahe vinaśyatīti sarvānubhūtam | bhagavad-rūpaṁ sukhaṁ tu viṣaya-tyāge’bhivyajyate tat-parigrahe tirobhavatīti | nāvirato duścaritān nāśānto nāsamāhitaḥ | nāśānta-mānaso vāpi prajñānenainam āpnuyād ity-ādi-śruteḥ | viṣayāviṣṭa-cittānāṁ viṣṇv-āveśaḥ sudūrataḥ | vāruṇī-dig-gataṁ vastu vrajann aindrīṁ kim āpnuyād ity-ādi-smṛteś ca || 1.56 ||
               
          If someone says so, we reply that being ignorant of pure transcendental bliss and addicted to sense enjoyment, you are speaking foolishly. There is certainly higher happiness beyond sense enjoyment. As it is heard from the scriptures: sukham aham asvāpsaṁ na kiñcid avediṣam, [1] “I slept happily and was not aware of anything.” Here it is acknowledged that during deep sleep there is indeed happiness without any sense object, and this is commonly known to everyone. Being proved in this way that the atomic living entity has causeless happiness, it is proved that the all-pervasive Supreme Lord has abundant causeless happiness. This is stated by the śruti: yo vai bhūmā tat sukham (Chāndogya Upaniṣad, 7.23.1), “Bhūmā, the Supreme Lord, is happiness itself;” ānando brahmeti vyajānāt (Taittirīya Upaniṣad, 3.6.1), “Bhṛgu realized that the Supreme Lord is bliss.” Moreover, everyone has experience that sensual pleasure appears when the senses perceive the sense objects and disappears when there is no perception. However, the happiness in the form of the Supreme Lord becomes manifest when sense enjoyment is given up and disappears when sense enjoyment is taken up. As corroborated by the Kaṭha Upaniṣad (1.2.24): nāvirato duścaritān nāśānto nāsamāhitaḥ, nāśānta-mānaso vāpi prajñānenainam āpnuyāt, “One who does not refrain from forbidden activities, whose external senses are not controlled, who is not concentrated, or whose internal senses are not controlled, cannot attain the Supreme Soul by knowledge.” The smṛti also confirms: viṣayāviṣṭa-cittānāṁ viṣṇv-āveśaḥ sudūrataḥ, vāruṇī-dig-gataṁ vastu vrajann aindrīṁ kim āpnuyāt,[2] “Absorption in Lord Viṣṇu is far away for those whose minds are absorbed in sense enjoyment. Can someone going towards the eastern side find something that was lost in the western side?”



[1] This sentence is often seen in works on Vedānta, but its original source is unknown.
[2] Quoted by Jīva Gosvāmī in the Bhakti-sandarbha (147) and attributed to the Viṣṇu Purāṇa.