Thursday, August 21, 2008

Vedic Epistemology— the Real Scientific Approach

            For many centuries, the biggest materialistic brains have been trying to understand the intricacies of the universe, its atomic constitution, its origin, development and dissolution, but whatever was obtained so far is just a drop of relative knowledge from an ocean of immeasurable knowledge, both phenomenal and noumenal. There are different methods to obtain different results, and it should not be a surprise if by using the wrong method one obtains something distinct from the expected. That ocean of knowledge is accessible only to those who take to the proper method, i.e., sabda-pramana, hearing the Vedic knowledge from the parampara system, and not otherwise.


            The first mistake that even an honest person in search of knowledge may commit is to believe completely in his own senses, pratyaksa. Direct perception is already defective, thus how can one acquire perfect knowledge from an imperfect instrument? And this includes also any tool that is manufactured by such imperfect instruments. Of all methods of research, this is perhaps the most ineffective and susceptible to failure. The next attempt is inference, anumana. That depends more or less on one’s brain power to reach rational conclusions from some premises. The problem with this method is that the human brain is as ‘effective’ as the senses, or in other words, just another imperfect means to grasp knowledge. Those who are artificially making their brains work, trying to understand each and every thing in the universe by their own brain capacity are just like Mr.Frog calculating the dimension of the ocean taking his well as the standard measure. And what kind of contribution can we expect from frog-like brains?


“Mental speculations, by adding some dozens of "if's" and "maybe's," cannot aid the advancement of knowledge— on the contrary, such mental speculations will only end in despair by dismissing the case abruptly and declaring the nonexistence of God.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase =>  SB 2.7.43-45, purport


They may try to give some bluff for the future, but ‘trust no future, however pleasing.’


“But what can the scientists know? Even Brahma himself was once bewildered…”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.6.37, purport


Lord Brahma is the biggest scientist, and he proved it by creating the whole universe. Not that he just sat down and wrote some nonsensical theory. Science means theory and experiment. But what is the difference between Lord Brahma’s approach and that of our modern scientists? He did not waste his valuable time with pratyaksa and anumana, but rather took the way of sabda-pramana. And what was the first sabda? ‘Tapah’— austerity. In the process of receiving knowledge from the supreme authorities, one of the requirements is to be pure— without being fiery, nobody can enter into the fire; without being pure nobody can enter into pure knowledge. Therefore, the first step to becoming pure is to accept some sort of austerity in order to purify the heart. And because Lord Brahma took those words very seriously, Lord Visnu became very pleased with him (sabhajitah, SB 2.9.9). This is the next step to obtain transcendental knowledge: we must please the authority. Brahma was fortunate enough to have the Supreme Lord Himself as his direct authority, but through the chain of disciplic succession even today we may have an authority as good as the Lord Himself and whose words are as powerful as His. Just like Sukadeva Gosvami was the bonafide representative of the Lord for Pariksit Maharaja. And what were his qualities?


“The spiritual master, therefore, must be one who is sarva-jna, as stated herein before in connection with Sukadeva Gosvami.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.4.6


And to actually know Bhagavan, one must be bhagavan:


vicikitsitam etan me

bravitu bhagavan yatha

sabde brahmani nisnatah

parasmims ca bhavan khalu


“Kindly clear up all these doubtful inquiries, because you are not only vastly learned in the Vedic literatures and self-realized in transcendence, but are also a great devotee of the Lord and are therefore as good as the Personality of Godhead.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.4.10


Maharaja Pariksit, as a good scientist, was intelligent enough to take scientific knowledge from him by making the proper inquiries:


bhuya eva vivitsami

bhagavan atma-mayaya

yathedam srjate visvam

durvibhavyam adhisvaraih


“I beg to know from you how the Personality of Godhead, by His personal energies, creates these phenomenal universes as they are, which are inconceivable even to the great demigods.”

>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.4.6


This is the missing point for many modern scientists— they don’t accept the existence of a Supreme Controller, and what to speak of understanding His potency:


visnor nu virya-gananam katamo 'rhatiha

yah parthivany api kavir vimame rajamsi

caskambha yah sva-rahasaskhalata tri-prstham

yasmat tri-samya-sadanad uru-kampayanam


“Who can describe completely the prowess of Visnu? Even the scientist, who might have counted the particles of the atoms of the universe, cannot do so. Because it is He only who in His form of Trivikrama moved His leg effortlessly beyond the topmost planet, Satyaloka, up to the neutral state of the three modes of material nature. And all were moved.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.7.40


Therefore, all their so-called scientific approaches fail, for they do not know that there is someone behind the creation and maintenance of the universe, and that He is always a Person. They may analyze many elements in their laboratory, or even plants and animals, but when we speak of analyzing a person, that is a different thing, for that depends on the person’s agreement to be analyzed. Just imagine if someone is walking on the street and a group of scientists come with test tubes, syringes, measuring instruments, etc. and try to forcibly analyze him. Surely he will protest and move away. If it is so in the case of an ordinary person, it is not surprising that our materialistic scientists are still in complete darkness about knowledge of God. Factually, the Lord is aprameya, “for not even the best human brain can estimate His powers and potencies by mathematical calculation.”

>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.7.16, purport

But taking the process described by the Lord Himself, one may obtain positive knowledge about God and His creation, although not absolute, for only God can know everything absolutely. And how is this process?


“But as far as Indian sages are concerned, knowledge is received from the Vedic literatures, and the authorities accept without any hesitation that we should look through the pages of authentic books of knowledge (sastra-caksurvat).”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.7.13


            Srila Prabhupada met many scientists from all over the world and explained to them how bhakti-yoga is not a sentiment or just a philosophy— it is a science. However, in this science the approach is sabda-pramana, and no other methods will do, because we are dealing with a Supreme Person, and He reserves Himself the right to establish the rules. Vedic epistemology is based on the principle that hearing the pure sound vibration from a self-realized person is the perfect method for acquiring transcendental knowledge. Therefore, Srila Prabhupada is the biggest scientist we have in the modern age, for he was the first to present scientific transcendental literature to the general public, so that everyone may obtain scientific knowledge about God and the universe, which is the real purpose of a scientific book:


“Any book of knowledge (science or art) must lead to the knowledge of Narayana; otherwise it must be rejected. That is the way of advancement of knowledge.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.5.15, purport


And such transcendental knowledge is accessible to all of us and we do not even have to perform penances as Brahma did:


“By reading and hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam as a scientific presentation, the conditioned souls will gradually be promoted to the higher status of transcendental knowledge after being freed from the illusory energy based on sense enjoyment.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.7.53, purport

This essay was originally submitted for assessment during the first year of the Bhakti Vaibhava course at VIHE, second canto of Bhagavatam, on 19/10/02  

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bhagavatam is the final answer to all questions


    Out of 8,400,000 species of life, those who have achieved the human form are very fortunate, and out of them, those who are civilized are even more fortunate, because all the Vedas, Upanisads, Puranas, etc. are meant for them. All these scriptures give answers to all human inquiries, both material and spiritual, and point out the way by which one can gradually elevate his consciousness, so that he may eventually be able to understand the end of all questions: Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as He is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam.  

    When I was studying philosophy at University in Brazil, it was quite disappointing to see how the Western philosophy simply deals with existential problems without any final solution to them. Many philosophers are agnostics and do not even believe that there is such a thing as ultimate knowledge or transcendent reality, or even if there is, it is beyond human reach. Everything becomes easier when we start from the solution, just as a mathematical operation is easier when we know beforehand the number we are looking for as a result. And the great advantage of Srimad-Bhagavatam is that in it, the end of knowledge personified is speaking about Himself:


aham evasam evagre

nanyad yat sad-asat param

pascad aham yad etac ca

yo 'vasisyeta so 'smy aham


“It is I, the Personality of Godhead, who was existing before the creation, when there was nothing but Myself. Nor was there the material nature, the cause of this creation. That which you see now is also I, the Personality of Godhead, and after annihilation what remains will also be I, the Personality of Godhead.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.9.33


This statement is very clear and straightforward to anyone who is hearing it from a bonafide spiritual master, but the same remains a mystery for outsiders. The Mayavadi, so-called philosophers consider the word “aham” ( I ) in this verse just a “principle” of Brahman— sarvam khalv idam brahma, “indeed this is all Brahman” (Chandogya Upanisad, 3.14.1), therefore there is no difference between “aham” Krishna, “aham” Ganesha, “aham” Durga, or “aham” whoever it might be.  Once in Varanasi, I challenged a neighbour who was pakka Mayavadi: “Why do you worship Lord Shiva? If everything is one, you should also worship me, and you may start by cleaning my room!” He said he had no answer to give me… But, the reply is that there is a BIG difference between Lord Shiva and me, as well as between Lord Krishna and any other living entity.  Because Pariksit Maharaja knew that there are some foolish people who are bewildered about this matter, he inquired:

asid yad-udarat padmam


yavan ayam vai purusa

iyattavayavaih prthak

tavan asav iti proktah

samsthavayavavan iva


“If the Supreme Personality of Godhead, from Whose abdomen the lotus stem sprouted, is possessed of a gigantic body according to His own caliber and measurement, then what is the specific difference between the body of the Lord and those of common living entities?”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.8.8


In Sukadeva Gosvami’s words, we find several points that answer this question: The Lord is Bhagavan (SB 2.9.4), and both He and His abode are free from the influence of maya, the external energy (SB 2.9.10); He is adhyaksa, the director in everyone’s heart (SB 2.9.25); the Supreme Brahman and the summum bonum (SB 2.10.7), while the jivas are given different forms by the illusory energy (SB 2.9.2), which are constituted by material elements (SB 2.10.8). In other words, the Lord’s body is always transcendental, while the jivas are prone to accept a material body in the conditioned stage. Another argument raised by the Mayavada school is that in the conditioned state there may be differences between the Lord and us, but in the liberated stage, we become one. Their claim is that at first there is meditation, meditator and the object of meditation, but when perfect samadhi is attained, there is no more distinction between these elements. To this, we may answer that no matter how accomplished a cook may be, at any stage there will always exist the cooking, the cook and the food, for they never become one. Besides that, in the Vedic scriptures we don’t find a single case to support such a view, which is actually sheer imagination of speculative brains deluded by the external energy:


rte 'rtham yat pratiyeta

na pratiyeta catmani

tad vidyad atmano mayam

yathabhaso yatha tamah


“O Brahma, whatever appears to be of any value, if it is without relation to Me, has no reality. Know it as My illusory energy, that reflection which appears to be in darkness.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.9.34


Whatever knowledge may come from a person deluded by maya is just like a reflection in the darkness, for such a person is unable to analyze the objects of knowledge in the proper perspective, which means in relation to Krishna, the Supreme Absolute Truth. However brilliant they may seem to the ignorant mass of people, compared to the knowledge coming from a bonafide disciplic succession, the philosophical comments of such a deluded person are just like glowworms in the darkness: they cannot illuminate even their own path. Even the prominent exponent of Advaitavada, Sankaracarya, openly stated in his commentary on Bhagavad Gita that “Narayanah paro’vyaktat,” “Lord Narayana is beyond the unmanifested,” but his so-called followers are too unfortunate to partake with his view. In fact, the Advaitavadis are right in their understanding that everything is one, but they are wrong in not understanding that everything is also not one. From the rational point of view, it may seem contradictory, but this is the ultimate conclusion— acintya-bheda-abheda-tattva:


yatha mahanti bhutani

bhutesuccavacesv anu

pravistany apravistani

tatha tesu na tesv aham


“O Brahma, please know that the universal elements enter into the cosmos and at the same time do not enter into the cosmos; similarly, I Myself also exist within everything created, and at the same time I am outside of everything.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.9.35


The Supreme Lord is inside and outside of all atoms in the universe, but still, He is aloof from the material world, residing in His own abode. He is equal to the living entities in quality, but He is different in quantity. This subject matter is a great secret and it is very difficult to be understood by the common man, therefore Lord Visnu advises:


etavad eva jijnasyam



yat syat sarvatra sarvada


“A person who is searching after the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, must certainly search for it up to this, in all circumstances, in all space and time, and both directly and indirectly.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.9.36


Srimad-Bhagavatam is non-different from Lord Krishna, therefore it is the culmination of all Vedic scriptures, the ultimate knowledge and the end of all research. In his purports, Srila Prabhupada presents such perfect knowledge in its purest form, always opposing all deviant views, because “due to wrong and fashionable interpretations by unauthorised persons, one cannot reach the ultimate conclusion” (SB 2.9.36, purport). And by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy, this conclusion is easily available to everyone through his most sublime legacy in the form of translation and purports:


srnvatah sraddhaya nityam

grnatas ca sva-cestitam

kalena natidirghena

bhagavan visate hrdi


“Persons who hear Srimad-Bhagavatam regularly and are always taking the matter very seriously will have the Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna manifested in their hearts within a short time.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.8.4


And the only qualification required is the earnestness to read Prabhupada’s books and follow his instructions.

This essay was originally submitted for assessment during the first year of the Bhakti Vaibhava course at VIHE, second canto of Bhagavatam, on 06/11/02


Se vos parece atroz a dor sentida
Quando sois trespassados pela seta
Tentai imaginar esta ferida
Que resulta ao extrair a que me espeta.

Se é agudo o pesar que vós sentis
Pela farpa que aflige o vosso seio
Ouvi o meu pranto e vede a cicatriz
Pois que haja semelhantes eu não creio.

Mas este dissabor não passa em vão
Pois fazendo-se arauto, preludia
Inevitavelmente a concepção:

Das metades no peito faço um dueto
Do sofrimento surge uma elegia
E as lágrimas transformo num soneto.

Métrica: decassílabos heróicos

© Direitos autorais registrados na Biblioteca National, RJ


Não, não são as substâncias intocáveis
E nem tampouco os fétidos odores
Que me provocam náuseas miseráveis
E sim toda essa falta de pudores!

Não é das putrefatas secreções
Que surge a repugnância em minha mente
Tampouco de tangíveis sensações
Mas antes, do caráter deficiente.

Não sou o criador deste sistema
Nem posso me dizer simpatizante
Pois a minha aversão tornou-se extrema.

A luz deste cenário é sombria
E toda minha culpa, irrelevante
Pois só danço conforme a melodia.

Métrica: decassílabos heróicos

© Direitos autorais registrados na Biblioteca National, RJ


Imagens fluem diante da visão
Como a realidade que deliro
Sem nem mesmo entender para onde vão
Depois que se desfazem num suspiro.

Enquanto permanece insuspeitada
A possibilidade mais suprema
Muitos milhões de vidas nesta estrada
São apenas variações do mesmo tema.

Mas quando brilha o espírito interior
Vejo que tudo passa num segundo
Que de fato existe algo a se transpor.

E antes que minha vida se consuma
Realizo que os caminhos deste mundo
Não levam simplesmente a parte alguma.

Métrica: decassílabos heróicos

 © Direitos autorais registrados na Biblioteca National, RJ

Valor intrínsico

A lua, seguindo a própria natureza,
Extravasa o esplendor quando alumia
Sem poder se esquivar, ficando acesa
Àqueles que lhe mostram apatia.

A nuvem dá vazão à sua tendência
Derramando sua água cristalina
Sobre pedras que mesmo co’insistência
Não podem absorvê-la, eis a sina.

E também este frêmito que sinto
Embora cristalino e opulento
Encontra no objetivo algo distinto.

E por não se mostrar nada seleto
Acaba por provar que o sentimento
Prescinde do valor de seu objeto.

Métrica: decassílabos heróicos

© Direitos autorais registrados na Biblioteca National, RJ

Soneto para brahmacaris

Que tipo de prazer transcendental
É possível se obter as abraçar
Um saco de excremento, bílis, ar,
Ossos e sangue, próximo ao final?

Por certo isso se encontra disponível
Até mesmo aos seres escatófagos!
Que antes de residirmos em sarcófagos
Tentemos elevar um pouco o nível.

Prazer material? Talvez algum...
Mas como continua-se insatisfeito
Bom mesmo é praticarmos o jejum.

Então abandone-mos todo o ócio
Pois é melhor tirar um bom proveito
Do que tem sido um péssimo negócio.

Métrica: decassílabos heróicos

© Direitos autorais registrados na Biblioteca National, RJ


Com o passar do tempo, um sonho cessa
Mas quando vem chegando a primavera
O mesmo tempo, sempre com sua pressa
Faz com que tudo volte a ser como era.

O vento sopra apenas por temor
Levando as nuvens a um lugar distante
Mas esse mesmo vento enganador
As traz de volta num pequeno instante.

Parece que este ciclo permanece
Como que agindo sem minha vontade
E sendo indiferente a qualquer prece.

Porém depois de inúmeros ensejos
Hoje tento aceitar que na verdade
Eu mesmo não desejo os meus desejos.

Métrica: decassílabos heróicos e sáficos

© Direitos autorais registrados na Biblioteca National, RJ


Quase um segundo esconde-se a visão
Uma noite se esconde a luz solar
Por sete dias esconde-se o luar
Uns poucos mais se esconde uma paixão.

Por trinta dias se esconde o mês vindouro
Nove meses se esconde o ser humano
Um defeito se esconde mais de um ano
Num milênio se esconde até um tesouro.

Do tempo, se esconder não pode nada
Porém a quem se apraz com tal assunto
Esconde-se a verdade equivocada.

Toda essa hipocrisia muito me admira
E é assim motivado que eu pergunto:
Quanto tempo se esconde uma mentira?

Métrica: decassílabos heróicos

© Direitos autorais registrados na Biblioteca National, RJ


O místico pratica penitência
E tenta tolerar a sua tormenta
Sabendo que através da continência
Alcançará o destino que ele intenta.

Não chora nem lamenta-se o guerreiro
Que persegue a vitória como meta
E ainda que sangrando o corpo inteiro
Por achar justo o preço, não se afeta.

Suportar a aflição dentro da mente
Que se alastra e penetra todo o ser
Compete a uma pessoa diligente.

Não é maior a dor do que o alento
Que me faz observar que pra sofrer
Também é necessário algum talento.

Métrica: decassílabos heróicos

© Direitos autorais registrados na Biblioteca National, RJ


Anseios, vaporosas ilusões
Que vejo tanto atrás como à frente
Bailando como insólitas visões
Feitas de uma substância inconsistente.

Sentimentos desejam tomar forma
Tentando refletir algo visível
Porém logo a matéria se transforma
E fica em evidência o impossível.

O teor da existência vem da mente
Que cria cada verdade subjetiva
E nos prende a uma vida impermanente.

Quem vê que neste mundo é tudo incerto
Logo abandona a fútil tentativa
De querer achar água no deserto.

Métrica: decassílabos heróicos

© Direitos autorais registrados na Biblioteca National, RJ

Olhos de lótus

Desde o dia em que a Teus olhos contemplei
Quando partiste sem dizer adeus
Após as reverências que prestei
Procuro ansioso pelos olhos Teus.

Por vezes, penso vê-los lá no céu
Entre estrelas formosas e radiantes
Resplandecendo no celeste véu
Como se fossem astros viandantes.

Pensam os iludidos olhos meus
Voltados para o zênite sem fim
Que entre estrelas estão os olhos Teus...

Mas, percebendo o engano, dizem elas:
‘Acaso não sabeis que um brilho assim
Não temos nem sequer entre as mais belas?'

Métrica: decassílabos heróicos

© Direitos autorais registrados na Biblioteca National, RJ

Sonhos pequenos

Um indiano contou-me este ditado:
‘Quando fores sair para caçar
É melhor que tu estejas bem armado
E que faça uma noite de luar.

Então sob as celestes luminárias
Mantenha sempre os olhos no horizonte
Desprezando criaturas ordinárias
-Seja a meta caçar rinoceronte!

Se lograres sucesso, será incrível
Porém se fracassares nesse intento
Todos irão dizer: era impossível.’

Mas tudo no Brasil é tão barato...
Você tinha uma bala e, num momento
Fugaz, desperdiçou-a com um rato.

Métrica: decassílabos heróicos

© Direitos autorais registrados na Biblioteca National, RJ


Sempre sonhando, o pássaro chakora
Alça vôo pelo espaço, canta forte
E então contempla a lua encantadora
Pois ele a considera sua consorte.

Deste modo se esvai enquanto delira
Crendo que o mero brilho do luar
Refletido em seus olhos de safira
Basta para o manter e alimentar.

Também o pobre pássaro que habita
No âmago do meu ser se ilude quando
Esquece sua existência infinita.

Este tolo descrê em coisas reais
E assim põe-se a ficar imaginando
A existência de coisas irreais...

Métrica: decassílabos heróicos

©2008, Direitos autorais registrados na Biblioteca National, RJ

Monday, August 18, 2008

On the Battlefield

By nature undisturbed and always grave
To be just like the sea, that I don't claim
But even though I'm carried by this wave
I try to keep my vision on the aim.
All of these wavelike shafts sent by the foe
Are ripen fruits whose source is in the past
Particularly meant to cause me woe
And not even a moment let me rest.
The driver of this chariot is my fate
Passion is the great foe, freedom the prize
Moving through tortuous paths up to this state
In a final attempt I may surmise:
Had I got some control over the rein
My presence in this war would not be in vain.

Metre: Italian hendecasyllable

© copyrighted in the National Library,Brazil


With many hopes, some leave their homes behind
And go to mystic lands so far away,
But if there only misery they find
Their lives are frustrated in this way.
Upon hearing a melody so sweet
A deer forgets itself and runs to check
Not knowing that a hunter it will meet
And the cost is first freedom, then the neck.
Destiny says how much we have to endure
And what is to come certainly will come,
Still, do not risk the sure for the unsure
Nor for an unknown sorrow, a known one.
An unfulfilled desire produces less pain
Than the regret for wasting life in vain.

Metre: Italian hendecasyllable

© copyrighted in National Library,Brazil


All the purposes attended by a well
Are much better fulfilled by a vast lake;
While the former's restrictions we can tell,
The latter is for everybody’s sake.
Whatever light emitted by a spark
Can't compare the radiation of the sun;
The former is a glimpse in the dark,
The latter makes the whole universe run.
In the desert a drop may look so fair;
For one living in darkness, seems a flame;
The whole's nature in quality they share,
But never is their quantity the same.
If we are so enchanted by the parts,
How charming must be He from Whom all starts!

Metre: Italian hendecasyllable

© copyrighted in the National Library,Brazil


Diamonds can’t be purchased with broken glass
Nor by collecting dust can one get wealth ;
To attain Krsna the price is nothing less
Than everything, including life itself.
Unless we are determined and sincere
Our dormant love for God will not awake,
Thus, as with gold, a fire-proof will make clear
If one is really truthful or is fake.
No renouncement is ever so complete
Nor is the mind so difficult to win
As when we must perform such a hard feat
As giving up the object of our esteem.
For one who sees his wish coming so near
There is no pain like leaving what is so dear.

Metre: Italian hendecasyllable

© copyrighted in the National Library,Brazil


So real this illusion may appear,
Reality as a flower in the air,
A mystic spell that covers all the sphere,
Except one who's not sleeping, but aware.
An open invitation for the game
With promises of heaven- a high bet;
The players here will never be the same
Dependent on the scenery that is set.
I tried to make a garland with no thread,
I tried to be a king without a throne,
One by one, all my dreams were lying dead,
Hope against hope, at last it was left none.
If I play as the enjoyer, then You slap;
If not, You invite:'Take another step.'

Metre: Italian hendecasyllable

© copyrighted in the National Library,Brazil


Ask whatever you like and simply wait,
It’s a matter of time till you get it.
You may come in by knocking at the gate
And to cross it, just walk a little bit.
But be careful about what you ask for,
Lest it be some regrettable surprise;
Be aware not to knock at the wrong door,
Lest it may be too late to realize.
To have the right desire is just one side
For those who are attempting to enjoy thus;
Being our well-wisher, Krishna will provide,
But to be satisfied depends on us.
Always what Krishna gives me is the best,
Still, I keep on lamenting for the rest…

Metre: Italian hendecasyllable

© copyrighted in the National Library,Brazil

Inner sight

The sun cannot be covered by a sieve
Nor is a river hampered by a straw
So even if the eyes cannot perceive
How could passion be blocked by a wall ?
Over the hill a rose is out of sight
But its fragrance pervades throughout the space
Its colour may be red or may be white
For the proof is the soul, and not the face.
Simply because the wind cannot be seen
The clouds would not refrain from their commotion
Thus superficial absence is just mean
Unable to prevent a single emotion.
When the eyes find no shelter anymore
Sees the heart the one living in the core.

Metre: Italian hendecasyllable

© copyrighted in the National Library,Brazil

Intrinsic Value

By shining through the power of its rays
The moon is simply following nature’s way;
Unable to refrain, radiant it stays
Even for one whose face is turned away.
By fate, a cloud ’s propensity is to pour
Even on massive rocks that are unfit
To absorb a drop of water in the core-
Not even with insistence they can meet.
And also from my heart a flowing stream
With its crystal-like waters tends to move
Towards a destination not akin,
Thus their non-selectiveness comes to prove:
The most exalted feelings can ignore
The value of the object they long for.

Metre: Italian hendecasyllable

© copyrighted in the National Library,Brazil


Many millions of years already passed
But not a single inch outside its path
By God's mercy the sun got such a test
As well as a fixed orbit up to death.

The waters from the rivers and the rain
Enter into the ocean as they can
But by the grace of God it can retain
all in the limits during its life span.

Both have a better fortune than my mind
Always going off the track, making me tired
Beyond orbit or limits, as if blind.

Therefore, hear my dear Lord, hear as I pray:
Let me burn into ashes, if required
But not a single step outside this way.

Metre: Italian hendecasyllable

© copyrighted in the National Library,Brazil


One who cultivates flowers in the sky
And one who pours affection on a dream
Are both destined to fade away and die
Without seeing things beyond what they may seem.
Finding horns on the head of any rabbit
Considering a rope to be a snake
They wander through the land where they inhabit
Unfit to tell the real from the fake.
To constantly remain behind a shade
Eventually may lead to desperation
But in spite of the judgement I have made
I’m falling for my own imagination.
Loving a mere creation of the mind
One simply keeps on living like a blind.

Metre: Italian hendecasyllable

© copyrighted in the National Library,Brazil


A bird's flight in the sky is not just showing off
It's a genuine expression of its mood.
When flying, dancing or singing every strophe
Is its natural substance understood.
There may be many ways of bursting out,
A reflex manifesting what is felt;
Some may cry, become desperate or shout,
Therefore, by means of art is how I melt.
Everyone has to do what he's meant for,
That is why when I play or when I write
Everything is enacted from my core,
Not just an ordinary show of might.
As my mouth can't reveal my inner soul
At least allow my fingers to do so.

Metre: Italian hendecasyllable

© copyrighted in the National Library,Brazil


At dawn, the rising sun breaks through the sky
And bewitches by the splendor of its beams;
Later on, as the heat becomes so high,
Its closeness suffocates all living beings.
Wild flowers in the field exude the spring
And their exotic fragrance snatches the soul,
But if to adorn the residence we bring,
Very soon such a blunder ends the show.
The waters of the ocean fascinate
Upon being contemplated from the shore,
But for one drowning, fighting against fate,
They will not convey pleasure anymore.
Only at distance attraction is alive,
Otherwise no affection can survive.

Metre: Italian hendecasyllable

© copyrighted in the National Library,Brazil


There’s no doubt: The Lord will surely kill
But just see - also Ravana will do !
I really cannot trust in my own will
Bewildered, though the options are just two...

I have before my eyes this or that way
But in any case, suffering is my fate
The final result time alone will say
For now, determination must be great.

If I silently die by Rama’s shoot
That would be really glorious for my image
And it would end all problems by the root

However, the dilemma so far stands
-I can’t even keep silence on this page-
My heart insists on dying in the wrong hands.

Metre:Italian hendecasyllable

© copyrighted in the National Library,Brazil


There is no music perfect to my ears,
No beauty can be pleasing to my eyes,
The greatest insignificant appears,
To my heart really nothing satisfies.
Let me drink the whole ocean's water first,
Then devour the earth's layers in a bite;
It would not quench my hunger nor my thirst
Due to the fire that burns me day and night.
No amount of philosophy can kill
All the dissatisfaction that I hide;
No ordinary entity can fill
This unlimited void I feel inside,
Which in all its dimensions is so great
That no one else but God can be my mate.

Metre: Italian hendecasyllable

© copyrighted at National Library,Brazil

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Krishna, The Supreme Aspect of the Absolute


    Srimad-Bhagavatam is Srila Vyasadeva’s transcendental thesis to prove that the supreme aspect of the Absolute Truth is a Supreme Person, Vasudeva, and he takes the required steps to philosophically reach this siddhanta. At the beginning of Bhagavatam, it was established that Vasudeva is the source of all  manifestations, both in the material world as well as in the spiritual world:


om namo bhagavate vasudevaya

janmady asya yato 'nvayad itaratas carthesv abhijnah svarat

tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye muhyanti yat surayah

tejo-vari-mrdam yatha vinimayo yatra tri-sargo 'mrsa

dhamna svena sada nirasta-kuhakam satyam param dhimahi


“O my Lord, Sri Krsna, son of Vasudeva, O all-pervading Personality of Godhead, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You. I meditate upon Lord Sri Krsna because He is the Absolute Truth and the primeval cause of all causes of the creation, sustenance and destruction of the manifested universes. He is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestations, and He is independent because there is no other cause beyond Him. It is He only who first imparted the Vedic knowledge unto the heart of Brahmaji, the original living being. By Him even the great sages and demigods are placed into illusion, as one is bewildered by the illusory representations of water seen in fire, or land seen on water. Only because of Him do the material universes, temporarily manifested by the reactions of the three modes of nature, appear factual, although they are unreal. I therefore meditate upon Him, Lord Sri Krsna, who is eternally existent in the transcendental abode, which is forever free from the illusory representations of the material world. I meditate upon Him, for He is the Absolute Truth.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 1.1.1


It was also defined that the Supreme Absolute Truth possesses three  main aspects, and that ultimately Krishna is the Original Person, from Whom all incarnations emanate:


vadanti tat tattva-vidas

tattvam yaj jnanam advayam

brahmeti paramatmeti

bhagavan iti sabdyate


“Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramatma or Bhagavan.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 1.2.11


ete camsa-kalah pumsah

krsnas tu bhagavan svayam

indrari-vyakulam lokam

mrdayanti yuge yuge


“All of the above-mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Sri Krsna is the original Personality of Godhead. All of them appear on planets whenever there is a disturbance created by the atheists. The Lord incarnates to protect the theists.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 1.3.28


Now, from chapter seven of the first canto onwards, the author proceeds further to present how the Personal Aspect of the Absolute is the Supreme One, what He is, what His attributes are, how He acts, and particularly, how He deals with His devotees, such as Queen Kunti, the Pandavas, Bhismadeva, and the inhabitants of Dvaraka.

      Foolish people devoid of spiritual knowledge cannot understand how the Supreme can descend to this earthly planet and still remain the Supreme, as stated in the Bhagavad-gita:


avajananti mam mudha

manusim tanum asritam

param bhavam ajananto

mama bhuta-mahesvaram


“Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature as the Supreme Lord of all that be.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => Bg 9.11


To illustrate this point, His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Svami Srila Prabhupada, the founder acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, used to tell an anecdote: Once an important man went to see the Prime Minister of England in his residence. The servant told him: “You have to wait. The Minister is busy now.” Then he waited and wait for a long time, after which he became curious to know in which kind of affairs the Prime Minister was so busy. Upon looking through the door of the Minister’s quarters, the visitor saw that he was playing the role of a horse while his children were riding on his back. Srila Prabhupada explains that it is not that the Minister is a horse, but he is assuming such a role just for the sake of enjoyment. In the same way, Krishna, although the Supreme Absolute Truth, regularly descends to this planet in innumerable forms for the sake of enjoyment, both His and of His devotees. But His descent is not like ours, for it does not affect His supremacy at all, therefore He is never under the clutches of the illusory energy, which is actually only one of His multifarious energies, as confirmed in the Svetasvatara Upanisad (6.8) :


parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate

svabhaviki jnana-bala-kriya ca


  "His potencies are multifarious, and thus His deeds are automatically performed as a natural sequence."


          The Mayavadi theory that the Absolute Truth, or Brahman, when in contact with the material energy, becomes saguna, impregnated with material qualities is completely smashed in the Bhagavatam in the words of Queen Kunti:


kunty uvaca

namasye purusam tv adyam

isvaram prakrteh param

alaksyam sarva-bhutanam

antar bahir avasthitam


Srimati Kunti said: “O Krsna, I offer my obeisances unto You because You are the original personality and are unaffected by the qualities of the material world. You are existing both within and without everything, yet You are invisible to all.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 1.8.18


This is also corroborated by Sankaracharya in his commentary on the Gita: “narayanah paro ‘vyaktat.”  In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.10.19), Sri Krishna is defined as both nirguna and gunatma, which means He does not possess any material attribute, but He is full of all spiritual qualities and is also the origin of all spiritual and material qualities. But as stated above, some people will not accept even common sense. Once in Varanasi, I was discussing Bhagavad Gita with a so-called scholar, and he told me that he had never seen a translation that was purely literal, without any addition of some personal philosophical view. I told him that the language in the Gita is so clear that there cannot be two different meanings, and just to prove my point, I started to translate verse 10.8 – aham “I (am),” sarvasya “of everything,” prabhavah “the source.” Then he immediately objected: “That is OK, but we have to understand what is meant by “I.”  Everybody knows that there are no horns in the head of a rabbit, but nevertheless, some people will make research to find them out. Srila Prabhupada used to mention the case of a famous writer, who was a big scholar in Indian philosophy, but in his commentary on Bhagavad-gita, he tries to find out some meaning for words like “aham” (I) or “mam” (to me). The Vaisnavas, however, accept the common sense shared by all great acharyas: ‘I’ means Krishna, since He was the One speaking. And it is this Krishna Who is revealing His confidential pastimes with His devotees in the pages of the Bhagavatam.
The Personal Aspect of the Absolute Truth is not only an impartial observer and ruler chastising the impious and rewarding the pious, but He is also the supreme source of all rasas, the reservoir of all mellows, able to reciprocate the loving feelings of His unalloyed devotees. And here we have the main reason for His descent: to enjoy unlimited pastimes with His beloved ones. Srila Prabhupada emphasizes that the Mayavadis want to become one with God, but the Vaisnavas are not only one with God— they are more than God. In the Bhagavatam, we see how Lord Krishna appears in an apparent menial position as Partha-sarathi, the chariot driver of Arjuna. It is only apparent because when Arjuna was in a fearful situation, facing the brahmastra released by Asvatthama, he immediately addressed Krishna:

tvam adyah purusah saksad

isvarah prakrteh parah

mayam vyudasya cic-chaktya

kaivalye sthita atmani


“You are the original Personality of Godhead who expands Himself all over the creations and is transcendental to material energy. You have cast away the effects of the material energy by dint of Your spiritual potency. You are always situated in eternal bliss and transcendental knowledge.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 1.7.23


Apparently, He may play as an ordinary child or chariot driver, but whenever there is a need, Lord Krishna shows His supremacy by lifting Govardhana Hill or saving Pariksit Maharaja. Thus, Lord Krishna, out of transcendental affection for the Pandavas, played the role of a maternal cousin, friend, counsellor, messenger, benefactor, etc. These personal features of the Supreme Absolute Truth are so amazing that even exalted devotees like Kunti Devi admit being bewildered at the sight of Krishna crying out of fear of Mother Yasoda, so what to speak of non-devotees who cannot even conceive the Supreme Truth as a person…


          Even though superficially He exhibits Himself in what may seem to be human affairs, the position of the Lord is always distinctly transcendental. For example, in Dvaraka, Lord Krishna played exactly like a king and henpecked husband, keeping 16,108 wives, but they were all Goddesses of Fortune. Whatever riches there may be in the material world are but a small gift of the Goddess of Fortune, but in Dvaraka we see that Laksmi works as a maidservant of the Lord. Laksmi is known as Cancala, for nobody can keep Her for a long time, but Laksmi Herself cannot leave the Lord even for a moment. This evinces the Lord’s supreme opulence and beauty. 


  Out of the three aspects of the Absolute, Krishna is the Original Person, from Whom Paramatma is an expansion (S.B.1.3.18), the support of Brahman (B.G.14.27), He is attractive to all liberated persons (S.B.1.7.10), He possesses unlimited opulences, He performs wonderful activities, He is always surrounded by loving devotees, His flute and exquisite beauty attract the whole creation. Srila Vyasadeva clearly elaborates on all these points to present Sri Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and Srila Prabhupada in his purports gives us the formula to realize Him through the process of bhakti-yoga: Chanting the Personal Names of God:
       Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
       Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

As well as reading, hearing and remembering His Personal Pastimes with His personal devotees; worshipping His Personal Form in the temple, etc. Thus Srila Prabhupada makes clear the meaning of his pranama:


namaste sarasvate deve gaura-vani-pracarine-nirvisesa-sunyavada-pascatya-desa-tarine

   He is the servant of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and went to the Western countries, which are filled with impersonalism, voidism and atheism, to propagate the message of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and establish Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead – the Supreme Aspect of the Absolute Truth.

The original version of this essay was published in the Prajñā vol. 47-48, an academic magazine of Benares Hindu University, and the above version was submitted for assessment during the first year of the Bhakti Vaibhava course at VIHE, first canto of Bhagavatam, on 27/10/02

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers

Sukadeva Gosvami instructs Maharaja Pariksit

      In his books and lectures, Srila Prabhupada often emphasized that human life begins with brahma-jijnasa, enquiry into the Absolute Truth, and that without such inquiries, humans are nothing but two legged animals.


“And when this inquiry begins, athato brahma-jijnasa, then your human life begins. Otherwise you remain in the category of cats and dogs.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 20.98-102 -- April 27, 1976, Auckland, New Zealand



ahara-nidra-bhaya-maithunam ca

samanam etat pasubhir naranam

                           dharmo hi tesam adhiko viseso        

dharmena hinah pasubhih samanah


"Eating, sleeping, fearing, and mating are equally engaged in by both animals and humans. That which is special to humans is religious duty. Those humans who are without religion are equal to animals." (Hitopadesa)


Actually, even in the animal kingdom we find inquiries into four subject matters: eating, sleeping, mating and defending. Therefore, the scope of inquiries of a civilized man should go beyond these and to accomplish the perfection of life one must know what the real questions are and to whom they should be put forth.


      The whole world is moving on the basis of questions and answers, and those who are materially engrossed indulge in topics like politics, economics, so-called science, so-called arts, etc., but ultimately all these topics fall into the category of animalistic propensity, for such people are blind for knowledge of self-realization:


srotavyadini rajendra

nrnam santi sahasrasah

apasyatam atma-tattvam

grhesu grha-medhinam


“Those persons who are materially engrossed, being blind to the knowledge of ultimate truth, have many subject matters for hearing in human society, O Emperor.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.1.2


Being in such a condition, they are not able to see their imminent destruction along with all their so-called possessions, titles, relatives and friends:



atma-sainyesv asatsv api

tesam pramatto nidhanam

pasyann api na pasyati


“Persons devoid of atma-tattva do not inquire into the problems of life, being too attached to the fallible soldiers like the body, children and wife. Although sufficiently experienced, they still do not see their inevitable destruction.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.1.4

Then, what is the use of all their lofty words? They are just like the singing of the frogs inviting the serpent of their own ruination:


bile batorukrama-vikraman ye

na srnvatah karna-pute narasya

jihvasati dardurikeva suta

na copagayaty urugaya-gathah


“One who has not listened to the messages about the prowess and marvelous acts of the Personality of Godhead and has not sung or chanted loudly the worthy songs about the Lord is to be considered to possess earholes like the holes of snakes and a tongue like the tongue of a frog.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.3.20


Such froglike people may talk the whole day, but they will never care to hear about spiritual matters, particularly about Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. At this point, some of you might be feeling this approach is somewhat pessimistic, with strong words that would hurt a lot of people. However, the Bhagavata philosophy does not compromise when exposing the reality as it is. Nor is any euphemism effective when the matter is death. Pariksit Maharaja was given seven days of life, therefore it was essential for him to have clearly understood what is really worth hearing and what is not. More specifically, what one hears before dying will be a determinant factor for his destination afterwards:


yam yam vapi smaran bhavam

tyajaty ante kalevaram

tam tam evaiti kaunteya

sada tad-bhava-bhavitah


“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kunti, that state he will attain without fail.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => Bg 8.6


      Once a distinct Indian personality, Madan Mohan Malaviya, went to see Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and upon meeting him, he was shown the Gaudiya Math publications, among which was the daily newspaper called “Nadiya Prakash.” Upon hearing that such a newspaper was a daily publication, Malaviya expressed his surprise that a paper exclusively dedicated to spiritual topics could be printed every day with different articles and news. To this, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta replied that this material world is in fact just one-third of the whole creation of the Lord, and even thus it is full of news, so imagine how much more news there must be in the spiritual world, which comprises the largest part of creation. He said that there is no lack of news to publish, but unfortunately there is a lack of customers for such literature. On the other hand, in the Srimad-Bhagavatam we see the best customer: Maharaja Pariksit, and because he is the best hearer, his questions are also the best:


sri-suka uvaca

variyan esa te prasnah

krto loka-hitam nrpa

atmavit-sammatah pumsam

srotavyadisu yah parah


“Sri Sukadeva Gosvami said: My dear King, your question is glorious because it is very beneficial to all kinds of people. The answer to this question is the prime subject matter for hearing, and it is approved by all transcendentalists.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.1.1



And why were his questions so relevant? Because they were meant to benefit all living entities. From the small ant up to the great demigods, everyone is on the threshold of death, for the sun decreases the duration of everyone’s life:


ayur harati vai pumsam

udyann astam ca yann asau

tasyarte yat-ksano nita



“Both by rising and by setting, the sun decreases the duration of life of everyone, except one who utilizes the time by discussing topics of the all-good Personality of Godhead.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.3.17





Nobody knows when we shall die, but everyone knows that death is sure. Nevertheless, what are the activities of foolish people?


nidraya hriyate naktam

vyavayena ca va vayah

diva carthehaya rajan

kutumba-bharanena va


“The lifetime of such an envious householder is passed at night either in sleeping or in sex indulgence, and in the daytime either in making money or maintaining family members.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.1.3


And what do they hear?


srotavyadini rajendra

nrnam santi sahasrasah

apasyatam atma-tattvam

grhesu grha-medhinam


“Those persons who are materially engrossed, being blind to the knowledge of ultimate truth, have many subject matters for hearing in human society, O Emperor.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.1.2


But Pariksit Maharaja, although included among those about to die, has a special quality that distinguishes him:


sri-suka uvaca

evam etan nigaditam

prstavan yad bhavan mama

nrnam yan mriyamananam

manusyesu manisinam


“Sri Sukadeva Gosvami said: Maharaja Pariksit, as you have inquired from me as to the duty of the intelligent man who is on the threshold of death, so I have answered you.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.3.1


He was called an intelligent man, for he made the proper inquiry, at the proper time (i.e. before death), and to the proper person:


atah prcchami samsiddhim

yoginam paramam gurum

purusasyeha yat karyam

mriyamanasya sarvatha


“You are the spiritual master of great saints and devotees. I am therefore begging you to show the way of perfection for all persons, and especially for one who is about to die.”



yac chrotavyam atho japyam

yat kartavyam nrbhih prabho

smartavyam bhajaniyam va

bruhi yad va viparyayam


“Please let me know what a man should hear, chant, remember and worship, and also what he should not do. Please explain all this to me.”



>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 1.19.38-39


This is the real question for human beings and anything else is but a waste of time to be avoided:


gramya-katha na sunibe, gramya-varta na kahibe

bhala na khaibe ara bhala na paribe

"Do not talk like people in general or hear what they say. You should not eat very palatable food, nor should you dress very nicely.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => Antya 6.237


And because Sukadeva Gosvami was a rsi and a kavi (SB 2.3.13), and above all, a Vasudeva-parayana (SB 2.3.16), he could give the perfect answer to that perfect question:


tasmad bharata sarvatma

bhagavan isvaro harih

srotavyah kirtitavyas ca

smartavyas cecchatabhayam


“O descendant of King Bharata, one who desires to be free from all miseries must hear about, glorify and also remember the Personality of Godhead, who is the Supersoul, the controller and the savior from all miseries.”


etavan sankhya-yogabhyam


janma-labhah parah pumsam

ante narayana-smrtih


“The highest perfection of human life, achieved either by complete knowledge of matter and spirit, by practice of mystic powers, or by perfect discharge of occupational duty, is to remember the Personality of Godhead at the end of life.”



>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 2.1.5-6


      Nobody can avoid putting questions and giving answers, but everyone can become conversant with the science of Krishna consciousness so that we may dovetail our hearing and speaking propensities into Krishna-katha and thus benefit not only ourselves but also others. Actually, every one of us can have a daily spiritual exchange of questions and answers with the best answer-giver: Srila Prabhupada himself, by scrutinizingly studying his books, for they are on the transcendental platform:


“Every one of you must regularly read our books at least twice — in the morning and evening, and automatically all questions will be answered.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => Letter to: Ranadhira  --  Los Angeles 24 January, 1970


Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, when you are not present with us, how is it possible to receive instructions, for example, on questions that may arise?

Prabhupada: Well, the questions... Answers are there in my books.


>>> Ref. VedaBase => Morning Walk At Cheviot Hills Golf Course -- May 13, 1973, Los Angeles


“A temple is a place where by one is given the opportunity to render direct devotional service to the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna. In conjunction with this you should always read my books daily and all your questions will be answered and you will have a firm basis of Krishna Consciousness. In this way your life will be perfect.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => Letter to: Hugo Salemon  --  Bombay 22 November, 1974


“In my books the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness is explained fully so if there is anything which you do not understand, then you simply have to read again and again. By reading daily the knowledge will be revealed to you and by this process your spiritual life will develop.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => Letter to: Bahurupa  --  Bombay 22 November, 1974


“Soon we shall be instituting Bhakti-sastri examinations and all brahmanas will have to pass. So utilize whatever time you find to make a thorough study of my books. Then all your questions will be answered.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => Letter to: Upendra  --  Nellore 7 January, 1976


Thus, all those who in this human body reached the platform of brahma-jijnasa and who humbly approach Srila Prabhupada’s books can be as benefited as Pariksit Maharaja was by approaching Sukadeva Gosvami.

This essay was originally submitted for assessment during the first year of the Bhakti Vaibhava course at VIHE, second canto of Bhagavatam, on 15/10/02.