Sri Krishna-Chaitanya

by Nisikanta Sanyal | 1933 | 274,022 words | ISBN-10: 818919500X

The present work is an attempt to offer a theistic account in the English language of the career and teachings of Sri Chaitanya (representing the Absolute Truth in His full manifestation). Sri Chaitanya came into this world to make all people understand that in reference to their eternal existence they should have nothing to do with non-Godhead. A...

Chapter 9 - Historical Vaishnavism

The Scope of History does not extend to the transcendental for the simple reason that History deals exclusively with the phenomena of this world. The historical view of any Divine event is, under the circumstances, only that of the deluded soul under the thralldom of the material Energy. It is not its business to deal with anything that is outside the ordinary sensuous experience of men in general. Therefore, we cannot expect modern historians, who are limited to the above view of their function, to sympathize with, or even to consider seriously, the subject of this work as one that belongs properly to their particular branch of knowledge. But in spite of this purely secular attitude of modern historians they have been unable to rule religion altogether out of their subject. There have been empiric historians who have, in the spirit of specialists, without discarding the secular outlook which it is really impossible for them to do without denying their avowed function as investigators of a branch of empiric knowledge, attempted to isolate and treat ‘exclusively’ of religious history. While professing all due respect for their methods, without ignoring their necessary limitations, we propose to employ their method, divested of unnecessary and hostile narrowness, in this chapter, for the purpose of proving our proposition that the worship of Vishnu as transcendental Godhead has been prevalent from time immemorial.

It is of course not possible to treat exhaustively in the course of a short chapter a subject that is both large and, by its nature, controversial. That effort must be reserved for a separate work. I shall be content in this chapter with supplying a rough sketch of the account of the worship of Vishnu as it has prevailed from the earliest times, on the evidence supplied by the religious books directly, by the course of the evolution of ritual and the activities of outstanding personalities.

The Rig-Veda is regarded on all hands as being the oldest of the existing books. The worship of Vishnu is found mentioned in the very first mantrams of this work, which contain a reference to the Vamana (Dwarf) Avatara of Vishnu. The beginning of the compilation of the Rik mantrams may accordingly be considered as at least subsequent to the Vamana Avatara. The subject of the ten Avataras of Vishnu will be considered from another point of view in the next chapter.

The ten Avataras are mentioned everywhere in the following chronological order, viz,

  1. Matsya (Fish),
  2. Kurma (Tortoise),
  3. Varaha (Boar),
  4. Nrisimha (Man-Lion),
  5. Vamana (Dwarf),
  6. Parasu-Rama,
  7. Rama,
  8. Balarama,
  9. Buddha and
  10. Kalki.

When the Rig-Veda was being compiled the first five Avataras of Vishnu had already taken place.

Objection may be taken to the above on the ground that there is no mention of the other Avataras in the Rig-Veda, which are mentioned only in the Puranas which are subsequent to the Vedic period.

The Puranas assumed their present form long after the compilation of the RigVeda. But the original Purannas were written in very old Brahmi which has survived in the language of the mantrams that have been preserved in the Vedas while the original books themselves have disappeared completely. The present Puranas which are in the Sanskrit language were written later and replaced the older works from which much of their accounts was derived. Many of the events recorded in the Puranas occurred in the pre-Vedic Age. This is well known to the critical historians and the subject has been treated with ability by an English scholar Pargiter, in his recent work ‘The ancient Indian historical tradition’.

There is another striking point of difference between the Vedas and the Puranas. The Vedas do not contain really much matter that is of the nature of the supernatural. They refer to Natural phenomena and display an almost exclusive attachment to mundane advantages in their prayers to the various gods, who are regarded as presiding over the different forces of physical Nature. This naturalistic or materialistic character of the Vedic religion has been noticed by all Vedic scholars. The singular absence of the really supernatural factor in the oldest existing religious book of the world has not received sufficient critical attention. The Puranas are full of the supernatural. To the socalled critical historian this has always appeared as the special disqualification of the Puranas as a source for sober history. But this feature is capable of a very different and far more rational interpretation.

I have already mentioned that the worship of Vishnu occurs in the Vedas along with that of the other gods. If we direct our close attention to the character of the hymns of the Rig-Veda we would notice a great difference between the hymns addressed to Vishnu and those addressed to the other gods. All the hymns, without a single exception, that are addressed to the other gods, are full of purely mundane expectations and references. All the hymns, without a single exception, addressed to Vishnu are absolutely free from all mundane reference. The worship of Vishnu is absolutely pure. Vishnu alone is Infinite, all the other gods are limited. Vishnu is also a personal God, as the other gods. The finite gods are approachable by their worshippers by limited references. But Vishnu is recognized as unapproachable by mundane reference.

As Vishnu was not available by esoteric efforts, this led to the formulation of the worship of the other gods. Vishnu was never a god of Nature. The other gods were gods of Nature. These formed, as it were, the esoteric faces of Vishnu and were regarded by their worshippers as independent of Vishnu. From the earliest times the worship of these gods had existed alongside the worship of Vishnu.

The Vedic religion viewed in this light will appear to have been of the nature of a later reaction against the older pure worship of Vishnu. It is, in fact, the first movement of the anti theistic thought, of which we possess any written record.

This establishes the identity of Vishnu, and the worship of Vishnu, of the RigVeda with the Vaishnavism of the Puranas and of the present Age. This fact has been most clearly established by the Vaishnava Acharyas, within the narrower historical period, from the time of Adi Vishnuswami onwards.

An attempt was made in the subsequent period to mix up the pure worship of Krishna with the other worships. This attempt was exposed by the Vaishnava acharyas who helped to restore from time to time the pure eternal religion.

Historically speaking, therefore, the anti-Vaishnavite thought is almost as old as the Vaishnavite, but not quite so old.

The Vedic religion, which, in its fruitive aspect, degenerated into ceremonialism and aimed solely at trivial worldly advantages, led to a schism in the ranks of the anti-theists marked by the rise of Buddhism. Gautama Buddha belonged to the sixth century B.C. Buddha is directly anti-Vedic and himself belonged to the Vaishnavite school. But his teaching was misunderstood by his atheistical followers who severed all connection with the chain of the Avataras of Vishnu to which their Founder had belonged. This explains the philosophical affinity of extant atheistical Buddhism with the polytheism of the Vedas as expounded by Sankara, in spite of the traditionally supposed opposition of Buddha to the Vedas.

The major portion of the Vedas, therefore, constituting what is known technically as the Karma Kandiya part (i.e. that portion which is devoted to fruitive activities), is polytheistic or, more truly, anti-theistic. But its ritual was not exclusively its own. The Yajna. or sacrifice was originally a form of Vaishnavite worship, but it was subsequently adopted as the basis of the antitheistic worship and in that form elaborated into its later complex forms. But the Yajna itself was not the oldest form of the Vishnuvite worship. The original form of the Vishnuvite worship was dhyana (i.e. meditation corresponding to solitary rationalistic worship the term means that mode which is established through argument). This mode of worship is represented in its pure form by Astabakra. It became mixed up with mundane references in the later Hatha Yoga. But at first it was not so. It is the form of worship that corresponds to the inactive or the meditative temper. This was the earliest theistic form of worship. The Yajna, ‘sacrifice’ was the next stage and represents the active temper. The institution of yajna developed into that of archana or ritualistic worship. The sankirtana propounded by Sri Chaitanya replaces archana as the final form of Vishnuvite worship. This order of development is in accordance with the shloka of the Srimad Bhagavatam (XII-3-52, What is obtained in the Satya Age by means of dhyana, in the Treta Age by yajna, in Dvapara by archana, may be gained in the Kali Age by chanting or kirtana of Hari.

The necessity for the preservation of the older Puranas was probably less imperatively felt after the composition of the Mahabharata in which were incorporated their principal contents in a condensed form. The present Puranas derived their accounts mainly from the Mahabharata, with later embellishments and interpolations. The Mahabharata and the Puranas thus contain the oldest historical tradition of India which is not in conformity with the extant portion of the Vedas either as regards their narrative or their religious tenets. A group of Puranas is specially devoted to the history and doctrines of Vaishnavism, which also appears more or less in all the Puranas. In this history is found the supernatural account of the numerous mundane Appearances (Avataras) of Vishnu.

We have already stated that the hymns of the Rig-Veda that are addressed to Vishnu, contain no mundane reference. Vishnu is considered as being outside physical Nature. In the hymns He is also spoken of as the Infinite and the Divinity in His fullness and perfection. As He happens to be Infinite He is also to be worshipped not by any limited reference but infinitely or by the fullness of His worshippers. But although Vishnu is thus believed to have been situated beyond this universe, His occasional ‘descent’ or Avatara into this nether world, was also known to the Rishis of the Rig-Veda. The fifth of the well-known ten Avataras of Vishnu, is actually mentioned in several passages of the Rig-Veda. The Vamana Avatara of Vishnu appears to be nearest to the Age of the Rig-Veda and might have preceded its compilation by an interval of time which was sufficiently short to allow its impression to persist in the memory of those who were not very keen regarding His worship. Vamana is the last Avatara of Vishnu in the Satya Age.

The fact that the accounts of these Avataras of Vishnu that are found in the Puranas, happen to be supernatural need not prejudice us against their authenticity. Such a procedure will lead us to taboo the Bible and the Koran and Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita and to court the misfortune of leaving out of the consideration of history the substance of religion or to misstate it as unhistorical, thereby condemning the subject of History itself to the class of purely atheistical studies, and, therefore, fit to be shunned as tainted by partisan bias against Godhead or even as a snare, by all theistically disposed persons. History would indeed be incomplete, unwholesome and meaningless if it left out the all-important subject and stunt itself to the purely mundane aspect of our experience, under the untenable, mischievous and atheistical plea of scientific necessity.

But the mundane and the spiritual should of course be kept rigorously separate, as they really are so by their nature. Mundane matters should certainly be represented as mundane. They should not be allowed to pass in the name of the spiritual. This is the eternal line of demarcation that separates the material from the spiritual, i.e., the temporary and the untrue from the eternal and the absolutely True. If the office of the historian be to investigate into the Real Truth he cannot possibly find Him if he rigorously confines himself to the manipulation of untruth for his own particular satisfaction. By adopting such a procedure he will fail in his duty towards his subject, towards himself and others. Therefore, the very first thing which he ought to do is to abandon once for all the so-called critical, or as it too often means, the sneering and worldly, attitude towards the supernatural for the utterly foolish reason that it does not obey those narrow canons gratuitously set up by himself and which are inapplicable to the Truth by being willfully based on the principles of limited space and time and an insatiable desire for the attainment of worldly advantages.

If this reasonable attitude of our natural partiality for the Real Truth, is adopted, our eyes would open of themselves and begin to distinguish between the grain and the chaff in the treatment of the history of the world. When the Vaishnava Acharyas declare that the only way, in which the individual soul engrossed in the materialistic outlook (bound jiva), can get rid of his ignorance of the Real Truth Who alone matters, is the constant perusal, listening to and contemplation of the supernatural Activities of the Descents (Avataras) of the Divinity, with faith and reverence, they do not refer by these terms to the erroneous concoctions of the human imagination but to the only history of the Divinity that is alone true in the judgment of those who are acquainted with it, both by realization in their life and by the study of the history of the truth. The objection that what is supernatural cannot exist at all under the conditions of time and space and, are, therefore, unreal and fictitious, is also contradicted by the actual experience of mankind who have, in the teeth of such objections, always believed in such happenings for the sound reason that nothing should be impossible with Godhead.

Once the force of the above argument is really admitted we are immediately relieved of the illogical bias that leads us to declare that history does not prove that the supernatural had ever happened at all. We should rather say that the supernatural never appeared as such to the blinded vision of unbelievers who have always formed the majority, as they do now, in this godless world. But such was the inexplicable force of those very. supernatural events that their reality was admitted by the best, i.e., by unworldly and pure minds of all Ages, and, on their authority, they have continued to be believed generally, although crudely, by all overwhelming majority of the peoples of all subsequent Ages.

The prejudice of the critical school is due to its failure to distinguish between the supernatural and the unnatural or anti natural. This has led to the adumbration of the doctrine of miracles. The Divine law is never broken and is sufficiently capacious to accommodate within itself with perfect consistency both the natural and the supernatural. Those who suppose that they can detect a breach of the Law on the part of Godhead for the purpose of convincing (?) unbelievers, are sadly deluded, indeed. The supernatural happens to be supernatural because it is above or beyond the natural or limited. Anything that is limited, whether it is called a ‘miracle’ or by any other name, cannot be anything but limited. And for this reason the supernatural lies beyond our present limited understanding. The Avataras of Vishnu belong to the category of the supernatural and cannot be perceived by any of the senses or be apprehended by the materialized understanding if such Avatara or Vishnu's descent into the finite world takes place even before our very eyes and in these days of the noon-day light (or darkness?) of almost unqualified empiricism.

It is not the paucity of materials, which exist and have existed in abundance from the remotest antiquity stored up in the pages of the innumerable Scriptures, that is the difficulty of the historian of theism. The difficulty is to convince the sophisticated reader regarding its proper place in History.

Before the advent of Buddha the Vaishnavite or theistic thought had already been recorded in a vast literature. The older Puranas still existed and the Mahabharata had been recently compiled. The Vedas in their Samhita portion could not avoid all reference to it and the Upanishads are altogether theistic, containing, as they do, the rich harvest of the realizations of the Age of contemplation. The Vaishnavite thought maintains its distinctive character in the sutra period and the Grihya and Sautra sutras are full of Puranic matter. These together with the Tapanis and the Vedangas, which had their theistic group of works, formed the source from which the Vaishnava Acharyas have drawn their materials from the third century B.C. onwards within the comparatively recent period of recorded History.

The present classical Sanskrit language came into use about four thousand years ago. It rendered obsolete the older works and replaced them by books written in the new language.

Anti-Vishnuvite thought is as old as the beginning of history. The Avataras of Vishnu are declared to have been due to the prevalence of atheism. The portions of the Vedas devoted to the cult of fruitive works, as we have already observed, belong to the anti-Vishnuvite school under the garb of friendly coexistence. This is an ordinary and very old rule. On the side of philosophy we find a continuous development of atheism which runs parallel to the Vishnuvite thought and culminates in the atheistical schools of the subsequent period under the garb of Scriptural sanction. This mixing up of theism with atheism in the Scriptures themselves, is quite natural and is due to the cunning of a group of intellectual atheists.

But within the atheistic camp this caution was not observed by all. Buddha was opposed to the fruitive yajnas of the Vedas and was Himself a leading Vishnuvite having been recognized as the ninth,Avatara of Vishnu by the theistic school. But his pseudo-followers, misunderstanding the anti-Vedic attitude of their Master and by abusing the method of abstruse discussion which He had employed against the sophists, drifted into nihilism which was by that time a recognized body of opinion handed down by a regular chain of former teachers. The active impulse which had produced the yajna form of worship was restated by Buddha to counteract its abuse at the hands of the fruitive school of the Vedists, so as to include ethical conduct. But Buddha’s followers separated ethics from its theistic purpose and applied it in its purely mundane form to the attainment of a negative spiritual result. This misunderstanding the active principle underlying the method of worshipping Godhead by yajnas practiced by the early theists, by those who professed to follow Buddha, was fraught with far-reaching consequences to humanity from the effects of which the modern world is still grievously suffering.

Just as the intellectual distortion of the principle underlying yajna led to the atheistical ethics of the pseudo-Buddhists, a somewhat similar distortion of the principle underlying Vishnuvite archana led to the development of the cult of the Jains.

The archana as the method of Divine worship was elaborated in the Agama consisting of its twenty-four Samhitas. The Vedas are in old Sanskrit and were for that reason called the Nigama. The Agama was so named as having been written in the then new language to distinguish it from the Nigama. The Vishnuvite Agama bears the name of Pancharatra. The Pancharatra contains the rules for the regulation of the spiritual life of the Vaishnavas. These are the sattvika Tantras. There are also rajasa and tamasa Tantras.

The term Pancharatra means that which contains knowledge about the five subjects, viz., tapa, pundra, nama, mantram and worship. It is the sattvata or Vishnuvite Tantra. The term Tantra, which means that which elaborates, is ordinarily applied to the rajasa and tamasa Tantras. The Pancharatra instructs regarding the application of those theistic principles which are declared in the spiritual portion of the Vedas, illustrated concretely in the narratives of the Puranas and collated in the Sutras.

All those are the extensions of the real Veda. If the Veda is conceived as a person the Upanishads may be regarded as his intellect and the Vedangas as his different organs for the performance of his function (karmanga).

The Vedangas are six in number, viz,

  1. Siksha, i.e., intonation,
  2. Kalpa, i.e., procedure,
  3. Nirukta, i.e., dictionary,
  4. Vyakarana, i.e., the science of sound,
  5. Jyotisha, i.e., astronomy including astrology dealing with space, time and direction, and
  6. Chhandas.

These furnished the starting point of the various physical sciences of the subsequent rationalistic Age in which there was a great advance in practical facilities of all kinds.

The aphoristic literature which took upon itself the collation of the Vedangas, led to the Grihya and Srauta sutras, the forerunners of the Pancharatra or the Tantra literature.

The Dharmashastras or Smritis belong to a later period. The twenty Dharmashastras which are also divided into the sattvika, rajasa and tamasa, are concerned with the regulation of the whole life of individuals. The sattvika smritis, viz., those of Vashista, Harita, Vyasa, Parasara, Bharadvaja, Kasyapa, are categorically distinguished from the rest. The clue to this distinction is furnished by such old shlokas as state definitely the principle that the king possessed the authority to frame laws for the regulation of the secular affairs of the people but had no power over the Brahmanas and the Vaishnavas.

"Sarvatra skhitadesah sapta-dwipaikadandadhrik Anyatra brahmana kuladanyatra chytagotratah (Bk. 4XXI.12.)

The rajasa and tamasa Dharmashastras were made by royal authority and are of a miscellaneous and secular character. They had no jurisdiction over the intellectual communities. The Dharmashastras do not belong to the class of revealed literature. The Pancharatras bear the names of persons to whom they were spoken by Narayana and are in the form of conversations between Siva and Parvati.

The Pancharatras are thus an authoritative expansion and supplement of the Veda (Truth or Absolute knowledge) in the same way as the Puranas. There are very early statements in the body of the technical Vedic literature itself to the effect that the Puranas are an integral part of the revealed literature. Those passages have been pointed out by the later Vishnuvite Acharyas. It is specifically stated in the Mahabharata and by Manu that the Veda should be supplemented by the ‘Itihasa’ (History) and the ‘Purana’. Because the Veda is supplemented by the Purana, therefore the latter is called ‘Purana’. The Madhyandin Smriti classes ‘Itihasa’, and ‘Purana’, with the Vedic Samhitas, as forming the body of the revealed literature.

The principal sattvata, i.e., theistic or Vishnuvite, Pancharatra or Tantric, works are the Hayasirsha, Prahlada and, especially, Narada, Pancharatra.

The names of the six sattvata Puranas are,

  1. Vishnu,
  2. Narada,
  3. Bhagavata,
  4. Garuda,
  5. Padma and
  6. Varaha.

The six rajasa Puranas are named,

  1. Brahmanda,
  2. Brahmavaivarta,
  3. Markandeya,
  4. Bhabishyat [Bhavishya?],
  5. Vamana and
  6. Brahma.

The tamasa Puranas are,

  1. Matsya,
  2. Kurma,
  3. Linga,
  4. Siva,
  5. Skanda and
  6. Agni.

The sattvika Puranas are stated to confer emancipation, the rajasa lead to paradise, and the tamas to hell. This principle holds in regard to the Tantras. The distinction between sattvika, rajasika and tamasika shastras is also defined in another way. The sattvika shastras are those that establish that Godhead is full of all the Qualities and is the Highest of all. Those shastras that declare the superiority of Brahma, Agni and Saraswati, are rajasika. Those that state the superiority of Siva and recommend the Sivalingam as object of worship, are tamasika Tantras. Sattvika persons worship Vishnu, rajasika persons Brahma and the tamasika worship Rudra (vide Padma and Garuda Puranas). The superiority of the sattvika Purana. is nowhere explicitly challenged.

The position we have reached so far may be summarized as follows. Godhead is the Divine Person who is supernatural, supersensuous and situated beyond the utmost limits of empiric knowledge.

Knowledge is of two kinds, viz.,

  1. para, i.e., transcendental or absolute, and
  2. apara, that is, non-final.

Rik, Saman, Yajus, Atharva and Siksha, Kalpa, Vyakarana, Nirukta, Chhandas and Jyotisha, etc., and all those branches of knowledge that follow these, belong to the category of the apara-Vidya. But Godhead is never accessible to this limiting knowledge which is subject to modification by time. The shastras in which the Unchangeable and Absolute Entity is the subject-matter of investigation, belong to the category of ‘para-Vidya’. The sattvata shastras belong to this class.

Thus theistic knowledge is found to be present, only to a very slight extent, in the extant Vedic Samhitas and their adjective literature. The originals of those parts of the Vedic works from which the sattvata Puranas once derived their theistic accounts have almost wholly disappeared in course of time, having become obsolete, probably on account of the Sanskritization of those works in the form of the present Purana Therefore, the present Puranas, although they happen to he in modern garb, preserve the theistic tradition, the Vedic or old linguistic sources of which are for some reason or other not available to us at present. But the narratives contained in these Puranas belong to a period that is also anterior to the period of the compilation of the Rik Samhita by an immense interval of time Among the Sutra works we are fortunate in possessing a few that are theistic, viz. those made by Sandilya, Bharadwaja and several other Rishis. The Bhikshu Sutra and Karmandi Parasariya Sutra were written long before the Vyasa Sutra. The bhakti sutras became current at the time of the composition of the present sattvata Pancharatra works. The sattvata sutras are composed in a way that is different from that of the rajasika and tamasika Tantras. The lines of thought designated as Bhagavata, Vaishnava, Naishkarma, Baikhanasa, Pancharatrika, etc., were prevalent in the pre-Vedic period. Thereafter, when the theistic thought suffered a partial eclipse by the preponderance of philosophical schools that were addicted to materialistic methods, the old theistic tradition was revived in the form of the present Puranas.

The atheistic rationalism which subsequently culminated in historical Buddhism, was already in existence as early as the period of the Nrisingha and Vamana Avataras. Henotheism and pantheism of the Vedic and cognate schools present the poly-theistic or positive aspect of this line of thought which is negatively represented by historical Buddhism and Jainism and later in a marked form, by Sankara who recognized and clearly brought out the philosophical affinity between the two branches of the same line of thought and thus re-established friendly relationship between the two groups

This atheistical pseudo-rationalism in its palmy days also coincided with the period of the triumphs of the Indian intellect in the different fields of empiric knowledge. This would not appear to be very-wonderful if we consider the present state of affairs in Europe. The Protestant movement degenerated into commercialism and the almost exclusive pursuit of material well-being which has given its secular tone to present western society. Great material prosperity is not a necessary indication of progress in spiritual science. Devotion to material facilities may be rewarded by success which, if it be not controlled by a clear spiritual purpose, may be of the nature of a nemesis to confirm the successful person and community in their unspiritual course The salutary aim should be not merely to juxtapose the two but to subordinate the material to the spiritual. This has never yet been practically possible in the world.

Indian thought may be the subject of study in both its theistic and atheistic aspects under which latter is included, unfortunately, its secular systems. Those who lament that the absence of material prosperity of India today is due to its exclusive spiritual pre-occupation, may do well to take note of this. The theistic thought proper cannot be subordinate to the aim of material improvement. The two do not equate at all, being on different planes. A community that adopts the theistic course will be purified in its morals, improved in unity, and direct all its energies to those activities that are conducive to spiritual progress. It will be contented and orderly in all its parts in as much as it will have a common objective which is situated outside the limits of all clashing, temporary interests. There should be no limited, conflicting interests in a community regulated by the higher principle. Such a society will possess all the requisites of spiritual well-being which will prevent it from being disturbed by the operation of any unbridled disruptive ambitions of its constituent units. The nature of the ideal of one universal community will become clearer as the spiritual position itself clarifies in course of this narrative. It is, however, necessary to guard against possible misconception at the outset in view of current and deep-seated prejudices against religion for purely worldly reasons.

The political greatness of Magadha belongs to the Age of the progress of Indian empiric knowledge. The Puranas lament the final corruption of politics in the hands of the ‘upstart’ kings of Magadha who favoured the indiscriminate subordination of the spiritual to the secular authority in defiance of the methods of the theistic periods. Under the kings of the dynasties of Magadha Buddhism became the official and the predominant religion of India. But India progressed materially. Secular progress also characterized Indian society under the Gupta Emperors who belonged officially to the henotheistic cult of panchopasana or the worship of five principal gods, viz., Sakti, the Sun, Ganapati, Siva and Vishnu.

This worship of five gods (panchopasana) is the religion of the large majority of the ‘Hindus’ of the present day and requires a few words of comment as regards its origin and character and its place in the general scheme of religious evolution.

This worship by the fivefold orthodox Hindu community, corresponding to the five gods, [the following has prevailed in India from the remotest antiquity], viz.,

  1. Saktas,
  2. Sauras,
  3. Ganapatyas,
  4. Saivas, and
  5. henotheistic (panchopasaka) Vaishnavas,

The tendencies of the human mind are of two kinds, viz., (1) those that are directed towards material objects, and (2) those that are turned towards the highest good. From the first of these issue such activities as those undertaken for the nourishment of the body, the building of a home, marriage, production of offspring, the pursuit of different secular studies, the earning of wealth, physical sciences, arts, government and the accumulation of merit by good deeds, etc., etc. Many of these worldly activities of men are identical with those of the lower animals; but the purposive utilitarian efforts of man are superior to similar instinctive endeavours of the lower animals. But men, even although they may carry on all efforts and acts conducive to worldly advantage, are considered to be only two-legged animals unless they make an attempt to place themselves under the guidance of their spiritual nature. The function of the pure soul is the natural religion of all animate beings. In the natural state the function that is proper to the soul is fully manifest. In the bound state this natural function, or religion, is reduced to the form of ‘quest’ after the highest good. The worldly activities already mentioned attain their fulfillment only if they are performed in subordination to the spiritual purpose; otherwise they fail to establish the highest position of man. Therefore, the first appearance of the effort for the highest good, differentiating itself from the exclusive pursuit of worldly interests, may be termed as a slight turning toward Godhead. From this stage to the highest spiritual state there is all infinity of gradations.

The Sakta religion is the name of the search of Godhead in the material world. In this religion material Nature is observed to be recognized as the supreme Regulatrix of the world. The customs and practices that are enjoined in the Sakta religion (dharma) are suitable for the stage of slight Godwardness. In reward to worldly people who have not yet begun to inquire after the highest good the customs recommended by the Sakta dharma may prove attractive and help to bring them over to the principle of the summum bonum. The religion that worships material energy is, indeed, the first spiritual effort of the bound soul and is extremely beneficial for people situated at that stage.

When the Godward tendency has acquired strength, in the second stage of advance, the superiority and efficacy of heat among material objects being noticed, the Sun as the source of all heat is accepted as the object of worship. This leads to the origin of the Saura cult. Subsequently, when even heat also comes to be regarded as material and lifeless, the principle of animation is recognized as superior to it and gives rise to the worship of Ganapati, who represents the principle of animality. This is the third stage. In the fourth stage, the pure human consciousness comes to be worshipped as Siva and gives rise to the Saiva creed. In the fifth stage appears the Vaishnava religion or the worship of the Supreme Soul as different from the fractional soul of the individual.

The religion that seeks the highest good is naturally divided into the above five grades. Therefore, in all countries these five religions have been prevalent in the different periods under different names. If we consider all the different religions that are current in this and other countries they can be put under one or other of the above classes. The Christian and Muhammedan bear a strong affinity to the Vaishnava religion of the henotheistic (panchopasaka) school. Buddhism and Jainism are similar to the Saiva cult. This is the scientific explanation of the differences between the different religions. Those who regard their own particular religion as the only true religion and stigmatize other religions as irreligion or pseudo-religion, are disabled by such prejudices from ascertaining the real Truth. As a matter of fact, having regard to the different stages, the respective religions should be considered as really different. But the religion that is natural to the soul is only one. In the graded condition of humanity it is not the duty of those who look to the essence of the matter to ignore this inevitable gradation of religion. In undertaking this discussion of the natural religion of the proper self of all animate beings we have no desire of withholding regard that is due to the respective grades of the different religions, in their natural and scientific order of precedence.

The eternal (sattvata) theistic function (Vaishnava dharma) is the only religion (dharma) that is proper to the soul; or, in other words, it is the eternal religion of all animation. But the Vaishnava religion that is found to exist in the community which professes illusionism (mayavada) is only a caricature of the religion of the pure soul. The so-called Vaishnava religion of the henotheistic (panchopasaka) school when it becomes free from mundane references, that is to say, from illusionism (mayavada), thereby attains to the nature of the eternal function (sattvata dharma). The distinction due to Dualism, Dualistic-Dualisticnon-Dualism, Absolute Monism and Distinctive Monism, professed respectively by the four theistic schools of the pure Vaishnavas, are merely indicative of the diversified character of the Vaishnava thought itself. This difference of school (sampradaya) is not due to any real difference of principle, Mayavada is the one creed which is really opposed to the principle of devotion. Those Vaishnavas who profess Mayavada are not theistic Vaishnavas at all.

The religious systems educed out of the perception of physical Nature, always fortified themselves by reference to old precedents and the Veda or the revealed Word. The philosophical systems which assumed their regular form in the sutra period, elaborated in the commentaries, furnished them with ready-made arguments, justifying their particular methods of worship and doctrine. All these were interconnected by their unity of outlook which was mundane and with the fruitive works and the gods and goddesses of the karmakandiya portions of the Veda and of the Tantras that were not spiritual. This is the tangled web of the current religious (?) life of India. It possesses an external appearance of being based upon the general body of the Scriptures of this country although showing a variety of faces that are by no means easily reconcilable with one another. Any systematic friendly treatment of current Hinduism is the despair alike of historians and philosophers. But in spite of their absurdities, their materialism which is often frankly explicit and their want of internal homogeneity, they have always impressed both outside and inside critics as presenting only the exterior or the covering matter that hides the sterling truth lying buried underneath. There are real grounds for such suspicion.

We have dealt elsewhere with the non-theistical philosophical systems which arose during the sutra period or the beginning of the rationalistic Age and also with the Buddhistic and Jain systems. The philosophy of theism was collated in the Brahmana sutra, known also as the Vedanta sutra. The Brahmana sutra produced its commentators through the agencies of both the theistic and nontheistic schools. The most famous, and one of the earliest extant, commentary belonging to the latter class, is that of Sankaracharya in which he expounds the Vedanta sutra with wonderful dialectic skill to prove the exclusive monistic view. Armed with this, Sankara, by appealing to the Authority of revealed theism, succeeded in patching up an apparent reconciliation among all the warring non theistic creeds by throwing over them the deceptive coating of Illusionism and winning over even the followers of Buddhism, who had till then been openly hostile to the Vedic tradition, within its roomy fold. Although the other rival philosophical systems were not altogether driven out of the field and even continued to inspire the various non-theistic creeds, the superior logic of the system of Sankara secured more or less the approval of all non-theistic cults, especially as it tolerated and supported the practices of all of them, differing apparently only in regard to their methods in pursuance of the common end to be attained by those methods.

The effective and uncompromising opponent of Sankara was the Vishnuvite thought itself which could not be stamped out by Sankara. The commentaries of Sankara were refuted by Sri Ramanuja and Madhvacharya who re-stated the theistic position by carefully exposing the errors of Sankara and laying bare his real object, which was different from his profession. Under the guise of loyalty to the revealed Word (sruti) Sankara proved even a greater enemy, on account of his profession of loyalty, of the theistic thought which was the real philosophy of the revealed Word, than even its open foes.

The Vishnuvite thought had been vigorously reinforced by the compilation of the two great epics, viz., the Mahabharata a and the Ramayana which in their present forms contain a good deal of interpolated matter. The process which was in progress, of rewriting in the new Sanskrit language the contents of the older original books, furnished the opportunity, which was not missed by the opponents of the theistic thought, of consciously. or unconsciously importing into the Vishnuvite Narrative of the Epics a good deal of the thoughts and ideas of the other creeds. The Mahabharata was at once recognized by the Vishnuvite teacher as the text-book of their religion. The significance of the Teachings and Activities of Sri Krishna was, however, most fully and clearly brought out in Srimad Bhagavat Purana which devoted itself exclusively to the task of finally separating the grain from the chaff and presenting the history of theism in its unadulterated and highest form of perfection embodied in the Teachings and Activities of Sri Krishna. Srimad Bhagavatam is the gathering up and the final and complete statement of the theistic position successively revealed in course of the Ages.

There is a class of thinkers, who without belonging to the school of successively heard transcendental sound, affect to value a religion in proportion to the antiquity of its origin. Revelation, according to such people, even if it were admitted as a true fact, by way of argument, could have taken place only in very remote times or at the very beginning of creation, and is, therefore, necessarily enshrined in the oldest (?) of all the extant Scripture, viz, the Rik Samhita. On this ground they are not disposed to regard as belonging to the class of revealed Scriptures any works that in their estimation appear to belong to an Age later than the Vedic. This view is directly opposed to such statements as that the Rik Veda itself is outside ‘Brahma Vidya’ or ‘para Vidya’, the knowledge of the Absolute. We have tried to explain the significance of such and similar statements that refuse to let the Brahman as transcendental Sound to be labeled, catalogued and finally closed in the manner that the physical scientist would like to do according to his limited notions that refer exclusively to the finite objects of this world. The ‘Word of God’ is not anything that is capable of being limited by space and time. That is also the reason why we are told that it is not possible for us to have any idea of Him except by the process of revelation. That which is unrelated to this world cannot be known by any kind of mundane reference, gross or subtle, physical or mental. Such prejudices, which the impartial voice of logic emphatically condemns, should be completely eradicated if we really want to acquire the spiritual perspective proper.

The Puranas, in their spiritual significance, are eternal. They are accordingly spoken of as appearing and disappearing, in accordance with the strict logic of unadulterated theism. The Age or country or person to which they choose to appear, does not in the least affect their eternal character. They are neither old nor new but eternal, i.e., situated beyond the scope of past, present and future. Unless this is remembered no one need pretend that he really accepts, tentatively or even for the sake of argument, the logical implications of theism. The esoteric side which alone is present to the view of limited minds represents the misleading view of the Absolute. This esoteric vision requires to be temporarily discarded in order to be able to loyally follow a theistic narrative that is derived from unimpeachable sources and for that reason alone entitled to such hearing from every one of us, for our own benefit.

In the light of the above observations it is possible to understand the meaning of those passages of the Scriptures that try to define the position of Srimad Bhagavatam It is the only uncontaminated source of the revealed religion in its purity and completeness, available to us. Srimad Bhagavatam is the explanation of the Brahma sutra;it settles the significance of the Mahabharata; it is of the nature of the commentary of the formula for delivering from worldliness (gayatri), the transcendental Sound Who is, as it were, the germ of all knowledge regarding the Absolute; and is the fulfillment of all the statements of the Vedas. ‘The substance of all the philosophy of the Vedas is called Srimad Bhagavatam. Suka churned the butter from the curd of the four Vedas and Parikshit ate of the same. After Sri Krishna returned to His own Abode the Sun in the shape of this Purana has arisen of late for the enlightenment of the blinded souls of this Age of discord’ The position of the Srimad Bhagavatam as being the premier among the sattvata Puranas is attested by various passages in the different Puranas.

The historian who maybe obsessed by his partiality for antiquity, being so wedded to the cult of time and space as to be unable to live in the pure atmosphere that is free from those dark vapours of this mundane world, should do well to take the help of those philosophers who possess a longer vision than his and who may warn him against riding an old error too hard as it is bound to expire in the process, if, indeed, it be his purpose to preserve it for the particular benefit of nobody.

This is so as regards the so-called historical position of Srimad Bhagavatam. The nature of the actual contents of this unique work cannot be indicated in a few words. By the side of the revealed Word the Avataras of Vishnu constitute a Source of transcendental knowledge forming the truly historical manifestation of the Word of God. The Word of Godhead tells us about Godhead, His Activities, Qualities, Abode and Servitors. The Avataras are the descent of these into this world in a shape that is visible to all of us in the forms of apparent mundane occurrences, by reason of the mundane nature of our present vision. The revealed Word is explained and corroborated by the narrative of the deeds of the Avataras. If the gayatri is comparable to the first appearance of the bud, Srimad Bhagavatam is like the full-blown flower, being the inspired narrative of the successive Avataras of Vishnu, culminating in the advent of Sri Krishna Himself, into this world.

Sri Krishna Chaitanya’s career and teaching offers the illustration of the Vaishnava religion in its highest development. The sankirtana of Krishna propounded by Sri Chaitanya is the highest form of worship of this religion, being equivalent to the loving service of Sri Krishna, as practiced by the milkmaids of Braja, the form itself being the method as well as the object of this transcendental worship. The nature of these will be explained in course of the narrative.

But we would avail of this opportunity to ask the reader not to accept the current practices of the pseudo-followers of Sri Chaitanya in Bengal and elsewhere as the religion taught by Sri Chaitanya. We would also request him to forget what is offered in the pages of certain modern writers as the so-called history of the movement. Both are concoctions of the imaginations of people who are themselves utterly ignorant of the transcendental nature of the spiritual function. Such travesty of the Truth as is offered by the pseudo-Vaishnavas and empiric writers, is the necessary consequence of attempting to practice and explain the religion by worldly people, in as much as its nature cannot be understood by the limited intelligence of persons leading a worldly life who may give themselves out to be the followers of Sri Chaitanya or who may be betrayed by their self-sufficiency born of utter ignorance to undertake to write its history. We may quote again the dictum of Sri Chaitanya, which is so apposite in this connection, viz. ‘no one is fit to teach the religion who does not practice it himself.’

The psilanthropic (prakrita sahajia) cult passing under the name of Vaishnavism, is allied to the practices of those who follow the teaching of the tamasika Tantras. This class of Tantras, which had their zealous followers in the tracts of Chittagong (ChattogRama), led in those parts to the practice of revolting sexual excesses in the name of religion, and from there the contagion was carried to different parts of the country which also had their own tamasika Tantrikas by whom they were welcomed. This feature of decadent Buddhism is quite well known. The natural transcendental function (aprakrita sahaja dharma) that finds expression in the genuine poems of Chandidas and Vidyapati, which were approved by Sri Chaitanya, belongs to the category of unalloyed devotion to Godhead. But those songs that now pass under the names of Vidyapati and Chandidas have suffered interpolation and alteration in the hands of the sensualists of former and present generations. The sensual feature is altogether absent from the practices recommended by Sri Chaitanya both by His own conduct as well as by His teachings. But many pseudo-sects that profess at the present day to be the followers of Sri Chaitanya try to pass off the sensual cult as the religion of pure love for Godhead taught by Sri Chaitanyadeva. The congregational chanting (sankirtana) as performed by these pseudo-Vaishnavas is nothing but a musical dissipation that falls in with their other taste for unbridled sexuality. It will appear in its due place in this narrative that the congregational chanting (sankirtana) propounded by Sri Krishna-Chaitanya is something that is altogether different, both as regards its method and object, from what now ordinarily passes under its name. In the concluding chapter of this work we will return to the details of the history and shall try to supply the reader with the real account of the development of pseudo-sankirtana among the sensualists. The process of misrepresenting the pure Vishnuvite religion by pseudo-followers and opponents in the various forms of pseudo-Vaishnavism and non-Vaishnavism, which operated with such signal consequences in the past, have not been less active during the four centuries that have elapsed since the disappearance of Sri Chaitanya, to obscure and misrepresent the religion of pure love for Godhead, taught and practiced by Him.

The history of India, written too exclusively by ethnologist and archaeologists, has left out of account the factor that really matters, viz., the substance of its spiritual culture which possesses a continuous and recoverable history. Much work for the elucidation of the religious history of India has been done by foreign empiric scholars whose judgment cannot, however, be relied upon in essential matters which are doubly opposed to their experience and local mode of life. The ‘Orion’ of Balgangadhar Tilak made a nearer approach to the true method. But Tilak was swept off his legs by his association with physical efforts, to the detriment of his intellectual and theological speculations. Those who are sincerely anxious to work in the field of spiritual culture must first of all get rid of all lesser considerations than the Absolute Truth, both in their intellectual and worldly lives, as ‘he alone is fit to be a teacher of the religion who also practices the same’.

The History of India of the pre-Christian period is still enveloped in the darkness of obscurity. But from the mediaeval period we are on firmer ground. There is no lack of materials from firsthand informants in writing the life of Sri Chaitanya.

I shall conclude this chapter with a few words of observation on the system of caste. Sri Chaitanya is wrongly supposed to have been an opponent of the caste-system. As a matter of fact Sri Chaitanya kept strictly aloof from secular society and politics. He never encouraged social rupture in any form. Spiritual society, according to Sri Chaitanya, is only camp-life. Theists alone are in a position to live such a life. Sri Chaitanya called into Himself particular individuals from all ranks of the then existing society. He formed the spiritual association of such individuals. His householder-followers did not bring over the members of their households, nor their relatives, into the religion. It is not a hereditary community that can be formed on the spiritual basis. It was also, therefore, a proselytizing religion in its external appearance. Several of its leading Acharyas came from the lowest ranks of the orthodox society or even from outside. Thakur Haridas was a Muhammedan by birth

The subject of ‘varna’ hinges on the answer to the question “Who is Brahmana?” There are numerous passages in the Scripture which contain a clear answer to the question. There is a long discussion on this point in the Vajrasuchikopanishad which, after rejecting for different reasons answers that identify the Brahmana with (1) the individual soul himself, the physical body, (3) the species, (4) the cognitive principle, (5) the principle of activity, arrives at the conclusion that the Brahmana is the possessor of certain qualities. ‘He knows the real nature of the self and by reason of such knowledge remains always free from any defects due to greed, anger, etc., is possessed of equanimity and self-control, is uninfluenced by caprices, malice, thirst, desire or infatuation, with mind unaffected by arrogance, egotism, etc. This is the purpose of the Sruti, Smriti, Itihasa and the Puranas. No other view of Brahmanaism tenable,

In the Chanddogya Upanishad we have the following, “Gautama said,, ‘Fairlooking one, to which lineage (gotra) do you belong?’” He answered, “I do not know to which gotra I belong. I asked my-mother. she said to me, ‘In my youth in course of ministering to many persons, as their servant, I begot you as my son. I do not really know to which gotra you belong. My name is Jabala. Your name is Satyakama.’ I am thus Satyakama Jabala.” To this Gautama replied, ‘Child, the truth which you have spoken cannot be given out by any one who is not a Brahmana. Therefore, are you Brahmana. I accept you, good-looking one; collect the requisites for the performance of the formal rites of the occasion. I will admit you as pupil for the study of the Scriptures. (I will invest you with the sacrificial thread of a Brahmana.) Do not fall away from the truth.’ This attitude of Gautama is thus described in the Saman Samhita, ‘In a Brahmana straightforward sincerity and in a Sudra crookedness respectively, are to be found. Haridrumata Gautama by considering this difference of quality bestowed on Satyakama the right of the Brahmana to study the Scriptures (upanayana), or purification by the gayatri.’ “‘We do not know whether we are Brahmanas or non-Brahmana s,’ this doubt arose in the minds of the truthloving Rishis” (text of the Sruti quoted by Nilakantha). In the Gita Sri Krishna says, “I have created the four varnas in accordance with difference in the qualities and works of different persons. Although I am the Lord, know Me as not the Creator of those institutions.”

That is to say, the institutions of ‘varna’ and ‘ashrama’ are created by the deluding energy of Godhead Who in His proper Nature is indifferent to them. In the Puranas and Mahabharata there are long lists of persons who acquired the status of Brahmana s although they were not born in Brahmana families. The principle Underlying the institution is stated most clearly in a shloka of the. Mahabharata (Anusasana parva, 143—50, 51) which may be rendered thus, ‘Birth, purificatory ceremony, the study of the Vedas or descent,—none of these is the cause of the status of the twiceborn; one’s disposition is the only cause. If a Sudra is found to possess the proper disposition, he attains to the condition of the Brahmana., This britta-Brahmanata, or Brahmana hood by disposition, is the real principle underlying the division into varnas, and is attested by numerous passages that are to be found in all the Scriptures. While there is not a single passage which declares that Brahmana hood is due to birth alone, there are other passages which declare the inevitable loss of the status of a Brahmana and lapse into that of a Sudra with deterioration of disposition.

In the case of the Brahmana there are three births. The first of these is the seminal birth on coming out of the womb of the mother. After the upanayana (bringing of the boy to the preceptor, i.e., entrance into pupilage for Vedic studies) the second birth takes place; and, thereafter, on the attainment of initiation into the sacrifice, the third birth occurs (Manu, 2/260).

Thus there are three kinds of birth, viz.,

  1. seminal (shaukra),
  2. through gayatri (savitrya), and
  3. through initiation (daikshya).

This is expressed by the word tribrit which means these three kinds of birth. If a person, born in a Brahmana family, remaining ignorant of the Veda, or the Truth regarding the Divinity, manifest extreme arrogance on the strength of his possession of the sacrificial thread, by right of seminal birth, for such sin that Brahmana is designated by the name of ‘animal’ (pashu) (Atri Sarnhita, shloka 372). According to Manu, 2/168, the twice-born who, without devoting himself to the study of the Vedas, applies himself to other matters, becomes thereby a Sudra even during his lifetime with his whole family.

The Padma Purana defines the term Brahmana bruva (pseudoBrahmana).

"The Brahmana who after undergoing purification (?) by the tenfold samskara does not perform either the eternal (nitya) or adventitious (naiimittika) functions, is called a ‘Brahmana-bruva’. That twice-born person who having undergone niyama, brata and all the samskaras does not yet perform any of the duties enjoined by the Vedas, is a Brahmana -bruva (pseudoBrahmana ). If a person, who has obtained purification (samskara) and the sacrificial thread, neglects the regular performance of duties that are enjoined and does not study the Vedas, he is to be considered a Brahmana-bruva (pseudoBrahmana). He who does not himself study the highest Veda-shastras nor teaches them to disciples, although such a person may happen to possess the tenfold samskara (purification), is nevertheless a Brahmana bruva (pseudoBrahmana ).”

This is confirmed by Kulluka Bhatta in his remarks on Manu, 785, “the person born of a Brahmana family who, although devoid of the performance of the duties proper for a Brahmana, passes himself off as a Brahmana, is designated by the term ‘Brahmana-bruva’ (pseudo-Brahmana),” etc., etc.

The position is thus summed up in a shloka of the Srimad Bhagavatam (7-1135), ‘by-those signs that have been enumerated, which indicate the respective varnas of men, the varna of a person is to be settled.’ This is corroborated by Mahabharata, Santi parva, 189-8. The varna institution as found in the Scriptures is an individualistic classification of man according to disposition. The necessity for such institution is thus stated, ‘Divine Vishnu is worshipped by a person who practices the functions (dharma) enjoined by the institutions of varna and asrama. There is no other way of pleasing Him than by such activities as are enjoined by the institutions of varna and asrama. In the Satya Yuga there was only one varna. The division into four varnas was made in the Treta Age. In the Kali Age cannibals (rakshasas) are born in the Brahmana families for troubling those whose tenfold purification (samskara), pursuit of Vedic studies, etc., have lost their vitality.’ Accordingly ‘as in the Kali Age Brahmanas by seminal birth do not possess any purity and are like the Sudras they are not purified by following the Vedic path. They are purified by the pancharatric method alone’. ‘Because just as by some particular chemical process the bell-metal is transformed into gold in the same way by the sattvata Tantric diksha (elaborated spiritual initiation) every one is enabled to acquire the nature of a Bipra.’ The words of Digdarsini, quoted by Sri Sanatana Goswami, declare that the status of a twice-born belongs to all men after initiation.

Initiation (diksha) is of two kinds, viz.,

  1. Vedic, and
  2. in conformity with the Vedas.

Of these the second is again of two kinds, viz., (1) Pauranic, or (2) Pancharatric. The difference between them consists in this that the Vedic diksha is the initiation of the duly purified twice-born considered as a fit person for receiving spiritual enlightenment. The Pauranic diksha is initiation of an unfit person on the assumption of fitness. The Pancharatric diksha is the initiation of an unfit person with the object of ensuring his fitness. Of these the Vedic initiation is ruled out as inadmissible in the Kali Age. Sri Haribhaktivilas gives the preference to the Pancharatric (tantric) diksha over the Pauranic. The diksha of Sudras formulated by the smtartas, who belong to the creed of the panchoasakas and who favour exclusively the principle of seminal descent, is not entitled to be called diksha in any sense. At the time of Sri Chaitanya the Pancharatric diksha alone was in use as the Panchopasaka (i.e., atheistic) smartas had not been able to obtain such a great influence over society by that period as they have now. The subsequent disuse of the Pancharatric diksha by the so-called Vaishnava Acharyas of a later day who were under the thumb of the smartas, will be described in due course.

Diksha is so called by savants well versed in the knowledge of the Divinity because it confers the spiritual knowledge (i.e., the knowledge of one’s relationship with Godhead) and destroys sinfulness with its root-cause.’ The upanayana corresponds to matriculation or admission into the path of the true knowedge. the diksha corresponds to graduation, i.e., the actual attainment of the enlightened state, or, according to the Pancharatric method, its actual attainment in the future if the conditions enjoined by the process are fulfilled. One becomes a Brahmana on the attainment of such knowledge. It is this spiritual status that is referred to in such passages as in Brihad., 3-9-10, ‘Gargi, he who having known the Divine Truth thereafter leaves this world is alone a Brahmana,’ and Brihad., 4-4-21, ‘the intelligent Brahmana having learnt about the Brahman from the Scriptures will endeavour to cultivate love for Him,. Thereupon he is called Vaishnava, as being related to Vishnu. The Vaishnava is thus higher than all the varnas. The condition of the Brahmana is included in and surpassed by that of the Vaishnava.

Britta-Brahmana ta (the status of the Brahmana by disposition) is the condition precedent to the attainment of the higher status of the Vaishnava or servant of Vishnu, in accordance with the teaching of the Scriptures. The status of a Brahmana resting on seminal birth alone is nowhere mentioned in the Scriptures. One of the very first steps that is required for the re-establishment of the spiritual (daiva) varnasrama institution is to make britta-Brahmana ta the legal institution in order to ensure its practical recognition as the genuine Scriptural institution by all communities and the re-establishment of this proper gradation in the Vaishnava communities (sampradayas). The form of britta-Brahmana ta is prevalent in the Ramanandi community. It is the basis of the arrangement laid down in the Satkriyasaradipika.

The Brahmo movement, which at one time applied itself to the reform of religion in Bengal, has now become almost a purely social movement and has cut itself completely away from the revealed Scriptures. Its founder Raja Rammohan Roy became latterly inclined towards mundane facilities. It is such worldly considerations that also lie at the root of the subsequent split in the Brahmo community. The intellectual vigour which at one time distinguished the community has practically left it and gone over to the Theosophists who are careful not to commit themselves in spiritual matters to anything definite. The position of the Theosophists is the intellectual counterpart of the social ideal of the Brahmos to which the latter attach supreme importance. The Brahmos want to do away with caste, as it stands in the way of mundane facilities. But organized society is in every sense better than indiscriminate individualism. The Brahmo program offers only the individualistic in place of the communal. All mundane systems have their special defects. No real progress towards the spiritual state is possible by the adoption of such a course. What is needed is not to ignore the spiritual, and substitute in its place the material and worldly, but to acknowledge the spiritual and try sincerely to follow its lead in arranging our temporary affairs of this world.

The one method of attaining to the spiritual is by listening to the history of Godhead Who frequently comes down into this world in order, by His activities made visible to this world, to afford the bound jivas the opportunity of having the transcendental in the very-midst of the mundane. Such history is necessarily unintelligible to the bound jiva and, therefore, it has to be listened to from the lips of sadhus who can alone understand and properly expound it. By listening constantly to the narrative of the transcendental pastimes of the Divinity recorded in the Scriptures from the lips of sadhus who themselves live the spiritual life bound jivas are enabled gradually to attain to the consciousness of their real spiritual nature.

In the next chapter we intend accordingly to present the reader with a brief explanatory account of the Descents (Avataras) of Godhead. After one’s spiritual nature is freed from the delusions of this material world he is in a position to understand what the service of Godhead really means. The life of Sri Krishna Chaitanya Who is the living Embodiment of the very highest form of service, cannot be really intelligible to bound jivas unless they are prepared to undergo spiritual novitiate at the feet of real devotees in the manner prescribed by the Word of Godhead and exemplified in all its stages, from its first beginning to the highest development, in the life of Sri Krishna Chaitanya. This is the truth of the life of Sri Chaitanya. It is indispensable to the bound jiva to be properly acquainted with it if he is disposed to attain to and continue in the state of the pure service of Godhead. The one thing needful for us all is, therefore, to listen to the Divine history from the lips of sadhus, to chant the same and to act in strict conformity with its teaching after the manner taught by and exemplified in the life of Sri Krishna Chaitanya.

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