Found in Sanga, Sanga 2000.

Nature, Law, and Origins

December 16th, 2000 | No Comments

Q. I have heard that some Christian organizations are targeting India for converting Hindus to Christianity. What do you think?

A. I don’t believe thoughtful and spiritually vital Christians think like this. Christianity as a spiritual doctrine will never dominate the religious landscape of India. But its heart of love of God can be enriched by the kind of meaningful interface with Hinduism that Christian theologians like Thomas Merton engaged in. Hindus can also benefit from this kind of exchange. Whenever sincere spiritual seekers from different disciplines discuss openly with one another, they find considerable common ground.

Q. There is a saying, “God has no decrees other than the laws of nature.” What is the Gaudiya Vaisnava viewpoint on this?

A. It could be said that in the final analysis Krishna himself has no decrees other than “Fix your mind on me. Be my devotee! Sacrifice for me. Offer obeisance unto me. Absorbed thus in me alone, you shall come to me.” This is the conclusion of the Bhagavad-gita, the law of love. The domain of Vraja Krishna is beyond law. However, other manifestations of Godhead do entertain some sense of law—do’s and don’ts – in their loving relationships with their devotees.

Vaisnavas also maintain that the laws of nature involve the law of karma. In its cosmological aspect the law of karma seeks to answer the ‘why’ behind the laws of nature. While science may consider it a waste of time to even ask this question, it should be obvious that there is nothing that logically necessitates that the laws of physics must be as they are. These laws are there, but they could have just as well been otherwise. So it may be less than idle to consider the ‘why’ behind the laws of nature.

Q. Is there a sliding scale with divine justice? Would the karma for killing animals be the same for a jungle dwelling aborigine as for a brahmana living in India?

A. The law of karma is very precise. Everything is taken into consideration, including one’s ignorance. Thus improper acts performed by those who know better bring harsher reactions than the same acts performed by those who do not know such acts are improper.

Q. In a previous discussion you wrote, “Vaisnavas consider Narayan to be the highest expression of reality.” Isn’t Krishna higher than Narayan?

A. In the discussion you are referring to, I was speaking of Narayan in terms of being God and the highest reality, as opposed to Sankara’s view in which Narayan/God is a provisional manifestation of Brahman. By calling Narayan the highest reality I did not mean to imply that Krishna was not a more complete manifestation of divinity. This is another discussion altogether, one that involves rasa vicara. Outside of this discussion, Narayan/Visnu and Krishna are one in terms of tattva.

Q. In the material world we are accompanied by the Supreme Lord in the form of Paramatma. Is this also the case in the Spiritual Sky?

A. No, the Paramatma feature of Godhead is not eternal in this sense. This feature of Godhead is the overseer of the material world.

Q. Is it correct to say that maya sakti can extend her influence in the tatastha region of brahmajyoti?

A. No, maya has no influence in Brahman/brahmajyoti. Brahman is God, as is Paramatma, and Bhagavan. Maya cannot approach God.

Q. Where exactly is brahmajyoti located in relation to Maha Visnu?

A. The brahmajyoti has no location. Visnu is all-pervading.

Q. Is brahmajyoti, tatastha and viraja all interchangeable?

A. No. Tatastha is the jiva sakti. Viraja is the nirvana of the Buddhists. It is the undifferentiated seminal condition of prakrti represented as water. Whereas Brahman is consciousness represented as light—brahmajyoti. Jyoti means light.

Q. If the jivas in this world are nitya baddha, and thus have always been under the influence of maya sakti, then what does the brahmajyoti consist of?

A. Undifferentiated nondual consciousness.

Q. Can we say the jiva comes through tatastha down to Maha Visnu when it enters the material sphere?

A. The jiva is a unit of tatastha sakti. Maha Sankarsana of Vaikuntha is the shelter of the tatastha sakti. It emanates from him in the form of nitya siddha jivas whom he sustains in Vaikuntha. His expansion is Maha Visnu, from whom baddha jiva souls emanate.

Q. Should I approach a guru even though I am not detached from lust?

A. You will get free from lust by taking shelter of a genuine guru. Approach him first.

Q. Was Srila Prabhupada’s life and work devotional service or lila? Was he guru-tattva or an incarnation of Godhead?

A. The descent of guru appearing within the Vaisnava should be honored as the descent of God. Krishna says, ‘acarya mam vijaniyat,’ ‘I am the acarya.’ This does not mean that Prabhupada is an incarnation of God. He is not. He is a liberated soul eternally engaged in love of God. His work in this world was devotional service, but it may also be referred to as an extension of gaura-lila.

Q. During Krishna’s pastimes on earth was Balarama under the influence of yogamaya?

A. The power of yogamaya follows Krishna and Balarama like a shadow, and as soon as she senses the need to exert her influence for the pleasure of God within his lila, she does so.

Q. How can the word “erotic” be used in relation to the spiritual love of Radha and Krishna?

A. This term was often used by Srila Bhaktisiddhnata Saraswati Thakura to describe Krishna’s conjugal lila. It is derived from the Greek “erotikos,” “of or caused by love.” The word is commonly used to describe an amatory poem, such as rasa lila. Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has also used the term a number of times in his writings.

Q. How can chanting cleanse ‘the dust off the mirror of the mind’ when the mind itself is made up of the three modes of nature?

A. In the verse ceto darpana marjanam, “mind” refers to “citta” or contaminated consciousness. Otherwise, when cleansed of the influences of raja and tamo guna, the mind gives self-knowledge under the influence of sattva. With the ingress of bhakti the mind is transcended altogether.

Q. I am inspired by the pastimes of Rsabadeva and Bharata as described in the Bhagavatam. Are they incarnations of Krishna? I like to chant their names.

A. Take inspiration from this section of the Bhagavatam to chant Hare Krishna. There is much to learn from this section. The great King Bharata gave up his entire kingdom for the pursuit of love of God. He is a prime example of virakti, detachment. Rupa Goswami considers this virakti to be one of the preliminary symptoms of bhava bhakti. Rsabadeva is considered to be an avatara, but Bharata Maharaja is not.

Q. There is an incident in the Mahabharata where Duryodhana behaves very charitably to Arjuna because of a boon he owed him, offering to give him the kingdom without further fighting, etc. How can we understand his generosity on the one hand and his total envy and greed on the other?

A. Even the worst people have a bright side and sometimes it comes out unexpectedly. The Mahabharata is largely about dutiful, honorable, responsible life. No doubt Duryodhana was dishonorable in many respects but he did adhere to a code of honor nonetheless (just like the Mafia). While he cheated the Pandavas, he would not break his word. In this way he held on to some sense of dignity and thus could rationalize all his envy and cheating.

Q. In a previous discussion you wrote that the Bhagavatam’s statement about Siva being the greatest devotee was “propaganda.” Isn’t the Bhagavatam relished by pure devotees? Why would it contain propaganda?

A. The word “propaganda” means to systematically present a particular doctrine, especially a religious one. Thus the Bhagavatam is a work of propaganda through and through—propaganda that is pleasing to Krishna’s devotees. Why is there propaganda in the Bhagavatam about Siva being a great devotee? Because he is a great devotee. Emphasizing this by calling him the greatest devotee is pleasing to all of Krishna’s devotees, because in some respects he is the greatest devotee.

Visvanatha Cakravarti says, “Sambhu is given as an example because among the Vaisnavas he is the instructor in all aspects of Bhagavad-dharma.” Krishna’s devotees will also be pleased by such statements because, while understanding that they are qualified statements, they know that at the same time they serve to attract others, Saivites in this case, to the Bhagavatam propaganda.

Leave a Reply

* Name, Email, and Comment are Required

Subscribe without commenting