is the karma that human beings
are creating in the present, whose fruits will be experienced in the future.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
"Prarabdha is that portion of the past karma which is responsible for the present body. That portion of the sanchita karma which influences human life in the present incarnation is called prarabdha. It is ripe for reaping. It cannot be avoided or changed. It is only exhausted by being experienced. You pay your past debts. prarabdha karma is that which has begun and is actually bearing fruit. It is selected out of the mass of the sanchita karma."
- "All About Hinduism" by Sri Swami
In vedantic literature, there is a beautiful analogy. The bowman has already sent an arrow and it has left his hands. He cannot recall it. He is about to shoot another arrow. The bundle of arrows in the quiver on his back is the sanchita; the arrow he has shot is prarabdha; and the arrow which he is about to shoot from his bow is agami. Of these, he has perfect control over the sanchita and the agami, but he must surely work out his prarabdha. The past which has begun to take effect he has to experience.
There is another beautiful analogy also. The granary represents the sanchita karma; that portion taken from the granary and put in the shop for future daily sale corresponds to agami; that which is sold daily represents prarabdha.
Sanchita karma is one of the three kinds of karma. It is the sum of one's past karmas – all actions (accumulated good and bad) from one's past life follow through to the next life.
KARMA: THREE TYPES OF KARMA:
SANCHITA, PRAARABDHA & AAGAMI:
All our karma is the off spring of desire. It is desire that draws the jeeva to an object. Attachment (Abhimana) is created thereby & a bondage is established. Desire, thought & action (ichCha, GYAna, kriyA) constitute the triple chord that binds down the individual soul. Heaps of desires, thoughts & actions are thus laid by, day by day & hour by hour, by every jeeva, every one of which is a kArmic seed liable to germinate & subject the jeeva to tens or hundreds of incarnations. This accumulated stock is Sanchita karma".
Sanchita Karma is our guiding genius for good or evil, a guide that holds us in leading strings, that shadows our movement at every pace, & dogs our steps whether we be waking or dreaming.
Out of this fund, a few that are developed & mature form the PrArabhdha Karma of the jeeva. It is prArabdha karma selected out of Sanchita, that forms the proximate cause of the ensuing births & experiences. The country, race, creed & society in which he is to be born, is determined by PrArabdha. The Karma of the parent & that of the off spring determines the nature of relation between the two.
The above is in relation to past Karma. As the soul continues to enjoy & suffer, it does other actions which are additions to the stock. The current karmas whose fruits are in the future is called AgAmi. This is classified as ishTa & aniShTa (agreeable & disagreeable).
The sage who has been God in Aparoksha, has the Sanchita burnt up as also the aniShTa portion of the AgAmi. ishTa portion remains with him to enhance his Ananda when he goes to Vaikunta. He has only the prArabhdha to deal with & even as to this, God shows him concessions. There is thus no possibility of escaping from the grip of Karma except by the grace of the Almighty.
Srimad Bhagavatam 4:29:73 purport
of HDG Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad reads:
It is sometimes said that because a child is innocent he is completely pure. Actually this is not the fact. The effects of fruitive activities reserved in the subtle body appear in three concurrent stages. One is called béja (the root), another is called küöa-stha (the desire), and another is called phalonmukha (about to fructify). The manifest stage is called prärabdha (already in action). In a conscious or unconscious state, the actions of the subtle or gross bodies may not be manifest, but such states cannot be called the liberated state. A child may be innocent, but this does not mean that he is a liberated soul. Everything is held in reservation, and everything will become manifest in due course of time. Even in the absence of certain manifestations in the subtle body, the objects of sense enjoyment may act. The example has been given of a nocturnal emission, in which the physical senses act even when the physical objects are not manifest. The three modes of material nature may not be manifest in the subtle body, but the contamination of the three modes remains conserved, and in due course of time, it becomes manifest. Even if the reactions of the subtle and gross bodies are not manifest, one does not become free from the material conditions. Therefore it is wrong to say that a child is as good as a liberated soul.
Chanting the Holy name removes karma:
Raghunätha däsa Bäbäjé, “Another terrible nämäparädha is to commit sinful acts relying on the purifying power of chanting harinäma to absolve one of the future negative karmic reactions. Such a motivated offence cannot be absolved by the yogic process of yama, niyama, etc., nor by präyaçcitta, atonement, and so on. This offence and the sins committed in connection to this offence can be purified by the mercy of harinäma alone, because they all fall within the sphere of nämäparädha.”
Vijaya, “Gurudeva, if every kind of sin is destroyed by harinäma, how is it possible that those who chant harinäma commit offences against Him?”
Raghunätha däsa Bäbäjé, “My son, the moment the jéva achieves the shelter of çuddha-näma, one utterance of ‘Kåñëa’ is enough to extirpate all sins, both prärabdha and aprärabdha. Thereafter, by the chanting of çuddha-näma the jéva reaps prema. Immersed in prema, one who chants çuddha-näma has no affinity for päpa and is repelled at the very thought of performing even puëyä. In addition, he is not in the least attracted even to mukti. Where then is the question of his committing sins?
“However, as far as the chanting of the sädhaka is concerned, it is still on the level of nämäbhäsa because aparädha still lingers faintly within his consciousness. However, even nämäbhäsa chanting gradually eradicates all prärabdha and aprärabdha sinful reactions and elicits disgust at committing further sins. If by chance some sin is accidentally committed, the nämäbhäsa chanting also destroys that. However, if the devotee tries to exploit this sin-eradicating potential of harinäma by carrying out further sinful activities premeditatedly or out of sheer nonchalance, thinking that the chanting will certainly vindicate him from his sins, then his sins escalate into serious nämäparädha.” (Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur's Jaiva Dharma ch24 part 12)
Nondevotees must undergo material hardships because they are prone to commit sinful fruitive activities. The desire to commit sinful actions continues in their hearts due to ignorance. These sinful actions are divided into three categories—pätaka, mahä-pätaka and atipätaka—and also into two divisions; prärabdha and aprärabdha. Prärabdha refers to sinful reactions from which one is suffering at the present, and aprärabdha refers to sources of potential suffering. When the seeds (béja) of sinful reactions have not yet fructified, the reactions are called aprärabdha. These seeds of sinful action are unseen, but they are unlimited, and no one can trace when they were first planted. Because of prärabdha, sinful reactions that have already fructified, one is seen to have taken birth in a low family or to be suffering from other miseries.
When one takes to devotional service, however, all phases of sinful life, including prärabdha, aprärabdha and béja, are vanquished. In Çrémad-Bhägavatam (11.14.19) Lord Kåñëa tells Uddhava:
karoty edhäàsi bhasmasät
tathä mad-viñayä bhaktir
"My dear Uddhava, devotional service in relationship with Me is like a blazing fire that can burn to ashes all the fuel of sinful activities supplied to it." How devotional service vanquishes the reactions of sinful life is explained in Çrémad-Bhägavatam (3.33.6) in a verse spoken during Lord Kapiladeva's instructions to His mother, Devahüti. Devahüti said:
yat-prahvaëäd yat-smaraëäd api kvacit
çvädo 'pi sadyaù savanäya kalpate
kutaù punas te bhagavan nu darçanät
"My dear Lord, if even a person born
in a family of dog-eaters hears and repeats the chanting of Your glories,
offers respects to You and remembers You, he is immediately greater than
a brähmaëa and is therefore eligible to perform sacrifices. Therefore,
what is to be said of one who has seen You directly?"
In the Padma Puräëa there is a statement that persons whose hearts are always attached to the devotional service of Lord Viñëu are immediately released from all the reactions of sinful life. These reactions generally exist in four phases. Some of them are ready to produce results immediately, some are in the form of seeds, some are unmanifested, and some are current. All such reactions are immediately nullified by devotional service. When devotional service is present in one's heart, desires to perform sinful activities have no place there. Sinful life is due to ignorance, which means forgetfulness of one's constitutional position as an eternal servant of God, but when one is fully Kåñëa conscious he realizes that he is God's eternal servant. (Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad's purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 6:1:15.)
(excerpt of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta
Swami Prabhupad's lecture to Srimad Bhagavatam 1:16:6. on 3rd January 1974
given in LA.) Just like we are learning here Kåñëa's
service. So Kåñëa's service is here, and if you are perfect,
then Kåñëa's service is there after death also, the same
thing. Therefore it is said, mära vä jéva vä. One
saintly person said to a royal prince, räja-putra ciraï jéva,
ciraï jéva: "Oh, you are the son of a king. You live forever."
Muni-putra muni-putra mä jéva mä jéva: "Oh, you
are the disciple of a saintly person, brahmacäré, you please
die immediately." Just see. Räja-putra ciraï jéva, blessing
räja-putra, "You live forever." And muni-putra, the son of a muni,
or the disciple of a muni, he says, mä jéva, mä jéva:
"You don't live, you die. You die." And that thing... That, what is called?
This butcher. Butcher, he is advising the butcher, jéva vä
mära vä: "Either you..." No. He is advising butcher, mä
jéva mä mära: "Don't die, don't live." And to a sädhu,
saintly person, he is advising, jéva vä mära vä,
two things. So what is the purport? The purport is that this prince, he
is enjoying material enjoyment, but next life he will have to become a
dog. "So better you live with your enjoyment. Ciraï jéva. Because
as soon as you die, you are going to be a dog. So better you live. So long
you will live it is good for you." And muni-putra, a brahmacäré,
his business is fasting and go to collect for Guru Mahäräja,
and then whatever he takes, he offers to the guru. Then the guru says that
"You can eat," he can eat. It is hardship, but by this hardship he is now
prepared to go back to home, Godhead. So he says, "You immediately die
so you can go to Vaikuëöha immediately." And the cruel butcher,
he is advised, mä jéva mä mära: "You don't live and
don't die. Because your living condition is so horrible that every day,
morning, you have to kill so many animals and see bloodshed and this. It
is a horrible life. Your occupation is very, very horrible.
Therefore you should not live. But at the same time, if you die, then you are going to suffer all this suffering yourself. Then you don't die also." So this is the position. And sädhu, those who are saintly person, devotees, he is advised, jéva vä mära vä: "Either you live or either you die, your business is to serve Kåñëa. You are serving Kåñëa now, and after death, you will serve Kåñëa. So there is no question of your death, neither there is no question of your birth."
of Good and Evil by Suhotra swami 2003
The Best of All Possible Worlds?
In Bhagavad-gétä 15.7, Çré Kåñëa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, declares that all spirit souls, even those struggling with the material mind and senses, are eternally parts and particles of His transcendental Self. Then in 15.16 He speaks of two classes of souls—those fallen into the material world, and those liberated in the spiritual world.
dväv imau puruñau loke
kñaraç cäkñara eva ca
kñaraù sarväëi bhütäni
küöa-stho ’kñara ucyate
There are two classes of beings,
the fallible and the infallible. In the material world every living entity
is fallible, and in the spiritual world every living entity is called infallible.
In 13.22, He says that the fallen souls undergo repeated births and deaths. The soul moves from body to body pursuing the enjoyment of matter in three modes** (tri-guëa). These modes are goodness, passion and ignorance; like pathways rumored to lead to desirable goals, the three modes entice the desire of the living entity lost in material existence. When the soul commits himself to these paths, good and evil advent. This pair of opposites, good and evil, forges the destiny of all living entities birth after birth.
bhuìkte prakåti-jän guëän
käraëaà guëa-saìgo ’sya
The living entity in material nature
thus follows the ways of life, enjoying the three modes of nature. This
is due to his association with that material nature. Thus he meets with
good and evil among various species.
According to the mode in which they try to enjoy matter, the fallible living entities schedule their future destiny. Bhagavad-gétä 14.18 explains the process.
ürdhvaà gacchanti sattva-sthä
madhye tiñöhanti räjasäù
adho gacchanti tämasäù
Those situated in the mode of goodness
gradually go upward to the higher planets; those in the mode of passion
live on the earthly planets; and those in the abominable mode of ignorance
go down to the hellish worlds.
Thus heaven, earth and hell are stations through which souls riding the circuit of repeated birth and death move. No station is permanent. The path of one mode eventually joins the paths of the other two; thus the “good” of heaven eventually leads to the “evil” of hell. The entire universe is subject to time and must at last pass out of existence. From the beginning to the end of the cosmic manifestation, most souls rotate countless times throughout the tri-loka (three divisions of heavenly, earthly and hellish worlds).
Western Judaeo-Christian theology has long been weighed down by a so-called “problem of evil.” Sometimes it is said that in the East this problem is eased by certain strengths of the Vedic philosophy. An eminent scholar, writing in a special issue of the magazine Time,** explains.
Why would a good God allow evil in
the world? This problem, one that Judeo-Christian man had created for himself
by his belief, has haunted Western thought for millennia. It is plainly
a by-product of ethical monotheism—“a trilemma” created by the three indisputable
qualities of an all-knowing, all-powerful and all-benevolent God...Not
until the 18th century did Leibniz give a name to this troublesome problem—Theodicy,
from the Greek theos (God) and dike (Justice)...This question has not equally
troubled people everywhere. Religions in the East have provided plausible
theological explanations for divine punishment and retribution in the concept
of karma (the accumulation of debts from earlier lives) and the work of
Kälé and other destructive divinities.
Atheists presume evil to be unjustified. This rules out, in their minds, the possibility of a God who is perfect (meaning all-wise, all-powerful and all-good). Theists presume evil to be justified. They argue that God neither created evil at His whim, nor is He powerless to stop it. A defense of theodicy—the justness of God—requires a sound explanation of how evil is part of God's plan for everyone's ultimate good. The Vaiñëava philosophy has three contributions to make here. The first is that evil is the consequence of one's desire in connection with material nature. The second is that material nature has two aspects: one that binds us (thus giving rise to evil), and one that releases us (thus ending evil). The third is that the medium of our bondage is our own desire. Under the thrall of desire, we pursue material objects that we are convinced are good. We flee other objects we fear are evil. But all the while, the soul is transcendental to matter. The light of transcendental knowledge reveals the duality of good and evil to be an illusion of blind desire.
As should be clear from Bhagavad-gétä 13.22, fallible souls meet with good and evil not at the whim of God or any deity. Good and evil take form as the consequence of our actions (karma) of trying to enjoy matter. Bhagavad-gétä 9.10 states that this matter we hope to enjoy is Lord Kåñëa's prakåti, His feminine creative energy. The whole universe is deluded by her modes, says 7.13. Busy trying to satisfy themselves in goodness, passion and ignorance, the fallen souls have lost consciousness of the real desirable object, the Lord who is beyond the modes as the inexhaustible source of both spirit and matter. The fallen souls seek their desirables within the microcosm, mesocosm and macrocosm, which are nothing other than appearances of the modes. The values they use to judge these desirables—sensory, intuitive, rational, idealistic and devotional—are likewise pervaded by the three modes.
Bhagavad-gétä 15.2 says that the modes nourish our material identity—the karmic body—the way water nourishes a tree. Another useful example, one that I shall develop here over several paragraphs, is that the modes power the movement of the body, and direct that movement from beginning to end, just as electrified rails power and direct the movement of a subway train from the beginning to the end of its journey.
In its simplest sense, the word karma means the work of a human being. And “human being” is just a material designation. The human body is a machine that works as designed by nature, states Bhagavad-gétä 18.61. So it follows that the soul is not the doer of work—the three modes are. The soul is entangled in the karma (work) of the modes simply out of desire to enjoy these modes. The modes do the karma, and the soul “takes” that karma by desire. I “take” a ride on a subway train out of a desire to get downtown. The subway system is doing all the work (karma), but I identify with that work: “I'm going downtown.” In fact the train is going downtown; I'm just sitting in my seat.
To make sense of “the law of karma,” we need to understand the terms prärabdha, aprärabdha and kriyamäëa. Prärabdha-karma is the result we experience now of work done in previous lives. It is manifest as our present status in the greater universe (the macrocosm), as our present status among other creatures (the mesocosm) and as the present status of our body and mind (the microcosm). If these are auspicious, it means we are enjoying the result of past pious activity. If they are mixed—partly good and partly bad—that is the result of past passionate work. If they are thoroughly inauspicious, we are suffering past ignorant work. Aprärabdha-karma is the stock of potential reactions that are yet unmanifest. From this unlimited stock of karma-seeds, fruits (future bodies) will develop endlessly.
In the midst of the condition we have created for ourselves by our previous work, we act from moment to moment and so create newer and newer reactions that are constantly added to the stock of aprärabdha-karma. This work we do now is called kriyamäëa-karma. Again, it is not really “our” doing; it is done by the three modes, as confirmed in Bhagavad-gétä 3.27. We falsely identify ourselves with that work, and so are forced by that same identification to accept its reactions which will appear in time.
The soul in the human form of life
does have the power to choose what activities he “takes.” That choice is
between spiritual and material activities. Choosing matter, the soul loses
the power of choice and is tied up and dragged away by the modes (the word
guëa means “rope” as well as “mode” or “quality”). To choose spiritual
activities means to choose to obey God, who is Acyuta, the topmost infallible
person. Linkage with Lord Acyuta frees the soul from the ropes of matter.
The Vaiñëava answer to the debate between “free will” philosophers
and “determinist” philosophers is that the soul enjoys free will in obedience
to God. But free will has a special meaning. It does not mean freedom to
do whatever one likes. It means will that is free of the control of matter.
One who does not obey God is captured by the three modes, which determine
his destiny for inestimable births.
The living entity by nature has minute independence to choose his own good or bad fortune, but when he forgets his supreme master, the Personality of Godhead, he gives himself up unto the modes of material nature. Being influenced by the modes of material nature, he identifies himself with the body and, for the interest of the body, becomes attached to various activities. Sometimes he is undetr the influence of the mode of ignorance, sometimes the mode of passion and sometimes the mode of goodness. The living entity thus gets different types of bodies under the modes of material nature. (Çrémad-Bhägavatam 4.29.26-27)
The soul taking a body was compared to a commuter taking a subway train. Any karmic body, even that of a resident of heaven, must at different stages in the journey of life run the route laid down by each of the three modes. The journey begins on the route of passion (birth from sexual combination). It transfers to the route of goodness (maturation), and ends on the route of ignorance (disease, old age, death). By her modes, Prakåti—the mother-goddess of the materially embodied souls—bears, develops and devours her own children. She is the powerful Kälé described in Çrémad-Bhägavatam 3.6.2 (käla-saïjïäà tadä devéà bibhrac-chaktim urukramaù). “The hand of God” that people often say inexorably guided them to success or failure is in truth the hand of Kälé. As per the subway example, Kälé holds authority over the rail system: the routing and running times. She draws power for the rails from Käla (the deity of time), which emanates from Lord Kåñëa like electricity emanates from a powerhouse. Without the powerhouse, the subway could not run; still, the powerhouse is not to be held responsible for where and when the subway runs.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, by His inconceivable supreme energy, time, causes the interaction of the three modes of material nature, and thus varieties of energy become manifest. It appears that He is acting, but He is not the actor. He is killing, but He is not the killer. Thus it is understood that only by His inconceivable power is everything happening. (Çrémad-Bhägavatam 4.11.18)
Theodicy, “the attempt to understand the relationship of the God to a cosmos that suffers,”** remains an intractable problem as long as we do not admit that it is madness for the spirit soul to seek happiness in the material world.
yadä na paçyaty ayathä
svärthe pramattaù sahasä vipaçcit
gata-småtir vindati tatra täpän
äsädya maithunyam agäram ajïaù
Even though one may be very learned and wise, he is mad if he does not understand that the endeavor for sense gratification is a useless waste of time. Being forgetful of his own interest, he tries to be happy in the material world, centering his interests around his home, which is based on sexual intercourse and which brings him all kinds of material miseries. In this way one is no better than a foolish animal. (Çrémad-Bhägavatam 5.5.7)
It is a common enough fact of life that a person strongly attracted to sense gratification is at risk of falling into criminal activity like prostitution and theft, for which the state imposes a prison sentence. For all those attracted by mäyä—the illusion that matter is enjoyable by the spirit soul—the entire material world is a prison. Reward and punishment are meted out according to the good behavior and misbehavior of the inmates. This is to prepare them for release into the free society of liberated souls. Thus the “good” and “evil” we experience here are not ultimate. Beyond them, liberation beckons. Who is eligible for liberation? Those souls who have learned to be neither attracted to nor disappointed by matter. Such indifference is an automatic feature of Kåñëa consciousness. Kåñëa consciousness is cultivated through contact with sädhus (devotees of Kåñëa) and çästra (the Vedic scriptures). When Prakåti is satisfied that an inmate is Kåñëa conscious, she liberates him from mäyä.
yadi kåñëonmukha haya
sei jéva nistare, mäyä tähäre chäòaya
If the conditioned soul becomes Kåñëa conscious by the mercy of saintly persons who voluntarily preach scriptural injunctions and help him to become Kåñëa conscious, the conditioned soul is liberated from the clutches of mäyä, who gives him up. (Çré Caitanya-caritämåta, Madhya 20.120)
Souls released from repeated birth and death are transferred to the association of Lord Kåñëa in the spiritual world. From here, they never fall down again.
mäm upetya punar janma
saàsiddhià paramäà gatäù
After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogés in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection. (Bhagavad-gétä 8.15)
The inventor of the term “theodicy,” G.W. Leibniz (1646-1716), conceived of the problem of evil as one wholly of this world, the realm of material nature—a world he called “the best of all possible worlds.”** According to Vaiñëava philosophy, only a soul in spiritual ignorance accepts the duality of mundane life as the best of all possible worlds. Bhagavad-gétä 2.57 states that when a person is situated in perfect awareness of the existence that is truly the best—spiritual existence—the good and evil of the material world do not touch him. In this connection, the Sarvajïä sükta, quoted by Jéva Gosvämé** in his Bhagavat-sandarbha, instructs us:
hlädinyä samvid äçliñöaù
svävidyä saàvåto jévaù
The Supreme Lord is full of eternity, knowledge and bliss. He is always embraced in the spiritual world by His divine energies called hlädiné (the ecstatic potency) and saàvit (the omniscient potency). In the material world, the individual soul (jéva) experiences many sufferings, being covered by his own ignorance.
Once we understand karmic embodiment to be the fallen, ignorant state of the soul, it becomes clear how easily living entities who seem to be good can be overwhelmed by evil. As good as they might try to be, their attraction to impermanent happiness and their disinclination to get free of the bondage of embodied life insures that they will meet with evil. Bhagavad-gétä 14.10 warns that material goodness is not a firm position at all. By his impulsive attachment to sense enjoyment, a soul willingly moves from goodness to passion to ignorance.
We have, from Çrémad-Bhägavatam
Canto Four, an unmistakable illustration of this in Dakña, a denizen
of heaven. In the assembly of demigods, Dakña outshone all others,
so graced was he by sattvic qualities. Regrettably, he felt himself very
powerful, a symptom of passion. His passion turned to ignorance, impelling
him to show haughty disrespect for the great Lord Çiva. And ignorance,
in the form of the furious demon Vérabhadra who avenged the insult
to Çiva, was Dakña's downfall.
In contrast, from Bhagavad-gétä 5.21 we learn that liberated souls enjoy an inner spiritual happiness unlimitedly superior to the fleeting psychosensory experiences proffered by the modes. The soul who relishes his or her higher spiritual nature even while living within the material body is called jévan-mukta. The jévan-mukta uses the body only in the service of God. Deriving complete happiness from the Lord's personal association, such a soul is not attracted to the good, passionate and ignorant pleasures displayed by the external material nature.
éhä yasya harer däsye
karmaëä manasä girä
nikhiläsv apy avasthäsu
jévan-muktaù sa ucyate
Regardless of one's circumstances, if one fully engages his activities, mind and words in the devotional service of the Lord, he should be understood to be a liberated person. (Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu 1.2.187)
“Regardless of one's circumstances” means that a jévan-mukta is fixed in loving service to the Lord whether in heaven or hell (the ädhidaivika condition), whether other living entities are agreeable or not (the ädhibhautika condition), and whether the body and mind are nicely disposed or not (the ädhyätmika condition).** These three conditions are products of the three modes of nature; the jévan-mukta knows “I am transcendental to them.”
The senses of the jévan-mukta act only for Kåñëa's sake. He is intuitively detached from whatever attractions or repulsions the universe has on offer. For the reason of the Lord's pleasure, and for the reason that ordinary people must be led on the path back to Godhead, all the jévan-mukta does in life conforms to scriptural laws. He constantly tries keep himself free from selfish material desires so that the supremely pure Lord will be satisfied with his devotional endeavors. Always thinking of Kåñëa within his heart, the jévan-mukta relishes the nectarean bliss of love of God.
Thus the sensory, intuitive, rational, spiritual and devotional values of the liberated soul are ever centered on Kåñëa. For further elaboration, the reader may consult Çrémad-Bhägavatam 9.4.18-27, where the excellent qualities of Mahäräja Ambaréña are described. In contrast to Dakña, King Ambaréña remained the hearty well-wisher of even his so-called rival, the yogé Durväsä. Though the envious Durväsä tried to kill Ambaréña with a curse, the king was undisturbed, protected as he was under the loving shelter of the Supreme Lord. The fiery Sudarçana disc, the personal weapon of Viñëu, pursued the yogé all around the universe for a whole year. At last the Lord advised Durväsä that unless Ambaréña forgave him for his offense he would never be free of His fire-disk. When Durväsä humbly returned to the king, Ambaréña welcomed him as a friend and assured him that he had taken no offense whatsoever at the yogé's behavior. His anxiety had only been for Durväsä's safety during his year-long flight from Sudarçana. By his magnanimous conduct, the liberated Ambaréña was never touched by the influence of the three modes.
Dimension of Good and Evil 2: Chapter
The Fall From Beyond Time
çubhasyäpy açubhasya ca
katham kartä svid éçvaraù
Human beings perform good and evil karma; they experience the fruits of their own actions. How can the Lord be held responsible? (Mahäbhärata 3.181.5)
With this one verse, the previous chapter is summarized. Is the problem of theodicy now dispelled? Not quite. Granted that by the law of karma a fallen soul must suffer and enjoy in various species, there still remains at least one doubt very bothersome to Western scholars: at what point does the evil of karmic embodiment begin?** Vedänta-sütra replies that karma is anädi (it has no beginning).** In response a scholar opines, “That karma is beginningless is not at all satisfying.”** He thinks that if Vedänta teaches the evil of karmic bondage to be an ultimate fact, then this teaching is just a stumbling block to deeper inquiry into what stands behind that evil. However, Vedänta-sütra does not assume beginningless karma to be the ultimate fact—the why—behind the fallen state of the soul. That would be the logic of saying the soul is bound because the soul is bound.
True, in Vedänta philosophy, karma, like the passage of time, is not traced to a certain instant of origin before which there was no karma and no time. This is why Vedänta calls karma and time anädi, beginningless. Still, that these are perpetual facts does not mean they are ultimate facts. “Karma is beginningless” is not the answer to the question we need to ask: why is a particular soul classed as fallible?** Or in other words, why is this one susceptible to bondage by karma and time, and that one not? This is a question answerable only beyond karma and time—on the spiritual platform, where the soul's eternal identity is rooted. Madhväcärya, the great Vaiñëava Vedantist,** points out in his Dvädaça Stotra 3.6 that karma, ignorance, time, the modes of nature and so on are not ultimate because they are insentient. Therefore they depend upon something else.**
That “something else” is, according to Çréla Baladeva Vidyäbhüñaëa, the internal spiritual potency of Kåñëa,** known by the names acintya-prakåti (inconceivable nature) and svarüpa-çakti (the potency of the Lord Himself). It is here that we are faced with an ultimate fact of Vaiñëava philosophy: beyond our perception of the external, material prakåti, there is a transcendental prakåti. In the ultimate analysis, there is really only one prakåti, which is the Divine Nature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But She is perceived in different ways according to the level of consciousness of the perceiver. Materialists worship Her as goddess Kälé. Her true and original form is as the Supreme Soul, Lord Kåñëa, perceives Her: as Çrématé Rädhäräëé, whose love for Kåñëa is so deep that even He marvels at its mystery.
Baladeva writes in his Vedänta commentary that a function of this transcendental prakåti is to distinguish souls who genuinely love the Lord from those who do not. The divine substance of God's personal form is revealed by prakåti to the former. But she shows only a shadow or reflection (äbhäsa) of the Lord to the latter (premnä gocare 'pi pratyaktvam na héyate tasya svarüpa-çakti-våttitvät prema nihéneñu tväbhäsarüpenaiva vyaktiù).**
Baladeva asserts that the internal potency covers the souls devoid of prema (love of God) with two veils: svarüpa-ävärika (bewilderment about the eternal forms of the Lord and His parts and particles, the spirit souls) and guëa-ävärika (entanglement in the three modes of nature).** The liberated soul is ever free of these two coverings. Yet still he is fully aware of, and indeed dwells in, the material realm. Indeed he dwells in all realms, material and spiritual. However, the liberated soul is ever-free of illusion by the might of his vidyä (spiritual knowledge): vidyäyä tat-tad-ävåtti parikñayän muktas tad-anubhävams tiñöhatéti na kiïcid ünam. The bound souls experience various pleasures and pains in different bodies.** But the original form of any and all souls, liberated or conditioned, remains essentially the same (svarüpa sämye).
Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura confirms** that the original spiritual form of the embodied soul is hidden beneath two kinds of covering. One covering is constituted of the subtle elements of mind, intelligence and false ego. The other is constituted of the gross elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether.
bhagavänera yo mata ekaöi svarüpavigraha äcche. jévera tadrüpa ciddeha nityarüpe ärhe. sei cit deha vaikuëöha dhäme prakäçita thäke. jadajagate baddha haiyä tähä duiöé ävaraëe lukkäita äche. sarvaprathama ävaraëa öéra näma lingävaraëa.
As God has His Svarüpa Vigraha (transcendental form), the jéva (soul) has his eternal cid-deha (spiritual body). This spiritual body is manifested in the Kingdom of God, Vaikuëöha-dhäma. But when bound in the material world, it is hidden by two coverings. The first is known as liìga, the subtle body. (Çré Caitanya-sikñämåtam part 5, chapter 3)
jévera ciddehera prathamävaraëa liìgadeha. evam dvitiyävaraëa sthüladeha.
The first covering of the living
entity's cid-deha is the subtle body. The second covering is the physical
Now, a statement of Baladeva Vidyäbhüñaëa was cited to the effect that the spiritual nature separates the souls devoid of kåñëa-premä (love of Kåñëa) from the souls blessed with it. But why does one soul love God and another not? This question is cleared up by Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura in Prema Pradépa. The fall of the soul under the twofold bodily covering is due to him shifting his attachment from the superior object of love—Lord Kåñëa—to something inferior. In short, the fall of the jéva is decided by the soul's own choice.
ätmä anurägé tajjanyai baddha. ätmä upayukta viñaya haite. cyuta haiyä itara viçaye anuräga kare. tajjanyai ätmatarpana sudüravarté. haoyäya sutaräm indriya tarpaëai. prabala haiyä uöhe.
The soul is always in love or attached. Therefore the conditioned soul who falls down from his proper position develops love or attachment for some other, inferior, object. For this reason there is hardly any possibility of self-satisfaction, and therefore material sense gratification becomes prominent.
How can we conceive of a soul becoming attached to something inferior, falling into the material world, and yet not losing his Vaikuëöha form? There is a useful example. Picture a child of one or two years of age nestled in the arms of her mother. It is a clear summer night, and mother carries her little daughter out on the balcony for a look at the full moon. The child reaches for the moon and then whimpers in frustration. Mother whispers soothingly, “My little dear, do you want to hold the moon in your hand? Don't cry, I'll help you.” Mother takes from her pocket a small round cosmetic mirror and puts it in the palm of the child's hand, guiding the wrist so that the reflection of the moon is captured in the mirror's face. The illusion is complete: the child now holds the moon in her hand. Wide-eyed in fascination, the little girl forgets herself and her mother, fully entranced by the “moon” in her small fingers.
Just as the child never leaves the mother's arms, so too the soul never leaves his constitutional position as part and particle of Kåñëa. But the soul can forget that position when its desire is drawn into illusion, just as the child forgot herself and her mother. This example suggests that a forgetful soul is immature, and that his sojourn in the material world is (from the standpoint of citkäla or spiritual time) just a moment of inattention.
If the jéva falls into the material world by a particular act of choice, why is his karma (work to gratify his senses) said to be anädi or beginningless? Ought not karma better be marked from the moment of his fall? Again in Çré Caitanya-sikñämåtam 5.3, the Öhäkura gives the answer.
jaòabaddhä haile jéva jaòéya käle. praveça kariyä bhüta bhaviñyad vartamäna rüpa. trikäla sevaka haiyä sukadukhera äçraya hana. jaòakäla citkäla haite niùsåta. haoyäya citkälera anäditva prayukta jévera. jaòéya karmera ädi ye bhagavadvaimukhya. tähä jaòakalera pürva haite äsiteche. ata eva jaòakälera sambandhe taöastha vicäre. karmamüla jaòakälera pürvastha. baliyä karmake anädi balä haiyäche.
The bound jéva entering material
time is subject to past, future and present. As the servant of trikäla
(threefold time) he experiences pleasure and pain. Material time originates
from spiritual time (citkäla). It is because citkäla has no beginning
that the origin of the jéva's karma, or his aversion to the Lord,
precedes material time. Thus karma is said to be beginningless. Therefore
the verdict on material time is that the root of karma lies prior to that
time. And so it is said karma is anädi.
In Prema Pradépa, Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura gives solid assurance that the fallen soul's original form as a resident of the spiritual world remains intact even while he is within material existence. But his sense of identity is transformed into the material mind.
jaòabaddhä haiyä jéva nija vaikuëöha svarüpa. haite vicchinna hana näi. vaikuëöha svarüpa baddhävasthäya jaòasaìga krama. jaòa dharmera glänisamyuktä haiyä manorüpe pariëata haiyäche. tathäpi ätma dharmera viccheda haya näi.
Although conditioned by material nature, the living entity is not cut off from his own Vaikuëöha form. Due to his association with the contaminated material atmosphere, the conditioned living entity's spiritual identity is transformed as the mind. Still, one is not separated from his constitutional nature.
What does it mean that the spiritual identity of the living entity is transformed as the mind? Çré Caitanya-caritämåta, Madhya 20.108, states that the soul is kåñëera taöasthä-çakti: “the marginal energy of Lord Kåñëa.” The word taöasthä (marginal) indicates that the soul is poised on the borderline of choice between Kåñëa consciousness and mäyä, material consciousness. If the soul chooses mäyä, then the power of choice—an essential component of individual identity—is transferred to the material mind. In other words, the soul is stupefied by contact with the illusory energy and becomes a deactivated observer; the mind, a subtle material “lens” through which the soul observes the gross body and its sense objects, does the accepting and rejecting (saìkalpa-vikalpa).** In making choices, the mind relies on buddhi (intelligence), the bank of rational and intuitive knowledge provided by the Supersoul (Paramätmä). The Supersoul is the expansion of Kåñëa who dwells within the heart alongside the soul. Supplying buddhi, the Lord assists the helpless soul's efforts to fulfill his desires.
Suppose I am very thirsty and there is no water at hand. But I do find a bottle of a liquid that appears very inviting to my senses. My mind starts to accept it: “Yes, drink.” As I lift the bottle to my mouth, I see it has a label. The meaning of the symbols (letters and numbers) on the label is not apparent to my senses; to understand them requires a rational intellect. My mind draws from the buddhi the understanding that the label warns this bottle contains poison. Instantly my mind rejects the thought of drinking from it.
Earlier it was mentioned that the mind and intelligence are two aspects of the liìgadeha or subtle body. The third aspect is the ahaìkära or false ego. This is the sense of wrong (i.e. material) identity the soul must take on in order to have the self-assurance to attempt to control and enjoy matter. Buddhi is made available to the mind in conformance with the false ego. Suppose I have the false ego of a grown man. The buddhi available to me will be different from that available to a soul whose ahaìkära identifies with the body of a small child, or a dog, cat or worm.
All of us, many times in our lives, have come face-to-face with a "microcosmic" moral conflict that rages deep within ourselves. It seems as if the buddhi and ahaìkara pull the mind in opposite directions. Suppose I am in a public garden. In the grass I find a wallet stuffed with cash. The ahaìkära surcharges my mind with possessiveness: "Take that wallet, now it belongs to you." The buddhi, on the other hand, warns my mind that touching the wallet will bring trouble from the law. Knowledge of law, like knowledge of the label on the bottle, comes from the rational side of buddhi. There is also an intuitive side. If, not heeding reason, I pocket the wallet, the intuitive side of buddhi kicks in with feelings of guilt.
There is a traditional belief that every human being has a good angel on one shoulder and a bad angel on the other. The good angel whispers decent thoughts into the mind. The bad angel, of course, whispers indecent thoughts. Thus our private moral struggle is summed up. But we need to know that this struggle is going on in the darkness of ignorance of transcendental morality. Vaisnava philosophy sheds light on the workings of mind, buddhi and ahaìkara so that we can see that outside our limited human notions of right and wrong is a higher order of value. Whether I sneak off with the wallet or leave it in the grass, in either case I am under the sway of false ego. I am thinking only of myself. Is the wallet mine to pocket? No. Is it mine to abandon in the grass? No. It belongs to someone else. I should therefore take the wallet under my temporary protection until I find the owner. Similarly, my material body belongs to Kåñëa. He has placed it in my care. I have neither the right to enjoy this body nor deny it. My only duty is to engage it in the service of He who gave the body and will take it away. Enjoying the body or neglecting it means the buddhi and ahaìkara have conspired to entrap my mind in selfishness.
The imagery of the two angels is
simplistic. More apt is the saying, "The lives of the best of us are spent
in choosing between evils." In some people the buddhi takes the side of
the amoral ahaìkära. Such people find nothing wrong with criminal
behavior. Their buddhi is happy to devise illegal and immoral schemes to
satisfy their selfishness. These people are judged "evil" by society, for
it seems they function under toxic regulative principles: "Might makes
right," "Your pain is my pleasure," "What's mine is mine and what's yours
is mine too." In other people, the ahaìkära takes the side
of the moralistic buddhi. Esteeming themselves as upright, law-abiding
citizens, they are proud to have never committed a crime. Such people are
judged "good" in society.
In the final analysis, however, any soul who chooses mäyä instead of Kåñëa, and who therefore undergoes the transformation of identity imposed by the mind, intelligence and false ego, falls into evil. Çrémad-Bhägavatam 11.20.26 gives the actual regulative principle of the soul—to remain fixed in the transcendental position.
sve sve ’dhikäre yä niñöhä
sa guëaù parikértitaù
anena niyamaù kåtaù
It is firmly declared that the steady adherence of transcendentalists to their respective spiritual positions constitutes real piety and that sin occurs when a transcendentalist neglects his prescribed duty. One who adopts this standard of piety and sin, sincerely desiring to give up all past association with sense gratification, is able to subdue materialistic activities, which are by nature impure.
Sve sve ’dhikäre (one's own position) is the spirit soul's original identity as an associate of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the spiritual world. Any deviation from this identity is the fallen condition. It may be asked how it is possible for a soul in his own natural position as an associate of the Lord to deviate. The answer is: by overstepping his natural position. He does that when he assumes himself equal to the Lord in all respects. In his Govinda-bhäñya commentary to Vedänta-sütra 3.2.20, Çréla Baladeva Vidyäbhüñaëa points out the eternal difference between the Lord and His parts and particles.
prakåti dharmair asampåktaù svatantraç ca tadaàçakäs
tu aëavaù prakåti dharma yoginaù paratanträç
The Supreme Soul is the greatest. He is independent and is never limited though He accepts material qualities [for instance in His såñöi-kartä pastime of creating, maintaining and annihilating the material universes]. The individual spirit souls, however, are very small. By accepting material qualities, they put themselves under severe limitations.
Souls who accept material qualities in the false belief that they, like Kåñëa, are lords over matter, are those whom the Lord calls fallible. The infallible souls, those replete with love of Godhead, are never limited by material qualities even when they enter the material creation, for if they come to the material world, it is to do Kåñëa's will.
Though there is a tremendous difference between the liberated and conditioned states, the souls in both share an irreducible commonality: each has an essential individual identity. That individuality is evident in higher and lower situations of life, whether it be conditioned life or liberated life. Baladeva elaborates in Prameya-ratnävalé 5.1.
atha jévänäm täratamyam
sämye satyapi jévänäm
täratamyaà ca sädhanät
In both their conditioned and liberated states, the jévas are situated in higher and lower grades. Although all living entities are equally conscious and possess knowledge to the limit of the capacity of an individual soul, they nevertheless manifest that original spiritual nature in varying degrees. The extent to which that original nature is uncovered is determined by their purity and devotion to the Supreme Lord.
In Çré Caitanya-sikñämåtam 5.3, Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura delineates five grades of human life. These mark the transition from the conditioned to the liberated states, culminating in pure devotion. The Vaiñëava conception of moral development is evident in these grades. The lowest is nitisünya jévana, or a life devoid of morality. Kevala-naitika jévana comes next, a life of morality but nothing more. The third grade is seçvarä naitika jévana, a moral life with belief in God. Higher still is sädhana-bhakta jévana, a life of regulated devotion to the Lord. The fifth and highest grade is bhäva-bhakta jévana, a life of ecstatic devotion to Kåñëa. The means by which the final two grades are achieved is indicated by Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu in Çré Caitanya-caritämåta, Antya 4.70-71:
Among the ways of sädhana-bhakti or regulated devotion, the nine prescribed methods are the best, for these processes have great potency to deliver Kåñëa and ecstatic love for Him. [The nine prescribed methods are: to hear about Kåñëa, to chant His holy name, to remember Him, to serve His lotus feet, to perform worship of the Deity, to offer prayers to Him, to execute His mission, to become the Lord's friend, and to surrender everything to Him.]
Of the nine processes of devotional service, the most important is to always chant the holy name of the Lord. If one does so, avoiding offenses, one very easily obtains the most valuable love of Godhead.
A fallible soul regains his infallibility by the means of bhakti (devotion to Kåñëa). The nine methods of bhakti culminate in the constant chanting of the holy name—Hare Kåñëa, Hare Kåñëa, Kåñëa Kåñëa, Hare Hare/Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare—which awards the most valuable treasure of the soul: kåñëa-premä, pure love for Kåñëa.
Some lingering questions may be raised. If the soul originally fell from a transcendental relationship with Kåñëa, and is now supposed to revive that relationship once again, would that not merely be the closing of a circle? What would keep the soul from moving around this circle again and again—leaving Kåñëa and returning to Him over and over without end? Wouldn't this be the ultimate wheel of dissatisfaction, the one that turns many other, lesser wheels: of the repeated creation, maintenance and destruction of the universe; of repeated birth and death?
The answer to these doubts is evident in the following prayer that was offered by Vedic brähmaëas to the Supreme Lord during a sacrifice performed in ancient times by King Näbhi.
All of life's goals and opulences are directly, self-sufficiently, unceasingly and unlimitedly increasing in You at every moment. Indeed, You are unlimited enjoyment and blissful existence itself. As far as we are concerned, O Lord, we are always after material enjoyment. You do not need all these sacrificial arrangements, but they are meant for us so that we may be benedicted by Your Lordship. All these sacrifices are performed for our fruitive results, and they are not actually needed by You. (Çrémad-Bhägavatam 5.3.8)
It is not merely that Kåñëa
is a goal of life, or even the highest goal of life. To argue that way
would imply that there are goals other than Him; even though they might
be inferior, other goals still might offer some desirables that we'd miss
in Kåñëa's direct association. For example, most people
would agree that to take an important post in government service is a higher
goal of life than to remain down on the old farm where one was born. Still,
even a government minister gets homesick and must return from time to time
to see the humble place of his origins. One might try to extend this example
to the process of developing of love of God: even if I attain Kåñëa's
transcendental abode, I might still come to miss life in the material world.
But the brähmaëas ruled such an argument out. They said that
all of life's goals, whatever we may be attracted to, are eternally sheltered
in Lord Kåñëa. He alone is the true object of our desire.
The brähmaëas said further that the unlimited bliss of Kåñëa's divine being is unceasingly and unlimitedly expanding. Thus the soul's return to Kåñëa is not like mountaineer's climb of a mesa (a flat-topped hill with cliff-like sides). One does not arrive at a barren level ground after an arduous upward effort. One is not left with nothing to do except stroll around and survey the world below—and then climb down again.
The brähmaëas admitted that their interest was separate from the Lord. Their Vedic sacrifice would not add to His happiness. Rather, they wanted to take happiness from the Lord. They were involved in what is termed “fruitive activities,” or works bearing fruits enjoyed by the material senses of the worker. Fruitive work leads to future births in material bodies. Devotional service is work enjoyed by the transcendental senses of the Lord. This work leads to an eternal loving relationship with Çré Kåñëa. The Vedic brähmaëas presented themselves to the Lord as expert in ritualistic sacrifices but inexpert in the affairs of pure devotion. It needs to be marked here that the Supreme Lord was personally standing before these brähmaëas in the sacrificial arena of Mahäräja Näbhi. They were fortunate enough to see Him directly. But they regretted that they did not know more than to ask Him for material benedictions. They could not take transcendental advantage of His association. This means that “knowing” God or even “seeing” Him is not necessarily the same as loving Him.
There is another prayer, this one offered by the demigods to the Lord when He personally appeared to bless their effort to defeat the demon Våträsura. They praised the Lord's pure devotees, for devotees alone know the secret of how to love Kåñëa and thus taste the unlimited and ever-increasing bliss of His association.
Therefore, O killer of the Madhu demon, incessant transcendental bliss flows in the minds of those who have even once tasted but a drop of the nectar from the ocean of Your glories. Such exalted devotees forget the tiny reflection of so-called material happiness produced from the material senses of sight and sound. Free from all desires, such devotees are the real friends of all living entities. Offering their minds unto You and enjoying transcendental bliss, they are expert in achieving the real goal of life. O Lord, You are the soul and dear friend of such devotees, who never need return to this material world. How could they give up engagement in Your devotional service? (Çrémad-Bhägavatam 6.9.39)
Sometimes people question why the devotees focus only upon Kåñëa. Are they not neglecting the people of this world? This verse gives the answer. The people of this world are seeking happiness, but will never find it in matter. Therefore the devotees are their real friends, for they alone know where real happiness is to be found. Only by kåñëa-premä is one freed from birth and death; kåñëa-premä is availed only by the divine grace of those devotees who drink from the ocean of nectar that is pure Kåñëa consciousness.
Dimensions in Good and Evil 3: Chapter Three, For Goodness' Sake
For Goodness' Sake
We have seen that when souls turn away from Kåñëa, they meet good and evil: a pair of opposites encompassing all material experience. Yet it would be incorrect to assume from this that sattva-guëa, the mode of goodness, is no more valuable than rajo-guëa and tamo-guëa, which display qualities that typify evil. “From the mode of goodness, real knowledge develops,” Lord Kåñëa says in Bhagavad-gétä 14.17, “from the mode of passion, greed develops, and from the mode of ignorance develop foolishness, madness and illusion.”
Real knowledge—what is it? And how does it appear from the mode of goodness? This Kåñëa explains to Uddhava.**
yadätmany arpitaà cittaà
dharmaà jïänaà sa vairägyam
When one's peaceful consciousness,
strengthened by the mode of goodness, is fixed on the Personality of Godhead,
one achieves religiosity, knowledge, detachment and opulence. (Çrémad-Bhägavatam
Knowledge (jïäna) is one of four harvests to be reaped from the cultivation of goodness. The others are dharma (religion), vairägya (renunciation), and aiçvarya (opulence). In verse 27, Kåñëa defines religion as those principles of faith that lead to His devotional service. What principles are these? From Çrémad-Bhägavatam 1.17.24, we learn they are austerity, cleanliness,
truthfulness and mercy, the four legs of dharma. Knowledge is awareness that reveals Kåñëa's all-pervading presence.Knowledge is awareness that reveals His all-pervading presence. Renunciation is complete disinterest in the objects of material sense gratification. Opulence is the eight perfections of yoga.** Kåñëa says that to reap the full harvest of goodness, one must fix his or her consciousness on Him. He goes on to say that one who focuses consciousness on material things reaps a quite different harvest.
yad arpitaà tad vikalpe
cittaà viddhi viparyayam
When consciousness is fixed on the material body, home and other, similar objects of sense gratification, one spends one's life chasing after material objects with the help of the senses. Consciousness, thus powerfully affected by the mode of passion, becomes dedicated to impermanent things, and in this way irreligion, ignorance, attachment and wretchedness arise. (Çrémad-Bhägavatam 11.19.26)
Not thinking of Kåñëa drops the mind from goodness into passion. The fourfold harvests of this mode are adharma (irreligion), tamaù (the mode of ignorance), räga (material attachment), and däridryaà (poverty).** These verses spoken by Kåñëa to Uddhava teach us that the cultivation of goodness yields the harvest of Kåñëa consciousness. “Cultivating” and “just passing through“ goodness are not the same. One who just passes through goodness with a mind aimed at body-based pleasures can harvest nothing auspicious from goodness.
Lord Kapiladeva, an incarnation of God and a great authority of Vedic knowledge, says that when consciousness is firmly fixed on Kåñëa, it achieves an extraordinary level of goodness defined as yat tat sattva-guëaà svacchaà çäntaà bhagavataù padam: “that state of clarity (svacchaà) and peace (çäntaà) in which God is understood.” (Çrémad-Bhägavatam 3.26.21) Kapiladeva calls this godly state of mind vasudeva. Väsudeva is a name of Viñëu, the Supersoul, which means “He who dwells everywhere.” The mind unclouded by ignorance and passion shines with the pristine goodness of Çré Viñëu Himself. Through the immaculate lens of a pure mind, the presence of the Lord in the heart and in all things outside is directly perceived. The transcendental dimension of His divine nature is seen to encompass the microcosmic, mesocosmic and macrocosmic dimensions of material nature. The four harvests of goodness are understood to be sheltered in nothing material, just in Him alone. Bhagavad-gétä 7.14 says vasudeva consciousness is rarely achieved. After dedicating many lifetimes to the cultivation of Vedic knowledge, an introspective sage may at last realize that Kåñëa is everything.
7.13.48 states that the Supersoul gives intelligence (buddhi) according
to one's capacity for understanding. To those whose capacity is limited
to bodily affairs, the Lord gives materialistic buddhi. The Supersoul blesses
the transcendentalist with pure buddhi that lifts the psychosensory veil
covering the smiling four-armed form of Väsudeva who graces the lotus-throne
of the heart. The transcendentalist who realizes Viñëu in the
heart is never misled. Upon the demise of the body, the learned sage in
vasudeva goodness remains in unbroken consciousness of the Lord, beyond
birth and death.
Vasudeva-sattva removes the darkness of false ego (ahaìkära), which is a feature of the mode of ignorance that perverts ordinary buddhi and binds the soul to matter. A mind free of false ego knows Çré Viñëu, the Supersoul, to be like a brilliant fire, and the individual souls to be like sparks within that fire. As we learn from Çrémad-Bhägavatam 2.5.24, the darkness of false ego gives shape to a kind of self-centered goodness called vaikärikä, also called sättvikä-ahaìkära.** Çrémad-Bhägavatam 10.88.3 says this mundane goodness is associated with Lord Çiva (there are also räjasa- and tamasa-ahaìkära; Çiva governs them all). He is the aspect of Käla (time) joined to the black goddess Kälé that electrifies the three modes of nature. In the dense gloom of false ego, Çiva's goodness looks bright, the way a single spark looks bright in the black of night. But just as one spark cannot dispel the night, so vaikärikä-sattva, the goodness of Çiva, does not dispel the ignorance of the bodily conception. Quite apart from this, the goodness of Viñëu rises like the sun to reveal the pristine transcendental identity of all souls in relationship with the Supreme Soul. Such is the mature, fully liberating knowledge that develops from cultivation of vasudeva goodness.
This book, Dimensions of Good and Evil, is focused on morality. How does morality fit with the four ends of goodness sheltered in Viñëu? In Çrémad-Bhägavatam 11.20.5, Uddhava defines morality as guëa-doña-bhidä-dåñöir, “seeing the difference between piety and sin.” Differentiating between piety and sin is governed by nigama—the Vedic scriptures given by Lord Kåñëa. Uddhava asserts that true morality can have no other basis than this. Thus morality is a feature of Vedic knowledge, which is one of the four harvests of goodness.
Nigama (scriptural knowledge) schools
a person in seeing Lord Väsudeva everywhere even at the immature body-based
stage of goodness. Nigama illuminates the dimension of rational value,
wherein it is logically established beyond a reasonable doubt that Väsudeva
is everything. Consider for a moment modern education. In school, students
develop their reasoning powers through basic training in science. With
the eye of scientific reason they learn to “see” the sun as tremendously
bigger than the earth, even though their blunt physical eyes tell them
the sun is much smaller. Similarly, through the eye of scriptural reason
(çästra-cakñuñä), we can see beyond physical
impressions to the metaphysical presence of God everywhere in the macrocosm,
mesocosm and microcosm. Logically, then, we should satisfy Him by good
conduct in these spheres. The fallen soul must learn from a Kåñëa
conscious spiritual master (the äcärya, “one who teaches by example”)
how to behave in the presence of the Lord.
O great Supreme Lord, offensive persons whose internal vision has been too affected by external materialistic activities cannot see Your lotus feet, but they are seen by Your pure devotees, whose one and only aim is to transcendentally enjoy Your activities. (Çrémad-Bhägavatam 3.5.45)
Närada Muni says in Çrémad-Bhägavatam 7.15.25 that one must cultivate mundane goodness to defeat passion and ignorance, and then rise above body-based goodness to the çuddha-sattva (or vasudeva) platform. “All this can be automatically done if one engages in the service of the spiritual master with faith and devotion,” he concludes. “In this way one can conquer the influence of the modes of nature.” The first step to transcendence is learning the difference between good behavior and bad as taught by the spiritual master.**
Offensive behavior begins when a fallen soul foolishly imitates God: "monkey see, monkey do." Assuming for myself the role of supreme controller and enjoyer, I find it "justifiable" to subject the living entities around me to the whims of my desire. By committing offenses in this way to other living entities, my mind is clouded to the presence of the Lord in their hearts. A mind so clouded develops intense bodily attachments, pride, envy, and hostility.
svätmänaà harim éçvaram
måtake sänubandhe ’smin
baddha-snehäù patanty adhaù
The conditioned souls become completely bound in affection to their own corpselike material bodies and their relatives and paraphernalia. In such a proud and foolish state, the conditioned souls envy other living entities as well as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, who resides in the hearts of all beings. Thus enviously offending others, the conditioned souls gradually fall down into hell. (Çrémad-Bhägavatam 11.5.15)
Inoffensiveness to others is the lifeblood of Vedic civilization. “Non-violence, truthfulness, honesty, desire for the happiness and welfare of all others and freedom from lust, anger and greed constitute duties for all members of society,” Lord Kåñëa tells Uddhava in Çrémad-Bhägavatam 11.17.21. Westerners have their similar Golden Rule of universal morality: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”**
Inoffensiveness is a natural consequence of both external nigama and internal vasudeva knowledge, as well as pure devotion to the Lord. The good student of a spiritual master (by adherence to scriptural reason), the Supersoul-realized meditator (by vasudeva knowledge) and the pure devotee (by loving attachment to Kåñëa) honor God's presence in all beings.
One may ask, “How can anybody live in this world and not commit offenses to other beings? We all have to eat. If I am a vegetarian, I still take the life of other creatures. Even if I am careful to eat only spoiled fruits and vegetables (which clearly have no life in them), the fact that these foods are spoiled means that they are infested with micro-organisms which I inadvertently eat and kill.” This question is answered in Bhagavad-gétä 4.24. One who knows the Lord's presence everywhere engages in brahmärpaëaà, or the dedication of all actions to Him. The act of offering, the person making the offering, and the ingredients so offered (the living entities associated with the food offering, for example) are freed from karmic reaction because of being accepted by Kåñëa. This is called brahma-karma or spiritual activity. It is no offense but the greatest kindness to engage living entities in brahma-karma, which liberates them from the cycle of repeated birth and death.
Ignorant souls tend to show kindness only to their blood relations. But even this kindness, steeped as it is in bodily attachment, is of no lasting help to anyone. Familial “love” simply inflames envy. One family circle envies neighboring families. One community envies neighboring communities. One nation envies neighboring nations. Envy gives vent to offensiveness. Where there is offensiveness, there is no goodness, pure devotion, real knowledge nor morality. There is only animalistic rivalry at the cost of all finer qualities. When human beings lose their finer qualities, they descend into hell. The antidote is the awareness of the presence of the Lord in everything, which dispels envy and offensiveness.
yas tu sarväëi bhütäny
tato na vijugupsate
He who sees everything in relation
to the Supreme Lord, who sees all entities as His parts and parcels and
who sees the Supreme Lord within everything, never hates anything nor any
being. (Çré Éçopaniñad 7)
Inoffensiveness is good. Morality cannot exist without it. However, for a devotee it is not good enough to merely not envy and hate others. He takes morality beyond goodness to paropakära, transcendental welfare work that reconnects the fallen souls to Kåñëa.** Çré Prahläda Mahäräja prays:**
svasty astu viçvasya khalaù
dhyäyantu bhütäni çivaà mitho dhiyä
manaç ca bhadraà bhajatäd adhokñaje
äveçyatäà no matir apy ahaituké
May there be good fortune throughout the universe, and may all envious persons be pacified. May all living entities become calm by practicing bhakti-yoga, for by accepting devotional service they will think of each other's welfare. Therefore let us all engage in the service of the supreme transcendence, Lord Çré Kåñëa, and always remain absorbed in thought of Him. (Çrémad-Bhägavatam 5.18.9)
The sattvic person adheres to good and shuns evil, but a pure devotee like Çré Prahläda can bring good forth from evil. He was born as the son of Hiraëyakaçipu, the evil king of the demons who held the universe in his iron grip. Therefore the inborn nature of his senses and instincts, as well as his association at home, were not disposed to goodness. He was only a small boy with almost no education in scriptural matters. Yet by the grace of his spiritual master, he saw the Lord's presence everywhere. Even more, his love for God was so strong that it drew Him out before everyone's view. This is the pure devotional dimension of value, in which the true object of everyone's love is revealed. Prahläda's father—who had tried repeatedly to kill his small son—was liberated by the Lord's own hand. Thus evil was not merely avoided, nor even just defeated. It was completely purified by the power of pure devotion. The harvest of goodness (knowledge and morality), though certainly beneficial, is not the final end of the Vaiñëava. The Lord's divine person—where goodness begins—is the final end.
The material mode of goodness can be compared to a big modern airport, where I go to board an intercontinental flight. If I let myself be captivated by the gleaming airport conveniences—the duty-free shops, the restaurants and the cinema—and miss my flight, then I've missed the whole point of going to the airport. The airport is not my final destination. Similarly, to become Kåñëa conscious, it is advisable to move to goodness from ignorance and passion. But goodness is not my final destination. If instead of flying I become attached to the first-class facilities available in the sattva-guëa—religion, knowledge, morality, austerity and opulence—separately from Kåñëa, then I am in sättvikä-ahaìkära. When Kåñëa is forgotten, the troubled gloom of passion and ignorance gradually shrouds the four facilities of goodness. Mundane goodness, given time, becomes evil. To carry the airport analogy further, the flight itself may be compared to vasudeva-sattva or transcendental goodness. As consciousness rises to transcendence, it delights in an all-inclusive vista of the energies of Godhead, just as an airline passenger delights in observing vast reaches of the globe from the heights of the stratosphere. In vasudeva consciousness, there is no turning back to passion and ignorance. The arrival of the soul at Kåñëa's personal abode spells the journey's end.
DGE 4: Chapter Four, Gauëa-dharma