The next morning Sannyasi Mahasaya found no opportunity to inquire from Premadasa Babaji, who was internally immersed in vraja-bhava, mellows of service in the mood of the residents of Vraja. At midday, after accepting alms from the houses of the villagers, they sat together in the arbor known as sri-madhavimalati mandapa. Paramahamsa Babaji Mahasaya then began to speak compassionately: “O best of the bhaktas, what conclusions have you reached after yesterday’s discussion on the subject of dharma?”
Feeling supreme bliss (paramananda), Sannyasi Thakura asked, “Prabhu, if the jiva is infinitesimal, how can his eternal dharma be full and pure? And if the natural function of the jiva is formed at the time he is constituted, how can that function be eternal?”When Paramahamsa Babaji heard these two questions, he meditatedon the lotus feet of Sri Sacinandana and then, smiling, said, “Respected sir, although the jiva is infinitesimal, his dharma is full and nitya (eternal). Minuteness is only a trait by which he is identified. Parabrahma Sri Krsnacandra, is the one and only infinite substance (brhad-vastu), and the jivas are His innumerable atomic particles. Like sparks emanating from an undivided fire, the jivas emanate from Krsna, who is the embodiment of immutable consciousness. Just as every spark is endowed with the potency of the complete fire, so each and every jiva is capable of displaying the full function of consciousness. If a single spark has enough fuel, it can kindle a blazing fire that will incinerate the whole world. Similarly, even a single jiva can bring about a great inundation of love by obtaining Sri Krsnacandra, who is the real object of love. As long as he fails to contact the real object of his spiritual function (dharma-visaya), the infinitesimal, conscious jiva is incapable of exhibiting the natural development of that function. In reality,
it is only when the jiva is in connection with his object that the identity of its dharma becomes apparent.
“What is the nitya-dharma, or eternal, constitutional function of the jiva? You must examine this question carefully. Transcendental love for Krsna (prema) is the jiva’s nitya-dharma. The jiva is a substance transcendental to mundane matter, and consciousness
is that which he is constituted. His eternal function is divine love, and the nature of that pure prema is service to Krsna. Therefore, the constitutional function of the jiva is service to Krsna, which is the nature of prema.
“Jivas exist in two conditions: suddha-avastha, the pure liberated state; or baddha-avastha, the conditioned state. In the liberated state, the jiva is completely spiritual (cinmaya), and has no connection with mundane matter. However, even in the liberated
state, the jiva is an infinitesimal entity.
“The jiva can undergo a change in condition because he has the quality of minuteness. Krsna, however, never undergoes a change of condition, for by His very nature He is the entity of infinite cognition. By His essential constitution as a vastu (a factual existent entity), He is supreme, completely pure, and eternal, whereas the jiva, by his essential constitution as a vastu is minute, a part, liable to contamination, and subject to repeated change. Nevertheless,
by virtue of the jiva’s dharma, or unadulterated spiritual function, he is great, undivided, pure, and everlasting.
As long as the jiva is pure, his dharma displays its spotless character. However, when he is contaminated by involvement with maya, his true nature is perverted, and he becomes impure, bereft of shelter, and oppressed by mundane happiness and distress. The jiva’s course
of material existence comes into effect as soon as he forgets his attitude of service to Krsna.
“As long as the jiva remains pure, he maintains his identity and self-conception in accordance with his unadulterated spiritual function (sva-dharma). His innate and original egoism is therefore rooted in the conception that he is a servant of Krsna. However, that pure egoism recedes and assumes many different forms as soon as he is contaminated by association with maya. The gross and subtle bodies then cover his pure constitutional identity, and as a result, a different egoism emerges in the subtle body (lingasarira). When this combines with the soul’s identification with the gross body (sthula-sarira), a third form of egoism is assumed. In
his pure spiritual form, the jiva is exclusively a servant of Krsna. When the jiva identifies with the subtle body, his original, pure egoism of being a servant of Krsna is covered, and he thinks that he can enjoy the fruits of his actions. He then obtains a gross body and thinks, ‘I am a brahmana; I am a king; I am poor; I am miserable; I am overwhelmed by disease and lamentation; I am a woman; I am the master of this person and that person.’ Thus, he identifies himself with many different types of gross bodily conceptions.
“When the jiva associates with these different types of false egoism, his constitutional function becomes perverted. The intrinsic, constitutional function (sva-dharma) of the jiva is unalloyed prema. This prema manifests in a perverted way in the subtle body in the form of happiness and distress, attachment and aversion, and so on. This perversion is observed in a more concentrated form in the gross body as the pleasures of eating, drinking, and contact with sense objects. You should understand clearly that the eternal function of the jiva, known as nitya-dharma, is manifest only in his pure state. The dharma that arises in the conditioned
state is known as naimittika, circumstantial. Nitya-dharma is by nature complete, pure, and eternal. I will explain naimittika-dharma at length another day.
“The unalloyed vaisnava-dharma that has been depicted in the Srimad-Bhagavatam is eternal religion (nitya-dharma). The various types of dharma that are propagated in the world may be divided into three categories: nitya-dharma, naimittika-dharma (circumstantial dharma), and anitya-dharma (impermanent religion). Anitya-dharma is religion that does not speak about the existence of Isvara and does not accept the eternality of the soul. Naimittika-dharma acknowledges the existence of Isvara and the eternality of the soul but only endeavors to obtain the mercy of Isvara through provisional methods. Nitya-dharma strives to obtain the service of Bhagavan by means of unalloyed prema.
“Nitya-dharma may be known by different names according to differences of country, race, and language. However, it is one, and supremely beneficial. The ideal example of nitya-dharma is vaisnava-dharma, which is prevalent in India. The pristine state of vaisnava-dharma is that dharma which Bhagavan Sacinandana, the Lord of our heart, has taught to the world. It is for this reason that great personalities absorbed in the bliss of divine love have accepted these teachings and taken help from them.”
At this point Sannyasi Thakura with folded hands said, “Prabhu, I am constantly witnessing the super-excellence of the spotless vaisnava-dharma which Sri Sacinandana has revealed, and I have clearly realized the contemptible nature of Sankaracarya’s monistic
doctrine. Still, something has come to my mind, which I feel I must submit to you; I don’t want to hide it. I understand that mahabhava, which was displayed by Sri Caitanya, is the highest state of concentrated prema. Is it different from the attainment of the perfection of absolute oneness (advaita-siddhi)?”
When Paramahamsa Babaji heard the name of Sri Sankaracarya, he offered prostrated obeisances unto the acarya and said, “Respected sir, sankarah sankarah saksat: ’Sankaracarya is none other than Mahadeva-Sankara, or Sivaji.’ You should always remember this. Sankara is guru for the Vaisnavas, and for this reason Mahaprabhu has referred to him as acarya (spiritual preceptor). For his own part, Sri Sankara was a perfect Vaisnava.
“At the time Sri Sankara’s appeared in India, there was a great need for a guna-avatara like him, an incarnation who presides over the qualities of material nature. The study of the Vedic sastras and the practice of varnasrama-dharma had become practically extinct in India due to the influence of sunyavada (voidism), the nihilistic Buddhist philosophy. Sunyavada is vehemently opposed to the personal conception of Bhagavan. Although it partially accepts
the principle of the living being’s identity as a conscious, spiritual soul (jivatma), it is an extreme example of anitya-dharma (impermanent religion). The brahmanas of that era had abandoned the Vedic dharma and had in effect all become Buddhists. At that point, Sankaracarya appeared as an extremely powerful incarnation of Mahadeva. He re-established the credibility of the Vedic literatures and converted the sunyavada doctrine of voidism into the brahmavada doctrine of nirvisesa (featureless) brahma. This was an extraordinary feat, and India will remain ever indebted to Sri Sankaracarya for this tremendous contribution.
“All activities in this world fall into one of two categories: some are relative to a particular period of time, and some are applicable for all time. The work of Sankaracarya was relative to a particular period and bestowed tremendous benefit. Sankaracarya laid the foundation upon which great acaryas such as Sri Ramanujacarya erected the edifice of pure vaisnava-dharma. Consequently, Sankaravatara was a great friend and preceptor who pioneered vaisnava-dharma.
“Vaisnavas are now reaping the fruit of Sankaracarya’s philosophical precepts. For the jivas who are bound by matter, there is a great need for sambandha-jnana, knowledge of the soul’s entanglement in material nature and of his relationship with Bhagavan. Sankaracarya and the Vaisnavas both accept that the sentient living entities in this material world are completely distinct and separate from their gross and subtle material bodies, that the jivas
are spiritually existent, and that liberation (mukti) entails giving up all connection with this material world. Consequently, there is a great deal of agreement between the doctrine of Sankara and that of the Vaisnava acaryas, up to the point of liberation. Sankara has even taught that the worship of Sri Hari is the method by which one can purify the heart and attain liberation. He has only remained silent regarding what extraordinary destination the jiva
attains after liberation.
“Sankara knew perfectly well that if the jivas could be prompted to strive for liberation through the worship of Hari, they would gradually become attached to the pleasure of bhajana and thus become suddha-bhaktas, pure devotees. That is why he simply pointed out the path and didn’t reveal further confidential secrets of vaisnava-dharma. Those who have scrutinized the commentaries of Sankara can understand his inner intention, but those who are only preoccupied with the external aspect of his teachings remain far from the threshold of vaisnava-dharma.
“From one specific point of view, the perfected state of absolute oneness (advaita-siddhi) seems identical to prema. However, the narrow interpretation of absolute oneness is certainly different from the meaning of prema. What is prema? You should understand clearly that prema is the unadulterated function by which two transcendental entities are spontaneously attracted to each other. Prema cannot occur without the separate existence of two transcendental entities. Krsna-prema is the dharma by which all transcendental entities are eternally attracted to the supreme transcendent Entity, Sri Krsnacandra. The ideology of prema rests on the eternally established truths that Krsnacandra has His own eternal, separate existence, and that the jivas have their own eternal, separate existence, following His leadership (anugatya); and that this prema-tattva is also an eternally perfect truth (nityasiddha- tattva). The distinct presence of three seperate ingredients– the relisher, the object of relish, and the act of relishing – is a fact. If the relisher of prema and the object of relish are one and
the same, then prema cannot be an eternal reality.
“We can say that absolute oneness or advaita-siddhi is the same as prema if we define advaita-siddhi as the pure state of a transcendental entity who has no relationship with insentient matter. This conception of advaita-siddhi implies oneness in the sense that spiritual entities have become one in their spiritual nature and function (cid-dharma). However, modern scholars who have adopted the doctrine of Sankara are not satisfied with this idea, and they have tried to establish that spiritual entities, cid-vastu have themselves become indistinguishably one and the same substance. In so doing, they have disregarded the true Vedic conception of non-distinction and have propagated a distorted version in its place. Vaisnavas declare this philosophy to be opposed to the Vedas because it denies the eternality of prema.
“Sankaracarya described the state of non-distinction simply as the unadulterated condition of spiritual substance. However, his modern-day followers could not understand his inner intention, and consequently they have marred their guru’s reputation by teaching a thoroughly debased doctrine known as Mayavada, which describes the various states of prema as illusory phenomena.
“Mayavadis deny from the very outset that anything exists except the one spiritual substance (brahma), and they also deny that the function of prema exists within that spiritual substance. They claim that brahma is beyond the influence of maya as long as it remains in a state of oneness, but that brahma becomes overwhelmed by maya when it becomes embodied and takes on various shapes in the form of jivas. Consequently, they believe that the form of
Bhagavan is an illusory manifestation. In reality, though, His form is eternally pure and constituted of concentrated consciousness. For this reason, they have concluded that prema and its various manifestations are illusory, and that the knowledge of non-duality (advaita-jnana) is beyond the influence of maya. Their mistaken conception of advaita-siddhi or oneness can never be equated with prema.
“Sri Caitanyadeva instructed the world to taste prema, and He personally taught it by His transcendental behavior and activities. This prema is completely beyond the jurisdiction of maya, and it is the highest development of the unalloyed state of perfect oneness (advaita-siddhi). The state known as mahabhava is a special transformation of this prema, in which premananda is extraordinarily powerful. Consequently, both the separateness and intimate relationship of the lover and the beloved are transported to an unprecedented state. The inconsequential theory of Mayavada is useless for understanding the subject matter of prema in any of its stages.”
Sannyasi Thakura said with great reverence, “O Prabhu, My heart is deeply pierced with the realization that the Mayavada doctrine is most insignificant. Today, you have mercifully dispelled whatever lingering doubts I had in this regard. I feel a strong desire to give up wearing this Mayavada sannyasa garb.”
Babaji Mahasaya said, “O Mahatma, I never give instruction on external dress. When the dharma or spiritual function of the heart becomes purified, the external dress will be set right easily and naturally. Where there is too much concern for external appearance, there is inattention to the soul’s inner function. When your heart becomes pure, you will automatically develop attachment for the external behavior of Vaisnavas, and there will be no fault if you change your external dress then. Absorb your heart completely in trying to follow the teachings of Sri Krsna Caitanya, and later you may adopt the external items of vaisnava-dharma to which you are naturally inclined. You should always remember this instruction of Sriman Mahaprabhu:
markata-vairagya na kara loka dekhana
yathayogya visaya bhunja’ anasakta hana
antare nistha kara, bahye loka-vyavahara
acirat krsna tomaya karibe uddhara
Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya (16.238-239)
Do not adopt markata-vairagya (external, monkey renunciation) simply to impress the general populace. You should accept without attachment whatever sense objects are appropriate for maintaining your devotional practices and give up all material desires within your heart. Internally develop staunch faith in Sri Krsna and externally carry out your worldly responsibilities in such a way that no one can detect your inner mood. If you act like this, Sri Krsna will very quickly deliver you from material existence.
Sannyasi Thakura understood the deep significance of this discussion, and made no further suggestion about changing his outer dress. Folding his hands he said, “Prabhu, since I am now your disciple, and I have taken shelter at your lotus feet, I will bear upon my head whatever instructions you give, without any argument. I have understood from your instructions that unadulterated krsnaprema constitutes the only vaisnava-dharma. This love for Krsna is the nitya-dharma of the jivas, and it is complete, pure, and natural. But what of the various dharmas that are prevalent in different countries—how should I regard these different religions?”
Babaji Mahasaya said, “O Mahatma, dharma is only one, not two or many. The jivas have only one dharma, and it is known as vaisnava-dharma. Differences of language, country, or race cannot create differences in dharma. Jaiva-dharma is the constitutional function of the jiva. People may give it different names, but they cannot create a different constitutional function. Jaiva-dharma is the unadulterated spiritual love that the infinitesimal entity has
for the Infinite Entity. It appears to become distorted into various mundane forms because the jivas possess different material natures. That is why the name vaisnava-dharma has been given to identify the pure form of jaiva-dharma. The degree of vaisnava-dharma in any religion or dharma is a measure of its purity.
“Some time ago, in Sri Vraja-dhama, I submitted a question at the lotus feet of Sriman Mahaprabhu’s confidential associate, Sri Sanatana Gosvami. I asked him whether the word ishqh in the Islamic religious tradition means unadulterated love, or something else. Sanatana Gosvami was a learned scholar of all the sastras, and his erudition in the Arabic and Farsi languages in particular knew no bounds. Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Jiva Gosvami, and other exalted spiritual preceptors were present in that assembly. Sri Sanatana Gosvami kindly answered my question as follows:
“ ‘Yes, the word ishqh means love. Adherents of Islam do use the word ishqh in relation to the worship of Isvara, but the word generally means love in the ordinary worldly sense. Islamic religious teachers have not been able to understand the true conception of the pure spiritual entity, or suddha-cid-vastu. This is evident from the poetical account of the devoted lovers Laila and Majnun and from the literary descriptions of ishqh by the great poet Hafiz. They have referred to ishqh either as physical love pertaining to the gross body, or as emotional love in relation to the subtle body. Thus they cannot have had any experience of unadulterated divine love or prema towards Bhagavan. I have never seen this type of prema described in any religious texts of the Muslim teachers; I have only seen it in the Vaisnava sastras. The same is true of the Muslim word ruh, which means soul or spirit. It does not seem that Muslim teachers have used the word ruh to mean the suddha-jiva (the liberated soul); rather, they have used the word ruh in the sense of the baddha-jiva, the soul bound by matter.
“ ‘I have not seen unadulterated love for Krsna taught in any other religion, whereas descriptions of krsna-prema are common throughout the teachings of vaisnava-dharma. In the second cloak of Srimad-Bhagavatam, krsna-prema has been lucidly described in the statement, projjhita-kaitava-dharma: ‘This Srimad-Bhagavatam propounds the highest truth from which all pretentious religiosity has been rejected.’ Nonetheless, I have full faith that Sri Krsna Caitanya was the first to give full instructions on the religion of unalloyed krsna-prema. If you have faith in my words, you may accept this conclusion.’ Having heard these instructions, I offered prostrated obeisances to Sanatana Gosvami again and again.”
When Sannyasi Thakura heard this explanation from Babaji Maharaja, he immediately offered dandavat-pranama to him. Paramahamsa Babaji then said, “O best of the bhaktas, I will now answer your second question. Please listen attentively. The words ‘creation’ and ‘formation’, when applied to the jiva, are used in a material context. The speech of this world functions by drawing from the experience of material phenomena. The time that we experience is divided into the three phases of past, present and future. This is material time (jadiya-kala), which is connected with the material energy, maya. In the spiritual domain, there is spiritual time, cit-kala, which eternally exists in the present, with no divisions of past and future. The jivas and Krsna exist in that spiritual time, so the jiva is eternal and ever-existing.
“The functions of creation, formation and falling take place under the influence of material time, and they are used to describe the jiva after he is bound in this material world. However, even though the jiva is infinitesimal, he is an eternal, spiritual entity, and his fundamental constitution existed before he entered this material world. Since past and future do not exist in the spiritual world, whatever occurs within that spiritual time frame is eternally present. Therefore, in reality, the jiva and his constitutional function are both ever-present and eternal.
“I have explained all this to you in words, but you can only understand their true meaning to the extent that you have realized and experienced the unalloyed spiritual realm. I have just given you a glimpse; you should try to realize the meaning of what I have said through cit-samadhi, spiritual meditation. You will not be able to understand these topics through mundane logic or by debate. The more you can free your faculty of experience from material bondage, the more you will be able to experience the spiritual domain.
“First you should cultivate the realization of your pure spiritual identity and practice chanting sri-krsna-nama purely, then your spiritual function known as jaiva-dharma will be clearly revealed. Spiritual realization and experience cannot be fully purified by the eightfold yoga system known as astanga-yoga or brahma-jnana by cultivating knowledge of the all-pervading, featureless brahma. The jiva can only manifest his nitya-siddha-dharma or eternal spiritual function, by constantly cultivating activities directly meant for Krsna’s pleasure.
“You should constantly practice chanting hari-nama with great enthusiasm. Such practice is true spiritual culture. By chanting hari-nama regularly, you will develop unprecedented attachment for sri-krsna-nama within a short time, and you will directly experience the spiritual realm. Chanting sri-hari-nama is the foremost of all the different limbs of bhakti, and it yields the quickest results. This is confirmed by Sri Mahaprabhu’s instructions in Sri Krsnadasa Kaviraja’s magnificent work, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Antya 4.70-71):
bhajanera madhye srestha nava-vidha bhakti
‘krsna-prema’, ‘krsna’ dite dhare maha-sakti
tara madhye sarva-srestha nama-sankirtana
niraparadhe nama laile paya prema-dhana
Of all the different types of spiritual practice, the nine forms
of bhakti (sravanam, kirtanam, etc.) are the best because they
have tremendous power to deliver Krsna and krsna-prema.
Of these nine practices, nama-sankirtana is the best. By
chanting sri-krsna-nama without offense, one obtains the
priceless treasure of prema.
“Mahatma, if you ask how to recognize a Vaisnava, I will tell you that a Vaisnava is someone who has given up all offenses, and who chants sri-krsna-nama with great feeling. There are three categories of Vaisnavas: the kanistha (neophyte), the madhyama (intermediate), and the uttama (most exalted). A kanistha Vaisnava chants the name of Krsna occasionally, a madhyama Vaisnava chants the name of Krsna constantly, and an uttama Vaisnava causes others to chant sri-nama by his very presence. According to Mahaprabhu’s instructions, we do not need any other criteria to discern who is a Vaisnava.”
Sannyasi Thakura was deeply immersed in the nectar of Babaji Maharaja’s instructions, and he began to dance as he chanted srikrsna- nama: ‘Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare’. On that day, he
experienced ruci, a natural taste, for hari-nama. Offering prostrated obeisances unto the lotus feet of his guru, he prayed, “Prabhu! O friend of the destitute! Please bestow your mercy upon this wretched soul.”
THUS ENDS THE SECOND CHAPTER OF JAIVA-DHARMA,
“THE NITYA-DHARMA OF THE JIVA IS PURE AND ETERNAL”