Lahiri Mahasaya lived in the association of Vaisnavas in Sri Godruma for three or four years, and thus his heart became fully pure. At all times he chanted hari-nama: while eating, walking, and sitting; before sleeping; and after rising. He wore simple clothes and did not even use shoes or sandals. He had relinquished his pride in his caste so completely that as soon as he saw a Vaisnava, he would offer him dandavat-pranama, and forcibly take the dust from his feet. He would seek out pure Vaisnavas in order to honor the remnants of their meals. His sons came to him from time to time, but when they understood his mood, they departed quickly, not daring to propose that he should come home with them. To look at Lahiri Mahasaya now, one would certainly take him to be a Vaisnava Babaji.
From the philosophy of the Vaisnavas of Sri Godruma, Lahiri Mahasaya had understood that the essential principle is genuine detachment within the heart, and not the adoption of the external dress of renunciation. In order to minimize his needs, he followed the example of Sri Sanatana Gosvami and tore one piece of cloth into four to use as his garments. Nonetheless, he still wore his sacred thread around his neck. Whenever his sons wanted to give him some money, he would reply, “I will not accept even a single kaudi from materialists.” Candrasekhara, his eldest son, once brought him a hundred rupees for a festival to feed the Vaisnavas, but Lahiri Mahasaya remembered Sri Dasa Gosvami’s example, and did not accept the money.
One day Paramahamsa Babaji said, “Lahiri Mahasaya, you are now free from all traces of non-Vaisnava behavior. Even though we have accepted the vows of mendicancy, we can still learn much from you about renunciation. You need only accept a Vaisnava name for everything to be complete.”
Lahiri Mahasaya replied, “You are my parama-guru. Please do as you see fit.”
Babaji Mahasaya said, “Your residence is at Sri Santipura, so we will address you as Sri Advaita dasa.”
Lahiri Mahasaya fell in prostrated obeisance, and accepted the mercy of his new name. From that day on, everyone called him Sri Advaita dasa, and they referred to the kutira in which he resided and performed his bhajana as Advaita-kutira.
Advaita dasa had a childhood friend named Digambara Cattopadhyaya, who had earned vast wealth and reputation by performing important services in the Muslim royal administration. When Digambara Cattopadhyaya attained seniority, he retired from his government post and returned to his village of Ambika. There he heard that his childhood friend had renounced his home and was now living in Godruma under the name, Sri Advaita dasa, and was spending his time chanting hari-nama. Digambara Cattopadhyaya was a dogmatic worshiper of the Goddess Durga, and he would block his ears with his hands if he so much as heard the name of a Vaisnava. When he heard about the ‘downfall’ of his beloved friend, he said to his servant, “Vamana dasa, arrange for a boat immediately, and I will go straight to Godruma.”
The servant quickly hired a boat and reported back to his master. Digambara Cattopadhyaya was very astute. He was a scholar of the tantra-sastras and was highly skilled in the ways of Muslim civilization. His knowledge of Farsi and Arabic forced even Muslim scholars and teachers to admit defeat at his hands, and he would leave any brahmana scholar dumbfounded by his expertise in arguing the tantra-sastra. He had acquired a significant reputation in Delhi, Lucknow, and other cities, and in his spare time, he had written a book called Tantra-sangraha, A Compendium on the Tantra, in which he displayed his extensive learning through his commentaries on the slokas.
Digambara took his Tantra-sangraha with him and climbed into the boat in a fiery mood. Within six hours they arrived at Sri Godruma, where Digambara instructed an intelligent man to go to Sri Advaita dasa, while he himself remained in the boat. Digambara’s messenger found Sri Advaita dasa sitting in his kutira, chanting hari-nama, and he offered pranama to him. “Who are you, and why have you come?” inquired Advaita dasa. The man replied, “I have been sent by the venerable Digambara Cattopadhyaya. He asks whether Kalidasa still remembers him, or whether he has forgotten him.”
Sri Advaita dasa asked rather eagerly, “Where is Digambara? He is my childhood friend; how could I possibly forget him? Has he now adopted vaisnava-dharma?”
The man said, “He is sitting in a boat at the riverside. I cannot say whether he is a Vaisnava or not.”
Advaita dasa said, “Why is he at the riverside? Why doesn’t he come to my kutira?”
When the messenger heard these inviting words, he left to inform Digambara, who arrived at Advaita-kutira within an hour, accompanied by a few other gentlemen. Digambara had always been a generous man at heart, and now he became overwhelmed with joy when he saw his old friend. He embraced Sri Advaita dasa and sang a song that he had composed himself:
kali! tomara lila-khela ke jane ma, tribhuvane?
kabhu purusa, kabhu nari, kabhu matta hao go rane
brahma ha’ye srsti kare, srsti nasa ha’ye hara,
visnu ha’ye visva-vyapi pala go ma, sarva-jane
krsna-rupe vrndavane, vamsi bajao vane vane,
(abara) gaura ha’ye navadvipe, matao sabe sankirtane
O Mother Kali, who in the three worlds can fathom your
pastimes? Sometimes you take the shape of a man, sometimes
that of a woman, and sometimes you appear in battle
in a ferocious mood. As Lord Brahma you create the universe,
as Lord Siva you destroy it, and as Lord Visnu you
pervade the universe and maintain all living entities. As
Sri Krsna you appear in Vrndavana and wander from forest
to forest playing the flute. Then again, you appear in
Navadvipa as Sri Gaura and intoxicate everyone with the
Advaita dasa offered Digambara Cattopadhyaya a seat made of leaves, saying, “Come in, my brother! Come in! It has been such a long time since we last met.”
Digambara sat on the seat, expressing his affection with tears as he said, “My brother Kalidasa, where shall I go? Now you have become a renunciant, and you don’t care for the devas or for your religious duties. I came from Punjab filled with so much hope, but our boyhood friends have all gone. Pesa, Pagla, Khenda, Girish, Ise Pagla, Dhanuva, Kele the carpenter and Kanti Bhattacarya have all passed away. Now only you and I remain. I thought I could sometimes cross the Ganga and meet you at Santipura, and you could sometimes cross the Ganga and visit me in Ambika. We could have spent whatever time remains to us singing together and studying the tantra-sastra. Alas! Fate has dealt me a cruel blow. You have become a worthless heap of cow-dung – of no use in this life or the next. Tell me, how has this happened to you?”
Advaita dasa could see that his boyhood friend was most undesirable company, and he began to devise a way of escaping from his clutches. Thinking like this, he said, “Brother Digambara, do you remember that day in Ambika when we were playing gulli-danda, and we reached the old tamarind tree?”
Digambara: Yes, yes, I remember very clearly. It was the tamarind tree just next to Gauridasa Pandita’s house. Gaura-Nitai used to sit underneath that tree.
Advaita: Brother, as we were playing, you said, “Don’t touch this tamarind tree. Aunt Saci’s son used to sit here, and if we touch this tree, we shall become renunciants.”
Digambara: Yes, I remember it well. I noticed that you had some leaning toward the Vaisnavas, and I said, “You will fall into Gauranga’s trap.”
Advaita: Brother, that has been my nature. At that time, I was only on the verge of falling into that trap, but now I have actually fallen in.
Digambara: Take my hand and come out. It is not good to remain in a trap.
Advaita: Brother, I am very happy in this trap. I pray to remain here forever. Just touch this trap once and see for yourself.
Digambara: I have seen everything. It seems like happiness in the beginning, but in the end you will see that it is just deception.
Advaita: And what about the trap that you are in? Do you expect to obtain great happiness in the end? Don’t delude yourself.
Digambara: Look, we are the attendants of the Goddess Mahavidya (Durga). We enjoy happiness now, and we will also enjoy it in the hereafter. You think that you are happy now, but I don’t see that you are happy at all. Furthermore, there will be no limit to your suffering in the end. I cannot understand why anyone becomes a Vaisnava. You see, we enjoy eating meat and fish, we are well dressed, and we are more civilized than you Vaisnavas. We enjoy all the happiness that material science affords, whereas you are deprived of all these things, and ultimately you will not even gain deliverance.
Advaita: Brother, why do you claim that there will be no deliverance for me in the end?
Digambara: No one – even Lord Brahma, Lord Visnu, or Lord Siva – can ever obtain salvation if they are indifferent to Mother Nistarini. Mother Nistarini, she who grants deliverance, is the primordial power. She manifests Brahma, Visnu, and Mahesa, and after that she maintains them by her active potency (karya-sakti). When that Mother desires, everything re-enters her womb, which is the vessel that contains the entire universe. Have you ever worshiped the Mother to invoke her mercy?
Advaita: Is Mother Nistarini a conscious entity or inert matter?
Digambara: She is consciousness personified, and she possesses independent will. It is by her desire alone that spirit is created.
Advaita: What is purusa, and what is prakrti?
Digambara: Vaisnavas engage only in bhajana; they have no knowledge of fundamental philosophical truths. Although purusa and prakrti manifest as two phenomena, they are actually one, like the two halves of a chick-pea. If you take the outer skin off the chickpea, there are two halves; but if the outer skin remains, there is one chick-pea. Purusa is conscious and prakrti is inert. When the conscious and the inert merge into one undifferentiated substance, it is known as brahma.
Advaita: Is your mother prakrti, female, or purusa, male?
Digambara: Sometimes she is female, and sometimes male.
Advaita: So, if purusa and prakrti are like the two halves of a chickpea covered by a skin, which is the mother and which is the father
Digambara: Are you making philosophical enquiries? Excellent! We are well acquainted with the truth. The fact is that the mother is prakrti, matter, and the father is caitanya, consciousness. Advaita: And who are you?
Digambara: Pasa-baddho bhavej jivah pasu-muktah sadasivah: “When
one is bound by the ropes of maya, one is a jiva; and when one is released from those bonds, one is Lord Sadasiva
Advaita: So are you spirit or matter?
Digambara: I am spirit, and Mother is matter. When I am bound, she is Mother; when I become liberated, she will be my wife.
Advaita: Oh, splendid! Now the whole truth is exposed without any doubt. The person who is your mother now will become your wife later. Where did you get such a philosophy? Digambara: Brother, I am not like you, simply wandering here and there saying, “Vaisnava! Vaisnava!” I have acquired this knowledge by associating with innumerable perfected and liberated sannyasis, brahmacaris and tantrikas, and by studying the tantra-sastras day and night. If you wish, I can also make you fit for understanding this knowledge.
Advaita dasa thought to himself, “What a ghastly misfortune!” But aloud he said, “Very well. Please explain one idea to me. What is civilization, and what is material science (prakrtika-vijnana)?”
Digambara: Civilization means to speak courteously in a cultured society, to dress oneself in a respectable and pleasing manner, and to eat and to conduct oneself in a way that is not repugnant to others. You do none of these things.
Advaita: Why do you say that?
Digambara: You are distinctly unsociable, for you do not mingle with others. The Vaisnavas have never learned what it means to please others with sweet words. As soon as they lay eyes on anyone, they command him to chant hari-nama. Why, is there no other civilized discussion? Anyone who sees your dress will not be inclined to let you sit in an assembly. You wear a loincloth, a peculiar tuft of hair on the top of your head, and a garland of beads around your neck. What kind of an outfit is this? And you eat only potatoes and roots. You are not at all civilized.
Advaita dasa determined that if he were to start a quarrel and Digambara went away angered, it would be a great relief. So he said, “Does your type of civilized living give you the opportunity to attain a higher destination in the next life?”
Digambara: Culture does not in itself grant one a higher destination in the next life, but how can society be elevated without culture? If society is elevated, then one can endeavor for progress in other planets.
Advaita: Brother, I may say something, if you will not become angry.
Digambara: You are my childhood friend; I would give up my life for you. How can I not tolerate whatever you have to say? I am fond of courtesy; even if I become angry, my words remain sweet. The more a man can conceal his inner feelings, the more cultured he is considered to be.
Advaita: Human life is very short, and there are many disturbances. In this brief span of life, the only duty of humanity is to worship Sri Hari with simplicity. Studying the ways of material civilization and culture is simply deceiving the soul. I have understood that the word sabhyata (civilization) is simply another name for civil deception. A human being remains simple as long as he adheres to the path of truth. When he adopts the path of dishonesty, he desires to appear civilized and to please others by sweet words, but internally he remains addicted to deception and wicked deeds. What you describe as civilization has no good qualities, because truthfulness and simplicity are really the only good qualities.
In modern times, civilization has come to mean keeping one’s depravity concealed within. The word sabhyata literally means fitness to participate in a sabha, or a virtuous assembly. In reality, civilization that is free from sin and deception is only found among Vaisnavas. Non-Vaisnavas very much appreciate civilization that is saturated with sin. The civilization that you speak of is not related to the nitya-dharma of the jiva.
If civilization means to adorn oneself in stylish clothes to appeal to others, then prostitutes are more civilized than you are. The only requirement for clothing is that it should cover the body and be clean and free from unpleasant odor. Food is faultless when it is pure and nutritious, but you only care whether it tastes good; you don’t even consider whether it is pure or not. Wine and meat are naturally impure, and a civilization based upon the consumption of such things is simply a society dedicated to sin. What passes as civilization at present is the culture of Kali-yuga.
Digambara: Have you forgotten the civilization of the Muslim emperors? Just consider the manners with which people sit in the court of a Muslim emperor, how politely they speak, and with such proper etiquette.
Advaita: That is only worldly conduct. How deficient is a man, really, if he does not abide by these external formalities? Brother, you have served in the Muslim government for so long that you have become partial to that type of civilization. In reality, human life only becomes civilized when it is sinless. The so-called advancement of civilization in Kali-yuga simply means an increase in sinful activity; this is nothing but hypocrisy.
Digambara: Look, educated modern men have concluded that civilization means humanism, and that those who are not civilized are not human beings. To dress women attractively and thereby conceal their faults is considered to be a sign of sophistication.
Advaita: Just consider whether this idea is good or bad. I perceive that those whom you call ‘educated’ are merely rogues who have taken advantage of the times. Such people favor this deceitful civilization partly because of sinful impressions within their hearts, and partly because they see it as an opportunity to conceal their faults. Can a wise man find happiness in such a civilization? Only vain arguments and physical intimidation can maintain veneration for a civilization of rogues.
Digambara: Some people say that society is advancing with the increase of knowledge in the world, and eventually it will be like heaven on earth.
Advaita: That is simply fantasy. It is quite extraordinary that people have faith in this, and it is even more bizarre that others have the audacity to propagate such a view without actually believing it J A I VA - D H A R M A CHAPTER 9 218 themselves. There are two types of knowledge: paramarthika knowledge relates to eternal truth, while laukika knowledge relates to this transitory world. Paramarthika knowledge does not seem to be increasing; on the contrary, in most cases knowledge has been corrupted and deviated from its original nature. Only laukika knowledge seems to be on the increase. Does the jiva have an eternal relationship with laukika knowledge? When laukika-jnana increases, people’s minds become distracted by temporary material pursuits, and they neglect the original spiritual truth. I firmly believe that the more laukika-jnana increases, the more duplicitous a civilization becomes. This is a great misfortune for the living beings.
Digambara: A misfortune? Why?
Advaita: As I said before, human life is very short. The jivas are like travelers at an inn, and they should use this brief span of life to prepare themselves for their ultimate destination. It would be sheer foolishness if travelers staying in an inn were so caught up with improving the conditions of their stay that they forgot their destination. The more one’s involvement with material knowledge increases, the more one’s time for spiritual matters dwindles. I am convinced that material knowledge should be used only as much as it is needed to maintain one’s livelihood. There is no necessity for excessive material knowledge and its companion, material civilization. For how many days will this earthly glitter remain?
Digambara: I see that I have fallen into the clutches of an unyielding renunciant. Then does society serve no function?
Advaita: That depends upon the composition of a particular society. The function served by a society of Vaisnavas is highly beneficial for the jivas, but a society of non-Vaisnavas, or a society that is merely secular, serves no advantageous function for the jivas. But enough of this topic. Tell me, What do you mean by material science?
Digambara: The tantra-sastra has delineated many types of material science (prakrtika-vijnana). Material science includes whatever knowledge, skill and beauty are to be found in the material world, as well as all the various branches of knowledge, such as military science, medical science, music, dance, and astronomy. Prakrti (material nature) is the primordial power, and by her own potency she has manifested this material universe and all the variety in it. Each and every form is a by-product of this potency and is accompanied by the knowledge or science corresponding to it. When one acquires that knowledge, he is liberated from sins committed to Mother Nistarini. The Vaisnavas do not seek this knowledge, but we saktas will obtain liberation on the strength of it. Just consider how many books have been written in pursuance of this knowledge by great men such as Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, and the famous Hakim.
Advaita: Digambara, you have said that the Vaisnavas have no
interest in vijnana (experiential, realized knowledge), but that is
not true. The pure knowledge of the Vaisnavas is endowed with
sri bhagavan uvaca
jnanam parama-guhyam me yad-vijnana-samanvitam
sa-rahasyam tad-angam ca grhana gaditam maya
Sri Bhagavan said, “O Brahma, knowledge of Me is nondual, and yet it has four distinct divisions: jnana, vijnana, rahasya and tad-anga. A jiva cannot understand this by his own intelligence, but you can understand it by My mercy. Jnana is My svarupa, and My relationship with My potency is vijnana. The jiva is My rahasya (secret mystery), and pradhana is My jnana-anga.”
Before this creation, Bhagavan was pleased with Brahma’s worship, and instructed him on the tenets of pure vaisnava-dharma.
Bhagavan said, “O Brahma, I am explaining to you this most confidential jnana of Myself, the vijnana with which it is endowed, its rahasya, and all of its angas (components). Accept all of this from Me.”
Digambara, there are two types of knowledge: suddha-jnana, pure knowledge, and visaya-jnana, knowledge of material objects. All human beings acquire visaya-jnana through the senses, but that knowledge is impure, so it is useless for discerning transcendental objects. It is only useful in relation to the jiva’s conditioned state of material existence. Knowledge that pertains to spiritual consciousness is known as suddha-jnana. That is eternal, and it is the basis of the Vaisnavas’ devotional service. Spiritual knowledge is the antithesis of material knowledge, and is completely distinct from it. You say that visaya-jnana is vijnana, but it is not vijnana in the true sense of the term. The real reason that your Ayur-veda and other types of material knowledge are called vijnana is that they are in contrast to pure spiritual knowledge. True vijnana is that pure knowledge that is distinct from material knowledge. There is no difference between jnana, which is the knowledge of a truly abiding substance (cid-vastu), and vijnana, which is the knowledge of how such an object is distinct from matter. Jnana is direct perception of a transcendental object, whereas vijnana is the establishment of pure knowledge in contrast to material knowledge. Although these two are actually the same thing, they are known either as jnana or as vijnana according to the methods they employ.
You refer to material knowledge as vijnana, but the Vaisnavas say that vijnana is the true diagnosis of material knowledge. They have examined the nature of military science, medical science, astronomy, and chemistry, and they have concluded that these are all material knowledge, and that the jiva has no eternal connection with them. Therefore, these different types of material knowledge are of no consequence in relation to the jiva’s nitya-dharma The Vaisnavas understand that those who are expanding their mundane knowledge according to their material propensities are immersed in karma-kanda. However, Vaisnavas do not condemn such people. Indirectly, the endeavors for material improvement help the Vaisnavas’ spiritual progress to some extent. The material knowledge of those who pursue material advancement is insignificant, and you may call it prakrtika-vijnana, natural science. There is certainly no objection to that. It is foolish to quarrel over names.
Digambara: Well, if there were no advancement of material knowledge, how could you Vaisnavas conveniently satisfy your material needs and be free to engage in bhajana? You should also make some endeavor for material advancement.
Advaita: People work in different ways, according to their respective inclinations, but Isvara is the supreme controller of all, and He awards each person the appropriate result of his action. Digambara: Where does inclination come from?
Advaita: Inclination develops from deep-rooted impressions in the heart, acquired through previous activities. The more extensively one is involved with matter, the more expert he will be in material knowledge and the crafts originating from such knowledge. The articles that such people manufacture may help the Vaisnavas to serve Krsna, but there is no need for the Vaisnavas to labor for them separately. For example, carpenters earn their livelihood by producing simhasanas, which grhastha Vaisnavas use as platforms where they place the Deity. Bees are inclined to gather honey, which devotees accept for the service of the Deity. It is not that all the jivas of the world endeavor for spiritual advancement. They are engaged in different types of work, impelled by their respective natures.
Human beings have different types of tendencies, some high and some low. Those with lower natures are engaged in varieties of work impelled by their lower tendencies. The menial labor they perform assists other types of work which are prompted by higher natures. The wheel of this universe turns by the virtue of this division of work. Everyone who is under the jurisdiction of matter works according to his material propensity, and thereby assists the Vaisnavas in their spiritual development. Such materialists are not aware that their activities are helping the Vaisnavas because they are bewildered by the potency of Sri Visnu’s maya. Consequently, the entire world serves the Vaisnavas, but unknowingly.
Digambara: What is this visnu-maya?
Advaita: In the Candi-mahatmya of the Markandeya Purana (81.40),
visnu-maya is described, mahamaya hareh saktir yaya sammohitam
jagat: “The potency of Bhagavan by which the entire world is bewildered is known as mahamaya.”
Digambara: Then who is the goddess I know as Mother Nistarini?
Advaita: She is Sri Hari’s external potency known as visnu-maya. Digambara opened his book on tantra and said, “Look, it states in tantra-sastra that my divine mother is consciousness personified. She possesses full will and she is beyond the three qualities of material nature, yet she is the support of those three qualities. Your visnu-maya is not free from the influence of the modes of nature, so how can you equate your visnu-maya with my mother? This type of fanaticism on the part of the Vaisnavas really irritates me. You Vaisnavas have blind faith.”
Advaita: My brother, Digambara, please don’t be angry. You have come to see me after such a long time, and I want to satisfy you. Is it a slight to speak of visnu-maya? Bhagavan Visnu is the embodiment of supreme consciousness, and He is the one supreme controller of all. Everything that exists is His potency. Potency is not an independent object (vastu), but rather the functional power inherent within an object (vastu-dharma). To say that sakti (potency) is the root of everything is thoroughly opposed to tattva, metaphysical truth. Sakti cannot exist independent of the object from which it originates. We must first accept the existence of an object that possesses full spiritual consciousness, otherwise accepting sakti by itself is like dreaming of a flower in the sky.
The commentary on Vedanta states, sakti-saktimator abhedah:“There is no difference between the potency and the possessor of potency.” This means that sakti is not a separate object. The Supreme Person who is the master of all potencies is the one truly abiding substance. Sakti is the quality, or inherent function, that is subordinate to His will. You have said that sakti is the embodiment of consciousness, that it possesses will, and that it is beyond the influence of the three qualities of material nature. This is correct, but only insofar as sakti operates fully under the support of a pure conscious entity, and is thus considered identical with that powerful entity. Desire and consciousness depend on the Supreme Being. Desire cannot exist in sakti; rather, sakti acts in accordance with the desire of the Supreme Being. You have the power to move, and when you desire to move, that power will act. To say “the power is moving” is merely a figure of speech; it actually means that the person who possesses that power is moving.
Bhagavan has only one sakti, which is manifest in different forms. When it functions in a spiritual capacity, it is known as cit-sakti, and when it operates in a material capacity, it is known as maya, or jada-sakti. It is stated in the Svetasvatara Upanisad (6.8), parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate, “The Vedas say that Bhagavan’s divine sakti is full of variety.”
The sakti that supports the three modes of material nature –sattva, rajah, and tamah – is known as jada-sakti, and its functions are to create and destroy the universe. The Puranas and the Tantra refer to it as visnu-maya, mahamaya, maya, and so on. There are many allegorical descriptions of her activities. For example, it is said that she is the mother of Brahma, Visnu, and Siva, and that she slew the demoniac brothers Sumbha and Nisumbha. The living entity remains under the control of this sakti as long as he is engrossed in material enjoyment. When the jiva is endowed with pure knowledge, he becomes aware of his own svarupa, and this awareness enables him to transcend maya-sakti and attain the liberated status. He then comes under the control of cit-sakti and obtains spiritual happiness.
Digambara: Are you not under the control of some power?
Advaita: Yes, we are jiva-sakti. We have abandoned maya-sakti and come under the protection of cit-sakti.
Digambara: Then you are also a sakta.
Advaita: Yes, the Vaisnavas are true saktas. We are under the control of Sri Radhika, who is the embodiment of cit-sakti. It is only under Her shelter that we render service to Krsna, so who is more of a sakta than the Vaisnavas? We do not see any difference between the Vaisnavas and the real saktas. Those who are only attached to maya-sakti, without taking shelter of cit-sakti, may be called saktas, but they are not Vaisnavas; they are only materialists. In the Narada-pancaratra, Sri Durga Devi explains:
tava vaksasi radhaham rase vrndavane vane
In the forest known as Vrndavana, I am Your internal sakti, Sri Radhika, who adorns Your chest in the rasa dance.
From this statement of Durga Devi, it is clear that there is only one sakti, not two. That sakti is Radhika when She manifests as the internal potency, and she is Durga when she is manifested as the external potency. In the condition of freedom from contact with the material modes of nature, visnu-maya is the cit-sakti. That same visnu-maya is the jada-sakti when it is endowed with the modes of nature.
Digambara: You said that you are jiva-sakti. What is that?
Advaita: Bhagavan has said in the Bhagavad-gita (7.4-5):
bhumir apo ‘nalo vayuh kham mano buddhir eva ca
ahankara itiyam me bhinna prakrtir astadha
apareyam itas tv anyam prakrtim viddhi me param
jiva-bhutam maha-baho yayedam dharyate jagat
My inferior, or material prakrti, is comprised of the eight components: earth, water, fire, air, space, mind, intelligence, and ego. These eight elements are under the control of jadamaya. There is however another prakrti which is superior to this jada-prakrti and which consists of the jivas. By it this material world is perceived or seen.
Digambara, do you know the glory of Bhagavad-gita? This sastra is the essence of the instructions of all the sastras, and it resolves all conflicts between the various philosophical ideologies. It establishes that the category of entities known as jiva-tattva is fundamentally different from the material world and is one of Isvara’s potencies. Learned authorities refer to this tattva as the tatastha-sakti. This sakti is superior to the external potency and inferior to the internal potency. Therefore, the jivas are a unique sakti of Krsna.
Digambara: Kalidasa, have you read the Bhagavad-gita?
Advaita: Yes, I read it quite some time ago.
Digambara: What is the nature of its philosophical teachings?
Advaita: My brother, Digambara, people praise molasses only as long as they have not tasted sugar-candy.
Digambara: My brother, this is simply blind faith on your part. Everyone has tremendous regard for the Devi-Bhagavata and the Devi-gita. You Vaisnavas are the only people who cannot even bear to hear the names of these two books.
Advaita: Have you read the Devi-gita?
Digambara: No. Why should I lie? I was going to copy these two books, but I still have not been able to do so.
Advaita: How can you say whether a book is good or bad when you have not even read it? Is it my faith or yours that is blind?
Digambara: Brother, I have been somewhat afraid of you ever since childhood. You were always very talkative, but now that you become a Vaisnava, you are even more assertive in expressing your views. Whatever I say, you cut to pieces.
Advaita: I am certainly a worthless fool, but I can see that there is no suddha-dharma apart from vaisnava-dharma. You were always inimical to the Vaisnavas, and that is why you could not even recognize the path to your own auspiciousness.
Digambara: (a little angry) Do you claim that I cannot see the path to my own auspiciousness, when I have performed so much sadhana and bhajana? Have I been cutting grass all this time to feed my horse? Just look at this Tantra-sangraha that I have written! Do you think it was a joke to produce a book like this? You arrogantly flaunt your Vaisnavism, and ridicule modern science and civilization. What am I to do about this? Come, let us go to a civilized assembly and see who will be judged right – you or me.
Advaita dasa wanted to be free from Digambara’s undesirable association as soon as possible, for he felt that this meeting was completely non-productive. “Well brother,” he said, “what use will your material science and civilization be at the time of death?”
Digambara: Kalidasa, you are really a strange fellow. Will anything remain after death? As long as you are alive, you should try to acquire fame among civilized men and enjoy the five pleasures: wine, meat, fish, wealth, and women. At the time of death, Mother Nistarini will arrange for you to go wherever you are meant to go. Death is certain, so why are you subjecting yourself to so much tribulation at present? Where will you be when the five elements of this body merge with the five great elements of material nature?
This world is maya, yogamaya and mahamaya. It is she who can award you happiness now and liberation after death. Nothing exists except sakti; you have come from sakti, and you will return to sakti in the end. Just serve sakti and witness the power of sakti in science. Try to increase your spiritual power through yoga discipline. In the end, you will see that there is nothing other than this imperceptible potency. Where did you get this far-fetched tale about a conscious supreme God? Your belief in such a story is making you suffer now, and I can’t fathom what destination you will attain in the next life that will be superior to ours. What is the need for a personal God? Just serve sakti, and when you merge into that sakti, you will remain there eternally.
Advaita: My brother, you have become infatuated with this material sakti. If there is an all-knowing Bhagavan, then what will happen to you after death? What is happiness? Happiness is peace of mind. I have given up all material pleasure, and found happiness in inner peace. If there is anything more to be achieved after death, I will attain that as well. You are not satisfied. The more you try to enjoy, the more your thirst for material pleasure expands. You do not even know what happiness is. You are simply drifting in the current of sensuality and calling out, “Pleasure! Pleasure!” but one day you will fall into an ocean of sorrow.
Digambara: Whatever will be my fate will be. But why have you abandoned the association of cultured men?
Advaita: I have not renounced the association of cultured men; rather, that is precisely what I have obtained. I am trying to give up the association of degenerate men.
Digambara: How do you define degenerate association?
Advaita: Please hear without becoming angry, and I will tell you.
Srimad-Bhagavatam says (4.30.33):
yavat te mayaya sprsta bhramama iha karmabhih
tavad bhavat-prasanganam sangah syan no bhave bhave
quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa (10.292)
O Bhagavan! We pray that as long as we are bewildered by Your illusory potency and are wandering in material existence under the influence of our karmic activities, we may have the association of Your premi bhaktas birth after birth.
It is said in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa (10.294):
asadbhih saha sangas tu na kartavyah kadacana
yasmat sarvartha-hanih syad adhah-patas ca jayate
One should never associate with people who are immersed in non-reality, for by such one is deprived of all worthwhile objects of attainment and falls down to a degraded position.
The Katyayana-samhita states:
varam hutavaha-jvala panjarantar-vyavasthitih
quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa (10.295)
Even if I should die in a blazing fire or be trapped for all time in a cage, I still do not want the company of persons averse to thinking of Krsna.
It is said in Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.31.33-34):
satyam saucam daya maunam buddhir hrir srir yasah ksama
samo damo bhagas ceti yat-sangad yati sanksayam
tesv asantesu mudhesu khanditatmasv asadhusu
sangam na kuryac chocyesu yosit-krida-mrgesu ca
quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa (10.297-298)
If one associates with those who are devoid of virtue, one’s good qualities – such as truthfulness, cleanliness, mercy, restraint of speech, intelligence, shyness, wealth, fame, forgiveness, control of the senses, control of the mind, and fortune – completely fade away. Therefore, one should never associate with disgraceful people who are agitated by desires for sense enjoyment, who are foolish, who are engrossed in the bodily conception of life, and who are playthings in the hands of women.
It is said in the Garuda Purana (231.17):
antargato ‘pi vedanam sarva-sastrartha-vedy api
yo na sarvesvare bhaktas tam vidyat purusadhamam
quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa (10.303)
One may have studied all the Vedas and be acquainted with the meaning of all the sastras, but if he is not a devotee of Sri Hari, he should be understood as the lowest of men.
Srimad-Bhagavatam (6.1.18) states:
prayascittani cirnani narayana-paranmukham
na nispunanti rajendra sura-kumbham ivapagah
quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa (10.305)
O King, just as the water of many rivers cannot purify a wine pot, similarly, a person who is averse to Sri Narayana cannot become purified by all the different types of atonement, even if they are executed perfectly again and again.
It is said in the Skanda Purana:
hanti nindati vai dvesti vaisnavan nabhinandati
krudhyate yati no harsam darsane patanani sat
quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa (10.312)
The six causes of downfall are to beat a Vaisnava, to slander him, to bear malice against him, to fail to welcome or please him, to display anger towards him, and to not feel pleasure upon seeing him.
Digambara, a person can never attain auspiciousness through these types of immoral association. What possible benefit can one gain by living in a society composed of such men? Digambara: Well now, what a distinguished gentleman I have come to speak with! You should certainly stay amidst the pure Vaisnavas. I am going to my own house.
Advaita dasa felt that his exchange with Digambara was drawing to a close, and that it would be appropriate to conclude on a pleasant note. In a courteous mood he said, “You are my childhood friend. I know you must return home, but I don’t want you to go just yet. You have come all this way, so please stay for a while. Take some prasada, and then you may go.”
Digambara: Kalidasa, you know very well that I follow a strict diet. I only eat havisya, and I had a meal just before coming here. However, it was a pleasure to see you. I will come again if I find the time. I cannot stay overnight because I have some duties to perform according to the system given to me by my guru. Brother, I must take my leave for today.
Advaita: I shall see you off to the boat. Let us go.
Digambara: No, no. Carry on with your own business. I have some men with me.
Digambara then went away, singing a song about Goddess Kali, and Advaita dasa was able to chant sri-nama in his kutira without further obstruction.
THUS ENDS THE NINTH CHAPTER OF JAIVA-DHARMA,
“NITYA-DHARMA, MATERIAL SCIENCE & CIVILIZATION”