Rupnaam Vibheden Jagat Kridati Yo Yagnyaha |
Swarupe Tu Trayo Bhedaha Kriyagnyanavibhedataha Visheshhen
Swarupen Kriya Gnyanavto Harehe Vishishte Vachakam
Gita ShriBhagwatmev Ch Kevale Kanddwitayam Vedo
(T.di.Ni 2/89 – 90 )
Vedante Ch Smrutao Bramhag Bhagwate Tatha |
Bramhoti Parmatmeti Bhagwaniti Shabdayate ||
Atra Prameyam Vishishtarupama Yasya
Ekaikoshaha Kaanddwayen Pratipadhyate
Sa Gnyan Kriyobhayyutaha
The same Brahman is called “Bramha” in Vedanta in Smriti (Gita) he is called Parmatma and in the Bhagwat he is called as Bhagwan.
In Purvakanda (i.e. Sanhita, Brahmana and Aranyakas of the Vedas) the aspect of action of Brahman is prescribed. The Uttarkaanda (i.e. is the Upanishads of the Vedas) the aspect of knowledge of Brahman is described. The totality of Brahman is described in Bhagwat Puran i.e. the above said two divine aspects/powers as well as the divine person Himself. The different rituals and meditations related to various rewards that the Vedas prescribe, concerning the various subordinate divine forms of Him, are nothing but the partial expressions of His powers of action and knowledge while Bhagwat Puran emphasizes the devotion for Krshna who is the Supreme reality/ person and whose divine sport is this entire creation. So all sorts of minor deities, ultimately belong to the one Supreme God.
So Shri Vallabhacharyaji says:
“Param Bramha Tu Krushno Hi, Sachidanandakam Bruhat”
“Dvirupam Taddhisarvam Rachat Ekam Tasmat Vibhakshanam” (Shri Mukt 3)
Atmarati = Nirupadhibhava:
Upanishad describes Brahman as “Atmarati Atmamithuna Atmananda”. Upanishad also speaks of certain as an expression of self-delightment, self-consciousness & self-dependent being of Brahman. I have already explained that the bliss aspect of Brahman is concealed in partial expression of consciousness of Brahman i.e. the individual souls. These divine powers of manifestation ant concealment is again explained in two broad categories:
- substantially or functionally.
- noumenally or phenomenally.
In all the beings of creation, the bliss aspect of Brahman, though, substantially may be present yet the created being may not function as blissful being. Or it may be allowed by god to partially function as blissful being, if god wills so, yet He may not allow any empirical evidence for the same. Therefore though nominally it may be blissful part of Brahman yet phenomenally it may not appear to be so. There is also a possibility of some such forms where the bliss aspect of Brahman might be substantially absent. Thus the bliss aspect of the Brahman, phenomenally concealed, may functionally reveal itself in any of Brahmic part.
That self-delightment or bliss aspect of Brahman, when gets outlet through the different layers of individual consciousness, internal mental functions, external sense/motor organs & finally through our physical body towards sensual objects or persons, it is to be understood as worldly attachment. This is the most extrovert expression of self-delightment of Brahman. Because of concealment of bliss aspect, none of sensual objects can ever delight us. Yet these objects can act like a mirror reflection of the Brahmic self-delightment, which gets outlet through the above said media. Thus worldly attachment is nothing but fake reflection of self-delightment of the blissful Brahman.
It will not serve any purpose, if we do not try to understand this fakeness also in light of Mahaprabhus own philosophy. So in example of mirror-a mirror is an objective reality & the act of reflection as well as experience of it are also real occurrences, yet the result i.e. mirror-image is only a non-substantial appearance. Similarly sensuous objects are real, their act of reflecting the Brahmic self-delightment is also a real occurrence yet the delighting nature of worldly objects is fake image of the said self-delightment. This is how the whole is enjoying it’s own nature. Substantially our physical bodies as well as sense-objects are nothing but Brahman, though they may not function as Brahman.
Therefore the direction of self-delightment from Brahman to world is a direction of creation, while devotion involves just the opposite direction of it.
Thus to enjoy any visible form, when, we enjoy our own power of vision, to enjoy our power of vision we enjoy our mental function, to enjoy our mental function we enjoy our own consciousness; & to enjoy our consciousness we may also enjoy God or His providence. But then such extrovert root of enjoyment of God too is not a case of devotion. It is merely a chain of reflections going on producing false images, at all the stages & finally getting itself superimposed upon God too!
Contrary to this order devotion arises, when an individual soul loves visible form because he loves his own eyes, he loves his own eyes, because through the eyes only his mind can become aware of visible forms, he loves his mental faculties because he loves his consciousness because he loves God, who is full of self-delightment. This indeed becomes the case of partaking of partsome consciousness in self-delightment of the Whole.
Mere theoretical awareness of this truth does not suffice but practical & sincere involvement within the self-delightsome God is the true nature of devotion. Thus when one loves God merely on account of His attribute of self-delightment, that one may feel in love for God, it is a case or revelation of pure Brahmic Self-delightment & through individual soul’s angle it is called ‘Nirupadhi-bhava’ i.e. unmotivated love for the Supreme Self.
Mahaprabhu says in this connection:
All the individual souls love their physical bodies, theirs relation & the sensual objects too, not because these bodies etc. have any power to delight their soul, but because there is a deep rooted desire in every soul for the Brahmic Self-Delightment. This deep rooted desire remains unsatisfied till it finds its true object. All worldly desires for any other object are motivated by the unconscious search for this Brahmic Self-delightment. Love is not an ordinary want, as it cannot be defined as a want for pleasure, because a lover may sometime inflict pain on himself due to love. Therefore it is unique attribute of & for God. It is like divine knowledge & other lordly attributes of God. Due to introvert emotional proximity of God, it gets transmitted in our consciousness & through consciousness elsewhere also e.g. as heat of fire gets transmitted to other objects when they are near fire.
Goswami Vitthalnath, the second son of Mahaprabhu, says in this connection –
All the creatures relish the trifling units of this great Self-delightment. All sorts of experiences of delightment, from a level of human being to the level of creator Brahma, are accountable small or big parts of this unaccountably great Self-delightment of the Supreme Being. It is unexceptionally distributed in different proportions among all conscious beings.
Mahatmyajnanapurvaka Sudrdha Sarvatodhika Sneha:
At this layer, Self-delightment should acquire form of all-exceeding unflinching love for the God following the awareness of His greatness or His lonely worthiness for being the object of love.
One can have all-exceeding unflinching love for God only when one is aware of Him as one’s own innermost self. The greatness or worthiness can be recognized, if some one is certain that God alone is the creator sustainer destroyer of the universe. He alone is the Supreme Lord & Self of this universe. Bhagwata Purana serves both these purposes.
Thus divine Self-delightment, only when uncovered on account of the true awareness of God, can acquire true character of devotion. This divine awareness-cum-affection is the true definition of the devotion for God as the God. Here awareness does not cause this affection but it only allows us to discover Him within ourselves. Therefore no other antecedent is permissible. Devotion must not be caused by desire for achieving any of these worldly rewards like money, fame, comforts etc. or other-worldly things like heavenly pleasure etc. Having such unconditioned love for Him & due to intensity of such love for Him, which may sometime generate the feeling of identity between lover & beloved, in such apex stage of devotion if awareness of divine greatness is lost, then that too is considered as the most praiseworthy. The affection for Him must not be caused by any other motive because motivated love for God cannot be regarded as the expression of pure Self-delightment. It is rather a polluted one.
At present, some of the gurus of this sect are unhesitatingly advocating the profession of devotional worship as a permissible course in our sect, on the basis of practice & custom of the sect. A book named ‘Vimarsha’ published few years back by the claimants of the sixth seat of this sect provides an example of the new trend. But otherwise Mahaprabhu’s second son & the co-founder of the Vallabh sect Goswami Shri Vitthalnath, in his short treatise named ‘The swan of devotion’, clearly says that any devotional practice done due to motive of earning livelihood or fame etc. is merely a worldly profession like farming. Moreover it is sinful, also, like using holy water of Ganges in toilet, after defecation.
Sarvasamarpana-purvika Vrajbhakta-bhavna-sahita-citta-tanu-vitta-viniyogatmika Seva:
Coming to the third & salient layer of devotion, what we get are the three important factors:
Sarvasamarpana i.e. total dedication of one’s own self along with all the belongings. This is neither an act of renunciation nor a tendency of possessing what belongs to us for our own sake. ‘Dedication’ means possessing whatever that belongs to us for the sake of worship of God. This is taken as a Vow at the time of initiation called ‘Brahmasambandh’. Theoretically it was the initiation for worshipping Shri Krshna but nowadays this initiation is given for admitting a person into this cult. Therefore neither the readiness for devotion on part of the followers is checked, which is a must according to the old treatise concerning devotion, nor followers also so initiated normally show any inclination for such mode of devotion.
The second factor is ‘citta-tanu-vitta-viniyoga’ in service of Shri Krshna. Here ‘cittas viniyoga’ i.e. employing mind in the service of Shri Krshna is to be taken as sincere & intense involvement, one has to employ one’s own body & own money in service of Shri Krshna. Theoretically there was a strict prohibition for the bifurcation of body & money to be used for worship. That means, as Vitthalnath Prabhucharan says: ‘money must not be given to others for the sake of worship nor money should be taken from others for the sake of worship’. At present 99.9% of the temples of this sect do receive money from public. And public, at large, also think that monetary contribution for worship in the temples is the most pious religious duty in Pushtimarg founded by Mahaprabhu.
The third factor i.e. emulation of sentiments of Vraja-devotees is an internal & unobservable personal factor. For the accomplishment of this purpose, the poems narrating these sentiments are to be sung. This practice of singing is, at least still surviving though not with full vigour.
Puranokta Navadha Bhakti:At this layer, the rituals prescribed for devotional worship are incorporated in service. Broadly speaking these are threefold exercises connected with speech mind and body of devotee. Sravana=listening, Kirtana=recitation, Smarana=recollection are the threefold exercise respectively connected with body speech and mind of beginner of devotion. Padasevana=service, Arcana=offering flowers, tulsi-leaf, ornaments, clothes, perfumes, foods, etc. Vandana=showing reverence —-are the three devotional rites respectively connected with body speech and mind of little advanced stage. Dasya=humbleness, Sakhya=friendliness and lastly Atmanivedan=self-dedication, which is already mentioned before as initiation but here as daily reviving of that sentiment, are the three rites respectively connected with body speech and mind of more advanced devotee. Mahaprabhu saysBeing aware of the identity of this world with Brahman, or at least being aware of the fact that this world owes it’s being to Brahman, if someone loving serves the Lord Hari with all the nine rites of listening, etc, such devotee should be regarded as the best type of devotee. If someone lacks either in love for the Lord or in knowledge of Him, such devotee should be known as of mediocre type. But he who lacks in both love as well as knowledge, yet serves the Lord, such person should be understood as merely a sinless soul the beginner but not a devotee. If such beginner practices religious austerity and detachment along with nine fold devotional rite, he may acquire divine knowledge. Or if such beginner practices eightfold yoga along with nine fold devotional rites, he will be able to develop love for God.15
Nor any such synthesis, of either two or all the three methods, he is unthinkable in his framework of worship.Yet as Bertrand Rousell has said in ‘Nightmares of eminent persons’: “It is a fate of rebel to found new orthodoxies” has come to be quite true! What Mahaprabhu has preached is not now acceptable to his successors and sect. What the successors and sect regard as their most demanding obligation was perhaps not even dreamt by the founder of this tradition.So what we are left with this, in the very wordings of Mahaprabhu, “All the spiritual paths are destroyed, the prevailing ages and age of all the crucked duties, due to ignorance of the meanings and ignorance of the applications of the mantras, they have lost their efficacies, due to puzzling multiplicity of the theories and isms people have lost the sense of commitment for the observance of self-taken spiritual vow. So Krshna alone is the refuge!
Thus this daily repetition of nine fold devotional practice has its theoretical importance in service of Krshna. Could the followers of this tradition have been able to retain that personal and private character of devotion intact, it would have been quite possible for them to maintain the integrity of this layer. But due to pressure of modern busy life, and the institutional mode of devotion has become so much fashionable that in the public temples of this sect, a majority of the devotees never bother for listening what is being sung as part of worship. The salaried singers on the job of singing devotional poems do not adhere to practice any other eight rites except reciting those poems. The public, who comes to have ‘darsana’ i.e. glimpse of the Deity being worshipped, is not even allowed to touch the feet of the Deity. So question of making any follower, or even a regular visitor, eligible for ‘Padasevana’ is never anticipated! And the salaried staff, many a time not even believing in this particular tradition of devotion, is kept simply to look after the service of Deity. That staff being not interested in any kind of devotional/spiritual development, goes for strike and lockout for increment in salary. The modern labour law covers the temples under the Industrial Act and allow the employees to form a union of temple servants. Apparently, practitioners of nine fold devotional rites are, if not an extinct species in pushtimarga, day by day they are becoming rare species indeed!.
Smrti-Sutrokta Varnasramadharma Saucacara:Mahaprabhu says in this connection- The obligatory duties prescribed, in Smrtis and Sutras, for the respective Varnas and Asramas should be observed as far as possible. These duties should not be ignored if one is capable to perform them. Even scriptural injunction make this duties obligatory, only if, one is capable to observe them. So far as one has strong convictions of what Varna or Asrama one’s body belongs to, one must not be negligent of the obligation pertaining to that particular Varna and Asrama. But if such conviction is shaken and this soul becomes aware of its own nature, that it neither belongs to any Varna nor to any Asrama, with such awareness only devotional service of God becomes paramount duty of that particular soul.16 But Mahaprabhu himself has clarified all the confusion about the priority between the physical duty pertaining to Varnasrama and the spiritual duty of the devotional service to the Lord, when he speaks of how the age-old crumbling system of Varnasrama has become an utter flop in present age. Therefore devotion of God is only our recourse left. In spite of this confession, Mahaprabhu advises his followers not to make any hypocrisy in this matter of either blindly breaking all the rules of Varnasrama.17 This is very delicate situation where no collective decision can ever be taken. Each individual has to introspect his own capacity and circumstances for deciding as to what is practically possible for him to observe and what guideline of Varnasram duty is not possible for him to observe. This is merely a theoretical appreciation. But the practice, in the present day, is in absolute chaotic situation. For example in modern cities the age-old water supplying system of wells has become hazardous to health due to leakage of the underground drainages. The followers, therefore, can not be compelled to use only well-water; and hence they are not permitted by many of the gurus to worship in their home. Sastras are silent over the permissibility of the municipal tap-water so the followers are not allowed to worship in their own home!.
This has become more tragic affair for this Sect as many of the gurus have already started using tap-water for their own sake but still they think that in worship of Krshna tap-water is not permissible. Thus originally Varnasramadharma had a protective dermal utility which has now turned up into cancerous dermatitis!. The unique culture of worshipping Krshna in one’s own hoe without any intermediatory priest craft has lost it’s appeal and just the opposite of it has become rampant practice in this sect. In the treatise called ‘Bhaktivardhini’, Mahaprabhu had unambiguously preached that to strengthen the sentient of devotion one has to nurture the seed of it i.e. the worship of Krshna is to be performed in one’s own home. All of the nine commentators who have explained this passage admit the efficacy of one’s own home to acquire the intended development of devotion, but the public temples have become the necessary evil in our sect. The main reason is said dermatitis of –“this is pure and this is not pure in worship of Krshna!” The followers’ mass still has quite strong faith in this particular mode of worship but their entry is not permissible in Sanctum Sanctorum of the public temple because they are not Brahmanas. The Brahmanas allowed to enter there and touch the Deity, normally accept initiation not due to faith but for the sake of employment and salary!
Abhista Sukhada Laukika Raga Bhoga Srngara Viniyoga: The food, ornamentation, decoration and music were merely outermost layer of this devotion, has now come out to be the most significant feature of the devotion in Vallabha’s sect!What Mahaprabhu has to say in this connection can be easily understood by below given quotation from his own words: Darsna, in worship, should nicely be clothed and adorned with all affections. If wife and other family-members alike are interested, then their co-operation in worship can be taken. In case of their being indifferent in worship one should worship alone. If they interfere in our worship then they should be forsaken. No fault occurs in renouncement of the relatives who oppose Visnu…whatever is the most desirous, the dearest and particularly what delights our heart should be offered to Krshna in his worship. No troublesome things should be offered in worship to the Lord.
The troublesome things can be classified in three possible ways: 1. that which is considered as trouble some in general public, 2. that which may cause the trouble in to the self; and then 3. that which may cause trouble in our mind. Therefore only non-troublesome things are to be offered in worship. Things like mangoes or grapes, easily available fruits, are considered in non-troublesome by general public. Krshna in Vraja was very fond of milk etc. Anything that we earn or acquire morally and legally, where none has any claim, and if we have relished the idea to acquire it for long time, it delights our hearts, such things are to be offered in worship and not otherwise.17 Thus we regard Mahaprabhu as a unique revolutionary preacher, who without being entangled into any conflict with the age-old customs and usage of worship in India, has introduced and preached by wonderful new approach in worship. He is really a matchless figure in this respect. Beside one more fact that the non-dualistic vendantin thinkers of India always exalted knowledge, in comparison to devotion or action. The dualistic vendantin thinkers exalted devotion in comparison to knowledge or action. Sometime synthesis also, of all the three methods, is sort as only recourse. But in case of Mahaprabhu’s system of thought, we find that his model of framework, does not require rejection of either duality or non-duality. At the same time he thoroughly keeps non-dualism as the general thought of theoretical basis while most of the practical advantage is of the dualism in favour of devotion are never lost. He does not require the synthesis of all the three methods of knowledge action and devotion.