On The Way To Our Orginal Home (Part Four)
In Vedic literatures there is a good deal of information about the material and spiritual skies. In the Second Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam there are descriptions of the spiritual sky and of its inhabitants. There is even information given that there are spiritual airplanes in the spiritual sky and that the liberated entities there travel about on these planes like lightning. Everything that we find here can also be found there in reality.
Here in the material sky everything is an imitation, or shadow, of that which exists in the spiritual sky. As in a cinema we simply see a show or facsimile of the real thing, in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is said that this material world is but a combination of matter modeled after the reality, just as a mannequin of a girl in a store window is modeled after a girl. Every sane man knows that the mannequin is an imitation. Śrīdhara Svāmī says that because the spiritual world is real, this material world, which is an imitation, appears to be real. We must understand the meaning of reality – reality means existence which cannot be vanquished; reality means eternity.
nāsato vidyate bhāvo
nābhāvo vidyate sataḥ
ubhayor api dṛṣṭo ’ntas
tv anayos tattva-darśibhiḥ
“Those who are seers of the truth have concluded that of the nonexistent there is no endurance, and of the existent there is no cessation. This seers have concluded by studying the nature of both.” (Gītā 2.16)
Real pleasure is Kṛṣṇa, whereas material pleasure, which is temporary, is not actual. Those who can see things as they are do not take part in shadow pleasure. The real aim of human life is to attain to the spiritual sky, but as Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam points out, most people do not know about it. Human life is meant to understand reality and to be transferred into it. All Vedic literature instructs us not to remain in this darkness. The nature of this material world is darkness, but the spiritual world is full of light and yet is not illumined by fire or electricity. Kṛṣṇa hints of this in the fifteenth chapter of the Bhagavad-gītā (15.6):
na tad bhāsayate sūryo
na śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥ
yad gatvā na nivartante
tad dhāma paramaṁ mama
“That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.”
The spiritual world is called unmanifested because it cannot be perceived by the material senses.
avyakto ’kṣara ity uktas
tam āhuḥ paramāṁ gatim
yaṁ prāpya na nivartante
tad dhāma paramaṁ mama
“That supreme abode is called unmanifested and infallible, and it is the supreme destination. When one goes there, he never comes back. That is My supreme abode.” (Gītā 8.21)
A great journey is indicated in this verse. We have to be able to penetrate outer space, traverse the material universe, penetrate its covering, and enter the spiritual sky. Paramāṁ gatim – that journey is supreme. There is no question of going a few thousand miles away from this planet and then returning. This sort of journey is not very heroic. We have to penetrate the whole material universe. This we cannot do by spaceships but by Kṛṣṇa consciousness. One who is absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and who at the time of death thinks of Kṛṣṇa is at once transferred there. If we at all want to go to that spiritual sky and cultivate eternal, blissful life, full of knowledge, we will have to begin now to cultivate a sac-cid-ānanda body. It is said that Kṛṣṇa has a sac-cid-ānanda body – īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ – and we also have a similar body of eternity, knowledge, and bliss, but it is very small and is covered by the dress of matter. If somehow or other we are able to give up this false dress, we can reach that spiritual kingdom. If once we can attain that spiritual world, return is not necessary (yaṁ prāpya na nivartante).
Everyone, then, should try to go to that dhāma paramam – Kṛṣṇa’s supreme abode. Kṛṣṇa Himself comes to call us, and He gives us literatures as guidebooks and sends His bona fide representatives. We should take advantage of this facility given to human life. For one who reaches that supreme abode, penances, austerities, yogic meditations, and so on are no longer required, and for one who does not reach it, all penances and austerities are a useless waste of time.
The human form of life is an opportunity to get this boon, and it is the duty of the state, parents, teachers, and guardians to elevate those who have acquired this human form of life to attain this perfection of life. Simply eating, sleeping, mating, and quarreling like cats and dogs is not civilization. We should properly utilize this human form of life and take advantage of this knowledge to prepare ourselves in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, so that twenty-four hours of the day we will be absorbed in Kṛṣṇa and at death at once transfer to that spiritual sky.
puruṣaḥ sa paraḥ pārtha
bhaktyā labhyas tv ananyayā
yena sarvam idaṁ tatam
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is greater than all, is attainable by unalloyed devotion. Although He is present in His abode, He is all-pervading, and everything is situated within Him.” (Gītā 8.22)
If we are at all interested in reaching that supreme abode, the process, as indicated here, is bhakti. Bhaktyā means devotional service, submission to the Supreme Lord. The root word for bhaktyā is bhaj, which means “service.” The definition of bhakti given in the Nārada Pañcarātra is “freedom from designation.” If one is determined to get out of all the designations that are attached to the pure spirit soul, and which arise due to the body and are always changed when the body is changed, one can attain to bhakti. Bhakti is realizing that one is pure spirit and not matter at all. Our real identity is not this body, which is simply a covering of the spirit, but our real identity is dāsa, servant of Kṛṣṇa. When one is situated in his real identity and is rendering service to Kṛṣṇa, he is a bhakta. Hṛṣīkeṇa hṛṣīkeśa-sevanam: when our senses are free from material designations, we will utilize them in the service of the master of the senses, Hṛṣīkeśa, or Kṛṣṇa.
As Rūpa Gosvāmī points out, we have to serve Kṛṣṇa favorably. Generally we want to serve God for some material purpose or gain. Of course, one who goes to God for material gain is better than one who never goes, but we should be free from desire for material benefit. Our aim should be to understand Kṛṣṇa. Of course Kṛṣṇa is unlimited, and it is not possible to understand Him, but we have to accept what we can understand. The Bhagavad-gītā is specifically presented for our understanding. Through receiving knowledge in this way, we should know that Kṛṣṇa is pleased, and we should serve Him favorably, according to His pleasure. Kṛṣṇa consciousness is a great science with immense literatures, and we should utilize them for the attainment of bhakti.
Puruṣaḥ sa paraḥ: in the spiritual sky, the Supreme Lord is present as the Supreme Person. There are innumerable self-luminous planets there, and in each one an expansion of Kṛṣṇa resides. They are four-armed and have innumerable names. They are all persons – they are not impersonal. These puruṣas, or persons, can be approached by bhakti, not by challenge, philosophical speculation, or mental concoctions, nor by physical exercises, but by devotion without the deviations of fruitive activity.
What is the puruṣaḥ, the Supreme Person, like? Yasyāntaḥ-sthāni bhūtāni yena sarvam idaṁ tatam: every living entity and everything is within Him, and yet He is without, all-pervading. How is that? He is just like the sun, which is situated in one place and yet is present all over by its rays. Although God is situated in His dhāma paramam, His energies are distributed everywhere. Nor is He different from His energies, inasmuch as the sunshine and the sun are nondifferent. Since Kṛṣṇa and His energies are nondifferent, we can see Kṛṣṇa everywhere if we are advanced in devotional service.
santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti
“I worship the original Personality of Godhead, Govinda, whom the pure devotees whose eyes are smeared with the ointment of love of Godhead always observe within their hearts.” (Bs. 5.38)
Those who are filled with love of God see God constantly before them. It is not that we saw God last night and He is no longer present. No. For one who is Kṛṣṇa conscious, Kṛṣṇa is always present and can be perceived constantly. We simply have to develop the eyes to see Him.
Due to our material bondage, the covering of the material senses, we cannot understand what is spiritual. But this ignorance can be removed by this process of chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa. How is this? A sleeping man may be awakened by sound vibration. Although a man may be for all intents and purposes unconscious – he cannot see, feel, smell, etc. – the sense of hearing is so prominent that a sleeping man may be awakened just by sound vibration. Similarly, the spirit soul, although now overpowered by the sleep of material contact, can be revived by this transcendental sound vibration of Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. Hare Kṛṣṇa is simply an address to the Supreme Lord and His energies. Hare means energy, and Kṛṣṇa is the name of the Supreme Lord, so when we chant Hare Kṛṣṇa we are saying, “O energy of the Lord, O Lord, please accept me.” We have no other prayer for acceptance by the Lord. There is no question of praying for daily bread, for the bread is always there. Hare Kṛṣṇa is but an address to the Supreme Lord, requesting Him to accept us. Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself prayed,
ayi nanda-tanuja kiṅkaraṁ
patitaṁ māṁ viṣame bhavāmbudhau
kṛpayā tava pāda-paṅkaja-
“O son of Mahārāja Nanda, I am Your eternal servitor, and although I am so, somehow or other I have fallen in the ocean of birth and death. Please, therefore, pick me up from this ocean of death and fix me as one of the atoms at Your lotus feet.” (Śikṣāṣṭaka 5)