Teachings of Lord Chaitanya to Sanatana Goswami

Do you feel Spiritual practice can end Maya in our lives?

In the famous first meeting of the great sage Sanatana Goswami, who once served the Nawab of Bengal during the Muslim rule of India, about 540 years ago, put forth three fundamental questions to The Supreme Lord, Sriman Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the great devotee-incarnation of Lord Sri Krishna. The first one was “Who Am I? The second question was “On what grounds are we suffering the three types of fires namely Adidaivik (आदिदैविक), which is suffering caused due to natural disasters; Adibhautik (आदिभौतिक), which is caused by other living entities and Adhyatmik (आध्यात्मिक) which is suffering caused to us by our own bodies and mind.” The third query that he put forward to the Supreme Lord, in the form of a devotee was “By what means can we become blessed?” It is to be understood that “Me or mine” that we usually refer to in our ignorance, does not allude to the body, mind, intellect, subtle body nor the causal body. That “me” is the supernal divine principle which is called jeev (जीव). This definition is in line with the Bhakti principles as enunciated by the followers of the Bhakti movement. This jeev is intensely alive which also enlivens the device in which it lives, namely the body.

Going by this argument even the body becomes alive, owing to the power of the jeev. This jeev also represents the marginal potency of the Lord, Supreme or Bhagawan. There are three aspects of the Supreme Being or Bhagawan namely Chit Shakti (चित्शक्ति), Jeev Shakti (जीशक्ति) and Maya Shakti (मायाशक्ति). Chit Shakti refers to the direct knowledge aspect of the Supreme Being. The Jeev can never be a part of that magnanimous Knowledge aspect. Maya Shakti refers to the material or inert aspect of the Supreme Being. Jeev Shakti can never belong to inertness. The Jeev Shakti is a special aspect of the Lord’s potency and it is seen as the separated part and parcel of the Lord’s potency. The term “separated” is used to indicate that the jeev, roughly known as the living entity has turned its back to the Supreme Lord since time immemorial. The jeev has turned its attention outward, looking at Maya Shakti, in a direction opposite to where the Lord exists. The direction opposite to Bhagawan or the Supreme Lord is the arena of Maya alone. Because of this situation, Maya gains control over the jeev or the living entity. It is this control of Maya that forces the living entity or jeev to revolve in the cycle of 8.4 million life species.

The living entity expects Ananda (आनंद), bliss, joy or happiness out of other living entities, where the living entity has no idea about the source of Ananda, bliss or happiness. This is the irony. One fails to realize that Ananda and Bhagawan mean the same thing. If one has not realized Bhagawan, how can one dream of any happiness, joy or bliss. Even a drop of joy becomes unattainable when one has turned his back towards Bhagawan. The living entities try to cheat, manipulate and dupe each other in pursuit of all-evasive happiness. This is the height of the Jeev’s or living entity’s fool-hardiness. The living entity gets hurt and punished ten times a day. One might hear someone say “The world is selfish and ungrateful.” Yet the person saying this never learns his lesson and continues to chase joy in a place where there is no joy just as the dog tries to chase its own tail. The intellect has become so blunt that one is happy to commit the same mistake several times a day. Even if there is a sage who points the right direction towards attaining Ananda, happiness, bliss; how many in the world  pay heed to his words? If at all some attention is paid to this sage, people look forward towards finding a platform to promote themselves wanting to make a living out of it. This is the irony. One may be tempted to blame Maya Devi for her ill-treatment trying to retain her supremacy on the jeev. What one fails to understand is that Maya Devi is our Supreme well-wisher. She is there to teach many lessons to us because we have turned our backs to the Lord and found Her interesting. The more we go to Her, the more she teaches us severe lessons. Her beatings are so powerful that one day, the realization shall sink within us, either in this lifetime or in some other that we have been heading in a totally wrong direction. What we have been imagining about happiness was just an illusion.

We, the living entities are minute particles of the Lord, who have forgotten our Source. We are a particle of the knowledge aspect of the Lord but since our knowledge is directed towards Maya we have become separated parts and parcels of the Lord. The Lord is known as “Vibhu Chit” (विभुचित the Supreme Knowledge) while the living entity is called “Anu chit” (अणुचित carriers of limited and incomplete knowledge about matter).

To the first question “Who am I”, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu answered thus

The living entity is the separated part and parcel of the Lord. He is the eternal servant of the Lord. The living entity is Atomic while the Lord is Magnanimous. The living entity is ageless and so is the Lord. However the living entity cannot do anything on its own. It is the one who is ruled by the Lord. The living entity enjoys or suffers the fruit of Karma while the Lord is the witness to this without participating in the play of Karma.

To the second question “On what grounds are we suffering?” the Lord answered thus

We suffer because we do not know our true Nature and do not know where our happiness lies. Since, out of ignorance we pursue Maya, we get belabored by Her viciously as we have our backs turned towards the Lord, thinking that our welfare is in Maya. Due to this folly we are in a state of continuous punishment from Her . She continues to maul us by making us bitterly suffer until such time that we turn our back towards Her one day and face the Lord.

To the third question “How can I be blessed?” the Lord said

When one accepts the Lord as one’s own and turns towards the Lord and surrenders to Him and accepts His form, qualities, His pastimes, His glories in one’s heart, one shall be relieved from the suffering of the material world. Prarabdha Karma ( प्रारब्ध कर्म Karma which is at the stage of fruition) shall still remain while Aprarabdha (अप्रारब्ध कर्म Karma that shall bear fruits later in this life or in future lifetimes)  as well as Sanchita Karma (संचित कर्म Pending Karma of many past lives) shall burn to ashes. However when one becomes a pure devotee he shall be relieved of all suffering.

One can be blessed when one accepts the eternal service of the Lord through thought, word and deed. One becomes blessed when one realizes that there is an eternal domain of the Supreme Lord beyond the domain of the light of Brahman where the pure devotees shall reside in eternal service to the Lord, in the eternal land of Bliss. When one attains a spiritual mind and a spiritual body so that pure consciousness operates with these faculties that shall be the blessed state to be in. This is a domain and not a state of conscious existence called liberation that Advaitins talk about. The spiritual land of Ayodhya, the spiritual land of Goloka Vrindavana are those domains that shall deliver blessedness to the pure devotee as he shall be relieved from the material world once and for all.

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