According to Indian medical authorities, in the body is air, bile, and mucus, which correspond to air, fire, and water, three elements in the ether that influence the earth. Earth is mainly influenced by water, and water by heat, heat by air, and all are fighting, struggling within ether. This is the nature of the material world. Then there is the mental world, the manifestation of the mental energy: «I want this, I do not want that; I like this, I don’t like that.» And, the intelligence gives direction to the mind: «Don’t take this, take that.» But it is all within the ahankar, material ego. Above that is the soul, who experiences everything, good or bad. He is called purusa:

purusah sukha-duhkhanam bhoktrtve hetur uchyate
(Bhagavad-gita: 13.21)

«It is established that it is the conditioned living being, purusa himself, who is the responsible cause of the feelings of joy and sorrow which he experiences in this world.»

This is the difference between spirit and matter. Matter, called prakrti, is energy, but the soul, purusa, experiences good and bad; he is the person who feels good or bad, sorrow or happiness. He is of one substance, and that which is felt is of another:

karya-karana-kartrtve hetuh prakrtir uchyate
(Bhagavad-gita: 13.21)

«Certainly in this impermanent world all movement occurs through the inherent quality of the predominated material nature, prakrti, which is responsible for both cause (the force of the senses) and effect (the material body).»

So all the activity we find here, all movement, is due to that material energy, and the feeler of everything, the knower, the conceiver, is the soul. The soul is like the eye, an eye seeing anything and everything.

In sankhya philosophy, this prakrti-purusa relationship has been compared to that of a blind man and a crippled man. A crippled man may ride on the shoulder of a blind man. He who is moving (prakrti) is blind; and he who is crippled, who is on his shoulder (purusa), has got eyes to see and can guide. The soul is ‘crippled’; he cannot move, but he can see. The blind man is the commander of the energy, who can move here and there; he can carry, but he is blind. In this way, soul is the knower, the feeler, the subjective existence, and the energetic aspect is that of the force, prakrti. So, there is force and consciousness.

We are so much engrossed with force; we only require the force, the energy, and we have forgotten that we are the feeler of that force! That ‘feeler’ is astonishing; if we try to understand our own self, we will be dumbfounded: «Oh, what is this? I am of such a nature! I have nothing to do with this world of mortality; I can live independently of this mortal world? Is it so?»

Then we will be able to understand further, that there is Supersoul. In the material world there are so many different planes: the world of heat, that of water, of air. Everything is evolving from a more subtle plane down to gross things, like stone or wood. Just as there is development in this direction in the material world, so in the subjective world there is also development, but upwards, from the soul to Supersoul, to Super-Supersoul; in this way there is development, and it is infinite. And we are tatastha, marginal; our soul is in the marginal position, between higher and lower, between the subtle side and the gross side. The upper side is eternal, it is sat-chit-ananda, eternal, conscious, and happy; and here: asat, achit, nirananda. It is asat, flickering, every minute it is dying; and achit, unconscious; and nirananda, with no feeling of joy or happiness. These are the respective natures of this world, and of that world. And if we want to have association with that world, we are told that in the highest position there is infinite beauty, love, and ecstasy. That world can come down to us, and we can be taken in as one of the Lord’s own family members. We can live as a family member with the highest Entity of that world! Mahaprabhu told us it is possible, but only through affection, and not by knowledge or any mystic realisation. By affection and love we can attract Him in such a way that we can be given recognition as a family member, a position very near to Him — to such an extent it is possible.

In Bhagavad-gita the Lord says:

tato mam tattvato jnatva visate tad anantaram
(Bhagavad-gita: 18.55)

«After realising My proper position, they enter there; that is, into My own special jurisdiction, into My family.» And the Bhagavatam says:

mayatma-bhuyaya cha kalpate vai
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 11.29.34)

«They get such high recognition which qualifies them to live with Me eternally, as My own. If they selflessly come forward to satisfy Me, leaving aside everything, ananya bhajan, if they want Me alone and nothing else, then such is their future prospect.»

martyo yada tyakta-samasta-karma
niveditatma vichikirsito me
tadamrtatvam pratipadyamano
mayatma-bhuyaya cha kalpate vai
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 11.29.34)

Sanatan Goswami has analysed what is the proper meaning of this expression atma-bhuyaya: «My own», they become «My own». What is the meaning of «own»? He says it means to enter into His family; and «family» means there is gradation: the servant; the friends and their associates, the filial affection group; the guardian group; and then the highest group, that of consorthood.

There is one story I heard from my godbrother Vaikhanas Maharaj, who was a brahman scholar of Orissa, about an incident which occurred in recent history, in connection with the Jagannath Temple at Puri, where it was customary that no khechuranna (khichuri) used to be offered to the Lord.

Once there was a raid by the Mohammedans on Orissa, and one of the girls of the royal family was abducted for the pleasure of the Mohammedan general, by his soldiers. He later left the state, but that girl was left on the outskirts of some village or town, and there she gave birth to a child who was a great devotee. It was a very peculiar thing: the girl was also a devotee, but somehow she had to undergo such a horrible experience. She gave birth to a child, and he lived on the outskirts of that town. When he grew up, he used to cook khichuri, that is, rice and beans cooked together, boiled into a half-liquid consistency, and he used to offer that to Jagannath from afar. By dint of his devotion, Jagannath had to go there and accept that khichuri offering.

One day the boy was perhaps late in his offering. Jagannath took the khichuri, but the time was then late for the temple offering, so He had to run back to install Himself in His position in the temple, and a particle of that khichuri was on His lips. The pandas, the pujaris (the priestly class), noticed: «What is this? How has this happened? We can detect this is not the proper offering to Jagannath. How is it here on His lips?» So it was referred to the leader of the pandas, and he also searched, but he could not ascertain the cause. Then it was taken to the king, and he also investigated it, «Who has taken this food and smeared it on the mouth of Jagannath?»

Finally the priest who had been in charge at the time of the offering of food in the temple was apprehended: «You are responsible! You were in charge of the temple at the time of Jagannath’s offering, then how has this impure thing come in His mouth? You must explain, or you will be punished.» The man was innocent, and he said, «I do not know anything. I do not know anything!»

Then, when he was about to be punished, Jagannath came in a dream to the king as well as to the leading priest: «That man is innocent. Don’t disturb him. On the outskirts of the town is My devotee. He offered that food to Me, and I ate it, but the time was late, and I had to hurry back to occupy My position in the temple, so My mouth was not cleansed. This is the name of that boy. He is living there. He is My devotee, and I have taken this food there.» And it was as a result of the Mohammedan’s exploitation of the princess that this devotee appeared. So, Krishna-bhakti, devotion to Krishna, does not care for the formality of purity or impurity by any worldly considerations. It is independent.

Krishna-bhakti is so powerful and does not care for anything. Jagannath accepted the offering of that boy who was considered to have the worst fate, a cursed fate. The princess was taken by the Mohammedan, and her issue came in the form of that boy, so he was the ‘curse of the cursed’. But his offering attracted Jagannath so much.

So, love is wonderfully above everything, surpassing all. Mahaprabhu asked us to accept the path of love, which means giving one’s heart, one’s self. It is so powerful, nothing else can attract Krishna. He is very greedy to eat this love, this prema. He lives on prema. He is the Lord of love. That love has its inner existence. It is the inner existence of all of us. He is love personified, and there is a tinge within us also. And like ‘birds of a feather’, love likes love.

Once Mahaprabhu, at the time when He had conquered and captured the Kazi, was leading the sankirtan party and was feeling very tired. He came to Sridhar Pandit, the poor brahman who used to sell plantains in the market to somehow meagrely earn his livelihood. Sridhar Pandit had a well, and nearby an iron pot which he used for drawing water. Mahaprabhu began to drink water from the well with that pot, which had been left outside. All the devotees objected, «What are You doing? This pot is always kept outside and is very dirty. We are bringing a clean pot for Your drinking water!» Mahaprabhu ignored them and continued drinking water from that iron pot. He commented, «This is the pot of My devotee Sridhar; it is purer than anything.»

In Bhagavad-gita the Lord says:

api chet suduracharo bhajate mam ananya-bhak
sadhur eva sa mantavyah samyag vyavasito hi sah
(Bhagavad-gita: 9.30)

«If a person is an unalloyed devotee who worships Me exclusively, having abandoned all other pursuits based on exploitation and renunciation, even if he commits some abominable action, he is to be considered saintly. He is cent per cent pure, because his endeavours are completely on My behalf and his determination is fixed in that resolve.»

This is because one who has really surrendered to Krishna is accepted by Him as His own, and such a surrendered soul should never be considered impure, a transgressor. So, what is bhajan? It is a transaction of the heart, not of any formality. In Krishna devotion, Krishna-bhakti, the only consideration is the dedication of the heart. Krishna wants that, and not any external formality of the civilised or non-civilised world. In the case of Lord Ramachandra also, we see that although in the highest consideration He is the director of moral laws, niti, He could not contain Himself when offered something with devotion by an ‘untouchable’ lady. And that was after she had first taken it herself, after she had taken some sweet. Whatever remained that she considered most tasteful, she kept for Rama, and He accepted it.

There is another incident that happened in Vidura’s house. While Vidura was out collecting alms, Krishna suddenly appeared as a guest at his house. Vidura’s wife received Him, but there was nothing to offer, only some bananas. So after seating Him nicely she gave Him that, but she was offering the banana peels to Krishna and discarding the fruit on the ground. She was so bewildered, overwhelmed by the joy of finding that Krishna was suddenly present in her house, that she was discarding the fruit and giving Him the peels, and He was eating them.

At that very moment Narad and Vidura arrived. Vidura exclaimed: «What are you doing? You are leaving the fruit and giving the peels to my Lord!» But Narad came to her relief: «She is bewildered, but He who is eating is not at all disturbed! One might think that He would say, ‘Oh, give Me the fruit. Why are you giving Me the peels?’ But He is eating without any concern.» Then Krishna answered, «I am eating neither the fruit nor the peels, but I am eating that which is devotion! I am accepting her devotion. Neither the peel nor the fruit can satisfy Me. I need neither the one nor the other, but I live on devotion, Narad.»

patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayachchhati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam asnami prayatatmanah
(Bhagavad-gita: 9.26)

The Lord says, «I accept all those foodstuffs that are offered; but actually it is not the food itself that I take, rather it is the purpose behind that offering, the ideal. It is the very spirit of the thing I am concerned with and never the outward show. I am living in the inner world, so with food also it is the inner substance with which I am concerned, not the external appearance.» Therefore it is said, Bhava-grahi-Janardanah, «Lord Janardan (Krishna) sees the mood of devotion.» Devotion does not care for the ordinary rules and regulations of this material world. Still, in our lower condition we are advised to go on with archan, and depending on our stage of realisation, what we think to be pure we offer, and what is impure we reject. In the preliminary stage this is necessary for our fortune, but as we advance these external considerations are eliminated and the internal ones are given more and more importance.

There is another story which illustrates this. Vrajen Sil was a big scholar of Bengal, a scholar of philosophy so extraordinary that once after he had delivered a lecture at the World Conference of Philosophy in Rome, the president of the meeting told him, «I took you to be Aristotle!» He was respected as Aristotle, he was such a learned man. He had been a student of Scottish Church College in Kolkata and once was taking an examination there. While in the examination hall, he was given the questions and paper, and began to write his answers. Many questions were there, but he became so engrossed in answering one particular question that he forgot everything else. So deeply engaged was he in answering this single question that he spent the whole time on it and ignored all the others. When the bell rang and the examination time had expired he was perplexed as to what to do? He had only dealt with one question; but he left his paper and went away.

He was the brightest student of the college, but was thinking that his name could not possibly be on the list of successful candidates because he had only answered one question out of perhaps five or six. But still he was stealthily coming to see if the list of successful candidates had been posted. Then one day he found that his name had appeared at the head of that list. He was perplexed: «How is this? I only dealt with one question, and I am at the head of the list. How is it possible?» So he asked the professor, «Sir, I had answered only one question. How then is it possible that you have given me first place?»

«Oh Mr Sil, your answer is on the level of a research scholar, not an ordinary student, so I gave you first place!»

So, this is like raga-marg, where the formal things are all ignored and the substance drawn out. Although normally Mr Sil should have placed amongst the lowest of those candidates who failed, the Professor was a judge of a bold type and thought, «Oh, his answer to just one question is of such high quality. This student can never be considered to be a failure.» Rather, he was given the highest position.

So, love is such: it does not care for any formality in its real judgment.

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