Prakrti, the material nature, does not evolve consciousness like fossilism. But on the other hand, both are within consciousness. There is no necessity of movement for the soul here. The soul is inactive, indifferent, passive in this enjoying plane. That is another original conception. The soul does not take its place in the negative side; it is meant for the positive side. But accepting that the soul is in the background, prakrti or material energy — the body — works on its behalf. The relationship between body and soul is like the relationship between a minor and his false guardians. It is something like what happens when the proprietor of an estate is a minor and the managers take advantage of his youth to loot and enjoy the estate. The baddha-jiva-soul is in the minor’s position. The soul cannot control these revolting managers, the five senses. He need only have the contact of a major soul. With the help and guidance of the major soul, he can subdue his managers and gain mastery over his own property. A fallen soul’s position is like a minor proprietor. He is helpless. He is doing nothing. The managers are doing everything using his own resources; they are doing everything in the name of the proprietor. The soul is inactive, non-cooperating. But the body, mind, intelligence, and false ego are working on behalf of the soul — the real ego — as if he were on their side. But if his real interest inside is roused by a major soul who is connected with Paramatma and with Bhagavan, then the soul will find his own field there. He’ll control the senses and mind and utilise them in the service of the Lord. He’ll say, «Everything is for Krishna, not for me.»

So Krishna says, «Sarva-dharman parityajya Mam ekam saranam vraja: give up all your duties and come to Me. And your present duties good or bad, whatever you can conceive from your present position — give up everything and come straight to Me. I’m everything to you.» This is Krishna consciousness. Krishna is telling us, «You belong to Me; you are My property. Just as you can say that you are master of any property, so you are My property, My slave.» That is the truth, and by accepting that truth we will live in a higher plane. We will be the gainer; we will come into our normal position. At present, in an abnormal position, we are suffering from thinking, «I’m the master, the monarch of all I survey.» But that ego is our worst enemy if we are to progress in devotional service.

And service to Krishna is of different varieties. There is service in general and then there are services of a particular type: santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhura. And then there are also divisions according to whether devotion is calculative or spontaneous. In this way, there is a hierarchy in the development of the devotional condition. The highest development is ujjvala-rasa. Ujjvala-rasa means super-fine, the brightest, surpassing all, where we find Krishna in consorthood without any consideration of any law. Autocratic consorthood. And this particular nature and behaviour is described in a book written by Rupa Goswami titled Ujjvala-nilamani. The first part of devotion is given in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. In that book, from the very beginning of an ordinary civilised religious life, Rupa Goswami takes us up to different devotional relationships santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhura-rasa. But the details of madhura-rasa, the highest relationship with Krishna, has been described by Rupa Goswami in Ujjvala-nilamani. Nilamani, Krishna, in His highest lustre: ujjvala. Nilamani in consorthood. And what are Krishna’s characteristics? How does He play with His paraphernalia in the madhura-rasa? That has been described in detail in Ujjvala-nilamani.

Even the greatest literary scholars are dumbfounded to find how divine love has been analysed so finely and elaborately in this book of Rupa Goswami. Subtle points have been analysed, organised, and distributed in that book. And the great scholars become dumbfounded when they come to such statements. As Bhagavatam says: muhyanti yat surayah. In the introduction, Bhagavatam gives this warning, this caution to the scholars: «You will all be dumbfounded when you attempt to come to this plane. Scholarship will not allow you to flourish here.» The nature of that plane is so mysterious that even great scholars won’t be considered fit to enter there.

Only the surrendered souls can understand and feel these subtle points of devotion. Outsiders, who remain objective enquirers and researchers, can’t have any entrance here. It is the superior subjective realm, the supersubjective realm. That plane is above even the plane of soul. And to understand this, we must first enquire about the soul. First, there is mind, manah, then intelligence, buddhi, then soul, atma. The soul is evergreen: it does not die. The soul is eternal, constant. It is said in the Upanisads and in the Gita: if once we can meet our soul, then a diametrical change comes in our life. At that time, we will be astonished to realise, «Oh, such a highly qualified thing is here within me! In ignorance, I was considering that this perishable body and this flickering mind were my true self. But the material senses and mind are all trespassers. They have some inimical tendency towards my true self. I am soul. I have no necessity of all these things. Without these unnecessary material things I can live! No food is necessary for the soul from the jurisdiction of this material plane. The soul is independent. What a wonderful existence I have! In reality I am soul, and the nature of the soul is so noble, so high, so good.» A diametrical change of consciousness comes at this point and one tries to enter into that higher realm. Spiritual reality is what is necessary for us. We are soul, we are independent of matter. We are made of such transcendental existence. Nothing can threaten the soul’s existence — not the atomic bomb, nuclear war, lightning, thunder, or earthquakes. All the troubles of this material world are limited to this body which is a foreign carcass, a concocted representation of my true self. My true self exists on the spiritual plane, on a higher level. If we can really have a touch of that realisation, a glimpse of our own identity — if we can feel within that the soul is independent of matter — then a revolutionary change will take place within our minds. Then, our attempt to progress in spiritual life becomes quite genuine. Otherwise, our progress is suspicious, doubtful. We grasp it intellectually and think, «Yes, let me try. I’m hearing, of course, that I have a good prospect in spiritual life; by my intelligence I can follow something. Let me try.» But progress on the intellectual plane is only hesitating progress. When one comes to the plane of one’s own soul, however, one will find one’s self and realise, «Here I am!» At that time all false conceptions which have been held for so long will vanish like a dream. They will all be finished, and one will think, «I’m to start a new life.» And the new prospect will open to make progress in the higher plane.

Soul is nearby. We can try to find out what the soul is if we can eliminate the material elements. This is the process of the Upanisads and is mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita (3.42): indriyani parany ahur. First we are to understand that our senses are primary. If my senses are removed, the entire world of our experience is nothing to me. Only through my senses can I be aware of the existence of the outside world. Minus senses, eyes, ears, no world is apparent to me. Then, above the senses is the mind. What is the mind? The mind deals with acceptance and rejection: sankalpa-vikalpa. In other words, the mind thinks, «I want this; I don’t want that.» It deals with attachment and hatred. The mind determines who is enemy and who is friend. «This is mine, that’s yours.» If we want to understand the mind, we have to look within, to enquire within: what is that element in me that seeks friends and avoids enemies? Where is he? Sometimes the mind is apparent; then other times it is hiding. I must find out where the mind exists. Of what substance is it composed? By analysis, I can understand what aspect of my inner self is the mind. Then, having some idea of what the mind is, I may analyse that part of me which deals with reason, the intelligence. Where is the intelligence?

When the mind demands something, the intelligence says, «Don’t take that, don’t eat that.» By introspection, I may look within and find out what is that principle in me which reasons? Where is that fine thing? What is its nature, its substance, its existence? We shall try in our introspection to find it out, substantially. If that is possible, then the next step will take us to the soul. What is that soul which makes possible the intelligence, the reason by which we act, which prompts the mind to want and also gives our senses the power to connect with things? What is that spark of knowledge? Where is that soul within me? What position does it hold? I want to see it face to face. Then in this way, we can evaporate like lightning all the misconceptions of the body and mind. By finding the soul through introspection, we may experience the lightning touch of realisation.

At that time, the whole world will be turned in a diametrically different line, and we shall see things differently: «Oh, this material life is undesirable! These senses are enemies in the garb of friends. If I confront them now, they say that I may have an honourable friendship with them and that without them I can’t live. But it is all a hoax.»

From a realisation of the soul, from the point of that wonderful knowledge, one may come to see the ocean of knowledge. One may begin to see what is in the subjective area and hanker for how to come in connection with that divine realm. At that time, the very trend of one’s life will be changed, and a total change will come in our search, in our standard of prospect in life. And our search will take a concrete shape in devotion. In this way, we must begin our search after the higher sphere. And how to enter there?

It is the opposite of this plane of exploitation. In Milton’s Paradise Lost, Satan said, «It is better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.» But we shall experience just the opposite: «It is better to serve in heaven than to reign in hell.» To serve in heaven is highly superior than to reign in hell.

The question of energy and power is important in the mortal world, but in the constant and eternal world, this sort of energy has no value. That plane is composed of eternal substance. It is not like this troubling plane which is always breaking, always disappearing, always disappointing, and full of treachery. That divine plane is constant. Life goes on there without any need of food, rest, or medicine. There is no need of the labour to earn bread in that higher realm. All these things are not necessary in a plane of reality where everything is permanent and of eternal value. All these problems which are making us madly busy are easily eliminated in one stroke. That is the nature of that plane. And if we realise that we are members of that plane, then the question becomes what to do? How to approach the higher realm? That will be our problem. We cannot force our entry there; we must be granted a visa. We cannot master that finer realm; we must allow ourselves to be utilised by it. In other words, we must come to the position of slavery. We shall have to realise that mastership here in the mortal world is a curse and the slavery in that higher world is a boon.

And the Bhagavatam will help us in our progressive march towards that higher plane.

nasta-prayesv abhadresu nityam bhagavata-sevaya
bhagavaty uttama-sloke bhaktir bhavati naisthiki

The impure, undesirable things within us are going to almost completely vanish, almost disappear by our serving association with the Srimad Bhagavatam and the devotee. Sadhu and sastra. In this way, the continuous connection with Krishna consciousness comes out from within. The interrupting elements that result from renunciation and enjoyment vanish, the covers vanish, and the continuous flow within, the connection with pure Krishna consciousness, comes out.

There are two covers: the exploiting tendency and the renouncing tendency — karma and jnan — the exploiting spirit and the tendency for knowledge that leads to liberation. They are not proper elements of our soul, of our real entity; they are only covers. And by our serving association with the Srimad Bhagavatam and the devotee, they are uncovered, and the continuous flow of Krishna consciousness within comes out.

Nistha means nairantarya, continuous:

adau sraddha tatah sadhu-sango ’tha bhajana-kriya
tato ’nartha-nivrttih syat tato nistha ruchis tatah

When the covers are removed, then we find that inner continuity of flow with Krishna connection within us, and naisthiki-bhakti appears that is completely clear, cleansed. Bhaktir bhavati naisthiki: then on the basis of nistha, that is, the continuous flow, then further progress is made on the positive side — asakti, attachment, then bhava, spiritual emotion, and then prema, divine love. In this way, the inner aspect of devotion will gradually come out. And we shall be able to dive deep into reality. As we give up the external covers and we experience what may be considered as death in the external world — die to live — we shall enter into the inner side more and more.

Question: This verse says nasta-prayesv abhadresu: that the impurities are almost destroyed. Why not completely destroyed?

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: That means it happens gradually. The gradual development is described there. Nasta-prayesu means when the stage of nistha comes, when all the undesirabilities are almost finished, then we can have a real peep into the thing. Just as before sunrise, when there is twilight in the early morning, the sun is not there, but the darkness has been dispelled. The darkness has been mainly removed, but the sun has not yet risen. In the same way, the Bhagavatam is describing how bhakti develops gradually. Nasta-prayesu: it is not finished immediately; there is a gradual process of sadhana — a means to an end. And gradually, slowly, according to the capacity of the devotee, and the endeavour, the sadhana, one’s bhakti develops. When darkness has almost been finished, the non-gentle, abnormal, exploitative symptoms, like the mean attempt to exploit the environment, gradually disappear. And in this way, gradually, we make further progress. It is not that all of a sudden — in one stroke — everything is cleared. Rather, according to our bhajan, our sadhana, our attempt, the undesirable elements will gradually vanish, go away. And by different stages we shall reach the goal.

These stages have been described by Rupa Goswami as follows in his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.4.15–16):

adau sraddha tatah sadhu-sango ’tha bhajana-kriya
tato ’nartha-nivrttih syat tato nistha ruchis tatah
athasaktis tato bhavas tatah premabhyudanchati
sadhakanam ayam premnah pradurbhave bhavet kramah

«In the beginning there must be faith. Then one becomes interested in associating with pure devotees. Thereafter one is initiated by the spiritual master and executes the regulative principles under his orders. Thus one is freed from all unwanted habits and becomes firmly fixed in devotional service. Thereafter, one develops taste and then attachment. This is the way of sadhana-bhakti, the execution of devotional service according to the regulative principles. Gradually spiritual emotions manifest and intensify, then finally there is an awakening of divine love. This is the gradual development of love of Godhead for the devotee interested in Krishna consciousness.»

Rupa Goswami says that nistha means «continuous connection». After nistha, the mundane negative side is eliminated, and then, in the positive side, we may make progress. Then, after this there are the higher stages: asakti, bhava, and prema. Within prema, there are also different stages: sneha, mana, raga, anuraga, bhava, and mahabhava. In this way, bhakti develops to the topmost plane, mahabhava. Mahabhava means Radharani. That supermost intensity of bhakti which is not found anywhere else is found only in Her. That is called mahabhava. In this way, bhakti — divine love — develops in different stages up to the highest level.

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