5th Oct, 2016. 2016
In the last blog we read about oneness. As I went on to read the next verse of Bhagavatam it was another condensed drop of nectar and, Gaura willing, I will write about it shortly. However as I was reading it I suddenly felt that as we read about oneness we should also know what is opposite to oneness. Sri Isopanishad says:
Only one who can learn the process of nescience and that of transcendental knowledge side by side can transcend the influence of repeated birth and death and enjoy the full blessings of immortality.
— Sri Isopanisha, matra 11
So we should know about both, what is vidyā (knowledge) and what is avidyā (nescience) on this topic.
But before I write further on this subject let me clarify few points. What we are going to read is more for us as a devotee and not so much for karmis or jnanis. This knowledge is not to be used to judge others but to see our own self in a mirror. The purpose is to check if I am situated in devotional service in right consciousness. If not, then at whichever stage I am currently situated I make some adjustments to make progress towards pure unalloyed devotional service (which should be our goal) rather than being stuck in a particular stage of purification. I will again stress that we should be fully aware that the process of bhakti is purifying for every soul. An aspiring devotee may be stuck at a particular state but he is definitely making progress with time (even faster than us!) and hence we should never be judgemental about devotees, it is an offense. All devotees are under the direct shelter of Supreme Lord, Krishna.
The opposite to oneness is a separatist. This has been very precisely explained by Lord Kapila, who explains that devotion itself is pure but it is practiced by devotees in 81 different modes of nature depending on their nature. Here are the exact translations of the verses:
Lord Kapila, the Personality of Godhead, replied: O noble lady, there are multifarious paths of devotional service in terms of the different qualities of the executor.
Devotional service executed by a person who is envious, proud, violent and angry, and who is a separatist, is considered to be in the mode of darkness.
The worship of Deities in the temple by a separatist, with a motive for material enjoyment, fame and opulence, is devotion in the mode of passion.
When a devotee worships the Supreme Personality of Godhead and offers the results of his activities in order to free himself from the inebrieties of fruitive activities, his devotion is in the mode of goodness.
— SB 3.29.7-10
Please read the above verses again carefully and having digested them a little let’s hear what Prabhupada has to say in the purports of the above verses.
Who is a separatist ?
A separatist is one who sees his interest as separate from that of the Supreme Lord. Mixed devotees, or devotees in the modes of passion and ignorance, think that the interest of the Supreme Lord is supplying the orders of the devotee; the interest of such devotees is to draw from the Lord as much as possible for their sense gratification. This is the separatist mentality. (completely opposite to what we read in the last blog )
Devotion in mode of ignorance
If one has a motive for personal sense gratification, his devotional service is manifested differently. Such a man may be violent, proud, envious and angry, and his interests are separate from the Lord’s.
One who approaches the Supreme Lord to render devotional service but who is proud of his personality, envious of others or vengeful is in the mode of anger. He thinks that he is the best devotee. Devotional service executed in this way is not pure; it is mixed and is of the lowest grade, tāmasaḥ. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura advises that a Vaiṣṇava who is not of good character should be avoided. A Vaiṣṇava is one who has taken the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the ultimate goal of life, but if one is not pure and still has motives, then he is not a Vaiṣṇava of the first order of good character. One may offer his respects to such a Vaiṣṇava because he has accepted the Supreme Lord as the ultimate goal of life, but one should not keep company with a Vaiṣṇava who is in the mode of ignorance.
Devotion in the mode of passion
When the so-called devotee desires material enjoyment, without reference to the interest of the Supreme Lord, or he wants to become famous or opulent by utilizing the mercy or grace of the Supreme Lord, he is in the mode of passion.
Devotion in the mode of goodness
When such activities are performed and the results are offered to the Supreme Lord, they are called karmārpaṇam, duties performed for the satisfaction of the Lord….If this offering process is in the mode of goodness rather than in pure devotion, then the interest is different. The four āśramas and the four varṇas act for some benefit in accordance with their personal interests. Therefore such activities are in the mode of goodness; they cannot be counted in the category of pure devotion.
So what is pure devotional service?
Pure devotional service as described by Rūpa Gosvāmī is free from all material desires. Anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyam. There can be no excuse for personal or material interest. Devotional activities should be transcendental to fruitive activities and empiric philosophical speculation. Pure devotional service is transcendental to all material qualities.
Devotion is pure but I may not be!
Devotional service in the modes of ignorance, passion and goodness can be divided into eighty-one categories. There are different devotional activities, such as hearing, chanting, remembering, worshiping, offering prayer, rendering service and surrendering everything, and each of them can be divided into three qualitative categories. There is hearing in the mode of passion, in the mode of ignorance and in the mode of goodness. Similarly, there is chanting in the mode of ignorance, passion and goodness, etc. Three multiplied by nine equals twenty-seven, and when again multiplied by three it becomes eighty-one. One has to transcend all such mixed materialistic devotional service in order to reach the standard of pure devotional service.
Too high for me! And isn’t this a motive too?
That is not actually a motive; that is the pure condition of the living entity.
(I don’t have to aim to reach out for some exalted, unattainable, lofty goal, it is within me. Doesn’t it feel better and encouraging to become aware that is MY natural state. That I am a pure spirit soul and this quality inherent inside me. I do not have to get it from any where outside of me but I have to endeavor to cleanse various layers of ignorance covering my pure consciousness. )
But right now I am a conditioned soul, so what should I do at this stage?
In the conditioned stage, when one engages in devotional service he should follow the instruction of the bona fide spiritual master in full surrender. The spiritual master is the manifested representation of the Supreme Lord because he receives and presents the instructions of the Lord, as they are, by disciplic succession.
(We should not act whimsically and must take each step under the guidance of our spiritual master, siksha guru or councilor, this is the safest and surest way to make progress.)
I hope and pray that we all understood a little bit about what is separatist consciousness. More importantly, we feel inspired to take some corrective steps and make rapid progress on this incredible path of Krishna consciousness.
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.