Prakriti, 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, prakriti 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.
Krishna consciousness starts with surrender
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 utilize 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: shanta, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, 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.
Krishna prema: divine love for Krishna
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 behavior is described in a book written by Rupa Goswami titled Ujjvala-nilamani. The first part of devotion is given in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu. In that book, from the very beginning of an ordinary civilized religious life, Rupa Goswami takes us up to different devotional relationships shanta, 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 luster: 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 analyzed so finely and elaborately in this book of Rupa Goswami. Subtle points have been analyzed, organized, and distributed in that book.
And the great scholars become dumbfounded when they come to such statements. As Srimad Bhagavatam says: muhyanti yat surayah. In the introduction, Srimad 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 inquirers 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.
The nature of soul is so noble, so high, so good
And to understand this, we must first inquire about the soul. First there is mind, manah, then intelligence, buddhi, then soul, atma. The soul is evergreen: it does not die. Soul is eternal, constant. It is said in the Upanishads and in the Bhagavad-gita: if once we can meet our soul, then a diametrical change comes in our life. At that time we will be astonished to realize, “Oh, such a highly qualified thing is here within me! In ignorance, I was considering that this perishable body and this flickering mind, was 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 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 realization, 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 realize, “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 Upanishads and is mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita: indriyani parany ahur (3.42). 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 inquire 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 analyze 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 body and mind. By finding the soul through introspection, we may experience the lightning touch of realization.
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 honorable friendship with them, and that without them I can’t live. But it is all a hoax.”
Is it really better to reign in hell than serve in heaven?
From a realization 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 labor 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 realize 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 utilized by it. In other words we must come to the position of slavery. We shall have to realize that mastership here in the mortal world is a curse, and the slavery in that higher world is a boon.
And the Srimad Bhagavatam will help us in our progressive march towards that higher plane.
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 shastra. 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.
By our serving association with scriptures and saints our Krishna consciousness will come out
There are two covers: the exploiting tendency and the renouncing tendency – karma and jnana – 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 nairantaja, continuous.
adau sraddha tatah sadhu-
tato nistha rucis 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 – ashakti, attachment, then bhava, spiritual emotion, 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.
–An excerpt from the chapter “Evolution and Consciousness” in Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s Subjective Evolution of Consciousness.