The Wonder Of Creation – A Concise Vedic Perspective
Gautam Saha: CREATION :
At a particular point in time, the Lord created the basic material ingredients ( mahat tattva ) which was allotted a certain space in the original spiritual sky. Into this, He injected the countless living entities ( jivas ), who had all previously desired to enjoy matter separately from Him. Each jiva or atma is a separate and independent fragmental part of the Lord, who is also known as paramatma, similar to Him in quality, just as a drop of water is similar in quality to the vast ocean. It is immaterial to know at which point in time the individual jiva desired to enjoy separately from the Lord. In this way the countless jivas were put into play by injecting them into material nature. “It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father .” ( Srimad Bhagavad Gita 14.4 ).
Srila Prabhupada states ( introduction to the Srimad Bhagavatam ) : “The Vedas inform us that He alone became many, and when He so desires, He glances over material nature. Before He glanced over material nature, there was no material cosmic creation. Therefore, His glance is not material. The material mind and senses were unborn before the Lord glanced over material nature. This evidence in the Vedas proves beyond a doubt that the Lord has a transcendental mind and transcendental eyes. His impersonality is therefore a negation of His materiality, not a denial of His transcendental personality.”
And further, ( in SB purport 1.3.2) : “Material nature has no power to create without the power of the purusa, just as prakriti, or woman, cannot produce a child without the touch or connection of a purusa, the man. The purusa impregnates while the prakriti delivers. We should not expect any independent creative powers from prakriti, or the material ingredients. We must believe in the power of the purusa, who impregnates prakriti or material nature.
THE LIMITLESS OPULENCE OF THE LORD
The Lord is eternally full of the six opulences : knowledge, strength, beauty, fame, wealth, and renunciation. Hence He is known as satchiddananda vigraha ( eternally full of knowledge and bliss ). Since the Lord is eternally served by millions of Lakhsmis ( goddesses of fortune ), he is never short or incomplete in all these opulences. Hence the variegated displays of nature and the awesome beauty of His creations are but a fragment of His limitless opulence. The awesome displays of nature should give us some clue to the awesome opulence of the Lord. “O mighty conqueror of enemies, there is no end to My divine manifestations. What I have spoken to you is but a mere indication of My infinite opulences. Know that all beautiful, glorious, and mighty creations spring from but a spark of My splendor. But what need is there, Arjuna, for all this detailed knowledge? With a single fragment of Myself, I pervade and support this entire universe.” ( Srimad Bhagavad Gita 10.40-42).
Srila Prabhupada states ( SB introduction ) : “The theory of emanations is the beginning subject of the Vedanta Sutra. All the cosmic manifestations are emanations from the Absolute Personality of Godhead by His inconceivable different energies. The touchstone can convert an unlimited quantity of iron into gold, but it remains as it is. Similarly, the Supreme Lord can produce all manifested worlds by His inconceivable energies, and yet He is full and unchanged. He is purna ( complete ) and although an unlimited number of purnas emanate from Him, He is still purna.
And further, in the Srimad Bhagavatam ( 3.2.12 purport ) : “In the Vaikunthalokas, the Lord is merciful toward the liberated or nitya mukta living entities, but in His pastimes in the mortal material world, He is merciful even to the fallen souls who are nitya baddha, or conditioned for ever. The six excellent opulences He displayed in the mortal world by the agency of His internal potency, yoga maya, are rare even in the Vaikunthalokas. All his pastimes were manifested not by the material energy but by His spiritual energy. The super excellence of His raas lila at Vrindavan and His householder life with sixteen thousand wives at Dwarka, separately and simultaneously, is wonderful even for His Narayana expansions in the Vaikunthalokas, and is certainly so for other living entities within the mortal world.”
CONFUSION IN THE MINDS OF THE MATERIALISTS
In this age, there is a continuous bombardment of sensory pleasure offerings. There are many forms of diversions for the senses in the form of cinemas, gambling, clubs, mundane libraries, bad association, smoking, intoxication, gambling, womanizing, cheating, pilfering, thieving, usury, bickering, bad mouthing, and so on; the minds of men are mostly disturbed and full of anxieties due to so many different sensory engagements. In consequence, most persons have neither peace of mind or health of body.
Many persons want immediate and concrete proof of the existence of the Lord. They say “seeing is believing”. They would like to see some material manifestation before they can begin to believe in it. The virat roop display by the Lord at the battlefield of Kurukshetra was not for the benefit of Arjuna who was a very advanced devotee of the Lord. It was for the benefit of the atheists and the materialists or asuras, who are only impressed by massive material displays, like aborigines who worship a giant tree, or a huge mountain, or some such natural phenomenon. Such persons who are impressed by material phenomenon, like modern day scientists, are called saktas. The Lord states ( Srimad Bhagavad Gita 7.25 ) : “I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent. For them I am covered by My eternal creative potency; and so the deluded world knows Me not, who am unborn and infallible.”
Srila Prabhupada states ( Srimad Bhagavatam purport 1.1.1 ) : “Conditioned souls, beginning from Brahma, who engineers the entire universe, down to the tiny ant, are all creating, but none of them are independent of the Supreme Lord. The materialistic person wrongly thinks that there is no creator other than his own self. This is maya, or illusion. Because of his poor fund of knowledge, the materialist cannot see beyond the purview of his imperfect senses, and thus he thinks that matter takes its own shape without the aid of a superior intelligence.”
THE REAL POSITION OF MENTAL SPECULATORS
There are many speculators and stubborn commentators who do not accept the supremacy of Lord Krishna or His expansions, in spite of the statement of revealed scriptures. They consider their own intelligence to be superior to that of Lord Brahma, Narad Muni, Ved Vyas and Sukhdev Goswami, this being the most exalted parampara of knowledge dissemination from guru to shishya, and further carried down to us by disciplic succession by great rishis, munis and acharyas.
Lord Krishna Himself states in the Srimad Bhagavad Gita ( 6.46-47 ) : “A yogi is greater than the ascetic, greater than the empiricist and greater than the fruitive worker. Therefore, O Arjuna, in all circumstances, be a yogi. And of all yogis, he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all.”
Srila Prabhupada states ( Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.37 purport ) : “The mental speculators are a little more progressive than the gross materialists or the fruitive workers, but because they are also within the grip of illusion, they take it for granted that anything which has form, a name and activities, is but a product of the material energy. For them the supreme spirit is nameless, formless and inactive. And because such mental speculators equalize the transcendental name and form of the Lord with mundane names and forms, they are in fact in ignorance. With such a poor fund of knowledge, they have no access to the real nature of the Supreme Being.”
EVERYONE IS TRYING TO BE HAPPY
Every creature in the material world is trying to be happy, according to his individual level of personal attainment or cultural upbringing. The poor man looks for basics like food or clothing. The not so poor are after the finer things and luxuries in life. The still more endowed persons want to amass massive personal wealth or possessions in an attempt to lord it over material nature. A drunkard is temporarily very happy if he acquires a bottle of his favorite brew. A musician is very happy if he can manage to finally compose a very beautiful tune. But after every moment of happiness there are moments of disappointment or frustration. All these attempts at happiness are bound to be ultimately thwarted by the intervention of death, when we shall be kicked out of this life and be forced to part with all our “precious belongings and precious loved ones”. The pig thinks that he is very happy when he manages to find copious qauntities of stool to eat. If you ask him if he wants to go to heaven, he will probably ask you if in heaven stool is available in large quantities.
Srila Prabhupada states ( Srimad Bhagavatam purport 1.2.3 ) : “There is no point in arguing that a materialistic man can be happy. No materialistic creature – be he the great Brahma or an insignificant ant – can be happy. Everyone tries to make a permanent plan for happiness, but everyone is baffled by the laws of material nature. Therefore the material world is called the darkest region of the Lord’s creation. Yet the unhappy materialists can get out of it simply by desiring to get out. Unfortunately, they are so foolish that they do not want to escape. Therefore, they are compared to the camel who relishes thorny twigs because he likes the taste of the twigs mixed with blood. He does not realize that it is his own blood and that his tongue is being cut by the thorns. Similarly, to the materialist, his own blood is like the taste of honey, and although he is harassed by his own material creations, he does not wish to escape. Such materialists are called karmis.”
Just as miseries come on their own without our desiring them, similarly happiness also comes to us and then go away on their own. Hence it is futile to try to find happiness in this world, where every moment of happiness is fickle and fleeting. So why do we waste our time in looking for happiness, when happiness and distress will come to us on their own, and go away on their own, based on our karmic bank balance ?
In actuality, material life is a punishment to suffer or enjoy the results of our past karma. Material life is attended invariably by birth, aging, disease and death. Most of the time, material life is full of want of various kinds, anxiety, misery and disappointment. Sometimes the temporary absence of misery is interpreted as happiness. In the spiritual world, on the other hand, life is eternally blissful and full of knowledge, where every jiva is engaged in the spiritually fulfilling activity of eternal service to the Lord, which is His true constitutional position, and in which His only true happiness lies.
LIBERATION FROM MATERIAL BONDAGE
What do the great sages and holy men yearn for ? What do Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva, the most exalted of demigods ( devtas ), yearn for ? What are they always praying for ? And to whom ?
Everyone in the universe, including Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva, the most exalted of demigods ( devtas ) is asking Vishnu for deliverance from this material encagement. It is not within the power of any demigod or great rishi or muni to grant liberation from the material condition. Only Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or any of His vishnu tattva expansions, can grant liberation to any living being. Hence the supreme goal of life should be to pray to Lord Krishna for mercy and deliverance from the material condition comprising of repeated birth, ageing, disease and death. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has stated : “In this age of quarrel and discord, the only way for deliverance from material bondage is to take the holy name of the Lord, to take the holy name of the Lord, to take the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.”
Srila Prabhupada states ( Srimad Bhagavatam purport 1.2.15) “Liberation from material bondage is therefore a byproduct of devotional service. Attainment of spiritual knowledge is not enough to ensure liberation. Such knowledge must be overcoated with devotional service so that ultimately the devotional service alone predominates. Then liberation is made possible. Even the reactionary work of the fruitive workers called karmis can lead one to liberation when it is overcoated with devotional service. Karma overcoated with devotional service is called karma yoga. Similarly, empirical knowledge when overcoated with devotional service is called jyana yoga. But pure bhakti yoga is independent of such karma and jnana because it alone can not only endow one with liberation from conditional life but also award one the transcendental loving service of the Lord.”
THE BEGINNING OF PURE KNOWLEDGE
The first lesson the Lord imparts to Arjuna in the Srimad Bhagavad Gita is that we should not identify with our present body which is only a material covering for this term of imprisonment ( this life ). At the end of this life, we have to shed this body and move on into another body ( another material covering ). Hence, our present body is temporary and after death will return to the elements ( “from dust to dust” ). Our real identity and our eternity lies in our soul which will move on to another body, the choice of our future body being based on our own proclivities, inclinations and actions in this world ( our karma ). A thorough study of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, and subsequently, the Srimad Bhagavatam, will bring us to the level of understanding our identity, our true constitutional position in the whole creation, the goal of life, and our ultimate happiness.
Srila Prabhupada states (Srimad Bhagavatam purport 1.2.24) : “the uncivilized state of life, or the life of lower animals, is controlled by the mode of tamas. The civilized life of man, with a passion for various types of material benefits, is the stage of rajas. The rajas stage of life gives a slight clue to the realization of the Absolute Truth in the forms of refined sentiments in philosophy, art and culture, with moral and ethical principles. But the mode of sattva is a still higher stage of material quality, which actually helps one in realizing the Absolute Truth.”
The Lord states ( Srimad Bhagavad Gita 18.20-22 ) : “That knowledge by which one undivided spiritual nature is seen in all existences, undivided in the divided, is knowledge in the mode of goodness. That knowledge by which a different type of living entity is seen to be dwelling in different bodies is knowledge in the mode of passion. And that knowledge by which one is attached to one kind of work as the all in all, without knowledge of the truth, and which is very meager, is said to be in the mode of darkness.”
A person who is enlightened by virtue of knowing that he is not this body but pure spirit soul ( atma ), has less and less attachment for his body and its connections such as kith and kin, possessions, fame, bank balance, etc; When one identifies himself with his body, this is known as ahankara, but once the Lord lights the lamp of knowledge within the heart of a sadhaka ( seeker of the truth ), he at once comes to the realization of his true position as servant to the Lord. Once he starts interacting with the Lord in loving transcendental exchanges, he at once becomes free from the cycle of karma, thus terminating all reactions to his work.
ONLY LORD VISHNU CAN AWARD LIBERATION FROM MATERIAL BONDAGE
Srila Prabhupada has stated (Srimad Bhagavatam purport 1.2.23) : “Lord Vishnu is manifested by His millions and billions of integrated and separated forms. The integrated forms are called Godhead while the separated parts are the living entities or jivas. The jivas as well as Godhead have their original spiritual forms. Jivas are sometimes subjected to the control of the material energy ( maya ), but the Vishnu forms are always controllers of this energy. When Vishnu, the personality of Godhead, appears in the material world, He comes to deliver the conditioned living entities who are under the control of the material energy. Such living beings ( jivas ) have appeared in the material world with the intent of lording it over material nature, and thus they become entrapped by the three modes of material nature. As such, the living entities have to change their material coverings for undergoing different terms of imprisonment. Anyone, therefore, who wishes to get out of this prison house of material existence, which is full of miseries like repeated birth, aging, disease and death, must please Lord Vishnu for such liberation. Therefore, the ultimate benefit can be derived only from Vishnu, and no one else.”
THE CULTURE OF KNOWLEDGE
The goal of the culture of knowledge should be to lead us towards liberation from this material encagement. The goal of all Vedic literature is to know the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One who understands that this is the pinnacle of knowledge, surrenders to that Supreme Person and desires to serve Him till eternity. “All purposes that are served by the small pond can at once be served by the great reservoirs of water. Similarly, all the purposes of the Vedas can be served to one who knows the purpose behind them” ( Srimad Bhagavad Gita 2.46 ). And further ( SBG 10.10-11 ) : “To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me. Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge, the darkness born of ignorance.”
Srila Prabhupada states (Srimad Bhagavatam purport 1.2.29 ) : “Therefore, all culture of knowledge, austerities, sacrifices, and activities should be aimed at changing the quality of the influence that is acting upon us, the living entities. For the present, we are all being controlled by the external energy of the Lord ( apara prakriti ), and just to change the quality of the influence to the internal superior energy of the Lord ( para prakriti ), we must endeavour to cultivate spiritual energy. In the Bhagavad Gita (9.13-14), it is said that those who are mahatmas, or those whose minds have been so broadened as to be engaged in the service of Lord Krishna, are under the influence of the internal potency, and the effect is that such broad minded living beings are constantly engaged in the service of the Lord without deviation.”
And further ( Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.1 purport ) : “The Lord is the only enjoyer, and all others are enjoyed. The living beings are predominated enjoyers. But the eternally conditioned souls, forgetful of this constitutional position, have strong aspirations to enjoy. The chance to enjoy matter is given to the conditioned souls in the material world, and side by side, they are given the chance to understand their real constitutional position. Those fortunate living entities who catch the truth and surrender unto the lotus feet of Vasudev Krishna after many, many births in the material world, join the eternally liberated souls and are thus allowed to enter the spiritual kingdom.
THE TRANSCENDENTAL PASTIMES OF THE SUPREME LORD
The transcendental pastimes of the Lord afford a small peek into the spiritual world. What we see in the material world, including the finest in art, culture, music, beauty, and other forms of opulence are but a perverted reflection of the opulence in the spiritual world. Whereas everything in the material world is temporary, everything in the spiritual world is eternal. Our own souls ( atma ) are representative of the spiritual world, and the eternality and non destructibility of our own souls should be a pointer to the spiritual realm, where everything is sublime, and eternally blissful.
Srila Prabhupada states ( Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.28 purport ) : “So all the different incarnations of the Lord indirectly or directly manifested different features, but Lord Krishna, the primeval Lord, exhibited the complete features of Godhead, and thus it is confirmed that He is the source of all other incarnations. And the most extraordinary feature displayed by Lord Sri Krishna was His internal energetic manifestation of His pastimes with the cowherd girls. His pastimes with the gopis are all displays of transcendental existence, bliss and knowledge, although these are manifested apparently as sex love. The specific attraction of His pastimes with the gopis should never be misunderstood. The Srimad Bhagavatam relates these transcendental pastimes in the tenth canto. And in order to reach the position of understanding the Lord’s pastimes with the gopis, the Srimad Bhagavatam promotes the students gradually through the first nine cantos.”
OUR LIFE SHOULD BE DOVETAILED INTO THE SERVICE OF THE LORD
The Srimad Bhagavatam states ( 1.5.18 ) : “Persons who are actually intelligent and philosophically inclined should endeavour only for that purposeful end which is not obtainable even by wandering from the highest planet ( Brahmalok ) to the lowest planet ( Patallok ). As far as happiness derived from sense enjoyment is concerned, it can be obtained automatically in course of time, just as in course of time we obtain miseries even though we do not desire them.”
Srila Prabhupada further states : “Miseries and mixed happiness are two features of material life, and they are obtainable in Brahma loka and in other lokas also. They are obtained in the life of the devtas as well as the dogs and hogs. The miseries and mixed happiness of all living beings are only of different degree and quality, but no one is free from the miseries of birth, aging, disease and death. Similarly, everyone has his destined happiness also. No one can get more or less of these things only by personal endeavors. Even if they are obtained, they can be lost again. One should not, therefore, waste time with these flimsy things; one should only endeavor to go back to Godhead. That should be the mission of everyone’s life.”
The Lord states ( Srimad Bhagavad Gita 18.11-12 ) : “It is indeed impossible for an embodied being to give up all activities. Therefore it is said that he who renounces the fruits of action is one who has truly renounced. For one who is not renounced, the threefold fruits of action–desirable, undesirable and mixed–accrue after death. But those who are in the renounced order of life have no such results to suffer or enjoy.”
A very good form of renunciation is to do everything as a service to Krishna. We can think that our home belongs to Him. Or we can think that our business belongs to Him and that we are only the caretakers. Or we can part with a certain percentage of our income as due to Krishna or activities aimed at spreading the consciousness of Krishna amongst the population. Or we can simply think that we `are His servants and that everything we earn in this life is due to His mercy and largesse, and not due to our efforts. In these various ways, we can connect with the Lord and serve Him for His satisfaction. In different ways, we can make our lives perfect, in whatever occupation or part of the world we happen to be. When we think of Krishna, at the time we quit this body, we are bound to attain Him as promised by Him personally. “Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail. Therefore, O Arjuna, you should always think of Me in the form of Krishna and at the same time carry out your prescribed duty of fighting. With your activities dedicated to Me and your mind and intelligence fixed on Me, you will attain Me without doubt. He who meditates on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his mind constantly engaged in remembering Me, undeviated from the path, he, O Partha, is sure to reach Me.” ( Srimad Bhagavad Gita 8.6-8)
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