The Philosophy of “the Seer and the Seen” of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati
By Shyamananda dasa
On the all-auspicious disappearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati we should all try to remember His divine instructions and make them our life and soul – guru mukha parma vakhya cittete koriya aikhya ara na koriho mane asa. This philosophy that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati epitomises and that he expounded is well worth remembering on this day when the prediction of Padma Purana –
sri-brahma-rudra-sanaka vaisnavah ksiti savannah
catvaras te kalau bhavya hy utkale purusottamat
“In Kali yuga the four Vaisnava sampradayas, which are purifiers of the earth, will appear in Purusottama-ksetra, in Utkala” was fulfilled. Thus Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati appeared as the summum bonum of all the four Vaisnava sampradayas at Sri Purushottama Ksetra in Orissa.
In establishing the synthesis of all the four sampradaya’s teachings and defeating the triputi vinasha doctrine of the Mayavadis Srila Sarswati Thakura explained drg-drsya philosophy as follows –
“A bhogi (one who attempts to enjoy this world) considers himself the seer (drasta), and everything else, including the Supreme as the seen (drsya), his object of vision (darsana). Due to their bitter experience of this world, so-called renouncers wish to deny the plurality of drasta, drsya and darsana and thus regard them as one. Only devotees have the proper vision to appreciate that Krishna is the Supreme enjoyer and alone is fully independent and no one’s servant, being the drasta, should be served by all, for the jivas and all else that be are drsya, objects of His darsana.”
He who sees an object is called the seer, and an object seen by the observer is called the seen. The instrument of seeing, is called sight. It is a common error to deem the sense of sight the actual seer. Whatever we can measure by any of our senses we also call a seeable object, and he who senses it is called the seer. It is best that the jiva see himself as the object of Krishna’s enjoyment. Thinking himself the seer, he sees the world as the object of his enjoyment. But thinking himself the enjoyer, under the influence of the false ego, will result only in his misfortune. It is not fitting that the jiva see the world as the object of his own enjoyment. Rejecting that outlook, and instead seeing the world as the object of the Lord’s enjoyment, seeing it as Krishna’s world or Gokula, is the jiva’s good fortune and satisfies Krishna’s senses – “I am not the seer, but rather am seen by Krishna. I am not the enjoyer, but the object of enjoyment for Krishna.”
Hiranyakasipu thought he was the seer of the pillar in his hall and desired to observe the existence of Visnu, or to measure Visnu, and adjudging himself the enjoyer, perceived Prahlada as his son, the object of his enjoyment. But the Lord of inconceivable powers revealed His inconceivable eternal form to Hiranyaksipu and destroyed that seer, and was very, merciful to Prahlada, who regarded himself as the object to be seen or enjoyed by Visnu.” – Gaudiya 16.24.403-6
It will do us all a world of good to also remember his heart’s desire and make it our life’s mission –
“My sempiternal wish is that in unlimited ways you constantly remain preaching Krishna katha. Then all my desires will be fulfilled.” – Gaudiya 2.540
“When big city halls have been transformed into Gaudiya Mathas and Hari katha is heard everywhere, at that time the whole world will be filled with ecstasy.” – Srimad Bhagavata Tatparya.
All glories to His Divine Grace Sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaja!
yours in service of Sri Guru and Gauranga,
Shyamananda dasa brahmacari
P.S: This article is largely based on Srimad Bhakti Vikasa Swami’s magnum opus Sri Bhakti Siddhanta Vaibhava.