Jagabhandu das: Years ago, my good friend Sripad Raghavendu Prabhu quoted to me how Srila Rupa Goswami quotes this verse, which I have in turn often paraphrased in my meager attempts to help others. I mentioned it to him again the other day along with it’s original source which he just now kindly sent to me. It’s the basis of my consciousness towards the world and I am blind to any other considerations.
Sent: Thu, 12 Feb 2009 4:16 pm
Subject: yo māḿ sarveṣu bhūteṣu santam ātmānam īśvaram
Canto 3: The Status Quo
Chapter 29: Explanation of Devotional Service by Lord Kapila
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 3.29.22
yo māḿ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
santam ātmānam īśvaram
hitvārcāḿ bhajate mauḍhyād
bhasmany eva juhoti saḥ
yaḥ — one who; mām — Me; sarveṣu — in all; bhūteṣu — living entities; santam — being present; ātmānam — the Paramātmā; īśvaram — the Supreme Lord; hitvā — disregarding; arcām — the Deity; bhajate — worships; mauḍhyāt — because of ignorance; bhasmani — into ashes; eva — only; juhoti — offers oblations; saḥ — he.
One who worships the Deity of Godhead in the temples but does not know that the Supreme Lord, as Paramātmā, is situated in every living entity’s heart, must be in ignorance and is compared to one who offers obl ations into ashes.
It is stated clearly herein that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His plenary expansion of Supersoul, is present in all living entities. The living entities have 8,400,000 different kinds of bodies, and the Supreme Personality of Godhead is living in every body both as the individual soul and as the Supersoul. Since the individual soul is part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, in that sense the Lord is living in every body, and, as Supersoul, the Lord is also present as a witness. In both cases the presence of God in every living entity is essential. Therefore persons who profess to belong to some religious sect but who do not feel the presence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in every living entity, and everywhere else, are in the mode of ignorance.
If, without this preliminary knowledge of the Lord’s omnipresence, one simply attaches himself to the rituals in a temple, church or mosque, it is as if he were offering butter into ashes rather than into the fire. One offers sacrifices by pouring clarified butter into a fire and chanting Vedic mantras, but even if there are Vedic mantras and all conditions are favorable, if the clarified butter is poured on ashes, then such a sacrifice will be useless. In other words, a devotee should not ignore any living entity. The devotee must know that in every li ving entity, however insignificant he may be, even in an ant, God is present, and therefore every living entity should be kindly treated and should not be subjected to any violence. In modern civilized society, slaughterhouses are regularly maintained and supported by a certain type of religious principle. But without knowledge of the presence of God in every living entity, any so-called advancement of human civilization, either spiritual or material, is to be understood as being in the mode of ignorance.
Recently, I was struck by a very powerful realization about the saying “where ignorance is bliss—wisdom is a folly” as applied to a certain group of co-religionists our much esteemed international audience know all too well. As critically-minded as I am, somehow I had never before thought of this phrase in that context. Until my recent disappointment with their apparent lack of real understanding and subsequent compassionlessness towards the world. Having my good friend Raghavendu das remind me of the above quote from the Bhagavatam was the icing on the cake. How could what is Truly Right become so wrong?
A couple of weeks ago I awoke after having a really powerful dream of visiting a huge temple for breakfast prasadam in some large city’s financial district. It was filled with many people who I had known previously from Detroit and elsewhere along with many young-faced new initiates. On the altar was a small brass deity of Mahaprabhu in the forefront below the other main Deities. He shined with an effulgence like a star. I was very happy to see people I hadn’t seen for many years. It reminded me of the scene from the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy awakes in her own bed back in Kansas surrounded by affectionate well-wishers after awakening at last from a wild and crazy dream experienced due to a storm shutter bumping her on the head. I think I’ve been gone from “Kansas” for a real long time. Real long. Real gone.
Most of my dreams are just tormented ugra-karma types. Living in a large overcrowded city/looking for a job/moving from one crappy apartment to another/in an old car that barely runs/with no money for repairs. But I had another dream a few weeks ago that was quite unusual. The day before I had wasted my time and breath going to my local ostensible farm community hoping to help catalyze their plan to feed the local? poor and hungry. I had lunch with my good friend Puskar das. Afterwards I joked with him about how in spite of him always criticizing about how I never come to the temple that they really don’t want me to come over there anymore than they would want a visit from my “friends” Shiva and Yamaraj, my “buddies” who I “hang-out” with. That very night the copper-bodied Yamaduttas came to me in a dream and asked if there was anything they could “do for me,” to help out. As if Yamaraj had sent them as a personal favor. I subsequently realized that throughout my entire life I have had countless dreams of the copper-bodied lords of death coming to visit me. Along with a great fondness for Sri Yamaraj who is widely known in Tibetan Buddhism for his terrifying aspect of eating the perverters of Dharma. Mmmm! Tasty critters! And so many of them too! He’s probably feasting like never before. Meanwhile the same night my wife dreamed of Mother Durga (who I have chanted to for years on end with Brahma-samhita sloka and affectionately think of as “Ma”). In the dream, Mother Durga allowed my wife to pet her beautiful cat who initially seemed small like a regular kitty-cat but became transformed as he sat in my wife’s lap to his normal ferocious size. He sat there purring as my wife petted him.
I now realize that I’ve wasted years on end appealing to compassionless humans who also have very limited powers of influence to actually accomplish anything. What to speak of fundamental ideas of? unconditional kindness which they seem to understand very poorly in spite of having such a great Teacher. Alas! Now I know that my humble appeal must be directly to the real Bosses who although unseen, They control all things of this world on behalf of their Primeval Lord. It is He and His celestial delegates/servants who will “do” what must be done according to His Sweet Will. Because at long last, finally I can really “see” that I’m not the doer. Or the sayer.
After being reminded by Raghavendu Prabhu of the above quote from Lord Kapila’s Teachings, I felt inspired to take out Srimad-Bhagavatam Third Canto Part Four. It felt wonderful to hold the book in my hands! And the words within It were very wonderful to behold! I looked up the verse contained below and backtracked to Verse 20 before reading all the way through to Verse 28 (including the Beautiful Bhaktivedanta Purports). I was stunned to remember how I was scarcely 18 years old when I first read them midway through a 17 month period of incarceration (for my own petty juvenile delinquent misconduct). I had only barely ever lived in a temple. By the just reaction to my own misdeed I was therefore far away from any temples or formal devotee association per se. When I first read this words I was very much affected by them in my spiritual/social isolation and so was very deeply moved by them as the realization of their truth was virtually forced upon me by my external circumstances causing me to feel compelled to learn to “fly my own plane.”?Reading these words? after nearly thirty years, I was again very deeply moved by them. As if seeing a very old, long lost friend from my former youth. Especially when considering how much they had affected my existential outlook on the world ever since. I could feel Supersoul’s presence everywhere I went. Like a river of Divine Light threading with Luminosity through all beings and all things. I am subsequently left feeling great shame for His having to witness me follow my senses wherever they have led me. And left feeling embarrassed for my many misdeeds in this life for which I must rightfully suffer the consequences.
“With every rising and setting of the Sun a day passes and is lost. Yet still I won’t/don’t serve the Lord of the Heart.” Alas!