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It's A Snake It Is Rope - The Need For Deliberate Consideration

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Tuesday, November 4, 1986
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19861104 SRIMAD BHAGAVATAM 4.22.38 IT’S A SNAKE IT IS A ROPE, THE NEED FOR DELIBERATE CONSIDERATION, ATLANTA yasminn idaà sad-asad-ätmatayä vibhäti mäyä viveka-vidhuti sraji vähi-buddhiù taà nitya-mukta-pariçuddha-viçuddha-tattvaà pratyüòha-karma-kalila-prakåtià prapadye Translation: The Supreme Personality of Godhead manifests Himself as one with the cause and effect within this body, but one who has transcended the illusory energy by deliberate consideration, which clears the misconception of a snake for a rope, can understand that the Paramätmä is eternally transcendental to the material creation and situated in pure internal energy. Thus the Lord is transcendental to all material contamination. Unto Him only must one surrender. Sanatkumar the great mental son of Lord Brahma of the four Kumaras is instructing Prthu Maharaj regarding the Absolute Truth and here we can understand that he is firmly establishing the vaishnava or the concept that the Supreme Absolute Truth is personal, that the Absolute Truth is not simply an energy without quality or personal trait. But that all energies are coming from the source of the Absolute Truth and the source has its own qualities and personality. So the concept presented by the impersonalists or mayavad philosophers of accepting the rope and the snake, the idea is that if someone looks in a dark room and he sees a rope he may think it is a snake and he would shout, snake! Snake! Frightened. When he turns the light on, he sees it is a rope. So the impersonalists, they say this material world is like that, it appears to be real but it is actually illusion. You think it is a snake but it is actually a rope. You think it is real but it is actually illusion. You think that you are under the control of the material illusion but that is actually your illusion. Actually you are God! You turn the light on you realize you are God. This is the logic of the impersonalists. But there are many fallacies in that argument. One, if we are under illusion that means illusion is more powerful than we are. Therefore if we are God, illusion must be greater than God. Therefore the illusion or maya, their philosophy is known as mayavad. Or from another angle if you vision, if you say that the rope is false, say that it is not a real snake but a rope the point is that because we had experience of a snake, when we see the rope we get scared. Snake exists in the world. If there was no snake and you saw the rope it would have no significance. But because there are snakes when you see a rope sometimes in the dark or something you might think it is a snake and you get some fear. So because we see the material world even though it is an illusion, it is because there is a real world – a world which is not illusory, a world which is eternal and ever existent. That is known as the spiritual sky or Vaikunthalokas. So the idea of the snake and the rope, the logic that they use is very incomplete and imperfect. So understand the misconception – it says here the misconception of this particular example, a snake for a rope, one needs to transcend the illusory energy by deliberate consideration. We shouldn’t just accept this idea that everything is illusion; we are God, without considering it. How can we be God? The Vedas say we are God and we are not God. We are God in the sense that we are part of God, we are quality of God, we are just a small atomic part of God. But we are at the same time different because we don’t have unlimited qualities. We can fall under illusion but Krishna Himself doesn’t fall under illusion, He is always transcendental. This is the basic difference. He is known as Acyuta, one of the names of Krishna is Acyuta, in Sanskrit it means one who can never fall. He can never fail. Where we are not Acyuta, we are cyuta, we can fall under illusion and in the material world we are in illusion. So therefore this categorical difference between the living entity and the Supreme Lord is as much as there is a difference between the individual particles of sunlight and the sun. Little particles of sunlight can be reflected through the clouds, thus be unable to see the sun but the sun can never be put under the cloud. Sun can rather destroy or evaporate the clouds. Just like if there is a fog early in the morning, mist, when the sun comes out the sun takes away that fog, it disintegrates it. So like that when the illusion is there by the sun or by the consciousness of Krishna who is likened unto the sun, then we can see the things as they are. We can see it as it is. These are the different philosophical points; these are all technical, philosophical points that are very interesting for preaching to other people of philosophical mind, these are important. The previous Vedic system would be that people would be more attached to the truth than to their own idea. So just like one time, I mentioned this before, there was a big scholar who was known as a digvijay, even Lord Caitanya met with a digvijay known as Keshav Kashmiri. He was another digvijay. This digvijay I am talking about was 150 – 200 years ago. It was a regular thing, they would go and discuss and anyone who could defeat them, they would become their disciple. And if they could defeat the other people through logic, knowledge, reason through the Vedas, then they would be victorious. When Keshav Kashmiri came to Navadweep, he was defeated by Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He was astonished by that because Caitanya Mahaprabhu was only a young boy of 14 years. How He was able to defeat the digvijay, the great scholar? It is interesting to know this Vedic concept because we find in the modern world that this idea of truth as reigning superior has gradually become eroded in the field of religion. It hasn’t become eroded in science. One scientist is always trying to find something more complete, something more explanatory for any of the mysteries of nature and if they are able to get Nobel prizes they are recognized. But in the field of religion if you are born again then that is it. No more discussion if you are a Baptist or Methodist. Generally speaking the search for truth or even going deep into one’s own philosophy, this is not promoted as the basic concept. If you are born a Moslem, if anyone dared to tell you about anything else in the Moslem country then they can have their head cut off! You are to be protected from any other ideas. If you are born a Buddhist, you cannot preach to the Buddhist in Sri Lanka, it is very protectionist, whatever is your idea that’s it you are not allowed to think more than that. So as a result although we are in the 20th century according to our calendar and according to maybe communications, entertainment, medicine, science, when we come to philosophy, when you come to religion, we are still in the dark ages. There is no difference now that it was during the time of the Crusade. Except it is now against the law to burn. Otherwise practically speaking you can be excommunicated if you dared to – in this past decade a little bit of ecumenical thought has been promoted at least among certain, like the Christians they have their ecumenical now for the first time the Pope and the Archbishop they met together, first time in 500 years! Before they wouldn’t talk to each other. So it is like little bit coming out into idea or maybe what other people say may also get them some spiritual advancement. That couldn’t be spoken even ten years ago. Even if spoken but it is not practiced yet. But at least the idea the concept is a little bit vocalized especially by this Pope Paul, what’s his name? Jan Pavlo, John Paul the Second. So it has opened up things a little bit. He had meetings with the Hare Krishna devotees when he was in India. He appreciated Krishna. So that shows a little promise. But the Vedic system was that you could have free and open discussions and they would have and in fact whoever could give a better clear explanation of the Absolute Truth that person would be accepted as the authority. So in this way it was the continuous kind of revolution or development that wouldn’t matter .If someone else came up with a more profound realization or a more clear explanation it would go on expanding. So with the passage of time the Vedic philosophy has become more and more refined. Those who have stuck to this principle of truth, those who have hung up into dogmatic, it becomes a dead end, you don’t go any further. Even at the time of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, He again gave a more clear explanation of the Absolute Truth. Since that time there hasn’t been any great mentor who has been able to expand upon His particular philosophy but principle is there to follow. He explained that the individual soul is qualitatively one with Krishna but quantitatively different. In other words we are small in size but we are one in quality. Just like a small child and the big father. They are one but they are different. The big father can do more than the little child. But they are of the same nature. So this is a crude example just to give some idea. So this is the basic point that this digvijay, sometimes they got carried away in the name of truth they would just get into a kind of – some of them were very sincere and wanted to propound things – but some became more kind of self motivated to just become famous as the most learned scholar. So when that happened in the time of Lord Caitanya, Keshav Kashmiri got cut down to size by Lord Caitanya. Then he prayed to goddess Saraswati who was his mentor that why is it that I was defeated because I received a benediction from you that I could not be defeated and she said that how can I benedict you when you have been defeated by my Master. She has only one Master and that is Krishna. That is God Himself, being a highly placed demigoddess in charge of learning and art and music. So then after hearing that he could realize that Lord Caitanya was in fact Krishna Himself. So he surrendered to Lord Caitanya in a private place and requested Lord Caitanya to reveal to him, His form as Krishna, which He did. So this Keshav Kashmiri was a very special devotee to have this pastime but that is a digvijay we know about. But apart from him there have been often digvijays, in fact 200 years ago there was another digvijay who came to Navadweep, came to Bengal after having defeated so many people around India but this person wasn’t so blessed by Saraswati – might have been slightly blessed by Saraswati but he was very proud. He went up to the – that time the king was also a Mohammedan ruler before the British time – so he went up to the king and he said I am a digvijay, I have come here to challenge all of your scholars, whoever there is. I am coming to challenge them and if there is anyone who can defeat me then I will become his disciple. And if my explanation of the Vedas and truth is more complete then they have to become my disciple. This is my policy, I challenge, now you bring me your best scholars who are willing to accept this challenge and then here I am! So then the emperor thought oh, well, what to do? For the sake of our empire we are not going to get put up by some guy that comes in here and says that he has got better scholars in our country, our nation here so he sent a message to Maharaj Krishnachandra that you being the king of Navadweep you have all the pandits, so why don’t you send up a big pandit and defeat this digvijay? So then Maharaj Krishnachandra asked all of his pandits who wants to go and fight against this big digvijay who has defeated everybody. Part of it knowledge but when sometimes when they come like that it is a little bit like in chess, psyching out the other person knowing what to ask and what to say. So they are all like hanging their heads down, just like a no win kind of a thing. Nobody was eager to go up there and risk his whole occupation, whatever, to face some big digvijay. They are all kind of hanging their heads, looking at the other guys to see who is going to take this one up you know! The king said, listen, someone is going to go otherwise I am going to lose my face before the emperor; he was a Hindu with a name Krishnachandra. In comes his courtier, Gopal Bhar. He asked, what is happening? Why are everyone hanging their heads down? So the king told him what happened and he said, really, I will go! I will defeat that. The king by this time had got a little bit confidence in Gopal and so he said, well, alright, if you think you can do it! No problem, I will defeat this digvijay Gopal said. So then Gopal went and got himself cleaned up and shaved and a nice shikha put a big tilak on like triple size and had a nice tilak especially worn by the priests in India, really big you know! When you wear a big tilak means like a big priest you know! Ha! We wear these small, medium sizes. In India some people put tilak over their whole body and just put a little mark there white, like you know put in reverse, like a negative, tilak everywhere and just a little piece of skin shows! That is the other extreme. We are very conservative! Ha! Then he got his Hari naam chaadar, a nice white dhoti, no shirt, just the chaadar and everything. Then he had a broken bed there and he took a piece of the leg of the bed, wrapped it up in silken cloth and everything, put some thread around it, just like you do a book you know, those Indian books you know how they wrap it with a cloth and fold it and tie with – so he did that type of thing – in those days manuscripts were not like books but they were palm leaves so they were kind of oblong, so the leg of the bed appeared to be, could be possibly some kind of book. Then he wore wooden shoes and he was a little husky guy so he came in and said, I am off now to the court of the emperor. So everybody was like, I hope you are okay Gopal, you are taking a big risk. Gopal said no problem! So he comes up and finally goes to the court room of the emperor, a couple of hundred miles walk but that is alright, this was the way you travelled in those days. So then he comes into the court room – when he comes in you know all the people look up and see a big pandit walking into the emperor’s palace. Everyone looks, who is this pandit? He says, I have come (in a very deep voice) to meet the digvijay. I have come from Krishnachandra maharaj. Even the digvijay sees him and gets a little bit worried. So Gopal could understand that this guy was really puffed up. So one thing, knowledge is good but if you get proud about your knowledge then you see truth becomes distasteful. Truth should be known and understood but this digvijay way was not considered, according to the vaishnava standard, to be really the proper way of expounding truth because then it becomes kind of very ostentatious. Rather through open discussion and through oral reception through a more positive type of loving and peaceful exchange occurs. But this is more like a war of the pandits. So that was looked down upon by the vaishnavas. So Gopal Bhar, he was determined that he was going to cut down this person’s pride a little bit. So the pandit said, well, you seem to have a nice book there. What is that book you are carrying? Gopal said this is the chatuspada of the Katvanga Purana. We say pada also means like a verse but pada also means the leg. So it was the fourth leg of his bed! Chatuspada and Katvanga means bed. Kat means the bed in Sanskrit, so Katvanga means of the cot. And Purana means it was very old! It was an old bed! So he said it was his chatuspada of the Katvanga Purana. The pandit, neither had he read the chatuspada nor had he ever heard of the Katvanga Purana. So that took him back for a second and he said, could I see your book? He didn’t admit that he had not heard of the Katvanga Purana because if there was one then he was defeated. But at the same time he never heard and he really wanted to check this one out. Ha! What is the Katvanga Purana? He had heard of the 18 Puranas, the Katho Upanishad, there is the Vishnu Purana, there is the Siva Purana but he never heard of the Katvanga Purana. But Gopal didn’t listen to him, didn’t pay any attention to him. Suddenly Gopal started to do mudras and then everyone was watching him and you know, he looked at the king’s hand and he said, (in a hushed voice) My Lord! This is the moment. This is the most important and most auspicious moment. At this moment according to this lagna, according to this astrological constellation, according to this time, the way the sun, the moon and the starts are at this time, if you take just even one hair from the head of this brahmana, this digvijay, you will get immense good fortune, you will get all kinds of material opulence and punya just from one or two hairs from his head. The emperor said immediately give me some hair. Then he grabbed some hair from the pandit. The generals, they were not going to be left out, so they said, give me some too and they all started grabbing the pandit’s head. And he said, save me, everyone is picking my hair and he had to run out of the court room. Otherwise everyone was grabbing at his head to take the hair. He went to the Mohammedan emperor to show his pandit, you know, his learning of the truth, but what do they know about Vedic culture? So then this is what you get if you try to throw the pearls before the swine. So he had to run for his life as people were pulling at his hair trying to get a little bit of the, you know, blessings! So in this way he got away. Everyone rewarded Gopal very gratefully, for his service and he went back to report to Krishnachandra the king. The point is that this was a very humorous story but actually the point is that when we are seeking for truth we shouldn’t be proud of what little we know because that pride itself can be our downfall. We should actually be open minded and not try to show off to others but rather try to communicate and understand. So that is described here in the word prapadhya, when you have truth you have knowledge and you combine it with devotion and surrender it becomes beautiful. But if you just have knowledge and you kind of just combine it with pride and other material things then it becomes almost distasteful. Nobody likes to you know a real proud pandit type person. But when you combine knowledge with devotion then it becomes something beautiful because knowledge in relation with the Absolute Truth in relation to serving is something very wonderful because that service becomes very auspicious. So here in this verse it mentions that first we should know what is the truth, what is illusion, what is knowledge, what is the material world, what is the spirit and who the Supreme Spirit is and then knowledge of the Supreme Spirit should develop into surrender to Him. Simply knowing God and not surrendering to Him is of no use. You may know maybe the lawyers know the laws of the country but then they are dishonest, so what is the use? If you know who is the Absolute Truth, what is the Absolute Truth, then the next natural development is knowing the Absolute Truth when you realize He is a Person surrender to Him. Then your knowledge actually takes root in the heart and one gets the shelter from the Absolute Truth. This allows that individual soul to be liberated from the material influence. So at that time the individual soul becomes so purified that it appears that the Lord and individual soul are one. But actually the individual soul is under the protection of the Lord. And if not under the protection of the Lord, then the individual soul will be under the control of the material illusion. Never is the individual soul totally independent because by nature we are too small to be independent. We are always in this influence or that influence, so we can choose what influence we want – we want to be under the material influence or under the spiritual influence. It is up to us. If we choose to be under the material influence there it is, the whole material world you just go and work and you will get the karmas for what you are doing. And if you choose to be under the spiritual influence then you render devotional service for Krishna and chant Hare Krishna then you will be under His protection. So this is the essence of devotional service to take the shelter of Krishna then we can overcome all types of difficulties. We can remain even though the material world is so difficult, by taking shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord we can cross over this difficult material world. Therefore the great acharyas, the spiritual masters, they have sung or composed various poems to encourage us to take that course of action. Bhajahu re mana Sri Nandanandana abhaya charanaravinda re – surrender your mind at the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, the beloved of Nanda Maharaj. Bhajahu re mana Sri Nandanandana abhaya charanaravinda re. Durlabha maanava janama satsange, tarahu ei bhaava sindhu re. Having got this valuable human life, more valuable association with spiritual people, devotees, you can cross over this ocean of repeated birth and death, the great material ocean of illusion by taking shelter of the lotus feet of Krishna. Jai Sri Sri Nitai Gaura ki jai! Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. I have a question - Nandakrishna has given me sweets more than I can finish myself, who is going to help me to eat these? Any volunteers, step forward! Ha! One had for one and two hands for two! Ha! Ha!

Jayaraseshwari devi dasi 18 June 2015