Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda
by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda
When we keep eternal, blissful knowledge (sat-cit-ānanda) in the forefront of our perception, dissociation from undesirable things will serve a great purpose if we can trace out their ultimate connection with the Absolute, if we can see their apparent source as irrelevant, and simply welcome them with the consideration that they are solely related to eternity. But we meet men who cherish the view of dissociating themselves from all manifest features of all phenomena in their attempt at emancipation. They want to deprive the manifest of its utility in order to gain the full scope of their impersonality. Thus, they are found to engage in non-cooperation with earthly phenomena due to the dread of already having been entangled in it.
Such men have no knowledge of their self, or else they have a misguided conception of the self, as a cow fears red clouds having formerly encountered burning flames. Thus they strive to be freed from what is actually their own perspective of impermanence in relation to phenomena. By failing to recognize Absolute Truth, they are compelled to exhibit great diffidence when it comes to accepting the reality of the total nature – earthly and transcendent. They wish to carry their defective impressions into the sphere of transcendence, for they consider that transcendental region to be identical with the prison of mundane phenomena.
It should therefore be a matter of grave consideration whether or not we should turn our back on all that is by diverting ourselves to follow the undifferentiated monistic aspect of the Absolute. In our present state, we more or less misunderstand transcendental subjectivity. To get relief from our erroneous impressions, we must not neglect to utilize everything as far as possible for the service of the Absolute, and must not adopt the views of the mistaken impersonalists. If we do not do so, we will join the ranks of the imprudent.
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Four years after Śrī Caitanya’s meeting with Raya Rāmānanda, the Supreme Lord in the form of an ascetic met Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī for the second time. At that time, Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī asked his Lord to enlighten him regarding his own self and the three-fold miseries he had to meet with during his journey in life. The Lord taught him that human souls are eternal Kārṣṇas (servitors of Kṛṣṇa). They have originated from the borderland-energy (taṭastha-śakti) of the Absolute Lord Kṛṣṇa, with the two neighbouring dominions of phenomena and transcendence on either side.
The subservient souls, simultaneously associated with and dissociated from the Absolute, are not themselves an extra substratum, but are merely distinguished from the Absolute by their quantitative designation of energy. Forgetful of their true situation, they are susceptible to isolate themselves by becoming enwrapped with the Absolute’s feature of foreignness, for again, despite having the same quality as the Absolute, they are of a different variety from the position of magnitude. This very transcendental Absolute Truth has disclosed the two-fold aspects of relativity [namely difference and non-difference] reigning in the temporal mundane sphere as well as in the transcendental eternal plane. So the question of relativity is to be treated independently in both aspects, without subscribing to the opinions of impersonalists, who have only one way of explaining away the phenomena, and in a derogatory manner.
On the western banks of the Gaṅgā, close to the Pañcanada bathing ghāṭa, the retired administrative authority [Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī] welcomed the transcendental description given by the personification of full knowledge, who was never confined to the empirical activities of learned monistic renunciants, including Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī, who was inculcating total avoidance of the mundane relativity of knowledge. His high-sounding pedantic feats were properly cowed down by the Lord, Śrī Caitanya. The band of impersonalists, who were known to have gained the civic guardianship of India in a previous era, received the true impression of ever-immutable, undeviating knowledge.
The Gaudiya, Volume 29, Number 12