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CAT 11: "Feel the Oneness" ... with a Difference

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: This next question is rather interesting, Śrīla Prabhupāda. "Is it not possible for all kinds of spiritualists—be they Advaitans [advocates of oneness of the self with God], Dvaitans [advocates of total difference between the self and God], or Viṣiṣṭādvaitans [advocates of qualified oneness of the self with God]—come together instead of remaining isolated as warring factions?"

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. This is the process taught by Caitanya Mahāprabhu—to bring all the Dvaitans and Advaitans together on one platform. Everyone has to understand that he is essentially a servant of God. The Advaitan wrongly thinks that he is absolutely one with God, that he himself is God. That is wrong. How can you become God? God is ṣaḍ-aiśvarya-pūrṇam, full in six opulences. He has all power, all wealth, all beauty, all fame, all knowledge, and all renunciation. So this Advaitan idea is artificial—to think you're able to become God.

The Dvaitans stress that one is utterly different from God, that God is separate from the living entity. But actually, from the Bhagavad-gītā we understand that the living entities are part and parcel of God. And in the Vedas it is said, nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.2.13): both God and His creatures are living entities, though God is the chief. Eko yo bahūnāṁ vidadhāti kāmān: the difference between the two is that God maintains all the other living entities. That is a fact. We are maintained, and God is the maintainer. We are predominated—we are not independent—and God is the predominator. But because the predominated living entities are part and parcel of God, in quality they are one with God.

So Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's philosophy is acintya-bhedābheda: the living entities are simultaneously one with and different from the Lord. The living entity is one in the sense that he is part and parcel of God. So if God were gold, the living entity would also be gold. That is oneness in quality. But God is great, and we are minute. In that way we are different. That is why Caitanya Mahāprabhu enunciated this philosophy of acintya-bhedābheda: inconceivable, simultaneous oneness with and difference from God. That is real philosophy.

So on the platform of this philosophy, everyone can come together, if they are reasonable. If they remain unreasonably stuck up in their own concocted philosophy, then it is difficult. But it is a fact that the living entity is eternally one with and different from God. Find this verse: mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke.

Hari-sauri:

mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke
jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ
manaḥ ṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi
prakṛti-sthāni karṣati

"The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind." [Bg. 15.7]

Śrīla Prabhupāda: So if the living entity is eternally a fragmental part, how can he become one with the whole? The part is never equal to the whole. That is an axiomatic truth. So it is a wrong conception to try to become equal to God. The Māyāvādīs are trying to become God, but that is impossible. Let them try to become godly. Godly means "servant of God." That will make them perfect. The Vaiṣṇava philosophy teaches that we can remain in our natural position but act as a servant of God. That is perfect. But if the servant tries to become the master, that is artificial.

Of course, in the spiritual world there often seems to be no difference between the master and the servant. For instance, Kṛṣṇa's friends the cowherd boys—they do not know that Kṛṣṇa is God. They play with Him on equal terms. When Kṛṣṇa is defeated in play, He has to take His friend on His shoulder and carry him. The friends do not know who is God and who is not God. So that is the advanced spiritual conception. Of course, the difference is always there between God and the part-and-parcel living entities, but by the influence of God's internal potency, the understanding is covered. We can attain that position after many, many lives of pious activities. That is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam [10.12.11]:

itthaṁ satāṁ brahma-sukhānubhūtyā
dāsyaṁ gatānāṁ para-daivatena
māyāśritānāṁ nara-dārakeṇa
sākaṁ vijahruḥ kṛta-puṇya-puñjāḥ

The cowherd boys are playing with Kṛṣṇa. And who is Kṛṣṇa? He is the essence of brahma-sukha, spiritual bliss. He is Param Brahman, the Supreme Spirit. So the boys are playing with Param Brahman, though to an ordinary man He appears to be an ordinary child. how have the cowherd boys gotten the position of being able to play with Kṛṣṇa? Kṛta-puṇya-puñjāḥ: After many, many lives of pious activities, they have gotten the position of playing with Kṛṣṇa on equal terms.

So this is the conception of pure devotional service—that when you go to Goloka Vṛndāvana, Kṛṣṇa's abode, you love Kṛṣṇa so much that you will not distinguish between the Supreme Lord and His subordinates. The inhabitants of Kṛṣṇa's abode have such unflinching love for Kṛṣṇa. That is Vṛndāvana life. The cows, the calves, the trees, the flowers, the water, the elderly men, Kṛṣṇa's parents Nanda Mahārāja and Yaśodāmayī—everyone is intensely attached to Kṛṣṇa. Everyone's central point is Kṛṣṇa. Everyone is loving Kṛṣṇa so much that they do not know He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Sometimes the residents of Vṛndāvana see Kṛṣṇa's wonderful activities and think, "Kṛṣṇa must be some demigod who has come here." They never recognize that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead—or if they do, Kṛṣṇa makes them immediately forget. When Kṛṣṇa manifested His pastimes on earth some five thousands years ago, He passed through many dangerous situations—so many demons were coming—and mother Yaśodā would chant mantras to protect Kṛṣṇa, thinking, "He may not be put into some calamity." Kṛṣṇa's family and friends never understood that Kṛṣṇa is God. Their natural love for Kṛṣṇa was so intense. Therefore Vṛndāvana life is so exalted. As Caitanya Mahāprabhu taught, ārādhyo bhagavān vrajeṣa-tanayas tad-dhāma vṛndāvanam: First of all, Kṛṣṇa-Vrajendra-nandana, the son of Nanda Mahārāja—is ārādhya, worshipable. Then, tad-dhāma vṛndāvanam: His dhāma, or abode—Vṛndāvana—is equally worshipable.

So these facts pertain to a higher standard of understanding. Only a devotee can understand that to become one with God is not a sublime idea. In Vṛndāvana the devotees want to become the father or mother of God—to control God with love. This fact the Māyāvādīs, or Advaitavādīs, cannot understand. Only pure devotees can understand these things. What is the benefit of becoming one with God?

Even other Vaiṣṇava philosophies cannot explain the higher relationships with God, which Caitanya Mahāprabhu explained. These are vatsalya-rasa [parenthood], and madhurya-rasa [conjugal love]. Caitanya Mahāprabhu especially taught that our relationship with Kṛṣṇa can be in conjugal love, madhurya-rasa.

But as for our general understanding, Lord Caitanya introduced the philosophy of acintya-bhedābheda—simultaneously one with and different from the Lord. That is explained by Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad-gītā [15.7]: mamaivāṁśo ... jīva-bhūtaḥ—the living entities are part and parcel of God. So we are one with God, since we have God's qualities in minute degree. But God is the master, and we are always subordinate. Eko bahūnāṁ yo vidadhāti kāmān: we are protected, we are maintained, we are predominated. That is our position. We cannot attain the position of predominator. That is not possible.