for gaurangakishore.blogspot.com on Aug. 28, 2010
According to the Srimad Bhagavatam there are three ways in which the one original Absolute Truth is known. Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.11 states, "Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this non-dual substance Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan."
The one Absolute Truth is not only known in three different ways but this one Absolute Truth is also worshipped in three different ways.
In the beginning of the twelfth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita Krishna speaks about worship of Brahman, or the all pervading impersonal Absolute Truth. He says that one can worship Brahman "by controlling the senses and being equally disposed to everyone."
A spritual tradition based on worship of the impersonal absolute is primarily focused on performing rigorous austerities as the main discipline, as well as cultivating an attitude of equality towards all living beings.
Worship of the Supersoul is specifically elucidated upon in the Bhagavatam and consists of properly relating to other living beings, with compassion and respect. This is discussed in a number of places, here are a few references on the topic.
Lord Rsabhadeva instructs His sons, "My dear sons, you should not envy any living entity — be he moving or nonmoving. Knowing that I am situated in them, you should offer respect to all of them at every moment. In this way, you offer respect to Me."
In the section of Srimad Bhagavatam describing the churning of the milk ocean where Lord Shiva drinks the poison that is threatening the universe.
Sukadeva Goswami says "It is said that great personalities almost always accept voluntary suffering because of the suffering of people in general. This is considered the highest method of worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is present in everyone's heart." The word used to the Lord in this verse is purusasya akhila atmani or the supreme person who is the soul of all or simple the Supersoul.
In the third canto Lord Kapiladev describes this more directly in a series of verses (3.29.21-27).
"I am present in every living entity as the Supersoul. If someone neglects or disregards that Supersoul everywhere and engages himself in the worship of the Deity in the temple, that is simply imitation."
"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 oblations into ashes."
"One who offers Me respect but is envious of the bodies of others and is therefore a separatist never attains peace of mind, because of his inimical behavior towards other living entities."
"My dear Mother, even if he worships with proper rituals and paraphernalia, a person who is ignorant of My presence in all living entities never pleases Me by the worship of My Deities in the temple."
"Performing his prescribed duties, one should worship the Deity of the Supreme Personality of Godhead until one realizes My presence in his own heart and in the hearts of other living entities as well."
"As the blazing fire of death, I cause great fear to whoever makes the least discrimination between himself and other living entities because of a differential outlook."
"Therefore, through charitable gifts and attention, as well as through friendly behavior and by viewing all to be alike, one should propitiate Me, who abide in all creatures as their very Self."
This is very important and informative section of the Srimad Bhagavatam describes how if one does not properly worship the Supersoul in the heart of all living entities, one`s direct worship of the Lord in His deity form is considered to be completely worthless.
And the method described for worshipping the Supersoul in this section by Lord Kapiladev is astoundingly simple as offering one's attention to another living entity. Simply by offering one's attention to another living entity we can worship the Supersoul! And along with attention we can offer friendly behavior, that is a revolutionary statement to many religious fanatics who in the name of worshiping God engage in various forms of cruelty ranging from harsh judgement and criticism to physical violence.
This conception of religion validates our natural intuition that people who do harm to others in the name of religion and not truly religious, but rather their behavior is atheistic or against God because they disrespect the form of the Lord that resides in the heart of all living entities.
These three levels are summarized nicely in the Bhagavad-gita 18.54 where it is described that in order to properly perform devotional service one must first come to the platform of Brahman and Paramatma realization.
"One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything. He is equally disposed toward every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me."
Most of the Gaudiya Vaishnava literature does not deal with these lower stages of spiritual realization as they are discussed in many books and they have been revealed in many different religious traditions. The unique revelation of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was the intimate pastimes of Krishna in Vrindavan and especially Krishna's conjugal pastimes with Srimati Radharani and her confidential associates.
But the importance of properly relating to other living entities is given to us by Him in the third verse of His Siksastaka prayers wherein we are instructed to "be more humble than a blade of grass, more tolerant than a tree, ready to offer all respects to others expecting none in return."
Understanding what this verse is asking of us is crucial because this is considered by our acaryas to be the most important verse for those aspiring to advance on path of bhakti yoga, because without developing these qualifications any external show of devotional service, any performance of the harinam sankirtan yajna is simply a waste of time or as Lord Kapiladeva says it is like pouring ghee on ashes.
The Srimad Bhagavatam is really an explanation of what it means to worship the Lord in that pure state of consciousness, and that is obviously a very deep topic but on the most basic simple level if we are not kind to others we are disrespecting Krishna or God in his form of the Supersoul residing in their heart.
All direct forms of worshipping the personality of Godhead, all direct forms of devotional service, will not bear fruit if we are not properly worshipping the Supersoul in the heart of all living entities.
Or, in the most simple language possible, we cannot worship God if we are not kind to other living entities.
Who would've thought?