The English Dictionary defines the word “spiritual” as “Relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things”.
Now before ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ delves deeper into this topic, it is essential for all of us to understand as to who we actually are? The answer to this question will help us make sense of life, in the first place, and lead us to the gradual understanding of what truly is the goal of it. In other words,the more we discuss and brainstorm upon our own identity, the more clarity it shall provide to logically deduce as to what we are essentially searching for.
Are we our Bodies ?
For instance, according to one popular school of thought, human beings and in fact all living beings ,are just a lump of flesh and blood.They argue, that our activities of thinking,willing and feeling arise out of complex interactions of matter. However,we are practically yet to conceive a robot in any of our science labs,that successfully demonstrates any symptoms of creativity,inspiration or love – the elementary functions of our conscious selves. So though there is no proof to this theory, it is still nonetheless a theory, and is widely accepted and endorsed by many.
It is worthwhile mentioning over here, that a cell, which is the basic constituent of a human body,has a definite life span, and once a particular cell dies, it is replaced by another. In this way, it is believed that over a span of 7 years, all the cells that constitute the physical body of a person, are completely replaced by the new ones. So in effect, a person receives a new body in every 7 years. Now if someone identifies himself with his own body, then he should be considered dead in the next seven years, as he gets physically replaced, or should we say, it is he who is completely replaced.Hence going by this school of thought, a person should be considered a completely different individual, after a span of seven years. And the new individual, seven years older, would be a different person with different sets of qualities, nature, acumen and consciousness who would have nothing to do with the person who he had just replaced. Going further on this, a person shouldn’t be sentenced for any crime, for more than seven years, as it would implicate that a different individual would have to suffer for the misdeeds he has not committed (it was committed by someone he has replaced). Another implication of this philosophy, might be the inclusion of an expiry date of seven years ,to the academic degrees. So Doctors, engineers,singers,etc need to prove their qualification periodically at a gap of seven years, as the new person might not be born as qualified as the person he had just replaced.
From the previous article entitled ‘Spirituality – Why and What ???’ , we now understand the deep desires of the soul and its eternal connection with the supersoul. We understand how these fundamental hankerings of the soul are the very objectives ,that we try to achieve through the various avenues of this world; albeit unsuccessfully.Hence, ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ shall now discuss about the proper processes which have been well documented in the ancient Vedic scriptures, that guide us to achieve this much elusive fulfillment missing in our lives- by satisfying the very desires of the Soul. The process of uniting the soul and the Supersoul is also known as Yoga.
The Bhagavad Gita, is considered to be one of the most sacred and revered books, that constitute the vast Vedic literatures.It comprises of seven hundred verses spoken by Sri Krishna, the Supreme Lord Himself, who descended in this world about 5000 years ago ,to give us a taste of His eternal sweet pastimes. The Bhagavad Gita encompasses the conversation between Sri Krishna and His friend Arjuna, in the middle of a battlefield, at a time when Arjuna was thoroughly disillusioned and confused as to what was his duty.
Sri Krishna ,first of all, apprised Arjuna of the reality of our existence. All of us, including the various other life forms that exist, are spiritual beings, entrapped in a material body.The soul can neither be destroyed by any weapon, nor be damaged by water,fire or wind. The soul or the spirit ,neither takes birth ,nor does he ever suffer death.Instead, the soul goes through a process of transmigration, from one body to the next, in a quest of attaining perfection. The soul finally attains a stage of perfection when it is able to rekindle its lost relationship with the Supreme.Thus Lord Krishna taught Arjuna ,how the so called happiness and grief, success and failure, relationships, hankerings for name, fame and prosperity ,etc associated with this world, are actually based out of the assumption, that we are our bodies. Forgetting our eternal identity, we try to build our identities based out of the temporary objects of this material world, and suffer in the process. Instead, we should align our engagements and relationships, in a way to suit our actual (eternal) objective – to perfect our existence.In other words we should stop acting on a bodily platform, and start acting on a spiritual platform. The process of Yoga helps us in achieving this objective and enables us to harmonize our actions with our actual spiritual mission.
Bhakti or the process of rendering devotional service unto the Supreme Lord is really very easy. In the process of Bhakti Yoga, one does not require to practice the physical austerities of astanga yoga or renounce the society altogether as in the other yogic processes. Yet one practicing Bhakti, finally achieves that supreme destination that eludes the practitioners of all the other yogic paths. The Gopis of Vrindavana were simple cowherd girls, who could achieve the supreme treasure of the Lord’s love. Now one might question, as to what their qualification was? They were neither the experts of astanga yoga nor learned scholars of the Vedic scriptures. Instead their qualification was simply an intense desire to serve the Lord and His beloved associates. Their desire was so intense that they could completely overlook their own pleasures or even sacrifice their very existence to serve Sri Krishna. Such was the stature of their devotion, that it bewildered even the Supreme Lord, and made Him wonder ,as to how one could love Him so much. The Supreme Lord hence had to descend again as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to relish and understand the devotion of the Gopis. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered the appearance pastimes of Lord Caitanya in a separate article entitled – ‘YogPeeth, Mayapur, Navadvipa – The birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’. Though it is not possible for us to imitate the exalted mood of the Gopis, we should hanker for opportunities to serve the Lord and deepen our relationship with Him. This is the very perfection of our lives.
Now that we understand the very basics of Bhakti yoga,from our previous article (‘The A B C D of Bhakti’), it is worthwhile for us to invest our time, and realize the magnanimity of a pure devotee of the Lord. Reading Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, we come to understand the out of the innumerable godly qualities, there are twenty-six ,which are very prominent within a Vaishnava. Sri Krishnadasa Kaviraja, out of his causeless mercy, has listed them down (Madhya Lila 22.78-80) for our meditation and contemplation.
sei saba guna haya vaishnava lakshana
saba kaha na yaya, kari dig darashana
(cc, Madhya, 22.77)
A pure devotee is magnanimous and an inspiration to one and all. It is only by great fortune, that one gets to associate with him. In Fact even a moment’s association with a pure devotee of the Lord is all purifying and it is only by his causeless mercy that one becomes eligible to engage in the service of the Supreme Lord. In this article, ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ shall try to relish and discuss about these glorious super excellent qualities that ornament the devotees of the Lord.