Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Humility in Devotion

Today we celebrate Janmashtami or Krishna Jayanthi. It is a celebration of the incarnation of Cosmic consciousness.

When Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu began His instructions to Rūpa Gosvāmī, He first told him, “My dear Rūpa, the science of devotional service is just like the great ocean, and it is not possible to show you all its length and breadth. However, I shall try to explain the nature of that ocean by taking just one drop out of it. In this way you can taste it and understand what that ocean of devotional service actually is.”

In the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, one of the four Kumāras, known as Sanandana, gave the following speech upon performing a great sacrifice:

“O Supreme Truth! If the living entities were not infinitesimal sparks of the supreme spirit, each minute spark would be all-pervading and would not be controlled by a superior power. But if the living entity is accepted as a minute part and parcel of the Supreme Lord he automatically becomes controlled by a supreme energy or power. The latter is his actual constitutional position, and if he remains in this position he can attain full freedom. ……... (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.87.30)
If one mistakenly considers his position to be equal to that of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he becomes contaminated by the doctrine of nonduality, and his efforts in transcendental life are rendered ineffective.”

The above episode and puranic texts are quoted for a specific purpose. First one has to realize the extreme insignificance of one’s individual consciousness when confronting the task of comprehending cosmic consciousness. Like I have pointed out, in many of my writings and talks, our mental faculty is extremely limited. Hence in his instruction to the great Jñani, Rūpa Gosvāmī, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu warns him of the expansiveness of the knowledge he is seeking. We must carefully note the words that are used. Caitanya Mahaprabhu says ‘science of devotional service is just like the great ocean’. It is not an action or ritual but it is a science. But this science is more complex than the material sciences we learn. But there is hope as a minute sample taken by a self realized Guru is adequate to dispense this vast knowledge of science of devotional service.

A very careful note is to be made that when the divine selects a limited entity which is an embodiment of all the essence of this infinite ocean there can be no aberration or lack in the content of what is dispensed. But if the individual ego tries to sample from this vast sea of knowledge, the sampling would be inadequate due to the ego contamination.

So what does it mean that one should allow the divine to sample the ocean? This means a total surrender of the self to the supreme Godhead. This is what Sanandana means when he says “But if the living entity is accepted as a minute part and parcel of the Supreme Lord he automatically becomes controlled by a supreme energy or power.” Integration at the consciousness level is achieved and the individual consciousness obtains full freedom and its limited perception can open up to a cosmic level of understanding.

In this process, if we allow our ego domination and equate individual consciousness to be equal to divine consciousness alienation sets in. There is great difference between ‘being equal’ and ‘being integral’. In being equal there is duality and being integral or inseparable is nondual.

The Lucifer is the archetypal icon of the ego rebellion. In Isaiah 14th Chapter it is said “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”

The ‘doctrine of nonduality’ is nectar in the hands of a spiritually mature person but this same nectar can turn in to a poison when the ego dominates in our bhakti marga.

Love to you all


  1. That is a deep note of understanding when you explain the difference beween equality and integrity.But such a level of integrity seems possible only occasionally and specififically when we involve in selfless service without being concious of its devotional aspect.

  2. Beautiful... Beautiful. Thanks for this wonderful article and for writing ever so often.

    I think when we have in our minds (front and center) that we are a chip of the block (non-dual), then we (re)act as integral part of God. We see good things. We think good and do good.
    However, mind has a myriad of things like passing clouds. During the normal flow life the 'achievements' oriented spirit kicks in. That's an example where we tend to get into the "I"-world and go into the believing in 'being equal'.

    Is there a 'superior' state or is it that, just being in the 'equal' tends to lead us there?

    How does one tame the mind to constantly dwell in the integral state?

  3. Subathra,
    Equality is a mental positioning while integrating is a state of being. Selfless service should lead us to a state of integral existence with the Divine. If we are having momentary feelings of being integral then it is an emotional derivative and a step towards the ultimate. It is not the goal of our pursuit.
    This is the reason why if we think we are rendering 'selfless service' the ego kicks in.
    This is why in Bhagavad-Gita Lord Krishna says:"The spirit soul bewildered by the influence of false ego thinks himself the doer of activities that are in actuality carried out by the three modes of material nature." Chapter 3:27

  4. JP,
    Thanks for the feedback.
    As I have explained to Subathra, the sloka in BG chapter 3:27 best explains how the ego kicks in.
    The purpose of life is to reach that pure state of being one with the divine. This is the reason that our awareness has to be continuously increased through sadhana to reach levels of higher consciousness. This is where karma plays a role and we may require many manifestations in the entire Cosmos to reach the final destination.

  5. Ego domination is the down fall for any person. Today the bhakthi marga is very much dominated by this sentiment.Tom toming the things done to the places of worship is the order of the day! And 'I'm one up with God' is the attitude prevailing in many prayer groups. "I spent the whole day in prayer" is the statement many make. They look down upon those who try to live a meaningful and ordinary life. Good article!

  6. Dear Raja, I observe the New Age movement in general tends to boast the “being equal” instead of “being integral”
    They hold to similar 'doctrines':

    i) general agreement that "all is one & all is God," and that we are our own gods.

    ii) agree on personal use of both occult power & the spirit world;

    iii) agree on rejection of absolute morality, including Christian values.
    Because there will always be Christians who "love the approval of men rather than God" (John 12:43); who integrate the world's ways with their Christian faith (James 1:27; 1 John 2:15; 4:4) or who are ignorant of the extent of spiritual warfare (Acts 20:28-34; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 6:12-18; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:l-3).
    “Being integral” may allow the person to perceive:
    i) that God & man are one (see Genesis 1-3);

    ii) that faith in God is unnecessary (see Hebrews 11:1);

    iii) that Christ is man's "higher self" (see John 3:16,18; Philippians 2:l-9)

    iv) that death is "absolutely safe," merely a change without judgement (see John 3:36; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:10-25).
    ". try [test] the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world (1 John 4:1).
    1 Corinthians 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals;

    1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals;"

    2 Corinthians 11:3 But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ;

    Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap;

    2 Timothy 3:13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

    Titus 3:3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.

    In dealing with the New Age Cult, we are in reality dealing with spiritual warfare against the forces of darkness, and we are told by God to put on the whole armor of heaven so that we will be able to withstand the forces of Satan (Ephesians 6:11).

    There is no substitute in this conflict for knowledge of the Word of God and the proper use of the sword of the Spirit and the shield of faith to deflect all the flaming arrows of the evil one. The forces arrayed against us are great, the stakes are high: the souls of millions of people. But the promise of God stands sure, we can "overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

    Prepare yourself for spiritual combat, study and show yourself approved by God, a workman who won*t need to blush with embarrassment, rightly interpreting the word of truth. And above all, lift the shield of faith declaring, "Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." The Christian Church looks to that glorious moment when "the Sun of righteousness will arise with healing in His wings" (Malachi 4:2), and the former things of the cursed earth will pass away and God will make all things new. This is our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and Savior Jesus Christ - this is the hope of the Church and the hope of the ages.

  7. Raja,
    Fine reflection indeeed on the incarnation of divine consciousness. St.Paul to the Philipians in the second Chapter says: "Have the same mind as Jesus had" ...He didnot consider himself to be equal to God and humbled himself to be part and parcel of our human reality in order to facilitate us to incarnate the divie consciousness. St,Paul to the Colosians says: His divine content is fully in his humanform and you have been given a share...

    Just an observation: See if your fifth Paragraph where you talk about "nonduality" as negatively contaminating with wat you say in the concluding para: nonduality as the necter for the seeker.


    Mathias annan

  8. EMPTY,
    Thanks for your observation and appreciation.

  9. Francis,
    Thanks for the well researched Biblical references for the feedback.
    Spirituality is a state of being and not a state of doing.
    Most of the time the problem comes when we seek meaning in words of the scriptures in a literal sense.
    Spirituality is not an intellectual exercise but an experiential state.
    All scriptures and other tools should only be aids in our pursuit.

    Thank you.

  10. Annan,
    Thanks for your sharing and appreciation.
    The 'Doctrine of non-duality' becomes a corrupting influence if we start employing it in a purely intellectual domain without understanding the limitation of sense or mind oriented perception.
    But the same doctrine becomes the bedrock of grounding when one goes through a mystical experience which lies beyond mind-body involvement.

  11. Dear Raja,
    You're right. What you said is true. Spirituality is not the result of studies, even not of Biblical Studies, but a result of an experience with God, where we come to know the love of God for us revealed in Jesus Christ.
    Thank you.