Two verses from the Haribhakti Sudhodaya show us the futility of material possession, erudition and scholarship in front of devotional service.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu quoted these verses when he met Srila Rupa Goswami along with his younger brother at Allahabad.
jatih sastram japas tapah
sva-pako ‘pi budhaih slaghyo
na veda-jno ‘pi nastikah
“Austerities, meditation, erudition, high birth etc. of a person are like a decoration of a dead body if he is not a devotee of the supreme personality of godhead.”
“A person who is so called low born, is highly respected by the learned people, for he has extinguished all the reactions of his past misdeeds due to his engagement in unalloyed devotional service. A learned scholar in Vedas is not recognized if he is an atheist”
Acquisition of material bodies based on association of three modes
Material body which is composed of five gross elements such as earth, water, fire, air and sky, is an encagement for the soul. This material body is dead body from the time of its inception. According to the past deeds, a soul takes up a material body, which is formed by the secretions of a female and male body. The law of nature creates a new body according to the subtle mental state of a living entity at the point of death. The subtle body is responsible for the migration of the soul from one body to another. The law of nature is comprised of three modes, mode of goodness, mode of passion and mode of ignorance. A living entity gets a particular body based on his association with these components of material nature.
By association of material mode of goodness, one will be elevated to higher status of life. Those who associate with material mode of passion will migrate to middle status of life and people who associate with material mode of ignorance will migrate into lower class of life such as animals. Hence, creation of different varieties of species and the transmigration to different class of such species are carried out by the laws of nature, according to the various desires of the living entity. The living entity has free will to associate with any of these modes. He can go from mode of goodness to mode of ignorance or change his association as he wills from one mode to another.
Life without devotion: Decoration of Dead Body
Progressive life offers one to reach the pinnacle of life, as a devotee of Supreme personality of godhead. To become a devotee is the ultimate aim of progressive life. From the day of its creation, the material body starts to dwindle. The different stages of development from embryo to childhood, youth and old age are all nothing but stages of death, which finally concludes in the soul migrating to a new body.
This human form confers us a greatest opportunity to achieve the ultimate realization of one’s life. Only in this form of life can we get solutions to queries related to one’s real identity, the universe and its laws, the controlling power and the supreme powerful and the interrelation between all of these. A man of such knowledge leads one to become a devotee of Vasudeva.
After many births of empiric search, great jnani’s – people in quest of knowledge, recognize the Supreme Personality of godhead Krishna and surrender to him. This is the beginning of devotional service. All kinds of activities such as Vedic study, philosophical research, sacrifices, penances and many other subsidiary activities are carried out to uplift one self, finally terminating in transcendental loving service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is called Buddhi yoga, free from all kinds of mental speculations. Being beyond the mental state, “Buddhi” here refers to liberated state from which devotion begins. Thus it is referred as Buddhi yoga or Bhakti yoga.
Propensity to mix this with fruitful work is called Karma Yoga. Metaphysical and philosophical mix with Buddhi yoga is called Jnana Yoga. But the highest goal of life is to achieve Buddhi yoga; without which all other qualities and possessions of objects, wealth and skills are but only a decoration of the dead body.
Buddhi yoga – Saves one from the greatest danger
All acquisitions of a man are lost with the loss of this material body, because none of it belonged to the soul. A man may achieve greatest heights of designation because of his pious activities or good work but he will be forced to shed them off at the time of death.
None of these possessions belongs to the eternal soul. The eternal activity of the Spirit soul is called Buddhi yoga and progress in small or big portion, performed in one’s life is a permanent asset to the soul. There is no diminution or destruction of such progress made in Buddhi yoga. Ajamila is a classic example for this. He was saved from Hell for his rendition of devotional service in early years of his life. What to say of others, even a novice devotee is promised by the lord in the second chapter of Bhagavad gita of his protection from the greatest danger of degradation to animal life.
Hence one has to endeavor to act in terms of Buddhi yoga at his best and avoid the unavoidable loss of possessions during one’s death. ‘Karma’ and ‘Jnana’ which respectively refer to the gross and mental acquisitions, end with this body. This body is sure to end either today or in a hundred years but what remains with the soul is his progress in Buddhi yoga. Based on his gradation of service, one gets a chance to be born in any of the three types of facilities to continue and complete his devotional service. The three facilities of elevated birth such as, birth in a family of devotee, birth in a sincere Brahmana family or in a family of rich mercantile man is awarded for the transmigrating soul for continuing his progress in Buddhi yoga. Lord Krishna made Arjuna a recipient of this knowledge in the fourth chapter of the Bhagavad gita.
Buddhi yoga – Devotional Service for one and all
Current civilization is moving opposite of such valuable instruction of scriptures; it is just a wholesale process of decorating the dead body, which pleases the ill-informed people of this Iron Age. Material endeavors lack actual vision of life; they waste the valuable gift of human life and drag the soul to degraded forms. People proud of their power do not recognize this out of vanity. Sane members of society feel sorry for such state of the modern civilization. Teachings of other religion also highlight the same apathy in neglecting the values of human form of life. Buddha was prophesizing the principle of ‘ahimsa’. He dealt with the principles of non-violence. He dealt with the bodily non-violence such as animal killing. But what is real ‘ahimsa’? The main form of violence is to keep living entities in darkness of their original self. This human form is obtained after many life times’, transmigrating from many different species. And no human is barred from taking up the path of Buddhi yoga irrespective of cast, creed, gender, color or nationality. Anyone irrespective of his status of life can attain the highest goal of life by following the process of Bhakti yoga.
Some examples from scriptures prove this beyond doubt. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu when enquired by Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya as to why Ishwara puri accepted a Sudra named Govinda as his disciple replied “Shri Krishna the Supreme Personality of Godhead is Supreme spiritual Master of all universes. He was never under the popular convention of the Vedic regulations and as such He gladly accepted foodstuff in the house of Vidura who was by birth a Sudra. Srila Iswarpuri, who was accepted by the Lord as His spiritual master-is equal to the position of Shri Krishna and as such his causeless mercy was bestowed upon Govinda even though he was by birth a Sudra.” Hence, no person can be barred in taking initiation based on his birth.
Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu substantiated this statement in many other places too. During His discourses with Ramananda Raya, He said that a person who knows the Personality of Godhead Krishna in the angle of scientific vision-is certainly eligible to become a spiritual master, never mind what he is either a Brahmin or a Sudra, a householder or a Sannyasi.
During his talks with Srila Sanatana Goswami, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said
“Nobody is barred from the service of Shri Krishna never mind whatever he is. Even though a man is born in the lower status of life, he has all the right to approach the Personality of Godhead. And a Brahmin because of his high birth may not be eligible for rendering service to the Supreme Lord.”
He continued “He alone is great who renders transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord and the non-devotee is always degraded and disgraced. There is no consideration of caste, creed and color in the matter of devotional service for the Supreme Lord.”
“One who is humble and meek is more qualified for receiving the mercy of the Lord than one who is proud of his birth, heritage, opulence, erudition.” This is the verdict of Lord Chaitanya.
All good qualities of the demigods are automatically manifested in a surrendered devotee. A non-devotee full of material possession is compared to a venomous snake decorated with a jewel on its head. Such a person is enamored by the objects of illusion. A devotee is under the protection of his internal energy but a non-devotee is under the rules of the external potency acting under the modes of material nature.
Therefore, in this world, all of society should be urged to take to Buddhi yoga and relish real happiness. Not only the elite class of religionists, philosophers and scientists but also the other members of society should be made aware of this transcendental destination available, irrespective of their status.