Autonomic and Voluntary Bhakti

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By Sarva Sankalpa prabhu

We recently happened upon a snippet from R. Dass, and we should like to pass the gist of it onto you. What is “ISKCON” teaching these days? What wisdom is treasured by those who have been touched by an Avatar like Srila Prabhupada? Let us find out:

jarayaty asu ya kosam
nigirnam analo yatha

“Bhakti, devotional service, dissolves the subtle body of the living entity without separate effort, just as fire in the stomach digests all that we eat.”

Srimad-bhagavatam, 3.25.33

This is nectar, because the subtle body gives us far more trouble than the gross body. Here’s more:

“The body of such a liberated yogi, along with the senses, is taken charge of by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and it functions until its destined activities are finished. The liberated devotee, being awake to his constitutional position and thus situated in samadhi, the highest perfectional stage of yoga, does not accept the by-products of the material body as his own. Thus he considers his bodily activities to be like the activities of a body in a dream.” Srimad-bhagavatam, 3.28.38

A couple of glaring implications or insinuations dwell in the manner in which these verses are wrongfully conflated to our great disadvantage. We can be enticed into corruption by our own misguided intentions, and, as a result, enter into spiritual retrogression. In order to avoid this crime against ourselves, we are obliged to first deconstruct it.

First, let’s look at honesty in speech in terms of contingencies such as journalism and similar literary works. The spirit of such treatises is meant to plainly bring a reader to clarity and goodness. If the writing is actually good, it may employ expressionism that makes it appear to be evil in order to inoculate us from evil. Expressionism can exemplify, but it must not erode us and insinuate the evil. The process of inoculation must contain dead evils, i.e., not enticements to evil. Most writing and speaking, of course, should not really be expressive of evils; it should instead have a pleasant or informative mood (mellow), lest repetition erode by virtue of its weight upon us. Artists know this when they are not pornographers.

The nub is that general speech, etc., is of a sweet mellow. Then, it must be scrupulously honest so the gentle reader is not poisoned in spirit. Good spirit is sweet mellow combined with a solidly grounded honest presentation of the Truth. We examined expressionism. Our conclusion is that, although it is always an option, it is a sad one. Alas, our world is so often nothing more than a vale of tears.

Let’s now look at dishonest speech and writing. It should not be an option, or, if ever availed upon, it should be an expedient meant to save life only, to be recompensed forever afterwards. Here is an example of what is not to be done: The instruction is received, “Stop killing the dog’s fleas. Go to the man at the door and sign for the package.” If you are honest, you go to the door and accept the package. But if the incident is dishonestly reported, then the murderer says, “I was told to kill the man.”

Yes, you were told something. Yes, killing was in the process of taking place, the killing of parasites. Yes, a man was present. No—a thousand times, no—there was no directive to kill the man at the door. Honest intelligence would never accept such a determination. The reasonable material law states, through the medium or product of some thorough and good debate, that there is this: “Speak the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth.” We need not avoid this canon; it is good, and we can continue to use it.

In gist, we shall debate with anyone if, by so doing, we can uncover Truth. We shall not shorten it or conflate it. We shall not contaminate it with things untruthful. We shall not obtrude things that, although they are factual, are not at all pertinent.

There is an essential application here. We must not conflate the bottom rung of the yoga ladder (yama) with the top one, asamprajnata samadhi, and someone who does this (such as R. Dass) completely kills Truth thereby. We shall confine ourselves to bhakti. We are sure in all honesty that poor R. Dass does not mind, since he has spoken the abovementioned Bhagavatam verses from the bhakti shastra. Here, for a short moment, he and ourselves are one—a very short moment, however. Can we leave it at rest there? If we even make this attempt, it won’t last!

Well, why won’t the peace last? The reason is that poor R. Dass is living a lie. That’s sad, but I do not have to say that the sun is black and swine fly at high altitudes. Instead, I just have to enact a lie. Then it becomes a living lie; a life that is a lie sucks in violence to itself. Like a magnet, nature abhors such lies and fills them up with himsa.

Remaining on topic, poor R. Dass has presented us a verse that appears to present autonomic bhakti, a bhakti so self-unaware that it is autonomic. This word is a term applicable to physiology, a science relating to the members of a human body, such as a man’s organs, tissues, layers, and how they relate or act. Autonomic organs act according to predetermined law; they are often not subject to voluntary choice.

An example is digestion. We chew well, swallow successfully, and, hours later, dump the relics. During the interim, we feel full of energy. Why? We really don’t know; it has happened autonomically. Do we always act in every way autonomically? By no means: We chew and swallow voluntarily. We choose a spouse voluntarily. We bathe voluntarily. Our heart pulse, our digestion, and other bodily functions are active, quite law-abiding, but most of us never learned how to digest or how to adapt our heart or how to remain alive while lacking air. There are special individuals, however, who can do this, and these are the siddhas. We shall mention them in passing, because they are rarely seen.

R. Dass pins a tail on a donkey. He is hoping and wishing never to confront Truth. Why, it might hurt! He likes autonomic bhakti, which is easy, an easy system—the easier, the better. In short, he is a sahajiya.

What is a sahajiya? Specifically, it is an old relic of Vajrayana Mahayana Buddhism, sometimes called the Diamond Path Sect of the Great Vehicle Buddhism. Diamond Path Mahayanists developed a profoundly dangerous and condemnable cult; a heresy or secret cabal named Sahayana Buddhism. Sahayanists presented what they claimed was an easy process to liberation. Beware, something for nothing is often nothing.

In itself, Sahayana Buddhism is dangerous. Other Buddhist sects, like Sukavati Vyuha Buddhism (Pure Land Buddhism, a sort of vague tendency toward theism) demand a disciplined life, with prescribed diet, mantras, shastras, priestly patriarchs, sangas (devout societies), and the other usual features of organized religion. We carry no brief for this, aside from saying that it develops habits of civility in the votary.

The easy path (so-called) or sahayana combines many evils, however. One is named “shakti-pat.” In shakti-pat ceremonies, a bija (here, a mania) is thrust on the votary, invultuating him. In Western metaphysics, this is named “making him a channel.” The subject is complex. In brief, shakti-pat is slavery to an evil, be it an evil spirit, an evil form, an evil planet, vitiated intelligence, a bad planet or demigod, etc.

Sahayanists expedite mania, they aggravate mania by sweeping aside organized religious rites (organized religion is no cure-all, of course) or systems of material piety with rosaries, litanies, liturgies, etc. All such ritualism is swept aside as a hindrance to liberation. In reality, it is a hindrance to mania and sloth toward organized rites. A type of ignorance (tamas) is never a counterpoise. Such a premise is rather a straw man, as religious rites become a convenient object of hate so that shakti-pat mania can continue to destroy unsuspecting fools.

Sankara the Mayavadi was an avatar of Shiva Mahadeva, and the thrust of his incarnation was to entice Buddhists away from Buddhism and indircely back to Sanatana Dharma. Although intensely dangerous to Vaisnavas, He is helpful to those savaged by sahajiyism. In that context (and no other), he assists Buddhists by enticing them, even as Mohini Avatar enticed asuras. Note well, never mess with the maya of Sankara. He knew perfectly how to turn buddhi (our light) into darkness.

Great Acharyas, such as the glorious Ramanuja and our deeply beloved Madhva, also hoped to defeat Buddhism; the Supreme Personality of Geodhead Chaitanya Mahaprabhu did likewise. Herein lies a truth worthy to be received. After the era of Sriman Mahaprabhu and the Gosvamis, Buddhism, mostly gutted and dispatched, reasserted itself in a folk cult. The principle assets of Lord Chaitanya and His congruent Acharyas, such as Ramanuja, Nimbarka, and Vishnu Swami, were tactfully borrowed and invultuated. Our topmost divine Lady, Srimati Radharani, was called a factor of Buddhism. They similarly appropriated the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Bhagavan Krishna, and the six Goswamis were also considered factors. You name it, they drafted it.

The new sect, hating even organized Buddhism, instantly cut formal ties and developed native cults, in principle undifferentiated from voodoo, such as Santeria, etc. Organized Isha Religion (Roman Catholicism), with its saint and God Deities, was similarly borrowed, and into its Deities were forced African and South American spirits from Bantus and Incas.

In short, poor R. Dass desires a voodoo curse. Voodoo is easier than voluntary bhakti, and he will soon join a voodoo cult-in-drag, tricked out in apricot robes, singing sweet Bengali tunes, but, nevertheless, unconditionally a voodoo cult; its name is “ISKCON.” It teaches voodoo-in-drag, and that is what you get from the easy path.

Now we shall set aside the first stolen verse and consider the other molested sloka, viz., 3.28.38. “Thus he considers his body to be like the activities of a body in a dream.” The highest samadhi has been described in this verse, because this is the actual bhakti samadhi. Bhakti entails both the development of very exceedingly acute personal consciousness and also a penetration into the relationships with the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna, as well as His contingent. This is not at all the same thing as the so-called autonomic bhakti. The purvapakshas badly need assistance! They are herein forced to confront the fact that you have to be awake in order to prosecute bhakti. They do not want to make any such effort, and they need help in order to remain asleep.

Autonomic bhakti is a temporary gift of the guru working closely with the Supersoul; realization of the Supersoul is actual samadhi. The guru initially uses economy to welcome and provide hospitality for a guest, a new friend. However, that arrangement is not permanent. It is a form of restriction (temporarily, of karma and maya), and it is named yama; the disciple must rapidly pass over into niyama. Niyama bhakti means that there is less buffering and more training. The new guest, showing signs of desire for sanga and darshan of the self-realized guru, who is Lord Krishna’s transparent via medium, is now trained in sadhana. He comes to know the ethical path leading to the All Good Absolute, which ultimately indicates Goloka Vrindavan.

Let’s catch our breaths for a moment, if you don’t mind. In yama bhakti, a karmi (vikarmi) is presented an enticing tableau of divine love. The guru, as a Moon to the Krishna Sun, attracts him, so he voluntarily becomes a shishya, a star. And the ashram is a type of paradise. Because this new star is not free to suffer much, Lord Krishna gives him a short, very brief, moment. In that moment of Ritu or Kairos, he can say, “Yes, I need this. It is me. I forgot Krishna. I want to return.” In order to do that, old karmas, old devils, his very own malefic intentions in the heart, are slightly suppressed. A little tiny segment of heaven (as well as eternity), a small slice of the apple of the tree of knowledge, is bestowed upon him. Unconditionally, it is a kind of slavery, so freedom replaces it, oh so very quickly—because the whole pivot of bhakti is freedom.

R. Dass, although a sahajiya who outwardly espouses freedom, inwardly hates it. He longs once again for that initial slice of the sacred apple, and, by doing so, inadvertently requests a voodoo curse. Hiranyakasipu has leaped over all of his vaikuntha, past rudraloka and onto the darkest slavery of Maya. All of these sahajiyas summersault away from niyama (freedom) and the actual healing of consciousness.

Now we can finally get a scope on the crime committed by R. Dass, who takes the economy of his guru as a drug (to which he is addicted), and, in his addiction, searches for voodoo. This despite the fact that his guru hates voodoo and has cursed it. R. Dass, nevertheless, is fully prepared to molest various verses about samadhi, thinking that, by doing so, it might yield more of that now past economy. He is a living dead man (jivanchavah), so let’s drop this poor R. Dass for awhile and finish our neat little article with some discussion of bhakti. We should discuss some statements in our system which seem a bit difficult to comprehend, contrarian, even perhaps perverse—especially when compared with a verse describing a lotus flower dripping with nectar and swarming with intoxicated bees.

If you would please accompany me for a moment, we just might discover something interesting. It is the interest of the intelligence that draws the reader or hearer into the bhakti shastras, into bhakti yoga, the eternal serving mood. Bhakti can produce total realization of the Truth. We can take advantage of the sweet song of the Blessed Lord, the Bhagavad-gita, in its very first words: dharma-ksetre kuru-ksetre.

Dharma-ksetre is briefly translated as the place of pilgrimage. In a broader sense, it is the field of dharma—or acting in Krishna consciousness—in every sphere, at all times, in every relationship. Kuru-ksetre is a specific location in Northern India, in Haryana state; it is relatively near the region of New Delhi. In the broader sense, it reminds us that Lord Krishna’s relatives, the Pandavas, had not one thimbleful of land on which to practice their required dharma as ksatriyas. Their merited facility was expressly denied them via a cabal primed by Duryodhana. In summation, the entire world was kuru-ksetra, a field for the Pandava’s rivals. And the Kurus were intent to rule all of it at all times, without exception.

So we are apprised here, instantly, of a polarization, a binary, a dialectic between the dharma of the Pandava princes (to rule in Krishna consciousness) and the so-called dharma of Duryodhana. He was an accomplished king, no doubt, and he could rule with expertise—but he made no allowance at all for Krishna consciousness to enter into that. Nevertheless, and quite paradoxically, this tension between the two parties had a healing effect, was alive, was vibrant, and was transcendentally good. How so?

Now we must deliberate on the topic of art and yoga. Our most glorious artist, His Divine Grace Srila Vyasadeva, has mapped out a song and criss-crossed it with tensions, with the dialectic. A Greek sage has reported the result some 2500 years after his demise: “Tragedy causes sympathy in the audience, and this causes a catharsis of stolidity.” This can only help us. Simply stated, the rasa of the audience pulls a viewer along, and all feel sympathy or kinship (which is a type of love), and this amounts to a brief darshan of eternity.

This topic is complex, admittedly, so I shall not belabor it. However, the artistry of Srila Vedavyasa opens our hearts, freeing our incipient sense of rasa. This is the taste of spirit, even as light symbolizes the vision of spirit. Srila Vyasadeva accomplishes the creation of numinous literature that defeats manda sumanda manda-bhagya; indeed, it defeats upadrutah, as well. That means that it defeats stolid lethargy, poverty, and inflamed agitation. A certain aspect of this supreme treasure-house of art is the placing of dialectical tensions to cause catharsis and transcendence.

The first words dharma-ksetre kuru-ksetre are so tense and filled with life dynamics that we start to have a broken heart or vishada in sympathy with Sri Arjuna. That is wanted. This is all accomplished in the space of—please attend!—two words! This is the therapeutic power of God and His artist. If we open our hearts to the complex mellow or rasa of these two words, we can then know with confidence the path to take. It is opposite the path of conditioning; it is towards the Good Place, Goloka. If we take it in this spirit, we find that the path is unencumbered. It is up to us simply to desire the open, ethical path (in the Aristotelian sense), and then walk it.

And now let us examine that samadhi verse. We find that the body of the yogi who has attained that samadhi is taken care of by God, until he disappears. Politely, we refer to the cessation of activity of bhakti yogi in such highest samadhi, because he is no doubt quite alive somewhere in Vaikuntha engaged in absolute service to the Supreme Lord—while we remain, literally, lost in a cloud. That cloud is called maya; it obscures the friendly fullness of God (known as brahmajyoti), and it is us, dear reader, who are all lost.

Do not fear; gurus know places to cross into light. Srila Vyasa tells us how in relation to the abovementioned self-realized yogi. He describes him thus: “He does not accept the by-products of the material body as his own.” This indicates the complete cessation of ahankara, the abandonment of “I did this” and “this is mine.” Mamata is disciplined in all activities, just as a spirited steed is perfectly handled by the cavalry general. The horse is full of the elan, and the general takes advantage of that. Or, as His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada so aptly puts it: “As if with a thrill.” The horse adores the cavalry general, who looks into his eyes and muzzles him. The horse will not leave him, even at night. The horse likes to be superbly handled, and the military zeal of the general is greater than the horse can attain.

Ahankara (aham mamata) is a stolid, slothful creature compared to the Supreme Blessed Lords Krishna and Balaram and Caitanya. This meaning is crucial, so let’s refocus and get our bearings. It is true, worthy to be received, so rest your apprehensiveness. Now we shall show how evil Buddhism is, and how good bhakti makes us.

After thus catching our breath, we shall see why the aforementioned samadhi in bhakti has, in reality, a full set of emotions and even an ego. First, let us say this: A thing abused in not evil per se; it is reactive to hate ego and possession (aham mamata). The yogi absorbed in rasa is always active within, and such activity is in relationship with the Supreme Lord. But slowly, slowly—do not rush in! That yogi might be a peacock living on Lord Krishna’s roof. He does not think, “Ah! All peacocks are so foul, but I am the best.” In his relishable rasa, Lord Krishna may run at him, and he flies away, screeching as only a peacock can screech. In the material world, if you assault me, I might well damage you. In Goloka, Lord Krishna and His peacock create a mellow, a rasa flavor of spirit, by their rushing and screeching.

However, in the material world, this dynamic rasa or lila is not; never has been and never will be. It is all impersonal here. Yet, in the highest Vaikuntha, in Goloka, everything is perfect in an acintya, inexplicable marriage between countless millions of lakshmis, gopas, cows, and trees–all edified and all edifying all. This is mutual consummation of contact.

In the eternal land, Lord Krishna remains Supreme while enjoying transcendent kenosis. The rasa is ever-sweeter for all inhabitants.

Kenosis is a Greek term, meaning “the emptying.” The proper station of impersonalism is in personalism, or, as Prabhupada states, theosophy (Mayavada-in-drag) ends in personalism. Lord Krishna, Who owns bhaga (repletion) becomes “dead” to bhaga, or, in one sense, empty, void or impersonal. In rasa, relative to Godhead excellences, His mother can yell, “Stop eating butter. You are a criminal.” Then again, He can be Ranchor-ji and steal away from the battle. In sum, a Buddhist and his veiled-Buddhist cohort, the Mayavadi, would murder ahankara, mamata, Krishna, and the transcendental peacock. Yet, in Goloka, the residents think all of this to be sweet. Lord Krishna “dies” to bhaga in order to taste a higher, healthy, vibrant, healing “ahankara.”

As such, we learn that the bhakti yogi in highest samadhi considers his bodily activities like that of a body in a dream. This yogi has his station Goloka—at least, in our example—and is already active, according to the hypothesis, as a transcendental peacock. The decision of Krishna, the Ultimate Source of time and bhaga excellences, is not to change the yogi into another state, not to modify him into a deathless, advanced siddha, not to assume him into some kind of material heaven. The yogi might be in Navadvipa or Sri Rangam, and he remains there—visibly eating and bathing. He is supremely introspective, and, from his articulate and absolute position as spirit, he looks upon his body as in a dream.

Our most recent shakyavesha-avatar, Sri Srimad Abhaya Caranaravindam Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, visibly shifted in that way, also. Sometimes he was thick, sometimes thin. Once he had the chitta vahana or prana of a boy, then an old but gentle man. Everyone of his serious disciples experienced this, at least once. Prabhupada the Avatar showed us in our peripheral or learning stage how a samadhi bhakti-yogi thinks of himself—he gave us an apocalypse in order to raise Maya’s curtain.

Ultimately, he did not buffer us by economy as poor R. Dass begs. We chanted as the Avatar told us, and we asked him whatever. Outwardly, he answered us and directed us, but he still acted as in a dream. He gave us a guided tour of rasa and buddhi-yoga from the real samadhi platform. It was an apocalypse, but this was not a deadening. It has turned out to be a heightening. Even while he was with us, we were alive to ourselves and to him. He said, in effect, “Welcome. Come along. Krishna is boxing with Balaram. You’re just in time. Hold on for a second. Here you are. Here’s your Goloka clothes. Let’s go sing to encourage the battle.”

On board the tour of Avatar Prabhupada, the most recent superb Acharya of our Sampradaya, what would we see there? Lord Brahma gives us a hint in the Brahma-samhita, telling us: “I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who plays on His transcendental flute. His eyes are like lotus flowers, He is decorated with peacock plumes, and His bodily color resembles a fresh black cloud although His bodily features are more beautiful than millions of cupids.” This is the wisdom of our tradition. We focus on two of the Avatars in particular, viz., Lord Caitanya and Srila Prabhupada. This cannot be neglected; it is not to be superceded.

In recent years, we have learned some curious things, some sad things. We see how “ISKCON” turns Prabhupada’s formerly good disciples into spies, who now assist the enemy. R. Dass has a handler, some trumped up appointed person, a pretender, a commissioner—but not a guru in reality. He flew to Hiranyakasipu for shelter. We learn that men of his ilk have turned disciples of Srila Prabhupada. Those same people seize the shastra, turning it into a mace in order to strike Prabhupada with it.

They do not desire Goloka. They do not desire entrance into the eternal land where the stones are talking, and Krishna conscious angels or devas reside. Where trees yield all desires, and animal forms are destinations that immersed siddha-yogis desire. Where the houses are living and are given as rewards for countless devout acts. Where the water will vanquish thirst, and the air relieves everyone of any possible sigh or gloom.

Neither the Mayavadi nor the sahajiya can stand any of this. As per the suggestion of Hayagriva prabhu, back in the day when ISKCON was a functioning, bona fide spiritual movement, it is best for them to hide as quartz crystal or trees, for then no rasa can reach them, and they cannot possibly recall wherefrom they ran in order to kill consciousness. Alas, poor ISKCON, I knew thee well.

Editors note:
Sarva Sankalpa prabhu is the nom d’guerre of a senior devotee who was initiated by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada in the first months of 1967, before he returned to India. Sarva Sankalpa served in many centers on both the East Coast and in the Midwest, especially in Columbus and New Vrindavan. In 1970, he was at Moundsville during the Janmastami catastrophe, hearing Kirtanananda personally tell him, “Prabhupada is God, and His deepest nature is brahmajyoti.” Sarva Sankalpa has read many of the letters of His Divine Grace in their original form and has seen most of Prabhupada’s manuscripts in Columbus during the editing of Hayagriva. Once Sarva Sankalpa saw that “ISKCON” was subtly promoting Mayavada, he moved to a remote, deep woods cabin in Maine, near the Quebec border. He never abandoned his guru, and he has kept his brahmacari status. A friendly university professor told him that the Vaishnava Foundation taught pre-1970 non-Mayavada Truth, as per the Brahma Sampradaya promulgated by Srila Prabhupada. Sarva Sankalpa is now a member in good standing with said organization.

2 comments

1 Christopher { 10.07.09 at 14:00 }

Thank you for an excellent post. It is the poetry of sympathetic and cathartic truth. Music to some ears, but – I’m sure, torture for others. The very subtle knowledge of Aristotle (vs. Plato), in relation to the pursuit and preservation of freedom, is also appreciated.

Like a carpet being slowly pulled out from under, or a great storehouse being gradually relocated; the future is being decided for those who strayed and abused… Karma paybacks can be rough. What’s left of the residents of the ‘House of ISKCON’ will ultimately exodus (or flee) to the rebuilt structure, which will and is standing on the original, eternal foundation—the one Prabhupada built in this world.

As those original ‘stones and pillars’ get carted away, all that will be left of Maya-ISKCON will be posturing building custodians, with useless overkill PR campaigns. The wrinkled janitors will (or do) ponder cleaning up the mess, but, in the end, they won’t need to; everyone will have already joined the real (sankirtan) party elsewhere.

And the beat goes on…

2 The Paramatma Speaks { 10.10.09 at 06:36 }

Thanks Christopher. This is very true. This is the leading sankirtana party of the Prabhupada loyalists. We invite you to stay tuned here, because we are writing more articles. You might desire to contribute, and in every case, comments are always desirable.
Best to you, and i am even now planning more articles.

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