Who can SEE God?

Image courtesy of Nityananda dasa adhikari.
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I have an image of Srila Prabhupada dictating the Gita Purports as he holds a magnifying glass to a Bengali edition of Vishvanath Chakravarti’s Gita commentary. I have always found that whenever I have any question – going deeper into the source of what caused the question provides the answer. This is why I have become relatively familiar with a lot of Sanskrit phrases and words, because when I have questions about what something means, I go and see if the source of that statement explains it, and then to the source of that – which is usually Bengali or Sanskrit. Srila Prabhupada gave us the most important thing by giving the original languages and even word for word translations. It is a gold mine on every page.

Anyway, I consider Prabhupada’s purports to have their roots in both the sanskrit shlokas and Sri Vishvanatha’s commentaries on those shlokas. So looking them up is always helpful. There is a website which gives Vishvanatha’s Chakravarti’s commentaries after Prabhupada’s. It is http://www.bhagavad-gita.us/articles/177/1/Bhagavad-Gita-1325/Page1.html

The first thing Vishvanath says is that this text goes together with the one that will follow – the one that Kulapradip Panditji will cover tomorrow. They both cover successive ways to realize the supersoul.

This particular verse covers fourways:

1) A devotee, or others (meaning that devotion is the best way to see God, the rest are all in another category). These others are…

2) Jnanis
3) Yogis
4) Karmis

Vishvanatha’s very strong, very controversial point – which Prabhupada explains in his own words in his own purport – is that you can only see God by devotion, not by any other way. The rest of the ways of seeing God are all in a separate category from devotion. Why? Because they don’t directly allow you to see God, but they lead you forward towards getting some bhakti, some devotion, and that lets you see God.

The verse characterises the process of bhakti as: dhyanena-atmani atmana – which means that the process of bhakti involves a spontaneous, natural, constant focus of the self upon God. This is how it allows the self to perceive God. It is more powerful than any other method.

The process of jnana is to do “counting” (sankhya) this means splitting the emperical world into smaller and smaller bits and bytes and enumerating and counting and categorizing them all and understanding each one clearly in isolation as well as combinations and permutations. This is basically the same as modern empirical science at its best.

The process of yoga is the eightfold yoga system. This means controlling how you impact the world, controlling how you think and feel, exercising correctly to free the body from distress, breathing correctly to free the mind from distress, withdrawing contemplation from the external world, attaching it to Godhead, gaining full focus on God, and finally attaining perfect vision of God.

The process of karma-yoga is niskama. This means to perfom all worldly duties without any personal desire to gain anything from them, only with desire to fulfill ones duty because it helps others and is good for society in general.

These other processes create the mode of goodness, and from the mode of goodness they afford a better chance of appreciating the loveable position of Godhead. Love of godhead gives one shudda-sattva, unadulterated goodness, and it is in that Shuddha-sattva that God directly exists in an emperical, tangible form. So only by being in shuddha-sattva can one directly experience God.

Mahaprabhu’s instructions to Sanatana Goswami are also clarifying on this topic. He says that there are three sadhanas – jnana, yoga, and bhakti. And Godhead manifests in three ways to the perfect each sadhana: brahman, paramatma, and bhagavan.

So those who mix bhakti into their jnana can come to directly perceive godhead as the great spiritual Brahman, completely pure and undivided. Those who mix bhakti into their yoga can come to directly perceive Godhead as paramatma – the soul within the soul, and the source of every subatomic reality. Those who take pure bhakti can realize Godhead directly and fully as Bhagavan – the personal being completely full in six opulences, and sharing loving joy with all.

Karma mixed with bhakti is not defined. Perhaps it leads to a crossroads where one chooses a direct sadhana either jnana, yoga, or bhakti?

So the conclusion here is (a) only love causes a person to reveal him or herself. Similarly only devotion causes the supreme person to become tangible. Therefore every other path to God must be mixed with devotion to generate any effect. (b) When mixed with devotion, other paths allow one to see Godhead in various degrees of fullness. Pure devotion grants the fullest revelation of God as bhagavan.

Srimati Radharani and her friends are towering mountains even above the fields of all the other pure bhaktas. No one can describe how fully and intimately and directly they tangibly know and experience and share with Godhead. It is impossible to sufficiently glorify Sri Radha. Therefore she is seldom even mentioned.

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One Comment

  1. Some people would like to interpret or translate Gita 13.25 differently from how I have explained it above. Specifically they differ on interpreting the words dhyanenatmani atmanam. They says dhyana = meditation (dhyanena = by meditation); atmani = on the self. Thus they say that Krishna’s first, primary recommendation for seeing God is meditation on the self / superself.

    I disagree firmly.

    If dyanenaatmani aatmaanam referrs to meditation, then the flaw of redundancy would be in the composition of the text, and we do not expect that from Krsna, the supreme poet, therefore we do not accept a redundant interpretation. The redundancy comes from the word yoga just after this in the text. The process of yoga is meditation (dharana-dhyana-smarana). Therefore if the first part of the verse refers to meditation, then it is redundantly repeated in the second half.

    This redundancy would be more than an ornamental flaw, it would be a logical flaw – because of the word anye which comes next. This word sets the words that come next categorically apart from the words that came before. It says, “The following are different and categorically separate items than the preceding item.”

    If the first part of the shloka is about meditation, and the second part is also about meditation, and between those two parts is a word declaring that the two parts of the sholka are about different things – the sholka would kill itself logically and fall apart. “The first part is about meditation, the second part is different, it is about meditation.” See the flaw?

    Therefore the acarya Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakur explains that there is neither ornamental nor logical flaw in the text. He explains the first part of the shloka like this:

    dhyanena = by meditation, atmani = in the mind (within oneself). So far meaning, “by internally meditating.”

    Then he leaves pashyanti and kecid to their obvious meaning = “some see.”

    Then he gets to the key word – aatmaana-aatmanaa. He says it means “by itself.”

    To put it all together – it means self-causing internal meditation.

    What is that?

    It is love! (Bhakti)

    Love is the force which causes the consciousness to weld itself completely to the object of love, so that one sees the face of ones lover wherever one looks, hears his or her voice coming from everywhere, thinks every phone call is from him or her, misses trains due to daydreaming about him or her, etc. etc. etc. Bhakti and bhakti alone is dhyanenaatmani aatmaana. This understanding is clear and straightforward because it has no flaws.

    Thus a translation/ interpretation of 13.25 should be something like this:

    In 13.25 Krsna says how to get to the state of actually seeing God. He says that by heartfelt emotions of love (bhakti) of can see God best. Otherwise, one can gradually come to see God partially through science (sankhya), meditation (yoga), and selfless duty (karma-yoga).

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