Srila Sarawati Thakur “Interview by Albert Suthers of Ohio University”


January, 1929
Published in The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani)

Prof. Albert E. Suthers: What is Vedantism?

Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Tahakur: One-sided and biased critics may understand absolute monism by the term Indian Vedantism, but those who are impartial and who judge things from all angles of vision, find the transcendental personality of God-head as the settled conclusion of the Vedantic doctrine. The theory of non-distinction has been wrongly preached as propounded in the Vedanta, before a world which is averse to God, being disguised with the imperfect, partial and distorted conception of the Vedanta Philosophy of India which is the universal reality. In reality the doctrine of personality of God-head is the proper conclusion of the Vedanta and that is the true interpretation of the Vedanta by the unbiased learned scholars.

The unique and genuine interpretation of the Vedanta, as contained in the Shrimad Bhagavatam, points at the true Vedantic doctrine. Shri Vyasadeva, the compiler of the Vedanta-sutras, has himself as commentator elucidated the true meaning of the Sutras or aphorisms compiled by him, in the Shrimad Bhagavatam which reveals their intrinsic import which equalises all sides, reconciles all diversities and is beyond all sectarian conflicts created by various professors of empiric knowledge, who give different shapes to the Vedanta in their laboratories of mental researches. It is only they that secure the true Vedantic principles from the Shrimad Bhagavatam who can save themselves from the danger of falling into the ditches of various imaginary principles and wrong sectarianism.

To be brief, the difference between the followers of Mayavada, or absolute-monism and the Vaishnava Vedantics is that the former have a bias for the idea of Nirvisesha or non-distinction, whereas the latter accept the eternality of Personal God-head. The monists are atheists in disguise; on the other hand the Vaishnavas are sincere theists; the former are followers of the method of induction i.e. the process of reasoning from particular data to a general one, and the latter are followers of the deductive method of reasoning by which we arrive at the necessary consequences of admitted or established premises; i.e. a monist is inimical towards self-surrender to God, while a Vaishnava is inclined towards it. Most of the intelligentsia of the present day India are empiricists and as such, more or less, supporters of the Mayavada of the monists. Acharya Shankara has extensively propagated this Mayavada by dint of his exceeding intelligence and thus been able to captivate men’s minds.

The supporters of Savisesha-vada, the doctrine of eternity of personal Godhead, are known as Vaishnavas or theists. We shall call any persons of any country and any era as Vaishnavas or theists to the same extent that this Saviseshavada is found in them. We think that the noble Jesus propagated Saviseshavada, as Acharyas Shri Visnuswami, Shri Ramanuja, Shri Madhva, Shri Nimbarka, etc., did in India. The Saviseshavada as propagated by all the teachers of the world, more or less, found perfection in the preachings of the different Indian Acharyas, which have attained the climax of mutual reconciliation of all souls of pure knowledge distinct from matter. This Savisesha is the conclusion of Mahaprabhu Shri Krishna Chaitanya Dev, Who, though God Himself, played the part of a Supra-human Professor of the University of Nadia.

Prof. Albert E. Suthers: Did the worshippers of Krishna encourage the obscenity of the engravings on many Hindu Temples?

Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Tahakur: Those who are actual worshippers of Krishna are never in favour of indecencies. All decency and morality only are entirely confined to the Lotus-Feet of Shri Krishna. The highest sense of morality of the unadulterated soul consists in its love towards the Over-soul. And the culmination of this pure love is found only in the devotees of Krishna. The best of the moral rules as preached by the noble Jesus, do not come anywhere near the principle of the Amorous Love of the devotees of Krishna, for service thereof.

Prof. Albert E. Suthers: Your Holiness seems to have taken a biased view in saying that the good moral precepts of Christ come nowhere near “the morality” of amorous love of the devotees of Krishna”.

Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Tahakur: Certainly not. We claim to be greater and better Christians than Westerners. Our judgment is not restricted only to secular morality. The morality of the object of spiritual love transcends the supra-natural morality, which again surpasses secular morality. If Christian morality is perfected thereby, then it may be said to receive proper nourishment. To a pure soul that remains situated on that transcendentally moral plane of love, the secular moralities appear reduced to the smallness of pygmies. But there is not found any feeling of apathy, nor attachment towards these secular moralities. On the other hand all moralities wait like maids behind the spiritual moralities to become glorified, being permitted to serve the Lord of transcendental Love. The character of a culturist of spiritual love is never devoid of morality. One hostile to morality or fallen from it can never be a spiritual man. In the blaze of the teaching of Shri Chaitanya Deva’s ideal, it has been propagated that dissoluteness is not devotion. Its palpable evidence is found when we reflect on the character of Shri Chaitanya Deva or the followers at His heel. The people of the realm of the secular morality concerned with the worldly enjoyments and their renunciation will not be able to grasp in their tiniest brains how fostered by the climax of morality and how adored in the highest degree by all the morality of the universe are the Amorous Sports of Krishna so much glorified by the noble clan of such high personages of strictly continent character as the devotees of Shri Chaitanya Deva like Shri Rupa, Shri Sanatana, Shri Raghunatha Dasa, Shri Raghun tha [sic] Bhatta, Shri Gopal Bhatta, etc.

Prof. Albert E. Suthers: How can your Holiness’s statements be reconciled with the descriptions that are found about Krishna’s amorous sports?

Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Tahakur: Krishna’s Amorous Sports are not temporal like the lustful sports of dramatic heroes and heroines like Romeo-Juliet or even ideal spouses. Lust as prevalent in this world is only a mental passion; but the lust of the transcendental region of Krishna has its own form. Here lust is always goaded by the enemy (one of the six passions); where in the transcendenral [sic] region of Krishna, the loveliness of the spiritual Body of Krishna ever drives the Lust for Krishna, which takes form as sublimated love or the desire to gratify the immaculate senses of Krishna. The conductor of the worldly lust is the enemy (passion), and the conductor of love is Krishna. It is amorous Sports of Krishna that have appropriateness; but there is no such consistency in the lust born of the body and mind of jiva (creature). Krishna’s Amorous Sports are not to be called indecency, because it is Krishna Who is the only one unrivalled Enjoyer, Embodiment of the Real Truth and the Spiritual Despot.

Prof. Albert E. Suthers: I cannot fully appreciate this; please let me understand a little more clearly.

Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Tahakur: Suppose there are some angles, two right angles, four right angles, etc. There is the contracted character of a corner in the acute, obtuse or right angle. But in the two right angles called the straight angle, even though called an angle, there is no contractedness or want of straightness, as is the case with angles in general. Such is the case with the Autocrat Krishna. There is no want or contractedness or despicable character or indecency in the Perfect Entity Krishna, like the circle of 360 degrees, though the communities of enjoyers or renouncers, championing morality or immorality, may, due to the meagreness of their intellect, wrongly regard the lustfulness of Krishna, the result of His depotism which is only His, as vulgar like that of common men and other creatures.

Prof. Albert E. Suthers: In the scriptures of India, adorable Deities have been represented as creatures of the lower creation like fish, tortoise, boar, etc. Is this approved by the sense of decency of civilised humanity? Some again are in favour of supporting such representations as allegorical symbols.

Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Tahakur: Imagination does not find a place in Vaishnava Philosophy. In it or in the Shrimad Bhagavatam which is the highest scripture for all men in the universe has been described the topmost ontology about God, million times better than what the most civilised races of humanity five thousands years old, nay, as old as several millions of eras, can conceive of even in imagination. The eternal transcendental forms of God that descend or are manifested according to the gradual evolution of the aptitude for offering service by the totally purified soul quite aloof from the regions of the body and mind, when man becomes the worshipper of the ultimate Reality at the loftiest stage of civilisation, are never the idols of imagination or allegories like unreal things manufactured in the mental factory of man or like the imaginary animal deities of the barbarians such as the tiger-god, serpent-god, horse-god, etc. The worship of the Vishnu Incarnations, like Fish, Turtle, etc., is not fabrication of imagination like that of one of the five deities of the Henotheists formed out of imagination, based on the coinage of set speeches like the imaginary conception of the forms of Brahman (as in the Panchadasi of the monistic school). The Henotheists do not admit the Transcendental Personality of Godhead. The sects of figurative allegorists like the Theosophists are not real theists, cherishing, as they do, doubt against the Personality of God and for that reason they want to curtail god’s Omni-potentiality and his Transcendental Names, Appearances, Attributes, Sports by means of allegorical description. The Vaishnava philosophy or that of the ever-existent religion of India has never supported the atheistic doctrines of such professors of imaginary forms of Brahman, or figurative allegorists. It is about the doctrine of pure and real Avatara-vada (cult of Incarnation) that the philosophy of the ever-existing Indian religion has said. As the pure and real doctrine of Avataras of Fish, Turtle, etc. of the Vaishnavas is not a kind of imagination of the barbarian taste, nor the idolatry of the Mayavadins on the basis of their aphorism of forms of Brahman, imagined for the convenience of practicants, nor the allegorical description of the psychists, so it is not the Anthropomorphism (i.e. representation of the deity as having human forms), as devised by the so-called civilised section of the people, nor Therianthropism (i.e. representation of one’s tutelary deity in a combined man-and-beast form), nor even Apotheosis (i.e. elevating man to the dignity of deities). These are respective types of the idolatry of the menatal speculationists of the inductive school. In imitation of Mayavada, the evil fruit of the Indian civilisation, Anthropomorphsim was invented in Greece and Rome and Therianthropism in Egypt, etc. When the new doctrines got access in those countries along with the commodities produced by the Indian civilization which were based on the imagination of the anthrophysites like the Indian Mayavadins who exalted man or beasts to the status of God with the attribution of divinity to them calling jivas and the poor as ‘Narayana’ with gratification of the senses in the back ground, then the mental speculations of those respective countries adopted the cheap vitiated Indian dogmas and, labeling new names on them, passed these doctrinal commodities into the forum of religious tenets. But the true Vaishnava philosophy of India never indulged in any such doctrine based on imagination. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has refuted all such imaginative doctrines or idolatries and rejected both Anthropomorphism and Therianthropism. He vouchsafed the Shastric teaching, viz., that he must be a heretic and sinner who looks upon God Narayana as equal to deities like Brahma, etc.

Anthropomorphism i.e., representation of the Deity with human form and attributes, resembles the tenet of the Bauls of Bengal attributing divinity to the head of their sect, professing, as they do, though wrongly, to have perceptorially descended from Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Such tenets are the mental imaginations of atheists like the Bouddhas and of the Bauls as above, running contrary to the teachings of Shri Buddha-Vishnu and Shri Chaitanya-Vishnu respectively. The Mayavadi sect too has adopted similar principles. The really scientific philosophy of the Shrimad Bhagavatam and the preachings of Shri Chaitanya Deva have, of course, accepted the human body [1] as the Divine Manifestation; but that human body is not the creation of anthropomorphism, nor of the Baul doctrine, but it is the eternal, transcendental Sachidananda Body, the Cause of all causes, the highest Sportive Entity. When the human soul can acquire the wealth of all the sciences in perfection, then only is opened the door of the foremost mystery of true science. According to the Vaishnava Philosophy, the Sportive Manifestation of God is of two kinds. One kind is the creation of the material and spiritual universe and its systematization with inviolable rules. The school of intelligent empiricists can to a certain extent experience this type of God’s Sportive Manifestation. The second kind is the Descent of God’s Transcendental Sport in this created universe. It is the jivas who are the attendants in His Sports. They become attached to matter having deviated from their own essential nature as the result of their desire for enjoyment.

But when again the soul of a jiva, gains true wisdom of the transcendental region of God at the feet of a representative of His, i.e., a true devotee His, he begins to get back his pure essential nature gradually unfolded, and God’s Transcendental Eternal Forms appear as the objects of his worship according to the comprehension of His service in the graded evolution of acceptance of His protection, self-surrender or theism. So in such a case there remains no room, even in the slightest degree, for any form of imaginative doctrines of the so-called civilised or uncivilised human minds, whether apotheosistic, anthropomorphic, henotheistic, theosophic, theriomorphic or therianthropic. The real, eternal and transcendental Divine Forms reveal themselves to the pure souls according to the nature of their serving mood in the evolutionary growth there. The only cause of these Divine Descents is the intense Mercy of God towards jivas. In Europe the theories of physical evolution of Darwin and Lamarck have been considered. But it is in the Vaishnava Philosophy alone that we see the fully scientific and real conception of each eternal and transcendental Divine Form for worship by the freed souls according to their evolutionary growth of serving mood.

We can notice the different stages of animal life from the invertebrates to the fully grown human beings. These stages have been classified by the Indian sages of a scientific outlook in ten orders, viz, (1) the invertebrate, (2) testaceous or shelly, (3) vertebrate, (4) erectly vertebrate (as in the combined form of man and beast), (5) mannikin, (6) barbaric, (7) civilised, (8) wise, (9) ultra-wise and (10) destructive. These are the historical stages of jivas. According to the gradation of these stages as indications of evolution of the serving mood of the jiva soul, there are manifested the ten Incarnations of God, viz., Matsya (fish), Kurma (Turtle), Varaha (Boar), Nrishmha (Man-Lion), Vamana (Dwarf), Parasu-rama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha and Kalki, as worshippable Deities with eternal transcendental Names, Forms, Attributes and Sports. Those who have acquired a true knowledge about Incarnations with a thorough culture thereof, will be able, with the grace of the philosophers trained in the school of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, to appreciate the ontology of Shri Krishna, specially the intense sweetness of His Sports at Braja (i.e. Vrindavana and the neighbourhood.)

Prof. Albert E. Suthers: I have just listened to many subtle truths in the science and philosophy of religion. Please let me have a conception of these intricate matters.

Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Tahakur: The essential principle of Vaishnavism is that, how-so-ever great a scholar and intellectual giant a man may be, he will not be able to appreciate even the easiest points of the Vaishnava philosophy, until and unless he has entirely surrendered himself to an Acharya whose character is the embodiment of the Vaishnava Philosophy. You must have heard about the Indian scripture named “Gita”, which has been translated into different languages in the civilised world. There is a Shloka in it [2] which says that the Vaishnava Philosophy is understandable only with unconditional surrender, honest enquiry and serving temper. It is only to such an approach the professors of Vaishnava Philosophy with these three as the preceptorial fee, that they give instructions about the correct philosophical truths. These professors are never to be tempted by any type of worldly fees.

Prof. Albert E. Suthers: The Gita has admitted the doctrine of the Transmigration of the soul. What does your Vaishnava Philosophy say about this?

Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Tahakur: The “Gita’ is not separate from the Vaishnava Philosophy. In the Shrimad Bhagavatam has been fully revealed the true import of the doctrine, viz., that of changes of births for the soul. Christianity has disregarded the principle of change of births on the alleged ground that if it is accepted, men will not restrain their sinful propensities, rather they will indulge in vices at their sweet will in their present life, on the expectation that they will be able to make good their sins, guilts, and wrong going of this life in the course of the following ones. But the Shrimad Bhagavatam has crowned the principle with its true significance, by means of a much fuller scientific and philosophical meaning, by giving the instruction about the urgent necessity for ardently taking up and culturing devotion to God even while the human life, not easily available in the after-lives, is at our disposal, without spending a single moment thereof in other useless pursuits. If we do not accept the doctrine of transmigration of the soul and adopt the instruction of the Shrimad Bhagavatam, we shall not be able to get over the all-devouring disaster of regarding matter as the sole object of our concern, which has kept its mouth wide open.

Though most of the Christians do not admit transmigration, yet many instellectual glants [sic] of the Christian world have shown several instances of their acceptance of the doctrine. Even in the Bible [3] we find “And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man who was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, ‘Master, who had commited the sin? This man or his parents, that he was born blind?” It is seen that even some Christian Fathers clearly gave instructions about transmigration. Origen said: “Is it not more in conformity with reason that every soul for certain mysterious reasons is introduced into a body and introduced according to its deserts and former actions?” [4] “I am sure that I, such as you see me here, have lived a thousand times and I have to come again another thousand times” says Goethe.

What the Greeks called “Metempsychosis’ or what is “Transmigration’ in the English language, was at one time, more or less, admitted in ancient Greece, Egypt and many places in the west. Some say that the apostles of Christ the Great, failing to reconcile their previous and subsequent conclusions with the doctrine of Transmigration, were compelled to discard it. Yet no rationalist among the Christians has been able to refute the doctrine on the basis of sound reasoning; on the other hand, most of them have had to admit it even. Heredotus, Pindar, Plato etc., have all accepted it. Huxley, the illustrious scientist of the nineteenth century, has written in his religious work, ‘Evolution and Ethics’: “None but very hasty thinkers will reject it on the ground of inherent absurdity, like the doctrine of evolution itself, viz., that of transmigration which has its root in the world of reality and it may claim such support as the great argument of ‘Analogy’ is capable of supplying.”

Professor Lutoloski has said, “I cannot give up my conviction of a previous existence on earth before my birth, and I have the certainty to be born again after my death, until I have assimilated all human experiences, having been many times male and female, wealthy and poor, free and enslaved, generally having experienced all conditions of human existence.” But such transmigration theories of the empiricists of the west or those of the western philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries like Franciscus Mercurius Helmont, Leichtenburg, Lessing, Herder, Schopenhauer, etc., or of Jallaluddin Rumi of the Sufi sect of Persia, or of the Theosophists, or of the Indian Nyaya Philosophy under the aphorism: “From the desire for the mother’s breast-milk due to the habit of the previous life,” or of the Buddhistic doctrine of annihilation in matter – these are assailable by various hostile reasonings and, having their origin in inductive concepts are incomplete and imperfect. But the conclusion in this respect of the Shrimad Bhagavatam is fully flawless and significant. The Vaishnava Philosophy having shown the royal road to the acquirement of the highest blessedness even in the present life, there is no need for waiting for future lives. As such, the Vaishnava Philosophy is thoroughly aloof from all wrangling full of useless riddles over the doctrine of transmigration.

Prof. Albert E. Suthers: I am able to feel the super-excellence of the Vaishnava Philosophy among the Indian Philosophies. But to my mind the acceptance of idolatry in the Vaishnava Philosophy like the other Indian philosophies seems to be a stigma in it.

Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Tahakur: Idolatry has never been accepted in the Vaishnava Philosophy: on the other hand, it has been more or less accepted in the other philosophies, at least mentally, if not in so many words. In the very word ‘Bhagavan’ (God) have accumulated all the excellences that are there in the human and supra-human conceptions. The existence of Majesty, viz. the furthermost limits of both vastness and minuteness, is a characteristic of God. The second characteristic is His Omnipotence. If one understands the word ‘omnipotence’ to mean what is conceivable by the human intellect or what is possible for man, one is wrong. God is Omnipotent, because what is impossible according to the human intellect is within the ambit of the inscrutable power of God. Due to His inscrutable power, He is simultaneously both with and without Form. It will be the denial of His inscrutable power, if you say that He cannot have His Form, or He has not His Eternal Form, only having a Form for the time being, none in the end. By dint of His inscrutable power, He is with His Eternal Sportive Form before a liberated soul conversant with the service of His Potencies. Contemplation only on formlessness is rather unnatural and devoid of differential excellence. God is always All-Good, All-Glory and All-Beauty. His Beauty is visible only to the transcendental eye. God is the Transcendental Reality, Pure, Full and Sentient in essence and Sentient Essence is His Form.

It is true that God has no material body, but He has His Sat (Eternal) Chit (All-Sentient) Ananda (All-Blissful) Transcendental Body visible only to the eye that is clear (devoid of matter). To the material eye, God is Formless, but to the transcendental eye He is with His Body of Chit or All-Sentience. The Moortis (forms of body) prepared and worshipped by those who have not seen this Chit-Body of God with their true and eternal eye cleansed with the collyrium of the love of God are of course idols and all the worshippers of those idols must be idolaters. The worship of mooortis of God prepared from imagination may be called idolatry. Suppose I, who have not seen Jacob, make a Moorti of his [sic] out of imagination, this Moorti is not the replica of his form. Besides, if Jacob is a creature of this world, whose body, mind and soul are different from one another, his photograph being only the replica of his material body is different from his eternal and intrinsically true form. But God with His Sat-chit-ananda Body is not such a thing; His Body and Soul are not different from each other; nor are His Name and Soul, His Figure and Soul, His Attribute and Figure, His Attribute and Soul, His Sport and Soul, His Sport and Figure, His Sport and Attribute, different. If a pure entity or unmixed soul sees that Eternal Form of God and receives It in his own pure receptacle and then places this Transcendental Form in the world from his heart as illuming the intrinsically and essentially true Form of God, that never deserves to be called an idol. Just as even by coming down to this phenomenal world, God remains untouched by the influence of maya, by dint of His inscrutable power, so does His true Form, too, as revealed to the unmixed entity of His devotee, remain above it, even though brought down here. For this reason the Vaishnava Philosophy terms Shri-Moorti as His ‘Archavatara’ (Worshippable Descent).

The conception of God without Form in contradistinction to His Essential Form is as calamitous as is the falsely imagined Form of God for one competent to see His True Form. Such insignificant processes occur before attaining to the Real Entity and do only grope in the darkness. The Shri-Vigraha of the Vaishanva Philosophy cannot but be the direct indication of the Essential Form of God. By way of an imperfect comparison it may be said to be the proxy of the essential Form of God which is beyond the cognisance of the material eye, just as there are, in art and science, crude representations of invisible matter.

How can those, that have not in their heart love of God which is the true function of the soul and is the science of the true knowledge of realities, think of the Shri-Moortis (Shri Vigrahas) as other than idols? The deliberations of the Vaishnava Philosophy are very fine. These have shown by true scientific analysis that they are all, more or less, idolaters who declare themselves as partisans either of the doctrine of no Form of God or that of His material Form. Just as those who attribute God-ship to matter and worship it like the fire worshippers among the uncivilised people or the worshippers of the planets, such as Jupiter, Saturn, etc., of Greece, are crude idolaters, in a similar manner the others, who declare everything beyond matter as formless, and become exponents of the doctrine of non-distinction, are equal or even greater idolaters.

The Henotheists or worshippers of one of the Vedic deities or the worshippers of the five deities (called Panchopasakas) worship imaginary icons, considering them as God. According to them, God has no Sat-Chit-Anand-Vigraha, and as without some form there can be no subject for contemplation, to make it easy to meditate on Him, some form has got to be imagined. They are all idolaters. So also is the conduct of some of the Yogis and others to be regarded as idolatry, who, for purifying their heart or improving the functions of the mind, imagine a God and perform practices of contemplation, etc., of some imaginary form of His. Those who consider jivas as God are the most blasphemous idolaters, because to imagine any worldly thing or form as God is idolatry.

Prof. Albert E. Suthers: I have truly been astonished to hear from your Holiness these mysteries of the Vaishnava Philosophy and their scientific analysis with the most reasonable arguments. I could not even think before that there are in the Vaishnava Philosophy such excellent solution, corroboration and elucidation of the problems of Indian Philosophy.

Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur: The Vaishnava Philosophy has spoken about true wisdom. True wisdom is not subject to an attack from any rival camp like the changeable and fluctuating knowledge of the empiricists; this is the special feature of the Vaishnava Philosophy. The philosophies that have been, are being and will be built on the foundation of empiricism will be abandoned, enlarged and altered along with the increase and decrease of experience. Before the civilization five-thousand years old, the three-thousand year old civilisation is imperfect; and the seven-thousand year old one is more enlarged; and in ten thousand years it will be still further changed and enlarged. The Vaishnava Philosophy built, as it is, upon the strong unalterable foundation, of true and perfect wisdom is not fit for change and reformation through scuffling and disputes even like the foot-ball being kicked to and fro.

The Shrimad Bhagavatam which is the essence of the Vedas and Vedantas speaks of the real Truth. This scripture describes something which is beyond the regions of human civilisation and all the rules and regulations of society, and speaks about the attainment of another or spiritual body by the soul. Some empiricists of the inductive school do not recognize this change of body for the soul. There are others who try to prove such a change by various mundane reasonings. Some of them cite the example of the tendency of a newly born monkey to grasp the branch of a tree, or that of a new-born rhinoceros to fly away from the mother, considering which, they say, every one must have to admit the previous life of creatures and cannot disbelieve the transmigration of souls. As a baby-rhinoceros is born, it runs away from the mother lest the mother should lick its skin. Her tongue is so sharp that the bark of a tree licked by her is removed. The baby comes to the mother only when its hide gets hardened in the course of a few days. Seeing these, the empiricists realise that this habit of the baby rhinoceros is indicative of its previous birth.

The Vedic scriptures, however, have given a scrutinising analysis of the mutual difference of the soul, the mind and the body as the atomic sentience, pseudo-sentience and matter. The soul (atma) is the owner of the body and the mind. These two are the properties of the soul which again is the property of the Supra-soul (paramatma). The Supra-soul is the casual sentience and the soul (jivatma) is the effectual sentience. The soul has two bodies or distinguishing properties; one is the subtle one or mind and the other the crude one i.e., material body. The outer body is the aggregate of atoms of the five elements of matter; the inner or mental body is the conductor of the outer body. The soul in its conditioned or bound state is connected with foreign properties through the mind. The soul is now asleep and inattentive to the service of the Supra-soul. Seeing the owner asleep, the subordinate workers, mind and body, are busy about their mean self-interest, instead of looking after the interest of their owner. All the universe, animate and inanimate, is included within the Supra-Soul; in reality every creation is animate. Our scriptures have proved this since time immemorial. Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose has proved, even by the inductive process, before the empiric school, that there exists animation even within grass shrubs, creepers, etc.

Prof. Albert E. Suthers: I shall some time see Dr. Bose. Is the conception of our difference from the Supra-Soul born of our ignorance?

Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur: We shall consider how in our conditioned state we have been enveloped by the two distinguishing properties, and how again we shall be liberated there-from. These two are non-souls. Even in this conditioned state we are animate, not insentient. The non-souls, viz. The body and the mind, are connected with the outer and mental worlds. We have yet to attain to what is beyond the body and the mind. By ‘jiva’ is meant ‘soul’, ‘mind’ and ‘body’. According to Shri Ramanujacharya the Supra-Soul is indeed one Sentient Body. He has two Bodies; in His mental Body there is the aggregate of jivas; the outer Body is the material world. The different parts of the mental Body of the Supra-Soul are the jivatmas or atomic sentience. When the jivatma or atomic sentience feels himself as a protege of the Full Sentience or Supra-Soul and becomes steady in His eternal service, his nescience or ignorance becomes extinct. It is this contact through service between the Supra-Sentience and the atomic sentience as the Asylum and the dependant respectively that amounts to the absence of the material conception of differentiation.

In the all-world philosophical conception, the son-ship to Nanda of the Plenary God as found in the Vaishnava Philosophy is entirely a novelty. There is no such highest conception about God-ship, so nice in every respect, in any other philosophy. The other philosophies can conceive of only the Father-hood of God-head. But the excellence of the Son-hood of God-head in which has been manifest the climax of love of God, has not found place in the brain of any other philosopher.

Prof. Albert E. Suthers: What other conception can be better than the Father-hood of God-head? It is only Jesus who has taught us to call God as ‘Father.” No other feeling can there be better in the religious world than the love that arises in the mind when God is called ‘O God, Thou the Great Father.’

Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur: Yes, it is true that the Father-hood of God is a special feature of Christianity. Why in Christianity alone, the Parent-hood of God is found in some Indian religious conceptions too. But if we consider with a scrutinising scientific analysis, we can find that this Parent-hood has been attributed to God from the inductive standpoint of view, i.e., out of gratitude to God whose kindly presence we admit on the analogy of the worldly father or from some desire to get some worldly benefit from Him. There is only to be traced the attitude of gratefulness of a being or that of an indifferent spirit of his, when the different religions of India too call Him as the ‘Creator’, ‘Sustainer of the Universe’, ‘Protector of the World’, ‘Controller of the Universe’, ‘Great Father’, etc., from the angle of vision of the attributes of Nature on the one hand, or Brahman, etc., from an angle contrary thereto, on the other. And so such conceptions are only indirect or secondary instead of being the principal or chief ones. But in the indirect conception there is no attachment or love. This point has rather got to be understood carefully.

Though there is no connection between the attributes of Nature and the Names of God like “Narayana’, ‘Vasudeva’, ‘Hrishikesa’, etc., as prevalent in the Vaishnava Philosophy, yet they are indicative of His Majesty. There is a spirit of regard and reverence behind these. But where there is no such restriction of reverence, rather where, in spite of some reference to His Supreme Majesty, there is a want of the rise of such reverential spirit, the innate loving spirit remains steady and does not become slackened. The conception of Son-ship of God has its basis on the feeling of such sweetness of the highest Love.

Vasudeva and Devaki were told by KrishnSrila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur “I reveal My Majesty before you that you may know Me to be God; or else you would have known Me as a human being.” God told Arjuna too: “Just see My Majestic Form.” Vasudeva told KrishnSrila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur “You are not our son, but the Over-Lord of Divine Spirit and Nature.” Arjune in the Gita [5] asked pardon of Krishna for having called Him his Friend, etc. In both these examples God’s Majesty has been indicated. But such was not the conception of Nanda and the ladies of Braja. They regarded even that God as their Son and Lover, as the case might be, whose Lotus-Feet are adored by all the scriptures, by deities like Brahma, Shiva, etc., men, gandarbhas, etc., and worshipped with low salutations. Nanda, Yasoda, etc., did not look upon Krishna as the Supreme Father or the Highest God. If a person becomes the overlord of the wealthiest millionaire of the world, his parents do not stand like other people before him with folded palms in awe and reverence, offering prayers and expressing gratitude, nor do his friends hesitate to be jocular as ever in his presence, nor does his wife deal with him with special veneration like the people of the outside world and stay at a respectable distance. When the cow-herd boys, His friends, reported to mother Yasoda, that He had put some earth into His Mouth, she rebuked Him. She could not do so, if she had the idea that Krishna, the Supreme Father, was the object of her reprimand. She was able to regard the Highest Entity as her own object of so close and affectionate love that due to the depth of that love she could chide or even beat Him and think of the Sole Maintainer of all maintainers as worth maintenance and nourishment at her hands. This is not intelligible to the mere theorists of gratefulness who are foreigners to affectionate love towards God. When chidden [sic] by his mother, Krishna, afraid, as it were, of her, opened His Mouth to prove His innocence; and she saw the limitless universe within It. Yet her feeling towards Him as her son was not removed, such was the depth of her affectionate love for God.

Prof. Albert E. Suthers: So far it has been the effusion of emotionality only. Please convince me rationally how the conception of God’s Son-ship is superior to His Father-hood.

Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur: It appears as if you were either inattentive for a while, or unable to closely follow me. I was all this time giving you scientific reasonings. In the Vaishnava Philosophy there is no place for material emotion of any kind. The ephemeral emotionality relating to matter is no devotion; it is only the property of the mind. Our conception is that of the property of the soul. I was so long adducing reasons and examples to convince you how the natural love of the soul for God reached its climax in the conception of His Son-ship as the Son of Shri Nanda. You will not be able to easily get that idea with the help of reasoning only. You should not think of material emotionality when the actual example is given. With innumerable reasonings I shall show you that the conception of the Father-hood of God emanates only from a sense of gratefulness. Father-hood has been attributed to God more or less in accordance with such conceptions as God has created us, He has been sustaining us with the various gifts of nature, and for these He is Father and we should be paying Him reverential homage on that account.

Prof. Albert E. Suthers: Our Jesus Christ has called God as Father not exactly on these grounds; Jesus introduced himself as God’s son for something else.

Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur: Yes, about Jesus’ son-hood you say: “The son is the complete revelation of the Father whose nature he shares, and of whose powers he is the sole heir, the only begotten son, and he is in absolute dependance [sic] on the Father. ‘My Father and I are one. My Father workest hitherto and I work.’ The son can do nothing except what he seeth the Father do. As son, he knows the Father; as God he can speak for God. As wholly dependant on the Father, and wholly obedient to His will, the message is true.”

Now the ideal of regard based on the sense of gratitude of the son to the Supreme Father is not absent because of the conception of Jesus’ son-hood of God on account of his being His heir in respect of His nature, power and attributes. I think that you conceive of God as the Supreme Father in imitation of Christ, His son, and read hymns to Him with various praises indicative of gratefulness. In our Gaudiya Philosophy there is no sense of gratitude or any other cause at the root of the love or attachment towards God. Where there is some cause, the Gaudiya Philosophy does not call such love as causeless or motiveless. The attribution of Parenthood to God must have some cause behind it. Him or her whom we call father or mother and who are adorable, we cannot worship, when, averse to God, we stay in the mother’s womb; even after being born we cannot do so in our infancy or childhood. Rather we being their indulged pets treat them as our servants. There is no devotional piety during those periods when instead of worshipping them, we demand and accept service from them. It is no mean outrage on such adorable parents to convert them to servants. This is the effect of our desires. Thus we see that human or other beings do not acquire fitness for serving parents from the very beginning. Though with the growth of intelligence we show some efforts to serve them, generally this has its origin in a retributive sense of gratitude or dutifulness in return for the benefit received from them. Often we show such efforts in order to inherit the property earned by them with labour and left behind them. Under the circumstances it is in the sense of gratitude or obedience to established order originating from motives, that is at the root of the conception of parent-hood; there is absolute want in it of causeless or motiveless love.

The offering of service to the master in consideration that if the money paid by him as wages is not discharged, there will be sin committed – amounts to trafficking. The service of God or attribution of Parenthood to Him or calling Him as the Sustainer, Protector, Saviour, Affectionate, Gracious, etc., arising out of the sense of awe, hope, dutifulness or gratitude, all these originate from some motive or cause and, as such, are far from His service and worship arising from the natural love of the soul towards Him.

Prof. Albert E. Suthers: Do you recognize caste distinction? The caste Hindus look down upon the other classes with an eye of contempt and neglect. Do you too do so?

Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur: As the judgment of the Vaishnava Philosophy is favourable towards the service of God, the technologies giving expression to it are also different from those of the ordinary judgments of moralists or other sects. You have already heard that the Vaishnavas have no regard for the morality or ethical principles of atheists. They do not also pay much respect to the reality of the moral principles of the theists in whose judgment worship of God is only of secondary importance. They say that the service of God or love of God is the principal matter. Other matters should be helpful and subservient to that principal matter. When the two things, viz., innate tendency and circumstance of man become ready to be helpful towards the principal matter viz., God’s service, then is established a good social order known as Daiva Varnasrama (Divine System of castes and stages of life). Till the natural tendency of the human soul is fully manifest, the violation of this order causes much disorder and difficulty both individually and aggregately. This caste system follows man’s nature and predilection. It is scientific to ascertain one’s caste in accordance with one’s natural predilection. Much disturbance is created, both individually and aggregately, on account of the non-acceptance of this inviolable scientific principle of natural predilection as observed and promulgated by our ancient sages of vast experience, and the wrong adoption of the seminal principle only i.e., the principle of determining caste by birth alone. It is due to the fact that this principle of caste determination was at one time perfect and nice at all points in India, that even this day the Indians are able to stand erect with a challenging mood before the world on the glorious foundation of the past. If we examine the present social system of the Europeans, we find that whatever beauty we find in that system has as its source the determination of the caste or social order according to natural predilection. There we find that a person having a martial tendency (i.e., that for the life of a Kshatriya) joins the army; another with a tendency of a Vaisya is engaged in improving commerce; those with the tendency peculiar to Shudras serve others. No society can work well, if it does not, more or less, adopt the caste system based on natural inclination in some form or another. Even among the European natives in marital relationships and during social feasts a distinction is made between the higher and lower forms of society governed by natural predilection to which the participants belong. Thought the natural caste system is to a certain extent adopted by the European Society, it has not yet acquired scientific perfection. It can do so alongside of the progress in civilization and knowledge. In India, however, this system attained to perfection on the basis of the determination of the natural predilection. The great history of India, viz., the Mahabharata, gives thousands of instances to prove this fact. It is on account of the fact that in India such a system was based on a scientific foundation that all other nations of the world adored the Indians as their spiritual guides. Even the people of Egypt, China, etc., received instructions in all matters with their heads bent down before Indians.

We find in the ancient history of India that formerly there was only one caste and that later on society became most scientifically divined into the castes of Brahmanas, Kshatriya etc., according to disparity in the instinctive inclination for the service of Godhead. The Acharya placed one in the higher or lower grade of caste system according as the degree of liking for God’s service was high or low. Those who were attached towards this service with the strongest devout ardour and as such evinced the greatest intelligence became Brahmanas. They formed the head of the huge body of the society. According to the guidance of this head were conducted the hands, the thighs and the legs, viz., the Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras respectively.

Please consider this. It is this head of ours that occupies the highest place in our body, and it is the propellant of all our senses. What need is there to say more, when all the senses, viz., the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue and the skin are all combined in the head. It is there that these along with the mind, intellect and egoism, are all settled. When any other limb becomes disordered, its work may be conducted in some other way; for example, when a hand is amputated, oftentimes its function is managed by means of fixing up an artificial hand in its place. But when the brain becomes defective or when the head is decapitated, none of the limbs like the hands, legs, etc., can work. In the same way, the head of the social body, which guides its intelligence indicates the faculty of the Brahmana. So prayer is offered for being directed with the mood for serving God in the Gayatri-mantra (Rig Vedic hymn) to be daily recited by a Brahmana with a worshipful spirit. The Brahmanas have no other intellectual aptitude than such an ardent mood of service to God-head. One is degraded to a Kshatriya, Vaisya or Shudra according to the degree of his fall from that ardent mood of divine service, under the guidance of some other motive. The Brahmanas represent the brain and the mouth. The function of the brain is to regulate all with the aptitude of devotion towards God, and that of the mowth [sic] is to propagate the accounts about God. It is these Brahmanas that are the real owners of everything; because they are the Goswamis or masters of the senses i.e., servitors of God. They do not misappropriate anything to their own use, but they appropriate everything to God. For this all persons of the society confide in them and choose them as their spiritual guides. They who, instead of accepting such a Brahmana, rather bear a grudge against him, fall off from the path of all good. After this brain and mouth comes the consideration of the arms to which are compared the Kshatriyas then that of the thighs which the Vaishyas represent, and then come the Shudras, who, on account of their base character and unsteady mind are likened to the feet. And those whose lives are altogether uncontrolled are known as Antyajas (untouchables) and regarded as outside the group of the four classes, as above. The Vaishnava Philosophy recognizes Daiva Varnasrama Dharma which implies classification according to the divine system by which men are divided into castes according to their natural predilection. In the present society is found its corrupted form. There arises no question of hating or disregarding any body according to the system of Varnasrama recognised by Mahaprabhu Shri Chaitanya Deva or according to the process of culturing devotion to God as shown by Him, which is ever beyond that system. In the teaching given by Him there is found instruction to show respect to every creature in its relationship with God. The judgment of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is far superior to the slight improvement of the condition of the lower castes as proposed by the modern social reformers, nay, it far excels even the impartial equality as taught in the Gita. The proposal of the worldly-minded moralists for slightly raising the status of the lower forms of society has some extraneous motive as its cause; there are various purposes hiding behind it, such as political objects, personal interests, motive for acquiring fame and such other ends. These subordinate principles have given rise to attempts for uplifting the lower castes, which are of an extremely worldly character and clearly betrary [sic] their hypocrisy. The instruction in the Gita to look on all as equal to the self from the principle that all are souls is several times more elevated than they and is free from the worldly dirt. But the teaching of Shri Chaitanya Deva is not merely prohibitive of worldliness and based on impartiality, but it is a positive one of the character of transcendentalism or of a supra-mundane type.

Shri Chaitanya Deva wants to engage all jivas in the service of God and thereby to elevate them to the highest status. He converts a crow to Garuda (the prince of Eagles). The religion promulgated by Him is not meant for Bengal alone, nor for India even, but for all countries, all villages. His is the universal religion for all creatures. So has He said: “My Name will be propagated in all towns, all villages that exist in the world.” His universal religion of love attracted animals, trees, grass, shrubs, creepers and even the ferocious creatures like tigers, etc., from their outward identification to the inward one of the very essential constitution, having been spread among them too.

The religion as promulgated by Him is that of the soul; and not that of the society, physical, mental and moral, and is not restricted to the usual form of devotion of the servant to the Majestic Lord. Every jiva is entitled to culture His religion, for it is property belonging to every jiva. His religion discovers the innate nature of the jiva soul and is manifested in the unabated plenary love for God. The message of love as propagated by Him is not merely the instruction of pseudo-love founded on gratitude. According to Him, Krishna is the Absolute Personality, the Spiritual Despot. The religion of love consists in the full gratification of His Senses. The jiva should be the fuel to the fire of the gratification of the Senses of the unrestrained Autocrat Whose Will is law. It is the service of that Autocrat under the guidance of those (devotees) who are well established in the eternal service of the gratification of the Senses of Krishna (Who is the very Figure embodying the succulence in pleasure) that is the object to be accomplished by a jiva and also the means to that end. The difference between the Vaishnava Philosophy and all the other philosophies of the world lies in the fact that in the former both the object for accomplishment and the means leading to it are identical without any distinction. The means when purified and matured reveal themselves as the Object. According to the Gaudiya Philosophy the chanting of the mellifluous Name of God constitutes both the end and the means for it. This doctrine concerning the Name of God is a main feature of this Philosophy.

Prof. Albert E. Suthers: I do not know, how fortunate I am to have met your Holiness and got spiritually enlightened in this manner.


[1] Bh. 111.2.12

[2] Vide IV, 34

[3] St. John, 9.1-2

[4] Origin contra celscea, I. Xxxii.

[5] Vide XI.41