VNN Editorial - Veda/Bible


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EDITORIAL

December 9, 1998   VNN2640  

Veda/Bible


BY GAURAHARI DAS

EDITORIAL, Dec 9 (VNN) — Transcribed Class Mayapur India

We're speaking a little bit about the Bible here, the Good News Bible. We'll be reading from the New Testament and speaking about the glories of Jesus Christ and his proposed spiritual paths relationship to many of the Vedic Vaishnava principles for attaining God consciousness. Christ said something that illustrates this point so perfectly. "Only the Father knows the Son and only the Son knows the Father". The Son of God is a pure devotee of the Lord and the Father is the Supreme Being or God if you want to put it that way. So this is the real truth. Only the Father knows the Son and only the Son knows the Father.

Jesus went on to say that the Father can be revealed by the Son to other people whom he chooses. In other words, whoever chooses to believe in the words of a pure devotee gets to know the nature of the Father. And that same truth applies to Vaishnava principals also. Whoever believes in the words of a pure devotee gets to know who God really is. But if you don't believe in such a realized soul you don't get to know, because so many other material speculations is hiding that truth in this world. The people in this world are generally not qualified to worship a pure devotee of the Lord, nor are they qualified to understand who one really is.

People just don't understand it. That's why, even if they are worshipping a pure devotee of the Lord they many times are worshipping something that is part of the modes of nature too. That could be in the form of their attachments and material desires or a guru who is not really on that level yet. That's called mixing the worship. That's why Jesus Christ said, "You cannot serve two masters. You will either hate one or love the other." So the principle of pure devotional service or learning how to be purely devoted to the Lord is that you have to chose your master. If you want to practice pure devotional service according to the first canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam, which is a devotional literature of the Vedas, one has to give up worship of the demigods and charismatic personalities. That means anyone who has not realized God in truth. There are many charismatic personalities in this world who really don't know God, but claim they do. Many of them even claim to be God them-selves! These persons are very charismatic, very convinced that they are God. What is charisma? Charisma is manifesting when you are so convinced in your mental speculation about the truth that you convince others. The problem is that it leads people astray, it leads them in the wrong direction, into illusion.

There are many personalities who have a lot of charisma, even in Vaishnava circles. They are so convinced that they know God because of whatever belief is within their minds, that they can convince others to believe that they know. That's the imitative platform. But the reverse is also true. You may meet a rare personality who comes to this planet; and there are not that many who come here who have this very special empowerment, and they are also very convinced that they know the Supreme Lord. So much so that they also can convince others who really want to know. That's a self-realized soul, what they call in the Vedas a self-effulgent personality who becomes a true Guru or spiritual master. They are so convinced, due to their personal experience of feeling God's presence through the medium of experiencing very intense pure devotion and love, that they can convince others to take to the path of worshipping God in truth. That's what they call a pure devotee. But then there is this barrier here. There are many people who are so convinced in their mental speculations about who God is and the real path of devotional service that they convince others who do not understand the Vedas very well. So whoever follows them falls into a ditch with them, but that's part of the hurdles. One has to overcome that hurdle to really have faith in the real devotees of the Lord when they come.

Lets go back to the verse here. These people are in the same kind of quandary. They are trying to figure out, "Is he the Messiah?" It says here that some of the people of Jerusalem said, "Isn't this the man the authorities are trying to kill? Look, he's talking in public. They say nothing against him. Could it be they know he is the Messiah? But when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from and we all know where this man is from." In the Vedas this is called an offensive mentality. You put the bodily designation on a person who is a spiritual being. They're saying, "We know that this man comes from Nazareth and that he is the son of a carpenter. He can't be the Messiah. No, the Messiah is going to come in a cloud." See, this is another speculation. Many of the Christians today are thinking, "If the Messiah does come again or a pure devotee to tell the good news about the Kingdom of God and how to make more advancement to it they are probably going to say, no, wait a second, this isn't the prophet. We know were he's from. He is from this planet earth. He's just got some regular parents down the street or he was part of that movement before." Many people will discount him, especially the impious people, because they are used to identifying with the bodily concept that a Messiah is going to come in a cloud and have no relationship with this world at all. He is just going to kind of drop in a cloud and float down here and he is going to be preaching from this cloud.

This has never really happened. When Jesus came he was born in a barn. He appeared in this very simple setting and he was the son of a carpenter. This is one of the obstacles people now a days have to face in order to know who a real prophet or a pure devotee is. Do you know what happens if you find out who really is a pure devotee? Bingo! You get the prize and do you know what that prize is? Devotional service, love of God. That's what people get who overcome all these obstacles that are put in their way. There are so many mental speculators out there, so many charismatic persons who think they are God or think they are pure devotees and aren't. The way you really know who is who, is by their fruits. The imitative ones can't produce anything in you. If you are with a guru for ten or fifteen years and you don't have love for the Supreme Lord awakened in your heart, you are with the wrong guru; you are still under illusion. But when you are with the genuine pure devotee, bingo! If you have faith in him you can have that holy birth, that spiritual love of God awakened in your heart.

Everyone is faced with this test. If you don't pass it at some point in some life you won't get this spiritual love. It is very difficult to obtain. Some people say it can't be that easy to awaken love for the Supreme Lord, that it takes much austerity and penances to get this pearl of great price. The many examples in biblical and Vaishnava literatures disagree. Mary Magdalene attained the birth of pure spiritual love in her heart in moment, just by faithfully surrendering her life into the hands of Jesus. Lord Caitanya showed His four-armed form and liberated a tailor who had sewed garments for Srivasa Thakur. He also liberated an ordinary dog who happened to take shelter of the pure devotee Sivananda Sena. Lord Caitanya says in Caitanya Caritamrta, "The mercy of both the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the spiritual master does not depend on any Vedic rules and regulations. It simply depends on affection". We need to develop a faithful loving relationship with a God-realized soul. This is more than enough to draw God's grace to us. But it's not always so easy to love a pure devotee. If you love material possessions and mundane relationships with family and friends, you will have a difficult time developing a genuine loving affinity with a personality who has gained entrance into the spiritual world.$$$$$$$

There is a devotee in the Vedic literature whose name is Markendeya and who had a benediction from Lord Brahma to live all the way up through the dissolution of the material universe. In other words, he would get to live many millions of years. To spend his time he just stayed in meditation, trying to realize the absolute truth, meditating on God. So it took him, I think ten million years and then he got the darshan of Krishna in the form of Nara Narayana Rsi.This is an example of how it can take a very long time by your own strength of meditation to get the mercy of the darshan of God.??? It is very difficult. But if one is fortunate to have the association and blessings of a pure devotee it's very easy to get the blessings of the Lord in the form of having an awakening of this love for the Supreme Lord. The Christians many times call this being born again, having this birth of the holy spirit. Basically, that is when the Lord starts awakening in the heart of a faithful person; one who has faith in a Vaishnava. If you have faith in a Vaishnava you can get this. It happened to me in the early seventies. When this happens, that's the beginning of your real life. Otherwise you are not even really real in this world; you haven't been born yet. You have to have such an awakening. Even Lord Caitanya, as we read in Caitanya Mangala earlier, was saying that the only real religion in this age of Kali Yuga is worshipping God with love. The religion for this age is worshipping Krishna with love. So we need to get to that point of worshipping the Lord with pure love in order to be practicing the real religion of this age. This kind of love is what Lord Caitanya came to disperse in this world. It's very wonderful,very powerful and very purifying.

As Jesus taught in the temple, he said in a loud voice, "Do you really know me and know where I am from? I have not come on my own authority. He who has sent me however is truthful. You do not know Him, but I know Him because I have come from Him and He sent me." This explains the level of consciousness of a self-realized soul. Anyone who has realized God becomes whole again and what happens is that they feel their connection with the Supreme Lord. Therefore when they speak the absolute truth about what is really going on in this world and what the spiritual world is about, they speak from that kind of authority, with that kind of connection. The Lord uses them as a real instrument and they don't have to depend on external degrees or any of the world's authorities. Nobody needs to tell them that they are a spiritual being, that they are not this body. They know from practical experience of making this connection or having this awakening of love for the Lord in the heart that they are a whole person when they are engaged in the service of the Lord.

So the way Jesus Christ and his followers stayed engaged in this service of the Lord was by speaking the glories of the Lord. See, Lord Jesus Christ after he came down from the mountain and after he fasted for forty days and forty nights, had the divine vision. He came down and realized that his mission was to preach the glories of the Lord and nothing else. In this way one stays whole and complete. This is how devotees, like in the Vaishnava perspective stay whole and complete when they are engaged in devotional service. But most devotees are not on that level of experiencing the transcendental loving service of the Lord when they are speaking the glories of the Lord or when they are doing any devotional activity. Not everybody is on that platform, not everybody can feel that spiritual bliss. But one who has attained perfection can.

Therefore, when A.C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada was speaking the glories of Krishna and he did a lot of that, he was in total ecstasy and he just stayed that way all the time. He knew what his mission was and he was engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord through doing all this translation work and commenting on the scriptures. He was a bona fide speaker and writer about transcendental subjects. In truth, only a person who has realized God is really an authority on such subjects and one should not hear from anyone else. I see so many people that are commenting on the scriptures and who don't know what they're talking about yet. You have to have realized them. The only way to do that is full surrender to the Lord and getting the mercy of God and your Guru and then you will know. For example, Jesus Christ was speaking in a loud voice and people were questioning him. They said, "Where do you get your authority from?" He said, "The Lord is my authority.

I feel the Lord in my heart." Later on, in another verse he said, "Only the Father knows the Son and only the Son knows the Father" The Son can reveal the Father to anyone he chooses if you choose to believe in him. But most people in the world are trying to understand God through persons who have not realized God and it's very difficult. You need to find somebody who really has the experience of developing this loving relationship with the Supreme Lord. A pure devotee or a prophet knows the Lord and the Lord knows him, it's that simple. When you are around them, they will probably speak in a loud voice full of authority. Basically there are two types of authorities in this world, One is he who imitates the truth through mental speculation and one is a real authority who has realized God. There are many people who are imitating the prophets even now to this day. They imitate being a pure devotee or actually understanding God. They imitate being a representative of the Lord without having the real credential of self-realization, God-realization, real love. So hearing from such beings is going to cover the supreme truth, but if your lucky and fortunate to find a self-realized soul and you hear from them, you will understand what real devotional service is. You'll understand what the real message of God is, but you have to hear from those beings. Only they know, no one else knows.

Even if you find a teacher in the mode of goodness, who is teaching the Vaishnava path, he will still have motive. He will still have some envy and jealousy, he will still have some pride, it's natural. So whatever he says may help you, but it's going to be tinged with some motive, it's just natural. You have to find a person who is actually a real prophet. There's a statement in the Bible where Jesus says, "If you follow a righteous person you get a righteous person's reward. If you follow a prophet you get a prophet's reward." Now what does this mean? What kind of Vaishnava principle is this? What it means is this: if you follow a pure devotee or a prophet, one who has realized God, you get the reward of a prophet. In other words, you become like your teacher, you get devotion, you get love, pure love for the Supreme Lord. That's your reward if you really sincerely follow such a being. So who is a righteous man? A righteous man is good person in the mode of goodness. By following a righteous man, what do you get? The mode of goodness, that's all they can give you. Whatever mode a person is in, they can give you only what they have. So if a person is a guru or a teacher in the mode of goodness, say he strictly follows the Brahminical class and he's a first class Brahmana, he can only give you the mode of goodness. He can't give you Krishna, because only a Vaishnava can give you God, or the experience of God.

Jesus was saying here in this next verse,"As the scriptures say, whoever believes in me streams of life-giving water shall pour out from his heart." Jesus said this about the spirit, which those who believed in him were going to receive. At that time the spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet been raised to glory. This is what happens if you are faithful with a real Vaishnava, a person who has realized God. What will happen is that the Lord in the heart will awaken. This is the streams of living waters awakening in your heart; you start feeling new life. See, most people are not born yet. If you look in the world, most people are just like part of the walking dead. They haven't been given life yet. Even if you are a good person, you are not really alive yet. But I'll tell you, if you are around a real prophet, a real devotee, you will feel energy come into your body that you never felt before. Like you Premanidhi, you've been feeling new energy, new life and that awakens in your heart until you feel this love that starts to pour out. Only a prophet or a real devotee can do such a thing, that's their qualification. Most people didn't have enough faith in Christ at that time. If you believe that Jesus is the real representative or that any other Vaishnava is a real representative of God, you will have this holy birth. The Lord won't have to wait. So the Lord here in this section was waiting for Jesus' crucifixion before He was going to give this faith to people. Many people didn't believe in him until they could see that miracle of him being raised from the dead. It wasn't enough of a miracle for many people that he raised other people from the dead. See, that's how impious many people were back then. They still couldn't believe even after seeing. The Lord was very careful. He didn't want to give this holy birth until after Jesus was raised and they really became believers. So a person who is a righteous person in the mode of goodness cannot awaken these streams of living water in you. No, they can help you attain the mode of goodness, you can become a regulated devotee, you can learn about the revealed scriptures in a superficial way. Many of these things you can learn. You can learn how to put tilak on, you can know how to mark your body in the twelve places. This is very good, but you won't feel anything happening on the internal level yet. This is reserved for the real prophet, the pure devotee.

Only they can do that kind of work. That's their job. Everybody has a job in this world. The good people have a job in the world, they are here to help prepare. Everybody is a servant of the Lord. But a prophet, a pure devotee has a very specialized service of liberating souls from illusion and no one else can do that job. I was reading in the Srimad Bhagavatam, the first canto that Srila Prabhupada said, "When one achieves the transcendental loving service of the Lord, one goes about reclaiming those souls that are ready to go back to Godhead". This is what prophets do, this is what Prabhupada did. He just went about and started reclaiming those who believed in him. So those who believed in him were ready to go back to Godhead or make progression on that path. Those who believed in Jesus Christ were ready to make progress, significant progress on the way to going back to Godhead, even though they may not have made it in that lifetime. This is the thing, a lot of Christians are bewildered in this concept. They think that if you just believe in Jesus Christ or any Vaishnava, automatically that's enough to get you back to the Kingdom of God. But this does not go by their own scriptures, it doesn't say that in there. No, if you have that holy birth, if you are fortunate to feel that love for God arise in your heart, that's the beginning of you being saved.

Then it may take some lifetimes of more work of becoming firmly situated in that spiritual love when all your material desires to be in this universe are destroyed and dissolved. You can have the birth of the spirit in your heart, that's very good and very important and if you don't have that you can't find your way back home yet, but then you have to give up everything in this universe. Otherwise that is what keeps us here; we will still have attraction. If you are still attracted to something here, you've got to stay until that is given up. So it takes more and more work and the work is basically developing and cultivating spiritual love, this devotional level. Christ himself said, "I go to prepare a place for you. You cannot come where I go." This is because very few people had the devotional qualification to go where Jesus was going. This goes for any pure devotee. It was the same thing with A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He went to prepare a place for many of his devotees. It's the same idea. Many of his devotees aren't ready yet; they have more purification to go through even if they had this awakening of love. Until you give up the material world completely, you can't go back to Vaikuntha. You have to really want to let go of it.

Once there was a devotee in the ISKCON movement, his name was Jayananda. When he passed away people asked Prabhupada, "Did he go back to the spiritual world?" A.C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada answered them by saying, "Well, if he had no material desires for this world, then he'll go back. It depends if he had given up this world, given up the desire for it." It was well known that Jayananda had tremendous strong devotion for his guru. This is a good indication that he was a pure devotee. I think they even put him on the calendar as the appearance day of a pure devotee.

Even with devotees who have devotion it is depending on if they still have any attractions or allurements for this world in order to go back home to Godhead. So, as I was saying before, it's a little naive to think that if one has an awakening of devotion, all of a sudden they are finished. No, this doesn't go with the Vaishnava scriptures. Lord Caitanya says that even after the awakening of devotion, Krishna does not deliver devotional perfection very easily. Even after you feel this love, you have to purify more and more. The more you feel this love for God, the more it dissolves any fruitive desires, any mentality you might have. All this dissolves your attachments to anything in this the world.

Next verse here, it's called, "The vision among the people." "Some of the people in the crowd heard him say this and said, this man is really the prophet. Others said, he is the Messiah, but others said that the Messiah will not come from Galilee. The scriptures say that the Messiah will be a descendent of King David and will be born in Bethlehem, the town where David lived." So there was a division in the crowd because of Jesus. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. This is what happens when a devotee speaks the absolute truth with that kind of authority; it polarizes. One section of the people, the pious ones that have been waiting for a prophet to arise believe in him because they have been waiting for this and the impious go to the other side. They don't believe, their hearts are too dirty, too full of nasty things that they can't have faith in such a being. It always polarizes, it creates a division when a pure devotee, a real prophet speaks.

That's how you many times can tell who is a prophet; he is not going with public opinion. He doesn't care about the agreement and disagreement of the world, because that's all within the realm of the mind still. So a real prophet just speaks the absolute truth and it polarizes naturally. Some people agree with him and some people don't, it's natural. Those who don't agree with him have a lot of impiety in them, in other words they are against God and God's devotees even if they are teaching the laws of God. In their hearts they are really against the real thing. Some people agree with the Lord. That's those who are trying to follow the laws of God to the best of their ability and they are looking for such a personality to help them, to lead them.

That's the idea of the demigods and the demons as we read about in the Srimad Bhagavatam. The demigods know that the Supreme Lord exists and many of them believe in Him, but the demons don't, so there's always this fight, this division between the demons and the demigods. When a prophet comes he polarizes the demons from the demigods or the pious from the impious in this world. That's why if you read Bhagavad-gita, which is a devotional scripture in the Vedic culture, like the Bible but a lot more clear, Lord Krishna says, "There are two types of beings in this world. The pious and the impious, the divine and the demoniac." That's all there is in this world and everybody usually has a combination of this piety and impiety in them. So even when a pious person finds a prophet or a pure devotee and takes shelter of him, there's much of this impiety which has to be cleansed out of them.

These are demons and everybody has them. Jesus showed the example. He went to the top of the mountain and he heard these voices. On the top of that mountain he was tempted by the devil. That devil is in everybody's head. The way you understand these teachings of Jesus in truth is by walking through this path and you will hear those voices too. Didn't you hear those voices Premanidhi? When you are with a devotee who is leading you through this devotional path, you will hear these voices of your own demoniac side. They are in there, they are like ghosts and they haunt you.

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