Srila Gaurkishoredas Goswami Maharaj
As published in The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani)
Edited by Paramahamsa Paribrajakacharyya Sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj
THE exoteric face of the transcendental service of Godhead has been a subject of endless and heated controversy among the propounders of empiric theories about the Absolute. These controversies have necessarily tended to gravitate towards the opposite poles of elevationism and liberationism. No solution of the differences that divide the two camps of polemical empiric philosophers and theologians could be reached by the resources of mundane experience. To the empiricist, therefore, the question, as to whether asceticism or epicurianism should be the proper form of service of the Divinity, is the veritable gordian knot of speculative theology.
But on a very little reflection the controversy itself should be recognised as due to gross misconception about the very nature of the soul and his eternal function which is inconceivable to the eclipsed cognition of conditioned souls. The exoteric aspect of spiritual conduct should not be considered as being on a level with the phenomena of this world. Spiritual conduct does not serve any mundane purpose. The external face of spiritual conduct also exhibits this trans-mundane significance which is also its real significance. It is not possible to estimate the value of spiritual conduct except in terms of the Absolute. The spiritual conduct offers the uncrippled manifestation of the Absolute. It is not a question of asceticism versus epicurianism both of which represent the alternative courses of mundane conduct. On the plane of the Absolute analogous of asceticism and epicurianism do not exhibit any incompatible relationship.
Srila Gaurkishoredas Goswami Maharaj exhibited the external features of the most through-going asceticism in his conduct as a soul wholly dedicated to the transcendental service of the Supreme Lord. He lived a severely solitary life. He required for his maintenance no food or clothing. He was resolved to teach his religion to nobody. He performed no visible religious practices. He forbade the Editor of this Journal, his only disciple, to divulge to any other person what he had learnt from him. He was perfectly indifferent to the demonstrative attentions of the usual crowd of non-descripts who are always found to hang about every person who is reputed to be a sadhu. He neither accepted nor refused their gratuitous offerings of food, clothing, etc. His only friend Thakur Bhaktivinode had nothing in common, as regards external conduct, with this recluse ascetic. It was quite in keeping with the tenor of his career to bequeath the characteristic request to the crowd in attendance on him, at his disappearance, to do him the favour of casting his body into the Ganges after it had been dragged by sweepers by a cord tied to his neck through all the streets of the town of Nabadwip, in order to warn the people of the miserable lot that awaits a person who does not serve the Feet of Krishna.
It is not possible to write a long history of the career of such a person. Judged by the standard of mundane utility or interest the career of Srila Gaurkishoredas Goswami Maharaj must needs be pronounced to be an unqualified failure. If all persons of this world actually took it into their heads to adopt the external conduct of Srila Gaurkishore it would certainly be a most calamitous day for mankind. A number of the admirers of the external conduct of Srila Gaurkishore attempted to reside in these public latrines of Nabadwip with no profit, either mundane or spiritual, for themselves or for the denizens of the municipal town. Srila Thakur Bhaktivinode did not try to imitate the external conduct of Srila Gaurkishore. Thakur Bhaktivinode was spiritually no loser by neglecting to be an ascetic in his external conduct. This was also the view of Srila Gaurkishore himself regarding Thakur Bhaktivinode which he held to the last moment of his career.
The external conduct of the bonafide servant of Godhead only expresses the transcendental purpose of his appearance in this world. That purpose is consciously identical with the Purpose of Godhead Himself Who is admitted to be altogether inscrutable to mundane judgement. The appearance of eternal servant of Godhead in this world is not a mundane event for serving any any mundane purpose. The mundane purposes are served by conditioned souls undergoing purificatory activities in this world in conformity with the particular nature of the dis-inclination of each for the service of the Absolute. There is undoubtedly the underlying Divine Purpose directing the mental and physical activities of worldly persons and of all animation of this phenomenal universe. But these activities are manifested for expressing conscious aversion to the service of the Absolute entertained by such entities. They express the Purpose of the Absolute in the negative way. It is, therefore, necessary to re-adjust our angle of vision, by disentangling ourselves from all worldly aims and methods, for the purpose of being enabled to understand the true nature of the positive manifestation.
The conduct of Srila Gaurkishoredas Goswami Maharaj demonstrates in a visible form the truth of the fact that spiritual activity is located beyond the phenomena of this world. There is absolutely no point of contact between spiritual and mundane conduct. The proprieties of mundane conduct are also equally inapplicable to spiritual conduct. But spiritual conduct is, however, also the one thing needful. Srila Gaurkishoredas Goswami Maharaj by his external conduct sought to impress this categorical distinction that eternally separates the mundane from the spiritual. The real parallel of his career is supplied by that of Srila Raghunath Das Goswami and in respect of asceticism, by those of all the famous six Goswamins who were commissioned to promulgate the Teachings of Sree Krishna Chaitanya in the Circle of Braja, by the Lord Himself.
If the practice of asceticism is adopted out of any mundane consideration by any conditioned soul, it is liable to lead one away from the service of the Absolute in exactly the same way as similar adoption of the alternative process of epicurianism. The whole point of the careers of the Acharyyas of pure devotion is missed by those who endeavour to understand their renunciation of the world by the process of empiric argumentation. All irrelevant and profane talk on the subject should find its proper corrective in the diversity of external conduct exhibited by the devotees. The eclipsed cognition seeks to find a standing-ground for its very existence on stereotyped rules of conduct that are practicable for entitles saddled with the physical and mental envelopes for practising aversion to Godhead which is so congenial to their perverted nature. It is not till this point of view itself is completely given up that the external conduct of uncontaminated souls has any chance being appreciated by any one on its own merits.
Empiric mentality is constitutionally opposed to admit the possibility of positive manifestation of the super-mundane on the plane of this world. It fortifies itself against the necessity of such admission by, the unwarrantable assumption that the positive manifestation of the super-mundane, if it be exposed to the eclipsed cognition of conditioned souls, should submit to the scrutiny of empiric judgement which has no access to the positive plane of the Absolute . But the proper conclusion even of empiric judgement should be the contrary of the above. It should also be capable of realising that the positive appearance of super-mundane entities on this phenomenal plane can alone enable us to have any access to the substantive reality by means of our present inadequate equipments.
Srila Gaurkishoredas Goswami Maharaj is no entity of this world. No entity of this world can enable us to approach the Positive Absolute. Those, who are inclined to suppose, on the strength of the evidence of their mundane senses, that Srila Gaurkishoredas Goswami Maharaj is on a level with conditioned souls enveloped in the two fold mundane cases of material mind and body, by such assumption categorically deny all possibility of any real communion with the substantive reality on the part of any conditioned soul.
The Absolute is served by all spiritual entities who also possess infinity of substantive spiritual individual forms. The empiricists are wrong in supposing that the appearance of the spiritual entity to the eclipsed cognition of conditioned souls, is identical with a certain variety of mental experience. No mental or physical process has any access to the spiritual plane. Even the negative access to the Scriptures, that is open to the mental and physical process, is rendered possible only by the agency of positive spiritual entities or sadhus.