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Hridaya-Parikrama: The Spiritual Pilgrimage Within One’s Own Heart – Part 6

(Harmonist) – Hridaya-Parikrama: The Spiritual Pilgrimage Within One’s Own Heart – Part 6

 

By Sajjana, see also Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

Sixth ‘Pada’ — The Invitation to ‘Dying in Love’

Having received the call from our eternal Beloveds Sri Sri Guru-Gauranga-Radha-Govindasundara to enquire within ourselves: ‘Um, so what about…you know, the whole, um, death thing?’, we may perhaps begin by once again recalling that Lord Krishna has stated in Bhagavad-Gita verse 2.16 that what is sat, permanent, never becomes asat, temporary, or vice-versa. And what is sat is also chid, purely conscious awareness, as well as ananda, purely joyous contentment which is not helplessly dependent on the experiencing of any particular object, feeling, activity, or relationship to manufacture its contentment. Therefore it may initially be helpful to shift the perception of oneself from ‘I am a human being (something asat)’ to ‘I am pure Being (sat) temporarily appearing as a human.’

In a lovely satsang offered by Srila Sridhara Maharaja one morning in February of 1982, he said: ‘Die to live, because being eternal, the atma has got no death. Death is only to the shackle over the coating, the “dress”, the “garment”, and that is accumulated from the “foreign land” [of relative appearances]. Let the foreign part dissolve. “Die” means death to the foreign encasement…and by embracing death, the atma shines more and more. So in this way, “Die to live”.’

It may be considered that this principle has been supportively elaborated upon by Sri Shukadeva Goswami in his final instruction to Maharaja Pariksit in the last remaining minutes of the king’s life in Srimad Bhagavatam verses 12.5.8-11:

na tatratma svayamjyotir / yo vyaktavyaktayoh parah
akasha iva chadharo / dhruvonantopamas tatah

[Sri Shukadeva said:]
The true Self is not confined within that body;
It is the self-effulgent Light which is the divine principle of life
beyond all things that come into manifestation
and then become unmanifest.
Like open space, pure Spirit is the limitless, unchanging,
eternal foundational support,
And for that reason
the analogy pointing out Its similarity with the sky is utilised.

The definition of jyotih as ‘the divine principle of life’ from Sir Monier-Williams’ Sanskrit-English dictionary is in accordance with the Upanishadic perspective such as we find in verse 3.13.7 of the Chandogya Upanishad: ‘Above the world, higher than heaven and everything else, in the highest world above which nothing whatsoever exists, the light that shines there is the same light that is in a human being.’

evam atmanam atmastham / atmanaivamrisha prabho
buddhyanumana-garbhinya / vasudevanuchintaya

Therefore, O king,
Filled with understood conclusions
drawn from principles that have been communicated,
And meditating upon Lord Vasudeva,
Reflect upon yourself as being the true Spirit-Self
merely abiding in the presence of the body/mind instrument.

chodito vipravakyena / na tvam dhakshyati takshakah
mrityavo nopadhakshyanti / mrityunam mrityum ishvaram

Impelled by the curse of the brahmin boy,
the king of the Nagas is quickly travelling here;
Yet you, the true Self,
will not be burned by his fiery poison,
And owing to your ability
to be the veritable ‘death of death itself’,
You will not even be disturbed by the ‘death’ of your body.

Shringi, the brahmin boy referred to here, felt offended by King Pariksit, and thus cursed him to die by poisoning. Yet the poetic metaphor used by the sage Shukadeva of the king’s ability to be ‘the death of death itself’ conveys the sage’s acknowledgment to his student that King Pariksit has listened well to the seven-day discourse on timeless truth, has fully absorbed it, and has thus understood that nothing ever dies—neither Spirit, which is never born to begin with, nor matter, which, although appearing to be born, is in and of itself one hundred percent lifeless and insentient from its inception. When matter is animated by the functioning of Consciousness and the five types of prana (vital life-energies) within it, the illusion is produced that it is alive, but it has no more life of its own than a hat being blown about by the wind or a piece of metal being moved by a magnet. So even the ‘death’ of the king’s body simply refers to the cessation of its functioning along with the illusion of its being alive while the elements which constituted the body continue to undergo transformation in the natural process of decay.

aham brahma param dhama / brahmaham paramam padam
evam samikshya chatmanam / atmanyadhaya nishkale

‘The Absolute, the supreme “State”, is the real “I” here.
The Absolute, the supreme “Way”, is expressing as the “I” here.’
—Establish this view of your true Self within yourself
in an undivided manner.

Shukadeva’s instruction regarding how King Pariksit should view his true Self just prior to and during dissociation from the body/mind instrument is extremely significant in that it is inclusive of both the passive and dynamic aspects of the one cohesive Totality or one’s true nature as nirguna Brahman and saguna Brahman respectively. Nirguna Brahman refers to the Absolute in Its ‘stateless state’ as pure dormant Potentiality prior to expressing Itself in manifestation, meaning that none of Its limitless energies or capabilities are being functionally utilised, and none of Its infinite qualities are being displayed. This view of ourselves in our aspect as completely formless, transpersonal, ever-present divine stillness or ineffable peace is found in countless descriptions of the Absolute presented throughout the Upanishads and many other scriptures of ancient India. Krishna’s own words to Arjuna in Bhagavad-Gita verse 12.3 is that It is ‘imperishable, incomparable, unmanifest, omnipresent, inconceivable, transcendent, unmoving, and unchanging’, and this is what is indicated in the first half of the view conveyed herein by aham brahma param dhama.

The second half of the view is brahmaham paramam padam. The word padam signifies energetic movement or something of a dynamic nature along the lines of prajnanam brahma (‘Consciousness is pure Spirit’) from verse 3.3 of the Aitreya Upanishad, and in Sir Monier-Williams’ Sanskrit-English dictionary we find such definitions of Brahman as ‘expansion’, ‘evolution’, and the one transpersonal ‘universal Spirit manifested as a personal Creator’. Accordingly, in the Uddhava Gita, verse 11.21.37 of the Srimad Bhagavatam, Krishna speaks of Himself as brahmanananta-shaktina, ‘the Absolute possessing unlimited power’, following His prior statement in verse 11.7.21 that He is avistaram prapashyanti, sarva-shaktyupabrimhitam, ‘beheld as clearly manifest and endowed with all capabilities’.

Thus, as similarly represented in the Zen Buddhist term sandokai, ‘the harmony of difference and sameness’, as well as in the Taoist principle of taiji (‘the Supreme Ultimate’) being the source of both yin and yang (tranquillity and movement), what is indicated here once again, at the conclusion of Shukadeva’s satsang at Naimisharanya, is what is referred to in Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy as achintya bhedabheda tattva, the principle of inconceivable simultaneous distinction and non-distinction or uniformity (nirguna) with variety (saguna). In Bhagavad-Gita verse 15.7 Krishna states that ‘A portion of Myself becomes a living being in a world of living beings.’ Therefore the sage Shukadeva is reminding King Pariksit one final time that Lord Vasudeva is in a dreamlike way partially appearing as the king and all beings, and he exhorts him to establish this view of himself nishkale, ‘in an undivided manner’, meaning free from doubt, interruption, or compromise.

If there is fully open receptivity to and penetrating resonance of Sri Shukadeva’s timeless spiritual transmission, we may then experientially feel the transformative potency of Sri Krishna’s reply to Uddhava in Bhagavatam verse 11.11.1 when Uddhava asks whether the Atman is bound or free:

sri bhagavan uvacha
baddho mukta iti vyakhya / gunato me na vastutah
gunasya mayamulatvan / na me moksho na bandhanam

The glorious Krishna replied:
All talk about bondage and liberation
pertain to My manifestations of Nature,
Which have no basis in reality because their foundation,
The components of Nature themselves, are illusory.
Therefore My view in this matter
Is that for the Spirit-Self
there is actually neither bondage nor liberation.

Hence, all that remains is a sense of joyous, gratitude-filled celebration, which is actually one of the dictionary-definitions of samkirtana. This can be offered with either an original communication from oneself—‘Yuva samkirtaniyau, dvau bhratarau rasikapriyau!’ (‘We celebrate You two brothers who are indeed fond of joking!’)—or with very traditional hymns, such as verses from the Sri Radha Sahasranama Stotra (‘The Thousand Names of Srimati Radharani’) from the fifth chapter of the Narada Pancharatra originally translated into Bengali by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura. Verse 46 states:

ishvari sarvavandya cha / gopaniya subhankari
palini sarvabhutanam / tatha kamangaharini

She is secretly the feminine aspect of Supreme Being,
The supreme Sovereigness worthy of veneration by all,
And the producer of all that is beautiful, virtuous, and auspicious.
She is the guardian and protectress of all living beings,
and thus also the remover of desires from one’s body.

Having concluded the final ‘leg’ of our journey in conjointly exploring the nature of Consciousness, may our time shared together serve to kindle within us all a greater sense of natural conductivity and connectivity with all of life—that any ambition for personal ‘mastery’ may yield to an appreciation for the perennial Mystery, and any Harmonist readers wishing to contact me with questions or comments are most welcome to do so at alandi108 at gmail.com.

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