Foundations of Knowledge: The Path of Reality
By Narasimha das
Many dishonest atheists pose as scholars or even brahmins and Vaishnavas. Srila Prabhupada indicated that these kinds of hypocrites are even more dangerous than avowed atheists who simply do not believe in God or religion in any shape or form. Poser atheists sometimes challenge faithful devotees, saying, “What is the use your sentiment and mythologies? Can you predict an eclipse or create a space shuttle? Better you worship scientists, who can make our lives free and easy.”
One infamous atheist posing as a sadhu (Vivekananda) advised devout Hindus to uproot their sacred Tulasi plants and grown eggplants instead. He proposed that growing eggplants would be of more consequence that growing Tulasi. Similarly, other atheists advise, “Go to the forest and practice vanaprastha so you don’t disturb others with your fanatical religious ideas. Join an assembly of sages in the jungle– because a festival of sages in the jungle will be of no consequence and thus will not disturb our advanced scientific society.”
Srila Prabhupada has often countered the assertion that devotees are “idiots” or “blind” followers. “The way of devotional service in neither sentimental nor mundane. It is the path of reality by which the living entity can attain the transcendental happiness of being freed from the three kinds of material miseries… The argument that unless one has proper knowledge one cannot be freed from material miseries is undoubtedly true. But because the lotus feet of the Lord are full of transcendental knowledge, acceptance of His lotus feet completes that necessity… There is no want of knowledge in the devotional service of Vasudeva, the personality of Godhead. He, the Lord, personally takes charge of dissipating the darkness of ignorance from the heart of a devotee. He confirms this in Bhagavad-gita (10.10)”:
tesam satata-yuktanam, bhajatam priti-purvakam
dadami buddhi-yogam tam, yena mam upayanti te
In this connection, Srila Prabhupada also quotes Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.7)
vasudeve bhagavati, bhakti-yogah prayojitah
janaya asu vairagyam, jnanam ca yad ahaitukam
In his Bhagavatam purports (Third Canto, Chapter Five), Srila Prabhupada comments, “The conclusion is that the physical elements may work very wonderfully to the laymen’s eyes, but these workings actually take place under the supervision of the Lord. Those who can mark only the changes of the physical elements and cannot perceive the hidden hands of the Lord behind them are certainly less intelligent person, although they may be advertised as great material scientists.”
Interestingly, in this chapter, “Vidura’s Talks with Maitreya,” two great and highly advanced devotees are meeting but focusing first on the basic premises for understanding both mundane reality and spiritual reality. They do this to show us the example of what’s important to learn first. Srila Prabhupada has pointed out that unless we understand the fundamentals of material existence and spiritual existence simultaneously, attempts to become free from ignorance and misery will prove futile.
Srila Prabhupada comments, “The conception of various controlling demigods who inhabit the higher planetary systems for management of universal affairs is not imaginary, as proposed by persons with a poor fund of knowledge. The demigods are expanded parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord Vishnu, and they are embodied by time, external energy, and partial consciousness of the Supreme. Human beings, animals, birds, and so on are also parts and parcels of the Lord and have different material bodies, but they are not controlling deities of material affairs. They are, rather, controlled by such demigods. Such control is not superfluous; it is as necessary as the controlling departments in the affairs of a modern state.”
This is last sentence (underlined above), is an excellent example. Pious heads of state in ancient India accepted the supremacy of the Lord, the authority of the Vedas, as well as the controls and limitations imposed by Krishna’s empowered representatives, the demigods. In this way, they and their followers were satisfied. But leaders of modern society, while sometimes posing as religious men, don’t accept any authority above their own, or above their manufactured and superfluous laws. They feel that manmade laws are essential to maintain peaceful society but laws of God may be neglected—even to the extent of trying to forcefully break free from the planet upon which we have been placed. Although, by Krishna’s arrangements, the earth is the most suitable place for human life, demons are never satisfied with the natural order. They are willing to go to any extreme to defy God. Their plan that men should travel for many months in a metal tube to arrive on a planet they say is barren and extremely harsh is proof of their insane rebellious attitude. They are like a child who holds his breathe until blue just to get his way.
In ancient times, great demons tried to conquer heaven or build a stairway to heaven, but modern demons don’t believe in heaven. For instance, they think the Moon is barren and lifeless, yet they still try to go there by force–just to prove their independence. It’s no wonder, therefore, that they are constantly bewildered by all varieties of illusions and limitations imposed on them by higher authorities.
In this regard Srila Prabhupada comments, “The demigods should not be despised by the controlled living beings. They are all great devotees of the Lord entrusted to execute certain functions of the universal affairs… Demigods like Yamaraja and other controllers are there for the unwanted conditioned souls who always engage in threatening the tranquility of the kingdom of God. Since all the demigods are confidential devotee-servitors of the Lord, they are never to be condemned.”
Modern science and most leaders of modern society imagine that advanced techno sciences will liberate them and their closest followers from all restrictions– so they can do whatever they like. They exploit the Earth by force for their own profit and prestige and then reassure their foolish followers, saying “Science will reveal how we can live with all pollution happily, and when we finally destroy this earth with toxic nuclear wastes, viruses and pesticides, we will go live on Mars.”
Sounds insane, right? According the infamous atheist “genius” Steve Hawkins (a NASA promoter), human migration to other planets is likely the only way the human race can save itself from extinction. This cripple-minded freak is grossly deformed and confined to a wheel chair and, like many modern scientists, is envious of God and the demigods who confine us all to the limitations of this miserable planet. Insanely, they suggest that while lasting peace and prosperity is not possible on Earth (where we have plenty of fertile land, air, water and other resources just suitable for human life), we will miraculously become free and happy through mechanical space travel. (Just see the vast and enduring popularity of fantasy series like Star Wars and Star Trek.) As we have heard from Bhagavatam and other Vedic puranas, and have seen practically, demons are never satisfied, even if they conquer a huge kingdom or planet.
O Father, O Lord, O Personality of Godhead, the living entities in the material world can never have any happiness because they are overwhelmed by the three kinds of miseries. Therefore, they take shelter of the shade of Your lotus feet, which are full of knowledge, and we also thus take shelter of them. (SB. 3.5.40)
Materialistic scientists are just like ignorant tribesmen or small children who think that a car or plane runs automatically with no driver or pilot. They can’t understand that the Supreme Lord and His parts and parcels, the living beings, or jivas, are what makes the world dynamic, animated and alive. Because ignorant and misguided men have no real information of God or the soul, they must remain perpetually bound by the cruel laws of material nature, which confine them to darkness and misery birth after birth, on this planet and others.
The devotees of the Lord, on the other hand, are fully and forever freed from the miseries and limitations of material existence in both this life and the next. They are not under the control of even the greatest demigod–or even Mother Durga Devi herself. Real devotees of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna are free to move anywhere and everywhere, riding on the “wings of the Vedas”, throughout the material and spiritual words. For learned devotees there are no punishments, time outs, restrictions, fears or miseries, of which birth, old age, disease and death are chief.
Srila Prabhupada: “Intelligent persons, who are like swans, take shelter of the Lord by all means and do not hover on the mental plane by fruitlessly speculating on different philosophies.”
Simply by hearing about Your lotus feet with eagerness and devotion and my meditating upon them within the heart, one at once becomes enlightened with knowledge, and on the strength of detachment one becomes pacified. We must therefore take shelter of the sanctuary of Your lotus feet. (SB. 3.5.42)
Commenting on this verse, Srila Prabhupada says, “The miracles of meditating on the lotus feet of the Lord with eagerness and devotion are so great that no other process can compare to it. The minds of materialistic persons are so disturbed that it is almost impossible for them to search after the Supreme Truth by personal regulative principles. But even such materialistic men, with a little eagerness for hearing about the transcendental name, fame, qualities and so on can surpass all other methods of attaining knowledge and detachment… Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu strongly recommended this process of hearing from a bona fide devotee, and by following this process one can achieve the highest result, conquering all other methods.”
To give up the path of real freedom and knowledge taught by the Vedas and the bona fide spiritual master in favor of mundane and defective systems of pseudo-science or pseudo-religion is surely the greatest folly, a path of deepening darkness.