lunes, marzo 29, 2010
Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan with BHAKTI YOGA
The Vedas tell us that God can be realized in three distinct features: Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan. Bhagavan is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, God’s original form residing in the spiritual sky. There the Lord exists in His body which is eternal and full of bliss. Paramatma is an expansion of God. In every living entity, there exist two souls within the heart. The first soul, jivatma, represents our individual identity. The second soul, Paramatma, represents God’s expansion. In essence, God lives inside all of us as a neutral observer. Brahman is God’s third feature. Brahman is more of a classification than an expansion of God. Brahman refers to everything material and spiritual, all the way up to the brahmajyoti, which is the spiritual effulgence. Just as astronauts have to pass through various atmospheric layers when leaving the earth and going into space, there is similarly a spiritual effulgence that exists right before one enters the personal spiritual planets of Vaikunthaloka and Krishnaloka.
“…I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman, which is the constitutional position of ultimate happiness, and which is immortal, imperishable and eternal.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.27)
Though Lord Krishna clearly states that He is the source of Brahman, there are many impersonalist philosophers who take Brahman to be the beginning and end of everything. They utter the phrase, brahma-satya jagat-mithya, meaning that Brahman is the truth and that everything else in the world is false. These philosophers view the Vedanta-sutras as the authoritative Vedic scripture. The Vedanta-sutras are a collection of aphorisms that appear to describe God in an impersonal way. Written by Krishna’s literary incarnation of Vyasadeva, the Vedanta-sutras actually describe devotional service to Krishna throughout, but people have misinterpreted the meanings of the aphorisms. For example, there are many statements declaring that God has no hands or legs, and that He is nirguna, meaning He has no form. These statements are certainly true in that God has no material hands or legs. But this doesn’t mean that He is formless in the sense that He doesn’t exist. Lord Krishna repeatedly uses words like “Me” and “Mine” when discussing transcendental topics in the Bhagavad-gita. This clearly indicates that Krishna is a person.
“Unintelligent men, who know Me not, think that I have assumed this form and personality. Due to their small knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is changeless and supreme.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 7.24)
Though it is an inferior realization of God, Brahman still exists. It is certainly a representation of the Absolute Truth. Those who want to merge into Brahman are given every opportunity to do so. However, there is a much easier and more fulfilling type of worship, which is technically known as bhakti yoga, or devotional service. Depending on your angel of vision, this method of worship is either easy or difficult. It is easy in the sense that it merely requires one to surrender unto Krishna and engage in His service. That seems simple enough, but many people don’t want to surrender. They would rather negate all activity and hope to merge into Brahman.
“For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 12.5)
Krishna Himself declares that attempting to merge into Brahman is the more difficult of the two paths. This is because it is the original nature of the spirit soul to crave identity. If the soul merges into Brahman, it loses its identity. Eventually wanting to engage in activities again, the soul is prone to separating from Brahman, again returning to the material world. Bhakti yoga is the more natural self-realization process because it involves pure love of God. Many impersonalists look down at bhaktas, taking them to be less intelligent. This is because they view bhakti yoga simply as a method of self-realization. “Oh look, these people are tricking themselves into believing in a personal God so that they can more easily become detached from material nature. They are only taking to this method because they don’t understand Vedanta.”
This type of thinking represents a gross misunderstanding of bhaktas. Bhakti yoga technically cannot be compared to any other type of yoga because it is actually much more than a method of self-realization. Having a pure loving relationship with God is the original nature of the soul. Through personal interaction with Krishna or one of His Vishnu expansions, the spirit soul gains eternal bliss and knowledge. To help us understand this fact, we can look to the examples set by the great devotees of the past. Lord Hanuman is the eternal servant of Lord Rama, one of Krishna’s primary expansions. Hanuman is a great yogi, possessing tremendous powers. Yet he is not attached to any of his powers of detachment or yoga, for he engages all his time in thinking of Rama. In fact, Hanuman is not even interested in self-realization. He has no desire to be a perfect devotee or a Vedantist. Rather, he simply loves Sita, Rama, and Lakshmana, and spends all his time thinking of them and serving Their lotus feet.
The greatest benefit of bhakti yoga is that it rewards us with the most sublime relationship, eternal association with God. God is meant to be viewed in only one way, pure love, for this is how He views us. We should take up the worship of the personal form of the Lord. Krishna is our eternal friend, and someone who will never let us down. He is so kind and sweet that if we simply want to be with Him, the Lord will make it happen. In this age, we can practice devotional service by regularly chanting God’s names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. Since God incarnates in the form of His holy name, chanting is our way of personally touching Him. By remaining steadfast in our devotion, slowly but surely, we will come to Him.