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Ancient Wisdom, Modern relevance – Purpose of Life

 krishna-shadow Purpose of Life

So, here we are. Another year has passed as per the Gregorian calendar. Even as I started for home on Dec 31st evening from office, around 6:30PM, the grounds within the campus had been converted in to an ‘open-air’ ‘fun’ ‘party floor’. Laser lights, fog effects and ear-drum blasting music, alcoholic drinks… pretty much the trend these days, isn’t it? For one, I never understood the concept of ‘drunken fun’.

Drinking and driving don’t mix… how about drinking and dancing, like having something wriggling up the legs?? Surely, puking on the girlfriend’s (or boyfriend’s) dress (whatever part of it is ‘cloth’) isn’t fun now really, is it?

Well, I have seen this happen for the last couple of years, and this is becoming a tradition these days. It is cool to go to a New Year party, hang out (whatever that means) with cool buddies, stress and flush the stomach out, get up with a headache in the morning, start the daily grind… in the second day of the year, waiting for the weekend, so one can celebrate the New Week!

I won’t be surprised if I hear a Happy Week #23!”, or a Wish you a very happy new week! Best wishes for your promotion dreams to come true! Hope you get a good hike (for the treat, of course)! in another couple of years.

(Does anyone think how the pay hikes are made possible? Does anyone think how ‘inflation’ occurs? This is another exercise for the readers to put their thinking cap on!)

What’s wrong in partying? People are just having some good time… just a night of fun, to unwind, to relax…”

“Come on dude, life’s meant to be enjoyed…”

Hmmm. Hold on. Enjoyed? Is that what ‘life’ as we live it meant to be really? To be enjoyed?

Let’s dwell on this a bit, alright?

There are four activities in this world that are common to ALL living entities: Eating, Sleeping, Mating and Defending. We humans, especially, are doing all of the above extraordinarily well, since the level of intelligence we are endowed with allows a greater range of control, but along with greater intelligence and facilities comes greater responsibility… a purpose to this life, and living.

So, what is the purpose of life?

We take birth. We die. In the time between these two events, we do so many things, believing that it improves our lives, increases our standard of living and gives us happiness. Good parents, nice food and robust health, a cozy home, high education, beautiful wife, chubby children, warm friends… these are all the aspirations of anyone who wants to lead a ‘happy’ life.

But what is the purpose of life? No one taught us that really, did they? We learn everything at school and college, about math, history, zoology, music, spacecrafts, and microbes… each one is an expert in one thing or other. But where are we taught “the purpose of life”?

Truth is we are discouraged from asking such a question! You will see blank stares, snickering laughs, frowns and everything in between to such a question from ‘normal’ day-to-day people. But what else can they do? They, after all, are also as much in the dark, aren’t they? What really happens is that each one is left to one’s own imagination to cook up a purpose to their living (which might include just living without a purpose too, ironically).

Add to this confusion the modern philosophers and pseudo-spiritualists who have now begun singing a tune to “Each one decides what’s best for oneself”… and you can now see the mess it has done. I don’t even have to explain it to this audience, I hope. Nowadays, it doesn’t matter if a perspective is right or wrong… it is of no consequence, as long as everyone agrees with everybody else.

But there is an obvious difference between the individual perceptions on the purpose of life and the objective purpose underlying life itself.

What a load of BS! Life has no purpose, other than what we imagine…”

I have heard this countless times. Yes, if the modern evolution theory is to be considered (just for a fleeting moment) as true, the above statement probably becomes valid, since the theory is based on the assumption that life evolved from matter by random, purposeless mechanical/ chemical processes. But that ‘theory’ is just that. If one accepts the teachings of the Vedas by proper guidance and application, one can easily understand that ‘life force’ cannot arise from matter and must have a spiritual origin. And consequently, everything has a purpose and reason for occurring/ existing. Just because that purpose or reason is not readily apparent to our limited senses does not mean it does not or cannot exist.

In the human form of life, a spirit soul is given great intelligence and so many facilities. But it comes with a condition, as put forth by the very first sutra of the Vedanta Sutras, which essentially states the purpose of ‘Life’:

athato brahma jijnasa

"Now is the time to inquire about the Absolute Truth."

Many say self-realization is the final goal, that once you understand who you really are (which varies from ‘you are nothing, zero’ to ‘you are God’ depending on who you ask) you become realized and nothing more to do. There are different kinds of such philosophers and spiritualists… mayavadis, sunyavadis and so on. But, unfortunately for them, we can understand from the Bhagavad Gita that self realization is just the first step towards something more important. It is only the ignorance and neglect the modern generation has been having regarding the Vedas and Vedic scriptures that have allowed all kinds of bogus philosophies to crop up in the name of spirituality.

The first step in understanding the purpose of life is to know our actual nature. Once that realization dawns upon us, the next step is to enquire in to our relationship with the Absolute being, God, revealed as Krishna through the Bhagavad Gita. Once the understanding of the relationship is got, the last step is acting on such knowledge. Considering this along with the concept of the Supreme Lord Krishna being the owner of everything as explained in the previous article, everything that we have must be used in the service of the Absolute being, Krishna (including the efforts of the scientists and leaders). That fulfills the purpose of life.

Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 1 Chapter 2 Verse 10:

kāmasya nendriya-prītir
lābho jīveta yāvatā
jīvasya tattva-jijñāsā
nārtho yaś ceha karmabhiḥ

“Life’s desires should never be directed toward sense gratification. One should desire only a healthy life, or self-preservation, since a human being is meant for inquiry about the Absolute Truth. Nothing else should be the goal of one’s works.”

The human form of life is especially meant for this purpose. We are given the faculties to do what many other species cannot: Think about ourselves. Yet, we would readily accept a grossly ‘unscientific’ declaration “Life has no purpose” when we can keep yapping about goodness, charity, eradication of poverty and what not.

Srimad Bhagavatam, the top most purana, explains in great detail that Bhakti Yoga is the only recommended way in this Kali Yuga to gain such a level of understanding on ourselves, the Supreme Lord and the real purpose of life easily. I am aware that all this is the ‘theory’ part… and I haven’t gotten in to the ‘how to’ part till now, because I do not consider myself as an accomplished spiritualist… consider me like a patient who has been cured by a doctor and is recommending the doctor to other ‘patients’.

With this, I end the “Ancient Wisdom, Modern Relevance” series.

Ambi’s personal Note: I do not know how effective or useful my articles were. There were so many discussions, so many arguments. I am sure there are several readers who did not participate in the exchange of comments but were silent spectators, several people who liked the articles/ comments, and several who disliked those. Almost everything I have put forth in my articles, I had learned from Srila Prabhupada’s books and his disciples (and No, I am not a member of ISKCON).

I hope at least a few of the readers would take up studying the “Bhagavad Gita As It Is” by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada with sincerity and benefit from it for eternity. If anything, this whole exercise was probably meant to be for my own purification. Thank you.

Article written by Ambi.

0 05 January, 2010 Bhagavad Gita-as i learned January 5, 2010

About the author

A techie by profession but spiritual by nature. Ambi writes about the ancient wisdom of our Indian culture in a way the modern generation can easily understand. Oh ya, his comments are as interesting as his posts and his posts always trigger healthy debates.

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62 comments

  1. antarman

    This must be one of the best posts I have read. Thanks for posting.

    Even I dont understand this idea of fun synonymous with getting drunk, and behavinglike that, so much so that today if my children associate dringing with no morals, an I have to tell them that today drinking is common, everyone is drinking.

    Hang Out…is true for its literal meaning,they are hanging their souls:)

    Reply
    1. Ambi

      People often state that ‘in moderation’ everything is fine and that without trying everything once, I shouldn’t comment on it.

      And I retorted once… “Is that so? How about rape? Did you try that once before you oppose it…?

      what a dangerous world we live in *sigh*

      Reply
  2. Murugan

    We take birth. We die.

    How do you explain Jiva Samathi where the life force does not go out of the body and the body is burried alive. There are so many Sidhas who have done this in the past for example Bhogar, Tirumoolar etc.

    It is a very good series of articles. Are you planning to start any other series on Vedic literature?

    Reply
    1. Ambi

      I am sorry, I am not familiar with the concept of Jiva Samadhi.

      What I do know is ‘samadhi’ is the last stage of Asthanga Yoga. In samadhi, the mind and consciousness are fully focused on the Absolute… which aspect of the absolute depends on the path… for the Jnani it is the impersonal ‘brahman’, for the one following patanjali yoga, it is the ‘paramatma’ and for the bhakti yogi, it is ‘bhagavan’ himself.

      On the side, no one is an exception to the cycle of birth and death, except those souls which are liberated and do not come to this material world for an embodied existence for a period of time.

      Reply
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  4. David

    Quiet an enlightening series it was. Having said that, I should admit my purpose of life is according to the norm of the day. It needs a tremendous self will to prepare the mind to free ourselves from the worldly pleasures that we have been habitual so far.

    Ambi looking forward to another enlightening series from you. I may not have grasped everything you said but atleast it aids me in thinking inward.

    Reply
  5. Ambi

    David,

    I know what you are talking about because even I experience it everyday. You are right about the habit part and through it we become conditioned to live here, thinking that what we have is real enjoyment and happiness.

    I may not have realized this fully and am just a neophyte compared to so many exalted spiritualists… but I at least have my goal set straight in sight… just another person in the process of taking the cleansing bhakti bath. :)

    Reply
    1. Ambi

      I don’t think I have seen you comment on any of the previous articles…

      but what is this yukti and shakti you talk of? How do you ‘control’ bhakti and mukti?

      Reply
      1. Manish Kutaula

        The post was good and simple at starting, ok at mid and at last point it all becomes mythological and where it goes wrong. if everyone can understand these sayings life would have been awesome, so try to explain things in terms what people can understand.

        Reply
          1. Manish Kutaula

            yup .. philosophical ..i too love philosophical posts.. but where it comes to explaning things i donot prefer it.. because everyone feels the overhead transmission..

  6. Mani

    Congrats for the blogadda pick. I am glad for you. s for the article..well i am not exactly in a lucid state of mind but we do have a discussion pending , but as I said earlier first I should attain clarity of my own thoughts to get on it. No i am not contradicting but I need to be explained abit more elaborately. Dumb me!

    Reply
    1. Ambi

      Publicity is a two edged sword… as I have seen over the last 6 years of blogging. I am surprised, pleasantly, to be honest, that the reactions to my articles on GC have been much, much mellower than what I am used to.

      Yes, our discussion is pending. There is nothing to contradict… so, take as much time as you want. I would be more than happy to have the discussion.

      Reply
    1. Ambi

      Nilesh,

      I have addressed your viewpoint already in the article. Read the section starting “Add to this confusion the modern philosophers…….” and ends with “But there is an obvious difference between the individual perceptions on the purpose of life and the objective purpose underlying life itself. ”

      It is not what I think or you think that is important. What is the purpose actually… as revealed to us by the Vedic scriptures through the Acharyas…? THAT is important. Its not subjective, as many people would LIKE to believe.

      Besides what you talk of in your article is confusing.

      At one place you say “Now, our ultimate goal should be to overcome/transcend this Maya and become what we were originally (enlightened, united/one with the Supreme Consciousness, enjoying supreme bliss for eternity).” and then go on about choice and such!

      After stating the ultimate goal, I see no point in elaborating anything else as ‘Purpose of Life’!!

      Reply
      1. Nilesh Parab

        Ambi,

        When I stated the ultimate goal of life, it was as professed in our scriptures, etc. But what I am saying is that the way/means/timeframe to achieve the goal should be according to individual choice. Didn’t God give us this right/choice when we manifested ourself in the material world? (Actually that is a separate debate altogether – Why we are here at all?)

        Reply
        1. Ambi

          From my teachers: “Despite the all-perfect nature of the spiritual world, there is one desire which a living entity cannot possibly satisfy in that realm, a desire which can only be approached in illusion – the unceremonious aspiration to become God oneself!”

          Hence we are here in this material world, where we can ‘think’ we can be God, but, no, we cannot, no matter how much we try.

          Truth is we don’t have much choice in anything. Only a minute level of freewill we have and we misuse it most of the time! That is also the reason we were put here in the first place.

          And what time frame do you think we have? We don’t know if we will be alive the next second, no? Will we get a human birth again? Or be born among demigods? or probably lower forms of life?

          So, when the path is recommended by Lord Krishna himself, what prevents one from taking to it immediately, especially when one is given the knowledge of absolute truth?

          Reply
          1. Nilesh Parab

            Well, the timeframe is in that we have eternity on our side through rebirths. Not like other religions where there is only one life to prove ourselves.

            I have heard two versions of why we are here. One is that it’s a kind of punishment for aspiring to be God. The second one is that we are (part of / same as) God/Supreme Consciousness, but we have forgotten our true nature due to Maya.

            My earlier reply was from the second perspective. But I also have a problem with the ‘aspiring to be God’ view. The question is: What is wrong with aspiring to be God? Why / in what way are we different from God/Lord Krishna, that He has supreme power and we are supremely powerless?

  7. Ambi

    “Well, the timeframe is in that we have eternity on our side through rebirths.”

    One birth or eternity, it doesn’t make a difference as long as the goal is not reached!

    “The second one is that we are (part of / same as) God/Supreme Consciousness, but we have forgotten our true nature due to Maya.”

    This is where the problem lies. We are NOT “same as” God… we are part and parcel of him, but not HIM. Understand? If you subscribe to the popular (unfortunately) view that we are all ‘God’, just that we are covered by illusion, I cannot help you any further… that’s what is called ‘Mayavada’, which is a twisted version of the Vedic truth.

    “What is wrong with aspiring to be God? Why / in what way are we different from God/Lord Krishna, that He has supreme power and we are supremely powerless? ”

    Nilesh, honestly, 10 articles I have written on addressing this very issue and I am astonished to see such a question. The difference is Krishna is God and we are not! He is the supreme controller, Ishvara, and we are the ‘controlled’.

    Bottom line… We cannot become Krishna… no matter how much we wish or envy his ‘powerful’ position. This is a fact established by Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam and other Vedic scriptures.

    Reply
  8. Nilesh Parab

    True, but so is the opposite. One birth or eternity, it doesn’t matter if the goal IS reached.

    And actually, I am in a flux about my beliefs. It would help if you could explain, maybe through an analogy or something: How can we be part of him, but not Him? In what way? Did He give birth to us? Were we born after Him? From where did we come (our spiritual self, not material self)? From where did our souls come into existence?

    And if He is the controller and we the controlled, how did it get to be this way? Where/how did He get the power over us? Where did He Himself come into existence from?

    I don’t have anything for or against any belief (including yours). I am curious as to what exactly the belief is/says.

    Reply
  9. Ambi

    Well, I would be a little discouraged if I have to go on for eternity like this.

    For some thinking: A Father and his Child… are they same or different? Don’t extend the analogy to suit any other context. Just imagine a father and child… and tell me if they are same or different.

    For your other questions on origin of souls and relationship of souls with God, read http://www.gingerchai.com/2009/11/05/main-topics-of-srimad-bhagavad-gita/.

    It is not something like everyone was up there enjoying and suddenly one soul became God and took control. There is no democrazy up there! :)

    The next set of questions are misleading in the sense that if you accept God exists, by definition, it means he is causeless. God does not depend on some external power to do something.

    parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate
    svābhāvikī jñāna-bala-kriyā ca

    “The Supreme Lord has multi-potencies which act so perfectly that all consciousness, strength and activity are being directed solely by His will.” (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.8)

    When we ourselves, in our embodied existence, are swept through the ages by Kala or time, which is identified as an energy of the Supreme Lord, we do not have the means to verify or the vocabulary to describe him or his origins, except for what has been revealed through the ages.

    Reply
  10. Nilesh Parab

    Well, maybe you would be discouraged, but what about others? And hasn’t Lord Krishna said that eventually everything will come to reside in Him? So why do you want to force the timeframe? Let people come by their own curiousity. Let them decide the purpose of their own lives.

    Second, a father and child are different; the child isn’t part and parcel of the father. Also, a father doesn’t stop a child from growing to be as strong (or stronger) than himself.

    In your link, you have given example of ocean and drop. But the point is: the drops make up the ocean. Without the drops the ocean would not be there. That was exactly what I was trying to ask earlier.

    My problem is that in the spiritual world, Lord Krishna is in a form similar to us. The ego, and aspirations to be God, come from the fact that God looks and behaves like ourselves. If He were of a different form or say (for the sake of argument) something iconic like a huge idol or a gentle giant with a huge flowing white beard, we would be content with paying our respects and would not trying to be Him.

    Also, I have no problem with the contention that God existed forever and I’ll keep aside the questions where He came from. My question was/is rather about us jivas: Where did we come from? Why were we created? For what purpose?

    I do not mean to hurt any sentiments with these questions. Think of these as being like Arjuna’s reluctance to fight without having his doubts/questions resolved first. I like the fact that Lord Krishna could have just commanded Arjuna to fight, but He took the time, and effort, to explain the Truth to him. It turned out to be beneficial to everybody.

    Reply
  11. Ambi

    You have done exactly what I asked you not to do: extend the analogy.

    The son ‘is’ qualitatively the father, being made from the father, but not the father. That was the only concept being tried to explain here. The drop from a ocean is ‘qualitatively’ the same, but it is NOT ‘THE’ Ocean! This is the drawback of using human perceived analogies to explain things are beyond our senses.

    “And hasn’t Lord Krishna said that eventually everything will come to reside in Him? So why do you want to force the timeframe?”

    Oh no, not at all… I am not the one forcing any timeframe. I am just repeating what Krishna says in Gita (18.65, 18.66):

    “Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend. Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.”

    If one does not want to do this, what can I do? Nothing! But its worth a try.

    “If He were of a different form or say (for the sake of argument) something iconic like a huge idol or a gentle giant with a huge flowing white beard, we would be content with paying our respects and would not trying to be Him.”

    Well, Krishna showed his universal form to Arjuna… no? Its there in the Gita. I would say that form was a bit more than iconic. I very much doubt our present day ‘realized’, jogging shorts or wheelchair ‘Gods’ would be able to accomplish it.

    You say ‘I have a problem’ or ‘My problem is’… couple of times now, actually. Well, all of us do, because it is not easy to reconcile with the fact that all of a sudden we are told that ‘we’ are insignificant, and someone has the top post. (Just kidding, but yeah, you get the idea).

    “Where did we come from? Why were we created? For what purpose?”

    Well, you just did what the Vedas ask everyone to do? Give me time till tomorrow morning to post a response specifically to this question. But why not read through the entire Bhagavad Gita at least once? I recommend “Bhagavad Gita As It Is”, for who else can pass on the Lord’s song without influence from any of the inherent human defects than his loving, sincere devotee?

    Reply
  12. Nilesh Parab

    Ocean-drop: So, the only difference between Lord Krishna and us is that He is large and we are small? Otherwise we are the same? So the mightiest controls everything?

    About the quote from BG: Like it says, Lord Krishna revealed it to Arjuna because he was His friend, and that too only because Arjuna asked the questions! There was no preaching and spreading of it (not even to those on the same/opposite side in the battlefield).

    Also, Krishna revealed it one time in the Gita and He came in human form a handful of times in our long history. So why does He have to be in human form in the spiritual world at all? What I was / am trying to say is that this human form makes us underestimate / aspire to be Him.
    Any reason He has to be there in human form?

    And it’s not suddenly that I have found out that I am insignificant …lol …I have read the BG (As It Is) more than a couple of times over the years. These problems / questions / doubts are inspite of that!

    I am asking you because you seem to have delved in the BG more thoroughly than me.

    No rush for the answers, and thank you for the same. Also, if you want to, we can take this discussion to a different forum.

    Reply
  13. Ambi

    This forum is fine, unless someone feels we are boring them to oblivion. :)

    As long you understand that ‘qualitatively, there is no difference, that is fine. But don’t rush to conclusions, by extending analogy, hither and tither like “so, this is it, that is how, this is not…” based on analogy.

    “There was no preaching and spreading of it (not even to those on the same/opposite side in the battlefield).” and “About the quote… preaching and spreading of it (not even to those on the same/opposite side in the battlefield).”

    If that is the case, how come Sanjaya was reporting the events to Dhrtarashtra? Why did Vyasa compile this?

    Read http://vedabase.net/bg/4/en. All of it, but esp. verse 1 and 2. Notice the line of descent of the knowledge and also the words ‘parampara pramptam’ or ‘received by disciplic succession’. Arjuna was selected as the receiver because he was a devotee and friend and he had a direct relationship with Krishna. But this knowledge is not just to be kept to oneself… and not meant for Arjuna alone.

    “So why does He have to be in human form in the spiritual world at all? What I was / am trying to say is that this human form makes us underestimate / aspire to be Him. Any reason He has to be there in human form?”

    Krishna answers this question in a mildly strong language. Read http://vedabase.net/bg/9/11/en2.

    Also, read http://vedabase.net/bg/9/1/en2, where Krishna mentions one very important quality of Arjuna (non-envious of the Lord) by which he is qualified to received absolute knowledge. The translation is “The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Arjuna, because you are never envious of Me, I shall impart to you this most confidential knowledge and realization, knowing which you shall be relieved of the miseries of material existence.”

    And dwelling in to the reasons for ‘why’: The verse ‘Paritranaya Sadhunam’ (BG4.8)explains it. He is basically coming to establish order, but also out of compassion, to teach and attract the forgetful souls to the spiritual reality, and to exhibit his transcendental lilas for the pleasure of his devotees. But getting in to details is not helpful at this stage, even for me.

    Reply
  14. Alka

    Noooo guyz you are not boring at all. Its enriching to read the discussion going on. To say in McD’s words I’m Loving I :D

    Reply
  15. Nilesh Parab

    Ok. We’ll continue here then :)

    Well, that is the contradiction. On the one hand Krishna reveals only to Arjuna because Arjuna has a personal relationship with Him and is not jealous of Him. And on the other hand, others who may be jealous get to read the BG narrated by Sanjaya and compiled by Vyasa. If it had to be revealed to everybody, why not reveal His real self to others on the battlefield itself, and avoid the whole war? Why this one condition (only to non-jealous friend) on the battlefield, and no condition off it?

    Secondly, the link you provided tells us HOW we underestimate Him in human form in the MATERIAL world. What I was asking is: WHY is he in human form in the SPIRITUAL world? Isn’t it in the spiritual world that we aspire to be Him and get punished by being banished to the material world? What I am saying is, all this punishment could be avoided if He didn’t look like us in the spiritual world. This human form makes us aspire to be Him.

    Question: Why does He insist on taking the form of a drop if He is the ocean, which in turn causes other drops to aspire to be Him, and consequently getting banished to the material world?

    Reply
  16. Ambi

    Hmmm… seems like I didn’t understand the core question from your previous comments after all. And I am not sure I understand the purpose of this line of questioning. Anyway, it looks like the questions are:

    1) Why did he simply not tell everyone that ‘Hey, I am your Lord’, and simply punt them back to the spiritual world?
    2) Why does he show himself in the human form, enticing others to be envious of him?

    Here goes.

    1) Krishna selected Arjuna for ‘reinstating the actual disciplic succession’ based on several qualities (not just non-enviousness as you have mentioned). I haven’t seen a direct answer, so this is from what I have learned: It is not like Krishna says “Hey, this is meant only for you, so please don’t tell anyone”. It’s more like “I know you to be my devotee and friend, so you will understand my message clearly and deliver it without any modifications”.

    All the souls have a minute amount of freewill (but still under the influence of the material nature and Karma, complex stuff). So, forced love isn’t love, is it? If they didn’t/ we don’t want to go back, so be it. As you said, eternity awaits.

    Just for thinking sake: While people like Arjuna, Bhishma, Vidura, Uddhava understood he was the Supreme Lord (Bhishma did fight on the opposite side for various reasons… out of scope of this discussion), Kamsa, Duryodhana or Shishupala could not see the truth. Kamsa knew Krishna was going to be born, but still he thought “Oh, I can kill him somehow!”. Why?

    2) So basically, this pushes the blame on to Krishna, for entrapment. Is that so?

    Krishna declares in BG 10.2: “Neither the hosts of demigods nor the great sages know My origin or opulences, for, in every respect, I am the source of the demigods and sages.”

    If you are asking me the reason, why he is taking a particular form and not another, I don’t know. To do that, I have to be in tune with and understand the full extent of the Lord’s freewill. He does so according to His own sweet will. The Lord appears in order to fulfill some mission, but above that He appears for His own pleasure, according to His Supreme Will.

    Another point is there is difference between Krishna’s ‘form’ and the ‘human body form’ in that His form is ‘sat’, ‘cit’, ‘ananda’ and ‘vigraha’… which means that His form (vigraha) is eternal and has not come into being at some point in time, whereas our is not. Understanding this difference is mandatory. You can also read BG7.24 for a related description.

    Reply
  17. Ambi

    Oh, forgot this.

    “Question: Why does He insist on taking the form of a drop if He is the ocean, which in turn causes other drops to aspire to be Him, and consequently getting banished to the material world?”

    Your assumption is based on just the form being a factor for ‘aspiration’.

    Here’s what my teachers have to say:

    “We are here because of our choice to enjoy independently of Krishna.” (This constitutes a ‘misuse’ of freewill.)

    “the ‘event’ of misuse of free will is not a ‘chronological event’ (this means ‘an event within time’, eg “In the past I was outside of this room, then some time passed, then some notion came into my mind, and that inspired me to come within the room, which also took place through the passage of some time.”) but constitutes an event nonetheless.”

    “In the spiritual world, souls can enjoy unlimited bliss, but by serving the Lord and not independently. There, Krishna is the only Enjoyer and the Cynosure of everybody’s attention and devotion. For those who unfortunately resent the Lord’s unrivaled opulence and His position as the central Enjoyer of all existence, He out of great kindness creates this illusory realm – like a loving father’s indirect protection of his prodigal son. Besides giving the soul the opportunity for an illusory sense of unlimited freedom, by illusion’s inherent miserable nature, it helps rectify the soul of this mentality. This is one of the grand mysteries of material creation.”

    Reply
  18. Nilesh Parab

    1. Exactly. Forced love isn’t love. So let each one determine the purpose of his/her life, whether to love the Lord or not, or to defer it to another time/lifetime. After all, we have eternity. I think we are both agreeing on this now?

    2. That is exactly what I meant. It IS like entrapment, I feel. Also, I understand His eternal form which in unbounded/infinite. My question was about the reason He takes the human/finite form in the spiritual world, to which I guess you have no answer, as you have said.

    3. You saying that form is not the factor for aspiration. But, instead, to live independently of Krishna (out of His shadow), and Krishna granting us this material world to fulfil this wish.

    Now, my question is: If Krishna is like the loving father, why didn’t He, out of his kindness, create a better material world for us? What I am saying is: We don’t have even an illusory sense of ‘unlimited’ freedom. We are limited by the very nature of the material world (death, diseases, and so on…). So why such a miserable world?

    I do not mean to hurt your or anyone’s sentiments, but the way I see it is this:

    Ravana told Sita that if she wanted to enjoy the riches of Lanka, she should accept him as her husband/lord. If not (or until such a time) she was ‘free’ to stay as long as possible in Asokavan in the company of the females rakshasins, been given her daily meal, etc.

    Now, I feel that our stay here in the material world, is like Sita’s stay in Ashokvan. If we have to get out and enjoy the many joys of the spiritual world (similar to Lanka) we have to bow before Krishna. Similar to Sita, we don’t have the third choice (to stay with Rama / true freedom) which we wish. Its either least freedom (Ashokvan) or lesser freedom (Lanka). No true freedom. No freedom to leave both Ashokvan and Lanka, and go instead to the forest home.

    Now, my problem is this: Why don’t we have the third choice? Why can’t we live in our own little hut in the forest, where we have actual freedom?

    That is why I asked all the questions from the start: Who brought our souls into existence at all? What really is our relationship with Krishna? Did Krishna create us only for His pleasure/as His servants? If yes, then how is He different from Ravana, who abducted Sita and gave her only two choices: to stay in Ravana’s Lanka (where He was the lord) or stay in Ashokvan (with very limited freedom)?

    Again, I am not trying to hurt anyone. I am just trying to analyze this from a very neutral point of view. I hope you understand my perspective.

    Reply
  19. Ambi

    Nilesh,

    You draw unrelated conclusions from a premise.

    1) No one is forcing or should force anyone to take up any sort of practice. But that does NOT mean anyone and everyone can interpret the teachings of the Vedas to suit their needs and follow in their own whimsical way. Nor does that mean that people shouldn’t point out mistakes in understanding of others. Agreed?

    2) Again, you ASSUME that when Krishna takes the human form, it is finite and so on. Read http://vedabase.net/bg/9/11/en2, once more. As you state, this is just what you feel. So no comments on that.

    3) This is not and should NOT be a sentimental topic. Yours is not the neutral standpoint, because you still are in the position that says “Hey, leave me alone, let me be.”

    Sita did NOT go with Ravana on her own free will. She was forced by Ravana (actually, a deeper understanding is Mother Sita, consort of the Supreme Lord, allowed herself to be taken, playing her part in the fulfilling of Lord Ram’s descent, but again, this is beyond scope of this discussion).

    Whereas Shastras reveal that WE are HERE, in this material world, because we desired so. You can see that difference, no? We misused our freewill, my previous comment details that.

    So, Krishna basically sanctioned our desire because:
    1) we desired it, by choice, by free will, even though it is not beneficial for us
    2) he does not want to force you to stay put with him
    3) in reality we cannot enjoy or exist independent of him, so there is nothing called as ‘true freedom’. Therefore he manifested this material world where we can ‘think’ we are independent.

    But after all this, Krishna’s compassionate nature for ALL living beings still prevails wherein we are given the chance to redeem ourselves, by understanding our true position, in this human form, where the faculty of reasoning on higher truths is given.

    When this creation itself is caused by the Lord, there is no place we can remain ‘out of his shadow’. We are the ‘dependent’ reality and the Lord is the ‘independent’ reality, whether anyone likes it or not. What is being asked by you is not freedom from birth and disease and old age (by returning to the spiritual world)… what you are asking is to let this material creation be more pleasurable and enjoyable without the above said ‘miseries’ so that one can remain ‘truly independent’. Sorry, but that is not the neutral standpoint. I hope you understand.

    I have tried my best to clarify your questions till now, touching only lightly on the Bhagavad Gita for relevant information. If you are still not convinced, we can carry on this discussion, but how much useful it would be depends on whether you are able to understand the information shared and how much you can move away from speculative ideas or ideals, and see things from the standpoint of Shastra, even if it is through the ‘Vedantic Truths’ that you have used in your blog post on Free Will.

    Reply
  20. Nilesh Parab

    Well, I am not the one getting emotional here. Giving labels (whimsical, speculative) is a sign of that, and does not help in the discussion in any way.

    1. You said: “No one is forcing or should force anyone to take up any practice. Nor does that mean that people shouldn’t point out mistakes in understanding of others. Agreed?”

    Answer: Couldn’t agree with you more on this. That’s what I am trying to do! I am not asking you to leave your way, and come join mine or the materialist people’s way. I am trying to understand your way, and trying to point out contradictions in your understandings. So you agree this is a wholesome thing, beneficial to both?

    2. Nowhere does the link say that Krishna’s human form is infinite. Even at the top it says “Fools deride me when I come in human form”. That is exactly what I am saying. People will compare themselves to someone who looks like them. Now, human form may be necessary in material births of the Lord, but why does He need to stay in human form in the spiritual world at all? Why does the ocean want to take the form of a drop?

    3. Like I said, I am not the one being sentimental and attaching labels on the other. If I was, I would call you brainwashed, conditioned, not ready to see beyond what you have been told. But I didn’t say all these things. Instead, you have put labels on me, as I stated above.

    Now, it may be true that we have taken birth in the material world by our own will, but it is because we wanted to avoid the domination of Lord Krishna. It is similar to saying that Sita was not forced to marry Ravana, but had the choice to stay in Ashokvan and she did so by her “own will”. The point is: false choices are not free will, and we do not have free will at all. It’s either material misery (similar to Ashokvan) or spiritual servitude (similar to being Ravana’s wife and enjoying the many riches of Lanka).

    Now, I understand that Sita was not Ravana’s to claim. But that we cannot be independent of Krishna, because we are part of Him, as is everything else, and so are His to claim. But then how did it get to be this way? You said earlier, that Krishna was eternal, but we were born. So, that’s my question: Why were we born? From where? Did Krishna create us to be His playthings and servants?

    And the other things matter exactly because of this. eg. why does Krishna stay in human form in the spiritual world? It is the one reason that can probably tempt us to aspire to be Him in the spiritual world (otherwise why would we want to leave it at all? what don’t we have in the spiritual world??). So it is like entrapment (like I said earlier, and to which you haven’t responded).

    And why can’t the material world be like the spiritual world minus Krishna? Since everything is Him, we will always be in touch with Him even in the material world. We can never go away from Krishna, nor He from us. So why does He insist to be there with us in human form only? I can even understand that He desires and deservees respect, love, etc. but then that can be solved by the simple way of something other than a human form (which we won’t aspire to be, but will always respect). eg. like I said before, say a large icon, or as the white bearded gentle giant (which would be a deserving form, because He is like our father, grandfather, etc). Then He could have all the respect and love He deserved.

    You see the problem? Read through all my posts again if you verify, but this is the theme I am trying to get through to others. I am not trying to berate or laugh at or demean your beliefs.

    Like you said: we can continue, but whether it will be beneficial will depend whether you are ready to put aside your conditioning and be ready to see this objectively and analytically.

    If you mistake it to be emotional or sentimental, you are free to do so. But then again, wasn’t Arjuna emotional / sentimental on the battlefield? Didn’t that lead to revelation of the BG? So how is that bad?

    Reply
  21. Ambi

    Yikes… no one is getting ‘emo’ here. Nilesh, mentioning “I think”, “I feel” etc. were indications of personal opinion, and some of what you did propose ARE speculations.

    But nowhere did I mention you were interpreting anything whimsically. I understand that you are merely asking questions, but so far I have not seen you ‘interpreting’ saying ‘this verse is what is actually meant’. So, as long as you don’t do that part, I am fine.

    The question of ‘why does he insist in coming in human form’ itself doesn’t make sense because you are imposing your logic on God’s actions, who whose actions are beyond our logic.

    Brain washed – true. Its cleaner now! It was actually dirty before. But who wants to know my past? So I will leave it at that.

    Conditioned – true. I am in a better condition to understand what is truth and what is not, in the light of Shastras and to see what is authoritative knowledge and what is blind sentiment.

    Not ready to see ‘beyond’ – very true, not ready to see beyond the truth.

    Nilesh, understand in the correct perspective. I mentioned facts and generic statements… it was not attacking you personally. Can we settle this here, now?

    Well, now I understand your point a bit. So, you consider it as spiritual ‘servitude’. If you read the entire dialogue, thinking in such a way itself means a wrong choice is made.

    “You said earlier, that Krishna was eternal, but we were born. So, that’s my question: Why were we born? From where? Did Krishna create us to be His playthings and servants?”

    Where did I state we were born? We are ‘born’ only in this material world. From the start, I have been maintaining the standpoint that a Jiva is eternal… no birth and no death for a spirit soul. Krishna didn’t ‘create’ us… but yes, the scriptures and acharyas mention clearly that the only fulfillment of our existence, in any form, embodied soul or as spirit soul, is in loving service and surrender to the Lord.

    Now, you think that position of service is by entrapment and is slavery, that is where I mentioned your position was not a neutral one, since this is the exact choice taken by all of the souls which led to this material manifestation.

    Oh yes, the material world can also be like the spiritual world, if we keep Krishna as the basis, but again and again you keep coming to this ‘minus Krishna’ stuff.

    So, No! That choice does not exist.

    Arjuna was sentimental and emotional. But since you said you have read through BG as it is couple of time, you know how he got chided. And at the end, his stance was “Krishna, I will do as you say”. So, emulate Arjuna on the emotional part, but also make sure you come to the last stage of complete acceptance.

    The fundamental and axiomatic principle in spiritual science is that unless one accepts this inconceivable nature of God’s potencies, there is no way of understanding Him. Once that is accepted, the only means of knowing the truth is through the revealed scriptures, with the guidance of realized spiritual masters. Whatever I have shared is based on these two sources only.

    So, objectively and analytically propose what you think will resolve the contradictions. Let us put both in light of the Shastras and see which one is accepted and which one is not.

    Shall we?

    Reply
  22. Ambi

    “Now, it may be true that we have taken birth in the material world by our own will, but it is because we wanted to avoid the domination of Lord Krishna. It is similar to saying that Sita was not forced to marry Ravana, but had the choice to stay in Ashokvan and she did so by her “own will”.The point is: false choices are not free will, and we do not have free will at all. It’s either material misery (similar to Ashokvan) or spiritual servitude (similar to being Ravana’s wife and enjoying the many riches of Lanka).”

    If Krishna had wanted, he would have just forced the souls to be bound and stay beside him… the fact that he did not means we do have free will, however minute it is, and we are given the facility to exercise it. We are still given a choice… continue to stay here since we want to continue to think we can enjoy or exist independent of God, or realize our actual position and get out of this material existen

    So there is no question of whether we have free will or not. We do have it, but as long as it is not aligned with the free will of the Lord, we continue this existence. Simple.

    Existence independent of God is impossible. I guess it is hard to accept.

    Reply
  23. Nilesh Parab

    Letting personal differences be, I am putting you one specific question:

    I have myself said that existence independent of God is impossible. I am asking why is existence independent of God in human form impossible?

    Even if He was not there in human form, we will always be with Him and He with us, because we are part of Him. So why this insistence on a human form? (which implies servitude to another of our kind, not someone greater than us with infinite potencies).

    Simple.

    Reply
  24. Ambi

    Fine. No personal differences then! So no more ‘I feel’, ‘I think’ stuff then.

    Read (including the purports) http://vedabase.net/bg/15/7/en. And http://vedabase.net/bg/7/24/en.

    Now we come to your questions.

    “why is existence independent of God in human form impossible?”

    When you say independent of God, it means God or his energies or agents have no jurisdiction with your existence. Correct?

    Consider the current material nature and our position in it. Even if one is an atheist and denies God explicitly, we are still subjected to the rules of material nature. And material nature, Prakriti, as revealed by Krishna in Bhagavad Gita, is one of his potencies and is under his control.

    Now tell me in what way it is possible to be independent of God in this human form. And tell me if we can do anything to claim independence from the influence of God.

    “So why this insistence on a human form? (which implies servitude to another of our kind, not someone greater than us with infinite potencies).”

    *”why even give a form to God?”*

    Is that where you are going?

    There are innumerable forms Krishna takes in the spiritual world as well as when descending to the material world… four armed Vishnu form, in the Virat-rupa form. Or take Lord Narasimha for example. There is no way humans would be envious of that form, is it? Would that be acceptable as ‘iconic’? Would people then lovingly surrender to him?

    In any case, who are we to limit which form Krishna appears in? This is all the symptoms of the same root cause… “We should be able to enjoy independent of God”. That is like a fish saying “I should be able to live outside of water”.

    Reply
  25. Nilesh Parab

    That’s exactly what I am saying. Even if God is not present in any form, it is not going to take Him away from us or us away from Him.

    So, you are right. That is one of part of my question: Why even give a form to God?

    The second part is this: If a form is required, then he can take all the other forms – four armed Vishnu for example. We never aspire to be Lord Vishnu, do we?

    It is only because Krishna looks like us that gives us the incentive to think that even can we can be Him. If He loves us so much, that He can takes the trouble of creating an entire material world for us, then why not the simple matter of forgoing just the one form which causes all these problems?

    I know we can’t limit Him from taking this form. I am asking why He Himself chooses not to. If He doesn’t want to explain that, then He becomes like all the other Gods (“Meri marzi” type). Then why even bother explaining all this other stuff too? What was the point of the BG then? He could have just given the command to Arjuna “Fight because I say so, my marzi”!!

    Reply
  26. Ambi

    “Why even give a form to God?”

    Why not? Aren’t you limiting God by that statement? Why can’t he have a form?

    Let me put it to you straight. You assumed the souls and Krishna had a similar form in the spiritual world and therefore grew envious because he looked like them, but they couldn’t be him. This understanding is wrong.

    Why? Because souls do not have the ‘human form’ of life (as we know it) in the spiritual world. There is no material embodied existence in the spiritual world. And not all souls are given the human form in this world too. If you have actually read the Bhagavad Gita carefully, you will understand that the soul passes through millions of births, from the lowest life form, and gradually evolves in to human form. So your assumption that we already had human form in spiritual body to cause the envy is moot.

    “I know we can’t limit Him from taking this form. I am asking why He Himself chooses not to.”

    Read your question carefully and tell me if that’s exactly what you meant to ask.

    “If He doesn’t want to explain that, then He becomes like all the other Gods”

    That’s like asking fire to explain why it burns. Still, my limited knowledge and realization may not be enough to clarify this doubt. Perhaps a more realized soul can help you with such a question… why Krishna has this form.

    And there are no ‘other’ Gods. God means by definition he is just one. But that’s beyond the scope of this discussion.

    Enough from my side.

    I had asked you to put your ‘theory’, objectively and analytically, and propose what you think will resolve the apparent contradictions. I will wait for it before answering any further.

    Reply
  27. Nilesh Parab

    Ok. I will explain myself. This discussion started off by a comment from me about how / why Hinduism affords each one to decide the purpose of his/her life. To which you responded with the statement of a few ‘facts’ (as in – what is written in the scriptures is non-subjective).

    Most of the discussion since then has been more of the form of me seeking elaboration and/or weighing the ‘facts’ for consistency/contradictions. It’s because I have been led to believe that questioning is good (I learnt it from the BG conversation of Krishna and Arjuna itself). And you yourself were questioning the materialist ‘theory’, so what is wrong in questioning the spiritual one before accepting it as fact?

    It is not a “my theory vs your theory” thing. I don’t see this as your theory at all. I am just asking you to elaborate this because you seemed to have (going by your articles) studied it more thoroughly than me.

    eg. In this particular article, you have stated that the purpose of our life should be to return to a life which we seem to have left by our own “free will”. I am just trying to comprehend this: if that life was so good and blissful, why did we leave willfully in the first place? To which you reply that we aspire to be the Krishna. To which I reply, that maybe it is the sameness in form of the Lord and us that makes us aspire to be Him? To which you felt the need not to answer because (in your words) “souls do not have the ‘human form’ of life (as we know it) in the spiritual world”.

    Now, let us get this form thing clarified before discussing further (form or no form). You have said at the end of your article that you have followed the teachings of Srila Prabhupada. Here is a link wherein Srila Prabhupada discusses the spiritual world, Vaikuntha: http://krishna.org/the-spiritual-world/

    My question: If we don’t have a form in the spiritual world, then what is Srila Prabhupada talking about in reply to the footprint question at the start?

    Do you agree with or differ with Srila Prabhupada on this?

    I also have another question, but it depends on your answer to this one. So I will wait for your answer.

    (And just to clarify, in the earlier post I meant ‘Gods’ as in Gods of other religions)

    Reply
  28. Ambi

    Who said you shouldn’t question? If that was the case, would I be taking this much effort to respond?

    “To which you felt the need not to answer because (in your words) “souls do not have the ‘human form’ of life (as we know it) in the spiritual world”.”

    Correction. I didn’t say we don’t have any form. I said we don’t have the human form ‘as we know it’ and also mentioned ‘material embodied existence’ is not here. That is a huge difference. The spiritual body does not have restrictions like what we have. I also did not say ‘I need not answer’, I merely said maybe someone more realized and much more purified in the knowledge is needed to explain it to you, since my explanations seem to be not helping you.

    And thank you very much for the nice link. I had a good time reading through it. :) There is no way I am going to disagree with Srila Prabhupada. But a small clarification for you is in order. Prabhupada is talking about Vaikuntha in the spiritual world, whereas there are so many other descriptions by him, from the scriptures, of the highest spiritual plane called Goloka Vrindavan, the original abode, where each soul manifests itself in a form based on its loving relationship with Krishna.

    But the truth is, why we rebelled, why material world became to be so etc. are not simple Q&A type issues, as these are inconceivable events (outside purview of Time also, as we know it).

    Only based on that, I have been repeatedly saying that your ‘view’ wonrgly focuses only on the form aspect, whereas there are so many other similarities as well as huge differences between us and the Lord.

    Questioning is fine. But to what end? What would be the benefit of knowing ‘How we came here?’, ‘Why Krishna did NOT take different form?’, ‘Why we came down here?’ etc.? Srila Prabhupada has also said that puzzling over when we fell or where we fell from won’t solve our problem. The conclusion is that whatever may be our past, let us come to Krishna consciousness and immediately join Krishna.

    Still, I am not saying you shouldn’t ask these questions. What I am saying is take sometime to understand the philosophy a bit more and then you will be in a better position to understand such things. This is like taking baby steps and learning alphabets before attempting 5th or 10th grade exams.

    “(And just to clarify, in the earlier post I meant ‘Gods’ as in Gods of other religions)”

    Doesn’t matter. Whatever is the religion, God is one. Each one may worship a different aspect of God… but there is no such thing as different ‘Gods’.

    If I can be of any further help, please let me know.

    Reply
  29. Nilesh Parab

    Thank you very much for these answers. Basically, this is the same final answer I got from (whom you call) Mayavadis. That ‘these are inconceivable events (outside the purview of time)’.

    Also: Srila Prabhudeva also talks of Krishnaloka in the same paragraph as he talks of Vaikuntha. But never mind that now.

    Thank you, once again, for your efforts in answering my doubts/questions.

    Reply
  30. Ambi

    Whoa hold on.

    You got the same answer from whom I call as ‘mayavadis’? Thats strange. They don’t believe in any personal aspects in spiritual world!

    One more thing. That article is basically a transcript of a conversation… I did read it. My comment states that the form is based on the relationship… so two handed forms are not banned.

    I can search and find you references that would clarify my point in the previous comment.

    Btw, who is Srila Prabhudeva? :P

    Reply
  31. Ambi

    “I also have another question, but it depends on your answer to this one. So I will wait for your answer.”

    What was this other question anyway?

    Reply
  32. Nilesh Parab

    Lol… I meant Srila Prabhupada :)

    What I found common about Mayavadis and this explanation is that: Both say that we are here because we chose to manifest in the material world, but the reasons/events behind WHY we chose to do so, are inconceivable (not in the purview of Time also, as we know it).

    The followup question I wanted to ask depended on forms being there or not, in the spiritual world. But going your explanation that that we can take the form depending on our relationship with the form of Krishna Himself (including looking like Him), or other forms of Krishna in other spiritual lokas (eg. four-handed in Vaikuntha), my question is now this: why couldn’t He be in a form which nobody could have?

    I mean, as I understand it, the one reason that we are in the misery of the material world is because we want to be Lord (just like Krishna), which is impossible because of the obvious differences between Krishna and us (ocean & drop). What I am asking is why this impossibility is not made clear by a simple demarcation of forms between Him and us? Why let us take a form equivalent to Him? Since, like you said, we take form according to our relationship with Him, when we take a form similar to Him, we start assuming/treating this relationship as one of equals, which leads to all these subsequent problems.

    This simple, small communication of our actual differences with Krishna, by means of form, would save all of us the trouble, including to Krishna himself (of creating an entire material world).

    I hope you understand my question.

    Reply
  33. Ambi

    Nilesh,

    The inconceivable part is the truth.

    There are several schools of philosophy, but almost all of them have the fundamentals as same. The part where the difference comes is the conclusion on absolute truth. There is absolutely no way we can deduce by any means the cause of a non-chronological event, even more so when it involves God, who is described as causeless.

    “Why couldn’t He be in a form which nobody could have?”

    As Prabhupada also states, I seriously don’t see how this would be useful in understanding our real nature. But still, just so you asked, Krishna has innumerable forms. This is revealed by himself in Bhagavad Gita, and also in Srimad Bhagavatam… and I highly doubt any one soul is capable of doing so, not Brahma, Indra or anyone.

    You are basically attempting to tackle the whole thing by use of our human logic…” why take the trouble, this is a simple problem” etc. When the said events and the Lord are ‘inconceivable’, no amount of empirical analysis is going to satisfy our questioning.

    That’s why I said that take you should sometime to understand the philosophy a bit more and then you will be in a better position to realize certain things.

    But you keep coming back to “Why does he have to take the human form?” question. For that, on a lighter note, best person to answer that question would be Krishna himself.

    Reply
  34. Nilesh Parab

    Well Ambi, that is the exact same answer I got from someone representing the ‘Mayavadi’ philosophy. That the truth is inconceivable in human terms. I have nothing against this except that then it makes it a faith, trying to pass of as fact/truth.

    Then why bother explaining this much too. Just say “follow the rules laid down by Him, no questions now, you’ll get all your answers in the end”. Simple.

    And finally, I will try and explain how the question of forms would be useful in our understanding of our real self:

    He exists (all-powerful) and we exist (all-powerless). Nobody knows how or why it got to be this way, but that’s fine. That is inconceivable given that this is out of the purview of time itself.

    The problem begins because the scriptures tell us that we are in a non-desirable place (material world) as against the desirable (spiritual world). They ask us to follow certain paths so that we return to the spiritual world. Then they try to explain WHY we are here in the material world (the reason – aspiring to be God).

    So the next obvious question would be WHY we aspire to be God?

    Now, just imagine (for the sake of argument) a spiritual world created by His energies, but where He is not present in any form. We souls would live and interact with each other as equals. No ego, no jealousy, no aspiration to be another (since everyone has everything). Since the world would be manifested by His energies, we would still be with Him/part of Him. Our very appreciation of our existence and of the world would be appreciation of Him. In such a world why would we even think of being Lord? Would we aspire to dissolve and become the world instead of dwelling in it?

    But then (this I can understand) the Lord deserves explicit respect (not just appreciation of His manifestation as the spiritual world itself). So He takes form so that we have something to pay our respects too.

    But then (this I can’t understand) since He can take any form, He can also take a form different from us, which nobody can take (a form everybody respects, but nobody can aspire to), but instead, He allows others to take a form similar to His (which in turn causes them to aspire to be Him). And this ‘supposedly’ in turn leads to our current plight, from which we are advised to remove ourselves by various practices of austerity/devotion.

    The reason the form of the Lord is so important is that it is the base of this explanation. Because, as explained above, in the absence of form, there would not be the aspiration to be something we are not, and no need for a material world.

    I am shocked that no scholar of the scriptures has so far given thought to this crucial question, which completes the otherwise elaborate picture painted. This, I assume from your joking statement telling me to ask Krishna Himself for the answer (implying that no scholar knows the answer).

    I have read the BG with an open mind, but I can’t still grasp this contradiction/last piece that would complete this puzzle of our real selves, and of our relationship with Krishna.

    Reply
  35. Ambi

    “I have nothing against this except that then it makes it a faith, trying to pass of as fact/truth.”

    Read the article on role of faith in science. You do require an initial level of faith in trying to understand the basics. If one cannot or does not have that initial faith, then no matter the effort, progress cannot be made.

    My friend, in your ‘just for sake of argument’ scenario, you keep forgetting one thing which our scriptures keep repeating and I have kept repeating: The natural tendency of the soul is to serve and our constitutional position is in rendering loving devotional service to the Lord. But time and again you go back to asking about a world where he is not present in any form… then how can we be with him? Remove Krishna and that is nothing spiritual about it. Do you not understand this?

    In the absence of form case also… what do you think the mayavadis believe in? They base their entire philosophy on the assumption that God cannot or does not have a form. In that case, there should have been no need for creation, no? Why then are they still speaking about liberation, oneness and stuff like that?

    In any case, no matter the form or any such thing, the event of discordant exercise of free will happened. This can be seen, learned and even realized in today’s world. And no, I don’t say no scholar can explain it. You can try searching for one.

    Reply
  36. Nilesh Parab

    But I have put in effort trying to understand it, taking it as true, and trying to clear my doubts about some inconsistencies.

    And science, my friend, starts off by labeling everything as theories (even proven ones), not stating them as truth (let alone absolute truth).

    Care to explain the phrase ‘constitutional position’?

    And, no I don’t understand what you mean by “remove Krishna, and you have nothing”. (I am assuming you meant the form of Krishna) By saying this, you are tying to capture the formless in the form. An ocean in a drop.

    I am saying that even if Krishna (in the form) is not present, He will always be with us as the world itself. Because He IS the world.

    And I am not an expert in Mayavada too, but their position seems that our current predicament in the material world, and the very existence of the material world and us (in human form) is an anomaly of trying to capture the our formless soul in a form.

    Again, WHY the blissful formless souls needed to shift to the painful material world of form, nobody knows (because that is ‘inconceivable’).

    The thing common about your explanation and the Mayavadis’ is that the VERY ROOT CAUSE of this unnatural behaviour of wilfully going from the blissful spiritual to the pitiful material world is not known (as it is “inconceivable”).

    Reply
  37. Ambi

    That you have put the effort is indeed commendable.

    Well, the way science is taught now, its way opposite.

    ‘Constitutional position’ – like that of a fish to live in water… the actual reality.

    I meant if one removes Krishna, the Supreme Person, in any form, from the picture, there is nothing spiritual in anything. But it is impossible, as stated by Gita too. I am not trying anything… just stating what is given in the scriptures and taught by the acharyas.

    He IS the world, in one sense… but he is also not part of it. He is within everything single being, yet they are not him. This is explained in the Gita clearly as the mystic opulence of the Lord. He can simultaneously do both… get it?

    “Again, WHY the blissful formless souls needed to shift to the painful material world of form, nobody knows (because that is ‘inconceivable’).”

    Yup. Very True.

    No, your understanding of Mayavada is not correct. But I am not going to get in to explaining it and confuse you further.

    Reply
  38. Nilesh Parab

    Well, I am not going to explain science and confuse you too :)

    Yes, I can that understand He is the world but transcends it. And we are mere components in the world. But then, why does He take the form of a mere component in the world if He is greater than all the components of the world?

    If the actual reality is “fish in water” then my question is: “Why does the water want to take form of fish?” Why not something that conveys “I am water, you are fish”, instead of something that conveys “We are equals”?

    Why does the ocean take the form of drops, causing drops to aspire to be Him?

    If you ask: “Why not?”, I would say: Because it causes these further problems (aspirations to be Him, and consequently for Him to create the material world, and for us to stay in it). If you say: “It’s not such big trouble for Him to create the material world”, to this I would say: “Then, it also shouldn’t be such big trouble for Him to take a form demarcating the difference between Him and us”.

    And finally, if you say “Only Krishna can answer this”, then I would say a very heartfelt thank you for your efforts to explain all of the above to me.

    (Also, I will get my Manuvada understanding clarified from a Manuvada scholar/expert).

    Reply
  39. Ambi

    My understanding of science is decent enough to differentiate between what is science and what is nescience, thanks to my teachers, of both material science and spiritual science.

    Fish –> Soul. Fine.
    Water –> God? This is exactly what I called over-extension of analogy to suit one’s own purposes.

    The original explanation is this: just like a fish’s real place is inside of water, the soul’s real place is in the position of service to God. That is what is meant by ‘constitutional’ position, the natural position and propensity.

    I have explained enough, over and beyond what I would normally even attempt to. But again you go back to the same question. So be it. One can go on speculating back and forth, for eternity, and yet not find the answer to a question about why the Lord does something by his will, no matter the intellectual, scholarly prowess or expert logical discerning and debating ability. I don’t say this… shastras do.

    So, without trying to understand the position, qualities, opulence and nature of the Supreme Lord (which is possible only through unalloyed, pure devotional service), one cannot understand his actions.

    Since I am no way qualified at that level, I will simply leave you with one final reading exercise: http://vedabase.net/bg/10/2/en.

    May the Truth find you.

    Reply
  40. David

    Wow. what an intense, healthy debate! I need to re-read it to understand both sides of argument :) wil do it in free time.

    Reply
  41. Nilesh Parab

    Thank you for the link.

    Ambi:

    Just to clarify (as I too have done again and again), I CAN understand the constitutional position and natural propensity of service to God. I only CAN’T understand WHY it is necessary to do service to God WHO IS IN A FORM SIMILAR TO US (which is the root cause of our jealousies/aspirations to be Him, and the subsequent problems)?

    But, anyway, we have both put our sides forward, as best as we can. Thank you once again.

    I had just come back to share a quote (a profound one, I think, about the nature of faith itself) which I found a couple of minutes back:

    “Conscious faith is freedom. Emotional faith is slavery. Mechanical faith is foolishness” ~ G. I. Gurdjieff (1872-1949)

    Reply
  42. Ambi

    Sorry. Never heard of Gurdjieff.

    The definition of faith itself is open to subjective interpretations.

    But no matter how the insinuations are, faith is required for anything that does not involve direct experience.

    So, I would rather trust my faith on my teachers and the scriptures, built upon close of 10 years of study and practice, cultivated by the mercy of my teachers, and prepare my way back, rather than subject myself to the mental agony of worrying about why should God have tormented us his presence in a form similar to us. He does not do that to me anymore, so I guess that is why I find that particular question irrelevant.

    May be your time for reckoning will come. Soon.

    Reply
  43. Nilesh Parab

    Neither had I heard of Gurdjieff. But I found the quote profound. Maybe because I find my love and devotion in the work of the person, not his name or form.

    But anyway, I am not asking you to do anything (least of all lose your faith). I’m happy you have found your truth, and your bliss/satisfaction is all that should count for you, and for each of us, in his/her own way.

    And “day of reckoning”? I didn’t know there was a day of reckoning in this faith. But, if you meant standing face-to-face with Krishna, I would be looking forward eagerly for that day, because I can get to ask Him my question then…

    Reply
    1. Ambi

      Well, true, but I didn’t mean it like the judgment day or something.

      More like the day when understanding would bloom, based on one’s propensity and relationship with the Lord.

      After all, that knowledge is not ‘gained’ by us, but ‘given to us’.

      Reply

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