Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Story 48 - Story of Raasa leela – 08

Krishna replied thus to gopis:

O Dear ones! Mutual love is due to selfishness. This relationship is not dharma (righteous). If one’s selfish motive is not fulfilled then the same love will get turned to enmity. But those who love others without expecting love in return are compassionate people. This is like a father loving his child without expecting love in return and even when the child doesn’t love him. This kind of love has dharma and the relationship is without any taint whatsoever.


Relationship based on love can be of three types:

1. Mutual love or loving a person who loves us(which is due to selfishness)
2. Love without expectations or even loving a person who doesn’t love us (which is due to compassion)
3. No love or relationship at all with anyone – not loving both those who love us and those who don’t love us.

We will see Krishna’s categorization of the third type tomorrow. We have to understand here that Krishna is here giving a complete picture about love. We can even consider this short reply of Krishna to the gopis to be a PhD on love. A clear understanding of this will help us in identifying where we stand and as to how we can progress in the spiritual path through love.

The above categorization based on love is based on how we react to others. There are people who love us, there are those who don’t love us and there are those who don’t care about us at all.

We need to first know that our love shouldn’t be based on expectations. Any love which is based on expectation isn’t pure love but mere attachment. Such a love is based on one’s selfish needs. This selfish need will convert a person from a friend to a foe and a foe to a friend. It is therefore that we see people killing each other in the name of their needs. This isn’t restricted to just friends but even families. We find children killing their parents and parents killing their children when their selfish needs aren’t satisfied.

Swami Rama Teertha narrates a beautiful incident which happened in upper Himalayas. Water was rising higher and higher in the Himalayas. There was a mother monkey and few of her children who were caught in the rising water. They climbed up a tree in order to avoid drowning in the water. But the water kept rising. Thus they reached the topmost branch of the tree but water was still rising. Suddenly the mother monkey kept one of her child on the branch and stood on the child to avoid the rising water. She continued this with her other children when water kept on rising.

This story thus clearly proves that any relationship based on expectation will turn hostile when the needs are not fulfilled. Majority of the people in the world thus cater to mutual love or they love a person who loves them back. It is for this reason as well that we expect love from others. When we get love, we reciprocate it. But when we don’t get love, it turns into hatred. AMMA thereby says that marriage is supposed to be a relationship in which both husband and wife help each other to realize the ultimate reality of Lord; instead we find the husband seeking love of wife and wife seeking love of husband; thus two beggars of love are getting married. It is for this reason that divorce is becoming more common than ever.

The second type of relationship is those of people who love everyone (even those who don’t love them). These are compassionate people – only realized masters can have this compassion to love others. But if sadhakas or seekers are able to get this attitude of compassion, then they will soon realize the ultimate reality of Lord as compassion demonstrated through love for everyone will negate duality (as everybody is seen as one) thereby removing ignorance and making them realize their very nature of ultimate reality of Lord.

There is a beautiful Tamil song of AMMA which goes thus:

Ezhaikalkum selvarukkum ore oru amma
Chiruvarrukkum periyavarkkum svantham intha amma
Methaikalkum bhediakalkum bhedam illai jagadamba
Evarayum kaappaatha thunai irupaal jagadamba

O AMMA, you are there for both poor and rich,
You are “my mother” for both small and big,
You don’t have any difference for learned and ignorant O Mother of the world,
You are always there to protect everyone O Mother of the world.

The above song in brief illustrates the compassion of realized saints to love everyone. There have been cases of people coming to attack AMMA; but she has treated those people the same as any of her disciple or devotee. This is because such Mahatmas see the ultimate reality of Lord everywhere. Thus every thing in the world is but the ultimate reality of Lord for them. Thereby they cannot differentiate between things and objects of the world.

It is this second type of love that we all as seekers of the ultimate reality of Lord should strive for and practice in life. When we are able to love everyone irrespective of whether they love us or not, we are going beyond expectations (which causes trouble as in the first type of relationship) thereby ever being blissful in contemplation of the Lord.

But other than these two types, there is a third type of relationship wherein the person is indifferent to both who love them and who don’t love them. This relationship might seem to be quite simple but is a deep interpretation of various people of the world; Krishna would be explaining about the same which we will see in the next day.

Let us try to get away from selfish love and try to show love for anything and everything in the world with the knowledge that everything is but an illusion of names and forms in the Lord so that we may ever contemplate on the ultimate reality of Lord and rejoice in the bliss emanating from such contemplation.

Krishna continued:

Those who don’t love both those who love them and don’t love them are of four types: first are the atmaaraamas or those who have attained bliss in the Atman; second are the aapthakaamas or those whose all desires have been fulfilled; third are moodaas or those who don’t know about respect & love; fourth are neechaas or low-people who even betray their Gurus.

The first two sets of people see nothing but the Atman everywhere. Moreover there is no purpose for loving others in them. Hence they are fully satisfied and happy with themselves (with the knowledge and vision of the Lord in the entire world). Thus they don’t love anybody.

The third and fourth people are the category unto which we shouldn’t fall.


Krishna here is speaking about the third type of relationship based on love wherein the person doesn’t love anybody in the world.

We may think that a person who doesn’t love anybody in the world is a bad man and will never progress in the spiritual path. Even though this is true, Krishna is here clarifying the actions of certain spiritual masters who have gone beyond the duality that they cannot see anything other than the ultimate reality of Lord. Thus for them it is but impossible to love others (as there are no others at all). Loving others is for two reasons – one when we see duality or differences in the world and two when we expect something (meaning we have some desire to be fulfilled through them). But the first and second type of people who don’t love anyone cannot have any reason for loving others. The first type which is aatmaaraamas are people who are ever immersed and playing in the ultimate reality of Lord. This means that they don’t see anything other than the Lord. Thus it is impossible for them to love others (loving others is possible only when we see duality at the empirical level). The second type which is aapthakaamas are people whose all desires have been satisfied – thus they also have no reason for loving others. Thus they also will be ever immersed in the ultimate reality of Lord.

Does this mean that Mahatmas like AMMA are not aatmaaraamas or aapthakaamas because they see duality and love others?
No, this only means that there are different levels or states in which a Mahatma might choose to live. Even though externally AMMA is doing actions and an aatmaraama doesn’t do action, both of them are internally ever immersed in the ultimate reality of Lord. Therefore when Tsunami hit the entire world it didn’t leave AMMA’s ashram at amritapuri as well. But even when her ashram including many groceries and rooms were destroyed, AMMA didn’t even bother. Instead she was concerned about the welfare of the people who were there at the time of Tsunami and later concerned about the huge number of people affected by Tsunami in the entire world. This is what determines whether a person is ever established in the Lord internally or not. Any moment AMMA’s ashram and activities are completely destroyed; still she will be ever blissful. Even when people cursed her and praised her, she was still the same blissful person.
Thus it is not external activity that is used for determining whether a person is realized but the inner attitude of being unaffected by all situations (both good and bad).

Yet there are many other saints who are unlike AMMA. Ramana Maharshi was a perfect example of this. He was unlike AMMA. AMMA serves people with her physical body, her words and her mind. But Ramana Maharshi served none but was ever established in the ultimate reality of Lord. AMMA seeks out people in each and every corner of the world whereas Ramana Maharshi didn’t bulge from Tiruvannamalai at all. Just because Ramana didn’t do service for the world like AMMA does doesn’t mean that he wasn’t a realized saint. He was a realized saint as is clearly known from the bliss emanating from his place, his words and his very presence. Ramana Maharshi was an aatmaaraama who was ever immersed in the ultimate reality of Lord therefore couldn’t do service to the world. Once followers of Mahatma Gandhi went to Ramana to get his blessings. They asked Ramana as to why he didn’t help the suffering people of the world. Ramana replied that he didn’t see any suffering and hence cannot help – what he saw was the blissful Lord beyond the illusory names and forms of the world.

The truth is that the entire world is but an illusion in the ultimate reality of Lord. If we remember and see the ultimate reality of Lord behind the illusory names and forms, we will rejoice in bliss that very moment. If we forget to see the Lord then we will suffer even though we may sit in air-conditioned room and sleep in 5-star hotels. But some Mahatmas will come down from the aatmaaraama and help out the suffering people in the world out of their compassion. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t aware that the world is an illusion. This just means that they are playing their role of being a savior in this illusory world. Any moment this savior role has to be dropped they will drop it without any sentiments. This is unlike a social service person who will become sad when he has to die as he cannot help others!

Krishna has explained the two types of people who cannot but stay away from social service or worldly activity to show that there can be Mahatmas who are always immersed in the Lord thereby not doing any activity for the world.

The last two types of people who don’t love anybody are the ignorant one and the low-person. The ignorant one doesn’t know and thereby lives like an animal. We cannot escape by telling that “I was ignorant”. If we drive in a highway and hit a person thereby killing him, we cannot escape from prison by telling “I was ignorant”. Ignorance can never be used as escapism. We have been endowed with intellect to analyze, discriminate and understand things. If we don’t use it for our spiritual well-being we cannot consider ourselves as humans but we will be in par with animals. The fourth types of people are the low-people who will betray anyone for their selfish motive. They will kill their own kith and kin if that satisfies them something. They don’t love others at all but show as if they love in order to get benefit out of them (this is different from the type of people who love others seeking love). Judas is an example of such a type of people wherein he betrayed his own master Jesus for the sake of money.

The importance of this categorization based on love is that we should know where we should fall or what we should follow in order to progress in the spiritual path. We should always try to love others without expecting anything – seeing the ultimate reality of Lord everywhere so that we progress in the spiritual path and realize our very nature of Lord in this very birth itself.

Let us try to get away from selfish love and try to show love for anything and everything in the world with the knowledge that everything is but an illusion of names and forms in the Lord so that we may ever contemplate on the ultimate reality of Lord and rejoice in the bliss emanating from such contemplation.

Story 48 - Story of Raasa leela – 07

When Krishna showed himself in front of the gopis after vanishing, the gopis played with him and entered into nirvrithi (state of absorption).


Many of us would want to know the state we will be in when we get a glance of the Lord whom we love a lot. Since our mind always tries to objectify things, we think that when we see the Lord (realization or liberation) we will see him standing in front of us like any other human being. But this is wrong. The ultimate reality of Lord is formless as form limits the unlimited Lord.

But it is for our mind to cognize the Lord thereby contemplating on him that different forms like that of Vishnu, Siva, Devi etc. have been propounded in the scriptures. When we contemplate on a particular form and see the form everywhere, the form vanishes as the duality of the world merges unto that one single form. This means the single form pervades the entire universe (which is the realm of our perception). When the entire universe becomes one single form, the form has no sense there. Form is when we have something limited and different from other things in the world. But here the only thing that remains behind in the universe is the form. Thus the form ceases off leading us to the formless ultimate reality of Lord. This is the way in which we are lead from a form Lord to the formless Lord (which is his natural state).

Bhagavatham here is hinting at the state where we will merge unto the formless Lord thereby leaving behind no differences at all using the word “nirvrithi”. The gopis when after a long separation found the Lord, they merged into the Lord. This merging is termed as being absorbed or complete absorption into the Lord (denoted by the term nirvrithi). It is that state wherein the gopis rejoiced in eternal bliss. It is that blissful state of absorption wherein there is not even an iota of sorrow as differences have completely vanished.

Thus getting the vision of Lord is not the Lord appearing in front of us in a human or some supernatural form but merging unto the Lord thereby rejoicing in the Lord. It is also for this reason that most Mahatmas speak about realization as not getting the vision of Lord but bliss or peace. Bliss is the very nature of Lord. It is the Lord who alone is eternally blissful. We will not be able to get happiness from the objects or people around us as everything except the Lord is temporary. It is when we realize our inner nature of Lord that we experience the bliss emanating from the Lord. Thus Bhagavatham is here telling us about vision of Lord as merging unto the Lord as well as that the experience can only be explained through the words of bliss or peace. Since all experiences vanish in that state (experiences are based on duality whereas duality completely vanishes when the entire universe is seen as the Lord and we merge unto the Lord) therefore we cannot neither call that as an objective experience nor apprehend it through words of thoughts.

Thus the scriptures say that the Lord is beyond words and thoughts as words and thoughts can only objectify objects of the world but not the Lord who is the power behind words and thoughts.

It is not necessary to get a glimpse of the bliss of the Lord through realization alone. At times when we are doing contemplation we will temporarily get into that blissful state (when temporarily duality vanishes). But once we come out of such a temporary state, we will again fall into the dual world (thereby causing sorrows and sufferings). But once a person completely merges unto the Lord, though he may still perceive the Lord there is no scope of sorrow for him as he sees the non-dual reality behind the dual world. Even as a goldsmith sees all ornaments as gold though he might externally perceive them as different from one another, similarly a realized saint though might externally perceive duality of the world he sees everything as the ultimate reality of Lord in his mind thereby ever rejoicing in bliss.

We will continue with the story tomorrow when we will see the gopis asking few questions to the Lord.

Let us all try to merge unto the Lord permanently by perceiving the Lord everywhere and ever contemplating on him so that we may ever rejoice in bliss.

The gopis after coming out of the state of absorption questioned Krishna thus:

O Krishna! Some people love others who show love towards them. Few others love even those who don’t show love towards them. There are others who don’t love both (who show love towards them and who don’t show love towards them). What is the secret behind this?


Here the gopis are asking few very important questions. If we are able to understand the importance of these questions, then we will be able to go beyond all limitations and be ever immersed in the reality of Lord. This will be more evident in the detailed answer provided by Krishna (which we will see in the next day).

We generally love people expecting something or the other. It is also dependent on how the other person reciprocates. We often see good friends becoming foes due to some misunderstanding and lack of proper reciprocation. This is not just with friends or lovers but even with parents. We respect and worship our parents as long as they are in our path to freedom and they don’t go against our wishes. It is but a human nature to have hatred towards those who go against our wishes even if it is our own parents. There have been many cases where children have killed their own parents due to lack of agreement. We all are familiar about the story of Kamsa where he killed seven children though they were his sister’s children.

All these just show that our love and respect of another person is very much dependent on their reciprocation (and as to how they react to it). Such love isn’t pure love but just attachment seeking something in return. Parents bring up their child not for the sake of the child but so that they may be taken care of in their old age.

Thus such love is what gopis have explained as when people show love towards those who love them. The exceptions to these are Mahatmas and spiritual people who live for the welfare of the world. These people always love others even though others might not love them. Even when many thieves and murderers came to attack AMMA, AMMA met them with love. This is true love and possible only when we see the Lord in each and every person. This is possible only through the knowledge that everything is but the ultimate reality of Lord in various names and forms. It is this knowledge when applied or implemented in life that becomes pure devotion thereby loving each and every being in the world. There are videos where AMMA shows her love towards even a snake! There are other types of people who aren’t bothered at all about whether someone is loving them or that they have to love others.

We might think that those who don’t love anyone in the world is either an ignorant person or too selfish person. But we will see in the next day as to how certain jeevanmukthas can also behave in the same way – not to love anyone at all. Their “not loving anyone” is different from the same behavior of a selfish person (as we will see in Krishna’s reply).

But in short the gopis are asking this question in order to know as to how to behave in the world as well as the reason why Krishna disappeared from that place (though gopis love him very much).

These words from the gopis also is in a way Bhagavatham telling each one of us that we should love each and every person in the world remembering that they are in essence the ultimate reality of Lord. This is the vision of knowledge which will take us to the state of bliss or moksha. If we maintain such a view, we will not be able to distinguish and differentiate between two person as both are the ultimate reality of Lord in essence. Thus we will neither expect anything from the person nor get affected by the activities of the person. It is this state of being a witness to all activities that is in other words called moksha or blissful state.

We will see Krishna’s beautiful and elaborate reply which can be considered as a capsulated book of love leading to bliss in the next day.

Let us all try to merge unto the Lord permanently by perceiving the Lord everywhere and ever contemplating on him so that we may ever rejoice in bliss.

Story 48 - Story of Raasa leela – 06

When the Lord vanished, gopikas became very sad. They wandered through forests and hills asking every tree and person on the way whether they saw Krishna. They then themselves took the bhava of Krishna and played the various plays that he had enacted starting from poothana vadha till Govardhana udhaaram. But still Krishna didn’t appear in front of them. They then sat on the shores of kalindi and sang a song above the glories of the Lord. Even then when Krishna didn’t appear in front of them, they became very sad and started crying aloud.

At that time, Krishna appeared in front of them with a smile on his face.


The ultimate reality of Lord is non-dual Consciousness. The duality that we currently perceive is just an illusion in the reality of Lord. It is ignorance which makes us forget our very nature of Lord (as everything is but a name and form in the Lord). Since ignorance is cause of all sorrow, the solution to this sorrow is knowledge as knowledge alone can remove ignorance.

This knowledge can be strengthened by the attitude of devotion. In bhakthi we can categorize bhakthi as para bhakthi and apara bhakthi. Para bhakthi is supreme devotion wherein a devotee merges unto the Lord (this is same as brahma atma aikya jnaana). Apara bhakthi is just a means to para bhakthi – this involves different activities like singing the names of the Lord, chanting the names of the Lord etc. As long as a person is in apara bhakthi he will not be able to rejoice in the eternal bliss of the Lord. In order to do that the devotee has to merge unto the Lord. This merging unto the Lord is possible only with the knowledge that everything is the Lord. Thus the main sadhana that a devotee does while practicing apara bhakthi is seeing the Lord everywhere and searching for the Lord everywhere. When we are searching for an entity with ardent desire, we will find our mind seeing everything as that entity. But in devotion this seeing of the mind is not unreal or an illusion because that is the real vision of the world as the ultimate reality of Lord.

Though we may see and perceive the entire world as the Lord, yet we cannot rejoice in the bliss of the Lord unless we totally merge unto the Lord. This merging means that we are no longer separate from the Lord and we therefore don’t forget the Lord even for a single moment. This doesn’t necessarily mean that devotees will not have a separate existence from the Lord but just that the devotee though at the empirical level might be seen as different from the Lord, there is no other thought in the mind of the devotee than the ultimate reality of Lord.

In order to merge unto the Lord we need the knowledge that the Lord alone is real. Along with this knowledge we need to completely open our hearts. Opening of our hearts is done when we seek something so much that we cannot live without it. The peak of this seeking is when we find ourselves completely insufficient to find the Lord.

In knowledge the seeker sees everything as his very Self of Brahman or Lord through his own effort whereas in devotion the devotee surrenders to the Lord as he finds himself incapable to cope up with the duality and separation from the Lord.

The gopikas did all activities of apara bhakthi in order to find the Lord who had vanished. Thus they sought the Lord everywhere – this signifies that we have to see the Lord everywhere. They then sang praises and glories of the Lord. But still the Lord didn’t appear in front of them. The moment they found themselves incapable of any finding – as if they have exhausted all their energy, they surrendered completely to the Lord thereby merging unto the Lord. This merging brought the Lord in front of them with a smile.

We might think that we can use all our powers and efforts to realize the Lord but unless we have the strong desire to realize (the thought that we cannot live even for a moment without the Lord) we will not be able to realize the Lord (this is same for people following knowledge as well).

Thus Bhagavatham through this short incident about the Lord vanishing and reappearing in front of the gopikas is telling us to have that strong desire that we cannot live even a moment without the Lord so that the Lord may reveal himself as our very nature of non-dual Consciousness.

Let us all try to surrender completely to the Lord and be totally devoted to the Lord so that when the Ego rises in us the Lord takes care of eliminating the Ego and making us ever immersed in bliss of the Lord.

Many of us think that gopis were devoted and that devotion is very different from knowledge. Considering this many say that “I don’t want to learn the scriptures, bhakthi is easier for me” etc. All such views are out of utter ignorance. Devotion and knowledge are not different from one another. Ultimately a person ends up with one entity of the ultimate reality of Lord with the knowledge that “I am that Lord” or “that Lord is me alone”. It is considering this final knowledge of knowing ourselves to be Lord that Sankara and Upanishads proclaim knowledge to be the one and only way to realization.

Devotion is nothing but being dedicated to seeing the Lord everywhere, offering all actions unto the Lord remembering that the Lord is that reality who pervades the entire world and is the non-dual reality spoken as Brahman in the Upanishads. The minute we don’t know the Lord as non-dual reality of Consciousness, we are devoid of devotion. Such a devotion wherein we don’t even know the nature of Lord is termed as lower devotion by Narada himself in the Bhakthi Sutras. Such devotion without knowledge about the nature of the Lord will not help us in realizing our nature of Lord. It will only lead us to more and more sorrows through imperfection, unfulfilling and arguments against knowledge.

Whether we follow the path of learning the scriptures or offering all actions unto the Lord, it finally ends up in realizing that “I am the non-dual reality of Lord”. This is possible only if the person learning the scriptures knows the truth propounded in the scriptures is non-dual reality of Consciousness. In the case of a devotee offering all actions unto the Lord as well, there needs to be knowledge about the nature of such a Lord.

Thus it is wrong to say that I am suited for bhakthi and doesn’t need knowledge. We will see a single sloka of Gopi Gitam today in brief to understand that gopis were not just devoted but they also had knowledge about the nature of Lord.

Na khalu gopika nandano bhavaan
Akhila dehinaam antharaatma drik

You are not the son of Nanda but the indwelling Self of all beings.

The above sloka clearly shows us that the gopis knew the Lord to be all pervasive and the reality behind various living beings. The Self which resides and pulsates in each and every body as “I exist, I exist” is in reality the ultimate reality of Lord. It is this pure Self devoid of body-mind-intellect complex in the form of “My people, my body” etc. that is termed in the scriptures as antharaatma (inner Self). Thus it is very clear that the gopis prayed to the Lord not just with devotion but with the knowledge that the Lord is the non-dual reality of Consciousness and the substratum of the illusory world of names-forms.

Let us all while learning the raasa leela remember this important aspect which is generally not revealed in discourses and sapthaahams about the gopis knowing the real nature of the Lord. Remembering this aspect if we are devoted to the Lord by always contemplating on him we will also be able to get the presence of the Lord in front of us like the gopis achieved thereby rejoicing in eternal bliss (which is the ultimate goal of life).

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