In Imitation Of the Original
Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: My dear king, eighty-eight years of his life passed by while Ajāmila thus spent his time in abominable, sinful activities to maintain his family of ten sons and the prostitute. The youngest child was a baby named Nārāyaṇa, who was naturally very dear to his father and mother. (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 6.1.23–24)
Ajāmila’s sinfulness is shown by the fact that although he was eighty-eight years old, he had a very young child. According to Vedic culture, one should leave home as soon as he has reached fifty years of age; one should not live at home and go on producing children. Sex is allowed for twenty-five years, between the ages of twenty-five and fifty. After that one should give up the habit of sex and leave home as a vānaprastha and then properly take sannyāsa. Ajāmila, however, because of his association with a prostitute, lost all brahminical culture and became most sinful, even in his so-called household life.
Ajāmila was a young man of twenty when he met the prostitute, and he begot ten children in her. When he was almost ninety years old, the time came when he was to die. At that time most of his children were grown up, so naturally the youngest child, Nārāyaṇa, became his parents’ favorite, and Ajāmila was very much attached to him.
A baby’s smile immediately attracts the father, mother, and relatives. When the child begins to talk, making sounds in broken language, it is very joyful for the parents. Unless this attraction is there, it is not possible to raise the child with affection. Parental affection is natural even among the animal species. In Kanpur, a monkey once came with her baby near the room where we were staying. The baby monkey entered the window through the bars, and the mother became very upset. She became mad with anxiety. Somehow or other we pushed the baby monkey out of the bars, and immediately the mother embraced the baby and took it away with her.
In human society, the affection between a mother and her child is very much eulogized, but as we see, this relationship is visible even among the animals. Therefore it is not an outstanding qualification; it is material nature’s law. Unless the mother and child are affectionately connected, it is not possible for the child to grow up. Parental affection is natural and necessary, but it does not raise one to the spiritual platform.
The character of the debauchee Ajāmila was abominable, but he was still very affectionate toward his youngest child. Although Ajāmila was nearly ninety, he was still enjoying the child’s playful pastimes, just as Mahārāja Nanda and Mother Yaśodā enjoyed the childhood pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Spiritual Affection and Variety
Parental affection in this material world is a perverted reflection of parental affection in the spiritual world, where it is found in its pure, original form. Everything originates with the transcendental reality. As stated in the Vedānta-sūtra (1.1.2), janmādy asya yataḥ: “The Supreme Absolute Truth is that from which everything emanates.” If the affection between a child and his parents did not exist in the Absolute Truth, it could not exist in the material world.
Since the Absolute Truth is the source of everything, whatever varieties we see here in this material world are simply reflections of the varieties in the spiritual world. If the Absolute Truth were without variety, then where have all these varieties come from? No, the Absolute Truth is not impersonal (nirākāra) or without variety (nirviśeṣa).
Still, some persons, called Māyāvādīs, are so disappointed and frustrated with the imperfect varieties of this material world that they imagine the spiritual world to be impersonal and without variety. These impersonalists realize that they are Brahman, or spirit, but they do not know that there are innumerable planets in the brahmajyoti, or spiritual atmosphere. They think that the brahmajyoti itself is all-in-all. The impersonalists have no information of the Vaikuṇṭha planets, and due to their imperfect knowledge they again come down to these material planets. As said in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.2.32):
ye ’nye ’ravindākṣa vimukta-māninas
tvayy asta-bhāvād aviśuddha-buddhayaḥ
āruhya-kṛcchrena paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ
patanty adho ’nādṛta yuṣmad aṅghrayaḥ
“Although impersonalists are almost liberated, still, on account of their negligence of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, their intelligence is not yet purified. Thus despite performing severe austerities to rise up to the platform of Brahman, they must fall down again to this material world.”
Spiritual Form and Spiritual Pastimes
The impersonalist philosophers cannot differentiate between activities in the material world and similar activities in the spiritual world. Nor do they differentiate between the material form and God’s form. They are convinced that the impersonal brahmajyoti, the spiritual effulgence emanating from the Lord’s body, is the Supreme Absolute Truth. The Māyāvādīs mistakenly assume that when God appears He accepts a material body, just as we have taken this material form in the material world. That kind of thinking is impersonalism, or Māyāvāda philosophy.
God has a form, but not a material form like ours. His form is sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha [Bs. 5.1], a spiritual form full of eternity, bliss, and knowledge. Anyone who understands the transcendental nature of Kṛṣṇa’s form achieves perfection. This Kṛṣṇa confirms in the Bhagavad-gītā (4.9):
janma karma ca me divyam
evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ
tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma
naiti mām eti so ’rjuna
“When I come, I do not accept a material body; My birth and activities are completely spiritual. And anyone who perfectly understands this is liberated.” When Kṛṣṇa displayed Himself as the perfect child before Mother Yaśodā, He would break everything when she did not supply Him with butter – as if He were in need of butter! So God can display Himself exactly like an ordinary human being, yet He remains the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Impersonalists cannot know God because they see Him as an ordinary man. This is rascaldom, as Kṛṣṇa declares in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.11): avajānanti māṁ mūḍhāḥ. “Only rascals accept Me as an ordinary human being.” The Māyāvādīs say, “Oh, here is a child. How can He be God?” Even Brahmā and Indra became bewildered. They thought, “How can this boy be the Supreme Lord? Let me test Him.”
Sometimes a so-called incarnation of God declares, “I am God.” He should be tested to determine whether or not he is actually God. The Māyāvādīs are claiming, “I am God, I am Kṛṣṇa, I am Rāma.” Everyone becomes “Kṛṣṇa,” everyone becomes “Rāma,” yet people do not challenge their claims: “If you are Rāma, exhibit your supreme potency! Rāma constructed a bridge over the Indian Ocean. What have you done? At the age of seven, Kṛṣṇa lifted Govardhana Hill. What have you done?” When they are challenged by Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, these rascals say, “It is all fiction; it is all legend.” Therefore people accept an ordinary person as Rāma or Kṛṣṇa. This nonsense is going on, and both those who declare themselves to be God and those who accept them as God will have to suffer for it. Anyone can claim to be God, and any foolish person can accept, but no one will benefit by serving a false God.
Once Lord Brahmā thought that Kṛṣṇa might also be such a false God. He observed that a mere boy in Vṛndāvana, India, was accepted as the Supreme Lord and that He was performing extraordinary activities. So Brahmā decided to make a test. He took away all of Kṛṣṇa’s calves and playmates and hid them. When Brahmā returned to Vṛndāvana after one year and saw the same calves and playmates still there, he could understand that Kṛṣṇa had expanded Himself by His unlimited potency into so many calves and boys. The boys’ own mothers could not detect that their sons were Kṛṣṇa’s expansions, though the mothers could not explain why every evening when their boys returned home from the fields, their affection for them increased more and more. Finally, Brahmā surrendered to Kṛṣṇa, composing very nice prayers in glorification of the Lord.
Similarly, Indra became bewildered when Kṛṣṇa told His father, Nanda Mahārāja, “There is no need of performing sacrifices to Indra, because he is under the order of the Supreme Lord.” Kṛṣṇa did not say to Nanda Mahārāja, “I am the Supreme Lord,” but He said, “Indra is under the order of the Supreme Lord; therefore he has to supply you with water. So there is no need of performing this yajña [sacrifice] to him.”
When the sacrifice to Indra was stopped, he became furious and tried to punish the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana by sending incessant torrents of rain for seven days. Vṛndāvana was nearly drowned in water – so great was the downpour. But Kṛṣṇa, a child of about seven years, immediately lifted Govardhana Hill and invited all the residents of Vṛndāvana, together with their animals, to take shelter underneath the hill. Kṛṣṇa held up the hill for seven days and nights without taking any food or rest, just to protect the residents of Vṛndāvana. Thus Indra understood that Kṛṣṇa was the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
In this way the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam warns that if even great personalities like Brahmā and Indra can sometimes become bewildered by māyā, the external manifestation of Kṛṣṇa’s energy, then what to speak of us.
So, God sometimes displays Himself as God and sometimes as a human being, but the rascal impersonalists dismiss His pastimes as legend or mythology. Either they do not believe in the śāstras or they interpret them in their own way, using ardha-kukkuṭī-nyāya, “the logic of half a hen.” Once a man kept a hen that delivered a golden egg every day. The foolish man thought, “It is very profitable, but it is expensive to feed this hen. Better that I cut off her head and save the expense of feeding her. Then I will get the egg without any charge.” The impersonalists accept the śāstras in this way. They think, “Oh, this is not good; it is inconvenient. We shall cut this portion out.” When Kṛṣṇa says, “One should see Me everywhere,” the rascal Māyāvādīs think it is very palatable, but when He says, “Give up everything and surrender to Me,” they disagree. They accept what is convenient and reject what is not. But the ācāryas do not distort the śāstras in this way. When Kṛṣṇa spoke the Bhagavad-gītā, Arjuna said, “I accept whatever You have said.”
The Absolute Truth Full of Knowledge
The Vedānta-sūtra is accepted as the supreme authority of all Vedic literature. And the Vedānta-sūtra (1.1.2) says, janmādy asya yataḥ: “The Absolute Truth is the original source of everything.” Janma means “birth.” There is no question of interpretation; the meaning is clear. Everything in this material world comes out of the Absolute Truth, just as this body comes out of the womb of our mother. Janmādy asya yataḥ: “Beginning from birth up to the annihilation, everything is an emanation from the Absolute Truth.” The Absolute Truth is that which is the source of everything, the reservoir of everything, and the maintainer of everything.
What are the characteristics of the original source? The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.1.1) says, janmādy asya yato ’nvayād itarataś cārtheśv abhijñaḥ svarāṭ: The original source of everything must be supremely cognizant of everything, both directly and indirectly. He is the supreme spirit, and He knows everything because He is perfect. We are also spirit – spiritual sparks – and as soon as a spiritual spark takes shelter in the womb of a mother, it develops a body. That means that the spiritual spark is the source of the body and all its mechanisms. Although it is by our energy that this body is produced, we do not know how our veins are created or how our bones are created. And because we do not know, we are not God. But Kṛṣṇa knows. This is the characteristic of the Absolute Truth: He knows everything. Kṛṣṇa confirms this in the Bhagavad-gītā (7.26): “I know everything that has happened in the past, everything that is happening now, and everything that will happen in the future.”
We become cognizant of the Absolute Truth by accepting knowledge from a spiritual master, but how has Kṛṣṇa become perfectly cognizant? How is Kṛṣṇa’s knowledge so perfect? Because He is fully independent (svarāṭ). He does not have to learn anything from anyone. Some rascal may try to realize himself as God by taking knowledge from a Māyāvādī, but Kṛṣṇa is God without taking knowledge from anyone. That is God.