Interview with Prof. Johans of St. Xaviers College

Interview With Professor Johans
Head of departament of Philosophy of St. Xaviers College

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur
Published in The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani)
Q: Please tell me in brief the doctrine of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

A: There is an old Shloka which says “Bhagavan Krishna’s (Son of the Chieftain Nanda of Braja) own place Vrindavana is the object of worship according to the example of the cowherd-wives of Braja which is glorified in the Srimad Bhagavatam, the stainless Puranam, and Love of God is the highest thing for attainment.” This is the doctrine of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, for which we have the greatest regard and not for anything else.

The fullest development of the idea about Godship is in Shri Krishna. He reveals Himself to His devotees of different competences in three Forms. All these three are perfect conceptions, not like the partial one of Paramatma and the incomplete one of Brahman. These three perfect conceptions are full, fuller and fullest. These three are revealed in Dwaraka, Mathura and Vrindavana. At Dwaraka Krishna’s manifestation is full, at Mathura it is fuller and in Braja (including Vrindavana) it is the fullest.

We are living in the Bhuloka, one out of the fourteen worlds comprising the seven lower worlds and seven higher ones. Of the latter, this world (Bhuloka) is the first. The Bhu (earth) Bhuvah (between heaven and earth) and Svah (heaven) are the regions of enjoyment for householders performing virtuous deeds with desire; the remaining higher regions, viz., Mahah, Janah, Tapah and Satya are attainable by non-householders. Of these four, the first is meant for those who live and study in the preceptor’s house and intend to become house-holders after paying the preceptor a ceremonial present; the second is for the celibates who live with the preceptor for good and ever observe the rules of religious austerities; the third is for the hermits, who after retirement from worldly life live in the forest or in seclusion for meditation; and the fourth for the sanyasis (roaming mendicants). But the devotees of God, who have not the inordinate desire for worldly enjoyments or for merger in Brahman, attain to Shri Vaikuntha which is inaccessible to others. Even beyond that Vaikuntha, there is Dwaraka; higher than that is Mathura and above that too is Goloka-Vrindavana. These regions are manifested by the potency of existences lying in God’s Esoteric Personality. The places that are there in the transcendental Region are revealed in the mundane region. What is non-existent in that region cannot be found in this one. The manifestation of the non-apparent sports of Vrindavana is Goloka. Just as the lotus remains in a lake without connection with water, so does Goloka stay in the world without any touch of the earth. Those whose mind is not prone to offer service (to God) cannot feel the transcendentality of the region descended on the mundane plane. Ayodhya, Dwaraka, Shri-Purushottam Kshetra of Shri Jagannath etc., are different provinces of Shri Vaikuntha. The bliss available in Ayodhya is better than that in Vaikuntha; the bliss in Dwaraka is superior to that in Ayodhya; and the bliss of the denizens of Goloka is the climax of all bliss. The difference in the degree of a particular Rasa or sentimental mellowness is the cause of the difference in the degree of the bliss. Even the afflictions and distresses that may be there in Goloka dance on the crest of all forms of blisses and happinesses; these are rather nourishers of the highest form of bliss. Shri Chaitanya Deva has demonstrated the superiority of researching the services of the Lord of Vrindavana or of Gokula. Shri Krishna is God Himself from Whom have emanated all the Incarnations of Vishnu. That Krishna manifests Himself as the Lord of Dwaraka, or of Gokula. Shri Chaitanya Deva has said about Lord Krishna of Gokula: “In Krishna are present all the five principal Rasas (forms of sentimental mellowness). He is Himself the Ocean of Rasas.”

Q: What is it you call by the name Vaikuntha?

A: It is where there is no kuntha or the characteristic feature of measuring everything. This Vaikuntha has two petals or apartments. In the one God exists as Bhagavan with the highest Majesty. In the second apartment above the first one He is ever present with His Personality of perfect sweetness, He being the Ocean of all the sentimental succulence that gives the utmost sensation of transcendental pleasure; here He covers up that climax of Majesty with the predominance of His graceful sweetness by dint of inevitable Potency. Vaikuntha is no kind of limited region like the Swarga, of the Hindus, Bahest of the Persians, Heaven of the Christians, nor is the place, a habitation of the deities who are subject to the measuring limitations. The conception of Vaikuntha among the Vaisnavas is not like that of persons who think that as the result of virtuous acts they will go to the region of heaven and again come in contract with wives, sons and relatives connected with their bodies to remain absorbed in enjoyments as in the world. In Vaikuntha, Krishna is the only Master and all are eternally engaged in serving Him. According to the Vaishnavas, Swarga, Bahest, etc., are as false as day-dreams. We are all servants of God and God is the only recipient of our service. We are believers in Achintya-Bhedabhedavada i.e., the doctrine of the inscrutable simultaneity of distinction and non-distinction among God and His creation, animate and inanimate. We have no desire for obstructing the eternal essential virtue of chit (animation) in order to annihilate it with a suicidal policy by merging into Brahman, or, on the other hand, for being absorbed in material enjoyments in this world or in heaven etc., along with relations. We are associated counterparts of God. The modern thinkers are apathetic towards listening to Vaidic [sic] commands which have come down to us through the true line of Gurus, but they attach more value to the process of empiricism. And they are properly rewarded with punishment through that process itself. But we accept Avatara-vada, or process of Deduction. God and His devotees graciously come down to this world and give us the message of Vaikuntha. The Vaishnavas are not elevationists, following the karma-kanda, nor followers of jnana-kanda or salvationists. They are not achid-vadins, nor believers only in achit (i.e., achit-matra-vadins) nor again chinmatravadins; but they are chid-vilasa-vadins.

Q: What are these four Vadas?

A: Achid-vada is materialism of the following nature as when one says, “I shall be Indra, the King of heaven” or “I shall enjoy worldly pleasures” in the vein of Charvaka, the Indian Epicurus, whose philosophy was that pleasure was the highest good or again “I shall borrow and drink and not think of discharging the debt; I shall have convenient arrangements for leading a comfortable life in this world; and to be a greater enjoyer, I shall acquire and preserve health; I shall make a proper use of the canine teeth by eating fish and meat and vigorously manage the function of youth” and so on. ‘Achin-matra-vada is the name of the attempt to annihilate the sentient existence, on the ground that Achid-vada is only temporal and the sentient existence is the unavoidable root of all troubles and miseries. According to them the extinction of the sentient existence is the most laudable and valuable thing, inasmuch as existence is the root of all evils. Sakyasimha, Kapila, etc., were the propounders of this doctrine. Chinmatra-vada is the name of the attempt to merge in Brahman and thus destroy the anuchit property of jivas. Shankaracharya and, before him, Dattratreya, were the propounders of this doctrine. The different anuchetanamsas (jivas) of the Entire Chit (God) remaining ever attracted by the Vibhu-Chetana (God) show love towards Him: this is known as chit-vilasa-vaichitrya. Here the atma (soul) is ever entirely engaged in the sportive activities with the God. In it there are no sins and no spiritual offences more heinous than sins, like the covered state of the soul as in Achid-vada, the attempt to annihilate atma and Paramatma as in Achinmatra-vada, or spiritual suicide as in Chinmatra-vada. There are here the full unfolding, the full beauty and the full coalescence of Paramatma and atma.

Q: You have just expounded very high philosophical truths which I shall take a long time to digest.

A: Only time will not do. These truths should be listened to again and again verbally from the mouths of true Acharyas. Some time ago Mr. Chapman (of the Imperial Library) listened for two or three hours to the philosophy of Shri Chaitanya Deva and at the end he admitted that even for a scholar like him, the philosophy was extremely difficult to enter into. So it cannot be understood without repeated hearings and with devout submission.