In this world we are always playing with fire. Mayadevi is very powerful. She always wants to take our time for her service. But Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has shown us that the path of our life is the practising of Krishna consciousness. That is necessary for our transcendental super-benefit. And we can cross over the illusion of Maya only if we practice Krishna consciousness under the guidance of a good Vaisnava who is giving twenty-four hours a day to Krishna for His Service; with his association we must get our super-benefit.
You understand 'I am not this body.' Further, 'I am not man or lady.' Still, in fact we are all of female nature in the sense that we are to be enjoyed by Krishna. So the male or female bodies that we have at present are illusory. But it is necessary to cross over that illusion. We have some desire, but that desire is also illusory. Our potency, that is soul, is made of willing, feeling, thinking; it is transcendental. We come from the Transcendental Power of Krishna. You will find tal-lingam bhagavan sambhuh in Sri Brahma-samhita. Also in Sri Gita Krishna says:
mayadhyaksena prakritih suyate sacaracaram
hetunanena kaunteya jagad viparivarttate
Krishna throws His vision, and that vision is also Transcendental. The place of that vision is Sambhu (Siva). With the agency of Maya, that vision produces this mundane world. And the Transcendental World is produced by Baladeva through Sankarsana.
sahasra-patra-kamalam gokulakhyam mahat-padam
tat-karnikara-tad-dhama tad anamsa sambhavam
- Sri Brahma-samhita 5/2
And where Krishna-lila or the Pastimes of Krishna are going on, everything is Transcendental and full of Ecstatic joy. And that, in general, is produced by Sankarsana. This means we should know that Sankarsana is the Guru of Lord Siva. But Lord Siva's forms are in general two - one is Sadasiva, and one is gunavatara Siva (incarnation in the modes of material nature). Gunavatara Siva is the vision of the Lord. His original form is Sadasiva, but when he mixes with the modes (gunas) of material nature, he takes the form of gunavatara Siva. In our present situation we cannot actually differentiate between the two. Sadasiva is above Maya. He is pure Vaisnava, and his highest position is in Paravyoma (Vaikuntha), the Spiritual World. And when the gunavataras Brahma, Visnu and Mahesvara incarnate here, Sadasiva's incarnation is as Mayadhipati or the husband of Maya; and the husband of Yogamaya, the Divine Potency, is Sankarsana. Tad anantamsa sambhavam. This is the way in which the Transcendental World and the mundane world are produced and flow.
Our real form is transcendental. The jiva-soul has the capacity to go to the Transcendental World; and that is the actual place of the jiva-soul. But in this world everything is an illusory environment. The problem is that we are running through our previous karmma. If we can leave that karmma we will solve all our problems. But the only way we can completely leave it is by surrendering to Krishna. That is the final decision in the Gita. First Bhagavan, the Supreme Lord, said to practice karmma-yoga, then jñana-yoga - sarvva-karmmakilam partha jñane parisamapyate - "the perfection of action is knowledge (4.33)." Also in Srimad-Bhagavatam,
kamasya nendriya-pritir labho jiveta yavata
jivasya tattva-jijñasa nartho yas ceha karmmabhih
"The purpose of accepting material facilities is not sensual satisfaction; rather, to accept only as much material facilities as keep body and soul together is the purpose of desire, that is, the only justifiable desire. Therefore inquiry after the Supreme Lord is the chief objective of life, and the attainment of higher planes like Heaven through fulfillment of compulsory and conditional duties as made much of in this world is not the objective."
neha yat karmma dharmmaya na viragaya kalpate
na tirthapada-sevayai jivann api mrito hi sah
"In this world a person whose work does not lead him to virtue, whose virtue upon becoming desireless does not bear the fruit of his detachment from all things 'non-Krishna,' and again whose abnegation does not culminate in the Service of Tirthapada Sri Hari - such a person is nothing more than the living dead."
naiskarmmyam apy acyutabhava-varjjitam
na sobhate jñanam alam nirañjanam
kutah punah sasvad abhadram isvare
na carpitam karmma yad apy akaranam
"Knowledge or liberation in Brahman that denies Love for the infallible or Devotion for Sri Krishna - that liberation is not glorious even if it is spotless or free from all material coloration. Why? Because the variegatedness of Divine Pastimes is absent. Then how can worldly work, karmma - which is by its very nature inauspicious - ever be glorious when it is not offered to the Lord, even when it is selfless? ('Karmma depends on the material body, and its fruits are also mundane. Therefore karmma is most inauspicious for the spiritual soul. Even if that karmma becomes desireless or selfless it cannot directly yield any spiritual fruit. Still, if one's work yields Bhakti or Devotion only then does work, being offered to the Lord, become unblemished and the indirect yielder of an auspicious result. Even jñana or enlightenment or liberation in pure spirit is not perfect. At times it is rather completely injurious or opposed to real progress. Only when liberation is a servant of Devotion which is full of Divine Variegatedness does it succeed in becoming one with or merging with Devotion.' -Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur)."
Therefore Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's Teachings begin from this point:
jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva
jivanti sanmukharitam bhavadiya-varttam
sthane sthitah srutigatam tanu-van-manobhir
ye prayaso 'jita jito 'py asi tais trilokyam
"(Lord Brahma said to the Supreme Lord:) O Lord, completely shunning the attempt for enlightenment by meditating on the nondifferentiative Brahman, those devotees who hear the talks about You that flow from the mouths of the sadhus (saints) and pass their lives remaining by thought, word and deed on the path of the sadhus - they attain You, O Lord, who are practically impossible to reach in the entire universe."
The beginning of Transcendental Life
That is life - actual transcendental life starts from that point. The tendency of jñana is also being thrown out. The surrendered soul lives with the sadhu who is glorifying Krishna. That is the primary lesson for taking the jiva-soul upwards. That is the primary lesson of Bhakti. Real Ananya-bhakti - Exclusive Devotion - begins here. And Mahaprabhu said "Yes, but you proceed. No doubt here is real Devotion. But proceed, don't stop here." In that way one by one Ramananda Raya elucidated the stages of Rasa or Divine Serving Levels.
And lastly, the Bhakti-yoga in Parakiya-rasa (Divine Consorthood in Paramour Sentiment) that was shown by Mahaprabhu is the most elevated. Still, although it may be very high, it is our own property. We can have it. The question always arises here - can we achieve it or not? But we can.
In this world we say, "He is my son, she is my wife, he is my husband," etc., but after a few years I must see that my husband, etc., has gone. 'Husband' means this body. But I have never seen who was inside. I never saw him either before or after. That is the problem, but we are very attached. We are crying, crying, crying. Sometimes crying and crying we leave our body also. Then the position is very insecure for the jiva-soul, but by his bad karmma he is suffering like this.
The Lord's sadness
Seeing this, Krishna Himself becomes very sad and so He sometimes sends the sadbu, the Guru, and He also descends, as an Avatara. And also Svayam Bhagavan or the Lord in Person comes and reveals His Pastimes. In many ways He tries, but He doesn't want to disturb their freedom. If you can freely and spontaneously render Seva - Devotional Service - that is genuine Seva. He can influence us very easily, but He does not want to do that. He wants you to eagerly, with your full devotion, try to serve His Associates and His Lotus Feet. That is your super-benefit and He does not want to disturb that. But He can advise through Sastra or Scriptures, through the Vaisnava, and through the Guru. He teaches us in many ways and circumstances, sometimes taking the form of a fish as Matsya Avatara, or a tortoise as Kurmma Avatara, and so many other Avataras. There are ten main Avataras listed in the Scriptures, and others also. But all His advices and directions 'lead to Rome' in the sense that He does everything for our super-benefit by showing that path to the Service World. And that is necessary. Only through Service can we go there, otherwise we have no possibility to touch that Plane.
na tad bhasayate suryyo na sasanko na pavakah
yad gatva na nivarttante tad dhama paramam mama
- Gita 15/6
"That place having attained which the (surrendered) souls never return from again - that is My Supreme (All-illuminating) Abode. Neither Sun, Moon nor fire can illuminate it."
This Sun, this Moon - nothing in this world can supersede or touch that world. In the middle portion there is the vast Viraja river. But if you plant the seed of Devotion very nicely, the Bhakti-lata (creeper or vine of Devotion) can cross over Mayaloka or the illusory environment, cross over the Vaitarani and also the Viraja.
upajiya bade lata 'brahmanda' bhedi' yaya
'viraja,' 'brahmaloka,' bhedi' 'paravyoma' paya
tabe yaya tad upari 'goloka-vrindavana'
'krishna-carana'-kalpavrikse kare arohana
- C.c. Madhya 19.153,4
Devotee: Vaitarani and Viraja are the same?
Srila Maharaja: No, Vaitarani is before Viraja. We have seen in Puri, there is also a river called Vaitarani representing that. It is described as being like a moat surrounding Svargaloka (Heaven).
The whole brahmanda or universe is floating in Viraja. Above are the seven planes Bhur, Bhuvar, Svar, Maha, Jana, Tapa and Satyalokas, and below are the seven planes called Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Talatala, Mahatala, Rasatala and Patala. Total fourteen. That is one brahmanda, and millions of millions of such brahmandas are floating in the Viraja river which is like an ocean. And the Bhakti-lata or creeper of Devotion has the strength to cross over that Viraja. But when the creeper of our Devotion is young and tender like a child, at that time we must protect her.
yada vaisnava-aparadha uthe hati mata
upade va chinde, tara sukhi' yaya pata
- C.c. Madhya 19.156
"If offence to the Vaisnava (Vaisnava-aparadha) occurs, the mad elephant uproots and breaks the creeper, and its leaves dry up."
This is the greatest difficulty. If one commits Vaisnava aparadha his creeper of Devotion will be uprooted as though by a mad elephant. And Srila Jiva Goswami has mentioned in his Bhakti-Sandarbha:
'sarvvaparadha-krid api' ityady ukty anusarena
namaparadha-yuktasya bhagavad-bhakti-mato 'py
In general there are ten kinds of offences to the Holy Name, headed by sadbu-ninda or offence to the sadhu, then to disbelieve in the Transcendental Name, Quality, Form and Pastimes of the Lord and consider the demigods like Siva to be equal to Krishna; then to offend the Guru, the Scriptures, and so on. So even if one may be a very high Vaisnava, his creeper of Devotion will be destroyed and even he will go down if he offends another Vaisnava. So we must try to avoid Vaisnava-aparadha, and then we can succeed with everything else in our spiritual life. For our real goal of life we must cross over Viraja. At present our universe is actually floating in Viraja. But beyond Viraja and Brahman also is Paravyoma or the Transcendental World.