In this world, there is nothing so sublime and pure as transcendental knowledge. Such knowledge is the mature fruit of all mysticism And one who has become accomplished in the practice of devotional service enjoys this knowledge within himself in due course of time.
When we speak of transcendental knowledge, we do so in terms of spiritual understanding. As such, there is nothing so sublime and pure as transcendental knowledge. Ignorance is the cause of our bondage, and knowledge is the cause of our liberation. This knowledge is the mature fruit of devotional service, and when one is situated in transcendental knowledge, he need not search for peace elsewhere, for he enjoys peace within himself. In other words, this knowledge and peace culminate in Krishna consciousness. That is the last word in the Bhagavad-gita.
Transcendental Knowledge by Radhanath Swami
The fourth chapter of Bhagavad Gita is entitled transcendental knowledge. In this verse number 38, Lord Sri Krishna is revealing to us that the most sublime and the most pure and the most satisfying of all achievements in the whole creation is transcendental knowledge, knowledge that transcends the limitations of birth and death. This is the meaning of transcendental. In or colleges, universities and educational systems there are various forms of knowledge. But none of them are transcendental and so none of them are sublime or pure nor can any of that knowledge satisfy the heart. Just like this evening we have a very exalted PhD professor, head of the Chemistry department, Bombay University, Vrishabhanu das Prabhu, but although he is although he is most exalted in that field he has almost made more than hundreds of people PhDs. He comes here because he is not satisfied by that knowledge. Is this correct? Because it is not sublime, it is not pure, because it is not transcendental. It does not help us to overcome the miseries and sufferings of this world. duhkha-dosanudarsanam janma–mrtyu–jara–vyadhi, birth, old age, disease and death. Ofcourse all the knowledge in this world when they are connected to transcendental knowledge then they have great value. But without that transcendental knowledge all that information that we attain in this world they just further entangle us into bondage. Something is transcendental when it can take us across the ocean of miseries, when it can connect us with our eternal source, with Krishna. But through the ages this material atmosphere has always been in competition with pure sublime transcendental knowledge. The forces of illusion or ignorance are constantly trying to attack in the form of compromise and adulteration of the truth.
Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Takur, the protector of Transcendental Knowledge
One great protector of true transcendental knowledge was Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Takur whose disappearance day we are celebrating today. He was one of the great personalities who appeared on behalf of the Supreme Personality of Godhead to cut to pieces all misconceptions of real religion and establish the highest truths. Krishna Himself explains in Gita that Arjuna, ‘In the very beginning of creation I instructed this knowledge to Vivasvan who later taught Iksvaku, Manu, the dynasty of the Kshatriyas but in due course of time by the power of illusion this transcendental knowledge was corrupted, compromised and therefore I have appeared again. paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam, to re-establish the principles of religion, dharma-samsthapanarthaya. So the Lord comes because He knows that the transcendental knowledge that is eternal is manipulated, exploited by unqualified persons and similarly when Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared He had to battle against so many misconceptions. He happened to appear in Navadwip dham which happened to be the high seat of learning in all of India, actually for all of the world, it was the place of the greatest scholars of the Vedas and practically there was not a single devotee of God. They studied they understood the Sanskrit grammar, they could manipulate the Sanskrit shlokas to come to any meaning they wanted and in this way they had everything except the conclusion of the Vedas which is bhakti. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to re-establish the real siddhanta, the real principle of the Vedic truths. But after Lord Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu left this world, Rupa Sanatan, Raghunath Das, the great parampara, the great transcendental knowledge was preserved and disseminated but in due course of time even that gift of Mahaprabhu was being raped, exploited and manipulated for people’s devious purposes, to fulfill their own selfish motivations. You see the nature is that people want to be seen as saintly holy and religious but they do not want to come to the standard of pure life. Therefore they have to adulterate the teachings; we see this again and again. It is also the reason Buddha appeared and Shankara appeared, to counteract this tendency of human intelligence to pervert the truth in the name of truth. So even Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu’s message has been terribly adulterated in the eyes of the people in general… Therefore Bhakti Vinod Takur appeared and later his son Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati appeared to re-establish real truth. He was popular amongst the innocent but he was hated among the envious because he was exposing them. One of the best things he did on behalf of Lord Chaitanya is that he explained the truth, the knowledge of the Vedas is that we are all spiritual, we are not these bodies, we are all eternal, full of knowledge, full of bliss. We are all the eternal servants of Krishna. One who is in that spirit of genuine humility and one who has adopted the real spirit of service to Krishna and service to His devotees that person can teach transcendental knowledge because that in itself is transcendental knowledge. It has little to do with one’s caste or birth. This was a challenge to practically to the whole society and culture of the Indian continent which went way off the proper direction. At that time the caste Brahmins, the caste Goswamis they claimed the monopoly over all transcendental knowledge and they were teaching like this.
The story of Subbudhi Rai by Radhanath Swami
Even at the time of Mahaprabhu, Subuddhi Rai, you know this story, he was a very noble and respected man in the government but somehow or the other the very person he trained and cared for like his own son turned against him, because you know, sometimes a father punishes his son to teach him a good lesson. So out of love to teach this person how to be a leader he spanked him, at that time he was very young like a boy and later on he got married and his wife saw some scar and she said where did this come from ? Ah this came from Subuddhi Rai, he spanked me, he punished me for my own good. Your body is my property… Sometimes a wife is thinking like this… ‘Your body is for my enjoyment and this scar is interfering with my enjoyment and therefore that man must die. Now he has put you in the position of the king, you must order his death, otherwise I leave you.’ He was in a predicament. He was attached to his wife and at the same time he loved this man who took the position like his father and teacher. So because of the caste conditions at that time he understood that I can kill him without killing him. I could socially kill him by taking some water from an untouchable pot and sprinkling it on him he loses his caste forever. He is never allowed in the temple again, he is never allowed to speak the Vedas again and he is as good as dead socially. So he sprinkled it. Subuddhi Rai was thinking now what to do? Everyone, the whole society and the whole culture has rejected me, terrible situation. So he went to various mystics, sages, sadhus, asking is there anything I can do, any tapasya, any yajna, any prayascita, atonement to get back my caste and be accepted again in Hindu society? They said no, impossible. You have been touched by the water of an untouchable and you are finished, you are socially dead birth after birth. This is the great land of Bharatvarsa and this is the land of the most highly cultured sophisticated scientific scriptures that have ever come to this planet. This is their idea. So finally there was a glimmer of hope. One sadhu told him that there is something you can do. You get ghee and you cook it till it is smoking and boiling and then you drink it all down. He said then I will die, he said yes you will die. But because ghee is pure in your death you will become purified and in the next birth you will become Hindu caste. So Subuddhi Rai was thinking, perhaps there is another alternative to this. He went to Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and explained his predicament and Lord Chaitanya very joyfully told him that you just chant the holy names of Krishna Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Harre Hare. You serve the devotees and especially you go to Vrindavan and serve the devotees. That is all. If you do like this in this very life you will achieve the ultimate perfection. You will be better than a Brahmin, you will become a Vaisnava, the perfection of culture in society and all intelligent, sincere and properly cultured people will worship you respect you and adore you for being a devotee of Krishna. So he went to Vrindavan and did menial service. What he would do is that he would go to the forest and pick up pieces of wood that had naturally fallen from trees and he would bring it to the market place and he would sell that wood. It seems not so difficult to make money, where there is a will, there is a way. There is wood, there is something always he can find to sell and maintain himself. What would he do with the money, he would buy rice and yogurt and he would feed the Vaisnavas. Because the Bengali Vaisnavas, the followers of Lord Chaitanya they would come to Vrindavan and everyone would give them these big rotis and they would get indigestion, because Bengalis like rice. Yes, Aniruddha? So to help them with their indigestion he would give them dahi and then he would give them rice and make them very happy. Then he would massage them and he would show them around all the places around Vrindavan and tell them stories. In this way he served the devotees and continuously chanted the holy names. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, and he was given entrance into the intimate association of Sanatan, Rupa Goswami, Sanatan Goswami, the greatest of all devotees of the Lord.
Radhanath Swami on How Sincerity and Humility are the qualifications of a Vaisnava
So Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati preached very strongly concerned with the person’s caste we are concerned with the quality of a person’s consciousness. If a person is a sincere and humble devotee of Krishna, that person is considered to be exalted, narottam the topmost of all men. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu made Haridas Takur the Namacharya, although he was born in an untouchable family. Bahkti Siddhanta Saraswati was giving this sacred thread to people who were not born of the Brahmin caste. People were criticizing… Because he was armed with the true knowledge of the Vedas he was able to embarrass, annihilate and expose all those who were perverting and adulterating the knowledge of Siddhanta. Anyone who is a sincere and humble servant of the servant of the servant, the Lord is a proper candidate for Krishna consciousness and no one else. No Brahmin, no sanyasi, only the humble servant of the servant of God is a candidate to receive God’s mercy. Anyone who is sincere can accept that position.
Attacks faced by Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Takur
He even sent his disciples over the seas to the land of yavanas , meat eaters and melecchas to give them sacred thread, to give then harinam mantra, to give them life as Vaisnavas. So the caste Goswamis and the smarta Brahmins were very much upset with him. Infact, Srila Prabhupad explained to us that once when Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati and Srila Prabhupad were in a private place, Bhakti Siddhanta told him a story. These men many times they have conspired to kill me because where ever I go they cannot refute the truth because it is all based on Vedic evidence and their means of livelihood and prestige is destroyed by my preaching because they are not willing to come to the standard. They are not willing to exhibit the qualities of a devotee. He explained once in Navadwip, the very land of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, some of these caste Goswamis and Smarta Brahmins they paid Rs 20,000 and this was back in the 1920s, Rs 20,000 was a lot. They payed it to a police officer so that he would kill this so called sadhu. They paid the money and the police approached Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Takur saying that I must tell you sir that they are conspiring to kill you. They have paid me Rs 20,000 and usually when we get paid we take the money and kill. That is a part of our service as Police officer. But we know that you are a great sadhu, we cannot kill a sadhu but we have come to warn you to be careful. There is danger around you. One who preaches the truth becomes very unpopular to those who make a living out of adulterating the truth. Srila Prabhupad used to say when his Guru Maharaj Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati was present, even the biggest scholars were afraid to talk to Bhakti Siddhanta’s beginning students because he trained them so powerfully to present reality opposed to illusion. He became known as the living encyclopedia. On an occasion he was being criticized and attacked because the Gaudiya Vaisnavas upon their diksa, initiation they are given Gaura mantra. A part of our Gayatri is the Gaura Mantra, the mantra in glorification of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. They were explaining, the smarta Brahmins, this is evident that your sampradaya is bogus, because the Gayatri mantra is exclusively the worship of the Supreme Truth and Lord Gaura, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu maybe he was a great saint, maybe he was a good devotee but he was not on the level of the absolute truth, and plus you are worshiping His deity, this is not proper. They were severely attacking and were making propaganda all over India, what to speak of Navadwip against the Gaudiya Vaisnavas. So Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Takur said, let us meet in a public assembly. Haribol! So all of these great great scholars they all came to Navadwip dham and they all had their coats, their shastric perversions and everything else. There was a debate and Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati began to explain first of all in the Chaitanya Charitamrita and Chaitanya Bhagavat, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in no unspecific terms revealed Himself to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Now you have to understand that people he was arguing with, most of them were devotees of Krishna, so called, but in a perverted way. He explained that Mahaprabhu to Lord Nityananda showed His six armed form of Vishnu, to Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, He revealed shatbhuja, the form where He had six arms, the bow and arrow of Ram, the flute of Krishna and the danda and kamandalu of Lord Chaitanya. To Ramananda Rai He revealed His eternal forms as Radha and Krishna. To Murari Gupta, Lord Ramachandra. But they were arguing that is your own scriptures that are the Gaudiya scriptures, Chaitanya Bhagavat, Chaitanya Charitamrita… We must have evidence from the original Veda. So Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Takur began to explain from the Chaitanya Upanishad of the Atharva Veda, which has succinct direct explanation of Mahaprabhu’s divinity as Krishna Himself. He began to quote from various scriptures, Srimad Bhagavat, Puranas, and they all had to accept that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the personality of Godhead. He is Krishna Himself and He is the yuga avatara. In this way Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati gave prestige authority to Gaura mantra and worship of the deity of Lord Chaitanya throughout India and throughout the world. He had to battle against the Prakrita Sahajiyas, those who call themselves devotees of Lord Chaitanya but cheating people by giving something cheap without following the principles of Krishna bhakti, without cultivation of proper knowledge, without attitude of proper seva and humility, they were making artificial shows of being very advanced by weeping, trembling, by making artificial symptoms of ecstasy and trying to give people entrance into the very high aspects of devotion without teaching them how to qualify themselves properly. This was a great aberration, a great threat to Gauidya Vaisnavism at large. Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati was very powerful. When the prakrita sahajiyas would see him they would run away. Haribol! Infact one time one of the great leaders of the prakrita sahajiyas who was a famous babaji who had tens and thousands of disciples misleading them all who was famous for exhibiting his ecstasy symptoms of trembling and tears and foaming at the mouth and he would also speak from the scriptures but not in the proper way. One time this babaji came to Bhakti Vinod Takur’s house. Bhakti vinod, he was a gentleman to everyone but he was powerful in dealing and he had his ways of revealing the truth. So this babaji came and he was speaking to Bhakti Vinod and at that time Bhakti Siddhanta was just young in his teenage and Bhakti Siddhanta wouldn’t look at this man. Everyone else was bowing down and taking the dust of the feet of this man. Bhakti Siddhanta although he was young boy, he didn’t offer any respect. So this babaji complained to Bhakti Vinod why your son is not acknowledging me. Bhakti Vinod said because my son hates sahajiyas. Now it says in scriptures that Vaisnavas do not hate anyone. So we have to understand that it is not that he hates the person but he hates the disease the person has and disease the person is spreading like an epidemic. His mission was to expose that disease and that is his mercy, that is compassion, which is love. If you have a disease in your body and you go to a doctor and he says that is alright, everything is alright, you are nice, I am nice, we both are nice so lets be friends… Is that what you go to a doctor for? The doctor will say that this is a disease and I hate that disease and I am going to give you…where are some of our doctors? They give him antibiotics. Antibiotics are deadly weapons that will kill that disease. Our natural doctors they will give some herbs which little by little kill the disease. But the whole idea of medicine is to kill. Medicine means kill or be killed. Either you kill the disease or you be killed but you cannot make friends with that disease, it will kill you. You have to attack, destroy. That is a doctor’s duty. It is also the duty of a preacher, the upholder of Sanatan Dharma. He must identify attack and destroy the disease of ignorance. So this was one of Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati’s great attributes that he re-established true dharma in the world of adharma. Srila Prabhupad said that his guru would often use the chopping technique which means to expose and destroy what was misleading innocent people. Because of this Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Takur was able to present the real truth of genuine humility and service to the Lord and His devotees.