God Lives in Our Hearts
Inspired by the Epilogue in "The Betrayal of Krishna, Vicissitudes of a Great Myth", by K.K. Nair/Krishna Chaitanya
Within our awareness as human beings, God can live only in our Hearts. When our Hearts turn inhospitable, the God-within will die to us. Therefore and as a result, we too will die. Throughout time we possess the innate ability to Become, to grow to some ‘similitude’ to the One that dwells within All. Yet those who remain unconscious and disconnected from the God-within "may continue to infest the world and altogether ruin its character as sacred precincts." These unconscious disconnected ones who are seemingly soulless go on “infesting the world” and increasing their tyranny through war, propaganda, and financial manipulation.
The above is my paraphrasing of K.K. Nair/Krishna Chaitanya, the Indian polymath and genius, from the epilogue to his wonderful book ‘The Betrayal of Krishna’ 1991, which I find to be even more veracious and relevant today — as we watch the symptoms of dissolution spread their tentacles around the globe.
In the Bhagavad Gita XVI.9, Krishna reveals that these men who have lost their real Selves, meaning their union (yoga means union) and connection to the God-within them, and who are of small intelligence (an intelligence that is limited to five-sense perception and thus merely quantitative), who with their cruel evil actions come forth as enemies for the destruction of the world.
Krishna paints a clear picture of the character of the tyrants whose purpose is world destruction. These cruel ones are attached to insatiable desires; they are frauds, hypocrites, and arrogant, deluded by their troubling and fatal pride. Because they have accepted ideas that are false [asat] and not in alignment with eternal Truth [sat] of those metaphysical principles that generate harmony in the universe, the actions of tyrants proceed with unclean polluting purposes. [BhG.XVI.10]
These cruel soulless tyrants who have lost all connection with the God-within them find no satisfactions in their ephemeral conquests. Peace is beyond them. A pervasive constant restless state of fluctuating anxiety stalks them and is ever present, destroying any chance of lasting joy. BhG.XVI.11: Convinced beyond any doubt that the gratification of their desires is the highest aim, their immeasurable anxieties, cares and worries cling to them, and will end only in death.
“Strangled with hundreds of nooses of expectation"
I defer to J.A.B. van Buitenen’s superb translation of BhG.XVI.12: “Strangled with hundreds of nooses of expectation giving into desire and anger, they seek to accumulate wealth by wrongful means in order to indulge their desire.”
Yet their end is ineluctable, inescapable as Krishna makes clear: Led astray by their own imaginings, enveloped and covered in a net of delusion, the entrapment of their own making, still clinging to the gratification of their desires, they fall into unclean and impure states of consciousness. They fall into a foul hell world, [naraka], a place of torment. [BhG.XVI.16]
This naraka ‘place of torment’ is a state of consciousness, which indeed is shared by both the living and the dead. It is not that our families and parents by birth make us into miserable self-pitying failures or greedy uncaring bloat-head tyrants. We cannot blame others. Rather it is that we are each of us born into the circumstances that resonate perfectly with our own nature (our gunas) based on the confluent accumulations of our actions in other lifetimes.
BhG.XVI.19: These cruel and hating, the vile and worst of men, [by the force of their own acts] are constantly hurled into the cycles, birth after birth, into the wombs of a demonic nature. We reap what we sow. The tyrants who are run by desire, anger and greed set the stage of their own making. The God-given opportunity to change, learn and evolve is built into every ‘Fall’ from Grace. By observing our own lives and others, eventually we may understand that whoever acts under the impulse of selfish desire does not attain lasting happiness, true perfection, or the highest path [param gatim].
The last line of Bhagavad Gita XVI.24 states very clearly this: You are able and thus should act; you are even obliged to perform acts in this world. In my words, the immutable imperishable One did not create this vast amazing universe only for us to withdraw from it! We have come here to enjoy Creation, the ‘play’ in the Divine Lila and ultimately through interacting with this world, to Remember that we are portions of the One that created it all and return to our eternal Source and Sustainer.
In Chapter X of “The Betrayal of Krishna” entitled ‘Seizure by Schoolmen’, K.K. Nair/Krishna Chaitanya proceeds to describe the subversive enduring consequences created by the Indian philosopher and saint, Shankaracarya (788-820) that have muddled and undermined India’s spiritual ideals to this day. K.K. Nair accuses Shankara of becoming “bookish to the point of ceasing to be human.” I find this insightful observation significant because in my own search, the teachers I have come to most respect all say that the texts inevitably become an obstacle. I can spend the rest of my life reading 100s of sublime sacred Sanskrit texts, but if I cannot live what I have learned and incorporate their Wisdom into my daily life — surely I will have failed.
K.K. Nair says that the sacred dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna was designed by the enlightened poet Vyasa to have archetypal significance. The Bhagavad Gita is a dialogue that has always taken place throughout time in the inner depths of the hearts of men and women who are placed in critical terrible circumstances, the crucible. This same dialogue “should take place in the heart of everyone today, if history is not to close in the end of mankind by starvation on a planet drained of its life support resources, or by suffocation in a polluted ambience with earth, water and air turned toxic or by a nuclear holocaust.”
K.K. Nair was keenly aware of what the future threatens. He had not buried his head in the sands and withdrawn from the world, justified by any false understanding of what is spiritual. “But for Shankara, the world is an illusion, action is anathema…and man himself is a phantasm without any authentic identity.” He calls Shankara a nihilist who has subverted the true meaning of Vyasa’s Gita, which affirms that our liberation is to be achieved by acts in this world. “Krishna’s teaching is that man can rightly decide on what he should do only by knowing what he is, and also what the world is, since he evolved from the world, lives and acts in the world…empirical knowledge and intuitive wisdom should be integrated.” This sounds like good common sense to me.
According to K.K. Nair, Shankara has reduced the self of man to an unreal appearance of the Absolute. The English word ‘appearance’ is often used to describe the relationship of the unmanifest One to the manifest. Certainly the realms of five-sense perception are temporal and their temporality allows us to describe them as ‘appearances’ in the sense that they are time based and not eternal. However as every reader knows, the world perceived by the five-senses is all too real to those of us who are stuck in it — and why are we stuck in these webs of our own making? We like it! Why create the universe in the first place if we are not here to enjoy our ‘play’? Even in these perilous dark days of the Kali Yuga, very few choose suicide. We are eternal beings, here enjoying the experience of limitation and differentiated five-sense perception until we are ready to move on to another universe.
“Shankara dismisses the reality of life lived by all mankind, all of us.” True spirituality is not escapism! Arjuna possessed no begging bowl; he was not a parasite on society. The Bhagavad Gita does not instruct us to abandon the world and our responsibility for its well-being. As K.K. Nair/Krishna Chaitanya says, “The Vishvarupa [the Divine Form of Krishna] did not liquidate the hordes of [the enemy] Duryodhana.” For that Arjuna must rise up out of his confusion and armed with the Wisdom Knowledge of Truth, embrace his destiny. Even our release from death and birth, samsara, is “something to be achieved here itself, within the rim of earth’s horizons, within the orbit of existential history, not in some transcendental void.”
K.K. Nair suggests that Shankara’s idea of Brahman [the One] “must be a very impoverished existence of the solitary One with nothing to relate to or commune with…” Haven’t you ever wondered what comes after the Void? Perhaps this is the very reason that the One has manifested vast numbers of universes that ‘float like bubbles in an ocean.’ We refer to the world as ‘Creation’ because everywhere we look we see the creative principles of Maya-Shakti weaving her magnificence, both in beauty and horror. This is a polarity universe. No one forced us to come here.
“Common sense should not be disparaged, for ultimately it may be the only thing that can save us from the philosophers.” In K.K. Nair’s vast knowledge, scholarship, and love of irony, he shares with us this quip from Cicero: “…the wildest nonsense anyone can deliberately think of would have been anticipated in earnest by some philosopher or other!” Well, Cicero hadn’t seen the worst that was to come in the form of the Internet these days, which is wall-to-wall plastered with the most amazing rubbish beyond his wildest dreams. The suggestion has been made that much of this ocean of ‘disinformation’ in being intentionally generated by clever people who obviously can find no better employment.
Do as you please!
Returning to the discussion of whether we are to participate in the well-being of the world or withdraw from it — furthermore, K.K. Nair/Krishna Chaitanya interprets the Bhagavad Gita to mean that “man is not meant to renounce his volition and become a passive instrument.” Krishna expressly asks Arjuna to evaluate all he has been taught. BhG.XVIII.63: Reflect wholly on this Wisdom-Knowledge that is more secret than all that is secret and having done so — Do as you please! Arjuna must take an active part in his decisions and “only accept them as his own, only if he found them acceptable. Desire and revulsion also should not be surrendered in a mental or supramental state of bemused apathy.”
I find this phrase a “bemused apathy” particularly accurate. Surely there is a great deal of evidence of using the so-called spiritual life as an excuse to escape our responsibilities. When men and women who possess Wisdom-Knowledge and moral integrity lose courage and retreat from the world, the world will sink into chaos and collapse. Hiding our heads in the proverbial sand will achieve nothing.
K.K. Nair agrees with the scholar and freedom fighter B.G. Tilak (1856-1920), who “consistently interpreted the Gita as a great text of activism. He highlighted the Gita’s refutation of Mimamsa fundamentalism and ritualism and the total withdrawal from action advocated by the doctrine of sannyasa [renunciation]. The way of illumination and the way of devotion should ultimately merge into the way of action for the world’s welfare (lokasamgraha).” We are this world. Why should we not take care of it?
“A compassionate identification”
If by our own efforts we are able to access and unite with the God that dwells within the Heart of everyone, then we will be able to act in ways that enhance the well-being of the world we have created, before we Forgot our real Source. We will become whole, integrated into the Wisdom-Knowledge of the primordial metaphysical principles that have always been the only support of every manifest and ‘unmanifest’ (invisible to our current five-sense apparatus) particle and form of any universe. “…skill will come; what is primary as the Gita emphasized is a change of heart, a turning of one’s entire being towards God, or which comes to the same kind of rebirth, towards the world in compassionate identification.” For when we Love the ubiquitous One — who and what will we hate?
The sheer cleverness of saying there is no path, no journey Home has some truth no doubt, but I dare to say that there are very few who can manage an entire day of total union with and immersion in the One — among the few I would include the Kashmir Shaivite Swami Lakshmanjoo, this wonderful fellow Sri Nasargadatta Maharaj, and the very readable Swami Muni Narayana Prasad in Kerala. No doubt there are more. Cleverness is not sufficient to the task of moving our consciousness from the webs of duality to total union. Therefore for most of us, the journey ‘feels’ real enough and is indeed the proverbial Razor’s Edge. We walk through non-existent Time, the Abyss on both sides beckoning, pulling us into more subtle forms of delusion. The closer we feel to Home, the more we require vigilance and discernment, an adamantine Will. So we pray we may not to lose our Way.
Vyasa’s Gita urges us not to abandon the duty to which we are born. We are all very different, many flavours and distinct unique talents. We do what we can. All undertakings are temporal, enveloped in error and flawed. Thus we practice to overcome unruly desire, conquer the parts of us vulnerable to compulsion, and at all times hold our intellect in a state of enlightened non-attachment to results. [BhG.XVIII.48]
The Bhagavad Gita is our trusted guide, an incomparable jewel and precious touchstone, the boat that will carry us over the ocean of delusion. Our only refuge is the Grace of the immutable imperishable God-within us that pervades and permeates All. There we know — God is Love.
V. Susan Ferguson
"This whole universe has come into existence just to carry you to God consciousness."
- Swami Lakshmanjoo, Kashmir Shaivite, The Shiva Sutras
The Betrayal of Krishna, Vicissitudes of a Great Myth, by Krishna Chaitanya (K.K. Nair); Clarion Books, Associated with Hind Pocket Books, Connaught Place, New Delhi, 1991.
The Bhagavadgita in the Mahabharata
A Bilingual Edition
Translated & Edited by J.A.B. van Buitenen
The University of Chicago Press, 1981
The Bhagavad Gita
Translated by Winthrop Sargeant
State University of New York Press, 1994
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