WVA MAGAZINE


DIVERSITY
the servant of Truth

Harmony, by its very definition, is composed of diverse notes. And diverse harmonies are to most individuals, more attractive than mere melody. By a combination of diverse parts, music can be so much more interesting, intellectual, perceptual, fluid, beautiful, -- but mostly, more central to the theme or melody of the piece when one uses harmonies. Without harmonies in music, our attention span would decrease, our appreciation would approach the meagre category and our memory of the piece, obsolete. It is obvious that the most memorable pieces of music are those which present the best harmonies.

In Jazz, the improvisation which can stray the furthest from the theme, and yet not lose it -- i.e., still remind us of the theme, the melody of the piece -- such improvisation is the most appreciated by the listeners. Because through this, we learn to learn; we learn to surrender our preconcieved notions, we learn the art of sacrifice and therefore, the art of love. In spiritual life, we call this unity in diversity. While some may lament, “Oh, the risk is too great; we may fail to harmonize with our diversity”. Yes, it is true. Loss is common in diversity. But others may conceive, “Without diversity, there is no chance that we shall live in that wonderful world of Goloka-Vrindavan -- the highest plane of consciousness.” And it is true; diverse harmonies contribute to central theme when they are successful. But it is a risk. Yet, we understand from our spiritual guardians, “no risk; no gain”. So, if one aspires for the highest quality in his life, he must aspire for diversity to harmonize and serve the central theme of vipralambha-seva.

There is no quality more prevalent among the human species (or any species for that matter) than diversity. This is the most wonderful phenomenon because it lends itself to individuality, a uniqueness which is not independent but interdependent. It fosters an identity in the devoted sense of service to the centre and therefore, relationship -- affectionate exchanges and greater appreciation for the capabilities and qualities of others which we ourselves do not possess. The Supreme Lord Himself has endowed the living beings with this trait, and He will also supply us with the appreciation for this trait in others if we but petition Him to do so.

Any man who is without appreciation for diversity is certainly not in harmony with the Supreme, who is Himself, the epitome of diversity and who is indeed, the creator of diversity. Such a man has become an island in the universe with no real appointed direction or, as Arjuna put it in Bhagavad-Gita, “a riven cloud”.

In the material world, diversity is used as an excuse for independence (from the centre) to cultivate a uniqueness apart from the whole and is therefore, a cause for great celebration of the false ego. But far from this misconceived, illusory and damaging notion, is the reality: that diversity was meant and intended to serve the Supreme. It is the main assist to the training of intelligence -- the faculty by which one can judiciously note differences and thereby differentiate and discriminate. This evolved faculty bears real fruit when it comes to the stage of buddhi-yoga, or that faculty which helps us to discriminate bewteen matter and spirit.

vyavasayatmika buddhir, ekeha kuru-nandana
bahu-sakha hy anantas ca, buddhayo ‘vyavasayinam

O descendent of the Kuru dynasty,
intelligence engaged in exclusive devotion unto Me
is one-pointed and firmly situate in Me, since I am its only goal. But the intelligence of those who avoid exclusive devotion unto Me is splayed and characterized by endless desires because of its
absorption in innumerable sense objects.
BG 2.41

Without the centre, man is rudderless and is therefore, helplessly lost to the whims of adhidaivik-ananda; that is to say, he is at the mercy of the environment to make his desisions for him (as if he were a stone). He is without the capacity to think for himself because he is directionless. If I am lost at sea with no land in sight on a new moon night with cloud cover so thick I cannot see the stars, in which directon should I try to go? If I make a move in any direction, I may be further jeapardizing my position. But if I chance to see a light-house, then all my decisions will be to facilitate my movement in that direction. Then, this is the faculty of the mind, assisted by the discrimination of the intelligence, becomes our best friend:

bandhur atmatmanas tasya, yenaivatmatmana jitah
anatmanas tu satrutve, vartetatmaiva satruvat

For the soul who has conquored his mind,
his mind is his friend and well-wisher.
For a person unable to control the mind,
his own mind remains constantly engaged
in his disservice, like an enemy. BG 6.6

In the healthy state, this “mind” can lead us to sambhanda-jnana or the establishment of our eternal relationship with the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna Chaitanya which offers the greatest shelter in this material world.

tasmad aham vigata-viklava uddharishya
atmanam ashu tamasah suhrdatmanaiva
bhuyo yatha vyasanam etad aneka-randhram
ma me bhavishyad upasadita-vishnu-padah

Without being agitated any further, I shall
deliver myself from the darkness of ignorance with the help of my well-wisher,
my clear consciousness or friendly intelligence.
Simply by keeping the lotus feet of
Lord Vishnu in my mind,
I shall be saved from entering
into the wombs of many mothers
for repeated birth and death.
SB 3.31.21

The poverty stricken, miserly materialist can only use diversity to his own disadvantage by cultivating his uniqueness apart from the creator with the eventual conclusion that he might just be the creator himself! This development eventually leads to the demise of his mental faculty. He loses his capacity to think and becomes a mere purulent exudate on the face of reality. In such a position far from the centre, he withers quickly and his intellect dries to a thorny bush -- a finely honed mental machine full of cliches and criticisms of everything and everyone outside of himself and his own glorification. In this way he has become the God (if such becoming could ever possibly be, . . . a definition of ‘God’?)

jnanam ekam paracinair,
indriyair brahma nirgunam
avabhaty artha-rupena,
bhrantya sabdadi-dharmina

Those who are averse to the Transcendence
realize the Supreme Absolute Truth differently
through speculative sense perception,
and therefore, because of mistaken speculation,
everything appears to them to be relative.
SB 3.32.28

In such a state of mind, he can only breed chagrin for anything diverse [ironic as it may seem -- that is, he is himself so diverse that no one is with him!] from his way of thinking, his opinion and his glorified intellect. Such a position is a prey to death itself, even while embodied, because this development of diversity has no connection with reality. This, in turn, may easily lead to paranoia of anything which threatens this ‘supreme’ position, envy of anyone who actualy ‘diversifies’ from this position, and hatred for all those who succeed in ‘escaping’ this supremacy. Slowly, slowly one merely enters the miserly cavernous present-day convention of isolation leading to desolation and its phonotactic companion, dissolution. These are the poorest human (to use the word in its broadest sense) integers (to use the word in its narrowest sense).


Whereas, on the other side of the coin of diversity, the prashadam of the most highly realized sages is to create infinite space for the appreciation of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna through the diversifcation of his parts and parcels, the jivatma. Those sages are the free-thinking, centre-directed sadhus whose diversified reach inspires them and continually drives them to aspire for further revelations -- vijnana. It provides for newer and newer revelations of the revealed scriptures without which, there would have been nothing new under the sun since Veda-Vyas. This wonderful quality of diversity then promotes ‘free thinking’ in the real sense, uncluttered by politics and free from the poison of ‘sectarian’ prejudices. This conception encouraged the realization of different and unique vantage points of the Supreme Lord Krishna, His associates, His paraphernalia, His pastimes -- even the shadow of His pastimes, His Holy Name and His Holy Scriptures and the glorification of all of these diversified aspects of the Supreme Himself. And finally, whereas it is surrender which is the indispensable requirement for the attainment of bhakti, it is diversity which is the necessary prerequisite for surrender.

And a further point worth making is this: why is it that we have diversity? Is it not the Supreme Lord Himself who has made this quality for the benefit of us all and for His own pleasure as well? When the temple of Narottama Das Thakur in Tripuri was toppled by Muslim invaders, the Deities were broken. The worshippers of that Holy Temple wondered for centuries how the Supreme could allow a thing like this to happen? Bhiktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur answered their querry when he told, “The people of Tripuri were so convinced of the singular potency of these Deities of Narottama Das Thakur that through the invaders, He came to show that ‘I am not limited to any form, for I am the Substance within all forms’, He consistnetly denies to be limited to any form -- but this does not then (as the impersonalists hastily conclude) mean that He is formless”.

The Lord has created Four Vaishnava Sampradayas for His pleasure, glorification and disemenation of His Divine message. It does not mean that one of the Four is correct and the others are apasiddhanta. No. Some may conceive higher than others, some may offer alternatives to the conceptions held by others that are closer to the worshipper’s heart and ontological position. All are necessary as all religions are necessary -- even sectarianism is certainly necessary at a certain stage of devotional development. But once passing that need, if one continues to cling to such archaic mental forms of self-assertion in the devotion to the Supreme Lord, he becomes ill. His growth becomes stunted. His accomodation becomes meagre. His selfless service becomes spoiled. Miserliness sets in and develops to poverty.

The conception of that most magnanimous beneficiary to all jiva souls will be taken down to this? This is when our tolerence reaches its nadir. We cannot tolerate this without a hew and cry at least.
Diversity is the servant of Truth. “The most essential ingredient necessary for the development of Bhakti in service to the Supreme Lord, is surrrender or sharana-gati.” So, we may opine that the most attractive, exciting and active principle present within surrender or sharanagati, is most certainly “diversity”.

Srila BR Sridharadev Goswami
& Srila BP Puri Goswami Maharaj
as revealed to BP Hrishikesh Das
edited by Arjuna Das




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