Lecture on Philosophical Definitions #5, given on 25 Sep 2008 in Bhaktivedānta Academy, Śrī Māyāpura, as part of Philosophical Definitions Course, a Precursor course to the study of Śāstra Cakṣus of Bhaktivedānta Theological Seminary


His Holiness Bhaktividyā Pūrṇa Svāmī Mahārāja:

  • 5 levels of acquiring knowledge
    • Pratyakṣa

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Pratyakṣa will be getting it through your own senses.

    • Parokṣa

HH BVPS Mahārāja: ...will be gaining it through someone else’s senses. So we see the similarity between anna-maya as the senses and prana-maya as extended sense gratification. In other words, your senses and someone else’s senses.

aparokṣa that would be what is not dealing with the senses, in other words, what is experienced. When you performing an activity there is an experience there, that experience that is aparokṣa. By the proper performance of your duties the aparokṣa element is increased. You do something not so well the experience you get is not so good,  you do something well the experience is very good. Since people are actually doing things for the experience, therefore the better you perform your duties the better the experience.

That is why the Vedic culture talks so much about the proper performance of duties, because then the experience that you are looking for will be the best that there is, the best that it gets. But the idea is doing that for oneself is not so important, doing it for others that is more important. That means if you are doing it for someone else then you can have a proper relationship. If you are doing it for yourself then it is not a relationship you are simply using people. You don’t think I have a relationship with my pen, there technically is, but that doesn’t come to mind. But if it is a person then you think of relationship, that means that dealing with people should be different than dealing with things. It is a better consideration.

If you deal with people like things then what is going to be the experience? You have your pen, you work with it and it goes nicely and you get a certain experience, there is a satisfaction, would you just want that much satisfaction in your personal dealings with other people? It’s so great whenever I am with you I feel just as if I am using my pen. It is so nice to go home and be with the family it is just like when I am with my pen. I am sure your mother will really get off on that one. Oh thank you son that was the nicest thing anybody said to me. The father will be thinking pen, it’s a tool for writing, so is my son calling me a tool? So what does he think because he is a tool therefore I am a tool. No but maybe he is a tool. How does this work? Is that how you want your relationships? No.

So then that means if you are going to have a relationship with another person that means if you want that relationship to work you have to be considering the other person. If you have a subject and an object then what connects them?

Devotee (1): Verb.

Mahārāja: The verb. The verb is being applied by who?

Devotee (2): The subject.

Mahārāja: On who?

Devotee (2): The object.

Mahārāja: If you are going to get a result can that application of the verb be in any way you like?

Devotee (2): No.

Mahārāja: Because what is if you apply the way you use the verb for a different object? Like my pen on your brother. It might work. So it won’t work. The application of the verb must be according to the object. You are one subject but the objects you deal with is so many. So therefore how you are going to deal with your locker, and how you are going to deal with a bucket, and how you are going to deal with your ball, how you are going to deal with your mouth there is going to be some slight difference. Though at the same time they all accommodate something. There is a communality. You don’t have a door on your mouth that you have to open when you eat. I am sure your mother wishes she did have one because then you have that little thing there you can put the lock on. But that’s not there.

In other words, it is different even though there is that element of filling something. So technically the verb is the same you fill your locker with clothes, the bucket with clothes, you fill your ball with food and your mouth with food. There is some communality here but because the object is different therefore the application of that verb is different. So what does that mean?

Devotee (3): We have to understand the nature of the object to apply the activity, the verb.

Mahārāja: To do that requires what kind of attitude?

Devotee (4): Sensitivity

Devotee (2): Submissive

Devotee (5): Humility

Devotee (6): Sense control.

Mahārāja: And then the one that we just mentioned, one of the elements of the topic here?

Devotee (7): Sacrifice.

Mahārāja: Sacrifice means it is for the other person’s benefit. If it is for my benefit then the dealing with the other party is not going to be as committed and as sensitive, humble and all these good qualities as if it is for their benefit, or for someone else’s benefit. Therefore, logically, if you want to have good relationships that must be the consideration. That means you are not focusing on your own senses, if you focus on your own senses then it is going to be Pratyakṣa or parokṣa, or anna-maya and prana-maya. But if the duty is performed for another’s benefit or for someone else’s, for Kṛṣṇa’s benefit then only can it be aparokṣa.

Only devotees can actually come to that platform of aparokṣa, even impersonalists can’t obtain that platform because they are still doing it for themselves. It is only by the Vedic concept of duty that a quality-relationship is experienced, because varnasrama means the experience of relationships. That’s what’s going on. You are interacting with other people. The brahmanas and their interaction with brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyas and sudras. Ksatriyas with brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyas, and sudras. The vaisya with the brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya and sudra. The sudra with the brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya sudra. But to do that you have to know who you are and that has to be the rules set, why are those rules, because they have a nature.

The king just won some battle and now the country is save, everything is great. Afterwards then there is a musical performance. And in that he is also happy because he is with close friends, he also decides to sing something. But what’s the occasion?

Devotee (5): Music performance.

Devotee (6): Celebration.

Mahārāja: Celebration, he is celebrating his victory. Now let’s say after the singing or the next day, now that main musician who sang at the celebration what would be appreciate being praised for?

Devotee (4): His performance.

Devotee (6): His singing.

Mahārāja: His performance, his singing. Now the next day you meet the king what does he want to be praised for?

Devotee (2): Winning the war.

Mahārāja: Winning the war. Not that he sang nicely. You are such a great king you sang so nicely last day. But it was the same situation. So if you don’t know this you might say the wrong thing. If you tell the musician it’s so nice that you could come to the king’s celebration, we really appreciated you being here, that’s nice. But if you told him that was a great performance he’d be more happy. Or the king you could tell him that was nice singing and all that so besides being a great administrator and wise and a warrior that you won this battle and made your kingdom safe you are also great in all the fine points of human life and you also can sing, what a wonderful king. So it’s just opposite.

So without varnasrama how do you know this? Who created humans?

Devotee (5): God.

Mahārāja: Who gave the knowledge of what is human life and what they expect how they live?

Devotee (5): God. Then could we take the Vedic literature on human nature which are called the dharma-sastras, we can them as authoritative on what is human life, human need and human endeavour?

Devotee (5): Yes.

And then what will you get from that? By the proper performance of duties what do you get in relationship to this topic?

Devotee (3): You please God, so you develop relationship with God.

Devotee (5): Good experience.

Mahārāja: Good experience. So why is it a good experience?

Devotee (6): It’s the nature of the soul to serve.

Mahārāja: It’s the nature to serve.

Devotee (5): We did our duty as a sacrifice to others.

Mahārāja: Yes, as a sacrifice to others. And then we have the example is that if you have a tree what happens if you want to benefit the tree and water the leaves? It doesn’t work. You have to water the root. If I perform my activities as sacrifice for others but in that that is the sacrifice for Kṛṣṇa, so that means by doing that the Lord is happy and if the Lord is happy then everybody is happy.

So that means if you really want to be happy what do you have to do? Sacrifice for the Lord’s pleasure. The principle of sacrifice is important: The devotees know it is for Kṛṣṇa and the devotees. The materialist just knows that I have to do that because then I get the better benefit: one I get pious activities and two the experiences of this world will be better. Therefore even the Vedic materialist is better situated as far as materialism than the modern materialist because he knows how to perform activities as a sacrifice…

This experience that we are looking for is found through the proper performance of our duties. We say religious duties so when we say religious duties what comes to mind?

Devotee (4): Piety.

Devotee (5): Doing it for Kṛṣṇa.

Mahārāja: But how do you define what’s a religious duty?

Devotee (6): According to sastra.

Mahārāja: According to sastra. So then does that mean what category of duty is that, if we say religious duty what category is that? What activities in the day would be connected with this?

Devotee (4): Sadhana.

Devotee (6): Everything.

Mahārāja: Everything. This is actually the point. When I say religious duty generally a devotee will think my sadhana and everything else is not religious duty. But as pointed out here everything has a nature. Religion is the English word for dharma. Dharma means the inherent nature of something. Therefore everything we know has an inherent nature. Dealing with the inherent nature that we are contacting that is religion, the inherent nature done according to what is appropriate.

So then we see is that without a doubt we establish that unless you follow the Vedic literatures technically what is one going to gain if one doesn’t follow them? Not so much. In the West they are so much talking about how it’s important the freedom and that, how many people are getting what they talk about? How many people have that fancy car and all the different things that everybody is looking for? How many have that nice relationship, have a complete family, have good relationships in that family? Have money what they want, have clothes, have the facilities, have the position, have the respect? It is not there. Because it can’t be. Because the principle of working for others based on their actual nature is not known. If you don’t know it how you are going to do it? It is not like when the kid is born it comes with instructions, tied onto his foot is this book.

aparokṣa is the experience one gains. Anything you do you gain an experience, but if the experience is full it will only be there because you follow the Vedic tenets. Otherwise it can’t be because then you are not addressing the actual nature of something. Only when you address that can you properly interact, will your actions proper and therefore will your experience be proper. Then we see according to Saunaka Rsi then that the attitude is even more important than that. Therefore the sacrifice, this principle of niskama, then it takes it to another level. Then more important than that is devotion, then it comes to bhakti. So what is Kṛṣṇa recommending?

Devotee (4): Bhakti.

Mahārāja: Bhakti, and how does Kṛṣṇa recommend this bhakti to Arjuna?

Devotee (7): Perform your duties

Mahārāja: So that means then you are proper performing then the experience you are getting will be full. In the performance of the duty what are other considerations?

Devotee (8): Detachment from the results.

Mahārāja: You are performing the activity you are detached. Now according to manana what is another element that must be there when you are performing an activity?

Devotee (9): Always remembering Kṛṣṇa.

Mahārāja: That will be even a higher one, that will be the next stage. But in performace of duty if you perform an action what must go along with action?

Devotee (10): Knowledge

Mahārāja: Knowledge, intelligence. So therefore perform your duties with knowledge, with detachment, then thinking of Kṛṣṇa and for Kṛṣṇa. You can think of Kṛṣṇa but it’s not for Kṛṣṇa.

Devotee (9): What is this knowledge? Is it knowledge that I am not the doer?

Mahārāja: No, that is part of it. That is the metaphysical…the main would be the knowledge of just how the activity is done. Where do you get that knowledge from except from authority. Because otherwise you can only work out so much yourself.

Devotee (1): So it would be the knowledge on the level of never forget Kṛṣṇa?

Mahārāja: Knowledge means never to forget Kṛṣṇa because all those things that catch your attention on the material platform must be connected to Kṛṣṇa. So there is the activity itself that can be very absorbing but then how do you perform that activity. What is the science and art of that activity? That being done properly then you get the best result.

If it is just coming from somebody who is only working out experience then over a long time they work out something. How many recipes are there that come out of the European experience over the last so many years? Not a whole lot. There are some. How many kinds of preparations are there? There is quite a bit. But how much is there in the Vedic? It is so much greater. And what you can do with these things is so great also. Why? Because it is based on authority. The other one is based on experience. It is coming from the art. I apply the art, I am smart I observe it, I see pattern so I start to see the science. But now if we get the science from authority, from the scriptures, so much better, so much quicker.

So this aparokṣa will be gained when we are engaged in the activity itself with the proper knowledge, that is when the greatest experience is gained. If we are worried about the result if that’s the only motive then one may either become frustrated because one’s not getting it, or one may be very insensitive because one will force trying to get a result from an improper action. I am trying to cut the lemon and I am using a lemon squeezer. It might not get the result we want.

So one has to be able to catch these things, they are very logical, they are very simple, they are very straight-forward. But in contact with the modes of nature it becomes a little complicated. And in this complication therefore people get bewildered. So the Vedic idea is you won’t get bewildered because this platform is the platform of emotional rasa. Since it’s the platform means if you don’t perform the activity properly the emotional experience you want to get you won’t have. You may get some observable results but you won’t get the emotions you want. If you don’t get the emotions that you want then you will find that the whole experience wasn’t as good.

That is why it must be according to authority, so aparokṣa means it is being done according to religious principles. Even if you deal with artha and kama it is done according to religious principles.

Devotee (12): Is this karma and jnana together?

Mahārāja: Yes, that is the Fifth Chapter of Bhagavad-gītā.

Devotee (12): What gives juice is jnana?

Mahārāja: If you are in jnana-yoga that’s the juice. If you are in karma-yoga, that’s not the juice. Or if you are in bhakti-yoga that’s not the juice.

Devotee (12): If we do something with a proper understanding that when we add understanding then we get the real benefit, and experience.

Mahārāja: You get the benefit but that’s not necessarily the juice. You get the experience, the experience that will more be the juice. Because juice is according to your definition. Some person is climbing Mount Everest and it is freezing out there, he is getting some juice from it. What is that juice? It’s the experience. Someone else they have been outside, they had to get out of their car and walk to the house and it is cold and windy and snowy and when he gets inside the house where it is nice and bright and warm then he gets the juice. He goes to the refrigerator takes out a box pours a glass. In other words, it is according to your perception what it is that gives that but the point is the experience is the same. So the man sitting in front of his fire place with a nice fire on a really cold day he is getting that same satisfaction and experience as the man freezing his toes off on Mount Everest. So that’s the point is that that is gotten. Now the quality of that that what you have that you can work with. So if it is according to the Vedic directions it will be higher.

If you are considering the nature of something that means that you understand the science, it will be better than if you don’t. It will be more consistent, it is something that you can recreate because you know what you are doing, otherwise it will be just by chance it happened. Then if you have actually learned that science from the Vedas then it will be even more complete because then you understand in connection with the creation and everything about you. Then if you understand it in connection with the proper performance of duties and all that, with the right attitude that goes along with it. Because he has always mentioned, there is the action that gives a result and there is the attitude. You always have to consider those two. If the attitude is correct then you get even a better result, in other words, it’s according to naiskarmya and all these things. But even better than that is if it is connected to God. If it is connected to God that gives the highest.

So this element of aparokṣa you have the choice of what you want to experience. If you reject the Vedic then you have already dropped it down to the lowest of these two. Then if you are intelligent and educated in a particular area you might be observant enough to actually deal with it a little properly and get something out of it. But it won’t come to the emotional platform, you will only be able to deal with result.

Therefore in the modern it is all about result because what do they get out of it? Friends are sitting around together. Somebody goes, I am bored let’s do something, but if they were friends why are they bored? They are friends, they have a relationship, it is alive, it is dynamic. They would just be happy being with each other because they have a relationship of friendship and that friendship itself will generate the rasa, but it is not. Why? Because their relationship is based on obtaining some object, let’s go to the movies, let’s go for a drive, or let’s go out and roll some drunks, let’s do something. Therefore their experience is very meagre. But if you follow the Vedic principle then friends have so much that they can do and then you actually taste that.

This is the whole point: The senses are engaged properly, the emotions are engaged properly, the devotion is engaged properly, then you taste very clear rasa. The difficulty is if you are not dealing on the level of aparokṣa, you are not on the emotional platform, therefore the emotional rasa will be very minimum. If you are situated in the sensual you can get that but it is very temporary. Unless it is based on dharma you will it expand, how will the artha expand the experience because the emotions are more important for your experience.

Because aparokṣa, as soon as you are focusing on it it doesn’t exist. If you think about it and experience you are not experiencing the experience. You experience thinking about the experience. So what does that mean? The present is the thinking and the experience is in the past, means it is not happening now. What does this mean? What is this very subtle point being made here? As soon as you think about the experience, this is nice, I don’t have it any more. But I can experience it without being absorbed in it. Because what are you trying to do when you focus on the experience and go this is nice, what are you trying to do?

Devotee (1): You analyze it.

Mahārāja: Yes, you are analyzing it, so what is your purpose of analyzing it?

Devotee (13): To get the result of analyzing it.

Mahārāja: If you get the result, but who is the result for?

Devotee (8): Yourself.

Mahārāja: Your result, you go wow this is nice. When you are performing the duty in the proper way you are getting the experience. Who is the experience for?

Devotee (8): Someone else.

Mahārāja: Someone else. This is the nature of rasa and the nature of the soul. The soul can’t be the enjoyer because as soon as he is the enjoyer it is in the past, it’s in ignorance. It can only be in the present, in the mode of goodness, if it is being done according to the nature with the attitude that it is for someone else’s benefit, there is sacrifice. So proper performance of one’s duties in the mood of sacrifice only then one is happy.

Devotee (5): Can we understand this that the soul is not atma-rama?

Mahārāja: The soul is not atma-rama, technically in the bigger picture you can say yes. Because atma-rama is the masculine position of being satisfied in oneself. Only Kṛṣṇa can do that, the energy is dependent upon the energetic. It is not satisfied in itself, it can only be satisfied in its connection to the energetic. When it is properly connected to the energetic then it is satisfied. Then you can say that is atma-rama. Because then the atma is situated in its proper position, but it is in connection with the Lord and not on its own, that won’t happen.

Because the living entity thinks they are purusa therefore they are trying to become atma-rama. But we can’t be atma-rama, we can only be atma-rama as servant of Kṛṣṇa, and the soul is engaged in its proper position.

Devotee (14): Why are the impersonalists called atma-rama?

Mahārāja: They are trying to do it. Why is it that the big fancy executive flying around and staying in the big hotels is called an enjoyer? Because that is what he is trying for. Why is the business man called business man because that is what he is trying for. Or the person is a musician because that is what he is trying for. Whether they are successful or not that is a whole other story.

Devotee (9): What if we analyze the situation and appreciate how nice it is for them? Are we still in the present?

Mahārāja: What action are you doing? You are appreciating! If you are appreciating something where does it put it in sambandha, abhidheya and prayojana?

Devotee (5): Abhidheya.

Mahārāja: Abhidheya, means you are doing something. So if you are appreciating

Devotee (9): Prayojana, the result…

Mahārāja: So then you are appreciating prayojana. So what is happening at the moment?

Devotee (2): Sambandha.

Mahārāja: Sambandha, because as soon as it is attained it moves to sambandha. So in other words, it is the experience that is important, you got the thing, but it is the experience that is important, not the thing, the thing immediately moves to sambandha.

You want something, it is that need, that feeling of want that drives you, not the thing itself. You think it is the thing, but it is the need for it. It is the need for it that is driving you not the thing itself. Because as soon as you get it you have another need. If that would have fulfilled everything and would have been the end, the goal you would be satisfied but you are not. So in other words, need is driving you, desire is driving you. But the point is  it is driving you but that is not enough you have to know what you are doing, you have to have the proper knowledge and then perform the activity otherwise you don’t get the result

Devotee (6): How is one’s own experience tasted by another?

Mahārāja: By explaining it, that is your parokṣa. You explain yeah we were there and it was really nice, oh how is it nice, and then you explain. It’s the conversation is going well you will be either explaining or they are asking questions or somehow or another getting to the point where they appreciate what it is you experienced because they find something common enough that they can actually experience it themselves. If you can’t explain it and they don’t know how to ask questions then the relationship doesn’t happen, therefore it doesn’t end up as parokṣa. Because you didn’t gain something from them. It was just engaging the senses, so it was just Pratyakṣa,  even that you experienced that they said something but you didn’t understand what they said. Therefore there is less satisfaction, the sensual gives less than the emotional. Everyone talks about the sensual because they think that is where it is coming from. But you are using the senses but the use of the senses is to gain rasa. So the sensual is the lowest, the emotional is higher and the devotional is the highest. People focus on the senses and they get it and are happy temporarily, but then with time they see they are not happy, then the focus becomes on the emotional.

Devotee (6): One’s experience is for another how is what is offered who is the experience given to the other?

Mahārāja: Means that you are performing the activities that are according to their nature, so they are going to get an experience from that. You are also going to get an experience from that. So that’s the commonality. Your perspective on it may be different but the principle there is a communality that’s there.

Devotee (4): aparokṣa is realization then?

Mahārāja: aparokṣa is it realization? That is more experience. You could probably say adhokṣaja is more realization. Because remember mano-maya it’s aparokṣa. And adhokṣaja that will be vijnana-maya. So you get knowledge you develop skills. From that practice you will get realization. The dharma is being performed, you are engaged in the artha and kama properly, that will give moksa. But your central feature is the aparokṣa. You put in on Pratyakṣa or parokṣa then you lower your standard, then it doesn’t necessarily move forward very well.

That’s why in the Vedic they are talking about all this as a package. Yudhisthira talks about the performance of the religious duties. Then Saunaka says, he doesn’t disagree but he says that there are fools who only do that, only perform their religious duties without the proper knowledge. Then he points out that the material world is not so important, therefore if you are performing your religious duties with the idea that the material world is important that is a fool. Therefore the religious duties have to be performed with the proper qualities, the proper attitude and the proper motives.

In other words, your philosophical perspective and your culture must be right. Then the proper performance of duties is fruitful. So you have proper duties, proper attitude and proper understanding. So Kṛṣṇa is saying perform your duties, so that is according to sastra. With knowledge, without desire for result, that is your knowledge and proper attitude. So the activity is being done with the proper knowledge and attitude. So now the activity is complete. But at the same time what is the use of that if it is not connected to bhakti. An activity is useless if it doesn’t give you the proper result, the proper result you get by the proper performance of duties. Proper performace of duties become useless if your attitude and knowledge is not right. In the same way the activity itself with all that is useless if it is not connected with Kṛṣṇa. Therefore you remember Kṛṣṇa. I remember Kṛṣṇa I don’t do it for Him. No. I remember Kṛṣṇa and do it for Him. Or I am doing it for Kṛṣṇa I don’t remember Kṛṣṇa so therefore it becomes mechanical. So I remember Kṛṣṇa and I do it for Him. What am I offering Him? I offer to Him properly performed duties, which means they are done with the right attitude, sacrifice and knowledge, then it is complete. Then it becomes very, very clear, very simple. So then what are we doing? We are trying to learn what are our duties, what is the proper way to perform them, we are practicing them.

Like you have a pump, you have water, you have the pump platform, then you have motion, you have knees. So then if you understand all these things properly then you can slide about 30 feet. But you also have the factor into that sliding that bumping into other people may not be according to their nature. Of course ultimately if you do it long enough then they do move to another pump. So if that was your purpose so now you can slide 40 feet then maybe it was intelligent.

Devotee (4): adhokṣaja is also experience?

Mahārāja: You are getting experience in all of these. But the point is adhokṣaja is there in everything, but it is how you gain your knowledge. Through experience, through others or directly from your senses. The sense gone into the sense objects I am getting that, so this is going on now. But the actual experience of that. I am tasting something it is sweet. That sweet now do I consider that nice or not? That is the adhokṣaja.  I am getting the experience from the other, but what is that experience, that experiencing it? That is adhokṣaja. The full manifestation of adhokṣaja means according to the proper religious duties being performed in devotional service.

Devotee (1): aparokṣa is performing the duties with knowledge and detachment for others. Then that’s one level. But the person whom we are performing for, the reciprocation from there, that we get another level of experience, that will be adhokṣaja?

Mahārāja: No, adhokṣaja means Kṛṣṇa enters into it. Kṛṣṇa descends into it. Kṛṣṇa descends into the proper performance of duties with knowledge. It is the knowledge of how everything is functioning, so  those last chapters of the Gītā, that is describing adhokṣaja, how Kṛṣṇa enters whatever is in this creation. Seeing that along with the proper performance of duties is giving you a higher.

Devotee (4): The experience that the gopis have when they look at the tamal tree and they remember Kṛṣṇa, is that adhokṣaja?

Mahārāja: No, that is aprākṛta, aprākṛta means it has nothing to do with the material energy. The first 4 you are dealing with the material energy. Are you doing it simply on the sensual platform, or what you have heard from others, or the experience you get yourself from proper performance of duties, or through proper knowledge of the position of the soul, the Lord, the material energy, how those energies are functioning, what is the relationship of those.

In other words, the one is the skill in performing the activity and the other is the actual potencies behind it that make that work. The father knows how to deal with the son, that skill according to dharma is generating your aparokṣa. But knowing that it is actually from the universal form: that fatherness and that sonness is there and how that is working, then they see Kṛṣṇa in it, that is adhokṣaja. aprākṛta means from that you think of Kṛṣṇa with Nanda Baba.

Devotee (4): adhokṣaja will then be within dharma?

Mahārāja: It is always based on dharma. It is your foundation, you start in dharma. From that you are going to go that direction. That is what Bhāgavatam says: Don’t use dharma for artha and kama, that comes on its own. Use dharma for getting out of the material world and establishing yourself in love of Godhead. Getting out of the material world means the moksa, means the way you gain that is through adhokṣaja. (end of lecture) (end)

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