The Mother Divine
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By Prof. Sunil Kumar Dutta Ray

Although there are many different devotional Schools of India other than the Vaisnava School yet our reason for limiting our enquiry to the Vaisnava Schools only, in so far as the treatment of this problem is concerned, is that they represent the principal verities of devotional religion and philosophy and possess a really rich and vast literature on devotion as the essence of religion. We may mention here that the Vaisnavas like the Saiva or Sakta Schools, the Ganapatya and other similar Schools, are known as the Agama Schools, i.e, they all profess to base their doctrines on the authority not of the Vedas, but on such outer derivatives from the Vedas as the Puranas, Itihasas, etc. In spite of all these, however, it remains true that all the principal Vaisnava Schools, as also the Saiva, Sakta and other Agama Schools, consider the Upanishads as embodying the teaching of the Vedas, to be the ultimate authority in matters spiritual. In fact the Puranas and other authoritative works are considered to be exegesis of the Vedic and the Upanishadic teachings. The principal authority of the Vaisnava Schools, viz, the Bhagavata Purana is considered by Sri Chaitanya himself to be nothing but a commentary on the Brahmasutra of the Vedanta. The question thus arises, if all the Vaisnava Schools are preaching only Brahmavada of the Vedanta in their religion and philosophy, and the Brahman as the highest reality is considered by all Vaisnavas to be "Sacchidsnandasvarupa," i.e. of the nature of 'Sat' or being 'Chit" or consciousness and 'Ananda' or bliss, and  what we call the world of finite things and beings is either a parinama or self-evolution of Brahman or of the inherent powers of Brahman, the world must partake of the threefold character of the original source from which it has sprung. That is, the world must possess the Character of i attractiveness, worth or value, logical consistency or intelligibility and existence or being as Brahman, which is its source, is also existence intelligence and bliss. What then is the difference between Brahma-mindedness and world mindedness? The worldly man pursues worldly interests, seeks earthly things, tries to understand their mutual connection and desires the enjoyment of earthly values. But all this does not take us away from Brahman. The earthly things are nothing but limited forms of the 'Sat' or Being, aspect of the Absolute their mutual consistency and relevance are nothing but an expression of the 'Chit' or intelligence aspect of the Absolute. Lastly, their values are nothing but reflections of the intrinsic joy which is Brahman itself in its aspect of Anandam or bliss. Why then, draw line between the worldly life and the religious? The worldly man in pursuing his world’s interests is also realising Brahman. Why should we decry him and his earthly ways and seek to turn his mind away from things temporal to things eternal?  In other words, what makes religion ‘religion’ and distinguishes it from the secular life of material interests? The Vaishnavas answer that though all things are in Brahman or are parts of the totality which is the Absolute Reality yet the pursuit of the finite can never be a substitute for a pursuit for the Infinite and the Absolute Reality. No guru of finites, nor any series of finites continued without end, can ever be a replica of the eternal Absolute Reality. In seeking the finite and limiting ourselves to the pursuit of material interests we lose the wood in the midst of the trees and have the fragment or the part to be integral whole of which it is a part. This is why the Secular life is condemned, as a pursuit of the finite can never realize the joy and the delight that comes through the contemplation of the Infinite and Eternal Reality.

It is not merely the devotional schools that draw a line between the earthly and divine life. It is a common character that distinguishes all religions and religious Philosophies. The earthly way or earth-mindedness has to be eschewed if the life of the spirit is to be lived in its intrinsic completeness and fullness. This is what is taught in all the Indian Philosophical Schools and also in Christian Philosophy.