MoG 1: Transcendental Knowledge
We offer our most sincere and humble obeisances to our spiritual master, who is all merciful and the savior of the fallen. He dissipates the darkness of nescience by opening our eyes with the probe of knowledge transcendental. He reveals this transcendental knowledge for the benefit of all people.
We are very proud of our two small eyes, and puffed up with vanity, we are always enthusiastic to see everything with our own eyes. But we do not know that whatever we are seeing at the present moment is covered with the darkness of nescience, and, as such, whatever we are seeing is either misperceived or only partially perceived. It is not a fact that we can see everything as it is simply by applying our ocular power to it. Every morning when the sun rises, we see this vast mass of matter as if it were just a small disc. Of course, the sun is much larger than the earth on which we live, and thus every morning of every day our self-reliant ocular vanity is put to the test and reduced to absurdity. Our eyes can gather knowledge only under certain favorable conditions. We cannot see things that are too far away from us; we cannot penetrate the darkness, nor can we see things that are very close to the eye, such as our own eyelids. Thus we can be proud of our eyes only under certain favorable conditions created by an external agency, namely the material nature. Otherwise, even though we have our wonderful eyes, we cannot see things in their true perspective. What is true for the eyes is also true for the other senses we use for gathering knowledge.
Under these circumstances, whatever we are experiencing at the present moment is totally conditional and is therefore subject to mistakes and incompleteness. These mistaken impressions can never be rectified by the "mistaker" himself or by another, similar person apt to commit similar mistakes.
In the darkness, if we want to perceive a certain object, we cannot use just our eyes; we have to rely on some other means to aid our perception. So, in the darkness, the object cannot be known to us in its entirety. In such a situation, even if we get some knowledge by touch or otherwise, it is all either mistaken or incomplete. It is just like the group of blind men who had encountered an elephant and tried to describe the strange new creature to one another. One man felt the trunk and said, "This is a huge snake." Another man felt a leg and said, "No, this is a great pillar." And so forth.
There is but one way to perceive things in the depth of darkness. Only if somebody brings a light into the darkness is it truly possible to see things as they are. Similarly, the light of knowledge is kindled by our preceptors, and we can see things as they are only by our preceptors' mercy. From our very birth we have become accustomed to gathering knowledge by the mercy of our preceptors, whether father, mother, or teacher. We can march along the path of progressive knowledge only by the help of such preceptors, from whom we gather experience by submissive hearing.
We go forward on the path of knowledge by the mercy of our preceptors—from learning the alphabet up to completing our university career. And if we want to go still further and acquire knowledge transcendental, we must first of all seek qualified transcendental preceptors who can lead us on the path. The knowledge that we gather by our education in the schools and colleges may help us temporarily in the study of some particular subject in the present span of life, but this acquisition of knowledge cannot satisfy our eternal need for which we hanker life after life, day after day, hour after hour.
To achieve success in any subject, it is necessary to establish a relationship with a master of that subject and to work favorably in that particular line. To acquire a degree at an academic university, we first have to establish a relationship with that institution. We have to abide by the direction of our instructors there and work favorably according to their direction. This is essential in order to achieve the ultimate desired success. In the same manner, if we are really anxious to know the principles of eternal life or life after death, and if we really want to see things in their true perspective, it is necessary for us to establish a relationship with a preceptor who can really open our eyes and lift us from the clutches of nescience. This process of approaching the spiritual master is an eternal verity. No one can do without abiding by this eternal rule.
The process of initiation begins from the date when we establish our transcendental relationship with the spiritual master. In the Upaniṣads and allied scriptures, it is ordained that one must approach with awe and reverence the feet of a spiritual master who is well versed in all the scriptures and who has attained perfection in transcendental knowledge. To attain perfection in transcendental knowledge is to accept the disciplic succession, the spiritual line, by culture, practice, and education in that line. The professional heads of various spiritual societies or communities often may not have attained to this standard of spiritual perfection and so may not possess the qualifications required for being a spiritual master. It is therefore no use to approach such professional spiritual masters as a matter of formality or custom. Attainment of spiritual perfection can never be possible without undergoing spiritual discipline.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the ideal spiritual master, spoke the philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā to Marshal Arjuna, His disciple. Here is a perfect example of the relationship between the spiritual master and the disciple. Arjuna was a most intimate friend of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and thus Śrī Kṛṣṇa explained to him the essence of all scriptures, in the philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā.
Because we are always very busy in the discharge of our worldly duties, generally we do not wish to understand any philosophy except our mundane philosophy of the stomach and allied subjects. We have extended many branches and sub-branches of this philosophy of the belly in various directions, and thus we have hardly any time to understand the philosophy of gaining eternal life—for which we are perpetually struggling life after life.
Marshal Arjuna pretended to display philosophical ignorance and weakness, like an ordinary man, when with his chariot between the two opposing armies on the battlefield of Kurukṣetra, he refused to fight. In this way, age after age, the Personality of Godhead and His beloved confidential-servitor devotees bestow their unbounded mercy by dissipating the darkness of nescience of the people of the world. We could hardly have attained to transcendental knowledge if they had not bestowed such mercy upon us.
Sometimes the Personality of Godhead descends Himself; otherwise, He deputes His confidential servants to do this act of kindness. All the messiahs-saints who have come before or who will come in the future to preach the transcendental message of the kingdom of Godhead—are to be understood as the most confidential servants of the Personality of Godhead. Lord Jesus Christ appeared as the son of Godhead, Muhammad introduced himself as the servant of Godhead, and Lord Caitanya presented Himself as the devotee of Godhead. But whatever may be their identity, all such messiahs were of the same opinion about one thing. They preached unanimously that there is no peace and prosperity in this mortal world. All of them agreed that we have to go to a separate world, where peace and prosperity have their real being. We have to search out our eternal peace and prosperity in the kingdom of God, which is a place other than this mortal world. Even such messiahs and reformers as Lord Buddha—who did not accept the existence of Godhead and preached morality and ethics in the spirit of atheism—and Śaṅkarācārya—who did not accept the Personality of Godhead and preached morality and ethics in the spirit of pantheism—never preached that there is any possibility of attaining eternal peace and prosperity in this material world.
But at the present moment, the leaders of thought and the people in general have decided mistakenly that there is no other world except the one in which we live—that all peace and prosperity are available here, and that there is no existence of any other world wherein we can find a better position than here. According to such leaders, the material body is the actual self, understanding everything that pertains to the body constitutes self-realization, and we have no more duty than satisfying the senses of the body and maintaining it by all means. According to these leaders, God and philosophical approaches to Him are merely leisure pursuits or parlor games to exercise the brain. By such discussions, however, the world does not gain anything of substance.
So Marshal Arjuna pretended to display weakness, placing himself in the category of ordinary people who are illusioned in the material world. And by this action of his, Marshal Arjuna helped in the manifestation of Bhagavad-gītā from the transcendental lips of the Personality of Godhead. Whenever the Personality of Godhead descends to this mortal world, He is accompanied by His confidential servants. Marshal Arjuna is the eternal, confidential servant of the Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and thus the philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā was taught to him directly for the benefit of the people in general.
Being an unalloyed devotee of the Personality of Godhead, Marshal Arjuna was able to discuss the transcendental philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā even on the battlefield of Kurukṣetra. We modern men have no time to get into the details of the philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā, even in the midst of our much more ordinary daily duties. But just to teach us, Marshal Arjuna tried to understand the philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā at a time when a moment was virtually impossible to spare. All this he did for the sake of people like us, and he fought the battle with full vigor once he had understood the philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā.
Affinity for family relations, which Marshal Arjuna displayed overwhelmingly in the manner of the typical modern man, is the sign of our lack of transcendental knowledge. But attaining transcendental knowledge does not necessarily mean renouncing the duties of our ordinary life. After Arjuna had understood the spirit of the philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā, the Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, never advised him to give up his seemingly ordinary duties. On the contrary, Arjuna fought the battle with even greater energy and vigor after he had obtained the transcendental knowledge imparted by Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The real spirit we attain through transcendental knowledge is self-negation and the determination to render transcendental service unto the Personality of Godhead. The purport of Bhagavad-gītā is this and nothing else.
When Marshal Arjuna was unable to solve the problem posed to him by the impending battle of Kurukṣetra, he surrendered himself as a disciple to Śrī Kṛṣṇa in all submissiveness to hear his problem's solution. At the outset, the Personality of Godhead talked with Arjuna just as a friend talks with a friend. But such friendly discussions generally end in friendly—and fruitless—debate. Thus, Marshal Arjuna surrendered himself as the disciple of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, for a disciple cannot disobey the orders of his spiritual master. That is the relationship between a disciple and his master.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, imparted to Marshal Arjuna the vitally important teachings of Bhagavad-gītā only when He saw that Arjuna had surrendered to Him without any vanity regarding his own erudition, and without any other reservation. It is very common for us, like Arjuna, to try to dissipate our disillusionments by our own devices, culled from our own mundane experience. This attempt to remove our daily bodily and mental difficulties is always misdirected. Unless one tries to solve his problems from the perspective of eternal varities, there cannot be any peace whatsoever, either in this life or in the life after death. That is the supreme teaching of Bhagavad-gītā.
This spiritual subject matter, which is transcendental to the hankerings of the material body and mind, is our supreme need. Unless we reach this transcendental plane of activities, we cannot achieve real peace. This spiritual, transcendental plane is the plane of eternal life, without which the material body and mind would have no existence. However, at present we do not possess any information of this eternal life, although we have much pride, even vanity, about our material knowledge.
We are more or less absorbed in the external material designations, the external dresses that now cover the eternally living soul. And because we have absorbed ourselves in these external designations of the spirit soul, we encounter so much disunity and turmoil. When we are free from such designations—when our real nature will be uncovered—then and only then will we attain our dream of real happiness and peace. Our present attempts to remove the difficulties of the material world—through the pretensions of erudite scientists, great statesmen, and mahātmās—do not reach the spiritual, transcendental plane, but simply garb the body and mind with various colorful dresses. And thus these attempts will be always frustrated. That is the intrinsic instruction of Bhagavad-gītā.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, rebuked Marshal Arjuna, so to say, when Arjuna surrendered unto Him as a disciple, being unable to solve the problems that always confront us in our material existence. Lord Kṛṣṇa said, "Arjuna, I see that you are talking like a learned man, but you may know that you have very little knowledge—because I see that you are lamenting over something for which no one would lament if he were truly learned."
A learned man never laments over a subject which appears and disappears as a matter of course. The material body, which we get from the womb of our mother, becomes transformed after some time into ashes, earth, or stool, as the case may be. And the subtle mental body, which is also material and composed of false ego and intelligence, likewise vanishes when the soul is liberated. Therefore, those who are truly learned do not give much importance to this material body and mind, or to the happiness and distress that pertain only to the material body and mind.
On the other hand, such learned men do give much stress to the happiness and distress of the soul proper, which is spirit and transcends the existence of the body and the mind. When we enter into such culture of knowledge, it is called transcendental knowledge. Marshal Arjuna portrayed himself as a materialistic fool, without any transcendental knowledge, just to teach us, who are cent-percent materialistic fools. For His part, the Personality of Godhead imparted the transcendental knowledge of Bhagavad-gītā, because He found Marshal Arjuna the most deserving person to hear it.
Just like Marshal Arjuna, the prime minister for Nawab Hussain Shah of Bengal—namely Sākara Mallika, who was later known as Sanātana Gosvāmī, one of the chief disciples of Lord Caitanya—represented himself as a materialistic fool before Lord Caitanya, when he met the Lord at Benares. He presented his case before Lord Caitanya as follows: "Ordinary persons, those who have no knowledge of transcendence, address me as a great leader, a great scholar, a mahātmā, a paramahaṁsa, and so on. But I am doubtful whether I am really so; they may be insulting me indirectly by calling me something that I am not. I know that I have no knowledge about myself as I am, but still, some of the materialistic fools address me as learned. This is undoubtedly a joke and an insult."
With these words, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī presented his case. In fact, he really was learned in transcendental knowledge, but he pretended to be a materialistic fool like us. Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī refused to let himself be called a great leader or erudite scholar, since he had no transcendental knowledge. Indirectly, he asserted that there is no greater materialistic fool than one who advertises himself and collects the cheap votes of similar fools to gain fame as a great scholar, great leader, great philosopher, great mahātmā, or great paramahaṁsa, all without any knowledge of his real self, the spirit soul, and without doing any benefit to the soul proper—simply wasting time in the matter of the happiness and distress of the temporary material body and mind. Sanātana means "eternal." Thus, Sanātana Gosvāmī was interested in the eternal happiness of the living entities more than just the temporary happiness of their temporary body and mind. When one thus becomes interested in the permanent happiness of the permanent soul, he becomes a disciple of Sanātana Gosvāmī, or a real "sanātanist," that is, a transcendentalist.
Throughout the world at the present moment, almost all the leaders, scholars, and mahātmās are more or less materialists, without any taste for transcendental knowledge. Thus, in the first instance Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, rebuked Marshal Arjuna and refused to accept him as a paṇḍita or scholar, with a view to teach the so-called learned scholars and leaders of the materialistic fools.
Almost all the leaders of the people have popularized various modes of religiosity that have to do only with the material body and mind. But very few of them know that the body and mind are nothing but the outward coat and shirt of the soul proper. Simply by taking care of the outward coat and shirt, one cannot do any good for the real self, the soul proper. Since factually the soul is the chief interest, the real self, no sane man can look after the interest of the outward paraphernalia while overlooking the chief interest, his very self; the interest of the subordinates, the material bodies, is looked after automatically. But no one can serve the chief simply by serving the subordinates. In other words, it is not possible to satisfy one's inner hunger simply by soaping the outer clothing.
So when we speak of a living entity, we must see the body and the mind as two outward coverings, two layers of paraphernalia—and the living force or spirit soul as the chief, central figure. The outward coverings are temporary arrangements, and therefore everything dependent on the outward covering is also a temporary arrangement. Happiness or distress perceived in relation with the temporary arrangement of the body and mind is also temporary. Thus, in Bhagavad-gītā the Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, says, "O son of Kuntī! All forms of happiness or distress, such as winter cold or summer heat, are due to material sense perception only. They come and go according to the laws of nature, and they are therefore to be tolerated without our being disturbed. One who is not disturbed by all these comings and goings of temporary happiness and distress—he alone becomes a fit person to attain eternal life."
But at the present stage of our existence, it is difficult to be unaffected by the temporary happiness and distress pertaining to the body and mind. Nor is it possible at present to assert that we are unidentified with the body and mind. Therefore, in our present state of existence, there is no possibility of our being indifferent in these matters of material happiness and distress. Thus, acquiring transcendental knowledge does not mean that we become indifferent to our present state of affairs, but it means that we should not be overwhelmed by the coming and going of happiness and distress.
We must know the nature of those temporary states of material happiness and distress. It would be sheer stupidity to ignore them, or to remain indifferent in matters concerning the spirit soul, around which the material body and mind exist. In fact, if one is fortunate enough to understand the happiness and distress of the spirit soul and gets a taste for transcendental knowledge, then he will be indifferent to the happiness and distress of the body and mind and will relish a transcendental peace eternal, even in the midst of worldly happiness and distress. Real peace can be obtained only in that transcendental stage of existence. That is the state of real contentment. If, after a long time, somebody embarks on a homeward journey, the pleasure of being homeward—bound diminishes the accompanying distress of the journey. The inconveniences of traveling become subordinate to the pleasure of heading homeward.
Sense perception is the cause of feeling all sorts of happiness and distress. Form, taste, odor, sound, and touch are different sense perceptions, which render happiness or distress in cooperation with the mind. In winter, bathing in cold water gives us pain, but in summer, the same cold water gives us pleasure. In winter, fire gives us pleasure and warmth, but in summer, the same fire gives us distress. Thus, neither fire nor water has any intrinsic power to give us happiness or distress, but they appear to us as agents of happiness or distress, according to our mode of sense perception in various circumstances. Therefore, everything that exists in the world is neither an object of happiness nor an object of distress; everything is simply subjective—that is, subject to our sense perceptions as they relate to our processes of thinking, feeling, and willing.
But such temporary sensations of happiness and distress, pertaining to the act of thinking, feeling, and willing under a false ego, are eternally different from the spirit soul and are therefore "unreal reality." Whatever advancement of knowledge, whether in art or science, that has been made by mundane scholars without reference to the eternal spirit soul is but a manifestation of the illusory modes of nature that encompass and limit the material body and mind.
Real peace and happiness can never come about through such advanced materialistic knowledge, deluded as it must be by the illusory modes of nature with a view to playing up this "unreal reality." Rather, as Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, confirms in the Bhagavad-gītā, only those who cultivate transcendental knowledge in relation to the eternal spirit soul and without being disturbed by temporary happiness and distress will be able to escape the cruel hands of birth, death, old age, and disease and will be truly happy by gaining eternal, spiritual life.
We therefore suggest that all those who have tried their utmost to do good for others but have failed despite all honest endeavors should approach Śrī Kṛṣṇa or His bona fide servitors, following the footsteps of Marshal Arjuna. One should try to do good for others, but only after knowing perfectly how to do good for others. Otherwise, if one embraces others in a false sense of altruism, one can get only a temporary benefit for himself in the shape of some profit, adoration, or distinction.
A Hitler, a Mussolini, or any other leader of that materialistic persuasion may offer his followers the mental concoction of doing good together in violent or nonviolent programs, and by such acts of so-called benevolence the leader may get recognition from his followers for some time. But the followers for whom this kind of leader has endeavored to do good will never get any lasting benefit out of such temporarily beneficial work. A void will be felt with the progress of all such benevolent activities. In fact, the followers will be put into more and more distressed conditions by following the path chalked out by this kind of so-called leader. If a blind man pretends to help another blind man cross a road, then both the blind leader and the blind follower shall fall into the further darkness of some unseen ditch. Everyone who is devoid of transcendental knowledge is just like a blind man; such a blind man must first eradicate his blindness before he can attempt to lead others to light.
Everyone who happens to take his birth in India is a potential benefactor of others, because it is on Indian soil alone that the culture of transcendental knowledge has been most elaborately presented, from ancient times to the present. The saints and sages of Bhārata-varṣa, as India has long been known, never tried to cultivate or satisfy artificially the needs of the body and the mind exclusively; they always cultured the transcendental spirit soul, which is above the material body and mind. And even now, the saints and sages continue to do so, in spite of all difficulties. But it would be sheer stupidity if Indian people attempted to do good to others without first themselves attaining transcendental knowledge.
Now, if we want to acquire transcendental knowledge, our first duty will be to understand that the spirit soul is eternal truth. The external ingredients, the body and the mind which develop around the spirit soul, are all relative or partial truths. In the second chapter of Bhagavad-gītā, the Personality of Godhead explains this fact elaborately:
"The spirit soul which pervades this body is eternal, and thus one should understand that no one can destroy the eternal, ever-existing spirit soul. Although this material body is subject to annihilation, the proprietor of the body is eternal. Therefore, O scion of Bharata, knowing this eternal truth, you can go on with your fighting engagement.
"Both the person who thinks the spirit soul can slay and the person who thinks that the spirit soul can be slain are ignorant of the fact that the spirit soul is neither slayer nor slain at any time. The spirit soul is never born, nor can he ever die. He has no past, present, or future, because he is eternal. And although very old, he is always fresh and does not become annihilated even after the annihilation of the body. One who understands the soul as eternal and indestructible—how can he hurt or kill anyone? It is only the outward body and mind that are destroyed.
"The body and the mind are just like a person's outward clothing. The clothing is changed when it is old, and the living person takes on a new set of clothing after giving up the old one.
"The spirit soul can never be struck by the sharp sword, nor can he be burnt by fire. He can never be affected by water or air, and thus, the spirit soul is eternally indestructible, nonflammable, nonevaporable, and noncorrodable. He is permanent, all-pervading, and eternal. He cannot be explained by any human language, nor can he be perfectly conceived of by any human mind. He remains always unchangeable, and knowing all these facts, one should not lament over his disappearance."
In the language of Bhagavad-gītā, the spirit soul is called kṣetrajña, the knower or tiller of the field, whereas the body and mind, the coverings of the spirit soul, are called kṣetra, or the field. In the thirteenth chapter of Bhagavad-gītā, the Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, discusses the subject matter of kṣetra, kṣetrajña, and also prakṛti (nature, or the phenomenal world, which is enjoyed) and puruṣa (the enjoyer of the phenomenal world). Lord Kṛṣṇa explains that all actions and reactions that take place in this phenomenal world are the actions and reactions of this combination of kṣetra and kṣetrajña, or nature and the enjoyer of nature. For instance, rice paddy is produced by the action and reaction of the field and the tiller, or a child is begotten by the combination of prakṛti, the enjoyed, and puruṣa, the enjoyer. In the same way, whatever we see in the phenomenal world is produced by this combination of kṣetra and kṣetrajña.
This kṣetrajña is the living spirit, whereas the kṣetra is the material which is lorded over. Physics, chemistry, astronomy, pharmacology, economics, sexology, and other material sciences deal with the materials of kṣetra. But the science that deals with spiritual existence—pertaining to kṣetrajña—is called transcendental knowledge. Real culture of knowledge, therefore, pertains not to kṣetra but to kṣetrajña. We shall get full opportunity to discuss all these subjects more elaborately, but for the present we may be satisfied simply by knowing that the kṣetrajña (puruṣa, or enjoyer) is the central objective of all knowledge, because it is this kṣetrajña alone that creates everything in conjunction with the material body and mind and the allied physical elements.
The kṣetrajña is the eternal spirit, whereas the kṣetra is matter, which is temporary and ephemeral. This eternal truth is summarized in the Vedas in the aphorism brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā: "Spirit is fact and the world is a false shadow." By "false shadow" one should understand that the world is temporary, existing only for the time being. But one should not make the mistake of thinking the world has no existence at all. I really possess my temporary material body and mind, and I must not make myself a laughing stock by denying the existence of my body and mind. At the same time, I must always remember that the body and mind are temporary arrangements. However, the spirit encaged by this body and mind is eternal truth and indestructible. No one can destroy the eternal spirit—that is what we need to understand at the present moment. The indestructible spirit is thus above the conception of violence and nonviolence.
Today, the whole world is mad after the culture of knowledge in relation to temporary arrangements for the gross material body and the subtle material mind. But more important than the body and mind is the spirit, which has been set aside without any proper culture of knowledge. As a result, the darkness of nescience has overshadowed the world and has brought about great unrest, disturbance, and distress. How long can one enjoy external happiness? It is like soaping the outer garments without putting any nourishment into the stomach.
But this eternal truth, the indestructible spirit, does exist as the living entity in each and every body. He is very minute and is finer than the finest atom. Learned experts have attempted to make a measurement of this living spirit. They say that the living spirit, the soul proper, can be measured approximately as one ten-thousandth part of the tip of a hair.
This living spirit remains within the body just like a tiny dose of a potent medicine: the soul spreads its presence all over the body. And thus, we can understand, the sensitivity we experience to even the slightest touch on any part of the body is due to the spreading of this living spirit throughout the body. But when this minute quantity of living spark is gone from the body, the body lies dead, prostrate, and it cannot feel the slightest pain—even if hacked by an ax.
That this minute living spark, the spirit, is not a material thing is proved by the fact that no material scientist has ever been able to create the living spark by any combination or quantity of material substances. Experienced material scientists have been obliged to accept the fact that the living spark cannot be duplicated by material science. Whatever can be created by the manipulation of matter is destructible and temporary. In contrast, the living spark is indestructible, precisely because it can never be constructed by any combination or quantity of matter. We can produce material atomic bombs but not the spiritual spark of life.
There is much advancement of material science all over the world, but regrettably, these advanced scientists have made no attempt to understand the living spark, the spirit, which is always the most important subject. This is our gross ignorance. This is our helplessness.
Śrī Jagadish Chandra Bose, Sir Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin—the brilliant brain substance of each of them stopped working utterly, as soon as this little spark of living substance separated from their respective bodies. If it were possible to create this living substance by chemical or physical combination or permutation of matter, then surely some disciple or other of these great scientists would have brought them back to life and would thus have prolonged their scientific contribution to the world. But no material scientist can create the living spark by any material arrangement, and those who say they can do so in the future are the greatest of fools and hypocrites. The living spirit is eternal—he has no end and no beginning and thus can never be created by any method whatsoever. After all, it is within our experience that every created thing is subject to annihilation. The eternality of the spirit soul is proved through its noncreatability by material means.
And thus one who thinks that he can destroy the living spark also does not know anything about it. The Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, therefore emphatically declares that the living entity, being spirit, is never born. The living entity exists eternally and has no past, present, or future tenses. The spirit is never annihilated, nor can anyone annihilate him, even after the annihilation of the material body. He therefore has no birth and no death. Nor does he grow or diminish by repeated material births and deaths. The spiritual entity is ever fresh and new, although he is the oldest of all. He is always different from the material body and mind, which are always subject to death and annihilation.
The learned scholar, who is aware of this transcendental knowledge, does not try to annihilate anyone or order anyone annihilated, like a fool. One may then ask this question: What was the purpose for which Arjuna fought on the battlefield of Kurukṣetra? The answer is plain and simple. The fight that is fought in pursuance of military duty touches the body only. The effects of war or pitched upheavals touch the body only and not the soul, much as the effects of a sumptuous feast touch the hunger of the stomach only and not that of the mind. None of these material effects ever touches the eternal living entity, the spirit soul, because the living spirit is invincible, nonflammable, nonmoistenable, and nondryable. Everything that is material can be cut into pieces, can be burnt up, can be moistened, and can be dried up in the air. Thus, to illustrate that the living entity, or spirit soul, is entirely metaphysical, the above explanation is given as indirect proof by negation of material attributes.
It is said that the living spirit is eternal, all-pervading, unchangeable, indestructible, and so forth. What is known in India as sanātana-dharma, or "the eternal religion," is meant for this living spirit. That is to say, real spiritualism is transcendental to the various religions that focus on the gross material body or the subtle material mind. This sanātana-dharma, the eternal religion, is never established just for one particular people, place, or time. It is for this reason that sanātana-dharma is also termed all-pervasive. All other religions except the one that is known as sanātana-dharma are meant for the culturing of physical or psychological effects.
The psychological effects of various peoples, places, and times have led us to designate ourselves as Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Congressites, Luddites, Socialists, Bolsheviks, and so forth. Specifically in the field of religion, we have tried to establish many varieties of ephemeral physical and mental arrangements, varieties of denominations, according to various peoples, places, and times. And precisely for this reason, we can envision ourselves "changing religions." One who is a "Hindu" today may become a "Muhammadan" the next day, or one who is a "Muhammadan" today may become a "Christian" the next day, and so on. But when we attain transcendental knowledge and are established in the actual, eternal religion of the actual living entity—the spirit soul—then and then only can we attain real, undeniable peace, prosperity, and happiness in the world. Until that time, there can be no peace and prosperity for us, because we are not situated on the plane of sanātana-dharma, or the eternal religion of the soul.
Being minute and thus invisible to our material eyes, the spirit soul is called inexplicable, inconceivable, and so on. The spirit soul is nonetheless understood to be eternal, because he is never subject to the ordeals of birth, death, disease, and old age or to any other physical transformations. Therefore, eternal peace and prosperity will be established only when there is vigorous propagation of this inexplicable, eternal religion of the living spirit soul. For then only shall we be relieved of physical transformations such as birth, death, disease, and old age. We should always remember, however, that this eternal religion of the soul is never bound by any physical limitation of people, place, or time.