“The king went and received blessings and then paid so much honor and respect after that. When he saw Rama, he experienced a happiness one hundred times that of Brahman realization.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 5.2)
नृप गहे पाय असीस पाई मान आदर अति किएँ |
अवलोकि रामहि अनुभवत मनु ब्रह्मसुख सौगुन किएँ ||
nṛpa gahe pāya asīsa pāī māna ādara ati kiem̐ |
avaloki rāmahi anubhavata manu brahmasukha sauguna kiem̐ ||
“It has been my understanding that any kind of realization in spiritual life qualifies as liberation. The entry stage is the distinction between body and spirit. This is the boon of the human birth. Realizing that I am not the form that covers me. I am something much more. Beyond the consciousness of the animals.
“Bhagavad-gita provides the necessary information to begin the process. Arjuna learns that destiny is already set. The outcome is already arranged by the master coordinator, Shri Krishna. Better to work in line with dharma, to receive some credit; although no one can do anything entirely on their own.”
“What confuses me is the issue of Brahman realization. That word is included in the aphorism describing the objective of the human birth. Athato brahma-jijnasa. Notice that it doesn’t say Krishna-jijnasa or Vishnu-jijnasa. The inquiry is into the spiritual side. A sort of abstraction. The collective of the spiritual beings. More of a concept than a thing.
“Yes, I am fully aware that Krishna is Brahman and more. We living entities are all Brahman. Fragments of spirit who trace their origin to the personal God. The issue I have is that I recently heard His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada refer to stopping at Brahman realization as catastrophic.
“The situation is where someone has fully realized the spiritual equality of all beings. They view the sage, the tree, the dog, the elephant, the cow, and the tiger as equal. This is from the spiritual angle of vision. Each person is powered by the force, so to speak.
“Why is stopping there considered catastrophic? Why is realization of the personal God necessary? I understand that it is difficult. Out of many thousands among men, hardly one will make the endeavor, and out of that list the graduates, so to speak, will be few and far between.
“Isn’t Brahman realization superior to the maya consciousness? Will not such a person still receive liberation? How can release from the cycle of birth and death be considered catastrophic?”
One analogy that can help to explain is the experience of visiting the theater for a dramatic performance. The audience members intentionally forget that they are viewing a scripted performance, where the actors are not who they portray and the spoken lines are pre-determined.
In fact, it is the intention of the performers to be as convincing as possible. The audience wants to be fooled and the participants on stage hope to meet such desires. Imagine, then, if you viewed the performance and could not be convinced. You remained consciously aware of the false nature of what seems like reality.
Such a consciousness would ruin the entire experience. Unless, of course, you went further and considered the purpose to the entire production. Viewed from the eyes of a producer or an aspirant in the theatrical arts, there would be increased appreciation.
In the same way, if I realize that everything and everyone is Brahman, it removes variety from the experience of life. Suddenly, everything is nothing. Like a void. There is no purpose to action. Pious and impious are the same. There really is no further goal, either. What difference does it make if I act a certain way, since we are all spiritual at the core? Nothing can be done to destroy us.
The further realization of the personal God changes everything. Then there is bliss accompanying an existence, a way to appreciate the nuance and variety. View everything from a coordinator’s perspective. In fact, from connecting directly with Bhagavan, the Supreme Person, I even gain appreciation for maya. The material and spiritual become the same to me.
Shastra gives evidence of the superiority of the Bhagavan-vision. King Janaka felt something hundreds of times more blissful than brahma-sukha when meeting Rama and Lakshmana. Shukadeva Gosvami was born a liberated soul and he proceeded further in relishing the Bhagavata Purana through recitation. That work is all about Rama, Krishna and other personal forms of Vishnu.
Catastrophic like at finish line dropping,
When only at Brahman realization stopping.
Since jaundiced perhaps the view,
Life and death mattering to who?
Or of pious and impious difference none,
From personal God appreciation to come.
Where the existence enjoying in every way,
Like Shukadeva in Bhagavata-Katha display.