No more upadhis-material designations

May 20, 2012 in Articles, Damaghosa Dasa by Nityananda Rama dasa

Jaya Srila Prabhupada

 Na Jayate  Mriyate va kadacinFor the soul,  there is never birth nor death, Nor having once been does he ever  cease to be. (Bhagavad Gita 2.20)

Self realization means to be able to see the soul. I look at you and  see your body, you look at me and see my body. This is not self  realization.
Aham brahmasmi means I am soul, not this body. ..”Dehino’ smin yatha  dehi… Deha and dehi means this body and the owner of this body. When  we  are able too see the soul we are on the brahma bhuta platform. This is  self realization.
If we want to be free of this material bondage and see ourselves as we  are, then we must purify our self of all the upadhis or material  designations.
Prabhupada writes…”Krishna consciousness is  actually a purificatory process. Its purpose is to make people free from  all designations. When our consciousness becomes purified of all  designations, the activities we carry out with our purified senses make us  perfect. Eventually, we reach the ideal perfection of human life. Krishna  consciousness is also a very simple process. It is not necessary to become a  great philosopher, scientist, or whatever. We need only chant the holy name of  the Lord, understanding that His personality, His name, and His qualities are  all absolute.”
Most everyone thinks that if he or she gets a nice  birth in a nice family, has good looks, education and some wealth, then all this  has been Divinely bestowed upon him by God. But from the spiritual  perspective all these things are no more than gifts of the illusory energy,  Maya. These things keep us trapped in the bodily conception of  life.  We see that is true when we hear the story of Nalakuvera and  Manigriva, the sons of Kuvera. They were both devas or demigods, and they were  devotees of some sort of the Supreme Lord, but because of the easy life their  material benedictions gave them, they condemned themselves to a life of  debauchery. They misused their material assets which is quite natural for one in  that position.This is what naturally happens for most if one takes to the field  of material piety instead of trying to purify the heart, thru bhakti  yoga, of all the (unwanted) anarthas present.
Prabhupada gives an example-when we are sitting comfortably in our easy  chair, we have the remote in one hand, our cell phone in the other, some chips  and fizz nearby , and we think , now I am comfortable!
But then somebody comes along and tells us NO, you have to come with me.  You MUST come with me dragging you off, and then your comfortable position  is now ruined. This is called Death. Nobody wants it, but it has to come to us  all. Yet how many of us are ready for this? How many of us are ready to get  ripped out of our comfortable situation and not even complain about  it? Only one who knows without any doubting that he or she is not this  material body.
He gave another nice example-once while on a train ride somewhere in India,  a few others were fighting over their train seat. He mentioned that even though  they know they will only be there a couple of hours, they are taking that seat  as some permanent arrangement and that is why it is worth fighting  over.  And we as kids, also had a similar situation while traveling  with parents in the family car. We would all fight over who got the window  seat !.
So how is this  child like fighting different than what we do as  adults on a daily basis fighting with others over some meager  material gains? Like the childs game of musical chairs whereby a group of kids  will circle a row of chairs which are one short of the number of participating  kids. When the music stops, everyone has to grab a chair. One kid is always  out of a chair ! This is how material life works. Its always a struggle for  everything. Nothing in this material world comes without some sort of  struggle-either with others or with our own limitations to accomplish  something.
Self realization means this material struggle for things related to this  body is over- because we realize without any doubt, that we are not matter,  not this body, not connected to any so called material family or race, do not  belong to some country and in fact have absolutely nothing to do with this  material world. Unfortunately for most of us we think we are free to do what we  like, but at any moment,  if the Devas disagree, we could lose motion  in our arms  hands or legs and become paralyzed. Yet we  all will  say, this is MY body. If its our body then why cant we make it do what WE want  it to do?
This conditional life always will be a source of problems to us.  In  this verse from BG it says we are never born and we never die, so if we  are eternal and believe it, why do we then bother so much- with the  temporary? BG says we dont take birth, yet all of us will say we were born on  such and such a date, and if we consult astrologers,  they say we will die  at such and such time as well. This is body consciousness only- because  according to BG we dont take birth and we do not die.
So the next question would be, then if we were originally with Krsna in the  spiritual world, how did we get ourselves into this present predicament? How did  we become so fallen?
Actually Prabhupada answers-we are NOT fallen, but only think we are  so.
He gives us the example of the clouds  at night moving against the  backdrop of the moon. It appears the moon is moving and the clouds are still,  but in fact we understand  eventually, when the illusion is  removed, that the moon is stationary and the clouds are moving. In the same  way we the (unchanging) soul think we have taken birth (amongst the moving  material world or clouds) and we then have to die. But according to BG we never  take birth nor do we ever die.
Another nice example is given.Once when Prabhupada was a young boy, he  performed as Nimai pandit in a local play.  The elders present asked a  well known Indian Drama expert in western drama theater to help in the  performances of the actors. He in particular took attention to our little  “Abhaya” who was playing the part of Nimai pandit. This Drama expert repeatedly  told our Prabhupada (then known as Abhaya) to get into the part, feel the  part.
So Abhaya did so and he then noticed all the audience wiping tears from  their eyes seeing his performance of Nimai pandit. Similarly with us, unless we get into our illusory acts of this material world we cant play the  “part”. So Prabhupada tells us today that when we desired to imitate the  position of Krsna as Master, which was our first sinful will, then the  subsequent action of the actual master, Sri Krsna was to allow us and to  create for us a situation whereby we could “act” out all our desires in  this material world. So we needed to “feel that part”. So Krsna supplies to us  the necessary illusory energies by Maya so that we can act out whatever we  desire within the confines of the material worlds.
The SB states (2.9.1) that unless one is influenced by the illusory  energy of the Supreme Lord, then there is no relationship  of pure  souls in pure consciousness with the material body. Its just like a dreamer  seeing his own body working.
So we have to know that unless we constantly act and see ourselves as  pure soul, untouched by matter, birth or death, then we are definitely being  influenced by the material energy of Maya , illusion.
Another nice verse also in SB (4.22.31) says that When one deviates  from his original consciousness he loses the capacity to remember his previous  position or recognize his present one. When remembrance is  lost all subsequent knowledge is based upon a false foundation. The soul  is then considered lost.
Just to show as an example how powerful this illusory energy is-consider  this lecture in 1974 in Paris by Srila Prabhupada where he mentions at  least 4 times about how thinking of cats and dogs at the time of death will take  you next lifetime to  a cat/dog body.
Thinking about this in this lecture, I was wondering why Prabhupada  was stressing so much to the devotees present, none of whom had cats or dogs,  nor even ever considered having such impure animals around them, then why  would Prabhupada stress this so much to them? He was speaking eternally about  eternal principles of purification and contamination. So now some 40 years  later we see practically so many devotees now have cats and dogs living in  their homes as if there is nothing at all wrong with it. I have heard this from  reliable sources that in both LA Calif and Alachua Fla, most of the devotees now  have cats and dogs in their homes. And I personally see it true nearby where I  live also.
Just see how the illusory energy has worked her magic upon those same  people who originally would have never considered having such animals in their  homes !!! What was once considered impure has now been considered OK to have  alongside you.
So if we lose our Original Consciousness , which back in 1974 was at  least everyone was trying his or her level best to become pure-and now we see  because of the situation worldwide with no temples to go to,or whatever, so  many has become so covered over by Maya that he or she thinks nothing of what  once they would never have done.
That intense desire once for purity  by the devotees has  vanished-Maya has removed it from our lives.
Therefore this verse from SB says when we deviate from our original  consciousness, we cant even remember  what we once did nor even  recognize our present one –even when its being pointed out!!
Therefore Srila Prabhupada instituted the Weekly Sunday feast program so  that devotees who  were not living in a temple situation would be  “reminded”  at least on a weekly basis of what this human life was  meant for. Another stroke of his genius.
What we are working hard at all week to forget,(Krsna-because of working so  much for karma and karmis)  we would now be reminded of  Krsna by going to the feast program on a weekly basis. (if we are  fortunate enough to have a bona fide temple/ashram  to go to and hear  this philosophy).
Therefore if we do not associate regularly with good devotees, then Maya,  the illusory energy will make us forget our Original Consciousness and  once again return us to the mortal world of birth and death. And for us who  have at least begun this purification task, that is very unfortunate.
Once coming to Krsna Consciousness and at least , in the beginning, giving  it our best attempt, to later leave it either willfully or due to  circumstances is very unfortunate. The only real and lasting solution  to this problem is to seek out good devotee association whereby we can be  constantly reminded of that which Maya wants us to forget–KRSNA !!!
Hare Krsna
Damaghosa das