What is “The Eastern Side?”

Tuesday, 3 March 2009 · 14 comments

Once a learned astrologer came to the house of a poor man and, seeing his distressed condition, questioned him.

“The astrologer asked, ’Why are you unhappy? Your father was very wealthy, but he did not disclose his wealth to you because he died elsewhere?’

“Just as the words of the astrologer Sarvajña gave news of the poor man’s treasure, Vedic literatures advise one about Kṛṣṇa consciousness when one is inquisitive to know why he is in a distressed material condition.

“By the words of the astrologer, the poor man’s connection with the treasure was established. Similarly, Vedic literature advises us that our real connection is with Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

“Although being assured of his father’s treasure, the poor man cannot acquire this treasure by such knowledge alone. Therefore the astrologer had to inform him of the means whereby he could actually find the treasure.

“The astrologer said, ’The treasure is in this place, but if you dig toward the southern side, the wasps and drones will rise, and you will not get your treasure.

” ‘If you dig on the western side, there is a ghost who will create such a disturbance that your hands will not even touch the treasure.

” ’If you dig on the northern side, there is a big black snake that will devour you if you attempt to dig up the treasure.

” ’However, if you dig up a small quantity of dirt on the eastern side, your hands will immediately touch the pot of treasure.’

The Vedic literatures, including the Purāṇas, state that according to the position of the conditioned soul, there are different processes-karma-kāṇḍa, jñāna-kāṇḍa, the yogic process and the bhakti-yoga process. Karma-kāṇḍa is compared to wasps and drones that will simply bite if one takes shelter of them. jñāna-kāṇḍa, the speculative process, is simply like a ghost who creates mental disturbances. Yoga, the mystic process, is compared to a black snake that devours people by the impersonal cultivation of kaivalya. However, if one takes to bhakti-yoga, he becomes quickly successful. In other words, through bhakti-yoga, one’s hands touch the hidden treasure without difficulty.

Therefore it is said in Bhagavad-gītā: vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyaḥ. One has to take to devotional service. Although the Vedas enjoin one to search out Kṛṣṇa and take shelter at His lotus feet, other Vedic processes will not help. According to Bhagavad-gītā, only the bhakti process is said to be definitive. Bhaktyā mām abhijānāti. This is the conclusive statement of the Vedas, and one has to accept this process if one is serious in searching for Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In this connection, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura gives the following statement. The eastern side represents devotional service to Lord Kṛṣṇa. The southern side represents the process of fruitive activity (karma-kāṇḍa), which ends in material gain. The western side represents jñāna-kāṇḍa, the process of mental speculation, sometimes called siddhi-kāṇḍa. The northern side represents the speculative method sometimes known as the mystic yoga system. It is only the eastern side, devotional service, that enables one to attain life’s real goal. On the southern side, there are fruitive activities by which one is subject to the punishment of Yamarāja. When one follows the system of fruitive activity, his material desires remain prominent. Consequently the results of this process are compared to wasps and drones. The living entity is bitten by the wasps and drones of fruitive activity and thus suffers in material existence birth after birth. One cannot be free from material desires by following this process. The propensity for material enjoyment never ends. Therefore the cycle of birth and death continues, and the spirit soul suffers perpetually.

The mystic yoga process is compared to a black snake that devours the living entity and injects him with poison. The ultimate goal of the yoga system is to become one with the Absolute. This means finishing one’s personal existence. However, the spiritual part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead has an eternal individual existence. Bhagavad-gītā confirms that the individual soul existed in the past, is existing in the present and will continue to exist as an individual in the future. Artificially trying to become one with the Absolute is suicidal. One cannot annihilate his natural condition.

A yakṣa, a protector of riches, will not allow anyone to take away riches for enjoyment. Such a demon will simply create disturbances. In other words, a devotee will not depend on his material resources but on the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who can give real protection. This is called rakṣiṣyatīti viśvāsaḥ or (in the Bengali poetry of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s Śaraṇāgati), ’avaśya rakṣibe kṛṣṇa’-viśvāsa pālana. The surrendered soul must accept the fact that his real protector is Kṛṣṇa, not his material acquisitions.

Considering all these points, devotional service to Kṛṣṇa is the real treasure house for the living entity.

—From the Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā, Texts 127- 135
by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
©Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. All rights reserved

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