April 2010


The Perfect Meditation

‘The ideal yogi concentrates his attention on Krsna, who is called Syamasundara, who is as beautifully coloured as a cloud, whose lotuslike face is as effulgent as the sun, whose dress is brilliant with jewels and whose body is flower-garlanded. Illuminating all sides is His gorgeous luster, which is called the brahmajyoti. He incarnates in different forms such as Rama, Nrsimha, Varaha and Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He descends like a human being, as the son of mother Yasoda, and He is known as Krsna, Govinda and Vasudeva. He is the perfect child, husband, friend and master, and He is full with all opulences and transcendental qualities. If one remains fully conscious of these features of the Lord, he is called the highest yogi‘.

(A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita As It Is, 6.47 purport)

The Yoga Ladder

‘The whole spiritual process is technically called yoga or linking with the Supreme.  It is something like a long staircase, and the upward steps are variously designated as regulated work, transcendental knowledge, mystic power, and ultimately bhakti-yoga, or devotional service.  Bhakti-yoga is pure and unalloyed, being entirely beyond all the preliminary steps.  Such unalloyed devotional service in favour of the Supreme Lord was displayed in Vrindavana when the Lord descended there, and thus the yoga exhibitted by the gopis of Vrindavana is the highest unalloyed love of Godhead, the perfection of bhakti-yoga.  To rise to the stage of love shown by the gopis is very difficult, but this stage is attainable for serious conditioned souls’

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada – Light Of The Bhagavata p.81

My History tutor was a thin man with a black beard. He wore a navy blue V-neck jersey and a plain white collared shirt. He spoke expressively. From time to time, he would make wide, excited movements with his hands. The spirit of the tutor, the design of the buildings and the tutorial itself smacked of Cambridge or something foreign.

‘We will be discussing Historiography and Historicism today’, our tutor exclaimed in a jerky, nervous way. ‘We’ll be taking a look at Interdisciplinary Studies and History’, he added. Then he posed what appeared to be an innocuous question to the students, ‘What is science?’ The initial responses to this question seemed to bes from the perspective of natural science, physics and chemistry. A girl put up her hand, ‘Science is the observation of phenomena based on experimentation and concomittant results’. ‘Yeeesss’ he coaxed. ‘Go on’.

I offered an explanation, on the basis of our Latin Intensive course: ‘The word ‘science’ comes from the Latin word ‘scientiae’ which means ‘knowledge’. ‘Knowledge’, itself, is all-embracing. ‘Knowledge’, in its broad sense, cannot be compartamentalized’. While I was saying this, an image of the British neoclassical architecture fixed itself in my mind. It was very Oxford, the whole setting. Even the discussion. Institutions like Oxford and Cambridge had systematized and comparmentalized knowledge into highly specialized faculties. My tutor’s eyes lit up, and his face rumpled into a satisfied smile. ‘Good’, he said, ‘we are trying to see how different branches or sciences are all basically part of a broader definition of ‘knowledge” At that moment I thought of Cicero’s definition of the word ‘abstract’. Cicero defines ‘abstract’ as ‘that which can only be grasped in thought’. We had connected intellectually.

I still couldn’t really see the point of these tutorials, however. They were never conclusive. A topic would be introduced. We would have to read a whole bunch of articles. And then we’d discuss them in a roundabout way, without getting to the heart of the matter. But what was the heart of the matter? I had yet to resolve this question. When would the elusive truth I was seeking manifest to me?