Real Relationships Centered Around Bhagavān

By Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa, originally published by The Jiva Institute.

There is an important sūtra of Purva-mīmāṁsā (3.1.22): guṇānāṁ ca parārthatvāt asambandhaḥ samatvāt syāt. Its translation is very technical, so I will explain it in a simplified manner. The word guṇa here refers to objects and actions that are meant for the main yajña, which is referred to by the word para, primary. The sūtra is in relation to the action of the ādhāna (placing of fire) and pavamāna-havis (a type of offering for fire) used for the saṁskāra of fire, agni. Here agni is primary and ādhāna-karma and pavamāna-havis are secondary to agni. The sūtra denies any direct relationship between ādhāna-karma and pavamāna-havis. These objects and actions have a relationship with agni because they are its subsidiaries, but they do not have any independent relationship with each other.

To put it in simple language, the sūtra says that if there is a primary object with subsidiaries, then the subsidiaries are not interrelated to each other independent of the primary. In other words, the subsidiaries do not have a relationship by themselves. 

The word guṇa means “quality.” A quality is inherent in a substance. It does not exist independent of the substance. The substance is called primary, and the quality is called secondary because a quality is rooted or sheltered in the substance. A substance can have many qualities. These qualities have no relation with each other except through the substance in which they exist. For example, a yellow lotus flower has color, weight, fragrance, shape, etc. as its qualities. The color, weight, fragrance, and shape have no relation with each other. Their relationship is only on the basis of the lotus.

Similarly, if a person performs various activities, then these activities are not related to each other. If Rāmadāsa showers, applies tilaka, cooks, offers the bhoga to Kṛṣna, takes prasādam, and then goes to work, then the activities of showering, applying tilaka, cooking, offering, eating, and going have no relation with each other independent of Rāmadāsa.

This principle can also be extended to our relationships with each other. In the material world, there are basically three real things: substances, qualities, and actions. They are all ultimately rooted in Kṛṣna. Therefore, He is called the cause of all causes, sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam.1 Kṛṣna also says that He is the source of all substances and actions, ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavaḥ mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate.2 Here the word prabhavaḥ refers to substances and pravartate refers to actions. Qualities are inseparable from substances; therefore, Kṛṣṇa does not make an explicit mention of them. Śrī Kṛṣṇa also says that all jīvas in the material world are His parts, aṁśas.3 That means Kṛṣṇa is primary, being the whole, and the jīvas are secondary, being His aṁśas. By the application of the above-stated Pūrva-mīmāṁsa sūtra, no two or more jīvas can have any real relationship with each other. Their relationship can only be through Kṛṣṇa, the fountainhead of all jīvas. This means that without keeping Kṛṣṇa in the center, no relationship in human society can truly function because it is only an imagination. There is no real relationship. Furthermore, it is also understood that no one can truly own anything because a relationship between owner and owned is not possible. All ownership is imaginary and based on a common agreement of people, called law or constitution. This explains why materialistic people and those who do not believe in scripture are never satisfied in their relationships or possessions.

Furthermore, this also explains why even the followers of śāstra and longtime devotees are not able to have loving, fulfilling relationships with each other, if they do not keep the ultimate principle in mind, the devotional relationship to Kṛṣna as defined by Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī:  

anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṃ jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam
ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānuśīlanaṃ bhaktir uttamā

Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.1.11

 In forgetfulness of this goal, jealousy, envy, hatred, materialistic competition, and criticism occupy the mind of a devotee. With this mindset, they are not able to see how every disciple of the guru is a part of Kṛṣna only. They cannot see that the guru is a manifestation of Kṛṣṇa and the devotees are subsidiaries to assist him. Those who can see and act on this principle can experience Vaikuṇṭha right here because Vaikuṇṭha is not simply a physical place. Vaikuṇṭha is primarily the consciousness defined in the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu verse. This is the primary teaching of Bhāgavata Purāṇa. This is the rahasya—the secret.

  1. Brahma-saṁhitā 5.1 []
  2. Bhagavad-gītā 10.8 []
  3. Bhagavad-gītā 15.7 []


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3 Responses to Real Relationships Centered Around Bhagavān

  1. Sastra-Vani Dasa

    On thinking about it deeply, I do not agree that two people have to love Krishna first for having a fulfilling relationship as a friend, spouse, etc.
    All that is required is genuine well-wishing towards the other person. That is the basic criteria; not devotion to Krishna.

    • It is strange to find this article published here. Its author has published a number of treatises elsewhere that are profoundly antithetical to the teachings and practices of the Bhaktivinoda-parivara. Even this simple article contradicts or grossly waters down and oversimplifies some basic principles taught by Swami Tripurari.

      It’s easy enough to read the article and sense that the author is projecting into his writing some unspoken concerns regarding relations within his own sangha. But why is The Harmonist republishing an article that if appreciated would tend to lessen our appreciation of Swami Tripurari’s different perspective? Especially newer readers may not even recognize the differences, and may be inclined to seek out other writings by the author which are even further distant from what Swami Tripurari teaches (or at least used to teach).

      As for your specific point, if we look past the article’s culty absolutism I think it may contain the answer to your question. When we relate to another, we are connected to the degree that our mutual connection is connected to the Absolute source of connection. Two jivatmas united by closeness to Krishna will inevitably have a degree of closeness far deeper than two jivatmas united by their appreciation of some combination of gunas or transitory forms/qualities/characteristics of our world.

      Where this gets complicated and the article gets potentially culty, of course, is that simply by sharing membership in a group nominally dedicated to Krishna, one won’t necessarily achieve that closeness, which is a matter of individual sadhana and advancement. Two members of a bowling team who are devoted to loving service of their peers may share a deeper closeness than two members of an ashram who are busy securing their own interests there.

      • Sastra-Vani Dasa

        Thank you for your reply.
        You made many good points that made me think.
        Two ‘jivatmas’ are “closer” if they are individually connected to Krsna. Yes, I agree. But that is the spiritual consideration.
        With regards to being a good friend or spouse, I do not think that one needs to first be well connected with Krsna.

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