Monday Morning Greeting #48 – Darśana: Seeing God

November 28th, 2016

The devotees were puzzled. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta could not see without his glasses so why was he viewing the deities everyday without them? His reply:
 
“We are not the subject and God is thus not an object for our enjoyment. Rather Kṛṣṇa is the subject and we are an object for His enjoyment. I don’t need my glasses for darśana for darśana means He is seeing us.” *
 
This principle is poignantly illustrated in the story of “The Wives of the Brāhmaṇas Delivered”. They were always hankering to see Kṛṣṇa and after years of yearning they finally got His darśana. It is interesting how this is described:
 
“Lord Kṛṣṇa, who witnesses the thoughts of all creatures, understood how those ladies had abandoned all worldly hopes and come there simply to see Him. Thus He addressed them as follows with a smile upon His face.” Bhāg. 10.23.24
 
What is important here is that it is Kṛṣṇa, not the wives of the brāhmaṇas, who is being described as the seer. It is also noteworthy as to what He saw — tyakta-sarvāśāḥ — that they, the wives of the brāhmaṇas, had given up all material hopes and desires. And finally, it is significant how Kṛṣṇa reacted. Such love brought Him pleasure and He smiled. Thus, darśana, going before the Lord, reveals the essence of bhakti. We go before the Lord not just to see His form, but for Him to see our hearts for His pleasure.
 
This type of darśana is the heart of bhakti and it should be reflected consciously in all our devotional activities, such as chanting. Real chanting is thus not just repeating syllables, but offering our heart transformed into sound to God for His pleasure. In other words, we mostly chant as way to allow Kṛṣṇa to hear and see our devotion.
 
This concept of darśana, becoming an object of God’s pleasure, was unexpectedly reinforced in a video I saw when I was visiting one God-brother in Vṛndāvana. It was a talk by Śrīla Prabhupāda’s god-brother B.R. Śrīdhar Mahārāja, where he humbly talked about his experience of “divine knowledge”. I understood his use of the term “divine knowledge’ to be a translation of divya-jñāna, the initial experience of enlightenment. He describes that moment humbly.
 
“I was the subject and then I became the object for Kṛṣṇa. I was captured.”
 
What is described here is the shift of consciousness at the moment of liberation or enlightenment where one is impelled and inspired to take oneself out of the center, where one finally sees oneself fully as the object for God’s pleasure. When he mentions “captured” the term is used in the sense that out of intense attraction and affection for Kṛṣṇa one moves helplessly, but happily, according to His will. Such joyful, dependence is in fact the template for any real love, for without being impelled to follow the desires of a worthy other, without putting someone else in the center, what is the question of love?
 
So that is the challenge of bhakti and I accepted that challenge of darśana in a bit of a unique way. I sit every morning in Govardhana for my chanting directly facing Govardhana Hill. Today, I consciously tried not to view the sacred mount as an object of my vision. Rather I viewed Govardhana as the subject or center and myself on His periphery as an object for His pleasure. Of course, this can’t be done artificially, but just the concept and the attempt to be seen by God, rather to see or enjoy God really soothed my heart. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta thus summed up the essence of darśana:
 
“Don’t try to see God, but act in a way that God wants to see you.”
 
 
* I have only paraphrased Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta’s statement from memory.
 
 

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