(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 28 July 2013, Radhadesh, Belgium, Caitanya Caritamrta Madhya-lila 22.26)
Question: In the pastime where Lord Caitanya was saying to Advaita Acarya that he has won over Advaita because he was seeing the Deity constantly and Advaita Acarya was not (as Advaita was turning his back while circumambulating the Deity of Jagannatha), there is also an instruction from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur that we come to the temple not to see the Deity but to be seen by the Deity. How do we reconcile this?
I think that all these statements are true. We come to be seen by the Deity; in other words, it is more important that we come in a mood of looking for mercy and not in the mood of trying to enjoy the Lord, “I enjoy looking at Krsna so much!” Of course, the enjoyment comes naturally but the focus should not be I am coming to enjoy the Lord but I am coming to beg.
“I am a poor man, I have nothing,” as Narottam das Thakur says, “I am just a beggar who is coming here to beg for the mercy of the Lord.” So the statement of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta can be seen in the light of this mood of Narottam, of going as a beggar.
The statement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is in line with the experience of Gopa Kumar who travelled throughout the universe and came to Tapo Loka, the residence of the four Kumaras. That place was full of sages and they were all meditating. Then Gopa Kumar expressed his desire to see the Lord but the sages said, ‘Why do you want to see the Lord? Seeing is actually something that takes place in the mind. The eye is just catching the image, sending the signal to the mind and so on… So, seeing is really happening in the mind. So just meditate! Why you want to see?’
But Gopa Kumar could not explain it, he said that somehow or other, he was not satisfied. He still wanted to see the Lord. It is said that when the devotee becomes self realized, then all his senses become awakened. Just like when Narada Muni became self realized, all his senses were simultaneously awakened: he was seeing the Lord, he was smelling the scent of the Lord’s lotus feet and the incense… all his senses were perceiving the Lord simultaneously and each of his senses was competing with the other for prominence in his consciousness! The ecstatic smell was overwhelming him, the ecstatic sound of the conchshell just made him forget everything and yet the sight of the Lord overtook his mind.
Therefore, we understand that the vaisnavas in the liberated state, do want to see the Lord. In the conditioned state, when we approach the Lord, that statement of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta applies – it is important that we focus more on the Lord seeing us than us seeing the Lord, “Oh, I am looking at Krsna, oh how nice is Krsna!”
No! Krsna is looking at me and what is he seeing? He is seeing a fallen, conditioned soul; he is seeing a sinner – what I am doing about it? He is seeing a beggar. But in the liberated state, we want to drink in more and more about the Lord through all our senses. Therefore, the statement of Lord Caitanya from Caitanya Bhagavata is speaking about the liberated state.