His presence is prakata for some time, and then he becomes aprakata. A spiritual master’s influence on the disciple, his teachings and his revelation of knowledge can continue even after he has become aprakata. There have also been instances, where a spiritual master makes arrangements for his ongoing presence and for his influence to continue. For instance, can we say that Jesus’ influence is not there now? These are spiritual personalities, whose influence on human society will continue to prevail even after they are gone. They manifest in different forms to impart spiritual knowledge in society.
Is vairagya, renunciation, important for bhakti, devotion?
Vairagya is essential for spiritual knowledge. But for that, you have to know what is vairagya. The subject has been covered extensively in the Bhagwad Gita. At the end of the Gita, Arjuna says: Nasto mohah smrtir labdha tvat-prasadan mayacyuta – ‘Now my ignorance is gone and all my doubts are cleared by your mercy. And now I am ready to act.
With this knowledge is Arjuna heading to the forest or to the mountains? No, he becomes a good warrior, fights and wins back the kingdom, stays in the palace and assists his brothers in administering it. Usually people think vairagya means one has to give up everything and go to a forest. Prabhupada gave an example: A man stands in front of the Reserve Bank and says that he is giving up all the crores of rupees in the bank’s vaults… what is he giving up? The money is not his. Vairagya is the realisation that whatever you possess belongs to Krishna, and you are only taking care of those possessions and using as much as is required in the service of God. That new perspective is vairagya. When you think that you have to renounce everything and go to the forest, it’s phalgu vairagya, false renunciation. Sometimes, feelings of guilt and being irresponsible occur because of false notions of renunciation and how to practise that.
Does a soul exist eternally? Do we have the power to change it?
If the soul terminates, one dies. So the body is different from the soul. Soul is the one that keeps taking different bodies. When the soul comes to its natural state, it does not have to take any more bodies and suffer. We are trying to come to the
natural state of the soul. Terminating the succession of bodies is in your control, but termination of the soul itself is not in your control. It is one of the characteristics of the soul, that it will live eternally.
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