Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: In Hegel’s philosophy, truth progresses through thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. The truth moves in a crooked way. In the philosophy of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the word vilāsa means “playful movement.” You may take it to mean that the Absolute is absorbed in play. And that is expressed through crookedness. Aher iva gatiḥ premnaḥ svabhāva-kuṭilā bhavet: A serpent moves in a crooked way; similarly, the movements of the Absolute are not straight, but crooked. Vilāsa, or the conception of līlā - the divine pastimes of the Lord – is something like that. This is similar to Hegel’s opinion in which the truth develops in a crooked way through thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. There is thesis, then its opposite, and then again they unify and create a new thesis. Then again antithesis, and again a greater harmony in synthesis. In this way truth is dynamic; it develops and makes progress. Hegel was the deepest thinker among the Western philosophers. Of course, other German scholars like Max Muller were also deep thinkers. In fact, Germany had such great appreciation and fondness for Indian culture that certain ancient books that can no longer be found in India may still be found in Germany. The Germans were never the colonial masters of India, but still they were extremely inquisitive to know about the cultural books of India. In spite of the war, many rare, ancient Indian books that can no longer be found in India are still safely preserved in Germany.
Student: I had a question regarding the philosophy of Berkeley. According to Berkeley the world is in the mind. It seems that the Berkeley theory tends to negate the existence of this world. It tends to argue against any type of reality.
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: But Hegel has come to relieve Berkeley somewhat. Someone may challenge Berkeley: “I may think that there is a hundred dollars in my pocket – but if I search my pocket, will I find it there?” Hegel says that it must be there somewhere in the Universal Mind. That is Hegel’s standpoint.
Student: Then it is present somewhere.
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: And that wave comes gradually. This was my argument regarding Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākur’s Jaiva Dharma. Have you read that book?
Student: No, I’m not familiar with that book.
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: In that novel, the characters who speak on spiritual life are apparently imaginary. The different persons in that book – Brajanātha, the Bābāji, and others – seem to be imaginary characters discussing spiritual life. But I once explained that what is in Bhaktivinode Ṭhākur’s mind – what he has written in Jaiva Dharma is not imagination. At one time or other, the persons and events he mentions must have existed, and these things will again have to come into existence. Do you follow?
Student: I’m not sure.
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: What Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākur saw in his mind must exist somewhere in this world, sometime in the future, or sometime in the past. That very thing he describes in an apparently fictional way actually existed. Let me give you an example. When I speak, the sound moves at a certain speed. That sound can be heard later in another place. The same is true in the case of light, isn’t it?
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: So Śrī Caitanyadeva, with his divine sound, chanted here and performed saṅkīrtana. He preached and the velocity of that divine wave is still going on. And now in some place in a universe, it may be found. Do you follow? Am I clear?
Student: I think so.
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: The velocity of that light is going on; it is not lost. In the same way, the sounds I am now pronouncing are not lost; they are traveling for some distance through time and space. Whatever I see – that wave of light – is also traveling. The radio broadcasts from World War II – that war period, the war vision – is also there in space somewhere, vibrating at a certain rate. That vibration was once here, but now it somewhere else. It is floating in some plane of reality in time and space. If I throw a flower into the waters of the Ganges, then it is carried away by the current. If I can move with more speed than the current, I can find that flower somewhere else far away in the river. So the velocity of light eyesight velocity – moves 186,000 miles in a second. If it is possible to move faster than the speed of light, then we can overtake the wave of visual events that are carried by that light. It is possible.
In a similar way, what exists in the plane of imagination now must have existed in reality at some time in the past or future, but it is now found somewhere else. It is said that the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa move from one universe to the next in the same way that the sun moves from one time zone to the next. Now morning is here; five minutes from now, sunrise and morning will take place somewhere else. In this way, it is always sunrise somewhere. Here or there; the rising sun is to be found somewhere on the Earth. If we can move at the speed of the sun, then for us it will always be sunrise.
What came within the mind of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākur, what he may have described in an apparently fictional way, must exist somewhere in the plane of reality, in the past or in the future. It is reality, not imagination.
Everything is real. It is not imagination. What I see in my dreams is now false. But in some former lifetime, in my past I experienced that reality. I had that sort of vision, and that has come to me now as a dream. It was a fact, and only now is it a dream.
What is in the mind may be abstract to us, but in the Universal Mind, everything is concrete. Whatever exists within the plane of imagination must be, and can be traced somewhere.