The Sanskrit language is rich in words to communicate ideas about spiritual life, yoga, and God realization. This dictionary, appearing by installments in BACK TO GODHEAD, focuses upon the most important of these words (and, occasionally, upon relevant English terms) andexplains what they mean.
Cit—We learn from the Upanisads that the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has a multitude of varied potencies at His command.
Basically, we can understand His potencies under three headings—material, spiritual, and marginal. Through His material potency, the Lord manifests the material world. Through the spiritual potency He manifests the spiritual world. And through the marginal potency He manifests you, me, and all other living beings, who are called marginal because we may live in either world, according to what we desire.
Of these three, the spiritual potency is also called the cit potency.
This spiritual potency has three further divisions—the Lord’s potency of eternality,His potency of knowledge, and His potency of bliss. The word cit is used again asthe name for the potency of knowledge.
In this context, we often hear the Absolute Truth described as sac-cid-ananda, meaning eternal (sat), full of knowledge (cit), and full of bliss (ananda). The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the supreme form of eternity, knowledge, and bliss. And since all living beings are part of Him, they are meant to share in these qualities. But to do so they must revive their natural relationship with the Lord, and this is the ultimate goal of all yoga.
Cosmic consciousness—This is a vague term that generally refers to supernatural or expanded awareness.
From the ancient Vedic literature we get a much more precise terminology and understanding of expanded consciousness. The Vedas teach that in expanded consciousness one realizes the Absolute Truth in three phases. First one realizes Brahman, or the impersonal, all-pervasive aspect of God. Thus one sees that He permeates the cosmos by His energy.
In the second stage of awareness, one comes to know the Paramatma, or the localized feature of God in one’s own heart and the hearts of all creatures.
And in the final stage one knows Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Bhagavan realization includes the awareness of Brahman and Paramatma. So one who realizes Bhagavan, or Krsna, achieves the ultimate stage of awareness, the ultimate cosmic consciousness.
Cow—The Vedic culture esteems the cow because she provides milk, necessary to nourish human beings. Children, after being weaned from their mother’s breast, are given cow’s milk, and they grow up depending on mother cow for nourishment. Man can more than amply meet his nutritional needs by eating such harmless foods as fruits, nuts, grains, beans, vegetables, and milk. Therefore one who kills cows to eat their flesh commits an unwarranted act of violence. According to the law of karma, the cosmic law of cause and effect, many of the present problems of society come from abuse of the cow and other innocent animals.
The bull also is important to a Krsna conscious culture. In an agrarian society aloof from the “advancement” of technology, oxen labor to help produce grains. And the manure of the cow and bull fertilize the fields. So in an era of exorbitant oil prices, the cow provides a solid economic alternative to gas-guzzling farm machinery and oil-based fertilizers.
Because of the cow’s good qualities, the followers of the Vedic culture protect her and regard her as a symbol of religion. When the cow and bull are properly protected, human society naturally flourishes—both materially and spiritually.
The idea that India could solve her food problems if only the Indian people would eat cow meat is an ignorant superstition. Fattening cows with grain to eat meat is wasteful—you get more on your plate by eating the grain directly. And now even the American government is saying that beefeating may be bad for your health.
The scorn for Indians who supposedly worship the “sacred cow” is a Western prejudice, typical of those who deride what they don’t understand. Supposedly, Indians worship the cow because they think it might be one of their ancestors reincarnated. In fact, the scriptures of India teach respect for every form of life. The doctrine of reincarnation holds that every creature is a spiritual soul that lives in one material body after another. And all life is sacred, not just the life of the cow. Yet even Westerners who pay to kill their own human children in the womb mock the “primitive” Indians for honoring the cow.
The milk-giving cows sacred to the Indians are far more valuable than the sacred cows of Western prejudice.