We must know the present need of human society. And what is that need? Human society is no longer bounded by geographical limits to particular countries or communities. Human society is broader than in the Middle Ages, and the world tendency is toward one state or one human society. The ideals of spiritual communism, according to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, are based more or less on the oneness of the entire human society, nay, on the entire energy of living beings. The need is felt by great thinkers to make this a successful ideology. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam will fill this need in human society. It begins, therefore, with the aphorism of Vedānta philosophy (janmādy asya yataḥ) to establish the ideal of a common cause.
Human society, at the present moment, is not in the darkness of oblivion. It has made rapid progress in the field of material comforts, education and economic development throughout the entire world. But there is a pinprick somehwere in the social body at large, and therefore there are large-scale quarrels, even over less important issues. There is need of a clue as to how humanity can become one in peace, friendship and prosperity with a common cause. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam will fill this need, for it is a cultural presentation for the re-spiritualization of the entire human society.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam should be introduced also in the schools and colleges, for it is recommended by the great student devotee Prahlāda Mahārāja in order to change the demonic face of society.
kaumāra ācaret prājño dharmān bhāgavatān iha
durlabhaṁ mānuṣaṁ janma tad apy adhruvam arthadam
Disparity in human society is due to lack of principles in a godless civilization. There is God, or the Almighty One, from whom everything emanates, by whom everything is maintained and in whom everything is merged to rest. Material science has tried to find the ultimate source of creation very insufficiently, but it is a fact that there is one ultimate source of everything that be. This ultimate source is explained rationally and authoritatively in the beautiful Bhāgavatam or Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the transcendental science not only for knowing the ultimate source of everything but also for knowing our relation with Him and our duty towards perfection of the human society on the basis of this perfect knowledge. It is powerful reading matter in the Sanskrit language, and it is now rendered into English elaborately so that simply by a careful reading one will know God perfectly well, so much so that the reader will be sufficiently educated to defend himself from the onslaught of atheists. Over and above this, the reader will be able to convert others to accept God as a concrete principle.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam begins with the definition of the ultimate source. It is a bona fide commentary on the Vedānta-sūtra by the same author, Śrīla Vyāsadeva, and gradually it develops into nine cantos up to .the highest state of God realization. The only qualification one needs to study this great book of transcendental knowledge is to proceed step by step cautiously and not jump forward haphazardly like with an ordinary book. It should be gone through chapter by chapter, one after another. The reading matter is so arranged with its original Sanskrit text, its English transliteration, , translation and purports so that one is sure to become a God realized soul at the end of finishing the first nine cantos.
The Tenth Canto is distinct from the first nine cantos, because it deals directly with the transcendental activities of the Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa. One will be unable to capture the effects of the Tenth Canto without going through the first nine cantos. The book is complete in twelve cantos, each independent, but it is good for all to read them in small installments one after another.
I must admit my frailties in presenting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, but still I am hopeful of its good reception by the thinkers and leaders of society on the strength of the following statement of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
yasmin pratiślokam abaddhavaty api
nāmāny anantasya yaśo ‘ṅkitāni yac
chṛṇvanti gāyanti gṛṇanti sādhavaḥ
"On the other hand, that literature which is full with descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, form and pastimes of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a transcendental creation meant to bring about a revolution in the impious life of a misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though irregularly composed, are heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest."
Om Tat Sat.
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Dated at Delhi December 15, 1962
The conception of God and the conception of Absolute Truth are not on the same level. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam hits on the target of the Absolute Truth. The conception of God indicates the controller, whereas the conception of the Absolute Truth indicates the summum bonum or the ultimate source of all energies. There is no difference of opinion about the personal feature of God as the controller because a controller cannot be impersonal. Of course modern government, especially democratic government, is impersonal to some extent, but ultimately the chief executive head is a person, and the impersonal feature of government is subordinate to the personal feature. So without a doubt whenever we refer to control over others we must admit the existence of a personal feature. Because there are different controllers for different managerial positions, there may be many small gods. According to the Bhagavad-gītā. any controller who has some specific extraordinary power is called a vibhūtimat sattva, or controller empowered by the Lord. There are many vibhūtimat sattvas, controllers or gods with various specific powers, but the Absolute Truth is one without a second. This Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam designates the Absolute Truth or the summum bonum as the param satyam.
The author of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Śrīla Vyāsadeva, first offers his respectful obeisances unto the param satyam (Absolute Truth), and because the param satyam is the ultimate source of all energies, the param satyam is the Supreme Person. The gods or the controllers are undoubtedly persons, but the param satyam from whom the gods derive powers of control is the Supreme Person. The Sanskrit word īśvara (controller) conveys the import of God, but the Supreme Person is called the param-eśvara, or the supreme īśvara. The Supreme Person or parameśvara is the supreme conscious personality, and because He does not derive any power from any other source, He is supremely independent. In the Vedic literatures Brahmā is described as the supreme god or the head of all other gods like Indra, Candra, Varuṇa, etc., but the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam confirms that even Brahmā is not independent as far as his power and knowledge are concerned. He received knowledge in the form of the Vedas from the Supreme Person who resides within the heart of every living being. That Supreme Personality knows everything directly and indirectly. Individual infinitesimal persons, who are parts and parcels of the Supreme Personality, may know directly and indirectly everything about their bodies or external features, but the Supreme Personality knows everything about both His external and internal features.
The words janmādy asya suggest that the source of all production, maintenance or destruction is the same supreme conscious person. Even in our present experience we can know that nothing is generated from inert matter, but inert matter can be generated from the living entity. For instance, by contact with the living entity, the material body develops into a working machine. Men with a poor fund of knowledge mistake the bodily machinery to be the living being, but the fact is that the living being is the basis of the bodily machine. The bodily machine is useless as soon as the living spark is away from it. Similarly, the original source of all material energy is the Supreme Person. This fact is expressed in all the Vedic literatures, and all the exponents of spiritual science have accepted this truth. The living force is called Brahman, and one of the greatest ācāryas (teachers), namely Śrīpāda Saṅkarācārya, has preached that Brahman is substance whereas the cosmic world is category. The original source of all energies is the living force, and He is logically accepted as the Supreme Person. He is therefore conscious of everything past, present and future, and also of each and every corner of His manifestations, both material and spiritual. An imperfect living being does not even know what is happening within his own personal body. He eats his food but does not know how this food is transformed into energy or how it sustains his body. When a living being is perfect, he is aware of everything that happens, and since the Supreme Person is all-perfect, it is quite natural that He knows everything in all detail. Consequently the perfect personality is addressed in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam as Vāsudeva, or one who lives everywhere in full consciousness and in full possession of His complete energy. All of this is clearly explained in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and the reader has ample opportunity to study this critically.
In the modern age Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu preached the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam by practical demonstration. It is easier to penetrate into the topics of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam through the medium of Śrī Caitanya’s causeless mercy. Therefore a short sketch of His life and precepts is inserted herein to help the reader understand the real merit of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
It is imperative that one learn the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam from the person Bhāgavatam. The person Bhāgavatam is one whose very life is Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in practice. Since Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the Absolute Personality of Godhead, He is both Bhagavān and Bhāgavatam in person and in sound. Therefore His process of approaching the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is practical for all the people of the world. It was His wish that the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam be preached in every nook and corner of the world by those who happened to take their birth in India.
The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the science of Kṛṣṇa, the Absolute Personality of Godhead of whom we have preliminary information from the text of the Bhagavad-gītā. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has said that anyone, regardless of what he is, who is well versed in the science of Kṛṣṇa (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Bhagavad-gītā) can become an authorized preacher or preceptor in the science of Kṛṣṇa.
There is a need for the science of Kṛṣṇa in human society for the good of all suffering humanity of the world, and we simply request the leaders of all nations to pick up this science of Kṛṣṇa for their own good, for the good of society and for the good of all the world’s people.
A SHORT SKETCH OF THE LIFE AND TEACHINGS OF LORD CAITANYA, THE PREACHER OF ŚRĪMAD-BHĀGAVATAM
Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the great apostle of love of God and the father of the congregational chanting of the holy name of the Lord, advented Himself at Śrīdhāma Māyāpura, a quarter in the city of Navadvīpa in Bengal, on the Phālguni Pūrṇimā evening in the year 1407 Śakabda (corresponding to February 1486 by the Christian calendar).
His father, Śrī Jagannātha Miśra, a learned brāhmaṇa from the district of Sylhet, came to Navadvīpa as a student because at that time Navadvīpa was considered to be the center of education and culture. He domiciled on the banks of the Ganges after marrying Śrīmatī Śacīdevī, a daughter of Śrīla Nīlāmbara Cakravartī, the great learned scholar of Navadvīpa.
Jagannātha Miśra had a number of daughters by his wife Śrīmatī Śacīdevī, and most of them expired at an early age. Two surviving sons, Śrī Viśvarūpa and Viśvambhara, became at last the object of their paternal affection. The tenth and youngest son, who was named Viśvambhara, later became known as Nimāi Paṇḍit and then, after accepting the renounced order of life, Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu exhibited His transcendental activities for forty-eight years and then disappeared in the year 1455 Śakabda at Purī.
For His first twenty-four years He remained at Navadvīpa as a student and householder. His first wife was Śrīmatī Lakṣmīpriyā, who died at an early age when the Lord was away from home. When He returned from East Bengal He was requested by His mother to accept a second wife, and He agreed. His second wife was Śrīmatī Viṣṇupriyā Devī, who bore the separation of the Lord throughout her life because the Lord took the order of sannyāsa at the age of twenty-four when Śrīmatī Viṣṇupriyā was barely sixteen years old.
After taking sannyāsa, the Lord made His headquarters at Jagannātha Purī due to the request of His mother, Śrīmatī Śacīdevī The Lord remained for twenty-four years at Purī. For six years of this time He travelled continuously all over India (and especially throughout southern India) preaching the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
Lord Caitanya not only preached the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam but propagated the teaching of the Bhagavad-gītā as well in the most practical way. In the Bhagavad-gītā Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is depicted as the Absolute Personality of Godhead, and His last teachings in that great book of transcendental knowledge instruct that one should give up all the modes of religious activities and accept Him (Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa) as the only worshipable Lord. The Lord then assured that all His devotees would be protected from all sorts of sinful acts and that for them there would be no cause for anxiety.
Unfortunately, despite Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s direct order and the teachings of the Bhagavad-gītā, less intelligent people misunderstand Him to be nothing but a great historical personality, and thus they cannot accept Him as the original Personality of Godhead. Such men with a poor fund of knowledge are misled by many nondevotees. Thus the teachings of the Bhagavad-gītā were misinterpreted even by great scholars. After the disappearance of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa there were hundreds of commentaries on the Bhagavad-gītā by many erudite scholars, and almost every one of them was motivated by self-interest.
Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the selfsame Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. This time, however, He appeared as a great devotee of the Lord in order to preach to the people in general, as well as to religionists and philosophers, about the transcendental position of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the primeval Lord and the cause of all causes. The essence of His preaching is that Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who appeared at Vrajabhūmi (Vṛndāvana) as the son of the King of Vraja (Nanda Mahārāja), is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and is therefore worshipable by all. Vṛndāvana-dhāma is nondifferent from the Lord because the name, fame, form and place where the Lord manifests Himself are all identical with the Lord as absolute knowledge. Therefore Vṛndāvana-dhāma is as worshipable as the Lord. The highest form of transcendental worship of the Lord was exhibited by the damsels of Vrajabhūmi in the form of pure affection for the Lord, and Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu recommends this process as the most excellent mode of worship. He accepts the Śrīmad-Bhāgavata Purāṇa as the spotless literature for understanding the Lord, and He preached that the ultimate goal of life for all human beings is to attain the stage of premā or love of God.
Many devotees of Lord Caitanya like Śrīla Vṛndāvana-dāsa Ṭhākur, Śrī Locanadāsa Ṭhākur, Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, Śrī Kavikarṇapūra, Śrī Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī, Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī, Śrī Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī, Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, Śrī Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī and in this latter age within two hundred years, Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī, Śrī Baladeva Vidyābhūṣana, Śrī Śyāmānanda Gosvāmī, Śrī Narottama-dāsa Ṭhākur, Śrī Bhaktivinode Ṭhākur and at last Śrī Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākur (our spiritual master) and many other great and renowned scholars and devotees of the Lord, have prepared voluminous books and literatures on the life and precepts of the Lord. Such literatures are all based on the śāstras like the Vedas, Purāṇas, Upaniṣads, Rāmāyaṇa, Mahābhārata and other histories and authentic literatures approved by the recognized ācāryas. They are unique in composition and unrivaled in presentation, and they are full of transcendental knowledge. Unfortunately the people of the world are still ignorant of them, but when these literatures, which are mostly in Sanskrit and Bengali, come to light the world and when they are presented before thinking people, then India’s glory and the message of love will overflood this morbid world, which is vainly searching after peace and prosperity by various illusory methods not approved by the ācāryas in the chain of disciplic succession.
The readers of this small description of the life and precepts of Lord Caitanya will profit much to go through the books of Śrīla Vṛndāvana-dāsa Ṭhākur (Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata) and Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta). The early life of the Lord is most fascinatingly expressed by the author of Caitanya-bhāgavata, and as far as the teachings are concerned, they are more vividly explained in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta. Now they are available to the English speaking public in our Teachings of Lord Caitanya.
The Lord’s early life was recorded by one of His chief devotees and contemporaries, namely Śrīla Murāri Gupta, a medical practitioner of that time, and the latter part of the life of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was recorded by His private secretary Śrī Dāmodara Gosvāmī or Śrīla Svarūpa Dāmodara, who was practically a constant companion of the Lord at Purī. These two devotees recorded practically all the incidences of the Lord’s activities, and later on all the books dealing with the Lord, which are above mentioned, were composed on the basis of kārcas by Śrīla Dāmodara Gosvāmī and Murāri Gupta.
So the Lord advented Himself on the Phālguni Pūrṇimā evening of 1407 Śakabda, and it was by the will of the Lord that there was a lunar eclipse on that evening. During the hours of eclipse it was the custom of the Hindu public to take bath in the Ganges or any other sacred river and chant the Vedic mantras for purification. When Lord Caitanya was born during the lunar eclipse, all India was roaring with the holy sound of Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. These sixteen names of the Lord are mentioned in many Purāṇas and Upaniṣads, and they are described as the Tāraka-Brahman-Nāma of this age. It is recommended in the śāstras that offenseless chanting of these holy names of the Lord can deliver a fallen soul from material bondage. There are innumerable names of the Lord both in India and outside, and all of them are equally good because all of them indicate the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But because these sixteen are especially recommended for this age, people should take advantage of them and follow the path of the great ācāryas who attained success by practicing the rules of the śāstras (revealed scriptures).
The simultaneous occurrence of the Lord’s appearance and the lunar eclipse indicated the distinctive mission of the Lord. This mission was to preach the importance of chanting the holy names of the Lord in this age of Kali (quarrel). In this present age quarrels take place even over trifles, and therefore the śāstras have recommended for this age a common platform for realization, namely chanting the holy names of the Lord. People can hold meetings to glorify the Lord in their respective languages and with melodious songs, and if such performances are executed in an offenseless manner, it is certain that the participants will gradually attain spiritual perfection without having to undergo more rigorous methods. At such meetings everyone, the learned and the foolish, the rich and the poor, the Hindus and the Muslims, the Englishman and the Indians, and the caṇḍāla and the brāhmaṇas, can all hear the transcendental sounds and thus cleanse the dust of material association from the mirror of the heart. To confirm the Lord’s mission all the people of the world will accept the holy name of the Lord as the common platform for the universal religion of mankind. In other words, the advent of the holy name took place along with the advent of Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
When the Lord was on the lap of His mother, He would at once stop crying as soon as the ladies surrounding Him chanted the holy names and clapped their hands. This peculiar incidence was observed by the neighbors with awe and veneration. Sometimes the young girls took pleasure in making the Lord cry and then stopping Him by chanting the holy name. So from His very childhood the Lord began to preach the importance of the holy name. In His early age Lord Śrī Caitanya was known as Nimāi. This name was given by His beloved mother because the Lord took His birth beneath a nim tree in the courtyard of His paternal house.
When the Lord was offered solid food at the age of six months in the anna-prāśana ceremony, the Lord indicated His future activities. At this time it was customary to offer the child both coins and books in order to get some indication of the future tendencies of the child. The Lord was offered on one side coins and on the other the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The Lord accepted the Bhāgavatam instead of the coins.
When He was a mere baby crawling in the yard, one day a snake appeared before Him, and the Lord began to play with it. All the members of the house were struck with fear and awe, but after a little while the snake went away, and the baby was taken away by His mother. Once He was stolen by a thief who intended to steal His ornaments, but the Lord took a pleasure trip on the shoulder of the bewildered thief who was searching for a solitary place in order to rob the baby. It so happened that the thief, wandering hither and thither, finally arrived just before the house of Jagannātha Miśra and, being afraid of being caught, dropped the baby at once. Of course the anxious parents and relatives were glad to see the lost child.
Once a pilgrim brāhmaṇa was received at the house of Jagannātha Miśra, and when he was offering food to the Godhead, the Lord appeared before him and partook of the prepared food. The eatables had to be rejected because the child touched them, and so the brāhmaṇa had to make another preparation. The next time the same thing happened, and when this happened repeatedly for the third time, the baby was finally put to bed. At about twelve at night when all the members of the house were fast asleep within their closed rooms, the pilgrim brāhmaṇa offered his specially prepared foods to the Deity, and, in the same way, the baby Lord appeared before the pilgrim and spoiled his offerings. The brāhmaṇa then began to cry, but since everyone was fast asleep, no one could hear him. At that time the baby Lord appeared before the fortunate brāhmaṇa and disclosed His identity as Kṛṣṇa Himself. The brāhmaṇa was forbidden to disclose this incidence, and the baby returned to the lap of His mother.
There are many similar incidences in His childhood. As a naughty boy He sometimes used to tease the orthodox brāhmaṇas who used to bathe in the Ganges. When the brāhmaṇas complained to His father that He was splashing them with water instead of attending school, the Lord suddenly appeared before His father as though just coming from school with all His school clothes and books. At the bathing ghat He also used to play jokes on the neighboring girls who engaged in worshiping Śiva in hopes of getting good husbands. This is a common practice amongst unmarried girls in Hindu families. While they were engaged in such worship, the Lord naughtily appeared before them and said, "My dear sisters, please give Me all the offerings you have just brought for Lord Śiva. Lord Śiva is My devotee, and Pārvatī is My maidservant. If you worship Me, then Lord Śiva and all the other demigods will be more satisfied." Some of them refused to obey the naughty Lord, and He would curse them that due to their refusal they would be married to old men who had seven children by their previous wives. Out of fear and sometimes out of love the girls would also offer Him various goods, and then the Lord would bless them and as sure them that they would have very good young husbands and that they would be mothers of dozens of children. The blessings would enliven the girls, but they used often to complain of these incidences to their mothers.
In this way the Lord passed His early childhood. When He was just sixteen years old He started His own catuṣpāṭhī (village school conducted by a learned brāhmaṇa). In this school He would simply explain Kṛṣṇa, even in readings of grammar. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, in order to please the Lord, later composed a grammar in Sanskrit, in which all the rules of grammar were explained with examples that used the holy names of the Lord. This grammar is still current. It is known as Hari-nāmāmṛta-vyākaraṇa and is prescribed in the syllabus of schools in Bengal.
During this time a great Kashmir scholar named Keśava Kāśmīrī came to Navadvīpa to hold discussions on the śāstras. The Kashmir paṇḍit was a champion scholar, and he had travelled to all places of learning in India. Finally he came to Navadvīpa to contest the learned paṇḍits there. The paṇḍits of Navadvīpa decided to match Nimāi Paṇḍit (Lord Caitanya) with the Kashmir Paṇḍit, thinking that if Nimāi Paṇḍit were defeated, they would have another chance to debate with the scholar, for Nimāi Paṇḍit was only a boy. And if the Kashmir Paṇḍit were defeated, then they would even be more glorified because people would proclaim that a mere boy of Navadvīpa defeated a champion scholar who was famous throughout India. It so happened that Nimāi Paṇḍit met Keśava Kāśmīrī while strolling on the banks of the Ganges. The Lord requested him to compose a Sanskrit verse in praise of the Ganges, and the Paṇḍit within a short time composed a hundred ślokas, reciting the verses like a storm and showing the strength of his vast learning. Nimāi Paṇḍit at once memorized all the ślokas without an error. He quoted the sixty-fourth śloka and pointed out certain rhetorical and literary irregularities. He particularly questioned the Paṇḍit’s use of the words bhavānī-bhartuḥ. He pointed out that the use of these two words was redundant. Bhavānī means the wife of Śiva, and who else can be her bhartā, or husband. He also pointed out several other discrepancies, and the Kashmir Paṇḍit was struck with wonder. He was astonished that a mere student of grammar could point out the literary mistakes of an erudite scholar. Although this matter was ended prior to any public meeting, the news spread like wildfire all over Navadvīpa. But finally Keśava Kāśmīrī was ordered in a dream by Sarasvatī, the goddess of learning, to submit to the Lord, and thus the Kashmir Paṇḍit became a follower of the Lord.
The Lord was then married with great pomp and gaiety, and at this time He began to preach the congregational chanting of the holy name of the Lord at Navadvīpa. Some of the brāhmaṇas became envious of His popularity, and they put many hindrances on His path. They were so jealous that they finally took the matter before the Muslim magistrate at Navadvīpa. Bengal was then governed by Pathans, and the governor of the province was Nawab Hussain Shah. The Muslim magistrate of Navadvīpa took up the complaints of the brāhmaṇas seriously, and at first he warned the followers of Nimāi Paṇḍit not to chant loudly the name of Hari. But Lord Caitanya asked His followers to disobey the orders of the Kazi, and they went on with their saṅkīrtana (chanting) party as usual. The magistrate then sent constables who interrupted a saṅkīrtana and broke some of the mṛdaṅgas (drums). When Nimāi Paṇḍit heard of this incidence He organized a party for civil disobedience. He is the pioneer of the civil disobedience movement in India for the right cause. He organized a procession of 100,000 men with thousands of mṛdaṅgas and karatālas (hand cymbals), and this procession passed over the roads of Navadvīpa in defiance of the Kazi who issued the order. Finally the procession reached the house of the Kazi, who went upstairs out of fear of the masses. The great crowds assembled at the Kazi’s house displayed a violent temper, but the Lord asked them to be peaceful. At this time the Kazi came down and tried to pacify the Lord by addressing Him as his nephew. He pointed out that Nīlāmbara Cakravartī referred to him as an uncle, and consequently, Śrīmatī Śacīdevī, the mother of Nimāi Paṇḍit, was his sister. He asked the Lord whether his sister’s son could be angry at His maternal uncle, and the Lord replied that since the Kazi was His maternal uncle he should receive his nephew well at his home. In this way the issue was mitigated, and the two learned scholars began a long discussion on the Koran and Hindu śāstras. The Lord raised the question of cow killing, and the Kazi properly answered Him by referring to the Koran. In turn the Kazi also questioned the Lord about cow sacrifice in the Vedas, and the Lord replied that such sacrifice as mentioned in the Vedas is not actually cow killing. In that sacrifice an old bull or cow was sacrificed for the sake of receiving a fresh younger life by the power of Vedic mantras. But in the Kali-yuga such cow sacrifices are forbidden because there are no qualified brāhmaṇas capable of conducting such a sacrifice. In fact, in Kali-yuga all yajñas (sacrifices) are forbidden because they are useless attempts by foolish men. In Kali-yuga only the saṅkīrtana yajña is recommended for all practical purposes. Speaking in this way, the Lord finally convinced the Kazi, who became the Lord’s follower. The Kazi thenceforth declared that no one should hinder the saṅkīrtana movement which was started by the Lord, and the Kazi left this order in his will for the sake of progeny. The Kazi’s tomb still exists in the area of Navadvīpa, and Hindu pilgrims go there to show their respects. The Kazi’s descendants are residents, and they never objected to saṅkīrtana, even during the Hindu Muslim riot days.
This incidence shows clearly that the Lord was not a so-called timid Vaiṣṇava. A Vaiṣṇava is a fearless devotee of the Lord, and for the right cause he can take any step suitable for the purpose. Arjuna was also a Vaiṣṇava devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa, and he fought valiantly for the satisfaction of the Lord. Similarly, Vajrāṅgajī, or Hanumān, was also a devotee of Lord Rāma, and he gave lessons to the nondevotee party of Rāvaṇa. The principles of Vaiṣṇavism are to satisfy the Lord by all means. A Vaiṣṇava is by nature a nonviolent, peaceful living being, and he has all the good qualities of God, but when the nondevotee blasphemes the Lord or His devotee, the Vaiṣṇava never tolerates such impudency.
After this incidence the Lord began to preach and propagate His Bhāgavata-dharma, or saṅkīrtana movement, more vigorously, and whoever stood against this propagation of the yuga-dharma, or duty of the age, was properly punished by various types of chastisement. Two brāhmaṇa gentlemen named Chapala and Gopāla, who also happened to be maternal uncles of the Lord, were inflicted with leprosy by way of chastisement, and later, when they were repentant, they were accepted by the Lord. In the course of His preaching work, He used to send daily all His followers, including Śrīla Nityānanda Prabhu and Ṭhākur Haridāsa, two chief whips of His party, from door to door to preach the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. All of Navadvīpa was surcharged with His saṅkīrtana movement, and His head quarters were situated at the house of Śrīvāsa Ṭhākur and Śrī Advaita Prabhu, two of His chief householder disciples. These two learned heads of the brāhmaṇa community were the most ardent supporters of Lord Caitanya’s movement. Śrī Advaita Prabhu was the chief cause for the advent of the Lord. When Advaita Prabhu saw that the total human society was full of materialistic activities and devoid of devotional service, which alone could save mankind from the threefold miseries of material existence, he, out of his causeless compassion for the age-worn human society, prayed fervently for the incarnation of the Lord and continually worshiped the Lord with the water of the Ganges and the leaves of the holy tulasī tree. As far as preaching work in the saṅkīrtana movement was concerned, everyone was expected to do his daily share according to the order of the Lord.
Once Nityānanda Prabhu and Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākur were walking down a main road, and on the way they saw a roaring crowd assembled. Upon inquiring from passers-by, they understood that two brothers, named Jagai and Madhai, were creating a public disturbance in a drunken state. They also heard that these two brothers were born in a respectable brāhmaṇa family, but because of low association they had turned into debauchees of the worst type. They were not only drunkards but also meat-eaters, woman-hunters, decoits and sinners of all description. Śrīla Nityānanda Prabhu heard all of these stories and decided that these two fallen souls must be the first to be delivered. If they were delivered from their sinful life, then the good name of Lord Caitanya would be even still more glorified. Thinking in this way, Nityānanda Prabhu and Haridāsa pushed their way through the crowd and asked the two brothers to chant the holy name of Lord Hari. The drunken brothers became enraged upon this request and attacked Nityānanda Prabhu with filthy language. Both brothers chased them a considerable distance. In the evening the report of the preaching work was submitted to the Lord, and He was glad to learn that Nityānanda and Haridāsa had attempted to deliver such a stupid pair of fellows.
The next day Nityānanda Prabhu went to see the brothers, and as soon as He approached them one of them threw a piece of earthen pot at Him. This struck Him on the forehead, and immediately blood began to flow. But Nityānanda Prabhu was so kind that instead of protesting this heinous act, He said, "It does not matter that you have thrown this stone at Me. I still request you to chant the holy name of Lord Hari."
One of the brothers, Jagai, was astonished to see this behavior of Nityānanda Prabhu, and he at once fell down at His feet and asked Him to pardon his sinful brother. When Madhai again attempted to hurt Nityānanda Prabhu, Jagai stopped him and implored him to fall down at His feet.
In the meantime the news of Nityānanda’s injury reached the Lord, who at once hurried to the spot in a fiery and angry mood. The Lord immediately invoked His Sudarśana-cakra (the Lord’s ultimate weapon, shaped like a wheel) to kill the sinners, but Nityānanda Prabhu reminded Him of His mission. The mission of the Lord was to deliver the hopelessly fallen souls of Kali-yuga, and the brothers Jagai and Madhai were typical examples of these fallen souls. Ninety percent of the population of this age resembles these brothers, despite high birth and mundane respectability. According to the verdict of the revealed scriptures, the total population of the world in this age will be of the lowest śūdra quality, or even lower. It should be noted that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu never acknowledged the stereotyped caste system by birthright; rather, He strictly followed the verdict of the śāstras in the matter of one’s svarūpa, or real identity.
When the Lord was invoking His Sudarśana-cakra and Śrīla Nityānanda Prabhu was imploring Him to forgive the two brothers, both the brothers fell down at the lotus feet of the Lord and begged His pardon for their gross behavior. The Lord was also asked by Nityānanda Prabhu to accept these repenting souls, and the Lord agreed to accept them on one condition, that they henceforward completely give up all their sinful activities and habits of debauchery. Both the brothers agreed and promised to give up all their sinful habits, and the kind Lord accepted them and did not again refer to their past misdeeds.
This is the specific kindness of Lord Caitanya. In this age no one can say that he is free from sin. It is impossible for anyone to say this. But Lord Caitanya accepts all kinds of sinful persons on the one condition that they promise not to indulge in sinful habits after being spiritually initiated by the bona fide spiritual master.
There are a number of instructive points to be observed in this incidence of the two brothers. In this Kali-yuga practically all people are of the quality of Jagai and Madhai. If they want to be relieved from the reactions of their misdeeds, they must take shelter of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu and after spiritual initiation thus refrain from those things which are prohibited in the śāstras. The prohibitory rules are dealt with in the Lord’s teachings to Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī.
During His householder life, the Lord did not display many of the miracles which are generally expected from such personalities, but He did once perform a wonderful miracle in the house of Śrīnivāsa Ṭhākur while saṅkīrtana was in full swing. He asked the devotees what they wanted to eat, and when He was informed that they wanted to eat mangos, He asked for a seed of a mango, although this fruit was out of season. When the seed was brought to Him He sowed it in the yard of Śrīnivāsa, and at once a creeper began to grow out of the seed. Within no time this creeper became a full-grown mango tree heavy with more ripened fruits than the devotees could eat. The tree remained in Śrīnivāsa’s yard, and from then on the devotees used to take as many mangos from the tree as they wanted.
The Lord had a very high estimation of the affections of the damsels of Vrajabhūmi (Vṛndāvana) for Kṛṣṇa, and in appreciation of their unalloyed service to the Lord, once Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu chanted the holy names of the gopīs (cowherd girls) instead of the names of the Lord. At this time some of His students, who were also disciples, came to see Him, and when they saw that the Lord was chanting the names of the gopīs, they were astonished. Out of sheer foolishness they asked the Lord why He was chanting the names of the gopīs and advised Him to chant the name of Kṛṣṇa. The Lord, who was in ecstasy, was thus disturbed by these foolish students. He chastised them and chased them away. The students were almost the same age as the Lord, and thus they wrongly thought of the Lord as one of their peers. They held a meeting and resolved that they would attack the Lord if He dared to punish them again in such a manner. This incidence provoked some malicious talks about the Lord on the part of the general public.
When the Lord became aware of this, He began to consider the various types of men which are found in society. He noted that especially the students, professors, fruitive workers, yogīs, nondevotees, and different types of atheists were all opposed to the devotional service of the Lord. "My mission is to deliver all the fallen souls of this age," He thought, "but if they commit offenses against Me, thinking Me to be an ordinary man, they will not benefit. If they are to begin their life of spiritual realization, they must some way or another offer obeisances unto Me." Thus the Lord decided to accept the renounced order of life (sannyāsa) because people in general were inclined to offer respects to a sannyāsī.
Five hundred years ago the condition of society was not as degraded as it is today. At that time people would show respects to a sannyāsī, and the sannyāsī was rigid in following the rules and regulations of the renounced order of life. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was not very much in favor of the renounced order of life in this age of Kali, but that was only for the reason that very few sannyāsīs in this age are able to observe the rules and regulations of sannyāsa life. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu decided to accept the order and become an ideal sannyāsī so that the general populace would show Him respect. One is duty-bound to show respect to a sannyāsī, for a sannyāsī is considered to be the master of all varṇas and āśramas.
While He was contemplating accepting the sannyāsa order, it so happened that Keśava Bhāratī, a sannyāsī of the Māyāvādī school and resident of Katwa (in Bengal), visited Navadvīpa and was invited to dine with the Lord. When Keśava Bhāratī came to His house, the Lord asked him to award Him the sannyāsa order of life. This was a matter of formality. A sannyāsa order is to be accepted from another sannyāsī. Although the Lord was independent in all respects, still, to keep up the formalities of the śāstras, He accepted the sannyāsa order from Keśava Bhāratī, although Keśava Bhāratī was not in the Vaiṣṇava sampradāya (school).
After consulting with Keśava Bhāratī, the Lord left Navadvīpa for Katwa to formally accept the sannyāsa order of life. He was accompanied by Śrīla Nityānanda Prabhu, Candraśekhara Ācārya, and Mukunda Datta. These three assisted Him in the details of the ceremony. The incidence of the Lord’s accepting the sannyāsa order is very elaborately described in the Caitanya-bhāgavata by Śrīla Vṛndāvana-dāsa Ṭhākur.
Thus at the end of His twenty-fourth year the Lord accepted the sannyāsa order of life in the month of Māgha. After accepting this order He became a full-fledged preacher of the Bhāgavata-dharma. Although He was doing the same preaching work in His householder life, when He experienced some obstacles to His preaching, He sacrificed even the comfort of His home life for the sake of the fallen souls. In His householder life His chief assistants were Śrīla Advaita Prabhu and Śrīla Śrīvāsa Ṭhākur, but after He accepted the sannyāsa order His chief assistants became Śrīla Nityānanda Prabhu, who was deputed to preach specifically in Bengal, and the six Gosvāmīs (Rūpa Gosvāmī, Sanātana Gosvāmī, Jīva Gosvāmī, Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī, and Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī), headed by Śrīla Rūpa and Sanātana, who were deputed to go to Vṛndāvana to excavate the present places of pilgrimage. The present city of Vṛndāvana and the importance of Vrajabhūmi were thus disclosed by the will of Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
The Lord, after accepting the sannyāsa order, at once wanted to start for Vṛndāvana. For three continual days He travelled in the Radha Desha (places where the Ganges does not flow). He was in full ecstasy over the idea of going to Vṛndāvana. However, Śrīla Nityānanda Prabhu diverted His path and brought Him instead to the house of Advaita Prabhu in Śāntipura. The Lord stayed at Śrī Advaita Prabhu’s house for a few days, and knowing well that the Lord was leaving His hearth and home for good, Śrī Advaita Prabhu sent his men to Navadvīpa to bring mother Śacī to have a last meeting with her son. Some unscrupulous people say that Lord Caitanya met His wife also after taking sannyāsa and offered her His wooden slipper for worship, but the authentic sources give no information about such a meeting. His mother met Him at the house of Advaita Prabhu, and when she saw her son in sannyāsa, she lamented. By way of compromise, she requested her son to make His headquarters in Purī so that she would easily be able to get information about Him. The Lord granted this last desire of His beloved mother. After this incidence the Lord started for Purī, leaving all the residents of Navadvīpa in an ocean of lamentation over His separation.
The Lord visited many important places on the way to Purī. He visited the temple of Gopīnāthajī, who had stolen condensed milk for His devotee Śrīla Mādhavendra Purī. Since then Deity Gopīnāthajī is well known as Kṣīra-cora Gopīnātha. The Lord relished this story with great pleasure. The propensity of stealing is there even in the absolute consciousness, but because this propensity is exhibited by the Absolute, it loses its perverted nature and thus becomes worshipable even by Lord Caitanya on the basis of the absolute consideration that the Lord and His stealing propensity are one and identical. This interesting story of Gopīnāthajī is vividly explained in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta by Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī.
After visiting the temple, of Kṣīra-cora Gopīnātha of Remuna at Balasore in Orissa, the Lord proceeded towards Purī and on the way visited the temple of Sākṣi Gopāla, who appeared as a witness in the matter of two brāhmaṇa devotees’ family quarrel. The Lord heard the story of Sākṣi Gopāla with great pleasure because He wanted to impress upon the atheists that the worshipable Deities in the temples approved by the great ācāryas are not idols, as alleged by men with a poor fund of knowledge. The Deity in the temple is the arcā incarnation of the Personality of Godhead, and thus the Deity is identical with the Lord in all respects. He responds to the proportion of the devotee’s affection for Him. In the story of Sākṣi Gopāla, in which there was a family misunderstanding by two devotees of the Lord, the Lord, in order to mitigate the turmoil as well as to show specific favor to His servitors, travelled from Vṛndāvana to Vidyānagara, a village in Orissa, in the form of His arcā incarnation. From there the Deity was brought to Cuttack, and thus the temple of Sākṣi Gopāla is even today visited by thousands of pilgrims on the way to Jagannātha Purī. The Lord stayed overnight there and began to proceed toward Purī. On the way, His sannyāsa rod was broken by Nityānanda Prabhu. The Lord became apparently angry with him about this and went alone to Purī, leaving His companions behind.
At Purī, when He entered the temple of Jagannātha, He became at once saturated with transcendental ecstasy and fell down on the floor of the temple unconscious. The custodians of the temple could not understand the transcendental feats of the Lord, but there was a great learned Paṇḍit named Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, who was present, and he could understand that the Lord’s losing His consciousness upon entering the Jagannātha temple was not an ordinary thing. Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, who was the chief appointed Paṇḍit in the court of the King of Orissa, Mahārāja Pratāparudra, was attracted by the youthful luster of Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and could understand that such a transcendental trance was only rarely exhibited and only then by the topmost devotees who are already on the transcendental plane in complete forgetfulness of material existence. Only a liberated soul could show such a transcendental feat, and the Bhaṭṭācārya, who was vastly learned, could understand this in the light of the transcendental literature with which he was familiar. He therefore asked the custodians of the temple not to disturb the unknown sannyāsī. He asked them to take the Lord to his home so He could be further observed in His unconscious state. The Lord was at once carried to the home of Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, who at that time had sufficient power of authority due to his being the sabhā paṇḍit or the state dean of faculty in Sanskrit literatures. The learned paṇḍit wanted to scrutinizingly test the transcendental feats of Lord Caitanya because often unscrupulous devotees imitate physical feats in order to flaunt transcendental achievements just to attract innocent people and take advantage of them. A learned scholar like the Bhaṭṭācārya can detect such imposters, and when he finds them out he at once rejects them.
In the case of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the Bhaṭṭācārya tested all the symptoms in the light of the śāstras. He tested as a scientist, not as a foolish sentimentalist. He observed the movement of the stomach, the beating of the heart and the breathing of the nostrils. He also felt the pulse of the Lord and saw that all His bodily activities were in complete suspension. When he put a small cotton swab before the nostrils, he found that there was a slight breathing as the fine fibers of cotton moved slightly. Thus he came to know that the Lord’s unconscious trance was genuine, and he began to treat Him in the prescribed fashion. But Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu could only be treated in a special way. He would only respond to the resounding of the holy names of the Lord by His devotees. This special treatment was unknown to Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya because the Lord was still unknown to him. When he saw Him for the first time in the temple, he simply took Him to be one of many pilgrims.
In the meantime the companions of the Lord, who reached the temple a little after Him, heard of the Lord’s transcendental feats and of His being carried away by the Bhaṭṭācārya. The pilgrims at the temple were still gossiping about the incident. But by chance, one of these pilgrims had met Gopīnātha Ācārya, who was known to Gadādhara Paṇḍit, and from him it was learned that the Lord was lying in an unconscious state at the residence of Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, who happened to be the brother-in-law of Gopīnātha Ācārya. All the members of the party were introduced by Gadādhara Paṇḍit to Gopīnātha Ācārya, who took them all to the house of Bhaṭṭācārya where the Lord was lying unconscious in a spiritual trance. All the members then chanted loudly the holy name of the Lord Hari as usual, and the Lord regained His consciousness. After this, Bhaṭṭācārya received all the members of the party, including Lord Nityānanda Prabhu, and asked them to become his guests of honor. The party, including the Lord, went for a bath in the sea, and the Bhaṭṭācārya arranged for their residence and meals at the house of Kāśī Miśra. Gopīnātha Ācārya, his brother-in-law, also assisted. There were some friendly talks about the Lord’s divinity between the two brothers-in-law, and in this argument Gopīnātha Ācārya, who knew the Lord before, now tried to establish the Lord as the Personality of Godhead, and the Bhaṭṭācārya tried to establish Him as one of the great devotees. Both of them argued from the angle of vision of authentic śāstras and not on the strength of sentimental vox populi. The incarnations of God are determined by authentic śāstras and not by popular votes of foolish fanatics. Lord Caitanya was an incarnation of God in fact, but foolish fanatics have proclaimed so many so-called incarnations of God in this age without referring to authentic scriptures. But Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya or Gopīnātha Ācārya did not indulge in such foolish sentimentalism; on the contrary, both of them tried to establish or reject His divinity on the strength of authentic śāstras.
Later it was disclosed that Bhaṭṭācārya also came from the Navadvīpa area, and it was understood from him that Nīlāmbara Cakravartī, the maternal grandfather of Lord Caitanya, happened to be a class fellow of the father of Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya. In that sense, the young sannyāsī Lord Caitanya evoked paternal affection from Bhaṭṭācārya. Bhaṭṭācārya was the professor of many sannyāsīs in the order of the Saṅkarācārya sampradāya, and he himself also belonged to that cult. As such, the Bhaṭṭācārya desired that the young sannyāsī Lord Caitanya also hear from him about the teachings of Vedānta.
Those who are followers of the Śaṅkara cult are generally known as Vedāntists. This does not, however, mean that Vedānta is a monopoly study of the Śaṅkara sampradāya. Vedānta is studied by all the bona fide sampradāyas, but they have their own interpretations. But those in the Śaṅkara sampradāya are generally known to be ignorant of the knowledge of the Vedāntist Vaiṣṇavas. For this reason the Bhaktivedanta title was first offered to the author by the Vaiṣṇavas.
The Lord agreed to take lessons from Bhaṭṭācārya on the Vedānta, and they sat together in the temple of Lord Jagannātha. The Bhaṭṭācārya went on speaking continually for seven days, and the Lord heard him with all attention and did not interrupt. The Lord’s silence raised some doubts in Bhaṭṭācārya’s heart, and he asked the Lord how it was that He did not ask anything or comment on his explanations of Vedānta.
The Lord posed Himself before the Bhaṭṭācārya as a foolish student and pretended that He heard the Vedānta from him because the Bhaṭṭācārya felt that this was the duty of a sannyāsī. But the Lord did not agree with his lectures. By this the Lord indicated that the so-called Vedāntists amongst the Śaṅkara sampradāya, or any other sampradāya, who do not follow the instructions of Śrīla Vyāsadeva are mechanical students of the Vedānta. They are not fully aware of that great knowledge. The explanation of the Vedānta-sūtra is given by the author himself in the text of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. One who has no knowledge of the Bhāgavatam will hardly be able to know what the Vedānta says.
The Bhaṭṭācārya, being a vastly learned man, could follow the Lord’s sarcastic remarks on the popular Vedāntist. He therefore asked Him why He did not ask about any point which He could not follow. The Bhaṭṭācārya could understand the purpose of His dead silence for the days He heard him. This shows clearly that the Lord had something else in mind; thus the Bhaṭṭācārya requested Him to disclose His mind.
Upon this, the Lord spoke as follows: "My dear sir, I can understand the meaning of the sūtras like ‘janmādy asya yataḥ,’ ‘śāstra-yonitvāt,’ and ‘athāto brahma-jijñāsā’ of the Vedānta-sūtra, but when you explain them in your own way it becomes difficult for Me to follow them. The purpose of the sūtras is already explained in them, but your explanations are covering them with something else. You do not purposely take the direct meaning of the sūtras but indirectly give your own interpretations."
The Lord thus attacked all Vedāntists who interpret the Vedānta-sūtra fashionably, according to their limited power of thinking, to serve their own purpose. Such indirect interpretations of the authentic literatures like the Vedānta are hereby condemned by the Lord.
The Lord continued: "Śrīla Vyāsadeva has summarized the direct meanings of the mantras in the Upaniṣads in the Vedānta-sūtra. Unfortunately you do not take their direct meaning. Indirectly you interpret them in a different way.
"The authority of the Vedas is unchallengeable and stands without any question of doubt. And whatever is stated in the Vedas must be accepted completely, otherwise one challenges the authority of the Vedas.
"The conchshell and cowdung are bone and stool of two living beings. But because they have been recommended by the Vedas as pure, people accept them as such because of the authority of the Vedas."
The idea is that one cannot set his imperfect reason above the authority of the Vedas. The orders of the Vedas must be obeyed as they stand without any mundane reasoning. The so-called followers of the Vedic injunction make their own interpretations of the Vedic injunctions, and thus they establish different parties and sects of the Vedic religion. Lord Buddha directly denied the authority of the Vedas, and he established his own religion. Only for this reason the Buddhist religion was not accepted by the strict followers of the Vedas. But those who are so-called followers of the Vedas are more harmful than the Buddhists. The Buddhists have the courage to deny the Vedas directly, but the so-called followers of the Vedas have no courage to deny the Vedas, although indirectly they disobey all the injunctions of the Vedas. Lord Caitanya condemned this.
The example of the conchshell and that of the cowdung given by the Lord are very much appropriate in this connection. If one argues that since cowdung is pure, the stool of a learned brāhmaṇa is still more pure, his argument will not be accepted. Cowdung is accepted, and the stool of a highly posted brāhmaṇa is rejected. The Lord continued:
"The Vedic injunctions are self-authorized, and if some mundane creature adjusts the interpretations of the Vedas, he defies their authority. It is foolish to think of oneself as more intelligent than Śrīla Vyāsadeva. He has already expressed himself in his sūtras, and there is no need of help from personalities of lesser importance. His work, the Vedānta-sūtra, is as dazzling as the midday sun, and when someone tries to give his own interpretations on the self-effulgent sunlike Vedānta-sūtra, he attempts to cover this sun with the cloud of his imagination.
"The purpose of the Vedas and Purāṇas are one and the same. They ascertain the Absolute Truth, which is greater than everything else. The Absolute Truth is ultimately realized as the Absolute Personality of Godhead with absolute controlling power. As such, the Absolute Personality of Godhead must be completely full of opulence, strength, fame, beauty, knowledge and renunciation. Yet the transcendental Personality of Godhead is astonishingly ascertained as impersonal.
"The impersonal description of the Absolute Truth in the Vedas is given to nullify the mundane conception of the absolute whole. Personal features of the Lord are completely different from all kinds of mundane features. The living entities are all individual persons, and they are all parts and parcels of the supreme whole. If the parts and parcels are individual persons, the source of their emanation must not be impersonal. He is the Supreme Person amongst all the relative persons.
"The Vedas inform us that from Him [Brahman] everything emanates, and on Him everything rests. And after annihilation, everything merges in Him only. Therefore, He is the ultimate dative, causative and accommodating cause of all causes. And all these causes cannot be attributed to an impersonal object.
"The Vedas inform us that He alone became many, and when He so desires He glances over material nature. Before He glanced over material nature there was no material cosmic creation. Therefore, His glance is not material. Material mind or senses were unborn when the Lord glanced over material nature. Thus evidence in the Vedas proves that beyond a doubt the Lord has transcendental eyes and a transcendental mind. They are not material. His impersonality therefore is a negation of His materiality, but not a denial of His transcendental personality.
"Brahman ultimately refers to the Personality of Godhead. Impersonal Brahman realization is just the negative conception of the mundane creations. Paramātmā is the localized aspect of Brahman within all kinds of material bodies. Ultimately the Supreme Brahman realization is the realization of the Personality of Godhead according to all evidence of the revealed scriptures. He is the ultimate source of Viṣṇu tattvas.
"The Purāṇas are also supplementary to the Vedas. The Vedic mantras are too difficult for an ordinary man. Women, śūdras and the so-called twice-born higher castes are unable to penetrate into the sense of the Vedas. And thus the Itihāsa or the Mahābhārata as well as the Purāṇas are made easy to explain the truths of the Vedas. In his prayers before the boy Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Brahmā said that there is no limit to the fortune of the residents of Vrajabhūmi headed by Śrī Nanda Mahārāja and Yaśodāmayī because the eternal Absolute Truth has become their intimate relative.
"The Vedic mantra maintains that the Absolute Truth has no legs and no hands and yet goes faster than all and accepts everything that is offered to Him in devotion. The latter statements definitely suggest the personal features of the Lord, although His hands and legs are distinguished from mundane hands and legs or other senses.
"Brahman is, therefore, never impersonal, but when such mantras are indirectly interpreted, it is wrongly thought that the Absolute Truth is impersonal. The Absolute Truth Personality of Godhead is full of all opulences, and therefore He has a transcendental form of full existence, knowledge and bliss. How then can one establish that the Absolute Truth is impersonal?
"Brahman, being full of opulences, is understood to have manifold energies, and all these energies are classified under three headings under the authority of Viṣṇu Purāṇa (6.7.60), which says that the transcendental energies of Lord Viṣṇu are primarily three. His spiritual energy, as well as the energy of the living entities, are classified as superior energy, whereas the material energy is an inferior one which is sprouted out of ignorance.
"The energy of the living entities is technically called kṣetrajña energy. This kṣetrajña-śakti, although equal in quality with the Lord, becomes overpowered by material energy out of ignorance and thus suffers all sorts of material miseries. In other words, the living entities are located in the marginal energy between the superior spiritual and inferior material energy, and in proportion to the living being’s contact with either the material or spiritual energies, the living entity is situated in proportionately higher and lower levels of existence.
"The Lord is beyond the inferior and marginal energies as above mentioned, and His spiritual energy is manifested in three different phases: as eternal existence, eternal bliss and eternal knowledge. As far as eternal existence is concerned, it is conducted by the sandhinī potency; similarly, bliss and knowledge are conducted by the hlādhinī and saṁvit potencies respectively. As the supreme energetic Lord, He is the supreme controller of the spiritual, marginal and material energies. And all these different types of energies are connected with the Lord in eternal devotional service.
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead is thus enjoying in His transcendental eternal form. Is it not astounding that one dares to call the Supreme Lord nonenergetic? The Lord is the controller of all energies, and the living entities are parts and parcels of one of the energies. Therefore there is a gulf of difference between the Lord and the living entities. How then can one say that the Lord and the living entities are one and the same? In the Bhagavad-gītā also the living entities are described as belonging to the superior energy of the Lord. According to the principles of intimate correlation between the energy and the energetic, both of them are non-different also. Therefore, the Lord and the living entities are nondifferent as the energy and the energetic.
"Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and ego are all inferior energies of the Lord, but the living entities are different from all as superior energy. This is the version of Bhagavad-gītā.
"The transcendental form of the Lord is eternally existent and full of transcendental bliss. How then can such a form be a product of the material mode of goodness? Anyone, therefore, who does not believe in the form of the Lord is certainly a faithless demon and as such is untouchable, a not to be seen persona non grata fit to be punished by the Plutonic king.
"The Buddhists are called atheists because they have no respect for the Vedas, but those who defy the Vedic conclusions, as above mentioned, under the pretense of being followers of the Vedas, are verily more dangerous than the Buddhists.
"Śrī Vyāsadeva very kindly compiled the Vedic knowledge in his Vedānta-sūtra, but if one hears the commentation of the Māyāvādī school (as represented by the Śaṅkara sampradāya) certainly he will be misled on the path of spiritual realization.
"The theory of emanations is the beginning subject of the Vedānta-sūtra. All the cosmic manifestations are emanations from the Absolute Personality of Godhead by His inconceivable different energies. The example of the touchstone is applicable to the theory of emanation. The touchstone can convert an unlimited quantity of iron into gold, and still the touchstone remains as it is. Similarly, the Supreme Lord can produce all manifested worlds by His inconceivable energies, and yet He is full and unchanged. He is pūrṇa [complete], and although an unlimited number of pūrṇas emanate from Him, He is still pūrṇa.
"The theory of illusion of the Māyāvāda school is advocated on the ground that the theory of emanation will cause a transformation of the Absolute Truth. If that is the case, Vyāsadeva is wrong. To avoid this, they have skillfully brought in the theory of illusion. But the world or the cosmic creation is not false, as maintained by the Māyāvāda school. It simply has no permanent existence. A nonpermanent thing cannot be called false altogether. But the conception that the material body is the self is certainly wrong.
"Praṇava [om] or the omkāra in the Vedas is the primeval hymn. This transcendental sound is identical with the form of the Lord. All the Vedic hymns are based on this praṇava omkāra. Tattvamasi is but a side word in the Vedic literatures, and therefore this word cannot be the primeval hymn of the Vedas. Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya has given more stress on the side word tattvamasi than on the primeval principle omkāra."
The Lord thus spoke on the Vedānta-sūtra and defied all the propaganda of the Māyāvāda school.*
*In our Teachings of Lord Caitanya we have more elaborately explained all these philoophical intricacies. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam clarifies them all.
The Bhaṭṭācārya tried to defend himself and his Māyāvāda school by jugglery of logic and grammar, but the Lord was able to defeat him by His forceful arguments. He affirmed that we are all related with the Personality of Godhead eternally and that devotional service is our eternal function to exchange the dealings of our relations. And the result of such exchanges is to attain premā or love of Godhead. When love of Godhead is attained, love for all other beings automatically follows because the Lord is the sum total of all living beings.
The Lord said that but for these three items—namely, eternal relation with God, exchange of dealings with Him and the attainment of love for Him—all that is instructed in the Vedas is superfluous and concocted.
The Lord further added that the Māyāvāda philosophy taught by Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya is an imaginary explanation of the Vedas, but it had to be taught by him (Śaṅkarācārya) because he was ordered to teach it by the Personality of Godhead. In the Padma Purāṇa it is stated that the Personality of Godhead ordered His Lordship Śiva to deviate the human race from Him (the Personality of Godhead.) The Personality of Godhead was to be so covered so that people would be encouraged to generate more and more population. His Lordship Śiva said to Devī: "In the Kali-yuga, I shall preach the Māyāvāda philosophy, which is nothing but clouded Buddhism, in the garb of a brāhmaṇa."‘
After hearing all these speeches of the Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the Bhaṭṭācārya was struck with wonder and awe and regarded Him in dead silence. The Lord then encouraged him with assurance that there was no cause to wonder. "I say that devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead is the highest goal of human life." He then quoted a śloka from the Bhāgavatam and assured him that even the liberated souls who are absorbed in the spirit and spiritual realization also take to the devotional service of the Lord Hari because the Personality of Godhead has such transcendental qualities that He attracts the heart of the liberated soul too.
Then the Bhaṭṭācārya desired to listen to the explanation of the "ātmārāma" śloka from the Bhāgavatam (1.7.10). The Lord first of all asked Bhaṭṭācārya to explain it, and after that He would explain it. The Bhaṭṭācārya then scholarly explained the śloka with special reference to logic. He explained the śloka in nine different ways chiefly based on logic because he was the most renowned scholar of logic of the time.
The Lord, after hearing the Bhaṭṭācārya, thanked him for the scholarly presentation of the śloka, and then, at the request of the Bhaṭṭācārya, the Lord explained the śloka in sixty-four different ways without touching the nine explanations given by the Bhaṭṭācārya.
Thus after hearing the explanation of the ātmārāma śloka from the Lord, the Bhaṭṭācārya was convinced that such a scholarly presentation is impossible for an earthly creature.*
*The complete text of the explanation given by the Lord will form a booklet itself, and therefore we have presented it in a chapter in our Teachings of Lord Caitanya.
Before this Śrī Gopīnātha Ācārya tried to convince him of the divinity of the Lord, but at that time he could not so accept Him. But the Bhaṭṭācārya was astounded by the Lord’s exposition of the Vedānta-sūtra and explanations of the ātmārāma śloka, and thus he began to think that he had committed a great offense at the lotus feet of the Lord by not recognizing Him to be Kṛṣṇa Himself. He then surrendered unto Him, repenting for his past dealings with Him, and the Lord was kind enough to accept the Bhaṭṭācārya. Out of His causeless mercy, the Lord manifested before him first as four-handed Nārāyaṇa and then again as two-handed Lord Kṛṣṇa with a flute in His hand.
The Bhaṭṭācārya at once fell down at the lotus feet of the Lord and composed many suitable ślokas in praise of the Lord by His grace. He composed almost one hundred ślokas in praise of the Lord. The Lord then embraced him, and out of transcendental ecstasy the Bhaṭṭācārya lost consciousness of the physical state of life. Tears, trembling, throbbing of the heart, perspiration, emotional waves, dancing, singing, crying and all the eight symptoms of trance were manifested in the body of the Bhaṭṭācārya. Śrī Gopīnātha Ācārya became very glad and astonished by this marvellous conversion of his brother-in-law by the grace of the Lord.
Out of the hundred celebrated ślokas composed by the Bhaṭṭācārya in praise of the Lord, the following two are most important, and these two ślokas explain the mission of the Lord in gist. They are as follows.
1. Let me surrender unto the Personality of Godhead who has appeared now as Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He is the ocean of all mercy and has come down to teach us material detachment, learning and devotional service to Himself.
2. Since pure devotional service of the Lord has been lost in the oblivion of time, the Lord has appeared to renovate the principles, and therefore I offer my obeisances unto His lotus feet.
The Lord explained the word mukti to be equivalent to the word Viṣṇu, or the Personality of Godhead. To attain mukti or liberation from the bondage of material existence is to attain to the service of the Lord.
The Lord then proceeded towards South India for some time and converted everyone He met on the way to become devotees of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Such devotees also converted many others to the cult of devotional service or to the Bhāgavata-dharma of the Lord, and thus He reached the bank of the Godāvarī, where He met Śrīla Rāmānanda Rāya, the Governor of Madras on behalf of Mahārāja Pratāparudra, the King of Orissa. His talks with Rāmānanda Rāya are very important for higher realization of transcendental knowledge, and the conversation itself forms a small booklet. We shall, however, give herewith a summary of the conversation.
Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya was a self-realized soul, although outwardly he belonged to a caste lower than the brāhmaṇa in social status. He was not in the renounced order of life, and besides that he was a high government servant in the State. Still Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu accepted him as a liberated soul on the strength of the high order of his realization of transcendental knowledge. Similarly, the Lord accepted Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākur, a veteran devotee of the Lord coming from a Mohammedan family. And there are many other great devotees of the Lord who came from different communities, sects and castes. The Lord’s only criterion was the standard of devotional service of the particular person. He was not concerned with the outward dress of a man; He was concerned only with the inner soul and its activities. Therefore the whole missionary activities of the Lord are to be understood to be on the spiritual plane, and as such the cult of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu or the cult of Bhāgavata-dharma has nothing to do with mundane affairs, sociology, politics, economic development or any such sphere of life. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the purely transcendental urge of the soul.
When He met Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya on the bank of the Godāvarī, the varṇāśrama-dharma followed by the Hindus was mentioned by the Lord. Śrīla Rāmānanda Rāya said that by following the principles of varṇāśrama-dharma, the system of four castes and four orders of human life, everyone could realize transcendence. In the opinion of the Lord, the system of varṇāśrama-dharma is superficial only, and it has very little to do with the highest realization of spiritual values. The highest perfection of life is to get detached from the material attachment and proportionately realize the transcendental loving service of the Lord. The Personality of Godhead recognizes a living being who is progressing in that line. Devotional service is, therefore, the culmination of the culture of all knowledge. When Śrī Kṛṣṇa the Supreme Personality of Godhead appeared for the deliverance of all fallen souls, He advised the deliverance of all living entities as follows. The Supreme Absolute Personality of Godhead, from whom all living entities have emanated, must be worshiped by all their respective engagements, because everything that we see is also the expansion of His energy. That is the way of real perfection, and it is approved by all bona fide ācāryas past and present. The system of varṇāśrama is more or less based on moral and ethical principles. There is very little realization of the transcendence as such, and Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu rejected it as superficial and asked Rāmānanda Rāya to go further into the matter.
Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya then suggested renunciation of fruitive actions unto the Lord. The Bhagavad-gītā advises in this connection: "Whatever you do, whatever you eat and whatever you give, as well as whatever you perform in penance, offer to Me alone." This dedication on the part of the worker suggests that the Personality of Godhead is a step higher than the impersonal conception of the varṇāśrama system, but still the relation of the living being and the Lord is not distinct in that way. The Lord therefore rejected this proposition and asked Rāmānanda Rāya to go further.
Rāya then suggested renunciation of the varṇāśrama-dharma and acceptance of devotional service. The Lord did not approve of this suggestion also for the reason that all of a sudden one should not renounce his position, for that may not bring in the desired result.
It was further suggested by Rāya that attainment of spiritual realization freed from the material conception of life is the topmost achievement for a living being. The Lord rejected this suggestion also because on the plea of such spiritual realization much havoc has been wrought by unscrupulous persons; therefore all of a sudden this is not possible. The Rāya then suggested sincere association of self-realized souls and hearing submissively the transcendental message of the pastimes of the Personality of Godhead. This suggestion was welcomed by the Lord. This suggestion was made following in the footsteps of Brahmājī, who said that the Personality of Godhead is known as ajita or the one who cannot be conquered or approached by anyone. But such ajita also becomes jita (conquered) by one method, which is very simple and easy. The simple method is that one has to give up the arrogant attitude of declaring oneself to be God Himself. One must be very meek and submissive and try to live peacefully by lending the ear to the speeches of the transcendentally self-realized soul who speaks on the message of Bhāgavata-dharma or the religion of glorifying the Supreme Lord and His devotees. To glorify a great man is a natural instinct for living beings, but they have not learned to glorify the Lord. Perfection of life is attained simply by glorifying the Lord in association with a self-realized devotee of the Lord.*
*The International Society for Krishna Consciousness is formed for this purpose.
The self-realized devotee is he who surrenders unto the Lord fully and who does not have attachment for material prosperity. Material prosperity and sense enjoyment and their advancement are all activities of ignorance in human society. Peace and friendship are impossible for a society detached from the association of God and His devotees. It is imperative, therefore, that one should sincerely seek the association of pure devotees and hear them patiently and submissively from any position of life. The position of a person in the higher or lower status of life does not hamper one in the path of self-realization. The only thing one has to do is to hear from a self-realized soul with a routine program. The teacher may also deliver lectures from the Vedic literatures, following in the footsteps of the bygone ācāryas who realized the Absolute Truth. Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu recommended this simple method of self-realization generally known as Bhāgavata-dharma. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the perfect guide for this purpose.
Above these topics discussed by the Lord and Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya, there were still more elevated spiritual talks between the two great personalities, and we purposely withhold those topics for the present because one has to come to the spiritual plane before further talks with Rāmānanda Rāya can be heard. We have presented further talks of Śrīla Rāmānanda Rāya with the Lord in another book (Teachings of Lord Caitanya).
At the conclusion of this meeting, Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya was advised by the Lord to retire from service and come to Purī so that they could live together and relish a transcendental relationship. Some time later, Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya retired from the Government service and took a pension from the King. He returned to his residence in Purī, where he was one of the most confidential devotees of the Lord. There was another gentleman at Purī of the name Śikha Māiti, who was also a confidante like Rāmānanda Rāya. The Lord used to hold confidential talks on spiritual values with three or four companions at Purī, and He passed eighteen years in that way in spiritual trance. His talks were recorded by His private secretary Śrī Dāmodara Gosvāmī, one of the four most intimate devotees.
The Lord extensively travelled all over the southern part of India. The great saint of Mahārāṣṭra, known as saint Tukārām, was also initiated by the Lord. Saint Tukārām, after initiation by the Lord, overflooded the whole of the Mahārāṣṭra Province with the saṅkīrtana movement, and the transcendental flow is still rolling on in the southwestern part of the great Indian peninsula.
The Lord excavated from South India two very important old literatures, namely the Brahma-saṁhitā * and Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta, and these two valuable
*Summary of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
books are authorized studies for the person in the devotional line. The Lord then returned to Purī after His South Indian tour.
On His return to Purī, all the anxious devotees of the Lord got back their life, and the Lord remained there with continued pastimes of His transcendental realizations. The most important incidence during that time was His granting audience to King Pratāparudra. King Pratāparudra was a great devotee of the Lord, and he considered himself to be one of the servants of the Lord entrusted with sweeping the temple. This submissive attitude of the King was very much appreciated by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. The King requested both Bhaṭṭācārya and Rāya to arrange his meeting with the Lord. When, however, the Lord was petitioned by His two stalwart devotees, He flatly refused to grant the request, even though it was put forward by personal associates like Rāmānanda Rāya and Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya. The Lord maintained that it is dangerous for a sannyāsī to be in intimate touch with worldly money conscious men and with women. The Lord was an ideal sannyāsī. No woman could approach the Lord even to offer respects. Women’s seats were accommodated far away from the Lord. As an ideal teacher and ācārya, He was very strict in the routine work of a sannyāsī. Apart from being a divine incarnation, the Lord was an ideal character as a human being. His behavior with other persons was also above suspicion. In His dealing as ācārya, He was harder than the thunderbolt and softer than the rose. One of His associates, Junior Haridāsa, committed a great mistake by lustfully glancing at a young woman, and the Lord as Supersoul could detect this just in the mind of Junior Haridāsa. He was at once banished from His association and was never accepted again, even though He was implored to excuse Haridāsa for the mistake. Junior Haridāsa afterwards committed suicide due to being disassociated from the company of the Lord, and the news of suicide was duly related to the Lord. Even at that time the Lord was not forgetful of the offense, and He said that Haridāsa had rightly met with the proper punishment.
On the principles of the renounced order of life and discipline, the Lord knew no compromise, and therefore even though He knew that the King was a great devotee, He refused to see the King only because the King was a dollar and cent man. By this example the Lord wanted to emphasize the proper behavior for a transcendentalist. A transcendentalist has nothing to do with women and money. He must always refrain from such intimate relations. The King was, however, favored by the Lord by the expert arrangement of the devotees. This means that the beloved devotee of the Lord can favor a neophyte more liberally than the Lord. Pure devotees, therefore, never commit an offense at the feet of another pure devotee. An offense at the lotus feet of the Lord is sometimes excused by the merciful Lord, but an offense at the feet of a devotee is very dangerous for one who actually wants to make progress in devotional service.
As long as the Lord remained at Purī, thousands of His devotees used to come to see Him during the Ratha-yātrā car festival of Lord Jagannātha. And during the car festival, the washing of the Guṇḍicā temple under the direct supervision of the Lord was an important function. The Lord’s congregational saṅkīrtana movement at Purī was a unique exhibition for the mass of people. That is the way to turn the mass mind towards spiritual realization. The Lord inaugurated this system of mass saṅkīrtana, and leaders of all countries can take advantage of this spiritual movement in order to keep the mass of people in a pure state of peace and friendship with one another. This is now the demand of the present human society all over the world.
After some time the Lord again started on his tour towards Northern India, and He decided to visit Vṛndāvana and its neighboring places. He passed through the jungles of Jharikhaṇḍa (Madhya Bhārat), and all the wild animals also joined His saṅkīrtana movement. The wild tigers, elephants, bears and deer all together accompanied the Lord, and the Lord accompanied them in saṅkīrtana. By this He proved that by the propagation of the saṅkīrtana movement (congregational chanting and glorifying the name of the Lord) even the wild animals can live in peace and friendship, and what to speak of men who are supposed to be civilized. No man in the world will refuse to join the saṅkīrtana movement. Nor is the Lord’s saṅkīrtana movement restricted to any caste, creed, color or species. Here is direct evidence of His great mission: He allowed even the wild animals to partake in His great movement.
On His way back from Vṛndāvana He first came to Prayāg, where He met Rūpa Gosvāmī along with his younger brother Anupama. Then He came down to Benares. For two months, He instructed Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī in the transcendental science. The instruction to Sanātana Gosvāmī is in itself a long narration, and full presentation of the instruction will not be possible here. The main ideas are given as follows.
Sanātana Gosvāmī (formerly known as Dabir Khās) was in the cabinet service of the Bengal Government under the regime of Nawab Husain Shah. He decided to join with the Lord and thus retired from the service. On His way back from Vṛndāvana, when He reached Vārāṇasī, the Lord became the guest of Śrī Tapana Miśra and Candraśekhara, assisted by a Mahārāṣṭra brāhmaṇa. At that time Vārāṇasī was headed by a great sannyāsī of the Māyāvāda school named Śrīpāda Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī. When the Lord was at Vārāṇasī, the people in general became more attracted to Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu on account of His mass saṅkīrtana movement. Wherever He visited, especially the Viśvanātha temple, thousands of pilgrims would follow Him. Some were attracted by His bodily features, and others were attracted by His melodious songs glorifying the Lord.
The Māyāvādī sannyāsīs designate themselves as Nārāyaṇa. Vārāṇasī is still overflooded with many Māyāvādī sannyāsīs. Some people who saw the Lord in His saṅkīrtana party considered Him to be actually Nārāyaṇa, and this report reached the camp of the great sannyāsī Prakāśānanda.
In India there is always a kind of spiritual rivalry between the Māyāvāda and Bhāgavata schools, and thus when the news of the Lord reached Prakāśānanda he knew that the Lord was a Vaiṣṇava sannyāsī, and therefore he minimized the value of the Lord before those who brought him the news. He deprecated the activities of the Lord because of His preaching the saṅkīrtana movement, which was in his opinion nothing but religious sentiment. Prakāśānanda was a profound student of the Vedānta, and he advised his followers to give attention to the Vedānta and not to indulge in saṅkīrtana.
One devotee brāhmaṇa, who became a devotee of the Lord, did not like the criticism of Prakāśānanda, and he went to the Lord to express his regrets. He told the Lord that when he uttered the Lord’s name before the sannyāsī Prakāśānanda, the latter strongly criticized Him, although he heard him uttering several times the name Caitanya. The brāhmaṇa was astonished to see that the sannyāsī Prakāśānanda could not vibrate the sound Kṛṣṇa even once, although he uttered the name Caitanya several times.
The Lord smilingly explained to the devotee brāhmaṇa why the Māyāvādī cannot utter the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. "The Māyāvādīs are offenders at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, although they utter always Brahman, Ātmā, or Caitanya, etc. And because they are offenders at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, they are actually unable to utter the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. The name Kṛṣṇa and the Personality of Godhead Kṛṣṇa are identical. There is no difference in the absolute realm between the name, form or person of the Absolute Truth because in the absolute realm everything is transcendental bliss. There is no difference between the body and the soul for the Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa. Thus He is different from the living entity who is always different from his outward body. Because of Kṛṣṇa’s transcendental position, it is very difficult for a layman to actually know the Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, His holy name and fame, etc. His name, fame, form and pastimes all are one and the same transcendental identity, and they are not knowable by the exercise of the material senses.
"The transcendental relationship of the pastimes of the Lord is the source of still more bliss than one can experience by realization of Brahman or by becoming one with the Supreme. Had it not been so, then those who are already situated in the transcendental bliss of Brahman would not have been attracted by the transcendental bliss of the pastimes of the Lord."
After this, a great meeting was arranged by the devotees of the Lord in which all the sannyāsīs were invited, including the Lord and Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī. In this meeting both the scholars (the Lord and Prakāśānanda) had a long discourse on the spiritual values of the saṅkīrtana movement, and a summary is given below.
The great Māyāvādī sannyāsī Prakāśānanda inquired from the Lord as to the reason for His preferring the saṅkīrtana movement to the study of the Vedānta-sūtra. He said that it is the duty of a sannyāsī to read the Vedānta-sūtra. What caused Him to indulge in saṅkīrtana?
After this inquiry, the Lord submissively replied: "I have taken to the saṅkīrtana movement instead of the study of Vedānta because I am a great fool." The Lord thus represented Himself as one of the numberless fools of this age who are absolutely incapable of studying the Vedānta philosophy. The fools’ indulgence in the study of Vedānta has caused so much havoc in society. The Lord thus continued: "And because I am a great fool, My spiritual master forbade Me to play with Vedānta philosophy. He said that it is better that I chant the holy name of the Lord, for that would deliver Me from material bondage.
"In this age of Kali there is no other religion but the glorification of the Lord by utterance of His holy name, and that is the injunction of all the revealed scriptures. And My spiritual master has taught Me one śloka (from the Bṛhan-Nāradīya Purāṇa) which is:
harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva nāsty eva gatir anyathā..
"So on the order of my spiritual master, I chant the holy name of Hari, and I am now mad after this holy name. Whenever I utter the holy name I forget Myself completely, and sometimes I laugh, cry and dance like a madman. I thought that I had actually gone mad by this process of chanting, and therefore I asked My spiritual master about it. He informed Me that this was the real effect of chanting the holy name, which produces a transcendental emotion that is a rare manifestation. It is the sign of love of God, which is the ultimate end of life. Love of God is transcendental to liberation [mukti], and thus it is called the fifth stage of spiritual realization, above the stage of liberation. By chanting the holy name of Kṛṣṇa one attains the stage of love of God, and it was good that fortunately I was favored with the blessing."
On hearing this statement from the Lord, the Māyāvādī sannyāsī asked the Lord what was the harm in studying the Vedānta along with chanting the holy name. Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī knew well that the Lord was formerly known as Nimāi Paṇḍit, a very learned scholar of Navadvīpa, and His posing as a great fool was certainly to some purpose. Hearing this inquiry by the sannyāsī, the Lord smiled and said, "My dear sir, if you do not mind, I will answer your inquiry."
All the sannyāsīs there were very much pleased with the Lord for His honest dealings, and they unanimously replied that they would not be offended by whatever He replied. The Lord then spoke as follows:
"Vedānta-sūtra is comprised of transcendental words or sounds uttered by the transcendental Personality of Godhead. As such, in the Vedānta there cannot be any human deficiencies like mistake, illusion cheating or inefficiency. The message of the Upaniṣads is expressed in the Vedānta-sūtra, and what is said there directly is certainly glorified. Whatever interpretations have been given by Śaṅkarācārya have no direct bearing on the sūtra, and therefore such commentation spoils everything.
"The word Brahman indicates the greatest of all, which is full with transcendental opulences, superior to all. Brahman is ultimately the Personality of Godhead, and He is covered by indirect interpretations and established as impersonal. Everything that is in the spiritual world is full of transcendental bliss, including the form, body, place and paraphernalia of the Lord. All are eternally cognizant and blissful. It is not the fault of the Ācārya Śaṅkara that he has so interpreted Vedānta, but if someone accepts it, then certainly he is doomed. Anyone who accepts the transcendental body of the Personality of Godhead as something mundane certainly commits the greatest blasphemy."
The Lord thus spoke to the sannyāsī almost in the same way that He spoke to the Bhaṭṭācārya of Purī, and by forceful arguments He nullified the Māyāvāda interpretations of the Vedānta-sūtra. All the sannyāsīs there claimed that the Lord was the personified Vedas and the Personality of Godhead. All the sannyāsīs were converted to the cult of bhakti, and all of them accepted the holy name of the Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and they dined together with the Lord in the midst of them. After this conversion of the sannyāsīs, the popularity of the Lord increased at Vārāṇasī, and thousands of people assembled to see the Lord in person. The Lord thus established the primary importance of Śrīmad-Bhāgavata-dharma, and He defeated all other systems of spiritual realization. Since then everyone at Vārāṇasī was overwhelmed with the transcendental saṅkīrtana movement.
While the Lord was camping at Vārāṇasī, Sanātana Gosvāmī also arrived after retiring from office. He was formerly one of the state ministers in the government of Bengal, then under the regime of Nawab Hussain Shah. He had some difficulty in getting relief from the state service, for the Nawab was reluctant to let him leave. Nonetheless he came to Vārāṇasī, and the Lord taught him the principles of devotional service. He taught him about the constitutional position of the living being, the cause of his bondage under material conditions, his eternal relation with the Personality of Godhead, the transcendental position of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, His expansions in different plenary portions of incarnations, His control of different parts of the universe, the nature of His transcendental abode, devotional activities, their different stages of development and the rules and regulations for achieving the gradual stages of spiritual perfection, the symptoms of different incarnations in different ages and how to detect them with reference to the context of revealed scriptures.
The Lord’s teachings to Sanātana Gosvāmī form a big chapter in the text of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, and to explain the whole teachings in minute details will require a volume in itself. These are treated in detail in our book Teachings of Lord Caitanya.
At Mathurā, the Lord visited all the important places; then He reached Vṛndāvana. Lord Caitanya appeared in the family of a high caste brāhmaṇa, and over and above that as sannyāsī He was the preceptor for all the varṇas and āśramas. But He used to accept meals from all classes of Vaiṣṇavas. At Mathurā the Sanodhia brāhmaṇas are considered to be in the lower status of society, but the Lord accepted meals in their families also because His host happened to be a disciple of the Mādhavendra Purī family.
At Vṛndāvana the Lord took bath in twenty-four important bathing places and ghats. He travelled to all the twelve important vanas (forests). In these forests all the cows and birds welcomed Him, as if He were their very old friend. The Lord also began to embrace all the trees of those forests, and by doing so He felt the symptoms of transcendetnal ecstasy. Sometimes He fell unconscious, but He was made to regain consciousness by the chanting of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. The transcendental symptoms that were visible on the body of the Lord during His travel within the forest of Vṛndāvana were all unique and inexplicable, and we have just given a synopsis only.
Some of the important places that were visited by the Lord in Vṛndāvana were Kamyavana, Ādīśvara, Pabansarovara, Khadirvana, Śeṣaśāyī, Khelatīrtha, Bhandirvana, Bhadravana, Śrīvana. Lauhavana, Mahāvana, Gokula, Kaliyahrada, Dvādaśāditya, Keśītīrtha, etc. When He saw the place where the rāsa dance took place, He at once fell down in trance. As long as He remained at Vṛndāvana, He made His headquarters at Akrur Ghat.
From Vṛndāvana His personal servitor Kṛṣṇadāsa Vipra induced Him to go back to Prayāg to take bath during the Māgha Melā. The Lord acceded to this proposal, and they started for Prayāg. On the way they were met with some Pathans, amongst whom there was a learned Moulana. The Lord had some talks with the Moulana and his companions, and the Lord convinced the Moulana that in the Koran also there are descriptions of Bhāgavata-dharma and Kṛṣṇa. All the Pathans were converted to His cult of devotional service.
When He returned to Prayāg, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and his youngest brother met Him near Bindu-mādhava Temple. This time the Lord was welcomed by the people of Prayāg more respectfully. Vallabha Bhaṭṭa, who resided on the other bank of Prayāg in the village of Arail, was to receive Him at his place, but while going there the Lord jumped in the River Yamunā. With great difficulty He was picked up in an unconscious state. Finally He visited the headquarters of Vallabha Bhaṭṭa. This Vallabha Bhaṭṭa was one of His chief admirers, but later on he inaugurated his own party of the Vallabha sampradāya.
On the bank of the Daśāśvamedha Ghat at Prayāg for ten days continually the Lord instructed Rūpa Gosvāmī in the science of devotional service of the Lord. He taught the Gosvāmī the divisions of the living creatures in the 8,400,000 species of life. Then He taught him about the human species. Out of them He discussed the followers of the Vedic principles, out of them the fruitive workers, out of them the empiric philosophers, and out of them the liberated souls. He said that there are only a few who are actually pure devotees of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī was the younger brother of Sanātana Gosvāmī, and when he retired from service he brought with him two boatfuls of gold coins. This means that he brought with him some hundreds of thousands of rupees accumulated by the labor of his service. And before leaving home for Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, he divided the wealth as follows: fifty percent for the service of the Lord and His devotees, twenty-five percent for relatives and twenty-five percent for his personal needs in case of emergency . In that way he set an example for all householders.
The Lord taught the Gosvāmī about devotional service, comparing it to a creeper, and He advised him to protect the bhakti creeper most carefully against the mad elephant offense against the pure devotees. In addition, the creeper has to be protected from the desires of sense enjoyment, monistic liberation and perfection of the hatha-yoga system. They are all detrimental on the path of devotional service. Similarly, violence against living beings, desire for worldly gain, worldly reception and worldly fame are all detrimental to the progress of bhakti or Bhāgavata-dharma.
Pure devotional service must be freed from all desires for sense gratification, fruitive aspirations and culture of monistic knowledge. One must be freed from all kinds of designations, and when one is thus converted into transcendental purity, one can then serve the Lord by purified senses.
As long as there is the desire to enjoy sensually or to become one with the Supreme or to possess the mystic powers, there is no question of attaining the stage of pure devotional service.
Devotional service is conducted under two categories, namely primary practice and spontaneous emotion. When one can rise up to the platform of spontaneous emotion, he can make further progress by spiritual attachment, feeling, love, and many higher stages of devotional life for which there are no English words. We have tried to explain the science of devotional service in our book The Nectar of Devotion based on the authority of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī.
Transcendental devotional service has five stages of reciprocation.
1. The self-realization stage just after liberation from the material bondage is called the śānta or neutral stage.
2. After that, when there is development of transcendental knowledge of the Lord’s internal opulences, the devotee engages himself in the dāsya stage.
3. By further development of the dāsya stage, a respectful fraternity with the Lord develops, and above that a feeling of friendship on equal terms becomes manifest. Both these stages are called sākhya stage, or devotional service in friendship.
4. Above this there is the stage of paternal affection toward the Lord and this is called the vātsalya stage.
5. And above this stage there is the stage of conjugal love, and this stage is called the highest stage of love of God, although there is no difference in quality in any of the above stages. The last stage of conjugal love of God is called the mādhurya stage.
Thus He instructed Rūpa Gosvāmī in devotional science and deputed him to Vṛndāvana to excavate the lost sites of the transcendental pastimes of the Lord. After this, the Lord returned to Vārāṇasī and delivered the sannyāsīs and instructed the elder brother of Rūpa Gosvāmī. We have already discussed this.
The Lord left only eight ślokas of His instructions in writing, and they are known as the Śikṣāṣṭakam. All other literatures of His divine cult were extensively written by the Lord’s principal followers, the six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana, and their followers. The cult of Caitanya philosophy is richer than any other, and it is admitted to be the living religion of the day with the potency for spreading as Viśva-dharma or universal religion. We are glad that the matter has been taken up by some enthusiastic sages like Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja and his disciples. We shall eagerly wait for the happy days of Bhāgavata-dharma or prema-dharma inaugurated by the Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
The eight ślokas completed by the Lord are:
Glory to the Śrī Kṛṣṇa saṅkīrtana, which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death. This saṅkīrtana movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.
O my Lord, Your holy name alone can render all benediction to living beings, and thus You have hundreds and millions of names like Kṛṣṇa and Govinda. In these transcendental names You have invested all Your transcendental energies. There are not even hard and fast rules for chanting these names. O my Lord, out of kindness You enable us to easily approach You by chanting Your holy names, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for them.
One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and should be ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.
O almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor do I desire beautiful women, nor do I want any number of followers. I only want Your causeless devotional service birth after birth.
O son of Mahārāja Nanda [Kṛṣṇa], I am Your eternal servitor, yet somehow or other I have fallen into the ocean of birth and death. Please pick me up from this ocean of death and place me as one of the atoms of Your lotus feet.
O my Lord, when will my eyes be decorated with tears of love flowing constantly when I chant Your holy name? When will my voice choke up, and when will the hairs of my body stand on end at the recitation of Your name?
O Govinda! Feeling Your separation, I am considering a moment to be like twelve years or more. Tears are flowing from my eyes like torrents of rain, and I am feeling all vacant in the world in Your absence.
I know no one but Kṛṣṇa as my Lord, and He shall remain so even if He handles me roughly in His embrace or makes me brokenhearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, for He is always my worshipful Lord unconditionally.
Questions by the Sages
om namo bhagavate vāsudevāya
janmādy asya yato ‘nvayād itarataś cārtheṣv abhijñaḥ sva-rāṭ
tene brahma hṛdā ya ādi-kavaye muhyanti yat sūrayaḥ
tejo-vāri-mṛdāṁ yathā vinimayo yatra tri-sargo ‘mṛṣā
dhāmnā svena sadā nirasta-kuhakaṁ satyaṁ paraṁ dhīmahi
om—O my Lord; namaḥ—offering my obeisances; bhagavate—unto the Personality of Godhead; vāsudevāya—unto Vāsudeva (the son of Vasudeva), or Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Primeval Lord; janma-ādi—creation, sustenance and destruction; asya—of the manifested universes; yataḥ—from whom; anvayāt—directly; itarataḥ—indirectly; ca—and; artheṣu—purposes; abhijñaḥ—fully cognizant; sva-rāṭ—fully independent; tene—imparted; brahma—the Vedic knowledge; hṛdā—consciousness of the heart; yaḥ—one who; ādi-kavaye—unto the original created being; muhyanti—are illusioned; yat—about whom; sūrayaḥ—great sages and demigods; tejaḥ—fire; vāri—water; mṛdām—earth; yathā—as much as; vinimayaḥ—action and reaction; yatra—whereupon; tri-sargaḥ—three modes of creation, creative faculties; amṛṣā—almost factual; dhāmnā—along with all transcendental paraphernalia; svena—self-sufficiently; sadā—always; nirasta—negation by absence; kuhakam—illusion; satyam—truth; param—absolute; dhīmahi—I do meditate upon.
I offer my obeisances unto Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, son of Vasudeva, who is the supreme all-pervading Personality of Godhead. I meditate upon Him, the transcendent reality, who is the primeval cause of all causes, from whom all manifested universes arise, in whom they dwell and by whom they are destroyed. I meditate upon that eternally effulgent Lord who is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestations and yet is beyond them. It is He only who first imparted Vedic knowledge unto the heart of Brahmā, the first created being. Through Him this world, like a mirage, appears real even to great sages and demigods. Because of Him, the material universes, created by the three modes of nature, appear to be factual, although they are unreal. I meditate therefore upon Him, the Absolute Truth, who is eternally existent in His transcendental abode, and who is forever free of illusion.
Obeisances unto the Personality of Godhead, Vāsudeva, directly indicate Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is the divine son of Vasudeva and Devakī. This fact will be more explicitly explained in the text of this work. Śrī Vyāsadeva asserts herein that Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the original Personality of Godhead, and all others are His direct or indirect plenary portions or portions of the portion. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī has even more explicitly explained the subject matter in his Kṛṣṇa-sandarbha. And Brahmā, the original living being, has explained the subject of Śrī Kṛṣṇa substantially in his treatise named Brahma-saṁhitā. In the Sāma-veda Upaniṣad, it is also stated that Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the divine son of Devakī. Therefore, in this prayer, the first proposition holds that Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the primeval Lord, and if any transcendental nomenclature is to be understood as belonging to the Absolute Personality of Godhead, it must be the name indicated by the word Kṛṣṇa, which means the all-attractive. In Bhagavad-gītā, in many places, the Lord asserts Himself to be the original Personality of Godhead, and this is confirmed by Arjuna, and also by great sages like Nārada, Vyāsa, and many others. In the Padma Purāṇa, it is also stated that out of the innumerable names of the Lord, the name of Kṛṣṇa is the principal one. Vāsudeva indicates the plenary portion of the Personality of Godhead, and all the different forms of the Lord, being identical with Vāsudeva, are indicated in this text. The name Vāsudeva particularly indicates the divine son of Vasudeva and Devakī. Śrī Kṛṣṇa is always meditated upon by the paramahaṁsas who are the perfected ones among those in the renounced order of life.
Vāsudeva, or Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, is the cause of all causes. Everything that exists emanates from the Lord. How this is so is explained in later chapters of this work. This work is described by Mahāprabhu Śrī Caitanya as the spotless Purāṇa because it contains the transcendental narration of the Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The history of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is also very glorious. It was compiled by Śrī Vyāsadeva after he had attained maturity in transcendental knowledge. He wrote this under the instructions of Śrī Nāradajī, his spiritual master. Vyāsadeva compiled all Vedic literatures containing the four divisions of the Vedas, the Vedānta-sūtras or the Brahma-sūtras, the Purāṇas, the Mahābhārata, and so on. But nevertheless he was not satisfied. His dissatisfaction was observed by his spiritual master, and thus Nārada advised him to write on the transcendental activities of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. These transcendental activities are described specifically in the Tenth Canto of this work. But, in order to reach to the very substance, one must proceed gradually by developing knowledge of the categories.
It is natural that a philosophical mind wants to know about the origin of the creation. At night he sees the stars in the sky, and he naturally speculates about their inhabitants. Such inquiries are natural for man because man has a developed consciousness which is higher than that of the animals. The author of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam gives a direct answer to such inquiries. He says that the Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the origin of all creations. He is not only the creator of the universe, but the destroyer as well. The manifested cosmic nature is created at a certain period by the will of the Lord. It is maintained for some time, and then it is annihilated by His will. Therefore, the supreme will is behind all cosmic activities. Of course, there are atheists of various catagories who do not believe in a creator, but that is due to a poor fund of knowledge. The modern scientist, for example, has created space satellites, and by some arrangement or other, these satellites are thrown into outer space to fly for some time at the control of the scientist who is far away. Similarly, all the universes with innumerable stars and planets are controlled by the intelligence of the Personality of Godhead.
In Vedic literatures, it is said that the Absolute Truth, Personality of Godhead, is the chief amongst all living personalities. All living beings beginning from the first created being, Brahmā, down to the smallest ant are individual living beings. And above Brahmā, there are even other living beings with individual capacities, and the Personality of Godhead is also a similar living being. And He is an individual as are the other living beings. But the Supreme Lord or the supreme living being has the greatest intelligence, and He possesses supermost inconceivable energies of all different varieties. If a man’s brain can produce a space satellite, one can very easily imagine how brains higher than man can produce similarly wonderful things which are far superior. The reasonable person will easily accept this argument, but there are stubborn atheists who would never agree. Śrīla Vyāsadeva, however, at once accepts the supreme intelligence as the parameśvara. He offers his respectful obeisances unto the supreme intelligence addressed as the para or the parameśvara or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And that parameśvara is Śrī Kṛṣṇa, as admitted in Bhagavad-gītā and other scriptures delivered by Śrī Vyāsadeva and specifically in this Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. In Bhagavad-gītā, the Lord says that there is no other Para-tattva (summum bonum) than Himself. Therefore, Śrī Vyāsadeva at once worships the Para-tattva, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, whose transcendental activities are described in the Tenth Canto.
Unscrupulous persons go immediately to the Tenth Canto and especially to the five chapters which describe the Lord’s rāsa dance. This portion of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the most confidential part of this great literature. Unless one is thoroughly accomplished in the transcendental knowledge of the Lord, one is sure to misunderstand the Lord’s worshipable transcendental pastimes called rāsa dance and His love affairs with the gopīs. This subject matter is highly spiritual, and only the liberated persons who have gradually attained to the stage of paramahaṁsa can transcendentally relish this rāsa dance. Śrīla Vyāsadeva therefore gives the reader the chance to gradually develop spiritual realization before actually relishing the essence of the pastimes of the Lord. Therefore, he purposely invokes a Gāyatrī mantra, dhīmahi. This Gāyatrī mantra is meant for spiritually advanced people. When one is successful in chanting the Gāyatrī mantra, he can enter into the transcendental position of the Lord. One must therefore acquire brahminical qualities or be perfectly situated in the quality of goodness in order to chant the Gāyatrī mantra successfully and then attain to the stage of transcendentally realizing the Lord, His name, His fame, His qualities and so on.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the narration of the svarūpa of the Lord manifested by His internal potency, and this potency is distinguished from the external potency which has manifested the cosmic world, which is within our experience. Śrīla Vyāsadeva makes a clear distinction between the two in this śloka. Śrī Vyāsadeva says herein that the manifested internal potency is real, whereas the external manifested energy in the form of material existence is only temporary and illusory like the mirage in the desert. In the desert mirage there is no actual water. There is only the appearance of water. Real water is somewhere else. The manifested cosmic creation appears as reality. But reality, of which this is but a shadow, is in the spiritual world. Absolute Truth is in the spiritual sky, not the material sky. In the material sky everything is relative truth. That is to say, one truth depends on something else. This cosmic creation results from interaction of the three modes of nature, and the temporary manifestations are so created as to present an illusion of reality to the bewildered mind of the conditioned soul, who appears in so many species of life, including the higher demigods, like Brahmā, Indra, Candra, and so on. In actuality, there is no reality in the manifested world. There appears to be reality, however, because of the true reality which exists in the spiritual world, where the Personality of Godhead eternally exists with His transcendental paraphernalia.
The chief engineer of a complicated construction does not personally take part in the construction, but he knows every nook and corner because everything is done under his direction. He knows everything about the construction, both directly and indirectly. Similarly, the Personality of Godhead who is the supreme engineer of this cosmic creation knows every nook and corner, although affairs are being carried out by demigods. Beginning from Brahmā down to the insignificant ant, no one is independent in the material creation. The hand of the Lord is seen everywhere. All material elements as well as all spiritual sparks emanate from Him only. And whatever is created in this material world is but the interaction of two energies, the material and the spiritual, which emanate from the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. A chemist can manufacture water in the chemical laboratory by mixing hydrogen and oxygen. But, in reality, the living entity works in the laboratory under the direction of the Supreme Lord. And the materials with which he works are also supplied by the Lord. The Lord knows everything directly and indirectly, and He is cognizant of all minute details, and He is fully independent. He is compared with the mine of gold, and the cosmic creations in so many different forms are compared with objects made from the gold, such as gold rings, necklaces and so on. The gold ring and the gold necklace are qualitatively one with the gold in the mine, but quantitatively the gold in the mine is different. Therefore, the Absolute Truth is simultaneously one and different. Nothing is absolutely equal with the Absolute Truth, but at the same time, nothing is independent of the Absolute Truth.
Conditioned souls beginning from Brahmā, who engineers the entire universe, down to the insignificant ant, are all creating, but none of them are independent of the Supreme Lord. The materialist wrongly thinks that there is no creator other than his own self. This is called māyā, or illusion.
Because of his poor fund of knowledge, the materialist cannot see beyond the purview of his imperfect senses, and thus he thinks that matter automatically takes its own shape without the aid of a superior intelligence. This is refuted in this śloka by Śrīla Vyāsadeva: "Since the complete whole or the Absolute Truth is the source of everything, nothing can be independent of the body of the Absolute Truth." Whatever happens to the body quickly becomes known to the embodied. Similarly, the creation is the body of the absolute whole. Therefore, the Absolute knows everything directly and indirectly that happens in the creation.
In the Śruti mantra, it is also stated that the absolute whole or Brahman is the ultimate source of everything. Everything emanates from Him, and everything is maintained by Him. And at the end, everything enters into Him. That is the law of nature. In the Smṛti mantra, the same is confirmed. It is said that the source from which everything emanates at the beginning of Brahmā’s millennium, and the reservoir to which everything ultimately enters, is the Absolute Truth or Brahman. Material scientists take it for granted that the ultimate source of the planetary system is the sun, but they are unable to explain the source of the sun. Herein, the ultimate source is explained. According to the Vedic literatures, Brahmā, who may be compared to the sun, is not the ultimate creator. It is stated in this śloka that Brahmā was taught Vedic knowledge by the Personality of Godhead. One may argue that Brahmā, being the original living being, could not be inspired because there was no other being living at that time. Herein it is stated that the Supreme Lord inspired the secondary creator, Brahmā, in order that Brahmā could carry out his creative functions. So, the supreme intelligence behind all creations is the Absolute Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. In Bhagavad-gītā, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa states that it is He only who superintends the creative energy, prakṛti, which constitutes the totality of matter. Therefore, Śrī Vyāsadeva does not worship Brahmā, but the Supreme Lord, who guides Brahmā in his creative activities. In this śloka, the particular words abhijñaḥ and svarāṭ are significant. These two words distinguish the Supreme Lord from all the other living entities. No other living entity is either abhijñaḥ or svarāṭ. Namely, no one is either fully cognizant or fully independent. Even Brahmā has to meditate upon the Supreme Lord in order to create. Then what to speak of great scientists like Einstein! The brains of such a scientist are certainly not the products of any human being. Scientists cannot manufacture such a brain, and what to speak of foolish atheists who defy the authority of the Lord? Even Māyāvādī impersonalists who flatter themselves that they can become one with the Lord are neither abhijñaḥ nor svarāṭ. Such impersonalists undergo severe austerities to acquire knowledge to become one with the Lord. But ultimately they become dependent on some rich disciple who supplies them with money to build monasteries and temples. Atheists like Rāvaṇa or Hiraṇyakaśipu had to undergo severe penances before they could flout the authority of the Lord. But ultimately, they were rendered helpless and could not save themselves when the Lord appeared before them as cruel death. This is also the case with the modern atheists who also dare to flout the authority of the Lord. Such atheists will be dealt with similarly, for history repeats itself. Whenever men neglect the authority of the Lord, nature and her laws are there to penalize them. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā in the well-known verse: yadā yadā hi dharmasya glāniḥ. "Whenever there is a decline of dharma and a rise of adharma, O Arjuna, then I incarnate Myself." (Bg. 4.7)
That the Supreme Lord is all-perfect is confirmed in all Śruti mantras. It is said in the Śruti mantras that the all-perfect Lord threw a glance over matter and thus created all living beings. The living beings are parts and parcels of the Lord, and He impregnates the vast material creation with seeds of spiritual sparks, and thus the creative energies are set in motion to enact so many wonderful creations. An atheist may argue that God is no more expert than a watchmaker, but of course God is greater because He can create machines in duplicate male and female forms. The male and female forms of different types of machineries go on producing innumerable similar machines without God’s further attention. If a man could manufacture such a set of machines that could produce other machines without his attention, then he could approach the intelligence of God. But that is not possible, for each machine has to be handled individually. Therefore, no one can create as well as God. Another name for God is asmaurdha, which means that no one is equal to or greater than Him. Param satyam, or the Supreme Truth, is He who has no equal or superior. This is confirmed in the Śruti mantras. It is said that before the creation of the material universe there existed the Lord only, who is master of everyone. That Lord instructed Brahmā in Vedic knowledge. That Lord has to be obeyed in all respects. Anyone who wants to get rid of the material entanglement must surrender unto Him. This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā.
Unless one surrenders unto the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, it is certain that he will be bewildered. When an intelligent man surrenders unto the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa and knows completely that Kṛṣṇa is the cause of all causes, as confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā, then only can such an intelligent man become a mahātmā or great soul. But such a great soul is rarely seen. Only the mahātmās can understand that the Supreme Lord is the primeval cause of all creations. He is parama or ultimate truth because all other truths are relative to Him. He is omniscient. For Him, there is no illusion.
Some Māyāvādī scholars argue that Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam was not compiled by Śrī Vyāsadeva. And some of them suggest that this book is a modern creation written by someone named Vopadeva. In order to refute such meaningless arguments, Śrī Śrīdhara Svāmī points out that there is reference to the Bhāgavatam in many of the oldest Purāṇas. This first śloka of the Bhāgavatam begins with the Gāyatrī mantra. There is reference to this in the Matsya Purāṇa, which is the oldest Purāṇa. In that Purāṇa, it is said with reference to the Gāyatrī mantra in the Bhāgavatam that there are many narrations of spiritual instructions beginning with the Gāyatrī mantra. And there is the history of Vṛtrāsura. Anyone who makes a gift of this great work on a full moon day attains to the highest perfection of life by returning to Godhead. There is reference to the Bhāgavatam in other Purāṇas, also, where it is clearly stated that this work was finished in twelve cantos which include 18,000 ślokas. In the Padma Purāṇa also there is reference to the Bhāgavatam in a conversation between Gautama and Mahārāja Ambarīṣa. The King was advised therein to read regularly Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam if he desired liberation from material bondage. Under the circumstances, there is no doubt about the authority of the Bhāgavatam. Within the past 500 years, many erudite scholars and ācāryas like Jīva Gosvāmī, Sanātana Gosvāmī, Viśvanātha Cakravartī, Vallabhācārya, and many other distinguished scholars even after the time of Lord Caitanya made elaborate commentaries on the Bhāgavatam. And the serious student would do well to attempt to go through them to better relish the transcendental messages.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākur specifically deals with the original and pure sex psychology (ādi-rasa), devoid of all mundane inebriety. The whole material creation is moving under the principle of sex life. In modern civilization, sex life is the focal point for all activities. Wherever one turns his face, he sees sex life predominant. Therefore, sex life is not unreal. Its reality is experienced in the spiritual world. The material sex life is but a perverted reflection of the original fact. The original fact is in the Absolute Truth, and thus the Absolute Truth cannot be impersonal. It is not possible to be impersonal and contain pure sex life. Consequently, the impersonalist philosophers have given indirect impetus to the abominable mundane sex life because they have overstressed the impersonality of the ultimate truth. Consequently, man without information of the actual spiritual form of sex has accepted perverted material sex life as the all in all. There is a distinction between sex life in the diseased material condition and spiritual sex life.
This Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam will gradually elevate the unbiased reader to the highest perfectional stage of transcendence. It will enable him to transcend the three modes of material activities: fruitive actions, speculative philosophy, and worship of functional deities as inculcated in Vedic verses.
dharmaḥ projjhita-kaitavo ‘tra paramo nirmatsarāṇāṁ satāṁ
vedyaṁ vāstavam atra vastu śivadaṁ tāpa-trayonmūlanam
śrīmad-bhāgavate mahā-muni-kṛte kiṁ vā parair īśvaraḥ
sadyo hṛdy avarudhyate ‘tra kṛtibhiḥ śuśrūṣubhis tat-kṣaṇāt
dharmaḥ—religiosity; projjhita—completely rejected; kaitavaḥ—covered by fruitive intention; atra—herein; paramaḥ—the highest; nirmatsarāṇām—of the one hundred percent pure in heart; satām—devotees; vedyam—understandable; vāstavam—factual; atra—herein; vastu—substance; śivadam—well-being; tāpa-traya—three-fold miseries; unmūlanam—causing uprooting of; śrīmat—beautiful; bhāgavate—the Bhāgavata Purāṇa; mahāmuni—the great sage (Vyāsadeva); kṛte—having compiled; kim—what is; vā—the need; paraiḥ—others; īśvaraḥ—the Supreme Lord; sadyaḥ—at once; hṛdi—within the heart; avarudhyate—become compact; atra—herein; kṛtibhiḥ—by the pious men; śuśrūṣubhiḥ—by culture; tat-kṣaṇāt—without delay.
Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Bhāgavata Purāṇa propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those devotees who are pure in heart. The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all. Such truth uproots the threefold miseries. This beautiful Bhāgavatam, compiled by the great sage Śrī Vyāsadeva, is sufficient in itself for God realization. As soon as one attentively and submissively hears the message of Bhāgavatam, he becomes attached to the Supreme Lord.
Religion includes four primary subjects, namely pious activities, economic development, satisfaction of the senses, and finally liberation from material bondage. Irreligious life is a barbarous condition. Indeed, human life begins when religion begins. Eating, sleeping, fearing, and mating are the four principles of animal life. These are common both to animals and to human beings. But religion is the extra function of the human being. Without religion, human life is no better than animal life. Therefore, in human societies there is some form of religion which aims at self-realization and which makes reference to man’s eternal relationship with God.
In the lower stages of human civilization, there is always competition to lord it over the material nature or, in other words, there is a continuous rivalry to satisfy the senses. Driven by such consciousness, man turns to religion. He thus performs pious activities or religious functions in order to gain something material. But if such material gains are obtainable in other ways, then so-called religion is neglected. This is the situation in modern civilization. Man is thriving economically, so at present he is not very interested in religion. Churches, mosques or temples are now practically vacant. Men are more interested in factories, shops, and cinemas than in religious places which were erected by their forefathers. This practically proves that religion is performed for some economic gains. Economic gains are needed for sense gratification. Often when one is baffled in the pursuit of sense gratification, he takes to salvation and tries to become one with the Supreme Lord. Consequently, all these states are simply different types of sense gratification.
In the Vedas, the above mentioned four activities are prescribed in the regulative way so that there will not be any undue competition for sense gratification. But Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is transcendental to all these sense gratificatory activities. It is purely transcendental literature which can be understood only by the pure devotees of the Lord who are transcendental to competitive sense gratification. In the material world there is keen competition between animal and animal, man and man, community and community, nation and nation. But the devotees of the Lord rise above such competitions. They do not compete with the materialist because they are on the path back to Godhead where life is eternal and blissful. Such transcendentalists are nonenvious and pure in heart. In the material world, everyone is envious of everyone else, and therefore there is competition. But the transcendental devotees of the Lord are not only free from material envy, but they are well-wishers to everyone, and they strive to establish a competitionless society with God in the center. The contemporary socialist’s conception of a competitionless society is artificial because in the socialist state there is competition for the post of dictator. From the point of view of the Vedas or from the point of view of common human activities, sense gratification is the basis of material life. There are three paths mentioned in the Vedas. One involves fruitive activities to gain promotion to better planets. Another involves worshiping different demigods for promotion to the planets of the demigods, and another involves realizing the Absolute Truth and His impersonal feature and becoming one with Him.
The impersonal aspect of the Absolute Truth is not the highest. Above the impersonal feature is the Paramātmā feature, and above this there is the personal feature of the Absolute Truth or Bhagavān. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam gives information about the Absolute Truth in His personal feature. It is higher than impersonalist literatures and higher than the jñāna-kāṇḍa division of the Vedas. It is even higher than the karma-kāṇḍa division, and even higher than the upaṣana-kāṇḍa division because it recommends the worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. In the karma-kāṇḍa, there is competition to reach heavenly planets for better sense gratification, and there is similar competition in the jñāna-kāṇḍa and the upaṣana-kāṇḍa. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is superior to all of these because it aims at the Supreme Truth which is the substance or the root of all categories. From Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam one can come to know the substance as well as the categories. The substance is the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Lord, and all emanations are relative forms of energy.
Nothing is apart from the substance, but at the same time the energies are different from the substance. This conception is not contradictory. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam explicitly promulgates this simultaneously one and different philosophy of the Vedānta-sūtra, which begins with the "janmādy asya" sūtra.
This knowledge of the energy of the Lord being simultaneously one and different from the Lord is an answer to the mental speculators’ attempt to establish the energy as the Absolute. When this knowledge is factually understood, one sees the conceptions of monism and dualism to be imperfect. Development of this transcendental consciousness grounded in the conception of simultaneously one and different leads one immediately to the stage of freedom from the threefold miseries. The threefold miseries are 1.) those miseries which arise from the mind and body, 2.) those miseries inflicted by other living beings, and 3.) those miseries arising from natural catastrophes over which one has no control. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam begins with the surrender of the devotee unto the Absolute Person. The devotee is fully aware that he is one with the Absolute and at the same time in the eternal position of servant to the Absolute. In the material conception, one falsely thinks himself the lord of all he surveys, and therefore he is always troubled by the threefold miseries of life. But as soon as one comes to know his real position as transcendental servant, he at once becomes free from all miseries. As long as the living entity is trying to master material nature, there is no possibility of his becoming servant of the Supreme. Service to the Lord is rendered in pure consciousness of one’s spiritual identity; by service one is immediately freed from material encumbrances.
Over and above this, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is a personal commentation on the Vedānta-sūtra by Śrī Vyāsadeva. It is written in the maturity of his spiritual life through the mercy of Nārada. Śrī Vyāsadeva is the authorized incarnation of Nārāyaṇa, the Personality of Godhead. Therefore, there is no question as to his authority. He is the author of all other Vedic literatures, yet he recommends the study of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam above all others. In other Purāṇas there are different methods set forth by which one can worship the demigods. But in the Bhāgavatam only the Supreme Lord is mentioned. The Supreme Lord is the total body, and the demigods are the different parts of that body. Consequently, by worshiping the Supreme Lord, one does not need to worship the demigods. The Supreme Lord becomes fixed in the heart of the devotee immediately. Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu has recommended the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam as the spotless Purāṇa and distinguishes it from all other Purāṇas.
The proper method for receiving this transcendental message is to hear it submissively. A challenging attitude cannot help one realize this transcendental message. One particular word is used herein for proper guidance. This word is śuśrūṣu. One must be anxious to hear this transcendental message. The desire to sincerely hear is the first qualification.
Less fortunate persons are not at all interested in hearing this Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The process is simple, but the application is difficult. Unfortunate people find enough time to hear idle, social, political conversations, but when invited to attend a meeting of devotees to hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam they suddenly become reluctant. Sometimes professional readers of the Bhāgavatam immediately plunge into the confidential topics of the pastime of the Supreme Lord, which they seemingly interpret as sex literature. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is meant to be heard from the beginning. Those who are fit to assimilate this work are mentioned in this śloka: "One becomes qualified to hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam after many pious deeds." The intelligent person by thoughtful discretion can be assured by the great sage Vyāsadeva that he can realize the Supreme Personality directly by hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Without undergoing the different stages of realization set forth in the Vedas, one can be lifted immediately to the position of paramahaṁsa simply by agreeing to receive this message.
nigama-kalpa-taror galitaṁ phalaṁ
pibata bhāgavataṁ rasam ālayam
muhur aho rasikā bhuvi bhāvukāḥ
nigama—the Vedic literatures; kalpa-taroḥ—the desire-tree; galitam—fully matured; phalam—fruit; śuka—Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī, the original speaker of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam; mukhāt—from the lips of; amṛta—nectar; drava—semi-solid and soft and therefore easily swallowable; saṁyutam—perfect in all respects; pibata—do relish it; bhāgavatam—the book dealing in the science of the eternal relation with the Lord; rasam—juice (that which is relishable); ālayam—until liberation, or even in a liberated condition; muhuḥ—always; aho—O; rasikāḥ—those who are full in the know ledge of mellows; bhuvi—on the earth; bhāvukāḥ—expert and thoughtful.
Know, O thoughtful men, that Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the mature fruit of the tree of Vedic literatures. It emanated from the lips of Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Therefore this nectarean fruit is all the more relishable by liberated souls.
In the two previous ślokas it has been definitely proved that the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the sublime literature which surpasses all other Vedic scriptures due to its transcendental qualities. It is transcendental to all mundane activities and mundane knowledge. In this śloka it is stated that Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is not only a superior literature, but that it is the ripened fruit of all Vedic literatures. In other words, it is the cream of all Vedic knowledge. Considering all this, patient and submissive hearing is definitely essential. With great respect and attention, one should receive the message and lessons imparted by the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
The Vedas are compared to the desire tree because they contain all things knowable by man. They deal with mundane necessities as well as spiritual realization. The Vedas contain regulated principles of knowledge covering social, political, religious, economic, military, medicinal, chemical, physical and metaphysical subject matter and all that may be necessary to keep the body and soul together. Above and beyond all this are specific directions for spiritual realization. Regulated knowledge involves a gradual raising of the living entity to the spiritual platform, and the highest spiritual realization is to know that the Personality of Godhead is the reservoir of all spiritual tastes or rasas.
Every living entity, beginning from Brahmā, the first-born living being within the material world, down to the insignificant ant, desires to relish some sort of taste derived from sense perceptions. These sensual pleasures are technically called rasas. Such rasas are of different varieties. In the revealed scriptures the following twelve varieties of rasas are enumerated: 1) raudra (anger) 2) adbhuta (wonder) 3) śṛṅgāra (conjugal love) 4) hāsya (comedy) 5) vīra (chivalry) 6) dayā (mercy) 7) dāsya (servitorship) 8) sakhya (fraternity) 9) bhayānaka (horror) 10) vībhatsa (shock) 11) śānta (neutrality) 12) vātsalya (parenthood).
The sum total of all these rasas is called affection or love. Primarily, such signs of love are manifested in adoration, service, friendship, eternal affection, and conjugal love. And when these five are absent, love is present indirectly in anger, wonder, comedy, chivalry, fear, shock and so on. For example, when a man is in love with a woman, the rasa is called conjugal love. But when such love affairs are disturbed there may be wonder, anger, shock, or even horror. Sometimes love affairs between two persons culminate in ghastly murder scenes. Such rasas are displayed between man and man and between animal and animal. There is no possibility of an exchange of rasa between a man and an animal or between a man and any other species of living beings within the material world. The rasas are exchanged between members of the same species. But as far as the spirit souls are concerned, they are one qualitatively with the Supreme Lord. Therefore, the rasas were originally exchanged between the spiritual living being and the spiritual whole, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The spiritual exchange or rasa is fully exhibited in spiritual existence between living beings and the Supreme Lord.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is therefore described in the Śruti mantras, Vedic hymns, as "the fountainhead of all rasas." When one associates with the Supreme Lord and exchanges one’s constitutional rasa with the Lord, then the living being is actually happy.
These Śruti mantras indicate that every living being has its constitutional position which is endowed with a particular type of rasa which is to be exchanged with the Personality of Godhead. In the liberated condition only, this primary rasa is experienced in full. In the material existence, the rasa is experienced in the perverted form, which is temporary. And thus the rasas of the material world are exhibited in the material form of raudra (anger) and so on.
Therefore, one who attains full knowledge of these different rasas, which are the basic principles of activities, can understand the false representations of the original rasas which are reflected in the material world. The learned scholar seeks to relish the real rasa in the spiritual form. In the beginning he desires to become one with the Supreme. Thus, intelligent transcendentalists cannot go beyond this conception of becoming one with the spirit whole, without knowing of the different rasas.
In this śloka, it is definitely stated that spiritual rasa, which is relished even in the liberated stage, can be experienced in the literature of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam due to its being the ripened fruit of all Vedic knowledge. By submissively hearing this transcendental literature, one can attain the full pleasure of his heart’s desire. But, one must be very careful to hear the message from the right source. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is exactly received from the right source. It was brought by Nārada Muni from the spiritual world and given to his disciple Śrī Vyāsadeva. The latter in turn delivered the message to his son Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī, and Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī delivered the message to Mahārāja Parīkṣit just seven days before the King’s death. Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī was a liberated soul from his very birth. He was liberated even in the womb of his mother, and he did not undergo any sort of spiritual training after his birth. At birth no one is qualified, neither in the mundane nor the spiritual sense. But Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī, due to his being a perfectly liberated soul, did not have to undergo an evolutionary process for spiritual realization. Yet despite his being a completely liberated person situated in the transcendental position above the three material modes, he was attracted to this transcendental rasa of the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is adored by liberated souls who sing Vedic hymns. The Supreme Lord’s pastimes are more attractive to liberated souls than to mundane people. He is of necessity not impersonal because it is only possible to carry on transcendental rasa with a person.
In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam the transcendental pastimes of the Lord are narrated, and the narration is systematically depicted by Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Thus the subject matter is appealing to all classes of persons, including those who seek liberation and those who seek to become one with the supreme whole.
In Sanskrit the parrot is also known as śuka. When a ripened fruit is cut by the red beaks of such birds, its sweet flavor is enhanced. The Vedic fruit which is mature and ripe in knowledge is spoken through the lips of Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī, who is compared to the parrot not for his ability to recite the Bhāgavatam exactly as he heard it from his learned father, but for his ability to present the work in a manner that would appeal to all classes of men.
The subject matter is so presented through the lips of Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī that any sincere listener that hears submissively can at once relish transcendental tastes which are distinct from the perverted tastes of the material world. The ripened fruit is not dropped all of a sudden from the highest planet of Kṛṣṇaloka. Rather, it has come down carefully through the chain of disciplic succession without change or disturbance. Foolish people who are not in the transcendental disciplic succession commit great blunders by trying to understand the highest transcendental rasa known as the rasa dance without following in the footsteps of Śukadeva Gosvāmī, who presents this fruit very carefully by stages of transcendental realization. One should be intelligent to know the position of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam by considering personalities like Śukadeva Gosvāmī, who deals with the subject so carefully. This process of disciplic succession of the Bhāgavata school suggests that in the future also Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam has to be understood from a person who is factually a representative of Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī. A professional man who makes a business out of reciting the Bhāgavatam illegally is certainly not a representative of Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Such a man’s business is only to earn his livelihood. Therefore one should refrain from hearing the lectures of such professional men. Such men usually go to the most confidential part of the literature without undergoing the gradual process of understanding this grave subject. They usually plunge into the subject matter of the rasa dance, which is misunderstood by the foolish class of men. Some of them take this to be immoral, while others try to cover it up by their own stupid interpretations. They have no desire to follow in the footsteps of Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī.
One should conclude, therefore, that the serious student of the rasa should receive the message of Bhāgavatam in the chain of disciplic succession from Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī, who describes the Bhāgavatam from its very beginning and not whimsically to satisfy the mundaner who has very little knowledge in transcendental science. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is so carefully presented that a sincere and serious person can at once enjoy the ripened fruit of Vedic knowledge simply by drinking the nectarean juice through the mouth of Śukadeva Gosvāmī or his bona fide representative.
naimiṣe—in the forest known as Naimiṣāraṇya; animiṣa-kṣetre—the spot which is especially a favorite of Viṣṇu (who does not close His eyelids); ṛṣayaḥ—sages; śaunaka-ādayaḥ—headed by the sage Śaunaka; satram—sacrifice; svargāya—the Lord who is glorified, in heaven; lokāya—and for the devotees who are always in touch with the Lord; sahasra—one thousand; samam—years; āsata—performed.
Once, in a holy place in the forest of Naimiṣāraṇya, great sages headed by the sage Śaunaka assembled to perform a great thousand-year sacrifice for the satisfaction of the Lord and His devotees.
The prelude of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam was spoken in the previous three ślokas Now the main topic of this great literature is being presented. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, after its first recitation by Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī, was repeated for the second time at Naimiṣāraṇya.
In the Vāyavīya Tantra, it is said that Brahmā, the engineer of this particular universe, contemplated a great wheel which could enclose the universe. The hub of this great circle was fixed at a particular place known as Naimiṣāraṇya. Similarly, there is another reference to the forest of Naimiṣāraṇya in the Varāha Purāṇa, where it is stated that by performance of sacrifice at this place, the strength of demoniac people is curtailed. Thus brāhmaṇas prefer Naimiṣāraṇya for such sacrificial performances.
The devotees of Lord Viṣṇu offer all kinds of sacrifices for His pleasure. The devotees are always attached to service of the Lord, whereas fallen souls are attached to the pleasures of material existence. In Bhagavad-gītā, it is said that anything performed in the material world for any reason other than for the pleasure of Lord Viṣṇu causes further bondage for the performer. It is enjoined therefore that all acts must be performed sacrificially for the satisfaction of Viṣṇu and His devotees. This will bring everyone peace and prosperity.
The great sages are always anxious to do good to the people in general, and as such the sages headed by Śaunaka and others assembled at this holy place of Naimiṣāraṇya with a program of performing a great and continuous chain of sacrificial ceremonies. Forgetful men do not know the right path for peace and prosperity. However, the sages know it well, and therefore for the good men they are always anxious to perform acts which may bring about peace in the world. They are sincere friends to all living entities, and at the risk of great personal inconvenience they are always engaged in the service of the Lord for the good of all people. Lord Viṣṇu is just like a great tree, and all others, including the demigods, men, Siddhas, Cāraṇas, Vidyādharas and other living entities, are like branches, twigs and leaves of that tree. By pouring water on the root of the tree, all the parts of the tree are automatically nourished. Only those branches and leaves which are detached cannot be so satisfied. Detached branches and leaves dry up gradually despite all watering attempts. Similarly, human society, when it is detached from the Personality of Godhead like detached branches and leaves, is not capable of being watered, and one attempting to do so is simply wasting his energy and resources.
The modern materialistic society is detached from its relation to the Supreme Lord. And all its plans which are being made by atheistic leaders are sure to be baffled in every step. Yet they do not wake up to this.
In this age, the congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord is the prescribed method for waking up. The ways and means are most scientifically presented by Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and intelligent persons may take advantage of His teachings in order to bring about real peace and prosperity. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is also presented for this same purpose, and this will be explained more specifically later in the text.
ta ekadā tu munayaḥ
sat-kṛtaṁ sūtam āsīnaṁ
papracchur idam ādarāt
te—the sages; ekadā—one day; tu—but; munayaḥ—sages; prātaḥ—morning; huta—burning; huta-agnayaḥ—the sacrificial fire; sat-kṛtam—due respects; sūtam—Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī; āsīnam—seated on; papracchuḥ—made inquiries; idam—on this (as follows); ādarāt—with due regards.
One day, after finishing their morning duties by burning a sacrificial fire and respectfully offering a seat to Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī, the great sages made earnest inquiries about the following matters.
Morning is the best time to hold spiritual services. The great sages offered the speaker of the Bhāgavatam an elevated seat of respect called the Vyāsāsana, or the seat of Śrī Vyāsadeva. Śrī Vyāsadeva is the original spiritual preceptor for all men. And all other preceptors are considered to be his representatives. A representative is one who can exactly present the viewpoint of Śrī Vyāsadeva. Śrī Vyāsadeva impregnated the message of Bhāgavatam unto Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī, and Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī heard it from him (Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī). All bona fide representatives of Śrī Vyāsadeva in the chain of disciplic succession are to be understood to be Gosvāmīs. These Gosvāmīs restrain all their senses, and they stick to the path made by the previous ācāryas. The Gosvāmīs do not deliver lectures on the Bhāgavatam capriciously. Rather, they execute their services most carefully, following their predecessors who delivered the spiritual message unbroken to them.
Those who listen to the Bhāgavatam may put questions to the speaker in order to elicit the clear meaning, but this should not be done in a challenging spirit. One must submit questions with a great regard for the speaker and the subject matter. This is also the way recommended in Bhagavad-gītā. One must learn the transcendental subject by submissive aural reception from the right sources. Therefore these sages addressed the speaker Sūta Gosvāmī with great respect.
tvayā khalu purāṇāni
ākhyātāny apy adhītāni
dharma-śāstrāṇi yāny uta
ṛṣayaḥ—the sages; ūcuḥ—said; tvayā—by you; khalu—undoubtedly; purāṇāni—the supplements to the Vedas with illustrative narrations; sa-itihāsāni—along with the histories; ca—and; anagha—freed from all vices; ākhyātāni—explained; api—although; adhītāni—well read; dharma-śāstrāṇi—scriptures giving right directions to progressive life; yāni—all these; uta—said.
The sages said: Respected Sūta Gosvāmī, you are completely free from all vice. You are well versed in all religious scriptures, the Purāṇas and histories, for you have gone through them under proper guidance and have also explained them.
A Gosvāmī, or the bona fide representative of Śrī Vyāsadeva, must be free from all kinds of vices. The four major vices of Kali-yuga are 1.) illicit connection with women, 2.) animal slaughter, 3.) intoxication, 4.) speculative gambling of all sorts. A Gosvāmī must be free from all these vices before he can dare sit on the Vyāsāsana. No one should be allowed to sit on the Vyāsāsana who is not spotless in character and who is not freed from the above mentioned vices. He should not only be freed from all such vices, but he must also be well versed in all revealed scriptures or in the Vedas. The Purāṇas are also parts of the Vedas. And histories like the Mahābhārata or Rāmāyaṇa are also parts of the Vedas. The ācārya or the gosvāmī must be well acquainted with all these literatures. To hear and explain them is more important than reading them. One can only assimilate the knowledge of the revealed scriptures by hearing and explaining. Hearing is called śravaṇa, and explaining is called kīrtana. The two processes of śravaṇa and kīrtana are of primary importance to progressive spiritual life. Only one who has properly grasped the transcendental knowledge from the right source by submissive hearing can properly explain the subject.
yāni veda-vidāṁ śreṣṭho
anye ca munayaḥ sūta
yāni—all that; veda-vidām—scholars of the Vedas; śreṣṭhaḥ—seniormost; bhagavān—incarnation of Godhead; bādarāyaṇaḥ—Vyāsadeva; anye—others; ca—and; munayaḥ—the sages; sūta—O Sūta Gosvāmī; parāvara-vidaḥ—amongst the learned scholars, one who is conversant with physical and metaphysical knowledge; viduḥ—one who knows.
Being the eldest learned Vedāntist, O Sūta Gosvāmī, you are acquainted with the knowledge of Vyāsadeva, who is the incarnation of Godhead, and you also know other sages who are fully versed in all kinds of physical and metaphysical knowledge.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is a natural commentation on the Brahma-sūtra or the Bādarāyaṇa Vedānta-sūtras. It is called natural because Vyāsadeva is author of both Vedānta-sūtras as well as Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam or the essence of all Vedic literatures. Besides Vyāsadeva, there are other sages who are the authors of six different philosophical systems, namely Gautama, Kaṇāda, Kapila, Patañjali, Jaimini and Aṣṭāvakra. Theism is explained completely in the Vedānta-sūtra, whereas in other systems of philosophical speculations, practically no mention is given to the ultimate cause of all causes. One can sit on the Vyāsāsana only after being conversant in all systems of philosophy so that one can present fully the theistic views of the Bhāgavatam in defiance of all other systems. Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī was the proper teacher, and therefore the sages at Naimiṣāraṇya elevated him to the Vyāsāsana. Śrīla Vyāsadeva is designated herein as the Personality of Godhead because he is the authorized incarnation.
vettha tvaṁ saumya tat sarvaṁ
brūyuḥ snigdhasya śiṣyasya
guravo guhyam apy uta
vettha—you are well conversant; tvam—your honor; saumya—one who is pure and simple; tat—those; sarvam—all; tattvataḥ—In fact; tat—their; anugrahāt—by the favor of; brūyuḥ—will tell; snigdhasya—of the one who is submissive; śiṣyasya—of the disciple; guravaḥ—the spiritual masters; guhyam—secret; api uta—endowed with.
And because you are submissive, your spiritual masters have endowed you with all their favors. Therefore you can tell us all you have learned from them.
The secret of success in spiritual life is in satisfying the spiritual master and thereby getting His sincere blessings. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākur has sung in his famous eight stanzas on the spiritual master as follows: "I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of my spiritual master. Only by his satisfaction can one please the Personality of Godhead, and when he is dissatisfied there is only havoc on the path of spiritual realization." It is essential, therefore, that a disciple be very much obedient and submissive to the bona fide spiritual master. Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī fulfilled all these qualifications as a disciple, and therefore he was endowed with all favors by his learned and self-realized spiritual masters such as Śrīla Vyāsadeva and others. The sages of Naimiṣāraṇya were confident that Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī was bona fide. Therefore they were anxious to hear from him.
bhavatā yad viniścitam
puṁsām ekāntataḥ śreyas
tan naḥ śaṁsitum arhasi
tatra—thereof; tatra—thereof; añjasā—made easy; āyuṣman—blessed with good duration of life; bhavatā—by your good self; yat—whatever; viniścitam—ascertained; puṁsām—for the people in general; ekāntataḥ—absolutely; śreyaḥ—ultimate good; tat—that; naḥ—to us; śaṁsitum—to explain; arhasi—deserve.
Please, therefore, being blessed with many years, explain to us what you ascertain to be the absolute and ultimate good for the people in general.
In Bhagavad-gītā, worship of the ācārya is recommended. The ācāryas and the gosvāmīs are always well-wishers for the general public. They are especially spiritual well-wishers. Spiritual well-being is automatically followed by material well-being. The ācāryas therefore give directions in spiritual well-being for the people in general. Foreseeing the incompetencies of the people in this age of Kali, or the iron age of quarrel, the sages requested that Sūta Gosvāmī give a summary of all revealed scriptures because the people of this age are condemned in every respect. The sages, therefore, inquired of the absolute good, which is the ultimate good for the people. The condemned state of affairs of the people of this age is described as follows.
kalāv asmin yuge janāḥ
manda-bhāgyā hy upadrutāḥ
prāyeṇa—almost always; alpa—meager; āyuṣaḥ—duration of life; sabhya—member of the learned society; kalau—in this age of Kali (quarrel); asmin—herein; yuge—age; janāḥ—the public; mandāḥ—lazy; sumanda-matayaḥ—misguided; manda-bhāgyāḥ—unlucky; hi—and above all; upadrutāḥ—disturbed.
O learned one, in this iron age of Kali men have but short lives. They are quarrelsome, lazy, misguided, unlucky and above all, always disturbed.
The devotees of the Lord are always anxious for the spiritual improvement of the general public. When the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya analyzed the state of affairs of the people in this age of Kali, they foresaw that men would live short lives. In Kali-yuga, the duration of life is shortened not so much because of insufficient food but because of irregular habits. By keeping regular habits and eating simple food, any man can maintain his health. Overeating, over sense gratification, over dependence on another’s mercy, and artificial standards of living sap the very vitality of human energy. Therefore the duration of life is shortened.
The people of this age are also very lazy, not only materially but in the matter of self-realization. The human life is especially meant for self-realization. That is to say, man should come to know what he is, what the world is, and what the supreme truth is. Human life is a means by which the living entity can end all miseries of material existence which arise in the hard struggle for existence and by which he can return to Godhead, his eternal home. But, due to a bad system of education, men have no desire for self-realization. Even if they come to know about it, they unfortunately become victims of misguided teachers.
In this age, men are not only victims of different political creeds and parties, but also of many different types of sense-gratificatory diversions, namely cinemas, sports, gambling, clubs, mundane libraries, bad associations, smoking, drinking, cheating, pilfering, bickerings, and so on. Their minds are always disturbed and full of anxieties due to so many different engagements. In this age, many unscrupulous men manufacture their own religious faiths which are not based on any revealed scriptures, and very often people who are addicted to sense gratification are attracted by such institutions. Consequently, in the name of religion so many sinful acts are being carried on, and the people in general have neither peace of mind nor health of body. The student (brahmacārī) communities are no longer being maintained, and householders do not observe the rules and regulations of the gṛhastha-āśrama. Consequently, the so-called vānaprastha and sannyāsīs who come out of such gṛhastha-āśramas are easily deviated from the rigid path. In the Kali-yuga the whole atmosphere is surcharged with faithlessness. Men are no longer interested in spiritual values. Material sense gratification is now the standard of civilization. For the maintenance of such material civilizations, man has formed complex nations and communities, and there is a constant strain of hot and cold wars between these different groups. It has become very difficult, therefore, to raise the spiritual standard due to the present distorted values of human society. The sages of Naimiṣāraṇya are anxious to disentangle all fallen souls, and here they are seeking the remedy from Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī.
ataḥ sādho ‘tra yat sāraṁ
brūhi bhadrāya bhūtānām
bhūrīṇi—multifarious; bhūri—many; karmāṇi—duties; śrotavyāni—to be learned; vibhāgaśaḥ—by division of subject matter; ataḥ—therefore; sādho—O sage; atra—herein; yat—whatever; sāram—essence; samuddhṛtya—by selection; manīṣayā—best to your knowledge; brūhi—please tell us; bhadrāya—for the good of; bhūtānām—the living beings; yena—by which; ātmā—self; suprasīdati—becomes fully satisfied.
There are many varieties of scriptures, and in all of them there are many prescribed duties which can be learned only after many years of study. Therefore, O sage, please select the essential teachings of all these scriptures and explain them for the good of all living beings, that by such instruction their hearts may be satisfied.
Ātmā or self is distinguished from matter and material elements. It is spiritual in constitution, and thus it is never satisfied by any amount of material planning. All scriptures and spiritual instructions are meant for the satisfaction of this self or ātmā. There are many varieties of approaches which are recommended for different types of living beings in different times and at different places. Consequently, the numbers of revealed scriptures are innumerable. There are different methods and prescribed duties recommended in these various scriptures. Taking into consideration the fallen condition of the people in general in this age of Kali, the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya suggested that Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī relate the essence of all such scriptures because in this age it is not possible for the fallen souls to understand and undergo all the lessons of all these various scriptures in a varṇa and āśrama system.
The varṇa and āśrama society was considered to be the best institution for lifting the human being to the spiritual platform, but due to Kali-yuga it is not possible to execute the rules and regulations of these institutions. Nor is it possible for the people in general to completely sever relations with their families as the varṇāśrama institution prescribes. The whole atmosphere is surcharged with opposition. And considering this, one can see that spiritual emancipation for the common man in this age is very difficult. The reason for the sages’ inquiry into this matter is explained in the following verse.
sūta jānāsi bhadraṁ te
bhagavān sātvatāṁ patiḥ
jāto yasya cikīrṣayā
sūta—O Sūta Gosvāmī; jānāsi—you know; bhadram te—all blessings upon you; bhagavān—the Personality of Godhead; sātvatām—of the pure devotees; patiḥ—protector; devakyām—in the womb of Devakī; vasudevasya—by Vasudeva; jātaḥ—born of; yasya—for the purpose of; cikīrṣayā—executing.
All blessings upon you, O Sūta Gosvāmī. You know for what purpose the Personality of Godhead appeared in the womb of Devakī as the son of Vāsudeva.
Bhagavān means the Almighty God who is the controller of all opulences, power, fame, beauty, knowledge and renunciation. He is the protector of His pure devotees. Although God is equally disposed to everyone, He is especially inclined to His devotees. Sat means the Absolute Truth. And persons who are servitors of the Absolute Truth are called sātvatas. And the Personality of Godhead who protects such pure devotees is known as the protector of the sātvatas. Bhadram or "blessings upon you" indicates the sages’ anxiety to know the Absolute Truth from the speaker. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appeared to Devakī, the wife of Vasudeva. Vasudeva is the symbol of the transcendental position wherein the appearance of the Supreme Lord takes place.
tan naḥ śuśrūṣamāṇānām
kṣemāya ca bhavāya ca
tat—those; naḥ—unto us; śuśrūṣamāṇānām—those who are endeavoring for; arhasi—ought to do it; aṅga—O Sūta Gosvāmī; anuvarṇitum—to explain by following in the footsteps of previous ācāryas; yasya—whose; avatāraḥ—incarnation; bhūtānām—of the living beings; kṣemāya—for good; ca—and; bhavāya—upliftment; ca—and.
Enlighten us, O Sūta, about the Personality of Godhead and His incarnations. We are eager to learn those teachings imparted by previous masters [ācāryas], for one is uplifted by hearing them.
The conditions for hearing the transcendental message of the Absolute Truth are set forth herein. The first condition is that the audience must be very sincere and eager to hear. And the speaker must be in the line of disciplic succession from the recognized ācārya. The transcendental message of the Absolute is not understandable by those who are materially absorbed. Under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master, one becomes gradually purified. Therefore, one must be in the chain of disciplic succession and learn the spiritual art by submissive hearing. In the case of Sūta Gosvāmī and the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya, all these conditions are fulfilled because Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī is in the line of Śrīla Vyāsadeva, and the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya are all sincere souls who are anxious to learn the truth. Thus the transcendental topics of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s superhuman activities, His incarnation, His birth, appearance or disappearance, His forms, His names and so on are all easily understandable because all requirements are fulfilled. Such discourses help all men on the path of spiritual realization.
āpannaḥ saṁsṛtiṁ ghorāṁ
yan-nāma vivaśo gṛṇan
tataḥ sadyo vimucyeta
yad bibheti svayaṁ bhayam
āpannaḥ—being entangled; saṁsṛtim—in the hurdle of birth and death; ghorām—too complicated; yat—what; nāma—the absolute name; vivaśaḥ—unconsciously; gṛṇan—chanting; tataḥ—from that; sadyaḥ—at once; vimucyeta—gets freedom; yat—that which; bibheti—fears; svayam—personally; bhayam-fear itself.
Living beings who are entangled in the meshes of birth and death can be freed immediately by even unconsciously chanting the holy name of Kṛṣṇa, which is feared by fear personified.
Vāsudeva or Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Absolute Personality of Godhead, is the supreme controller of everything. There is no one in creation who is not afraid of the rage of the Almighty. Great asuras like Rāvaṇa, Hiraṇyakaśipu, Kaṁsa, and others who were very powerful living entities were all killed by the Personality of Godhead. And the almighty Vāsudeva has empowered His name with the powers of His personal Self. Everything is related to Him, and everything has its identity in Him. It is stated herein that the name of Kṛṣṇa is feared even by fear personified. This indicates that the name of Kṛṣṇa is nondifferent from Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, the name of Kṛṣṇa is as powerful as Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself. There is no difference at all. Anyone, therefore, can take advantage of the holy names of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa even in the midst of greatest dangers. The transcendental name of Kṛṣṇa, even though uttered unconsciously or by force of circumstances, can help one obtain freedom from the hurdle of birth and death.
sadyaḥ punanty upaspṛṣṭāḥ
yat—whose; pāda—lotus feet; saṁśrayāḥ—those who have taken shelter of; sūta—O Sūta Gosvāmī; munayaḥ—great sages; praśamāyanāḥ—absorbed in devotion to the Supreme; sadyaḥ—at once; punanti—sanctify; upaspṛṣṭāḥ—simply by association; svar-dhunya—of the sacred Ganges; apaḥ—water; anusevayā—bringing into use.
O Sūta, those great sages who have completely taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord can at once sanctify those who come in touch with them, whereas the waters of the Ganges can sanctify only after prolonged use.
Pure devotees of the Lord are more powerful than the waters of the sacred river Ganges. One can derive spiritual benefit out of prolonged use of the Ganges waters. But one can be sanctified at once by the mercy of a pure devotee of the Lord. In Bhagavad-gītā it is said that any person, regardless of birth as śūdra, woman, or merchant, can take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord and by so doing can return to Godhead. To take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord means to take shelter of the pure devotees. The pure devotees whose only business is serving are honored by the names Prabhupāda and Viṣṇupāda, which indicate such devotees to be representatives of the lotus feet of the Lord. Anyone, therefore, who takes shelter of the lotus feet of a pure devotee by accepting the pure devotee as his spiritual master can be at once purified. Such devotees of the Lord are honored equally with the Lord because they are engaged in the most confidential service of the Lord, for they deliver out of the material world the fallen souls whom the Lord wants to return home, back to Godhead. Such pure devotees are better known as vice-lords according to revealed scriptures. The sincere disciple of the pure devotee considers the spiritual master equal to the Lord, but always considers himself to be a humble servant of the servant of the Lord. This is the pure devotional path.
ko vā bhagavatas tasya
śuddhi-kāmo na śṛṇuyād
kaḥ—who; vā—rather; bhagavataḥ—of the Lord; tasya—his; puṇya—virtuous; ślokeḍya—worshipable by prayers; karmaṇaḥ—deeds; śuddhi-kāmaḥ—desiring deliverance from all sins; na—not; śṛṇuyāt—does hear; yaśaḥ—glories; kali—of the age of quarrel; malāpaham—the agent for sanctification.
Who is there, desiring deliverance from the vices of the Age of Kali, who is not willing to hear the glories of the Lord?
The Age of Kali is the most condemned age due to its quarrelsome features. Kali-yuga is so saturated with vicious habits that there is a great fight at the slightest misunderstanding. Those who are engaged in the pure devotional service of the Lord, who are without any desire for self-aggrandizement and who are freed from the effects of fruitive actions and dry philosophical speculations are capable of getting out of the estrangements of this complicated age. The leaders of the people are very much anxious to live in peace and friendship, but they have no information of the simple method of hearing the glories of the Lord. On the contrary, such leaders are opposed to the propagation of the glories of the Lord. In other words, the foolish leaders want to completely deny the existence of the Lord. In the name of secular state, such leaders are enacting various plans every year. But by the insurmountable intricacies of the material nature of the Lord, all these plans for progress are being constantly frustrated. They have no eyes to see that their attempts at peace and friendship are failing. But here is the hint to get over the hurdle. If we want actual peace, we must open the road to understand the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa and glorify Him for His virtuous activities as they are depicted in the pages of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
tasya karmāṇy udārāṇi
brūhi naḥ śraddadhānānāṁ
līlayā dadhataḥ kalāḥ
tasya—His; karmāṇi—transcendental acts; udārāṇi—magnanimous; parigītāni—broadcast; sūribhiḥ—by the great souls; brūhi—please speak; naḥ—unto us; śraddadhānānāṁ—ready to receive with respect; līlayā—pastimes; dadhataḥ—advented; kalāḥ—incarnations.
His transcendental acts are magnificent and gracious, and great learned sages like Nārada sing of them. Please, therefore, speak to us, who are eager to hear about His adventures which He performs in His various incarnations.
The Personality of Godhead is never inactive as some less intelligent persons suggest. His works are magnificent and magnanimous. His creations both material and spiritual are all wonderful and contain all variegatedness. They are described nicely by such liberated souls as Śrīla Nārada, Vyāsa, Vālmīki, Devala, Asita, Madhva, Śrī Caitanya, Rāmānuja, Viṣṇusvāmī, Nimbārka, Śrīdhara, Viśvanātha, Baladeva, Bhaktivinode, Siddhānta Sarasvatī and many other learned and self-realized souls. These creations, both material and spiritual, are full of opulence, beauty, and knowledge, but the spiritual realm is more magnificent due to its being full of knowledge, bliss and eternity. The material creations are manifested for some time as perverted shadows of the spiritual kingdom and can be likened to cinemas. They attract people of less intelligent caliber who are attracted by false things. Such foolish men have no information of the reality, and they take it for granted that the false material manifestation is the all in all. But more intelligent men guided by sages like Vyāsa and Nārada know that the eternal kingdom of God is more delightful, larger, and eternally full of bliss and knowledge. Those who are not conversant with the activities of the Lord and His transcendental realm are sometimes favored by the Lord in His adventures as incarnations wherein He displays the eternal bliss of His association in the transcendental realm. By such activities He attracts the conditioned souls of the material world. Some of these conditioned souls are engaged in the false enjoyment of material senses and others in simply negating their real life in the spiritual world. These less intelligent persons are known as karmīs or fruitive workers, and the others are known as jñānīs or dry mental speculators. But above these two classes of men is the transcendentalist known as sātvata or the devotee who is neither busy with rampant material activity nor with material speculation. He is engaged in the positive service of the Lord, and thereby he derives the highest spiritual benefit unknown to the karmīs and jñānīs.
As the supreme controller of both the material and spiritual worlds, the Lord has different incarnations of unlimited categories. Incarnations like Brahmā, Rudra, Manu, Pṛthu, Vyāsa and so on are His material qualitative incarnations, but His incarnations like Rāma, Narasiṁha, Varāha, Vāmana, and so on are His transcendental incarnations. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the fountainhead of all incarnations, and He is therefore the cause of all causes.
athākhyāhi harer dhīmann
līlā vidadhataḥ svairam
atha—therefore; ākhyāhi—describe; hareḥ—of the Lord; dhīman—O sagacious one; avatāra—incarnations; kathāḥ—narratives; śubhāḥ—auspicious; līlā—adventures; vidadhataḥ—performed; svairam—pastimes; īśvarasya—the supreme controller’s; ātmā—personal; māyayā—energies.
O wise Sūta, please narrate to us the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Godhead’s multi-incarnations. Such auspicious adventures and pastimes of the Lord are performed by His internal powers.
For the creation, maintenance, and destruction of the material worlds, the Supreme Lord Personality of Godhead Himself appears in many thousands of forms of incarnations, and the specific adventures found in those transcendental forms are all auspicious. Both those who are present during such activities and those who hear the transcendental narrations of such activities are benefited.
vayaṁ tu na vitṛpyāma
svādu svādu pade pade
vayam—we; tu—but; na—not; vitṛpyāmaḥ—shall be at rest; uttama-śloka—the Personality of Godhead who is glorified by transcendental prayers; vikrame—adventures; yat—which; śṛṇvatām—by continuous hearing; rasa-humor; jñānām—those who are conversant with; svādu—relishing; svādu—palatable; pade pade—in every step.
We never tire of hearing the transcendental pastimes of the Personality of Godhead who is glorified by hymns and prayers. Those who enjoy association with Him relish hearing of His pastimes at very moment.
There is a great difference between mundane stories, fiction, or history and the transcendental pastimes of the Lord. The histories of the whole universe contain references to the pastimes of the incarnations of the Lord. The Rāmāyaṇa, Mahābhārata, and the Purāṇas are histories of bygone ages recorded in connection with the pastimes of the incarnations of the Lord and therefore remain fresh even after repeated readings. For example, anyone may read Bhagavad-gītā or the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam repeatedly throughout his whole life and yet find in them new light of information. Mundane news is static whereas transcendental news is dynamic, inasmuch as the spirit is dynamic and matter is static. Those who have developed a taste for understanding the transcendental subject matter are never tired of hearing such narrations. One is quickly satiated by mundane activities, but no one is satiated by transcendental or devotional activities. Uttama-śloka indicates that literature which is not meant for nescience. Mundane literature is in the mode of darkness or ignorance, whereas transcendental literature is quite different. Transcendental literature is above the mode of darkness, and its light becomes more luminous with progressive reading and realization of the transcendental subject matter. The so-called liberated persons are never satisfied by the repetition of the words ahaṁ brahmāsmi Such artificial realization of Brahman becomes hackneyed, and so to relish real pleasure they turn to the narrations of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Those who are not so fortunate turn to altruism and worldly philanthropy. This means the Māyāvāda philosophy is mundane, whereas the philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is transcendental.
kṛtavān kila karmāṇi
saha rāmeṇa keśavaḥ
kṛtavān—done by; kila—what and what; karmāṇi—acts; saha—along with; rāmeṇa—Balarāma; keśavaḥ—Śrī Kṛṣṇa; atimartyāni—superhuman; bhagavān—the Personality of Godhead; gūḍhaḥ—masked as; kapaṭa—apparently; mānuṣaḥ—human being.
Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, and Balarāma played like human beings, and so masked They performed many superhuman acts.
The doctrines of anthropomorphism or that of zoomorphism are never applicable to Śrī Kṛṣṇa or the Personality of Godhead. The theory that a man becomes God by dint of penance and austerities is very much rampant nowadays, especially in India. Since Lord Rāma, Lord Kṛṣṇa, and Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu were detected by the sages and saints to be the Personality of Godhead as indicated in revealed scriptures, many unscrupulous men have created their own incarnations. This process of concocting an incarnation of God has become an ordinary business, especially in Bengal. Any popular personality with a few traits of mystic powers will display some feat of jugglery and easily become an incarnation of Godhead by popular vote. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa was not that type of incarnation. He was actually the Personality of Godhead from the very beginning of His appearance. He appeared before His so-called mother as four-armed Viṣṇu. Then at the request of the mother, He became like a human child and at once left her for another devotee at Gokula where He was accepted as the son of Nanda Mahārāja and Yaśodā Mātā. Similarly, Śrī Baladeva, the counter part of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, was also considered a human child born of another wife of Śrī Vasudeva. In Bhagavad-gītā, the Lord says that His birth and deeds are transcendental and that anyone who is so fortunate as to know the transcendental nature of His birth and deeds will at once become liberated and eligible to return to the kingdom of God. So knowledge of the transcendental nature of the birth and deeds of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is sufficient for liberation. In the Bhāgavatam, the transcendental nature of the Lord is described in nine cantos, and in the Tenth Canto His specific pastimes are taken up. All this becomes known as one’s reading of this literature progresses. It is important to note here, however, that the Lord exhibited His divinity even from the lap of His mother, that His deeds are all superhuman (He lifted Govardhana Hill at the age of six), and that all these acts definitely prove Him to be actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Yet, due to His mystic covering, He was always accepted as an ordinary human child by His so-called father and mother and other relatives. Whenever some herculean task was performed by Him, the father and mother took it otherwise. And they remained satisfied with unflinching filial love for their son. As such, the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya describe Him as apparently resembling a human being, but actually He is the Supreme Almighty Personality of Godhead.
kalim āgatam ājñāya
kṣetre ‘smin vaiṣṇave vayam
kathāyāṁ sakṣaṇā hareḥ
kalim—the age of Kali (iron age of quarrel); āgatam—having arrived; ājñāya—knowing this; kṣetre—in this tract of land; asmin—in this; vaiṣṇave—specially meant for the devotee of the Lord; vayam—we; āsīnā—seated; dīrgha—prolonged; satreṇa—for performance of sacrifices; kathāyām—in the words of; sakṣaṇā—with time at our disposal; hareḥ—of the Personality of Godhead.
Knowing well that the Age of Kali has already begun, we are assembled here in this holy place to hear at great length the transcendental message of God and in this way perform sacrifice.
This age of Kali is not at all suitable for self-realization as was Satya-yuga, the golden age, or Tretā or Dvāpara yugas, the silver and copper ages. For self-realization, the people in Satya-yuga, living a lifetime of a hundred thousand years, were able to perform prolonged meditation. And in Tretā-yuga, when the duration of life was ten thousand years, self-realization was attained by performance of great sacrifice. And in the Dvāpara-yuga when the duration of life was for one thousand years, self-realization was attained by worshipping the Lord. But in the Kali-yuga, the maximum duration of life being one hundred years only and that combined with various difficulties, the process of self-realization is recommended by hearing and chanting of the holy name, fame, and pastimes of the Lord. The sages of Naimiṣāraṇya began this process for the devotees of the Lord. So they prepared themselves to hear the pastimes of the Lord over a period of one thousand years. By the example of these sages one should learn that regular hearing and recitation of the Bhāgavatam is the only way for self-realization. Other attempts are simply a waste of time, for they do not give any tangible results. Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu preached this system of Bhāgavata-dharma, and He recommended that all those who were born in India should take the responsibility of broadcasting the messages of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, primarily the message of Bhagavad-gītā. And when one is well established in the teachings of Bhagavad-gītā, he can take up the study of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam for further enlightenment in self-realization.
tvaṁ naḥ sandarśito dhātrā
kaliṁ sattva-haraṁ puṁsāṁ
tvam—your goodness; naḥ—unto us; sandarśitaḥ—meeting; dhātrā—by providence; dustaram—insurmountable; nistitīrṣatām—for those desiring to cross over; kalim—the age of Kali; sattva-haram—that which deteriorates the good qualities; puṁsām—of the man; karṇa-dhāraḥ—captain; iva—as; arṇavam—the ocean.
We think that we have met Your Grace by the will of providence, and thus we accept you as captain of the ship for those who desire to cross the dangerous ocean of Kali, which destroys all the good qualities of a human being.
The age of Kali is very dangerous for the human being. Human life is simply meant for self-realization, but due to this dangerous age, men have completely forgotten the aim of life. In this age, the life span will gradually decrease. People will gradually lose their memory, finer sentiments, strength, and better qualities. A list of the anomalies for this age is given in the Twelfth Canto of this work. And so this age is very difficult for those who want to utilize this life for self-realization. The people are so busy with sense gratification that they completely forget about self-realization. Out of madness they frankly say that there is no need for self-realization because they do not realize that this brief life is but a moment on our great journey towards self-realization. The whole system of education is geared to sense gratification, and if a learned man thinks it over, he sees that the children of this age are being intentionally sent to the slaughterhouses of so-called education. Learned men, therefore, must be cautious of this dangerous age, and if they at all want to cross over the dangerous ocean of Kali, they must follow the footsteps of the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya and accept Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī or his bona fide representative as the captain of the ship. The ship is the message of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the shape of Bhagavad-gītā or the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
brūhi yogeśvare kṛṣṇe
svāṁ kāṣṭhām adhunopete
dharmaḥ kaṁ śaraṇaṁ gataḥ
brūhi—please tell; yoga-īśvare—the Lord of all mystic powers; kṛṣṇe—Lord Kṛṣṇa; brahmaṇye—the Absolute Truth; dharma—religion; varmaṇi—protector; svām—own; kāṣṭhām—abode; adhunā—nowadays; upete—having gone away; dharmaḥ—religion; kam—unto whom; śaraṇam—shelter; gataḥ—gone.
Now that Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Absolute Truth, the master of all mystic powers, has departed for His own abode, please tell us by whom religious principles are presently protected.
Essentially religion is the prescribed codes enunciated by the Personality of Godhead Himself. Whenever there is gross misuse or neglect of the principles of religion, the Supreme Lord appears Himself to restore religious principles. This is stated in Bhagavad-gītā. Here the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya are inquiring about these principles. The reply to this question is given later. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the transcendental sound representation of the Personality of Godhead, and thus it is the full representation of transcendental knowledge and religious principles.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the First Canto, First Chapter, of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled "Questions by the Sages."
Divinity and Divine Service
pratipūjya vacas teṣāṁ
vyāsaḥ uvāca—Vyāsa said; iti—thus; sampraśna—perfect inquires; saṁhṛṣṭaḥ—perfectly satisfied; viprāṇām—of the sages there; raumaharṣaṇiḥ—the son of Romaharṣaṇa, namely Ugraśravā; pratipūjya—after thanking them; vacaḥ—words; teṣām—their; pravaktum—to reply to them; upacakrame—attempted.
Ugraśravā [Sūta Gosvāmī], the son of Romaharṣaṇa, being pleased with the questions of the brāhmaṇas, thanked them and attempted to reply.
The sages of Naimiṣāraṇya asked Sūta Gosvāmī six questions, and so he is answering them one by one.
yaṁ pravrajantam anupetam apeta-kṛtyaṁ
dvaipāyano viraha-kātara ājuhāva
putreti tanmayatayā taravo ‘bhinedus
taṁ sarva-bhūta-hṛdayaṁ munim ānato ‘smi
sūtaḥ—Sūta Gosvāmī; uvāca—said; yam—whom; pravrajantam—while going away for the renounced order of life; anupetam—without being reformed by the sacred thread; apeta—not undergoing ceremonies; kṛtyam—prescribed duties; dvaipāyanaḥ—Vyāsadeva; viraha—separation; kātaraḥ—being afraid of; ājuhāva—exclaimed; putra iti—O my son; tanmayatayā—being absorbed in that way; taravaḥ—all the trees; abhineduḥ—responded; tam—unto him; sarva—all; bhūta—living entities; hṛdayam—heart; munim—sage; ānataḥ asmi—offer obeisances.
Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī said: Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto that great sage [Śukadeva Gosvāmī] who can enter the hearts of all. When he went away to take up the renounced order of life [sannyāsa], leaving home without undergoing the sacred thread ceremony, his father, Vyāsadeva, cried out to him, "Oh, my son!" Indeed, only the trees echoed in response to the begrieved father.
The institution of varṇa and āśrama prescribes many regulative duties to be observed by its followers. Such duties enjoin that a candidate willing to study the Vedas must approach a bona fide spiritual master and request acceptance as his disciple. The sacred thread is the sign of those who are competent to study the Vedas from the ācārya or the bona fide spiritual master. Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī did not undergo such a purificatory ceremony because he was a liberated soul from his very birth.
Generally, a man is born as an ordinary being, and by the purificatory processes he is born for the second time. When he sees a new light and seeks direction for spiritual progress, he approaches a spiritual master to instruct him in the Vedas. The spiritual master accepts only the sincere inquirer as his disciple and gives him the sacred thread. In this way a man becomes twice-born, or a dvija. After qualifying as a dvija one may study the Vedas, and after becoming well versed in the Vedas one becomes a vipra. A vipra or a qualified brāhmaṇa thus realizes the Absolute and makes further progress in spiritual life until he reaches the Vaiṣṇava stage. The Vaiṣṇava stage is the postgraduate status of a brāhmaṇa. A progressive brāhmaṇa must necessarily become a Vaiṣṇava, for a Vaiṣṇava is a self-realized, learned brāhmaṇa.
Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī was a Vaiṣṇava from the beginning; therefore, there was no need for him to undergo all the processes of the varṇāśrama institution. Ultimately the aim of varṇāśrama-dharma is to turn a crude man into a pure devotee of the Lord, or a Vaiṣṇava. Anyone, therefore, who becomes a Vaiṣṇava accepted by the first-class Vaiṣṇava or uttama-adhikārī Vaiṣṇava is already considered a brāhmaṇa, regardless of his birth or past deeds. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu accepted this principle and recognized Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākur as the ācārya of the holy name, although Ṭhākur Haridāsa appeared in a Mohammedan family. In conclusion, Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī was born a Vaiṣṇava, and, therefore, brahminism was included in him. He did not have to undergo any ceremonies. Any low born person—be he a Kirāta, Hūṇa, Āndhra, Pulinda, Pulkasa, Ābhīra, Śumbha, Yavana, Khasādi or even lower—can be delivered to the highest transcendental position by the mercy of Vaiṣṇavas. Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī was the spiritual master of Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī, and therefore he offers his respectful obeisances unto him before he begins his answers to the questions of the sages at Naimiṣāraṇya.
yaḥ svānubhāvam akhila-śruti-sāram ekam
adhyātma-dīpam atititīrṣatāṁ tamo ‘ndham
saṁsāriṇāṁ karuṇayāha purāṇa-guhyaṁ
taṁ vyāsa-sūnum upayāmi guruṁ munīnām
yaḥ—he who; svanubhāvam—self-assimiliated (experienced); akhila—all around; śruti—Vedas; sāram—cream; ekam—the only one; adhyātma—transcendental; dīpam—torchlight; atititīrṣatām—desiring to overcome; tamaḥ andam—deeply dark material existence; saṁsāriṇām—of the materialistic men; karuṇayā—out of causeless mercy; āha—said; purāṇa—supplementary to the Vedas; guhyam—very confidential; tam—unto him; vyāsa sūnum—the son of Vyāsadeva; upayāmi—let me offer my obeisances; gurum—spiritual master; munīnām—of the great sages.
Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto him [Śuka], the spiritual master of all sages, the son of Vyāsadeva, who, out of his great compassion for those gross materialists who struggle to cross over the darkest regions of material existence, spoke this Purāṇa [supplement to the Vedas], the cream of Vedic knowledge, after having personally assimilated it by experience.
In this prayer, Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī practically summarizes the complete introduction of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the natural supplementary commentary on the Vedānta-sūtras. The Vedānta-sūtras or the Brahma-sūtras were compiled by Vyāsadeva with a view to presenting just the cream of Vedic knowledge. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the natural commentary on this cream. Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī was a thoroughly realized master of the Vedānta-sūtra, and consequently he also personally realized the commentary, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. And just to show his boundless mercy upon bewildered materialistic men who want to cross completely over nescience, he recited for the first time this confidential knowledge.
There is no point in arguing that a materialistic man can be happy. No materialistic creature—be he the great Brahmā or an insignificant ant-can be happy. Everyone tries to make a permanent plan for happiness, but everyone is baffled by the laws of material nature. Therefore the materialistic world is called the darkest region of God’s creation. Yet the unhappy materialists can get out of it simply by desiring to get out. Unfortunately they are so foolish that they do not want to escape. Therefore they are compared to the camel who relishes thorny twigs because he likes the taste of the twigs mixed with blood. He does not realize that it is his own blood and that his tongue is being cut by the thorns. Similarly, to the materialist his own blood is as sweet as honey, and although he is always harassed by his own material creations, he does not wish to escape. Such materialists are called karmīs. Out of hundreds of thousands of karmīs, only a few may feel tired of material engagement and desire to get out of the labyrinth. Such intelligent persons are called jñānīs. The Vedānta-sūtra is directed to such jñānīs. But Śrīla Vyāsadeva, being the incarnation of the Supreme Lord, could foresee the misuse of the Vedānta-sūtra by unscrupulous men, and, therefore, he personally supplemented the Vedānta-sūtra with the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. It is clearly said that this Bhāgavatam is the original commentary on the Brahma-sūtras. Śrīla Vyāsadeva also instructed the Bhāgavatam to his own son, Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī, who was already at the liberated stage of transcendence. Śrīla Śukadeva realized it personally and then explained it. By the mercy of Śrīla Śukadeva, the Bhāgavata-Vedānta-sūtra is available for all those sincere souls who want to get out of material existence.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the one unrivalled commentary on Vedānta-sūtra. Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya intentionally did not touch it because he knew that it would be difficult for him to surpass the natural commentary. He wrote his Śārīraka-bhāṣya, and his so-called followers deprecated the Bhāgavatam as some "new" presentation. One should not be misled by such propaganda directed against the Bhāgavatam by the Māyāvāda school. From this introductory śloka, the beginning student should know that Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the only transcendental literature meant for those who are paramahaṁsas and completely freed from the material disease called malice. The Māyāvādīs are envious of the Personality of Godhead despite Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya’s admission that Nārāyaṇa, the Personality of Godhead, is above the material creation. The envious Māyāvādī cannot have access to the Bhāgavatam, but those who are really anxious to get out of this material existence may take shelter of this Bhāgavatam because it is uttered by the liberated Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī. It is the transcendental torchlight by which one can see perfectly the transcendental Absolute Truth realized as Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān.
naraṁ caiva narottamam
devīṁ sarasvatīṁ vyāsaṁ
tato jayam udīrayet
nārāyaṇam—the Personality of Godhead; namaskṛtya—after offering respectful obeisances; naram ca eva—and Nārāyaṇa Ṛṣi; narottamam—the supermost human being; devīm—the goddess; sarasvatīm—the mistress of learning; vyāsam—Vyāsadeva; tataḥ—thereafter; jayam—all that is meant for conquering; udīrayet—be announced.
Before reciting this Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which is our very means of conquest, I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa, unto Nara-nārāyaṇa Ṛṣi, the supermost human being, unto Mother Sarasvatī, the goddess of learning, and unto Śrīla Vyāsadeva, the author.
All the Vedic literatures and the Purāṇas are meant for conquering the darkest region of material existence. The living being is in the state of forgetfulness of his relation with God due to his being overly attracted to material sense gratification from time immemorial. His struggle for existence in the material world is perpetual, and it is not possible for him to get out of it by making plans. If he at all wants to conquer this perpetual struggle for existence, he must reestablish his eternal relation with God. And one who wants to adopt such remedial measures must take shelter of literatures such as the Vedas and the Purāṇas. Foolish people say that the Purāṇas have no connection with the Vedas. However, the Purāṇas are supplementary explanations of the Vedas intended for different types of men. All men are not equal. There are men who are conducted by the mode of goodness, others who are under the mode of passion and others who are under the mode of ignorance. The Purāṇas are so divided that any class of men can take advantage of them and gradually regain their lost position and get out of the hard struggle for existence. Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī shows the way of chanting the Purāṇas. This may be followed by persons who aspire to be preachers of the Vedic literatures and the Purāṇas. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the spotless Purāṇa, and it is especially meant for them who are desirous to get out of the material entanglement permanently.
munayaḥ sādhu pṛṣṭo ‘haṁ
yat kṛtaḥ kṛṣṇa-sampraśno
munayaḥ—of the sages; sādhu—this is relevant; pṛṣṭaḥ—questioned; aham—myself; bhavadbhiḥ—by all of you; loka—the world; maṅgalam—welfare; yat—because; kṛtaḥ—made; kṛṣṇa—the Personality of Godhead; sampraśnaḥ—relevant question; yena—by which; ātmā—self; suprasīdati—completely pleased.
O sages, I have been justly questioned by you. Your questions are worthy because they relate to Lord Kṛṣṇa and so are of relevance to the world’s welfare. Only questions of this sort are capable of completely satisfying the self.
As it is stated hereinbefore, in the Bhāgavatam the Absolute Truth is to be known, so the questions of the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya are proper and just because they pertain to Kṛṣṇa, who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth. In Bhagavad-gītā the Personality of Godhead says that in all the Vedas there is nothing but the urge for searching after Him, Lord Kṛṣṇa (Bg. 15.15). Thus the questions that pertain to Kṛṣṇa are the sum and substance of all the Vedic inquiries.
The whole world is full of questions and answers. The birds, beasts and men are all busy in the matter of perpetual questions and answers. In the morning the birds in the nest become busy with questions and answers, and in the evening also the same birds come back and again become busy with questions and answers. The human being, unless he is fast asleep at night, is busy with questions and answers. The businessmen in the market are busy with questions and answers, and so also the lawyers in the court and the students in the schools and colleges. The legislators in the parliament are also busy with questions and answers, and the politicians and the press representatives are all busy with questions and answers. Although they go on making such questions and answers for their whole lives, they are not at all satisfied. Satisfaction of the soul can only be obtained by questions and answers on the subject of Kṛṣṇa.
Kṛṣṇa is our most intimate master, friend, father or son and object of conjugal love. Forgetting Kṛṣṇa, we have created so many objects of questions and answers, but none of them are able to give us complete satisfaction. All things—but Kṛṣṇa—give temporary satisfaction only, so if we are to have complete satisfaction we must take to the questions and answers about Kṛṣṇa. We cannot live for a moment without being questioned or without giving answers. Because the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam deals with questions and answers that are related to Kṛṣṇa, we can derive the highest satisfaction only by reading and hearing this transcendental literature. One should learn the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and make an all-around solution to all problems pertaining to social, political or religious matters. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Kṛṣṇa are the sum total of all things.
sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhokṣaje
saḥ—that; vai—certainly; puṁsām—for mankind; paraḥ—sublime; dharmaḥ—occupation; yataḥ—by which; bhaktiḥ—devotional service; adhokṣaje—unto the Transcendence; ahaitukī—causeless; apratihatā—unbroken; yayā—by which; ātmā—self; suprasīdati—completely satisfied.
The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted in order to completely satisfy the self.
In this statement, Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī answers the first question of the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya. The sages asked him to summarize the whole range of revealed scriptures and present the most essential part so that fallen people or the people in general might easily take it up. The Vedas prescribe two different types of occupation for the human being. One is called the pravṛtti-mārga, or the path of sense enjoyment, and the other is called the nivṛtti-mārga or the path of renunciation. The path of enjoyment is inferior, but the path of sacrifice for the supreme cause is superior. The material existence of the living being is a diseased condition of actual life. Actual life is spiritual existence, or brahma-bhūta existence where life is eternal, blissful and full of knowledge. Material existence is temporary, illusory and full of miseries. There is no happiness at all. There is just the futile attempt to get rid of the miseries, and temporary cessation of misery is falsely called happiness. Therefore, the path of progressive material enjoyment, which is temporary, miserable and illusory, is inferior. But devotional service of the Supreme Lord, which leads one to eternal, blissful and all-cognizant life, is called the superior quality of occupation. This is sometimes polluted when mixed with the inferior quality. For example, adoption of devotional service for material gain is certainly an obstruction to the progressive path of renunciation. Renunciation or abnegation for ultimate good is certainly a better occupation than enjoyment in the diseased condition of life. Such enjoyment only aggravates the symptoms of disease and increases its duration. Therefore devotional service of the Lord must be pure in quality, i.e., without the least desire for material enjoyment. One should, therefore, accept the superior quality of occupation in the form of devotional service of the Lord without any tinge of unnecessary desire, fruitive action and philosophical speculation. This alone can lead one to perpetual solace in His service.
We have purposely denoted dharma as occupation because the root meaning of the word dharma is "that which sustains one’s existence." A living being’s sustenance of existence is to coordinate his activities with his eternal relation with the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is the central pivot of living beings, and He is the all-attractive living entity or eternal form amongst all other living beings or eternal forms. Each and every living being has his eternal form in the spiritual existence, and Kṛṣṇa is the eternal attraction for all of them. Kṛṣṇa is the complete whole, and everything else is His part and parcel. The relation is one of the servant and the served, and it is transcendental and is completely distinguished from our experience in material existence. This relation of servant and the served is the most congenial form of intimacy. One can realize it as devotional service progresses. Everyone should engage himself in that transcendental loving service of the Lord, even in the present conditional state of material existence. That will gradually give one the clue to actual life and please him to complete satisfaction.
janayaty āśu vairāgyaṁ
jñānaṁ ca yad ahaitukam
vāsudeve—unto Kṛṣṇa; bhagavati—unto the Personality of Godhead; bhakti-yogaḥ—contact of devotional service; prayojitaḥ—being applied; janayati—does produce; āśu—very soon; vairāgyam—detachment; jñānam—knowledge; ca—and; yat—that which; ahaitukam—causeless.
By rendering devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, one immediately acquires causeless knowledge and detachment from the world.
Those who consider devotional service of the Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa to be something like material emotional affairs may argue that in the revealed scriptures, sacrifice, charity, austerity, knowledge, mystic powers and similar other processes of transcendental realization are recommended. According to them, bhakti, or devotional service of the Lord, is meant for those who cannot perform the high-grade activities. Generally it is said that the bhakti cult is meant for the śūdras, vaiśyas and the less intelligent woman class. But that is not the actual fact. The bhakti cult is the topmost of all transcendental activities, and therefore it is simultaneously sublime and easy. It is sublime for the pure devotees who are serious about getting in contact with the Supreme Lord, and it is easy for the neophytes who are just on the threshold of the house of bhakti. It is a great science to achieve the contact of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and it is open for all living beings, including the śūdras, vaiśyas, women or even those lower than the śūdras who are called low-born—so what to speak of the high-class men like the qualified brāhmaṇas and the great self-realized kings. The other high-grade activities designated as sacrifice, charity, austerity, etc., are all corollary factors following the pure and scientific bhakti cult.
The principles of knowledge and detachment are two important factors on the path of transcendental realization. The whole spiritual process leads to perfect knowledge of everything material and spiritual, and the results of such perfect knowledge are that one becomes detached from material affection and becomes attached to spiritual activities. Becoming detached from material things does not mean becoming inert altogether, as men with a poor fund of knowledge think. Naiṣkarma means not undertaking such activities that will produce good or bad effects. Negation does not mean negation of the positive. Negation of the nonessentials does not mean negation of the essential. Similarly, detachment from material forms does not mean nullifying the positive form. The bhakti cult is meant for realization of the positive form. When the positive form is realized, the negative forms are automatically eliminated. Therefore, with the development of the bhakti cult, with the application of the positive service to the positive form, one naturally becomes detached from inferior things, and he becomes attached to superior things. Similarly, the bhakti cult, being the supermost occupation of the living being, leads him out of material sense enjoyment. That is the sign of a pure devotee. He is neither a fool, nor is he engaged in the inferior energies, nor does he have material values. This is not possible by dry reasoning. It actually happens by the grace of the Almighty. In conclusion, one who is a pure devotee has all other good qualities, namely knowledge, detachment, etc., but one who has only knowledge or detachment is not necessarily well acquainted with the principles of the bhakti cult. Bhakti is the supermost occupation of the human being.
dharmaḥ svanuṣṭhitaḥ puṁsāṁ
notpādayed yadi ratiṁ
śrama eva hi kevalam
dharmaḥ—occupation; svanuṣṭhitaḥ—executed in terms of one’s own position; puṁsām—of humankind; viṣvaksena—Personality of Godhead (plenary portion); kathāsu—in the message of; yaḥ—what is; na—not; utpādayet—does produce; yadi—if; ratim—attraction; śramaḥ—useless labor; eva—only; hi—certainly; kevalam—entirely.
Duties [dharma] executed by men, regardless of occupation, are only so much useless labor if they do not provoke attraction for the message of the Supreme Lord.
There are different occupational activities in terms of man’s different conceptions of life. To the gross materialist who cannot see anything beyond the gross material body, there is nothing beyond the senses. Therefore his occupational activities are limited to concentrated and extended selfishness. Concentrated selfishness centers around the personal body—this is generally seen amongst the lower animals. Extended selfishness is manifested in human society and centers around the family, society, community, nation and world with a view to gross bodily comfort. Above these gross materialists are the mental speculators who hover aloft in the mental spheres, and their occupational duties involve making poetry, philosophy or propagating some ism with the same aim of selfishness limited to the body and the mind. But above the body and mind is the dormant spirit soul whose absence from the body makes the whole range of bodily and mental selfishness completely null and void. But less intelligent people have no information of the needs of the spirit soul.
Because foolish people have no information of the soul and how it is beyond the purview of the body and mind, they are not satisfied in the performance of their occupational duties. The question of the satisfaction of the self is raised herein. The self is beyond the gross body and subtle mind. He is the potent active principle of the body and mind. Without knowing the need of the dormant soul, one cannot be happy simply with emolument of the body and mind. The body and the mind are but superfluous outer coverings of the spirit soul. The spirit soul’s needs must be fulfilled. Simply by cleansing the cage of the bird, one does not satisfy the bird. One must actually know the needs of the bird himself.
The need of the spirit soul is that he wants to get out of the limited sphere of material bondage and fulfill his desire for complete freedom. He wants to get out of the covered walls of the greater universe. He wants to see the free light and the spirit. That complete freedom is achieved when he meets the complete spirit, the Personality of Godhead. There is a dormant affection for God within everyone; spiritual existence is manifested through the gross body and mind in the form of perverted affection for gross and subtle matter. Therefore we have to engage ourselves in occupational engagements that will evoke our divine consciousness. This is possible only by hearing and chanting the divine activities of the Supreme Lord, and any occupational activity which does not help one to achieve attachment for hearing and chanting the transcendental message of Godhead is said herein to be simply a waste of time. This is because other occupational duties (whatever ism they may belong to) cannot give liberation to the soul. Even the activities of the Salvationists are considered to be useless because of their failure to pick up the fountain-head of all liberties. The gross materialist can practically see that his material gain is limited only to time and space, either in this world or the other. Even if he goes up to the Svargaloka, he will find no permanent abode for his hankering soul. The hankering soul must be satisfied by the perfect scientific process of perfect devotional service.
dharmasya hy āpavargyasya
kāmo lābhāya hi smṛtaḥ
dharmasya—occupational engagement; hi—certainly; āpavargyasya—ultimate liberation; na—not; arthaḥ—end; arthāya—for material gain; upa-kalpate—is meant for; na—neither; arthasya—of material gain; dharma-eka-antasya—for one who is engaged in the ultimate occupational service; kāmaḥ—sense gratification; lābhāya—attainment of; hi—exactly; smṛtaḥ—is described by the great sages.
All occupational engagements [dharmas] are certainly meant for ultimate liberation. They should never be performed for material gain. Furthermore, one who is engaged in the ultimate occupational service [dharma] should never use material gain to cultivate sense gratification.
We have already discussed that pure devotional service of the Lord is automatically followed by perfect knowledge and detachment from material existence. But there are others who consider that all kinds of different occupational engagements, including those of religion, are meant for material gain. The general tendency of any ordinary man in any part of the world is to gain some material profit in exchange for religious or any other occupational service. Even in the Vedic literatures for all sorts of religious performances an allurement of material gain is offered, and most people are attracted by such allurement or blessings of religiosity. Why are such so-called men of religion allured by material gain? Because material gain can enable one to fulfill desires, which in turn satisfy sense gratification. This cycle of occupational engagements includes so-called religiosity followed by material gain and material gain followed by fulfillment of desires. Sense gratification is the general way for all sorts of fully occupied men. But in the statement of Sūta Gosvāmī, as per the verdict of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, this is nullified by the present śloka.
One should not engage himself in any sort of occupational service for material gain only. Nor should material gain be utilized for sense gratification. How material gain should be utilized is described as follows.
lābho jīveta yāvatā
nārtho yaś ceha karmabhiḥ
kāmasya—of desires; na—not; indriya—senses; prītiḥ—satisfaction; lābhaḥ—gain; jīveta—self preservation; yāvatā—so much so; jīvasya—of the living being; tattva—Absolute Truth; jijñāsā—inquiries; na—not; arthaḥ—end; yaḥ ca iha—whatsoever else; karmabhiḥ—by occupational activities.
Life’s desires should never be aimed at gratifying the senses. One should desire to live only because human life enables one to inquire about the Absolute Truth. This should be the goal of all works.
The completely bewildered material civilization is wrongly directed towards the fulfillment of desires in sense gratification. In such civilization, in all spheres of life, the ultimate end is sense gratification. In politics, social service, altruism, philanthropy and ultimately in religion or even in salvation, the very same tint of sense gratification is ever increasingly pre-dominent. In the political field the leaders of men fight with one another to fulfill their personal sense gratification. The voters adore the so-called leaders only when they promise sense gratification. As soon as the voters are dissatisfied in their own sense satisfaction, they dethrone the leaders. The leaders almost always disappoint the voters by not satisfying their senses. The same is applicable in all other fields; no one is serious about the problems of life. Even those who are on the path of salvation desire to become one with the Absolute Truth and desire to commit spiritual suicide for sense gratification. But the Bhāgavatam says that one should not live for sense gratification. One should satisfy the senses only inso much as is required for self-preservation, and not for sense gratification. Because the body is made of senses, which also require a certain amount of satisfaction, there are regulative directions for satisfaction of such senses. But the senses are not meant for unrestricted enjoyment. For example, marriage or the combination of a man with a woman is necessary for progeny, but it is not meant for sense enjoyment. In the absence of such voluntary restraint, there is propaganda for family planning, but foolish men do not know that family planning is automatically executed as soon as there is search after the Absolute Truth. Seekers of the Absolute Truth are never allured by unnecessary engagements in sense gratification because the serious students seeking the Absolute Truth are always overwhelmed with the work of researching the Truth. In every sphere of life, therefore, the ultimate end must be seeking after the Absolute Truth, and that sort of engagement will make everyone happy because they will be less engaged in varieties of sense gratification. And what that Absolute Truth is is explained as follows.
vadanti tat tattva-vidas
tattvaṁ yaj jñānam advayam
bhagavān iti śabdyate
vadanti—they say; tat—that; tattva-vidaḥ—the learned souls; tattvam—the Absolute Truth; yat—which; jñānam—knowledge; advayam—nondual; brahma iti—known as Brahman; paramātmā iti—known as Paramātmā; bhagavān iti—known as Bhagavān; śabdyate—it so sounded.
Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramātmā or Bhagavān.
The Absolute Truth is both subject and object, and there is no qualitative difference there. Therefore, Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān are qualitatively one and the same. The same substance is realized as impersonal Brahman by the students of the Upaniṣads, as localized Paramātmā by the Hiraṇyagarbhas or the yogīs, and as Bhagavān by the devotees. In other words, Bhagavān or the Personality of Godhead is the last word of the Absolute Truth. Paramātmā is the partial representation of the Personality of Godhead, and impersonal Brahman is the glowing effulgence of the Personality of Godhead, as the sun rays are to the sun-god. Less intelligent students of either of the above schools sometimes argue in favor of their own respective realization, but those who are perfect seers of the Absolute Truth know well that the above three features of the one Absolute Truth are different perspective views seen from different angles of vision.
As it is explained in the first śloka of the First Chapter of the Bhāgavatam, the Supreme Truth is self-sufficient, cognizant and freed from the illusion of relativity. In the relative world the knower is different from the known, but in the Absolute Truth both the knower and the known are one and the same thing. In the relative world the knower is the living spirit or superior energy, whereas the known is inert matter or inferior energy. Therefore, there is a duality of inferior and superior energy, whereas in the absolute realm both the knower and the known are of the same superior energy. There are three kinds of energies of the supreme energetic. There is no difference between the energy and energetic, but there is a difference of quality of energies. The absolute realm and the living entities are of the same superior energy, but the material world is inferior energy. The living being in contact with the inferior energy is illusioned, thinking he belongs to the inferior energy. Therefore there is the sense of relativity in the material world. In the Absolute there is no such sense of difference between the knower and the known, and therefore everything there is absolute.
tac chraddadhānā munayo
paśyanty ātmani cātmānaṁ
tat—that; śraddadhānāḥ—seriously inquisitive; munayaḥ—sages; jñāna—knowledge; vairāgya—detachment; yuktayā—well equipped with; paśyanti—see; ātmani—within himself; ca—and; ātmānam—the Paramātmā; bhaktyā—in devotional service; śruta—the Vedas; gṛhītayā—well received.
That Absolute Truth is realized by the seriously inquisitive student or sage who is well equipped with knowledge and who has become detached by rendering devotional service and hearing the Vedānta-śruti.
The Absolute Truth is realized in full by the process of devotional service to the Lord Vāsudeva or the Personality of Godhead who is the full-fledged Absolute Truth. Brahman is His transcendental bodily effulgence, and Paramātmā is His partial representation. As such, Brahman or Paramātmā realization of the Absolute Truth is but a partial realization. There are four different types of living beings, the karmīs, the jñānīs, the yogīs and the devotees. The karmīs are materialistic, whereas the other three are transcendental. The first-class transcendentalists are the devotees who have realized the Supreme Person. The second-class transcendentalists are those who have partially realized the plenary portion of the absolute person. And the third-class transcendentalists are those who have barely realized the spiritual focus of the absolute person. As stated in the Bhagavad-gītā and other Vedic literatures, the Supreme Person is realized by devotional service, which is backed by full knowledge and detachment from the material association. We have already discussed the point that devotional service is followed by knowledge and detachment from material association. As Brahman and Paramātmā realization are imperfect realizations of the Absolute Truth, so the means of realizing Brahman and Paramātmā, i.e., the paths of jñāna and yoga, are also imperfect means of realizing the Absolute Truth. Devotional service, which is based on the foreground of full knowledge combined with detachment from material association fixed up on the aural reception of the Vedānta-śruti, is the only perfect method of realizing the Absolute Truth by the seriously inquisitive student. Devotional service is not, therefore, meant for the less intelligent class of transcendentalist. There are three classes of devotees, namely first, second, and third class. The third-class devotees, or the neophytes, who have no knowledge nor are detached from the material association, but who are simply attracted by the preliminary processes of worshiping the Deity in the temple, are called material devotees. Material devotees are more attached to material benefit than transcendental profit. Therefore, one has to make definite progress from the position of material devotional service to the second-class devotional position. In the second class position, the devotee can see four principles in the devotional line, namely the Personality of Godhead, His devotees, the ignorant and the envious. One has to raise himself at least to the stage of a second-class devotee and thus become eligible to know the Absolute Truth.
A third-class devotee, therefore, has to receive the instructions of devotional service from the authoritative sources of Bhāgavatam. The number one Bhāgavatam is the established personality of devotee, and the other Bhāgavatam is the message of Godhead. The third-class devotee has, therefore, to go to the personality of devotee in order to learn the instructions of devotional service. Such a personality of devotee is not a professional man who earns his livelihood by the business of Bhāgavatam. Such a devotee must be a representative of Śukadeva Gosvāmī, like Sūta Gosvāmī, and must preach the cult of devotional service for the all-around benefit of all people. A neophyte devotee has very little taste for hearing from the authorities. Such a neophyte devotee makes a show of hearing from the professional man to satisfy his senses. This sort of hearing and chanting has spoiled the whole thing, so one should be very careful about the faulty process. The holy messages of Godhead, as inculcated in the Bhagavad-gītā or in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, are undoubtedly transcendental subjects, but even though they are so, such transcendental matters are not to be received from the professional man who spoils them like the serpent spoils the milk simply by the touch of his tongue.
A sincere devotee must, therefore, be prepared to bear the Vedic literature like the Upaniṣads, Vedānta and other literatures left by the previous authorities or Gosvāmīs, for the benefit of his progress. Without hearing such literatures, one cannot make actual progress. And without hearing and following the instructions, the show of devotional service becomes worthless and therefore a sort of disturbance in the path of devotional service. Unless, therefore, devotional service is established on the principles of śruti, smṛti, purāṇa or pañcarātra authorities, the make-show of devotional service should at once be rejected. An unauthorized devotee should never be recognized as a pure devotee. By assimilation of such messages from the Vedic literatures, one can see the all-pervading localized aspect of the Personality of Godhead within his own self constantly- This is called samādhi.
ataḥ pumbhir dvija-śreṣṭhā
ataḥ—so; pumbhiḥ—by the human being; dvija-śreṣṭhaḥ—O best among the twice-born; varṇāśrama—institution of four castes and orders of life; vibhāgaśaḥ—by the division of; svanuṣṭhitasya of one’s own prescribed duties; dharmasya—occupational; saṁsiddhiḥ—highest perfection; hari—the Personality of Godhead; toṣaṇam—pleasing.
O best among the twiceborn, it is therefore concluded that the highest perfection one can achieve, by discharging his prescribed duties [dharma] according to caste divisions and order of life, is to please the Lord Hari.
Human society all over the world is divided into four castes and four orders of life. The four castes are the intelligent caste, the martial caste, the productive caste and the laborer caste. These castes are classified in terms of one’s work and qualification, and not by birth. Then again there are four orders of life, namely the student life, the householder’s life, the retired and the devotional life. In the best interest of human society there must be such divisions of life, otherwise no social institution can grow up in a healthy state. And in each and every one of the above-mentioned divisions of life, the aim must be to please the supreme authority of the Personality of Godhead. This institutional function of human society is known as the system of varṇāśrama-dharma, which is quite natural for the civilized life. The varṇāśrama institution is constructed to enable one to realize the Absolute Truth. It is not for artificial domination of one division over the other. When the aim of life, i.e., realization of the Absolute Truth, is missed by too much attachment for indriya-prīti or sense gratification, as it is already discussed hereinbefore, the institution of the varṇāśrama is utilized by selfish men to pose an artificial predominance over the weaker section. In the Kali-yuga, or in the age of quarrel, this artificial predominance is already current, but the saner section of the people know it well that the division of castes and orders of life are meant for smooth social intercourse and high thinking self-realization and not for any other purpose.
Herein the statement of Bhāgavatam is that the highest aim of life or the highest perfection of the institution of the varṇāśrama-dharma is to cooperate jointly for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord, which is also confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā (Bg. 4.13).
tasmād ekena manasā
bhagavān sātvatāṁ patiḥ
śrotavyaḥ kīrtitavyaś ca
dhyeyaḥ pūjyaś ca nityadā
tasmāt—therefore; ekena—by one; manasā—attention of the mind; bhagavān—the Personality of Godhead; sātvatām—of the devotees; patiḥ—protector; śrotavyaḥ—is to be heard; kīrtitavyaḥ—to be glorified; ca—and; dhyeyaḥ—to be remembered; pūjyaḥ—to be worshiped; ca—and; nityadā—constantly.
Therefore devotees should constantly hear about, glorify, remember and worship the Personality of Godhead [Bhagavān], who is their protector.
If realization of the Absolute Truth is the ultimate aim of life, it must be carried out by all means. In any one of the above-mentioned castes and orders of life, the four processes, namely glorifying, hearing, remembering and worshiping, are general occupations. Without these principles of life, no one can exist. Activities of the living being involve engagements in these different four principles of life. Especially in modern society, all activities are more or less dependent on hearing and glorifying. Any man from any social status becomes a well-known man in human society within a very short time if he is simply glorified truly or falsely in the daily newspapers. Sometimes political leaders of a particular party are also advertised by newspaper propaganda, and by such glorifying method an insignificant man becomes an important man—within no time. But such propaganda work by false glorification of an unqualified person cannot bring about any good, either for the particular man or for the society. There may be some temporary reactions to such propaganda, but there are no permanent effects. Therefore such activities are a waste of time. The actual object of glorification is the Supreme Personality of Godhead who has created everything manifested before us. We have broadly discussed this fact from the beginning of the "janmādy asya" śloka of this Bhāgavatam. The tendency to glorify others or hear others must be turned to the real object of glorification—the Supreme Being. And that will bring happiness.
chindanti kovidās tasya
ko na kuryāt kathā-ratim
yat—which; anudhyā- remembrance; asinā—sword; yuktāḥ—being equipped with persons; karma—reactionary work; granthi—knot; nibandhanam—interknit; chindanti—cut; kovidāḥ—intelligent; tasya—His; kaḥ—who; na—not; kuryāt—shall not do; kathā—messages; ratim—attention.
With sword in hand, intelligent men cut through the labyrinthine knots of reactionary work [karma] by remembering the Lord. Therefore who will not pay attention to His message?
The spiritual spark contacted with material elements creates a knot which must be cut if one wants to be liberated from the actions and reactions of fruitive work. Liberation means freedom from the cycle of reactionary work. This liberation automatically follows for one who constantly remembers the transcendental pastimes of the Personality of Godhead. This is because all activities of the Supreme Lord (His līlā) are transcendental to the modes of the material energy. They are all-attractive spiritual activities, and therefore constant association with the spiritual activities of the Supreme Lord gradually spiritualizes the conditioned soul and ultimately severs the knot of material bondage.
Liberation from material bondage is, therefore, a by-product of devotional service. Attainment of spiritual knowledge is not sufficient to insure liberation. Such knowledge must be overcoated with devotional service so that ultimately the devotional service alone predominates. Then liberation is made possible. Even the reactionary work of the fruitive workers can lead one to liberation when it is overcoated with devotional service. Karma overcoated with devotional service is called karma-yoga. Similarly, empirical knowledge overcoated with devotional service is called jñāna-yoga. But pure bhakti-yoga is independent of such karma and jñāna because it alone can not only endow one with liberation from the conditional life but can also award one with the transcendental loving service of the Lord.
Therefore, any sensible man who is above the average man with a poor fund of knowledge must constantly remember the Personality of Godhead by hearing- about Him, by glorifying Him, by remembering Him and by worshiping Him always, without cessation. That is the perfect way of devotional service. The Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana who were authorized by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to preach the bhakti cult, rigidly followed this rule and made immense literatures of transcendental science for our benefit. They have chalked out ways for all classes of men in terms of the different castes and orders of life in pursuance of the teachings of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and similar other authoritative scriptures.
syān mahat-sevayā viprāḥ
śuśrūṣoḥ—one who is engaged in hearing; śraddadhānasya—with care and attention; vāsudeva—in respect to Vāsudeva; kathā—message; ruciḥ—affinity; syāt—is made possible; mahat-sevayā—by service rendered to pure devotees; viprāḥ—O twice-born; puṇya-tīrtha—those who are cleansed of all vice; niṣevaṇāt—by service.
O twice-born sages, by serving those devotees who are completely freed from all vice, great service is done. By such service, one gains affinity for hearing the messages of Vāsudeva.
The conditioned life of a living being is caused by his revolting against the Lord. There are men called deva, or godly living beings, and there are men called asuras, or demons, who are against the authority of the Supreme Lord. In the Bhagavad-gītā (Sixteenth Chapter) a vivid description of the asuras is given in which it is said that the asuras are put into lower and lower states of ignorance life after life and so sink to the lower animal forms and have no information of the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead. These asuras are gradually rectified into God consciousness by the mercy of the Lord’s liberated servitors in different countries according to the supreme will. Such devotees of God are very confidential associates of the Lord, and when they come to save the human society from the dangers of godlessness, they are known as the powerful incarnations of the Lord, as sons of the Lord or as servants of the Lord or as associates of the Lord. But none of them falsely claim to be God themselves. This is a blasphemy declared by the asuras, and the demoniac followers of such asuras also accept pretenders as God or His incarnation. In the revealed scriptures there is definite information of the incarnation of God. No one should be accepted as God or an incarnation of God unless he is confirmed by the revealed scriptures.
The servants of God are to be respected as God by the devotees who actually want to go back to Godhead. Such servants of God are called mahātmās, or the tīrthas, and they preach according to particular time and place. The servants of God urge people to become devotees of the Lord. They never tolerate being called God. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was God Himself according to the indications of the revealed scriptures, but He played the part of a devotee. People who knew Him to be God addressed Him as God, but He used to block His ears with His hands and chant the name of Lord Viṣṇu. He strongly protested against being called God, although undoubtedly He was God Himself. The Lord behaves so to warn us against unscrupulous men who take pleasure in being addressed as God.
The servants of God come to propagate God consciousness, and intelligent people should cooperate with them in every respect. By serving the servant of God, one can please God more than by directly serving the Lord. The Lord is more pleased when He sees that His servants are properly respected because such servants risk everything for the service of the Lord and so are very dear to the Lord. The Lord declares in the Bhagavad-gītā (Bg. 18.69) that no one is dearer to Him than one who risks everything to preach His glory. By serving the servants of the Lord, one gradually gets the quality of such servants, and thus one becomes qualified to hear the glories of God. The eagerness to hear about God is the first qualification of a devotee for entering the kingdom of God.
śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ
hṛdy antaḥ stho hy abhadrāṇi
vidhunoti su-hṛt satām
śṛṇvatām—those who have developed the urge to hear the message of; sva-kathāḥ—His own words; kṛṣṇaḥ—the Personality of Godhead; puṇya—virtues; śravaṇa—hearing; kīrtanaḥ—chanting; hṛdi antaḥ-sthaḥ—within one’s heart; hi—certainly; abhadrāṇi—desire to enjoy matter; vidhunoti—cleanses; su-hṛt—benefactor; satām—of the truthful.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramātmā [Super-soul] in everyone’s heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who relishes His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted.
Messages of the Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa are nondifferent from Him. Whenever, therefore, offenseless hearing of God is undertaken, it is to be understood that Lord Kṛṣṇa is present there in the form of transcendental sound, which is as powerful as the Lord personally. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, in His Śikṣāṣṭakam, declares clearly that the holy name of the Lord has all the potencies of the Lord and that He has endowed His innumerable names with the same potency. There is no rigid fixture of time, and anyone can chant the holy name with attention and reverence at his convenience. The Lord is so kind to us that He can be present before us personally in the form of transcendental sound, but unfortunately we have no taste for hearing and glorifying the Lord’s name and activities. We have already discussed developing a taste for hearing and chanting the holy sound. It is done through the medium of service to the pure devotee of the Lord.
The Lord is reciprocally respondent to His devotees. When He sees that a devotee is completely sincere in getting admittance to the transcendental service of the Lord and thus becomes eager to hear about Him, the Lord acts from within the devotee in such a way that the devotee may easily go back to Him. The Lord is more anxious to take us back into His kingdom than we can desire. Most of us do not desire at all to go back to Godhead. Only a very few men want to go back to Godhead. But anyone who desires to go back to Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa helps in all respects.
One cannot enter into the kingdom of God unless one is perfectly cleared of all sins. The material sins are products of our desires to lord it over material nature. It is very difficult to get rid of such desires. Women and wealth are very difficult problems for the devotee making progress on the path back to Godhead. Many stalwarts in the devotional line fell victim to these allurements and thus retreated from the path of liberation. But when one is helped by the Lord Himself, the whole process becomes as easy as anything by the divine grace of the Lord.
To become restless in the contact of women and wealth is not an astonishment, because every living being is associated with such things from a remote time, practically immemorial, and it takes time to recover from this foreign nature. But if one is engaged in hearing the glories of the Lord, gradually he realizes his real position. By the grace of God such a devotee gets sufficient strength to defend himself from the state of disturbances, and gradually all disturbing elements are eliminated from his mind.
bhaktir bhavati naiṣṭhikī
naṣṭa—destroyed; prāyeṣu—almost to nil; abhadreṣu—all that is inauspicious; nityam—regularly; bhāgavata—Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, or the pure devotee; sevayā—by serving; bhagavati—unto the Personality of Godhead; uttama—transcendental; śloke—prayers; bhaktiḥ—loving service; bhavati—comes into being; naiṣṭhikī—irrevocable.
By regularly hearing the Bhāgavatam and rendering service unto the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is practically destroyed, and loving service unto the glorious Lord, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact.
Here is the remedy for eliminating all inauspicious things within the heart which are considered to be obstacles in the path of self-realization. The remedy is the association of the Bhāgavatas. There are two types of Bhāgavatas, namely the book Bhāgavata and the devotee Bhāgavata. Both the Bhāgavatas are competent remedies, and both of them or either of them can be good enough to eliminate the obstacles. A devotee Bhāgavata is as good as the book Bhāgavata because the devotee Bhāgavata leads his life in terms of the book Bhāgavata, and the book Bhāgavata is full of information about the Personality of Godhead and His pure devotees, who are also Bhāgavatas. Bhāgavata book and person are identical.
The devotee Bhāgavata is a direct representative of Bhagavān, the Personality of Godhead. So by pleasing the devotee Bhāgavata one can receive the benefit of the book Bhāgavata. Human reason fails to understand how by serving the devotee Bhāgavata or the book Bhāgavata one gets gradual promotion on the path of devotion. But actually these are facts explained by Śrīla Nāradadeva, who happened to be a maidservant’s son in his previous life. The maidservant was engaged in the menial service of the sages, and thus he also came into contact with them. And simply by associating with them and accepting the remnants of foodstuff left by the sages, the son of the maidservant got the chance to become the great devotee and personality, Śrīla Nāradadeva. These are the miraculous effects of the association of Bhāgavatas. And to understand these effects practically, it should be noted that by such sincere association of the Bhāgavatas one is sure to receive transcendental knowledge very easily, and the result is that he becomes fixed in the devotional service of the Lord. The more progress is made in devotional service under the guidance of the Bhāgavatas, the more one becomes fixed in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. The messages of the book Bhāgavata, therefore, have to be received from the devotee Bhāgavata, and the combination of these two Bhāgavatas will help the neophyte devotee to make progress on and on.
kāma-lobhādayaś ca ye
ceta etair anāviddhaṁ
sthitaṁ sattve prasīdati
tadā—at that time; rajaḥ—in the mode of passion; tamaḥ—the mode of ignorance; bhāvāḥ—the situation; kāma—lust and desire; lobha—hankering; ādayaḥ—others; ca—and; ye—whatever they are; cetaḥ—the mind; etaiḥ—by these; anāviddham—without being affected; sthitam—being fixed up; sattve—in the mode of goodness; prasīdati—thus becomes fully satisfied.
At the time loving service is established in the heart, the modes of passion [rajas] and ignorance [tamas] and lust and desire [kāma] disappear from the heart. Then the devotee is established in goodness and he becomes happy.
A living being in his normal constitutional position is fully satisfied in spiritual bliss. This state of existence is called brahma-bhūta or ātmānandī or the state of self-satisfaction. This self-satisfaction is not like the satisfaction of the inactive fool. The inactive fool is in the state of foolish ignorance, whereas the self-satisfied ātmānandī is transcendental to the material state of existence. This stage of perfection is attained as soon as one is fixed up in irrevocable devotional service. Devotional service is not inactivity, but the unalloyed activity of the soul.
The soul’s activity becomes adulterated in contact with matter, and as such the diseased activities are expressed in the form of lust, desire, hankering, inactivity, foolishness and sleep. The effect of devotional service becomes manifest by complete elimination of these effects of passion and ignorance. The devotee is fixed at once in the mode of goodness, and he makes further progress to rise up to the position of Vāsudeva, or the state of unmixed sattva or śuddha-sattva state. In this śuddha-sattva state only can one always see Kṛṣṇa eye to eye by dint of pure affection for the Lord.
A devotee is always in the mode of unalloyed goodness; therefore he harms no one. But the nondevotee, however educated he may be, is always harmful. A devotee is neither foolish nor passionate. The harmful, foolish and passionate cannot be devotees of the Lord, however they may advertise themselves as devotees by outward dress. A devotee is always qualified with all the good qualities of God. Quantitatively such qualifications may be different, but qualitatively both of them are one and the same.
evam—thus; prasanna—enlivened; manasaḥ—of the mind; bhagavad-bhakti—devotional service of the Lord; yogataḥ—by contact of; bhagavat—regarding the Personality of Godhead; tattva—knowledge; vijñānam—scientific; mukta—liberated; saṅgasya—of the association; jāyate—becomes effective.
Thus established in the mode of goodness, the man rejuvenated by loving service to the Lord gains liberation from material association [mukti] and comes to know scientifically of the Personality of Godhead.
In the Bhagavad-gītā (Bg. 7.3) it is said that out of many thousands of ordinary men, one fortunate man endeavors for perfection of life. Mostly they are conducted by the modes of passion and ignorance, and thus they are engaged always in lust, desire, hankerings, ignorance and sleep. Out of many such manlike animals, there is actually a man who knows the responsibility of human life and thus tries to make life perfect by following the prescribed duties. And out of such many thousands of persons who have thus attained success in human life, one may know scientifically about the Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa. In the same Bhagavad-gītā (Bg. 18.55) it is also said that scientific knowledge of Śrī Kṛṣṇa is understood only by the process of devotional service (bhakti-yoga).
The very same thing is confirmed herein in the above words. No ordinary man or even one who has attained success in human life, can know scientifically or perfectly the Personality of Godhead. Perfection of human life is attained when one can understand that he is not the product of matter but is in fact spirit. And as soon as one understands that he has nothing to do with matter, he at once ceases his material hankerings and becomes enlivened as a spiritual being. This attainment of success is possible when one is above the modes of passion and ignorance, or in other words, when one is actually a brāhmaṇa by qualification. Brāhmaṇa is the symbol of sattva-guṇa or the mode of goodness. And others, who are not in the mode of goodness, are either kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra or less than the śūdras. The brahminical stage is the highest stage of human life because of its good qualities. So one cannot be a devotee unless one at least qualifies as a brāhmaṇa. The devotee is already a brāhmaṇa by action. But that is not the end of it. As referred to above, such a brāhmaṇa has to become a Vaiṣṇava in fact to be actually in the transcendental stage. A pure Vaiṣṇava is a liberated soul and is transcendental to the position of a brāhmaṇa even. In the material stage even a brāhmaṇa is also a conditioned soul because in the brahminical stage the conception of Brahman or transcendence is realized, but in that stage scientific knowledge of the Supreme Lord is lacking. One has to surpass the brahminical stage and reach the Vāsudeva stage to understand the Personality of Godhead Kṛṣṇa. The science of the Personality of Godhead is the subject matter for study by the postgraduate students in the spiritual line. Foolish men, or men with a poor fund of knowledge, do not understand the Supreme Lord, and they interpret Kṛṣṇa according to their respective whims. The fact is, however, that one cannot understand the science of the Personality of Godhead unless one is freed from the contamination of the material modes, even up to the stage of a brāhmaṇa. When a qualified brāhmaṇa factually becomes a Vaiṣṇava, in the enlivened state of liberation he can know what is actually the Supreme Lord.
kṣīyante cāsya karmāṇi
bhidyate—pierced; hṛdaya—heart; granthiḥ—knots; chidyante—cut to pieces; sarve—all; saṁśayāḥ—misgivings; kṣīyante—terminated; ca—and; asya—his; karmāṇi—chain of fruitive actions; dṛṣṭa—having seen; eva—certainly; ātmani—unto the self; īśvare—dominating.
Thus the knots of the heart and all misgivings are cut to pieces. The chain of fruitive actions [karma] is terminated when one sees the self as master.
Attainment of scientific knowledge of the Personality of Godhead means seeing one’s own self simultaneously. As far as the identity of the living being as spirit self is concerned, there are a number of speculations and misgivings. The materialist does not believe in the existence of the spirit self, and empiric philosophers believe in the impersonal feature of the whole spirit without individuality of the living beings. But the transcendentalists affirm that the soul and the Supersoul are two different identities qualitatively one but quantitatively different. There are many other theories, but all these different speculations are at once cleared off as soon as Śrī Kṛṣṇa is realized in truth by the process of bhakti-yoga. Śrī Kṛṣṇa is like the sun, and the materialistic speculations about the Absolute Truth are like the darkest midnight. As soon as the Kṛṣṇa sun is arisen within one’s heart, the darkness of materialistic speculations about the Absolute Truth and the living beings is at once cleared off. In the presence of the sun, the darkness cannot stand, and the relative truths that were hidden within the dense darkness of ignorance become clearly manifested by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa, who is residing in everyone’s heart as the Supersoul.
In the Bhagavad-gītā (Bg. 10.11) the Lord says that in order to show special favor to His pure devotees, He personally eradicates the dense darkness of all misgivings by switching on the light of pure knowledge within the heart of a devotee. Therefore, because of the Personality of Godhead’s taking charge of illuminating the heart of His devotee, certainly a devotee, engaged in His service in transcendental love, cannot remain in darkness. He comes to know everything of the absolute and the relative truths. The devotee cannot remain in darkness, and because a devotee is enlightened by the Personality of Godhead, his knowledge is certainly perfect. This is not the case for those who speculate on the Absolute Truth by dint of their own limited power of approach. Such knowledge is called paramparā, or deductive knowledge coming down from the authority to the submissive aural receiver bona fide by service and surrender. One cannot challenge the authority of the Supreme and know Him also at the same time. He reserves the right of not being exposed to such a challenging spirit of an insignificant spark of the whole subjected to the control of illusory energy. The devotees are submissive, and therefore the transcendental knowledge descends from the Personality of Godhead to Brahmā and from Brahmā to his sons and disciples in succession. This process is helped by the Supersoul within such devotees. That is the perfect way of learning transcendental knowledge.
This enlightenment perfectly enables the devotee to distinguish spirit from matter because the knot of spirit and matter is untied by the Lord. This knot is called ahaṅkāra, and it falsely obliges a living being to become identified with matter. As soon as this knot is loosened, therefore, all the clouds of doubt are at once cleared off. He sees his master and fully engages himself in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, making a full termination of the chain of fruitive action. In material existence, a living being creates his own chain of fruitive work and enjoys the good and bad effects of those actions life after life. But as soon as he engages himself in the loving service of the Lord, he at once becomes free from the chain of karma. All his actions no longer create any reaction.
ato vai kavayo nityaṁ
bhaktiṁ paramayā mudā
ataḥ—therefore; vai—certainly; kavayaḥ—all transcendentalists; nityam—from time immemorial; bhaktim—service unto the Lord; paramayā—supreme; mudā—with great delight; vāsudeve—Śrī Kṛṣṇa; bhagavati—the Personality of Godhead; kurvanti—do render; ātma—self; prasādanīm—that which enlivens.
Therefore all transcendentalists have been rendering loving service with great delight to Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, from time immemorial because such devotional service is enlivening to the self.
Speciality of devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is specifically mentioned herein. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the svayam-rūpa Personality of Godhead, and all other forms of Godhead, beginning from Śrī Baladeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Vāsudeva, Aniruddha, Pradyumna, Nārāyaṇa, puruṣa-avatāras, guṇa-avatāras, līlā-avatāras, yuga-avatāras and many other thousands of manifestations of the Personality of Godhead, are Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s plenary portions and integrated parts. The living entities are separated parts and parcels of the Personality of Godhead. Therefore Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the original form of Godhead, and He is the last word in the Transcendence. Thus He is more attractive to the higher transcendentalists who participate in the eternal pastimes of the Lord. In other forms of the Personality of Godhead (except Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Baladeva) there is no facility for intimate personal contact, as in the case of the transcendental pastimes of the Lord at Vrajabhūmi. The transcendental pastimes of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa are not newly accepted, as argued by some less intelligent persons, but His pastimes are eternal and are manifested in due course once in a day of Brahmājī, as the sun rises on the eastern horizon at the end of every twenty-four hours.
sattvaṁ rajas tama iti prakṛter guṇās tair
yuktaḥ paraḥ puruṣa eka ihāsya dhatte
sthity-ādaye hari-viriñci-hareti saṁjñāḥ
śreyāṁsi tatra khalu sattva-tanor nṛṇāṁ syuḥ
sattvam—goodness; rajaḥ—passion; tamaḥ—darkness of ignorance; iti—thus; prakṛteḥ—of the material nature; guṇāḥ—qualities; taiḥ—by them; yuktaḥ—associated with; paraḥ—transcendental; puruṣaḥ—the personality; ekaḥ—one; ihāsya—of this material world; dhatte—accepts; sthiti-ādaye—for the matter of creation, maintenance and destruction, etc.; hari—Viṣṇu, the Personality of Godhead; viriñci—Brahmā; hara—Lord Śiva; iti—thus; saṁjñāḥ—different features; śreyāṁsi—ultimate benefit; tatra—therein; khalu—of course; sattva—goodness; tanoḥ—form; nṛṇām—of the human being; syuḥ—derived.
The transcendental Lord is indirectly associated with the three modes of material nature, namely passion, goodness and ignorance, and just for the material world’s creation, maintenance and destruction He accepts the three qualitative forms of Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva. Of these three, all living beings can derive ultimate benefit from Viṣṇu, the form of the quality of goodness.
That Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, by His plenary parts, should be rendered devotional service as explained above, is confirmed by this statement. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa and all His plenary parts are Viṣṇu-tattva, or the Lordship of Godhead. From Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the next manifestation is Baladeva. From Baladeva is Saṅkarṣaṇa, from Saṅkarṣaṇa is Nārāyaṇa, from Nārāyaṇa there is the second Saṅkarṣaṇa, and from this Saṅkarṣaṇa the Viṣṇu puruṣa-avatāras. The Viṣṇu or the Deity of the quality of goodness in the material world is the puruṣa-avatāra known as Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu or Paramātmā. Brahmā is the deity of rajas (passion), and Śiva of ignorance. They are the three departmental heads of the three qualities of this material world. Creation is made possible by the goodness of Viṣṇu, and when it is required to be destroyed, Lord Śiva does it by tāṇḍava-nṛtya. The materialists and the foolish human beings worship Brahmā and Śiva respectively. But the pure transcendentalists worship the form of goodness, Viṣṇu, in His various integrated forms and separated forms. The integrated forms are called Godhead, and the separated forms are called the living entities or the jīvas. Both the jīvas and Godhead have their original spiritual forms. Jīvas are sometimes subjected to the control of material energy, but the Viṣṇu forms are always controllers of energy. When Viṣṇu, the Personality of Godhead, appears in the material world, He comes to deliver the conditioned living beings who are under the material energy. Such living beings appear in the material world with intentions of being lords, and thus they become entrapped by the three modes of nature. As such, the living entities have to change the material coverings for undergoing different terms of imprisonment. The prison house of the material world is created by Brahmā under instruction of the Personality of Godhead, and at the conclusion of a kalpa the whole thing is destroyed by Śiva. But as far as maintenance of the prison house is concerned, it is done by Viṣṇu, as much as the state prison house is maintained by the state. Anyone, therefore, who wishes to get out of this prison house of material existence, which is full of miseries like repetition of birth, death, disease and old age, must please Lord Viṣṇu for such liberation. Lord Viṣṇu is worshiped by devotional service only, and if anyone has to continue prison life in the material world, he may ask for relative facilities from the different demigods like Śiva, Brahmā, Indra, Varuṇa, etc., for temporary relief. No demigod can, however, release the imprisoned living being from the conditioned life of material existence except Viṣṇu. Therefore, the ultimate benefit may be derived from Viṣṇu, the Personality of Godhead.
pārthivād dāruṇo dhūmas
tasmād agnis trayīmayaḥ
tamasas tu rajas tasmāt
sattvaṁ yad brahma-darśanam
pārthivāt—from earth; dāruṇaḥ—firewood; dhūmaḥ—smoke; tasmāt—from that; agniḥ—fire; trayī—Vedic sacrifices; mayaḥ—made of; tamasaḥ—in the mode of ignorance; tu—but; rajaḥ—the mode of passion; tasmāt—from that; sattvam—the mode of goodness; yat—which; brahma—the Absolute Truth; darśanam—realization.
Coal [firewood] is better than raw wood, and fire is even better, for fire is the soul of Vedic sacrifice. Similarly passion [rajas] is better than ignorance [tamas], but goodness [sattva] is best because by goodness one can come to realize the Absolute Truth [Brahman].
As explained above, one can get release from the conditioned life of material existence by devotional service to the Personality of Godhead. It is further comprehended herein that one has to rise up to the platform of the mode of goodness (sattva) so that one can be eligible for the devotional service of the Lord. But if there are impediments on the progressive path, anyone, even from the platform of tamas, can gradually rise up to the sattva platform by the expert direction of the spiritual master. Sincere candidates must, therefore, approach an expert spiritual master for such a progressive march, and the bona fide expert spiritual master is competent to direct a disciple from any stage of life: tamas, rajas or sattva.
It is a mistake, therefore, to consider that worship of any quality or any form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is equally beneficial. Except Viṣṇu, all separated forms are manifested under the conditions of material energy, and therefore the forms of material energy cannot help anyone to rise to the platform of sattva, which alone can liberate a person from the material bondage.
The uncivilized state of life, or the life of the lower animals, is controlled by the modes of tamas. The civilized life of man, with a passion for various types of material benefits, is the stage of rajas. The rajas stage of life gives a slight clue to the realization of the Absolute Truth in the forms of fine sentiments in philosophy, art and culture with moral and ethical principles, but the mode of sattva is a still higher stage of material quality, which actually helps one in realizing the Absolute Truth. In other words, there is a qualitative difference between the different kinds of worshiping methods as well as the respective results derived from the predominating deities, namely Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Hara.
bhejire munayo ‘thāgre
sattvaṁ viśuddhaṁ kṣemāya
kalpante ye ‘nu tān iha
bhejire—rendered service unto; munayaḥ atha agre—thus before all the sages; bhagavantam—unto the Personality of Godhead; adhokṣajam—the Transcendence; sattvam—existence; viśuddham—above the three modes of nature; kṣemāya—to derive the ultimate benefit; kalpante—deserve; ye—those; anu—follow; tān—those; iha—in this material world.
Previously all the great sages rendered service unto the transcendental Personality of Godhead [Bhagavān] due to His existence above the three modes of material nature. They worshiped Him to become free from material conditions. Whoever follows such sages is also eligible for liberation from the material world.
The purpose of performing religion is neither to profit by material gain nor to get the simple knowledge of discerning matter from spirit. The ultimate aim of religious performances is to release oneself from material bondage and regain the life of freedom in the transcendental world where the Personality of Godhead is the Supreme Person. Laws of religion are, therefore, directly enacted by the Personality of Godhead, and except the mahājanas, or the authorized agents of the Lord, no one knows the purpose of religion. There are twelve particular agents of the Lord who know the purpose of religion, and all of them render transcendental service unto Him. Persons who desire their own good may follow these mahājanas and thus attain the supreme benefit.
hitvā bhūta-patīn atha
bhajanti hy anasūyavaḥ
mumukṣavaḥ—persons desiring liberation; ghora—horrible, ghastly; rūpān—forms like that; hitvā—rejecting; bhūta-patīn—demigods; atha—for this reason; nārāyaṇa—the Personality of Godhead; kalāḥ—plenary portions; śāntāḥ—all-blissful; bhajanti—do worship; hi—certainly; anasūyavaḥ—non-envious.
Those who are serious about liberation are certainly nonenvious, and they respect all. Yet they reject the horrible and ghastly forms of the demigods and worship only the all-blissful forms and plenary portions of Lord Viṣṇu.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is the original person of the Viṣṇu categories, expands Himself in two different categories, namely integrated plenary portions and separated parts and parcels. The separated parts and parcels are the servitors, and the integrated plenary portions of Viṣṇu-tattvas are the worshipful objects of service.
All demigods who are empowered by the Supreme Lord are also separated parts and parcels. They do not belong to the categories of Viṣṇu-tattva. The Viṣṇu-tattvas are equally powerful living beings like the original form of the Personality of Godhead, and they display only different categories of power in consideration of different times and circumstances. The separated parts and parcels are powerful by limitation. They do not have unlimited power like the Viṣṇu-tattvas. Therefore, the Viṣṇu-tattvas, or the plenary portions of Nārāyaṇa, the Personality of Godhead, are never to be classified in the same categories with the parts and parcels. If anyone does so he becomes at once an offender by the name pāṣaṇḍī. In the age of Kali many foolish persons commit such unlawful offenses and equalize the two categories.
The separated parts and parcels have different positions in the estimation of material powers, and some of them are like Kālabhairava, Śmaśāha-bhairava, Śani, Mahākālī, Caṇḍikā. These demigods are worshiped mostly by those who are in the lowest categories of the mode of darkness or ignorance, and there are others who are in the mode of passion and worship demigods like Brahmā, Śiva, Sūrya, Gaṇeśa and many similar deities, urged by the desire for material enjoyment. But those who are actually situated in the mode of goodness (sattva-guṇa) of material nature worship only Viṣṇu-tattvas. Viṣṇu-tattvas are represented by various names and forms such as Nārāyaṇa, Dāmodara, Vāmana, Govinda, Adhokṣaja, etc. The qualified brāhmaṇas worship the Viṣṇu-tattvas represented by the śālagrāma-śilā, and so also some of the higher castes like the ksatriyas and vaiśyas worship the Viṣṇu-tattvas generally.
Highly qualified brāhmaṇas situated in the mode of goodness have no grudges against the mode of worship of others. They have all respect for other demigods, even though they are ghastly looking, like the Kāla bhairava or Mahākālī, etc. They know very well that these horrible features of the Supreme Lord are all different servitors of the Lord under different conditions, yet they reject the worship of both horrible and attractive features of the demigods, and they concentrate only on the forms of Viṣṇu because they are serious about liberation from the material conditions. The demigods, even to the stage of Brahmā, the supreme of all the demigods, cannot offer liberation to anyone. Hiraṇyakaśipu underwent a severe type of penance to become eternal in life, but his worshipful deity, Brahmā, could not satisfy him with such blessings. Therefore Viṣṇu is called mukti-pāda, or the Personality of Godhead who can bestow upon us mukti, liberation, and none else. The demigods, being like other living entities in the material world, are all liquidated at the time of the annihilation of the material structure. They are themselves unable to get liberation, and what to speak of giving liberation to their devotees. The demigods can award the worshipers some temporary benefit only and not the ultimate one.
It is for this reason only that candidates for liberation deliberately reject the worship of the demigods, although they have no disrespect for any one of them.
Sāma-śīlā bhajanti vai
rajaḥ—the mode of passion; tamaḥ—the mode of ignorance; prakṛtayaḥ—of that mentality; sāma-śīlāḥ—of the same categories; bhajanti—do worship; vai—actually; pitṛ—the forefathers; bhūta—other living beings; prajeśa-ādīn—controller of cosmic administration; śriyā—enrichment; aiśvarya—wealth and power; prajā—aristocracy; īpsavaḥ—so desiring.
Those who are in the modes of passion and ignorance worship the forefathers, other living beings and the demigods who are in charge of cosmic activities, for they are urged by a desire to be materially benefited with women, wealth, power and aristocratic birth.
There is no need to worship demigods of whatsoever category if one is serious about going back to Godhead. In the Bhagavad-gītā (Bg. 7.20, 23) it is clearly said that those who are mad after material enjoyment approach the different demigods for temporary benefits, which are meant for men with a poor fund of knowledge. We should never desire to increase the depth of material enjoyment. Material enjoyment should be accepted only up to the point of the bare necessities of life and not more or less than that. To accept more material enjoyment means to bind oneself more and more to the miseries of material existence. More wealth, more women and false aristocracy are some of the demands of the materially disposed man because he has no information of the benefit derived from Viṣṇu worship. By Viṣṇu worship one can derive benefit in this life as well as in life after death. Forgetting these principles, foolish people who are after more wealth, more wives and more children worship various demigods. The aim of life is to end the miseries of life and not to increase them.
For material enjoyment there is no need to approach the demigods. The demigods are but servants of the Lord. As such, they are duty-bound to supply necessities of life in the form of water, light, air, etc. One should work hard and worship the Supreme Lord by the fruits of one’s hard labor for existence, and that should be the motto of life. One should be careful to execute occupational service with faith in God in the proper way, and that will lead one gradually on the progressive march back to Godhead.
Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, when He was personally present at Vrajadhāma, stopped the worship of the demigod Indra and advised the residents of Vraja to worship by their business and to have faith in God. Worshiping the multi-demigods for material gain is practically a perversity of religion. This sort of religious activity has been condemned in the very beginning of the Bhāgavatam as kaitava-dharma. There is only one religion in the world to be followed by one and all, and that is the Bhāgavata-dharma, or the religion which teaches one to worship the Supreme Personality of God head and no one else.
vāsudeva—the Personality of Godhead; parāḥ—ultimate goal; vedāḥ—revealed scriptures; vāsudeva—the Personality of Godhead; parāḥ—for worshiping; makhāḥ—sacrifices; vāsudeva—the Personality of Godhead; paraḥ—means of attaining; yogāḥ—mystic paraphernalia; vāsudeva—the Personality of Godhead; paraḥ—under His control; kriyāḥ—fruitive activities; vāsudeva—the Personality of Godhead; param—the supreme; jñānam—knowledge; vāsudeva—the Personality of Godhead; param—best; tapaḥ—austerity; vāsudeva—the Personality of Godhead; paraḥ—superior quality; dharmaḥ—religion; vāsudeva—the Personality of Godhead; parāḥ—ultimate; gatiḥ—goal of life.
In the revealed scriptures, the ultimate object of knowledge is Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead. The purpose of performing sacrifice is to please Him. Yoga is for realizing Him. All fruitive activities are ultimately rewarded by Him only. He is supreme knowledge, and all severe austerities are performed to know Him. Religion [dharma] is rendering loving service unto Him. He is the supreme goal of life.
That Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, is the only object of worship is confirmed in these two ślokas. In the Vedic literature there is the same objective: establishing one’s relationship and ultimately reviving our lost loving service unto Him. That is the sum and substance of the Vedas. In the Bhagavad-gītā the same theory is confirmed by the Lord in His own words: the ultimate purpose of the Vedas is to know Him only. All the revealed scriptures are prepared by the Lord through His incarnation in the body of Śrīla Vyāsadeva just to remind the fallen souls conditioned by material nature of Śrī Kṛṣṇa the Personality of Godhead. No demigod can award freedom from material bondage. That is the verdict of all the Vedic literatures. Impersonalists who have no information of the Personality of Godhead minimize the omnipotency of the Supreme Lord and put Him on equal footing with all other living beings, and for this act such impersonalists get freedom from material bondage with great difficulty. They can only surrender unto Him after many, many births and culture of transcendental knowledge.
One may argue that the Vedic activities are based on sacrificial ceremonies. That is true. But all such sacrifices are also meant for realizing the truth about Vāsudeva. Another name of Vāsudeva is Yajña (sacrifice), and in the Bhagavad-gītā it is clearly stated that all sacrifices and all activities are to be conducted for the satisfaction of Yajña or Viṣṇu the Personality of Godhead. This is the case also with the yoga systems. Yoga means to get into touch with the Supreme Lord. The process, however, includes several bodily features such as āsana, dhyāna, prāṇāyāma, meditation, etc., and all of them are meant for concentrating upon the localized aspect of Vāsudeva represented as Paramātmā. Paramātmā realization is but partial realization of Vāsudeva, and if one is successful in that attempt, one realizes Vāsudeva in full. But by ill luck most of the yogīs are stranded by the powers of mysticism achieved through the bodily process. Ill-fated yogīs are given a chance in the next birth by being placed in the families of good learned brāhmaṇas or in the families of rich merchants in order to execute the unfinished task of Vāsudeva realization. If such fortunate brāhmaṇas and sons of rich men properly utilize the chance, they can easily realize Vāsudeva by good association with saintly persons. Unfortunately, such preferential persons are captivated again by material wealth and honor and practically forget the aim of life.
This is also so for the culture of knowledge. According to Bhagavad-gītā there are eighteen items in culturing knowledge. And by such culture of knowledge one becomes gradually prideless, devoid of vanity, nonviolent, forbearing, simple, devoted to the great spiritual master and self-controlled. By culture of knowledge one becomes unattached to hearth and home and becomes conscious of the miseries due to death, birth, old age and disease. And all culture of knowledge culminates in devotional service to the Personality of Godhead, Vāsudeva. Therefore, Vāsudeva is the ultimate aim in culturing all different branches of knowledge. Culture of knowledge leading one to the transcendental plane of meeting Vāsudeva is real knowledge. Physical knowledge in its various branches is condemned in the Bhagavad-gītā as ajñāna, or the opposite of real knowledge. The ultimate aim of physical knowledge is to satisfy the senses, which means prolongation of the term of material existence and thereby continuance of the threefold miseries. So prolonging the miserable life of material existence is nescience. But the same physical knowledge leading to the way of spiritual understanding helps one to end the miserable life of physical existence and to begin the life of spiritual existence on the plane of Vāsudeva.
The same applies to all kinds of austerities. Tapasya means voluntary acceptance of bodily pains to achieve some higher end of life. Rāvaṇa and Hiraṇyakaśipu underwent a severe type of bodily torture to achieve the end of sense gratification. Sometimes modern politicians also undergo severe types of austerities to achieve some political end. This is not actually tapasya. One should accept voluntary bodily inconvenience for the sake of knowing Vāsudeva because that is the way of real austerities. Otherwise all forms of austerities are classified as modes of passion and ignorance. Passion and ignorance cannot end the miseries of life. Only the mode of goodness can mitigate the threefold miseries of life. Vasudeva and Devakī, the so-called father and mother of Lord Kṛṣṇa, underwent penances to get Vāsudeva as their son. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the father of all living beings (Bg. 14.4). Therefore He is the original living being of all other living beings. He is the original eternal enjoyer amongst all other enjoyers. Therefore no one can be His begetting father, as the ignorant may think.
Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa agreed to become the son of Vasudeva and Devakī upon being pleased with their severe austerities. Therefore if any austerities have to be done, they must be done to achieve the end of knowledge, Vāsudeva.
Vāsudeva is the original Personality of Godhead Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. As explained before, the original Personality of Godhead expands Himself by innumerable forms. Such expansion of forms is made possible by His various energies. His energies are also multifarious, and His internal energies are superior and external energies are inferior in quality. They are explained in the Bhagavad-gītā (Bg. 7.4-6) as the parā and aparā prakṛtis. So His expansions of various forms which take place via the internal energies are superior forms, whereas the expansions which take place via the external energies are inferior forms. The living entities are also His expansions. The living entities who are expanded by His internal potency are eternally liberated persons, whereas those who are expanded by the material energies are eternally conditioned souls. Therefore, all culture of knowledge, austerities, sacrifice and activities should be aimed at changing the quality of the influence that is acting upon us. For the present, we are all being controlled by the external energy of the Lord, and just to change the quality of the influence, we must endeavor to cultivate spiritual energy. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is said that those who are mahātmās, or those whose minds have been so broadened as to be engaged in the service of Lord Kṛṣṇa, are under the influence of the internal potency, and the effect is that such broad-minded living beings are constantly engaged in the service of the Lord without deviation. That should be the aim of life. And that is the verdict of all the Vedic literatures. No one should bother himself with fruitive activities or dry speculation about transcendental knowledge. Everyone should at once engage himself in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. Nor should one worship different demigods who work as different hands of the Lord for creation, maintenance or destruction of the material world. There are innumerable powerful demigods who look over the external management of the material world. They are all different assisting hands of Lord Vāsudeva. Even Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā are included within the list of demigods, but Lord Viṣṇu or Vāsudeva is always transcendentally situated. Even though He accepts the quality of goodness of the material world, He is still transcendental to all the material modes. The following example will clear that matter more explicitly. In the prison house there are the prisoners and the managers of the prison house. Both the managers and the prisoners are bound up by the laws of the king. But even though the king sometimes comes in the prison, he is not bound by the laws of the prison house. The king is therefore always transcendental to the laws of the prison house, as the Lord is always transcendental to the laws of the material world.
sa evedaṁ sasarjāgre
saḥ—that; eva—certainly; idam—this; sasarja—created; agre—before; bhagavān—the Personality of Godhead; ātma-māyayā—by His personal potency; sat—the cause; asat—the effect; rūpayā—by forms; ca—and; asau—the same Lord; guṇamayyā—in the modes of material nature; aguṇaḥ—transcendental; vibhuḥ—the Absolute.
In the beginning of the material creation, the Absolute Lord in His transcendental position created the energies of cause and effect by His own internal energy.
The position of the Lord is always transcendental because the causal and effectual energies required for the creation of the material world were also created by Him. He is, therefore, unaffected by the qualities of the material modes. His existence, form, activities and paraphernalia all existed before the material creation.* He is all spiritual and has nothing to do with the qualities of the material world, which are qualitatively distinct from the spiritual qualities of the Lord.
* Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya, the head of the Māyāvāda school, accepts this transcendental position of Lord Kṛṣṇa in his commentation on Bhagavad-gītā.
tayā vilasiteṣv eṣu
guṇeṣu guṇavān iva
tayā—by them; vilasiteṣu—although in the function; eṣu—these; guṇeṣu—the modes of material nature; guṇavān—affected by the modes; iva—as if; antaḥ—within; praviṣṭaḥ—entered into; ābhāti- appears to be; vijñānena—by transcendental consciousness; vijṛmbhitaḥ—fully enlightened.
After creating the material substance, the Lord expands Himself and enters into it. And although He is within the material modes of nature and appears to be one of the created beings, He is always fully enlightened and in His transcendental position.
The living entities are separated parts and parcels of the Lord, and the conditioned living entities who are unfit for the spiritual kingdom are strewn within the material world to enjoy matter to the fullest extent. As Paramātmā and eternal friend of the living entities, the Lord by one of His plenary portions accompanies the living entities to guide them in their material enjoyment and to become witness to all actvities. While the living entities enjoy the material conditions, the Lord maintains His transcendental position without being affected by the material atmosphere.In the Vedic literatures (śruti) it is said that there are two birds in one tree.* One of them is eating the fruit of the tree, while the other is witnessing the actions. The witness is the Lord, and the fruit eater is the living entity. The fruit eater (living entity) has forgotten his real identity and is overwhelmed in the fruitive activities of the material conditions, but the Lord (Paramātmā) is always full in transcendental knowledge. That is the difference between the Supersoul and the conditioned soul. The conditioned soul, living entity, is controlled by the laws of nature, while the Paramātmā or the Supersoul is the controller of the material energy.
*dvā suparṇā sayujā sakhāyā samānaṁ vṛkṣaṁ pariṣasvajāte
tayor anyaḥ pippalaṁ svādv atty anaśnann anyo ‘bhicākaśīti (Śruti mantra)
yathā hy avahito vahnir
dāruṣv ekaḥ sva-yoniṣu
nāneva bhāti viśvātmā
bhūteṣu ca tathā pumān
yathā—as much as; hi—exactly like; avahitaḥ—surcharged with; vahniḥ—fire; dāruṣu—in the wood; ekaḥ—one; sva-yoniṣu—the source of manifestation; nānā iva—like different entities; bhāti—illuminates; viśvātmā—the Lord as Paramātmā; bhūteṣu—in the living entities; ca—and; tathā—in the same way; pumān—the Absolute Person.
The Lord, as Supersoul, pervades all things, just as fire permeates wood, and so He appears to be of many varieties, though He is the absolute one without a second.
Lord Vāsudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by one of His plenary parts expands Himself all over the material world, and His existence can be perceived even within the atomic energy. Matter, anti-matter, proton, neutron, etc., are all different effects of the Paramātmā feature of the Lord. As from wood, fire can be manifested, or as butter can be churned out of milk, so also the presence of the Lord as Paramātmā can be felt by the process of legitimate hearing and chanting of the transcendental subjects which are especially treated in the Vedic literatures like the Upaniṣads and Vedānta. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the bona fide explanation of these Vedic literatures. The Lord can be realized through the aural reception of the transcendental message, and that is the only way to experience the transcendental subject. As fire is kindled from wood by another fire, similarly the divine consciousness of man can be kindled by another divine grace. His Divine Grace the spiritual master can kindle the spiritual fire from the woodlike living entity by imparting proper spiritual messages injected through the receptive ear. Therefore one is required to approach the proper spiritual master with receptive ear only, and thus divine existence is gradually realized. The difference between animality and humanity lies in this process only. A human being can hear properly, whereas an animal cannot.
asau guṇamayair bhāvair
bhuṅkte bhūteṣu tad-guṇān
asau—that Paramātmā; guṇamayaiḥ—influenced by the modes of nature; bhāvaiḥ—naturally; bhūta—created; sūkṣma—subtle; indriya—senses; ātmabhiḥ—by the living beings; sva-nirmiteṣu—in His own creation; nirviṣṭaḥ—entering; bhuṅkte—causes to enjoy; bhūteṣu—in the living entities; tat-guṇān—those modes of nature.
The Supersoul enters into the bodies of the created beings who are influenced by the modes of material nature and causes them to enjoy the effects of these by the subtle mind.
There are 8,400,000 species of living beings beginning from the highest intellectual being Brahmā down to the insignificant ant, and all of them are enjoying the material world according to the desires of the subtle mind and gross material body. The gross material body is based on the conditions of the subtle mind, and the senses are created according to the desire of the living being. The Lord as Paramātmā helps the living being to get material happiness because the living being is helpless in all respects to obtain what he desires. He proposes and the Lord disposes. In another sense, the living beings are parts and parcels of the Lord. They are therefore one with the Lord. In the Bhagavad-gītā the living beings in all varieties of bodies have been claimed by the Lord as His sons. The sufferings and enjoyments of the sons are indirectly the suffering and enjoyments of the father. Still the father is not in any way affected directly by the suffering and enjoyment of the sons. He is so kind that He constantly remains with the living being as Paramātmā and always tries to convert the living being towards the real happiness.
bhāvayaty eṣa sattvena
lokān vai loka-bhāvanaḥ
bhāvayati—maintains; eṣaḥ—all these; sattvena—in the mode of goodness; lokān—all over the universe; vai—generally; loka-bhāvanaḥ—the master of all the universes; līlā—pastimes; avatāra—incarnation; anurataḥ—assuming the role; deva—the demigods; tiryak—lower animals; narādiṣu—in the midst of human beings.
Thus the Lord of the universes maintains all planets inhabited by demi-gods, men and lower animals, and in His play He assumes the roles of incarnations to reclaim those in the mode of pure goodness.
There are innumerable material universes, and in each and every universe there are innumerable planets inhabited by different grades of living entities in different modes of nature. The Lord (Viṣṇu) incarnates Himself in each and every one of them and in each and every type of living society. He manifests His transcendental pastimes amongst them just to create the desire to go back to Godhead. The Lord does not change His original transcendental position, but He appears to be differently manifested according to the particular time, circumstances and society.
Sometimes He incarnates Himself or empowers a suitable living being to act for Him, but in either case the purpose is the same: the Lord wants the suffering living being to go back home, back to Godhead. The happiness which the living beings are hankering for is not to be found within any corner of the innumerable universes and material planets. The eternal happiness which the living being wants is obtainable in the kingdom of God, but the forgetful living beings under the influence of the material modes have no information of the kingdom of God. The Lord, therefore, comes to propagate the message of the kingdom of God either personally as an incarnation or through His bona fide representative as the good son of God. Such incarnations or sons of God are not only making propaganda for going back to Godhead within human society. Their work is also going on in all types of societies, amongst demigods and those other than human beings.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the First Canto, Second Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled "Divinity and Divine Service."
Kṛṣṇa is the Source of All incarnations
jagṛhe pauruṣaṁ rūpaṁ
sūtaḥ uvāca—Sūta said; jagṛhe—accepted; pauruṣam—plenary portion as the puruṣa incarnation; rūpam—form; bhagavān—the Personality of Godhead; mahat-ādibhiḥ—with the ingredients of the material world; sambhūtam—thus there was the creation of; ṣoḍaśa-kalam—sixteen primary principles; ādau—in the beginning; loka—the universes; sisṛkṣayā—on the intention of creating.
Sūta said: In the beginning of the creation, the Lord first expanded Himself in the universal form of the puruṣa incarnation and manifested all the ingredients for the material creation. And thus at first there was the creation of the sixteen principles of material action. This was for the purpose of creating the material universe.
The Bhagavad-gītā states that the Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa maintains these material universes by extending His plenary expansions.
So this puruṣa form is the confirmation of the same principle. The original Personality of Godhead Vāsudeva or Lord Kṛṣṇa, who is famous as the son of King Vāsudeva or King Nanda, is full with all opulences, all potencies, all fames, all beauties, all knowledge and all renunciation. Part of His opulences is manifested as impersonal Brahman, and part of His opulences is manifested as Paramātmā. This puruṣa feature of the same Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the original Paramātmā manifestation of the Lord. There are three puruṣa features in the material creation, and this form, who is known as the Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, is the first of the three. The others are known as the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu and the Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, which we shall know one after another. The innumerable universes are generated from the skinholes of this Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, and in each one of the universes the Lord enters as Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu.
In the Bhagavad-gītā it is also mentioned that the material world is created at certain intervals and then again destroyed. This creation and destruction is done by the supreme will because of the conditioned souls or the nitya-badhya living beings. The nitya-badhya or the eternally conditioned souls have the sense of individuality or ahaṅkara, which dictates them sense enjoyment, which they are unable to have constitutionally. The Lord is the only enjoyer, and all others are enjoyed. The living beings are predominated enjoyers. But the eternally conditioned souls, forgetful of this constitutional position, have strong aspirations to enjoy. This chance to enjoy matter is given to the conditioned souls in the material world, and side by side they are given the chance to understand their real constitutional position. Those fortunate living entities who catch the truth and surrender unto the lotus feet of Vāsudeva after many, many births in the material world, join the eternally liberated souls and thus are allowed to enter into the kingdom of Godhead. After this, such fortunate living entities need not come again within the occasional material creation. But those who cannot catch the constitutional truth are again merged into the mahat-tattva at the time of annihilation of the material creation. When the creation is again set up, this mahat-tattva is again let loose. This mahat-tattva contains all the ingredients of the material manifestations, including the conditioned souls. Primarily this mahat-tattva is divided into sixteen parts, namely the five gross material elements and the eleven working instruments or senses. It is like the cloud in the clear sky. In the spiritual sky, the effulgence of Brahman is spread all round, and the whole system is dazzling in spiritual light. The mahat-tattva is assembled in some corner of the vast unlimited spiritual sky, and the part which is thus covered by the mahat-tattva is called the material sky. This part of the spiritual sky, called the mahat-tattva, is only an insignificant portion of the whole spiritual sky, and within this mahat-tattva there are innumerable universes. All these universes are collectively produced by the Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, called also the Mahā-Viṣṇu, who simply throws His glance to impregnate the material sky.
brahmā viśva-sṛjāṁ patiḥ
yasya—whose; ambhasi—in the water; śayānasya—lying down; yoga-nidrām—sleeping in meditation; vitanvataḥ—ministering; nābhi—navel; hrada—out of the lake; ambujāt—from the lotus; āsīt—was manifested; brahmā—the grandfather of the living beings; viśva—the universe; sṛjām—the engineers; patiḥ—master.
A part of the puruṣa lies down within the water of the universe, and from the navel lake of His body sprouts a lotus stem, and from the lotus flower atop this stem, Brahmā, the master of all engineers in the universe, becomes manifest.
The first puruṣa is the Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. From His skinholes innumerable universes have sprung up. In each and every one of them the puruṣa enters as the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. He is lying within half of the universe which is full with the water of His body. And from the navel of Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu has sprung up the stem of the lotus flower, the birthplace of Brahmā, who is the father of all living beings and the master of all the demigod engineers engaged in the perfect design and working of the universal order. Within the stem of the lotus there are fourteen divisions of planetary systems, and the earthly planets are situated in the middle. Upwards there are other, better planetary systems, and the top most system is called Brahmaloka or Satyaloka. Downwards from the earthly planetary system there are seven downwards planetary systems domiciled by the asuras and similar other materialistic living beings.
From this Garbhodakaśāyī Visnu there is expansion of the Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, who is the collective Paramātmā of all living beings. He is called Hari, and from Him all incarnations within the universe are expanded.
Therefore, the conclusion is that the puruṣa-avatāra is manifested in three features, first the Kāraṇodakaśāyī who creates aggregate material ingredients in the mahat-tattva, second the Garbhodakaśāyī who enters in each and every universe, and third the Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu who is the Paramātmā of every material object, organic or inorganic. One who knows these plenary features of the Personality of Godhead knows also Him (Godhead) properly, and thus the knower becomes freed from the material conditions of birth, death, old age and disease, as it is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā. In this śloka the subject matter of Mahā-Viṣṇu is summarized. The Mahā-Viṣṇu lies down in some part of the spiritual sky by His own free will, and thus He lies on the ocean of kāraṇa from where He glances over His material nature, and the mahat-tattva is at once created. Thus electrified by the power of the Lord, the material nature creates at once innumerable universes just as in due course a tree is decorated with innumerable grown-up fruits. The seed of the tree is sown by the cultivator, and the tree or creeper in due course becomes manifested with so many fruits. Nothing can take place without a cause. The Kāraṇa Ocean is therefore called the Causal Ocean. Kāraṇa means causal. We should not foolishly accept the atheistic theory of creation. The description of the atheists is given in the Bhagavad-gītā. The atheist does not believe in the creator, but he cannot give a good theory to explain the creation. Material nature has no power to create without the power of the puruṣa, just as a prakṛti or woman cannot produce a child without the connection of a puruṣa. The puruṣa impregnates, and the prakṛti delivers. We should not expect milk from the fleshy bags on the neck of the goat, although they look like breastly nipples. Similarly, we should not expect any creative power from the material ingredients; we must believe in the power of the puruṣa, who impregnates prakṛti or nature. And because the Lord wished to lie down in meditation, the material energy created innumerable universes at once, and in each of them the Lord laid Himself down, and thus all the planets and the different paraphernalia were created at once by the will of the Lord. The Lord has unlimited potencies, and thus He can perform as He likes by perfect planning, although personally He has nothing to do, and no one is greater than or equal to Him. That is the verdict of the Vedas.
tad vai bhagavato rūpaṁ
viśuddhaṁ sattvam ūrjitam
yasya—whose; avayava—bodily expansion; saṁsthānaiḥ—situated in; kalpitaḥ—is imagined; loka—planets of inhabitants; vistaraḥ—various; tat vai—but that is; bhagavataḥ—of the Personality of Godhead; rūpam—form; viśuddham—purely; sattvam—existence; ūrjitam—excellence.
It is believed that all the universal planetary systems are situated on the extensive body of the puruṣa, but He has nothing to do with the created material ingredients. His body is eternally in spiritual existence par excellence.
The conception of the virāṭ-rūpa or viśva-rūpa of the Supreme Absolute Truth is especially meant for the neophyte who can hardly think of the transcendental form of the Personality of Godhead. To him a form means something of this material world, and therefore an opposite conception of the Absolute is necessary in the beginning to concentrate the mind on the power extension of the Lord. As stated above, the Lord extends His potency in the form of the mahat-tattva, which includes all material ingredients. The extension of power by the Lord and the Lord Himself personally are one in one sense, but at the same time the mahat-tattva is different from the Lord. Therefore the potency of the Lord and the Lord are simultaneously different and nondifferent. The conception of the virāṭ-rūpa, especially for the impersonalist, is thus nondifferent from the eternal form of the Lord. This eternal form of the Lord exists prior to the creation of the mahat-tattva, and it is stressed here that the eternal form of the Lord is par excellence spiritual or transcendental to the modes of material nature. The very same transcendental form of the Lord is manifested by His internal potency, and the formation of His multifarious manifestations of incarnations is always of the same transcendental quality, without any touch of the mahat-tattva.
paśyanty ado rūpam adabhra-cakṣuṣā
paśyanti—see; adaḥ—the form of the puruṣa; rūpam—form; adabhra—perfect; cakṣuṣā—by the eyes; sahasra-pāda—thousands of legs; ūru—thighs; bhuja-ānana—hands and faces; adbhutam—wonderful; sahasra—thousands of; mūrdha—heads; śravaṇa—ears; akṣi—eyes; nāsikam—noses; sahasra—thousands; mauli—garlands; ambara—dresses; kuṇḍala—earrings; ullasat—all glowing.
The devotees, with their perfect eyes, see the transcendental form of the puruṣa who has thousands of legs, thighs, arms and faces—all extraordinary. In that body there are thousands of heads, ears, eyes and noses. They are decorated with thousands of helmets and earrings and are adorned with garlands.
With our present materialized senses we cannot perceive anything of the transcendental Lord. Our present senses are to be rectified by the process of devotional service, and then the Lord becomes Himself revealed to us.
In the Bhagavad-gītā it is confirmed that the transcendental Lord can be perceived only by pure devotional service. So it is confirmed in the Vedas that devotional service can lead one to the side of the Lord, and devotional service only can reveal Him. In the Brahma-saṁhitā also it is said that the Lord is always visible to the devotees whose eyes have been anointed with the tinge of devotional service. So we have to take information of the transcendental form of the Lord from persons who have actually seen Him with perfect eyes smeared with devotional service. In the material world also we do not always see things with our own eyes, but through the experience of those who have actually seen or done things. If that is the process for experiencing a mundane object, it is more perfectly applicable in matters transcendental. So with patience and perserverance only we can realize the transcendental subject matter regarding the Absolute Truth and His different forms. He is formless to the neophytes, but He is in transcendental form to the expert servitor.
nidhānaṁ bījam avyayam
etat—this (form); nānā—multifarious; avatārāṇām—of the incarnations; nidhānam—source; bījam—seed; avyayam—indestructible; yasya—whose; aṁśa—plenary portion; aṁśena—part of the plenary portion; sṛjyante—create; deva—demigods; tiryak—animals; nara-ādayaḥ—human beings and others.
This form [the second manifestation of puruṣa] is the source and indestructible seed of multifarious incarnations within the universe, and from the particles and portions of this form, different living entities, like demigods, men and others, are created.
The puruṣa, after creating innumerable universes in the mahat-tattva, enters in each of them as the second puruṣa, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. When He saw that within the universe there is all darkness and space only without a resting place, He filled up half of the universe with water out of His own perspiration and laid Himself down on the same water. This water is called Garbhodaka. Then from His navel the stem of the lotus flower sprouted, and on the flower petals the birth of Brahmā, or the master engineer of the universal plan, took place. Brahmā became the engineer of the universe, and the Lord Himself took charge of the maintenance of the universe as Viṣṇu. Brahmā is generated from rajo-guṇa of prakṛti, or the mode of passion in nature, and Viṣṇu became the Lord of the mode of goodness. Viṣṇu, being transcendental to all the modes, is always aloof from the materialistic affection. This is already explained before. And from Brahmā there is Rudra (Śiva), who is in charge of the modes of ignorance or darkness. He destroys the whole creation by the will of the Lord. Therefore all three, namely Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva, are incarnations of the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. From Brahmā the other demigods like Dakṣa, Marīcyādi, Manu and many others become incarnated to generate living entities within the universe. This Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu is glorified in the Vedas in the hymns of Garbha-stuti, which begin with the description of the Lord as having thousands of heads, etc. The Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu is the Lord of the universe, and although He appears to be lying within the universe, He is always transcendental. This is also already explained. Viṣṇu, who is the plenary portion of the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, is the Supersoul of the universal life, and He is known as the maintainer of the universe or Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. So the three features of the original Puruṣa are thus understood. And all the incarnations within the universe are emanations from this Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu.
In different millennia there are different incarnations, and they are innumerable, although some of them are very prominent, such as Matsyā, Kūrma, Varāha, Rāma, Nṛsiṁha, Vāmana and many others. These incarnations are called līlā. incarnations. Then there are qualitative incarnations such as Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva or Rudra who take charge of the different modes of material nature.
Lord Viṣṇu is nondifferent from the Personality of Godhead. Lord Śiva is in the marginal position between the Personality of Godhead and the living entities or jīvas. Brahmā is always a jīva-tattva. The highest pious living being or the greatest devotee of the Lord is empowered with the potency of the Lord for creation, and he is called Brahmā. His power is like the power of the sun reflected in valuable stones and jewels. When there is no such living being to take charge of the post of Brahmā, the Lord Himself becomes a Brahmā and takes charge of the post.
Lord Śiva is not an ordinary living being. He is the plenary portion of the Lord, but because Lord Śiva is in direct touch with material nature, he is not exactly in the same transcendental position as Lord Viṣṇu. The difference is like that between milk and curd. Curd is nothing but milk, and yet it cannot be used in place of milk.
The next incarnations are the Manus. Within one day’s duration of the life of Brahmā (which is calculated by our solar year as 4,300,000 x 1,000 years) there are fourteen Manus. Therefore there are 420 Manus in one month of Brahmā and 5,040 Manus in one year of Brahmā. Brahmā lives for one hundred years of his age, and therefore there are 5,040 x 100 or 504,000 Manus in the duration of Brahmā’s life. There are innumerable universes with one Brahmā in each of them, and all of them are created and annihilated during the breathing time of the puruṣa. Therefore one can simply imagine how many millions of Manus there are during one breath of the puruṣa.
The Manus who are prominent within this universe are as follows: Yajña as Svāyambhuva Manu, Vibhu as Svārociṣa Manu, Satyasena as Uttama Manu, Hari as Tāmasa Manu, Vaikuṇṭha as Raivata Manu, Ajita as Cakṣuṣā Manu, Vāmana as Vaivasvata Manu (the present age is under the Vaivasvata Manu), Sārvabhauma as Sāvarṇi Manu, Ṛṣabha as Dakṣasāvarṇi Manu, Viṣvaksena as Brahmasāvarṇi Manu, Dharmasetu as Dharmasāvarṇi Manu, Sudhāmā as Rudrasāvarṇi Manu, Yogeśvara as Devasāvarṇi Manu, and Bṛhadbhānu as Indra-sāvarṇi Manu. These are the names of one set of fourteen Manus covering 4,300,000,000 solar years as described above.
Then there are the yugāvatāras or the incarnations of the millennia. The yugas are known as Satya-yuga, Tretā-yuga, Dvāpara-yuga and Kali-yuga. The incarnations of each yuga are of different color. The colors are white, red, black and yellow. In the Dvāpara-yuga, Lord Kṛṣṇa in black color appeared, and in the Kali-yuga Lord Caitanya in yellow color appeared.
So all the incarnations of the Lord are mentioned in the revealed scriptures. There is no scope for an imposter to become an incarnation, for he must be mentioned in the śāstras. An incarnation does not declare Himself to be an incarnation of the Lord, but great sages agree by the symptoms mentioned in the revealed scriptures. The features of the incarnation and the particular type of mission which He has to execute are mentioned in the revealed scriptures.
Apart from the direct incarnations, there are innumerable empowered incarnations. They are also mentioned in the revealed scriptures. Such incarnations are directly as well as indirectly empowered. When they are directly empowered they are called incarnations, but when they are indirectly empowered they are called vibhūtis. Directly empowered incarnations are the Kumāras, Nārada, Pṛthu, Śeṣa, Ananta, etc. As far as vibhūtis are concerned, they are very explicitly described in the Bhagavad-gītā in the Vibhūti-yoga chapter. And for all these different types of incarnations, the fountainhead is the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu.
sa eva prathamaṁ devaḥ
kaumāraṁ sargam āśritaḥ
cacāra duścaraṁ brahmā
saḥ—that; eva—certainly; prathamam—first; devaḥ—Supreme Lord; kaumāram—named the Kumāras (unmarried); sargam—creation; āśritaḥ—under; cacāra—performed; duścaram—very difficult to do; brahmā—in the order of Brahman; brahmacaryam—under discipline to realize the Absolute (Brahman); akhaṇḍitam—unbroken.
First of all, in the beginning of creation, there were the four unmarried sons of Brahmā [the Kumāras], who, being situated in a vow of celibacy, underwent severe austerities for realization of the Absolute Truth.
The creation of the material world is effected, maintained and then again annihilated at certain intervals. So there are different names of the creations in terms of the particular types of Brahmā, the father of the living beings in the creation. These Kumāras, as above-mentioned, appeared in the kaumāra creation of the material world, and to teach us the process of Brahman realization, they underwent a severe type of disciplinary action as bachelors. These Kumāras are empowered incarnations. And before executing the severe type of disciplinary actions, all of them became qualified brāhmaṇas. This example suggests that one must first acquire the qualifications of a brāhmaṇa, not simply by birth but also by quality, and then one can undergo the process of Brahman realization.
dvitīyaṁ tu bhavāyāsya
yajñeśaḥ saukaraṁ vapuḥ
dvitīyam—the second; tu—but; bhavāya—for welfare; asya—of this earth; rasātala—the lowest; gatām—having gone; mahīm—the earth; uddhariṣyan—lifting up; upādatta—established; yajñeśaḥ—the proprietor or the supreme enjoyer; saukaram—hoggish; vapuḥ—incarnation.
The supreme enjoyer of all sacrifices accepted the incarnation of a boar [the second incarnation], and for the welfare of the earth He lifted the earth up from the nether regions of the universe.
The indication is that for each and every incarnation of the Personality of Godhead, the particular function executed is also mentioned. There cannot be any incarnation without a particular function, and such functions are always extraordinary. They are impossible for any living being to perform. The incarnation of the boar was to take the earth out of Pluto’s region of filthy matter. Picking up something from a filthy place is done by a boar, and the all-powerful Personality of Godhead displayed this wonder to the asuras, who hid the earth in such a filthy place. There is nothing impossible for Him, and although the Personality of Godhead played the part of a boar, still by the devotees He is worshiped, staying always in transcendence.
tṛtīyam ṛṣi-sargaṁ vai
devarṣitvam upetya saḥ
tantraṁ sātvatam ācaṣṭa
naiṣkarmyaṁ karmaṇāṁ yataḥ
tṛtīyam—the third one; ṛṣi-sargam—the millennium of the ṛṣis; vai—certainly; devarṣitvam—incarnation of the ṛṣi amongst the demigods; upetya—having accepted; saḥ—he; tantram—exposition of the Vedas; sātvatam—which is especially meant for devotional service; ācaṣṭa- collected; naiṣkarmyam—nonfruitive; karmaṇām—of work; yataḥ—from which.
In the millennium of the ṛṣis, the Personality of Godhead accepted the third empowered incarnation in the form of Devarṣi Nārada, who is a great sage among the demigods. He collected expositions of the Vedas which deal with devotional service and which inspire nonfruitive action.
The great Ṛṣi Nārada, who is an empowered incarnation of the Personality of Godhead, propagates devotional service all over the universe. All great devotees of the Lord all over the universe and in different planets and species of life are his disciples. Śrīla Vyāsadeva, the compiler of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, is also one of his disciples. He is the author of Nārada-pañcarātra, which is the exposition of the Vedas, particularly for devotional service of the Lord. This Nārada-pañcarātra trains the karmīs or the fruitive workers to achieve liberation from the bondage of fruitive work. The conditioned souls are mostly attracted by fruitive work because they want to enjoy life by the sweat of their own brow. The whole universe is full of fruitive workers in all species of life. The fruitive works include all kinds of economic development plans. But the law of nature provides that every action has its resultant reaction, and the performer of the work is bound up by such reactions, good or bad. The reaction of good work is comparative material prosperity, whereas the reaction of bad work is comparative material distress. But material conditions, either in so-called happiness or in so-called distress, are all meant ultimately for distress only. Foolish materialists have no information how to obtain eternal happiness in the unconditional state. Śrī Nārada informs these foolish fruitive workers how to realize the reality of happiness. He gives direction to the diseased men of the world how one’s present engagement can lead one to the path of spiritual emancipation. The physician gives direction to the patient to take treated milk in the form of curd for his sufferings from indigestion due to his taking another milk preparation. So the cause of the disease and the remedy of the disease may be the same, but it must be treated by an expert physician like Nārada. The Bhagavad-gītā also gives the same solution for serving the Lord by the fruits of one’s labor. That will lead one to the path of naiṣkarmya, or liberation.
akarod duścaraṁ tapaḥ
turye—in the fourth of the line; dharma-kalā—wife of Dharmarāja; sarge—being born of; nara-nārāyaṇau—named Nara and Nārāyaṇa; ṛṣī—sages; bhūtvā—becoming; ātma-upaśama—controlling the senses; upetam—for achievement of; akarot—undertook; duścaram—very strenuous; tapaḥ—penance.
In the fourth incarnation, the Lord became Nara and Nārāyaṇa, the twin sons of the wife of King Dharma. Thus He undertook severe and exemplary penances to control the senses.
As it was advised by King Ṛṣabha to His sons, tapasya, or voluntary acceptance of penance for realization of the transcendence, is the only duty of the human being; it was so done by the Lord Himself in an examplary manner to teach us. The Lord is very kind to the forgetful souls. He therefore comes Himself and leaves behind necessary instructions and also sends His good sons as representatives to call all the conditioned souls back to Godhead. Recently, within the memory of everyone, Lord Caitanya also appeared for the same purpose: to show special favor to fallen souls of this age of iron industry. The incarnation of Nārāyaṇa is worshiped still at Badarīnārāyaṇa, on the range of the Himalayas.
pañcamaḥ kapilo nāma
pañcamaḥ—the fifth one; kapilaḥ—Kapila; nāma—of the name; siddheśaḥ—the foremost amongst the perfect; kāla—time; viplutam—lost; provāca—said; āsuraye—unto the brāhmaṇa named Āsuri; sāṅkhyam—metaphysics; tattva-grāma—the sum total of the creative elements; vinirṇayam—exposition.
The fifth incarnation, named Lord Kapila, is foremost among perfected beings. He gave an exposition of the creative elements and metaphysics to Āsuri Brāhmaṇa, for in course of time this knowledge had been lost.
The sum total of the creative elements is twenty-four in all. Each and every one of them are explicitly explained in the system of Sāṅkhya philosophy. Sāṅkhya philosophy is generally called metaphysics by the European scholars. The etymological meaning of sāṅkhya is that which explains very lucidly by analysis of the material elements. This was done for the first time by Lord Kapila, who is said herein to be the fifth in the line of incarnations.
ṣaṣṭham atrer apatyatvaṁ
vṛtaḥ prāpto ‘nasūyayā
ṣaṣṭham—the sixth one; atreḥ—of Atri; apatyatvam—sonship; vṛtaḥ—being prayed for; prāptaḥ—obtained; anasūyayā—by Anasūyā; ānvīkṣikīm—on the subject of transcendence; alarkāya—unto Alarka; prahlāda-ādibhyaḥ—unto Prahlāda, etc.; ūcivān—spoke.
The sixth incarnation of the puruṣa was the son of the sage Atri. He was born in the womb of Anasūyā, who prayed for an incarnation. He spoke on the subject of transcendence to Alarka, Prahlāda and others [Yadu, Haihaya, etc.].
The Lord incarnated Himself as Dattātreya, the son of Ṛṣi Atri and Anasūyā. The history of the birth of Dattātreya as an incarnation of the Lord is mentioned in the Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa in connection with the story of the devoted wife. It is said there that Anasūyā, the wife of Ṛṣi Atri, prayed before the Lords Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva as follows: "My lords, if you are pleased with me, and if you desire me to ask from you some sort of blessings, then I pray that you combine together to become my son." This was accepted by the lords, and as Dattātreya the Lord expounded the philosophy of the spirit soul and especially instructed Alarka, Prahlāda, Yadu, Haihaya, etc.
tataḥ saptama ākūtyāṁ
rucer yajño ‘bhyajāyata
sa yāmādyaiḥ sura-gaṇair
tataḥ—after that; saptame—the seventh in the line; ākūtyām—in the womb of Ākūti; ruceḥ—by Prajāpati Ruci; yajñaḥ—the Lord’s incarnation as Yajña; abhyajāyata—advented; saḥ—He; yāma-ādyaiḥ—with Yāma, etc.; sura-gaṇaiḥ-with demigods; apāt—ruled; svāyambhuva-antaram—the change of the period of Svāyambhuva Manu.
The seventh incarnation was Yajña, the son of Prajāpati Ruci and his wife Ākūti. He controlled the period during the change of the Svāyambhuva Manu and was assisted by demigods such as His son Yama and others.
The administrative posts occupied by the demigods for maintaining the regulations of the material world are offered to the highly elevated pious living beings. When there is a scarcity of such pious living beings, the Lord incarnates Himself as Brahmā, Prajāpati, Indra, etc., and takes up the charge. During the period of Svāyambhuva Manu (the present period is of Vaivasvata Manu) there was no suitable living being who could occupy the post of Indra, the King of the Indraloka (heaven) planet. The Lord Himself at that time became Indra. Assisted by His own sons like Yama and other demigods, Lord Yajña ruled the administration of the universal affairs.
aṣṭame merudevyāṁ tu
nābher jāta urukramaḥ
darśayan vartma dhīrāṇāṁ
aṣṭame—the eighth of the incarnations; merudevyām tu—in the womb of Merudevī, the wife of; nābheḥ—King Nābhi; jātaḥ—took birth; urukramaḥ—the all-powerful Lord; darśayan—by showing; vartma—the way; dhīrāṇām—of the perfect beings; sarva—all; āśrama—orders of life; namaskṛtam—honored by.
The eighth incarnation was King Ṛṣabha, son of King Nābhi and his wife Merudevī. In this incarnation the Lord showed the path of perfection, which is followed by those who have fully controlled their senses and who are honored by all orders of life.
The society of human beings is naturally divided into eight by orders and statuses of life, the four divisions of occupation and four divisions of cultural advancement. The intelligent class, the administrative class, the productive class and the laborer class are the four divisions of occupation. And the student life, the householder’s life, retired life and renounced life are the four statuses of cultural advancement towards the path of spiritual realization. Out of these, the renounced order of life, or the order of sannyāsa, is considered the highest of all, and a sannyāsī is constitutionally the spiritual master for all the orders and divisions. In the sannyāsa order also there are four stages of upliftment toward perfection. Such stages are called the kuṭīcaka, bahūdaka, parivrājakācārya, and the paramahaṁsa. The paramahaṁsa stage of life is the highest stage of perfection. This order of life is respected by all others. Mahārāja Ṛṣabha, the son of King Nābhi and Merudevī, was an incarnation of the Lord, and He instructed His sons to follow the path of perfection by tapasya which sanctifies one’s existence and enables one to attain the stage of spiritual happiness which is eternal and ever increasing. Every living being is searching after happiness, but no one knows where eternal and unlimited happiness is obtainable. Foolish men seek after material sense pleasure as a substitute for real happiness, but such foolish men forget that temporary so-called happiness derived from sense pleasures is also enjoyed by the dogs and hogs. No animal, bird or beast is bereft of this sense pleasure. In every species of life, including the human form of life, such happiness is immensely obtainable. The human form of life is, however, not meant for such cheap happiness. The human life is meant for attaining eternal and unlimited happiness by spiritual realization. This spiritual realization is obtained by tapasya or undergoing voluntarily the path of penance and abstinence from material pleasures. Those who have been trained for abstinence in material pleasures are called dhīra, or men undisturbed by the senses. These dhīras can accept the orders of sannyāsa, and they can gradually rise up to the status of the paramahaṁsa, which is adored by all members of the society. King Ṛṣabha propagated this mission, and at the last stage He became completely aloof from the material bodily needs, which is a rare stage not to be imitated by foolish men, but to be wor shiped by all.
ṛṣibhir yācito bheje
navamaṁ pārthivaṁ vapuḥ
dugdhemām oṣadhīr viprās
tenāyaṁ sa uśattamaḥ
ṛṣibhiḥ—by the sages; yācitaḥ—being prayed for; bheje—accepted; navamam—the ninth one; pārthivam—the ruler of the earth; vapuḥ—body; dugdha—milking; imām—all these; oṣadhīḥ—products of the earth; viprāḥ—O brāhmaṇas; tena—by; ayam—this; saḥ—he; uśattamaḥ—beautifully attractive.
O brāhmaṇas, the ninth incarnation of the Lord, prayed for by sages, was King Pṛthu, who cultivated the land to yield various produces, and for that reason the earth was beautiful and attractive.
Before the advent of King Pṛthu, there was great havoc of maladministration due to the vicious life of the previous king, the father of Mahārāja Pṛthu. The intelligent class of men (namely the sages and the brāhmaṇas) not only prayed for the Lord to come down, but they also dethroned the previous king. It is the duty of the king to be pious and thus look after the all around welfare of the citizens. Whenever there is some negligence on the part of the king in discharging his duty, the intelligent class of men must dethrone him. The intelligent class of men, however, do not occupy the royal throne because they have much more important duties for the welfare of the public. Instead of occupying the royal throne, they prayed for the incarnation of the Lord, and the Lord came as Mahārāja Pṛthu. Real intelligent men or qualified brāhmaṇas never aspire for political posts. Mahārāja Pṛthu excavated many produces from the earth, and thus not only the citizens became happy to have such a good king, but the complete sight of the earth also became beautiful and attractive.
rūpaṁ sa jagṛhe mātsyaṁ
nāvy āropya mahīmayyām
apād vaivasvataṁ manum
rūpam—form; saḥ—he; jagṛhe—accepted; mātsyam—of fish; cakṣuṣā—Cakṣuṣā; udadhi—water; samplave—inundation; nāvi—on the boat; āropya—keeping on; mahī—the earth; mayyām—drowned in; apāt—protected; vaivasvatam—Vaivasvata; manum—Manu, the father of man.
When there was a complete inundation after the period of the Cakṣuṣā Manu and the whole world was deep within water, the Lord accepted the form of a fish and protected Vaivasvata Manu, keeping him up on a boat.
According to Śrīpāda Śrīdhara Svāmī, the original commentator on the Bhāgavata, there is not always a devastation after the change of every Manu. And yet this inundation after the period of Cakṣuṣā Manu took place in order to show some wonders to Satyavrata. But Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī has given definite proofs from authoritative scriptures (like Viṣṇu-dharmottara, Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa, Harivaṁśa, etc.) that there is always a devastation after the end of each and every Manu. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī has also supported Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, and he (Śrī Cakravartī) has also quoted from Bhāgavatāmṛta about this inundation after each Manu. Apart from this, the Lord, in order to show special favor to Satyavrata, a devotee of the Lord, in this particular period, incarnated Himself.
pṛṣṭha ekādaśe vibhuḥ
sura—the theists; asurāṇām—of the atheists; udadhim—in the ocean; mathnatām—churning; mandarācalam—the Mandarācalam Hill; dadhre—sustained; kamaṭha—tortoise; rūpeṇa—in the form of; pṛṣṭhe—shell; ekādaśe—eleventh in the line; vibhuḥ—the great.
The eleventh incarnation of the Lord was in the form of a tortoise whose shell served as a pivot for the Mandarācalam Hill, which was being used as a churning rod by the theists and atheists of the universe.
Once both the atheists and the theists were engaged in producing nectar from the sea so that all of them could become deathless by drinking it. At that time the Mandarācalam Hill was used as the churning rod, and the shell of Lord Tortoise, the incarnation of Godhead, became the resting place (pivot) of the hill in the sea water.
trayodaśamam eva ca
apāyayat surān anyān
mohinyā mohayan striyā
dhānvantaram—the incarnation of Godhead named Dhanvantari; dvādaśamam—the twelfth in the line; trayodaśamam—the thirteenth in the line; eva—certainly; ca—and; apāyayat—gave to drink; surān—the demigods; anyān—others; mohinyā—by charming beauty; mohayan—alluring; striyā—in the form of a woman.
In the twelfth incarnation, the Lord appeared as Dhanvantari, and in the thirteenth He allured the atheists by the charming beauty of a woman and gave nectar to the demigods to drink.
bibhrad daityendram ūrjitam
dadāra karajair ūrāv
erakāṁ kaṭa-kṛd yathā
caturdaśam—the fourteenth in the line; nārasiṁham—the incarnation of the Lord as half man and half lion; bibhrat—advented; daityendram—the king of the atheists; ūrjitam—strongly built; dadāra—bifurcated; karajaiḥ—by the nails; ūrau—on the lap; erakām—canes; kaṭa-kṛt—carpenter; yathā-just like.
In the fourteenth incarnation, the Lord appeared as Nṛsiṁha and bifurcated the strong body of the atheist Hiraṇyakaśipu with His nails, just as a carpenter pierces cane.
kṛtvāgād adhvaraṁ baleḥ
pañcadaśam—the fifteenth in the line; vāmanakam—the dwarf brāhmaṇa; kṛtvā—by assumption of; agāt—went; adhvaram—arena of sacrifice; baleḥ—of King Bali; pada-trayam—three steps only; yācamānaḥ—begging; pratyāditsuḥ—willing at heart to return; tri-piṣṭapam—the kingdom of the three planetary systems.
In the fifteenth incarnation, the Lord assumed the form of a dwarf brāhmaṇa [Vāmana] and visited the arena of sacrifice arranged by Mahārāja Bali. Although at heart He was willing to regain the kingdom of the three planetary systems, He simply asked for a donation of three steps of land.
The Almighty God can bestow upon anyone the kingdom of the universe from a very small beginning, and similarly, He can take away the kingdom of the universe on the plea of begging a small piece of land.
paśyan brahma-druho nṛpān
niḥkṣatrām akaron mahīm
avatāre—in the incarnation of the Lord; ṣoḍaśame—sixteenth; paśyan—seeing; brahma-druhaḥ—disobedient to the orders of the brāhmaṇas; nṛpān—the kingly order; triḥ-sapta—thrice seven times; kṛtvaḥ—had done; kupitaḥ—being engaged; niḥ—negation; kṣatrām—the administrative class; akarot—did perform; mahīm—the earth.
As Bhṛgupati, the sixteenth incarnation of the Godhead, the Lord annihilated the administrative class [kṣatriyas] twenty-one times, being angry with them because of their rebellion against the brāhmaṇas [the intelligent class].
The kṣatriyas or the administrative class of men are expected to rule the planet by the direction of the intelligent class of men who give direction to the rulers in terms of the standard śāstras or the books of revealed knowledge. The rulers carry on the administration according to that direction. Whenever there is disobedience on the part of the kṣatriyas or the administrative class against the orders of the learned and intelligent brāhmaṇas, the administrators are removed by force from the posts, and arrangement is made for better administration.
tataḥ saptadaśe jātaḥ
cakre veda-taroḥ śākhā
dṛṣṭvā puṁso ‘lpa-medhasaḥ
tataḥ—thereafter; saptadaśe—in the seventeenth incarnation; jātaḥ—advented; satyavatyām—in the womb of Satyavatī; parāśarāt—by Parāśara Muni; cakre—prepared; veda-taroḥ—of the desire tree of the Vedas; sākhāḥ—branches; dṛṣṭvā—be seeing; puṁsaḥ—the people in general; alpa-medhasaḥ—less intelligent.
Thereafter, in the seventeenth incarnation of Godhead, Śrī Vyāsadeva appeared in the womb of Satyavatī, wife of Parāśara Muni, and he divided the one Veda into several branches and sub-branches, seeing that the people in general were less intelligent.
Originally the Veda is one. But Śrīla Vyāsadeva divided the original Veda into four, namely Sāma, Yajus, Ṛk, Atharva, and then again they were explained in different branches like the Purāṇas and the Mahābhārata. Vedic language and the subject matter are very difficult for ordinary men. They are understood by the highly intelligent and self-realized brāhmaṇas. But the present age of Kali is full of ignorant men. Even those who are born by a brāhmaṇa father are, in the present age, no better than the śūdras or the women. The twice-born men, namely the brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas and vaiśyas, are expected to undergo a cultural purificatory process known as saṁskāras, but because of the bad influence of the present age the so-called members of the brāhmaṇa and other high order families are no longer highly cultured. They are called the dvija-bandhu or the friends and family members of the twice-born. But these dvija-bandhus are classified amongst the śūdras and the women. Śrīla Vyāsadeva divided the Vedas in various branches and sub-branches for the sake of the less intelligent classes like the dvija-bandhus, śūdras and the women.
cakre vīryāṇy ataḥ param
nara—human being; devatvam—divinity; āpannaḥ—having assumed the form of; sura—the demigods; kārya—activities; cikīrṣayā—for the purpose of performing; samudra—the Indian Ocean; nigraha-ādīni—controlling, etc.; cakre—did perform; vīryāṇi—superhuman prowess; ataḥ param—thereafter.
In the eighteenth incarnation, the Lord appeared as King Rāma. In order to perform some pleasing work for the demigods, He exhibited superhuman powers by controlling the Indian Ocean and then killing the atheist King Rāvaṇa, who was on the other side of the sea.
The Personality of Godhead Śrī Rāma assumed the form of a human being and appeared on the earth for the purpose of doing some pleasing work for the demigods or the administrative personalities to maintain the order of the universe. Sometimes great demons and atheists like Rāvaṇa and Hiraṇyakaśipu and many others become very famous due to advancing material civilization by the help of material science and other activities with a spirit of challenging the established order of the Lord. For example, the attempt to fly to other planets by material means is a challenge to the established order. The conditions of each and every planet are different, and different classes of human beings are accomodated there for particular purposes mentioned in the codes of the Lord. But, puffed up by tiny success in material advancement, sometimes the godless materialist challenges the existence of God. Rāvaṇa was one of them, and he wanted to deport ordinary men to the planets of Indra (heaven) by material means without consideration of the necessary qualifications. He wanted a stair case to be built up directly reaching the heavenly planet so that people might not be required to undergo the routine of pious work necessary to enter that planet. He also wanted to perform other acts against the established rule of the Lord. He even challenged the authority of Śrī Rāma the Personality of Godhead and kidnapped His wife Sītā. Of course Lord Rāma came to chastise this atheist, answering the prayer and desire of the demigods. He therefore took up the challenge of Rāvaṇa, and the complete activity is the subject matter of the Rāmāyaṇa. Because Lord Rāmacandra was the Personality of Godhead, He exhibited superhuman activities which no human being, including the materially advanced Rāvaṇa, could perform. Lord Rāmacandra prepared a royal road on the Indian Ocean with stones that floated on the water. The modern scientists have done research in the area of weightlessness, but it is not possible to bring in weightlessness anywhere and everywhere. But because weightlessness is the creation of the Lord by which He can make the gigantic planets fly and float in the air, He made the stones even within this earth to be weightless and prepared a stone bridge on the sea without any supporting pillar. That is the display of the power of God.
vṛṣṇiṣu prāpya janmanī
rāma-kṛṣṇāv iti bhuvo
bhagavān aharad bharam
ekonaviṁśe—in the nineteenth; viṁśatime—in the twentieth also; vṛṣṇiṣu—in the Vṛṣṇi dynasty; prāpya—having obtained; janmanī—births; rāma—Balarāma; kṛṣṇau—Śrī Kṛṣṇa; iti—thus; bhuvaḥ—of the world; bhagavān—the Personality of Godhead; aharat—removed; bharam—burden.
In the nineteenth and twentieth incarnations, the Lord advented Himself as Lord Balarāma and Lord Kṛṣṇa in the family of Vṛṣṇi [the Yadu dynasty], and by so doing He removed the burden of the world.
The specific mention of the word bhagavān in this text indicates that Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa are original forms of the Lord. This will be further explained later. Lord Kṛṣṇa is not an incarnation of the puruṣa as we learned from the beginning of this chapter. He is directly the original Personality of Godhead, and Balarāma is the first plenary manifestation of the Lord. From Baladeva the first phalanx of plenary expansions, Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Aniruddha and Pradyumna, expands. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is Vāsudeva, and Baladeva is Saṅkarṣaṇa.
tataḥ kalau sampravṛtte
tataḥ—thereafter; kalau—the age of Kali; sampravṛtte—having ensued; sammohāya—for the purpose of deluding; sura—the theists; dviṣām—those who are envious; buddhaḥ—Lord Buddha; nāmnā—of the name; añjana sūtaḥ—the son of Añjana (Lord Buddha); kīkaṭeṣu—in the province of Gayā (Behar); bhaviṣyati—will take place.
Then, in the beginning of Kali-yuga, the Lord will appear as Lord Buddha, the son of Añjana, in the province of Gayā, just for the purpose of deluding those who are envious of the faithful theist.
Lord Buddha, a powerful incarnation of the Personality of Godhead, appeared in the province of Gayā (Bihar) as the son of Añjana, and he preached his own conception of nonviolence and deprecated even the animal sacrifices sanctioned in the Vedas. At the time when Lord Buddha appeared, the people in general were atheistic and preferred animal flesh to anything else. On the plea of Vedic sacrifice, every place was practically turned into a slaughterhouse, and animal killing was indulged in unrestrictedly. Lord Buddha preached nonviolence, taking pity on the poor animals. He preached that he did not believe in the tenets of the Vedas and stressed the adverse psychological effects incurred by animal killing. Less intelligent men of the age of Kali, who had no faith in God, followed his principle, and for the time being they were trained in moral discipline and nonviolence, the preliminary steps for proceeding further on the path of God realization. He deluded the atheists because such atheists who followed his principles did not believe in God, but they kept their absolute faith in Lord Buddha who himself was the incarnation of God. Thus the faithless people were made to believe in God in the form of Lord Buddha. That was the mercy of Lord Buddha: He made the faithless faithful to him.
Killing of animals before the advent of Lord Buddha was the most prominent feature of the society. They claimed that these were Vedic sacrifices. When the Vedas are not accepted through the authoritative disciplic succession, the casual readers of the Vedas are misled by the flowery language of that system of knowledge. In the Bhagavad-gītā a comment has been made on such foolish scholars. The foolish scholars of Vedic literature who do not care to receive the transcendental message through the transcendental realized sources of disciplic succession are sure to be bewildered. To them, the ritualistic ceremonies are considered to be all in all. They have no depth of knowledge, according to the Bhagavad-gītā. The whole system of the Vedas is to lead one gradually to the path of the Supreme Lord. The whole theme of Vedic literature is to know the Supreme Lord, the individual soul, the cosmic situation and the relations between all these items. When the relation is known, the relative function begins, and as a result of such a function the ultimate goal of life or going back to Godhead takes place in the easiest manner. Unfortunately, unauthorized scholars of the Vedas become captivated by the purificatory ceremonies only, and natural progress is checked thereby.
To such bewildered persons of atheistic propensity, Lord Buddha is the emblem of theism. He therefore first of all wanted to check the habit of animal killing. The animal killers are dangerous elements on the path of going back to Godhead. There are two types of animal killers. The soul is also sometimes called the "animal" or the living being. Therefore, both the slaughterer of animals as well as those who have lost their identity of soul are animal killers.
Mahārāja Parīkṣit said that only the animal killer cannot relish the transcendental message of the Supreme Lord. Therefore if people are to be educated to the path of Godhead they must be taught first and foremost to stop the process of animal killing as above mentioned. It is nonsensical to say that animal killing has nothing to do with spiritual realization. By this dangerous theory many so-called sannyāsīs have sprung up by the grace of Kali-yuga who preach animal killing under the garb of the Vedas. The subject matter has already been discussed in the conversation between Lord Caitanya and Maulana Chand Kazi Shaheb. The animal sacrifice as stated in the Vedas is different from the unrestricted animal killing in the slaughterhouse. Because the asuras or the so-called scholars of Vedic literatures put forward the evidence of animal killing in the Vedas, Lord Buddha superficially denied the authority of the Vedas. This rejection of the Vedas by Lord Buddha was adopted in order to save people from the vice of animal killing as well as to save the poor animals from the slaughtering process of their big brothers who clamor for universal brotherhood, peace, justice and equity. There is no justice when there is animal killing. Lord Buddha wanted to stop it completely, and therefore his cult of ahiṁsā was propagated not only in India but also outside the country.
Technically Lord Buddha’s philosophy is called atheistic because there is no acceptance of the Supreme Lord and because that system of philosophy denied the authority of the Vedas. But that is an act of camouflage by the Lord. Lord Buddha is the incarnation of Godhead. As such, he is the original propounder of Vedic knowledge. He therefore cannot reject Vedic philosophy. But he rejected it outwardly because the sura-dviṣa, or the demons who are always envious of the devotees of Godhead, try to support cow killing or animal killing from the pages of the Vedas, and this is now being done by the modernized sannyāsīs. Lord Buddha had to reject the authority of the Vedas altogether. This is simply technical, and had it not been so he would not have been so accepted as the incarnation of Godhead. Neither would he have been worshiped in the transcendental songs of the poet Jayadeva, who is a Vaiṣṇava ācārya. He preached the preliminary principles of the Vedas in a manner suitable for the time being (and so also did Ācārya Śaṅkarācārya) to establish the authority of the Vedas. Therefore both Lord Buddha and Ācārya Śaṅkara paved the path of theism, and Vaiṣṇava ācāryas, specifically Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, led the people on the path towards a realization of going back to Godhead.
We are glad that people are taking interest in the nonviolent movement of Lord Buddha. But will they take the matter very seriously and close the animal slaughterhouses altogether? If not, there is no meaning to the ahiṁsā cult.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam was composed just prior to the beginning of the age of Kali (about five thousand years ago), and Lord Buddha appeared about 2,600 years ago. Therefore in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam Lord Buddha is foretold. Such is the authority of this clear scripture. There are many such prophecies, and they are being fulfilled one after another. They will indicate the positive standing of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which is without trace of mistake, illusion, cheating and imperfection, which are the four flaws of all conditioned souls. The liberated souls are above these flaws; therefore they can see and foretell things which are to take place on distant future dates.
nāmnā kalkir jagat-patiḥ
atha—thereafter; asau—the same Lord; yuga-sandhyāyām—at the conjunction of the yugas; dasyu—plunderers; prāyeṣu—almost all; rājasu—the governing personalities; janitā—will take His birth; viṣṇu—named Viṣṇu; yaśasaḥ—surnamed Yaśā; nāmnā—in the name of; kalkiḥ—the incarnation of the Lord; jagat-patiḥ—the Lord of the creation.
Thereafter, at the conjunction of two yugas, the Lord of the creation will take His birth as the Kalki incarnation and become the son of Viṣṇu Yaśā. At this time the rulers of the earth will have degenerated into plunderers.
Here is another foretelling of the advent of Lord Kalki, the incarnation of Godhead. He is to appear at the conjunction of the two yugas, namely at the end of Kali-yuga and the beginning of Satya-yuga. The cycle of the four yugas, namely Satya, Tretā, Dvāpara and Kali, rotates like the calendar months. The present Kali-yuga lasts 432,000 years, out of which we have passed only 5,000 years after the Battle of Kurukṣetra and the end of the regime of King Parīkṣit. So there are 427,000 years balance yet to be finished. Therefore at the end of this period, the incarnation of Kalki will take place, as foretold in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. His father’s name, Viṣṇu Yaśā, a learned brāhmaṇa, and the village Sambhala are also mentioned. As above mentioned, all these foretellings will prove to be factual in chronological order. That is the authority of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
avatārā hy asaṅkhyeyā
hareḥ sattva-nidher dvijāḥ
sarasaḥ syuḥ sahasraśaḥ
avatārāḥ—incarnations; hi—certainly; asaṅkhyeyāḥ—innumerable; hareḥ—of Hari, the Lord; sattva-nidheḥ—of the ocean of goodness; dvijāḥ—the brāhmaṇas; yathā—as it is; avidāsinaḥ—inexhaustible; kulyāḥ—rivulets; sarasaḥ—of vast lakes; syuḥ—are; sahasraśaḥ—thousands of.
O brāhmaṇas, the incarnations of the Lord are innumerable rivulets flowing from inexhaustible sources of water.
The list of incarnations of the Personality of Godhead given herein is not complete. It is only a partial view of all the incarnations. There are many others, such as Śrī Hayagrīva, Hari, Haṁsa, Pṛśnigarbha, Vibhu, Satyasena, Vaikuṇṭha, Sārvabhauma, Viśvaksena, Dharmasetu, Sudhāmā, Yogeśvara, Bṛhadbhānu, etc., in the bygone ages. Śrī Prahlāda Mahārāja said in his prayer, "My Lord, You manifest in as many incarnations as there are species of life, namely the aquatics, the vegetables, the reptiles, the birds, the beasts, the men, the demigods, etc., just for the maintenance of the faithful and the annihilation of the unfaithful. You advent Yourself in this way in accordance with the necessity of the different yugas. In the Kali-yuga You have incarnated garbed as a devotee." This incarnation of the Lord in the Kali-yuga is Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. There are many other places, both in the Bhāgavatam and other scriptures, in which the incarnation of the Lord as Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is explicitly mentioned. In the Brahma-saṁhitā also it is said indirectly that although there are many incarnations of the Lord, such as Rāma, Nṛsiṁha, Varāha, Matsya, Kūrma and many others, the Lord Himself sometimes incarnates in person. Lord Kṛṣṇa and Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu are not, therefore, incarnations, but the original source of all other incarnations. This will be clearly explained in the next śloka. So the Lord is the inexhaustible source for innumerable incarnations which are not always mentioned. But such incarnations are distinguished by specific extraordinary feats which are impossible to be performed by any living being. That is the general test to identify an incarnation of the Lord directly and indirectly empowered. Some incarnations mentioned above are almost plenary portions. For instance, the Kumāras are empowered with transcendental knowledge. Śrī Nārada is empowered with devotional service. Mahārāja Pṛthu is an empowered incarnation with executive function. The Matsya incarnation is directly a plenary portion. So the innumerable incarnations of the Lord are manifested all over the universes constantly without cessation, as water flows constantly from waterfalls.
ṛṣayo manavo devā
kalāḥ sarve harer eva
ṛṣayaḥ—all the sages; manavaḥ—all the Manus; devāḥ—all the demigods; manu-putrāḥ—all the descendants of Manu; mahā-ojasaḥ—very powerful; kalāḥ—portion of the plenary portion; sarve—all collectively; hareḥ—of the Lord; eva—certainly; sa-prajāpatayaḥ—along with the Prajāpatis; smṛtāḥ—are known.
All the ṛṣis, Manus, demigods and descendants of Manu, who are especially powerful, are plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord. This also includes the Prajāpatis.
Those who are comparatively less powerful are called vibhūti, and those who are comparatively more powerful are called āveśa incarnations.
ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ
kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam
mṛḍayanti yuge yuge
ete—all these; ca—and; aṁśa—plenary portions; kalāḥ—portions of the plenary portions; puṁsaḥ—of the Supreme; kṛṣṇaḥ—Lord Kṛṣṇa; tu—but; bhagavān-the Personality of Godhead; svayam—in person; indra-ari—the enemies of Indra; vyākulam—disturbed; lokam—all the planets; mṛḍayanti—gives protection; yuge yuge—in different ages.
All of the above-mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the original Personality of Godhead. All of them appear on planets whenever there is a disturbance created by the atheists. The Lord incarnates to protect the theists.
In this particular stanza Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa the Personality of Godhead is distinguished from other incarnations. He is counted amongst the avatāras (incarnations) because out of His causeless mercy the Lord descends from His transcendental abode. Avatāra means one who descends. All the incarnations of the Lord, including the Lord Himself, descend on the different planets of the material world as also in different species of life to fulfill particular missions. Sometimes He comes Himself, and sometimes His different plenary portions or parts of the plenary portions or His differentiated portions directly or indirectly empowered by Him descend on this material world to execute certain specific functions. Originally the Lord is full of all opulences, all prowess, all fames, all beauties, all knowledge and all renunciations. When they are partly manifested through the plenary portions or parts of the plenary portions, it should be noted that certain manifestations of His different powers are required for those particular functions. When in the room small electric bulbs are displayed, it does not mean that the electric powerhouse is limited by the small bulbs. The same powerhouse can supply power to operate large-scale industrial dynamos with greater volts. Similarly, the incarnations of the Lord display limited powers because so much power is needed at that particular time.
For example, Lord Paraśurāma and Lord Nṛsiṁha displayed unusual opulence by killing the disobedient kṣatriyas twenty-one times and killing the greatly powerful atheist Hiraṇyakaśipu. Hiraṇyakaśipu was so powerful that even the demigods in other planets would tremble simply by the unfavorable raising of his eyebrow. The demigods in the higher level of material existence many, many times excel the most well-to-do human beings, in duration of life, beauty, wealth, paraphernalia, and in all other respects. Still they were afraid of Hiraṇyakaśipu. Thus we can simply imagine how powerful Hiraṇyakaśipu was in this material world. But even Hiraṇyakaśipu was cut into small pieces by the nails of Lord Nṛsiṁha. This means that anyone materially powerful cannot stand the strength of the Lord’s nails. Similarly, Jāmadagnya displayed the Lord’s power to kill all the disobedient kings powerfully situated in their respective states. His empowered incarnation, Nārada, and plenary incarnation, Varāha, as well as indirectly empowered Lord Buddha, created faith in the mass of people. The incarnations of Rāma and Dhanvantari displayed His fame, and Balarāma, Mohinī and Vāmana exhibited His beauty. Dattātreya, Matsya, Kumāra and Kapila exhibited His transcendental knowledge. Nara and Nārāyaṇa Ṛṣis exhibited His renunciation. So all the different incarnations of the Lord indirectly or directly manifested different features, but Lord Kṛṣṇa, the primeval Lord, exhibited the complete features of Godhead, and thus it is confirmed that He is the source of all other incarnations. And the most extraordinary feature exhibited by Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa was His internal energetic manifestation of His pastimes with the cowherd girls. His pastimes with the gopīs are all displays of transcendental existence, bliss and knowledge, although these are manifested apparently as sex love. The specific attraction of His pastimes with the gopīs should never be misunderstood. The Bhāgavatam relates these transcendental pastimes in the Tenth Canto. And in order to reach the position to understand the transcendental nature of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes with the gopīs, the Bhāgavatam promotes the student gradually in nine other cantos.
According to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī’s statement, in accordance with authoritative sources, Lord Kṛṣṇa is the source of all other incarnations. It is not that Lord Kṛṣṇa has any source of incarnation. All the symptoms of the Supreme Truth in full are present in the person of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and in the Bhagavad-gītā the Lord emphatically declares that there is no truth greater than or equal to Himself. In this stanza the word svayam is particularly mentioned to confirm that Lord Kṛṣṇa has no other source than Himself. Although in other places the incarnations are described as bhagavān, because of their specific functions, still nowhere are they declared to be the Supreme Personality. In this stanza the word svayam signifies the supremacy as the summum bonum.
The summum bonum Kṛṣṇa is one without a second. He Himself has expanded Himself in various parts, portions and particles as svayam-rūpa, svayam-prakāśa, tadekātmā, prabhava, vaibhava, vilāsa, avatāra, āveśa, and jīvas, all provided with innumerable energies just suitable to the respective persons and personalities. Learned scholars in transcendental subjects have carefully analyzed the summum bonum Kṛṣṇa to have sixty-four principal attributes. All the expansions or categories of the Lord possess only some percentages of these attributes. But Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the possessor of the attributes cent percent. And His personal expansions such as svayam-prakāśa, tadekātmā up to the categories of the avatāras, who are all Viṣṇu-tattva, possess up to ninety-three percent of these transcendental attributes. Lord Śiva, who is neither avatāra nor āveśa nor in between them, possesses almost eighty-four percent of the attributes. But the jīvas or the individual living beings in different statuses of life possess up to the limit of seventy-eight percent of the attributes. In the conditioned state of material existence, the living being possesses these attributes in very minute quantity, varying in terms of the pious life of the living being. The most perfect of living beings is Brahmā, the supreme administrator of one universe. He possesses seventy-eight percent of the attributes in full. All other demigods have the same attributes in less quantity, whereas human beings possess the attributes in very minute quantity. The standard of perfection for a human being is to develop the attributes up to seventy-eight percent in full. The living being can never possess attributes like Śiva, Viṣṇu or Lord Kṛṣṇa. A living being can become godly by developing the seventy-eight percent transcendental attributes in fullness, but he can never become a God like Śiva, Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa. He can become a Brahmā in due course. The godly living beings who are all residents of the planets in the spiritual sky are eternal associates of God in different spiritual planets called Hari-dhāma and Maheśa-dhāma. The abode of Lord Kṛṣṇa above all spiritual planets is called Kṛṣṇaloka or Goloka Vṛndāvana, and the perfected living being by developing seventy-eight percent of the above attributes in fullness can enter the planet of Kṛṣṇaloka after leaving the present material body.
janma guhyaṁ bhagavato
ya etat prayato naraḥ
sāyaṁ prātar gṛṇan bhaktyā
janma—birth; guhyam—mysterious; bhagavataḥ—of the Lord; yaḥ—one; etat—all these; prayataḥ—carefully; naraḥ—man; sāyam—evening; prātaḥ—morning; gṛṇan—recites; bhaktyā—with devotion; duḥkha-grāmāt—from all miseries; vimucyate—gets relief from.
Whoever carefully recites the mysterious appearances of the Lord, with devotion in the morning and in the evening, gets relief from all miseries of life.
In the Bhagavad-gītā, the Personality of Godhead has declared that anyone who knows the principles of the transcendental birth and activities of the Lord will go back to Godhead after being relieved from this material tabernacle. So simply knowing factually the mysterious way of the Lord’s incarnation in this material world can liberate one from material bondage. Therefore the birth and activities of the Lord, as manifested by Him for the welfare of the people in general, are not ordinary. They are mysterious, and only by those who carefully try to go deep into the matter by spiritual devotion is the mystery discovered. Thus one gets liberation from the material bondage. It is advised therefore that one who simply recites this chapter of Bhāgavatam, describing the appearance of the Lord in different incarnations, in sincerity and devotion, can have insight into such birth and activities of the Lord. The very word vimukti, or liberation, indicates that the Lord’s birth and activities are all transcendental; otherwise simply by reciting them one could not attain liberation. They are therefore mysterious, and those who do not follow the prescribed regulations of devotional service are not entitled to enter into the mysteries of His births and activities.
etad rūpaṁ bhagavato
hy arūpasya cid-ātmanaḥ
etat—all these; rūpam—forms; bhagavataḥ—of the Lord; hi—certainly; arūpasya—of one who has no material form; cit-ātmanaḥ—of the transcendence; māyā—material energy; guṇaiḥ—by the qualities; viracitam—manufactured; mahat-ādibhiḥ—with the ingredients of matter; ātmani—in the self.
The conception of the virāṭ universal form of the Lord, as appearing in the material world, is imaginary. It is to enable the less intelligent [and neophytes] to adjust to the idea of the Lord having form. But factually the Lord has no material form.
The conception of the Lord known as the viśva-rūpa or the virāṭ-rūpa is particularly not mentioned along with the. various incarnations of the Lord because all the incarnations of the Lord above mentioned are transcendental, and there is not a tinge of materialism in their bodies. There is no difference between the body and self as there is in the conditioned soul. The virāṭ-rūpa is conceived for those who are just neophyte worshipers. For them the material virāṭ-rūpa is presented, and it will be explained in the Second Canto. In the virāṭ-rūpa the material manifestations of different planets have been conceived as His legs, hands, etc. Actually all such descriptions are for the neophytes. The neophytes cannot conceive anything beyond matter. The material conception of the Lord is not counted in the list of His factual forms. As Paramātmā or Supersoul, the Lord is within each and every material form, even within the atoms, but the outward material form is but an imagination, both for the Lord and the living being. The present forms of the conditioned souls are also not factual. The conclusion is that the material conception of the body of the Lord as virāṭ is imaginary. Both the Lord and the living beings are living spirits and have original spiritual bodies respectively.
yathā nabhasi meghaugho
reṇur vā pārthivo ‘nile
evaṁ draṣṭari dṛśyatvam
yathā—as it is; nabhasi—in the sky; meghaughaḥ—a mass of clouds; reṇuḥ—dust; vā—as well as; pārthivaḥ—muddiness; anile—in the air; evam—thus; draṣṭari—to the seer; dṛśyatvam—for the purpose of seeing; āropitam—is implied; abuddhibhiḥ—by the less intelligent persons.
Clouds and dust are carried by the air, but less intelligent persons say that the sky is cloudy and the air is dirty. Similarly, they also implant material bodily conceptions on the spirit self.
It is further confirmed herein that with our material eyes and senses we cannot see the Lord, who is all spirit. We cannot even detect the spiritual spark which exists within the material body of the living being. We look to the outward covering of the body or subtle mind of the living being, but we cannot see the spiritual spark within the body. So we have to accept the living being’s presence by the presence of his gross body. Similarly, those who want to see the Lord with their present material eyes or with the material senses are advised to meditate on the gigantic external feature called the virāṭa-rūpa. For instance, when a particular gentleman goes in his car, which can be seen very easily, we identify the car with the man within the car. When the President goes out in his particular car, we say, "There is the President." For the time being we identify the car with the President. Similarly, less intelligent men who want to see God immediately without necessary qualification are shown first the gigantic material cosmos as the form of the Lord, although the Lord is within and without. The clouds in the sky and the blue of the sky are better appreciated in this connection. Although the bluish tint of the sky and the sky are different, still we conceive of the color of the sky as blue. But that is a general conception for the laymen only.
ataḥ paraṁ yad avyaktam
sa jīvo yat punarbhavaḥ
ataḥ—this; param—beyond; yat—which; avyaktam—unmanifested; avyūḍha—without formal shape; guṇa-bṛṁhitam—affected by the qualities; adṛṣṭa—unseen; aśruta—unheard; vastutvāt—being like that; saḥ—that; jīvaḥ-living being; yat—that which; punarbhavaḥ—takes birth repeatedly.
Beyond this gross conception of form there is another subtle conception of form which is without formal shape and is unseen, unheard and unmanifest. The living being has his form beyond this subtlety, otherwise he could not have repeated births.
As the gross cosmic manifestation is conceived as the gigantic body of the Lord, so also there is the conception of His subtle form, which is simply realized without being seen, heard or manifested. But in fact all these gross or subtle conceptions of the body are in relation with the living beings. The living being has his spiritual form beyond this gross material or subtle psychic existence. The gross body and psychic functions cease to act as soon as the living being leaves the visible gross body. In fact, we say that the living being has gone away because he is unseen and unheard. Even when the gross body is not acting when the living being is in sound sleep, we know that he is within the body by his breathing. So the living being’s passing away from the body does not mean that there is no existence of the living soul. It is there, otherwise how can he repeat his births again and again?
The conclusion is that the Lord is eternally existent in His transcendental form, which is neither gross nor subtle like that of the living being; His body is never to be compared to the gross and subtle bodies of the living being. All such conceptions of God’s body are imaginary. The living being has his eternal spiritual form, which is conditioned only by his material contamination.
iti tad brahma-darśanam
yatra—whenever; ime—in all these; sat-asat—gross and subtle; rūpe—in the forms of; pratiṣiddhe—on being nullified; sva-saṁvidā—by self-realization; avidyayā—by ignorance; ātmani—in the self; kṛte—having been imposed; iti—thus; tat—that is; brahma-darśanam—the process of seeing the Absolute.
Whenever a person experiences, by self-realization, that both the gross and subtle bodies have nothing to do with the pure self, at that time he sees himself as well as the Lord.
The difference between self-realization and material illusion is to know that the temporary or illusory impositions of material energy in the shape of gross and subtle bodies are superficial coverings of the self. The coverings take place due to ignorance. Such coverings are never effective in the person of the Personality of Godhead. Knowing this convincingly is called liberation, or seeing the Absolute. This means that perfect self-realization is made possible by adoption of godly or spiritual life. Self-realization means to become indifferent to the needs of the gross and subtle bodies and to become serious about the activities of the self. The impetus for activities is generated from the self, but such activities become illusory due to ignorance of the real position of the self. By ignorance, self-interest is calculated in terms of the gross and subtle bodies, and therefore a whole set of activities is spoiled life after life. When, however, one meets the self by proper culture, the activities of the self begin. Therefore a man who is engaged in the activities of the self is called jīvanmukta, or a liberated person even in the conditional existence.
This perfect stage of self-realization is not attained by artificial means, but under the lotus feet of the Lord, who is always transcendental. In the Bhagavad-gītā the Lord says that He is present in everyone’s heart, and from Him only all knowledge, remembrance or forgetfulness take place. When the living being desires to be an enjoyer of material energy (illusory phenomena), the Lord covers the living being in the mystery of forgetfulness, and thus the living being misinterprets the gross body and subtle mind to be his own self. And by culture of transcendental knowledge, when the living being prays to the Lord for deliverance from the clutches of forgetfulness, the Lord, by His causeless mercy, removes the living being’s illusory curtain, and thus he realizes his own self. He then engages himself in the service of the Lord in his eternal constitutional position, becoming liberated from the conditioned life. All this is executed by the Lord through either His external potency or directly by the internal potency.
yady eṣoparatā devī
māyā vaiśāradī matiḥ
sampanna eveti vidur
mahimni sve mahīyate
yadi—if, however; eṣā—they; uparatā—subsided; devī māyā—illusory energy; vaiśāradī—full of knowledge; matiḥ—enlightenment; sampannaḥ—enriched with; eva—certainly; iti—thus; viduḥ—being cognizant of; mahimni—in the glories; sve—of the self; mahīyate—being situated in.
If the illusory energy subsides and the living entity becomes fully enriched with knowledge by the grace of the Lord, then he becomes at once enlightened with self-realization and thus becomes situated in his own glory.
Being part of the absolute transcendence, all the Lord’s forms, names, pastimes, attributes, associates and energies are identical with Him. His transcendental energy acts according to His omnipotency. The same energy acts as His external, internal and marginal energies, and by His omnipotency He can perform anything and everything through the agency of any of the above energies. He can turn the external energy into internal by His will. Therefore by His grace the external energy, which is employed in illusioning those living beings who want to have it, subsides by the will of the Lord in terms of repentance and penance for the conditioned soul. And the very same energy then acts to help the purified living being make progress on the path of self-realization. The example of electrical energy is very appropriate in this connection. The expert electrician can utilize the electrical energy for both heating and cooling by adjustment only. Similarly, the external energy, which now bewilders the living being into continuation of birth and death, is turned into internal potency by the will of the Lord to lead the living being to eternal life. When a living being is thus graced by the Lord, he is placed in his proper constitutional position to enjoy eternal spiritual life.
evaṁ janmāni karmāṇi
hy akartur ajanasya ca
varṇayanti sma kavayo
evam—thus; janmāni—birth; karmāṇi—activities; hi—certainly; akartuḥ—of the inactive; ajanasya—of the unborn; ca—and; varṇayanti—describe; sma—in the past; kavayaḥ—the learned; veda-guhyāni—undiscoverable by the Vedas; hṛt-pateḥ—of the Lord of the heart.
Thus learned men describe the births and activities of the unborn and inactive, which is undiscoverable even in the Vedic literatures. He is the Lord of the heart.
Both the Lord and the living entities are essentially all spiritual. Therefore both of them are eternal, and neither of them has birth and death. The difference is that the so-called births and disappearances of the Lord are unlike those of the living beings. The living beings who take birth and then again accept death are bound by the laws of material nature. But the so-called appearance and disappearance of the Lord are not actions of material nature, but are demonstrations of the internal potency of the Lord. They are described by the great sages for the purpose of self-realization. It is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā by the Lord that His so-called birth in the material world and His activities are all transcendental. And simply by meditation on such activities one can attain realization of Brahman and thus become liberated from material bondage. In the śrutis it is said that the birthless appears to take birth. The Supreme has nothing to do, but because He is omnipotent, everything is performed by Him naturally, as if done automatically. As a matter of fact, the appearence and disappearance of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His different activities are all confidential, even to the Vedic literatures. Yet they are displayed by the Lord to bestow mercy upon the conditioned souls. We should always take advantage of the narrations of the activities of the Lord, which are meditations on Brahman in the most convenient and palatable form.
sa vā idaṁ viśvam amogha-līlaḥ
sṛjaty avaty atti na sajjate ‘smin
bhūteṣu cāntarhita ātma-tantraḥ
ṣāḍ-vargikaṁ jighrati ṣaḍ-guṇeśaḥ
saḥ—the Supreme Lord; vā—alternately; idam—this; viśvam—manifested universes; amogha-līlaḥ—one whose activities are spotless; sṛjati—creates; avati atti—maintains and annihilates; na—not; sajjate—is affected by; asmin—in them; bhūteṣu—in all living beings; ca—also; antarhitaḥ—living within; ātma-tantraḥ—self-independent; ṣāṭ-vargikam—endowed with all the potencies of six opulences; jighrati—superficially attached, like smelling the fragrance; ṣaṭ-guṇeśaḥ—master of the six senses.
The Lord, whose activities are always spotless, is the master of the six senses and is omnipotent and full with six opulences. He creates the manifested universes, maintains them and annihilates them without being in the least affected. He is within every living being and is always independent.
The prime difference between the Lord and the living entities is that the Lord is the creator and the living entities are the created. Here He is called the amogha-līlaḥ, which indicates that there is nothing lamentable in His creation. Those who create disturbance in His creation are themselves disturbed. He is transcendental to all material afflictions because He is full with all six opulences, namely wealth, power, fame, beauty, knowledge and renunciation, and thus He is the master of the senses. He creates these manifested universes in order to reclaim the living beings who are within them suffering threefold miseries, maintains them, and in due course annihilates them without being the least affected by such actions. He is connected with this material creation very superficially, as one smells odor without being connected with the odorous article. Non-godly elements therefore can never approach Him, despite all endeavours.
na cāsya kaścin nipuṇena dhātur
avaiti jantuḥ kumanīṣa ūtīḥ
nāmāni rūpāṇi mano-vacobhiḥ
santanvato naṭacaryām ivājñaḥ
na—not; ca—and; asya—of Him; kaścit—anyone; nipuṇena—by dexterity; dhātuḥ—of the creator; avaiti—can know; jantuḥ—the living being; kumanīṣaḥ—with a poor fund of knowledge; ūtīḥ—activities of the Lord; nāmāni—His names; rūpāṇi—His forms; mano-vacobhiḥ—by dint of mental speculation or deliverance of speeches; santanvataḥ—displaying; naṭacaryām—a dramatic action; iva—like; ajñaḥ—the foolish.
The foolish with poor fund of knowledge cannot know the transcendental nature of the forms, names and activities of the Lord, who is playing like an actor in a drama. Nor can they express such things, neither in their speculations nor their writings.
No one can properly describe the transcendental nature of the Absolute Truth. Therefore it is said that He is beyond the expression of mind and speech. And yet there are some men, with poor fund of knowledge, who desire to understand the Absolute Truth by imperfect mental speculation and faulty description of His activities. To the layman His activities, appearence and disappearance, His names, His forms, His paraphernalia, His personalities and all things in relation with Him are mysterious acts. There are two classes of materialists, namely the fruitive workers and the empiric philosophers. The fruitive workers have practically no information of the Absolute Truth, and the mental speculators, after being frustrated in fruitive activities, turn their faces towards the Absolute Truth and try to know Him by mental speculation. And for all these men, the Absolute Truth is a mystery, as the jugglery of the magician is a mystery to children. Being deceived by the jugglery of the Supreme Being, the nondevotees, who may be very dexterous in fruitive work and mental speculation, are always in ignorance. With such limited knowledge, they are unable to penetrate into the mysterious region of transcendence. The mental speculators are a little more progressive than the gross materialists or the fruitive workers, but because they are also within the grip of illusion, they take it for granted that anything which has form, a name and activities is but a product of material energy. For them the Supreme Spirit is formless, nameless and inactive. And because such mental speculators equalize the transcendental name and form of the Lord with mundane names and form, they are in fact in ignorance. With such a poor fund of knowledge, there is no access to the real nature of the Supreme Being. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, the Lord is always in a transcendental position, even when He is within the material world. But ignorant men consider the Lord one of the great personalities of the world, and thus they are misled by the illusory energy.
sa veda dhātuḥ padavīṁ parasya
yo ‘māyayā santatayānuvṛttyā
saḥ—He alone; veda—can know; dhātuḥ—of the creator; padavīm—glories; parasya—of the transcendence; duranta-vīryasya—of the greatly powerful; ratha-aṅga-pāṇeḥ—of Lord Kṛṣṇa, who bears in His hand the wheel of a chariot; yaḥ—one who; amāyayā—without reservation; santatayā—without any gap; anuvṛttyā—favorably; bhajeta—renders service; tat-pāda—of His feet; saroja-gandham—fragrance of the lotus.
Only those who render unreserved, uninterrupted, favorable service unto the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa, who carries the wheel of the chariot in His hand, can know the creator of the universe in His full glory, power and transcendence.
Only the pure devotees can know the transcendental name, form and activities of Lord Kṛṣṇa due to their being completely freed from the reaction of fruitive work and mental speculation. The pure devotees have nothing to derive as personal profit from their unalloyed service to the Lord. They render incessant service to the Lord spontaneously without any reservation. Everyone within the creation of the Lord is rendering service to the Lord indirectly or directly. No one is an exception to this law of the Lord. Those who are rendering service indirectly, being forced by the illusory agent of the Lord, are rendering service unto Him unfavorably. But those who are rendering service unto Him directly under the direction of His beloved agent are rendering service unto Him favorably. Such favorable servitors are devotees of the Lord, and by the grace of the Lord they can enter into the mysterious region of transcendence by the mercy of the Lord. But the mental speculators remain in darkness all the time. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, the Lord Himself guides the pure devotees toward the path of realization due to their constant engagement in the loving service of the Lord in spontaneous affection. That is the secret of entering into the kingdom of God. Fruitive activities and speculation are no qualifications for entering.
atheha dhanyā bhagavanta itthaṁ
yad vāsudeve ‘khila-lokanāthe
kurvanti sarvātmakam ātma-bhāvaṁ
na yatra bhūyaḥ parivarta ugraḥ
atha—thus; iha—in this world; dhanyāḥ—successful; bhagavantaḥ—perfectly cognizant; ittham—such; yat—what; vāsudeve—unto the Personality of Godhead; akhila—all-embracing; lokanāthe—unto the proprietor of all the universes; kurvanti—inspires; sarvātmakam—one hundred percent; ātma—spirit; bhāvam—ecstasy; na—never; yatra—wherein; bhūyaḥ—again; parivartaḥ—repetition; ugraḥ—dreadful.
Only by making such inquiries in this world can one be successful and perfectly cognizant, for such inquiries invoke transcendental ecstatic love unto the Personality of Godhead, who is the proprietor of all the universes, and guarantee cent percent immunity from the dreadful repetition of birth and death.
The inquiries of the sages headed by Śaunaka are herewith praised by Sūta Gosvāmī on the merit of their transcendental nature. As already concluded, only the devotees of the Lord can know Him to a considerable extent, and no one else can know Him at all, so the devotees are perfectly cognizant of all spiritual knowledge. The Personality of Godhead is the last word in Absolute Truth. Impersonal Brahman and localized Paramātmā Supersoul are included in the knowledge of the Personality of Godhead. So one who knows the Personality of Godhead can automatically know all about Him, His multipotencies and expansions. So the devotees are congratulated as being all successful. A cent percent devotee of the Lord is immune to the dreadful material miseries of repeated birth and death.
idaṁ bhāgavataṁ nāma
cakāra bhagavān ṛṣiḥ
dhanyaṁ svasty-ayanaṁ mahat
idam—this; bhāgavatam—book containing the narration of the Personality of Godhead and His pure devotees; nāma—of the name; purāṇam—supplementary to the Vedas; brahma-sammitam—incarnation of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa; uttama-śloka—of the Personality of Godhead; caritam—activities; cakāra—compiled; bhagavān—incarnation of the Personality of Godhead; ṛṣiḥ—Śrī Vyāsadeva; niḥśreyasāya—for the ultimate good; lokasya—of all people; dhanyam—fully successful; svasti-ayanam—all-blissful; mahat—all-perfect.
This Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the literary incarnation of God, and it is compiled by Śrīla Vyāsadeva, the incarnation of God. It is meant for the ultimate good of all people, and it is all-successful, all-blissful and all-perfect.
Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu declared that Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the spotless sound representation of all Vedic knowledge and history. There are selected histories of great devotees who are in direct contact with the Personality of Godhead. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the literary incarnation of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa and is therefore nondifferent from Him. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam should be worshiped as respectfully as we worship the Lord. Thereby we can derive the ultimate blessings of the Lord through its careful and patient study. As God is all light, all bliss and all perfection, so also is Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. We can have all the transcendental light of the Supreme Brahman Śrī Kṛṣṇa from the recitation of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, provided it is received through the medium of the transparent spiritual master. Lord Caitanya’s private secretary Śrīla Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī advised all intending visitors who came to see the Lord at Purī to make a study of the Bhāgavatam from the person Bhāgavatam. Person Bhāgavatam is the self-realized bona fide spiritual master, and through him only can one understand the lessons of Bhāgavatam in order to receive the desired result. One can derive from the study of the Bhāgavatam all benefits that are possible to be derived from the personal presence of the Lord. It carries with it all the transcendental blessings of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa that we can expect from His personal contact.
tad idaṁ grāhayāmāsa
sutam ātmavatāṁ varam
sāraṁ sāraṁ samuddhṛtam
tat—that; idam—this; grāhayāmāsa—made to accept; sutam—unto his son; ātmavatām—of the self-realized; varam—most respectful; sarva—all; veda—Vedic literatures (books of knowledge); itihāsānām—of all the histories; sāram—cream; sāram—cream; samuddhṛtam—taken out.
Śrī Vyāsadeva delivered it to his son, who is the most respected among the self-realized, after extracting the cream of all Vedic literatures and histories of the universe.
Men with a poor fund of knowledge only accept the history of the world from the time of Buddha, or since 600 B.C., and prior to this period all histories mentioned in the scriptures are calculated by them to be only imaginary stories. That is not a fact. All the stories mentioned in the Purāṇas and Mahābhārata, etc., are actual histories, not only of this planet but also of millions of other planets within the universe. Sometimes the history of planets beyond this world appear to such men to be unbelievable. But they do not know that different planets are not equal in all respects and that therefore some of the historical facts derived from other planets do not correspond with the experience of this planet. Considering the different situation of different planets and also time and circumstances, there is nothing wonderful in the stories of the Purāṇas, nor are they imaginary. We should always remember the maxim that one man’s food is another man’s poison. We should not, therefore, reject the stories and histories of the Purāṇas as imaginary. The great ṛṣis like Vyāsa had no business putting some imaginary stories in their literatures.
In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam historical facts selected from the histories of different planets have been depicted. It is therefore accepted by all the spiritual authorities as the Mahāpurāṇa. The special significance of these histories is that they are all connected with activities .of the Lord in a different time and atmosphere. Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī is the topmost personality of all the self-realized souls, and he accepted this as the subject of studies from his father Vyāsadeva. Śrīla Vyāsadeva is the great authority, and the subject matter of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam being so important, he delivered the message first to his great son Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī. It is compared to the cream of the milk. Vedic literature is like the milk ocean of knowledge. Cream or butter is the most palatable essence of milk, and so also is Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, for it contains all palatable, instructive and authentic versions of different activities of the Lord and His devotees. There is no gain, however, in accepting the message of Bhāgavatam from the unbelievers, atheists and professional reciters who make a trade of Bhāgavatam for the laymen. It was delivered to Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī, and he had nothing to do with the Bhāgavata business. He did not have to maintain family expenses by such trade. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam should therefore be received from the representative of Śukadeva, who must be in the renounced order of life without family encumbrance. Milk is undoubtedly very good and nourishing, but when it is touched by the mouth of a snake it is no longer nourishing; rather, it becomes a source of death. Similarly, those who are not strictly in the Vaiṣṇava discipline should not make a business of this Bhāgavata and become a cause of spiritual death for so many hearers. In the Bhagavad-gītā the Lord says that the purpose of all the Vedas is to know Him (Lord Kṛṣṇa), and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself in the form of recorded knowledge. Therefore, it is the cream of all the Vedas, and it contains all historical facts of all times in relation with Śrī Kṛṣṇa. It is factually the essence of all histories.
sa tu saṁśrāvayāmāsa
saḥ—the son of Vyāsadeva; tu—again; saṁśrāvayāmāsa—made them audible; mahārājam—unto the emperor; parīkṣitam—of the name Parīkṣit; prāya-upaviṣṭam—who sat until death without food or drink; gaṅgāyām—on the bank of the Ganges; parītam—being surrounded; parama-ṛṣibhiḥ—by great sages.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī, the son of Vyāsadeva, in his turn delivered the Bhāgavatam to the great Emperor Parīkṣit, who sat surrounded by sages on the bank of the Ganges, awaiting death without taking food or drink.
All transcendental messages are received properly in the chain of disciplic succession. This disciplic succession is called paramparā. Unless therefore Bhāgavatam or any other Vedic literatures are received through the paramparā system, the reception of knowledge is not bona fide. Vyāsadeva delivered the message to Śukadeva Gosvāmī, and from Śukadeva Gosvāmī Sūta Gosvāmī received the message. One should, therefore, receive the message of Bhāgavatam from Sūta Gosvāmī or from his representative and not from any irrelevant interpreter.
Emperor Parīkṣit received the information of his death in time, and he at once left his kingdom and family and sat down on the bank of the Ganges to fast till death. All great sages, ṛṣis, philosophers, mystics, etc., went there due to his imperial position. They offered many suggestions about his immediate duty, and at last it was settled that he would hear from Śukadeva Gosvāmī about Lord Kṛṣṇa, and thus the Bhāgavatam was spoken to him.
Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya, who preached Māyāvāda philosophy and stressed the impersonal feature of the Absolute, also recommended that one must take shelter at the lotus feet of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, for there is no hope of gain from debating. Indirectly Śrīpād Śaṅkarācārya admitted that what he had preached in the flowery grammatical interpretations of the Vedānta-sūtra cannot help one at the time of death. At the critical hour of death one must recite the name of Govinda. This is the recommendation of all great transcendentalists. Śukadeva Gosvāmī had long stated the same truth, that at the end one must remember Nārāyaṇa. That is the essence of all spiritual activities. In pursuance of this eternal truth, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam was heard by Emperor Parīkṣit, and it was recited by the able Śukadeva Gosvāmī.
And both the speaker and the receiver of the messages of Bhāgavatam were duly delivered by the same medium.
kalau naṣṭa-dṛśām eṣa
kṛṣṇe—in Kṛṣṇa’s; sva-dhāma—own abode; upagate—having returned; dharma—religion; jñāna—knowledge; ādibhiḥ—combined together; saha—along with; kalau—in the Kali-yuga; naṣṭa-dṛśām—of persons who have lost their sight; eṣaḥ—all these; purāṇa-arka—the Purāṇa which is brilliant like the sun; adhunā—just now; uditaḥ—has arisen.
This Bhāgavata Purāṇa is as brilliant as the sun, and it has arisen just after the departure of Lord Kṛṣṇa to His own abode, accompanied by religion, knowledge, etc. Persons who have lost their vision due to the dense darkness of ignorance in the age of Kali shall get light from this Purāṇa.
Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa has His eternal dhāma or abode where He eternally enjoys Himself with His eternal associates and paraphernalia. And His eternal abode is a manifestation of His internal energy, whereas the material world is a manifestation of His external energy. When He descends on the material world, He displays Himself with all paraphernalia in His internal potency, which is called ātma-māyā. In the Bhagavad-gītā the Lord says that He descends by His own potency (ātma-māyā). His form, name, fame, paraphernalia, abode, etc., are not, therefore, creations of matter. He descends to reclaim the fallen souls and to reestablish codes of religion which are directly enacted by Him. Except God no one can establish the principles of religion. Either He or a suitable person empowered by Him can dictate the codes of religion. Real religion means to know God, our relation with Him, our duties in relation with Him and to know ultimately our destination after leaving this material body. The conditioned souls who are entrapped by the material energy hardly know all these principles of life. Most of them are like animals engaged in eating, sleeping, fearing and mating. They are mostly engaged in sense enjoyment under the pretention of religiosity, knowledge or salvation. They are still more blind in the present age of quarrel or Kali-yuga. In the Kali-yuga the population is just a royal edition of the animals. They have nothing to do with spiritual knowledge or godly religious life. They are so blind that they cannot see anything beyond the needs of the body. They have no information of the spirit soul beyond the jurisdiction of the subtle mind, intelligence or ego, but they are very much proud of their advancement in knowledge, science and material prosperity. They can risk their lives to become a dog or hog just after leaving the present body, for they have completely lost sight of the ultimate aim of life. The Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa appeared before us just a little prior to the beginning of Kali-yuga, and He returned to His eternal home practically at the commencement of Kali-yuga. While He was present, He exhibited everything by His different activities. He spoke the Bhagavad-gītā specifically and eradicated all pretentious principles of religiosity. And prior to His departure from this material world, He empowered Śrī Vyāsadeva through Nārada to compile the messages of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and thus both the Bhagavad-gītā and the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam are like torch bearers for the blind people of this age. In other words, if men in this age of Kali want to see the real light of life, they must take to these two books only, and their aim of life will be fulfilled. Bhagavad-gītā is the preliminary study of the Bhāgavatam. And Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the summum bonum of life, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa personified. We must therefore accept Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam as the direct representation of Lord Kṛṣṇa. One who can see Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam can see also Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa in person. They are identical.
tatra kīrtayato viprā
ahaṁ cādhyagamaṁ tatra
so ‘haṁ vaḥ śrāvayiṣyāmi
tatra—there; kīrtayataḥ—while reciting; viprāḥ—O brāhmaṇas; vipraṛṣeḥ—from the great brāhmaṇa ṛṣi; bhūri—greatly; tejasaḥ—powerful; aham—I; ca—also; adhyagamam—could understand; tatra—in that meeting; niviṣṭaḥ—being perfectly attentive; tat-anugrahāt—by his mercy; saḥ—that very thing; aham—I; vaḥ—unto you; śrāvayiṣyāmi—shall let you hear; yathādhītam yathāmati—as far as my realization.
O learned brāhmaṇas, when Śukadeva Gosvāmī recited Bhāgavatam there [in the presence of Emperor Parīkṣit], by his mercy I heard this from that great and powerful sage with rapt attention. Now I shall try to make you hear the very same thing as I learned it from him and as I have realized it.
One can certainly see directly the presence of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the pages of Bhāgavatam if one has heard it from a self-realized great soul like Śukadeva Gosvāmī. One cannot, however, learn Bhāgavatam from a bogus hired reciter whose aim of life is to earn some money out of such recitation and employ the earning in sex indulgence. No one can learn Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam who is associated with persons engaged in sex life. That is the secret of learning Bhāgavatam. Nor can one learn Bhāgavatam from one who interprets the text by his mundane scholarship. One has to learn Bhāgavatam from the representative of Śukadeva Gosvāmī and no one else, if one at all wants to see Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the pages. That is the process, and there is no alternative. Sūta Gosvāmī is a bona fide representative of Śukadeva Gosvāmī because he wants to present the message which he had received from the great learned brāhmaṇa. Śukadeva Gosvāmī also presented Bhāgavatam as he heard it from his great father, and so also Sūta Gosvāmī is presenting Bhāgavatam as he had heard it from Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Simple hearing is not all; one must realize the text with proper attention. The word niviṣṭa means that Sūta Gosvāmī drank the juice of Bhāgavatam through his ears. That is the real process of receiving Bhāgavatam. One should hear with rapt attention from the real person, and then he can at once realize the presence of Lord Kṛṣṇa in every page. The secret of knowing Bhāgavatam is mentioned here. No one can give rapt attention who is not pure in mind. No one can be pure in mind who is not pure in action. No one can be pure in action who is not pure in eating, sleeping, fearing and mating. But somehow or other if someone hears with rapt attention from the right person, at the very beginning one can assuredly see Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa in person in the pages of Bhāgavatam.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the First Canto, Third Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled "Kṛṣṇa Is the Source of All Incarnations."
Appearance of Śrī Nārada
iti bruvāṇaṁ saṁstūya
vṛddhaḥ kula-patiḥ sūtaṁ
bahvṛcaḥ śaunako ‘bravīt
vyāsaḥ—Vyāsadeva; uvāca—said; iti—thus; bruvāṇam—speaking; saṁstūya—congratulating; munīnām—of the great sages; dīrgha—prolonged; satriṇām—of those engaged in the performance of sacrifice; vṛddhaḥ—elderly; kula-patiḥ—head of the assembly; sūtam—unto Sūta Gosvāmī; bāhu-ṛcaḥ—learned; śaunakaḥ—of the name Śaunaka; abravīt—addressed.
On hearing Sūta Gosvāmī speak thus, Śaunaka Muni, who was the elderly, learned leader of all the ṛṣis engaged in that prolonged sacrificial ceremony, congratulated Sūta Gosvāmī by addressing him as follows.
In a meeting of learned men, when there are congratulations or addresses for the speaker, the qualifications of the congratulator should be as follows. He must be the leader of the house and an elderly man. He must be vastly learned also. Śrī Śaunaka Ṛṣi had all these qualifications, and thus he stood up to congratulate Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī when he expressed his desire to present Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam exactly as he heard it from Śukadeva Gosvāmī and also realized it personally. Personal realization does not mean that one should, out of vanity, attempt to show one’s own learning by trying to surpass the previous ācārya. He must have full confidence in the previous ācārya, and at the same time he must realize the subject matter so nicely that he can present the matter for the particular circumstances in a suitable manner. The original purpose of the text must be maintained. No obscure meaning should be screwed out of it, yet it should be presented in an interesting manner for the understanding of the audience. This is called realization. The leader of the assembly, Śaunaka, could estimate the value of the speaker, Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī, simply by his uttering yathādhītam and yathāmati, and therefore he was very glad to congratulate him in ecstasy. No learned man should be willing to hear a person who does not represent the original ācārya. So the speaker as well as the audience were bona fide in this meeting where Bhāgavatam was being recited for the second time. That should be the standard of recitation of Bhāgavatam, so that the real purpose can be served without difficulty. Unless this situation is created, Bhāgavatam recitation for extraneous purposes is useless labor both for the speaker and the audience.
sūta sūta mahā-bhāga
vada no vadatāṁ vara
kathāṁ bhāgavatīṁ puṇyāṁ
yad āha bhagavāñ chukaḥ
śaunakaḥ—Śaunaka; uvāca—said; sūta sūta—O Sūta Gosvāmī; mahā-bhāga—the most fortunate; vada—please speak; naḥ—unto us; vadatām—of those who can speak; vara—respectful; kathām—message; bhāgavatīm—of the Bhāgavatam; puṇyām—pious; yat—which; āha—said; bhagavān—greatly powerful; śukaḥ—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī.
Śaunaka said: O Sūta Gosvāmī, you are the most fortunate and respected of all those who can speak and recite. Please relate the pious message of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which was spoken by the great powerful sage Śukadeva Gosvāmī.
Sūta Gosvāmī is twice addressed herein by Śaunaka Gosvāmī out of great joy because he and the members of the assembly were eager to hear the text of Bhāgavatam uttered by Śukadeva Gosvāmī. They are not interested in hearing it from a bogus person who interprets in his own way to suit his own purpose. Generally the so-called Bhāgavatam reciters are either professional readers or so-called learned impersonalists who cannot enter into the transcendental personal activities of the Supreme Person. Such impersonalists eschew some meanings out of Bhāgavatam to suit and support impersonalist views, and the professional readers at once go to the Tenth Canto to misexplain the most confidential part of the Lord’s pastimes. Both these reciters are not bona fide persons to recite Bhāgavatam. Only one who is prepared to present Bhāgavatam in the light of Śukadeva Gosvāmī and only those who are prepared to hear Śukadeva Gosvāmī and his representative are bona fide participants in the transcendental discussion of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
kasmin yuge pravṛtteyaṁ
sthāne vā kena hetunā
kutaḥ sañcoditaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ
kṛtavān saṁhitāṁ muniḥ
kasmin—in which; yuge—period; pravṛttā—was this begun; iyam—this; sthāne—in the place; vā—or; kena—on what; hetunā—ground; kutaḥ—wherefrom; sañcoditaḥ—inspired by; kṛṣṇaḥ—Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa; kṛtavān—compiled; saṁhitām—Vedic literature; muniḥ—the learned.
In what period and at what place was this first begun, and why was this taken up? From where did Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa, the great sage, get the inspiration to compile this literature?
Because Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the special contribution of Śrīla Vyāsadeva, there are so many inquiries by the learned Śaunaka Muni. It was known to them that Śrīla Vyāsadeva had already explained the text of the Vedas in various ways up to the Mahābhārata for the understanding of less intelligent women, śūdras and fallen members of the family of twice-born men. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is transcendental to all of them because it has nothing to do with anything mundane. So the inquiries are very intelligent and relevant.
tasya putro mahā-yogī
gūḍho mūḍha iveyate
tasya—his; putraḥ—son; mahā-yogī—a great devotee; sama-dṛk—equibalanced; nirvikalpakaḥ—absolute monist; ekānta-matiḥ—fixed in monism or oneness of mind; unnidraḥ—surpassed nescience; gūḍhaḥ—not exposed; mūḍhaḥ—stunted; iva—like; iyate—appears like.
His [Vyāsadeva’s] son was a great devotee, an equibalanced monist, whose mind was always concentrated in monism. He was not ignorant, but was transcendental to mundane activities.
Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī was a liberated soul, and thus he remained always alert not to be trapped by the illusory energy. In the Bhagavad-gītā this alertness is very lucidly explained. The liberated soul and the conditioned soul have different engagements. The liberated soul is always engaged in the progressive path of spiritual attainment, which is something like a dream for the conditioned soul. The conditioned soul cannot imagine the actual engagements of the liberated soul. While the conditioned soul thus dreams about spiritual engagements, the liberated soul is awake. Similarly, the engagement of a conditioned soul appears to be a dream for the liberated soul. Apparently a conditioned soul and a liberated soul may seem to be on the same platform, but factually they are differently engaged, and their attention is always alert, either in sense enjoyment or in self-realization. The conditioned soul is absorbed in matter, whereas the liberated soul is completely indifferent to matter. This indifference is explained as follows.
dṛṣṭvānuyāntam ṛṣim ātmajam apy anagnaṁ
devyo hriyā paridadhur na sutasya citram
tad vīkṣya pṛcchati munau jagadus tavāsti
strī-pum-bhidā na tu sutasya vivikta-dṛṣṭeḥ
dṛṣṭvā—by seeing; anuyāntam—following; ṛṣim—the sage; ātmajam—his son; api—in spite of; anagnam—not naked; devyaḥ—beautiful damsels; hriyā—out of shyness; paridadhuḥ—covered the body; na—not; sutasya—of the son; citram—astonishing; tat vīkṣya—by seeing that; pṛcchati—asking; munau—unto the muni (Vyāsa); jagaduḥ—replied; tava—your; asti—there are; strī-pum—male and female; bhidā—differences; na—not; tu—but; sutasya—of the son; vivikta—purified; dṛṣṭeḥ—of one who looks.
While Śrī Vyāsadeva was following his son, beautiful young damsels, who were bathing naked, covered their bodies with cloth, although Śrī Vyāsadeva himself was not naked. But they did not do so when his son passed. The sage inquired about this, and the young ladies replied that his son was purified and when looking at them made no distinction between male and female. But the sage made such distinctions.
In the Bhagavad-gītā it is said that a learned sage looks equally on the learned and gentle brāhmaṇa, a caṇḍāla (dog-eater), a dog or cow due to his spiritual vision. Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī attained that stage. Thus he did not see a male or female, but he saw all living entities in different dress. The ladies who were bathing could understand the mind of a man simply by studying his demeanor, just as by looking at a child one can understand how innocent he is. Śukadeva Gosvāmī was a young boy sixteen years old, and therefore all the parts of his body were developed. He was naked also, and so were the ladies. But because Śukadeva Gosvāmī was transcendental to sex relations, he appeared very innocent. The ladies, by their special qualifications, could sense this at once, and therefore they were not very concerned about him. But when his father passed, the ladies quickly dressed. The ladies were exactly like his children or grandchildren, yet they reacted to the presence of Vyāsadeva according to the social custom because Śrīla Vyāsadeva played the part of a householder. A householder has to distinguish between a male and female, otherwise he cannot be a householder. One should, therefore, attempt to know the distinction be tween spirit soul without any attachment for male and female. As long as such distinction is there, one should not try to become a sannyāsī like Śukadeva Gosvāmī. At least theoretically one must be convinced that a living entity is neither a male nor female. The outward dress is made of matter by material nature to attract the opposite sex and thus keep one entangled in material existence. A liberated soul is above this perverted distinction. He does not distinguish between one living being and another. For him they are all one and the same spirit. The perfection of this spiritual vision is the liberated stage, and Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī attained that stage. Śrīla Vyāsadeva was also in the transcendental stage, but because he was in the householder’s life, he did not pretend to be a liberated soul, as a matter of custom.
katham ālakṣitaḥ pauraiḥ
katham—how, ālakṣitaḥ—recognized; pauraiḥ—by the citizens; samprāptaḥ—reaching; kuru-jāṅgalān—the Kuru-jāṅgala provinces; unmatta—mad; mūka—dumb; jaḍavat—stunted; vicaran—wandering; gaja-sāhvaye—Hastināpura.
How was he [Śrīla Śukadeva, the son of Vyāsa] recognized by the citizens when he entered the city of Hastināpura [now Delhi], after wandering in the provinces of Kuru and Jāṅgala, appearing like a madman, dumb and retarded?
The present city of Delhi was formerly known as Hastināpura because it was first established by King Hasti. Gosvāmī Śukadeva, after leaving his paternal home, was roaming like a madman, and therefore it was very difficult for the citizens to recognize him in his exalted position. A sage is not, therefore, recognized by sight, but by hearing. One should approach a sādhu or great sage not to see but to hear him. If one is not prepared to hear the words of a sādhu, there is no profit. Śukadeva Gosvāmī was a sādhu who could speak on the transcendental activities of the Lord. He did not satisfy the whims of ordinary citizens. He was recognized when he spoke on the subject of Bhāgavatam, and he never attempted jugglery like a magician. Outwardly he appeared to be a retarded, dumb madman, but in fact he was the most elevated transcendental personality.
kathaṁ vā pāṇḍaveyasya
rājarṣer muninā saha
saṁvādaḥ samabhūt tāta
yatraiṣā sātvatī śrutiḥ
katham—how it is; vā—also; pāṇḍaveyasya—of the descendant of Pāṇḍu (Parīkṣit); rājarṣeḥ—of the king who was a sage; muninā—with the muni; saha—with; saṁvādaḥ—discussion; samabhūt—took place; tāta—O darling; yatra—whereupon; eṣā—like this; sātvatī—transcendental; śrutiḥ—essence of the Vedas.
How did it so happen that King Parīkṣit met this great sage, making it possible for this great transcendental essence of the Vedas [Bhāgavatam] to be sung to him?
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is stated here as the essence of the Vedas. It is not an imaginary story as it is sometimes considered by unauthorized men. It is also called Śuka-saṁhitā, or the Vedic hymn spoken by Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī, the great liberated sage.
sa go-dohana-mātraṁ hi
tīrthī-kurvaṁs tad āśramam
saḥ—he (Śukadeva Gosvāmī); go-dohana-mātram—only for the time of milking the cow; hi—certainly; gṛheṣu—in the house; gṛha-medhinām—of the householders; avekṣate—waits; mahā-bhāgaḥ—the most fortunate; tīrthī—pilgrimage; kurvan—transforming; tat āśramam—the residence.
He [Śukadeva Gosvāmī] was accustomed to stay at the door of a householder only long enough for a cow to be milked. And he did this just to sanctify the residence.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī met Emperor Parīkṣit and explained the text of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. He was not accustomed to stay at any householder’s residence for more than half an hour (at the time of milking the cow), and he would just take alms from the fortunate householder. That was to sanctify the residence by his auspicious presence. Therefore Śukadeva Gosvāmī is an ideal preacher established in the transcendental position. From his activities, those who are in the renounced order of life and dedicated to the mission of preaching the message of Godhead should learn that they have no business with householders save and except to enlighten them in transcendental knowledge. Such asking for alms from the householder should be for the purpose of sanctifying his home. One who is in the renounced order of life should not be allured by the glamour of the householder’s worldly possessions and thus become subservient to worldly men. For one who is in the renounced order of life, this is much more dangerous than drinking poison and committing suicide.
tasya janma mahāścaryaṁ
karmāṇi ca gṛṇīhi naḥ
abhimanyu-sutam—the son of Abhimanyu; sūta—O Sūta; prāhuḥ—is said to be; bhāgavata-uttamam—the first-class devotee of the Lord; tasya—his; janma—birth; mahāścaryam—very wonderful; karmāṇi—activities; ca—and; gṛṇīhi—please speak to; naḥ—us.
It is said that Mahārāja Parīkṣit is a great first-class devotee of the Lord and that his birth and activities are all wonderful. Please tell us about him.
The birth of Mahārāja Parīkṣit is wonderful because in the womb of his mother he was protected by the Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa. His activities are also wonderful because he chastised Kali, who was attempting to kill a cow. To kill cows means to end human civilization. He wanted to protect the cow from being killed by the great representative of sin. His death is also wonderful because he got previous notice of his death, which is wonderful for any mortal being, and thus he prepared himself for passing away by sitting down on the bank of the Ganges and hearing the transcendental activities of the Lord. During all the days he heard Bhāgavatam, he did not take food or drink, nor did he sleep a moment. So everything about him is wonderful, and his activities are worth hearing attentively. Desire is expressed herein to hear about him in detail.
sa samrāṭ kasya vā hetoḥ
saḥ—he; samrāṭ—the Emperor; kasya—for what; vā—or; hetoḥ—reason; pāṇḍūnām—of the sons of Pāṇḍu; māna-vardhanaḥ—one who enriches the family; prāya-upaviṣṭaḥ—sitting and fasting; gaṅgāyām—on the bank of the Ganges; anādṛtya—neglecting; adhirāṭ—acquired kingdom; śriyam—opulences.
He was a great emperor and possessed all the opulences of his acquired kingdom. He was so exalted that he was increasing the prestige of the Pāṇḍu dynasty. Why did he give up everything to sit down on the bank of the Ganges and fast until death?
Mahārāja Parīkṣit was the Emperor of the world and all the seas and oceans, and he did not have, to take the trouble to acquire such a kingdom by his own effort. He inherited it from his grandfathers Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira and brothers. Besides that, he was doing well in the administration and was worthy of the good names of his forefathers. Consequently there was nothing undesirable in his opulence and administration. Then why should he give up all these favorable circumstances and sit down on the bank of the Ganges, fasting till death? This is astonishing, and therefore all were eager to know the cause.
namanti yat-pāda-niketam ātmanaḥ
śivāya hānīya dhanāni śatravaḥ
kathaṁ sa vīraḥ śriyam aṅga dustyajāṁ
yuvaiṣatotsraṣṭum aho sahāsubhiḥ
namanti—bow down; yat-pāda—whose feet; niketam—under; ātmanaḥ—own; śivāya—welfare; hānīya—used to bring about; dhanāni-wealth; śatravaḥ—enemies; katham—for what reason; saḥ—he; vīraḥ—the chivalrous; śriyam—opulences; aṅga—O; dustyajām—insuperable; yuvā—just in full youth; aiṣata—desired; utsraṣṭum—to give up; aho—exclamation; saha—with; asubhiḥ—life.
He was such a great emperor that all his enemies would come and bow down at his feet and surrender all their wealth for their own benefit. He was full of youth and strength, and he possessed insuperable kingly opulences. Why did he want to give up everything, including his life?
There was nothing undesirable in his life. He was quite a young man and could enjoy life with power and opulence. So there was no question of retiring from active life. There was no difficulty in collecting the state taxes because he was so powerful and chivalrous that even his enemies would come to him and bow down at his feet and surrender all wealth for their own benefit. Mahārāja Parīkṣit was a pious king. He conquered his enemies, and therefore the kingdom was full of prosperity. There was enough milk, grains and metals, and all the rivers and mountains were full of potency. So materially everything was satisfactory. Therefore, there was no question of untimely giving up his kingdom and life. They were eager to hear about all this.
śivāya lokasya bhavāya bhūtaye
ya uttama-śloka-parāyaṇā janāḥ
jīvanti nātmārtham asau parāśrayaṁ
mumoca nirvidya kutaḥ kalevaram
śivāya—welfare; lokasya—of all living beings; bhavāya—for flourishing; bhūtaye—for economic development; ye—one who is; uttama-śloka-parāyaṇāḥ—devoted to the cause of the Personality of Godhead; janāḥ—men; jīvanti—do live; na—but not; ātma-artham—selfish interest; asau—that; parāśrayam—shelter for others; mumoca—gave up; nirvidya—being freed from all attachment; kutaḥ—for what reason; kalevaram—mortal body.
Those who are devoted to the cause of the Personality of Godhead live only for the welfare, development and happiness of others. They do not live for any selfish interest. So even though the Emperor [Parīkṣit] was free from all attachment to worldly possessions, how could he give up his mortal body, which was shelter for others?
Parīkṣit Mahārāja was an ideal king and householder because he was a devotee of the Personality of Godhead. A devotee of the Lord has automatically all good qualifications. And the Emperor was a typical example of this. Personally he had no attachment for all the worldly opulences in his possession. But since he was king for the all round welfare of his citizens, he was always busy in the welfare work of the public, not only for this life, but also for the next. He would not allow slaughter-houses or killing of cows. He was not a foolish and partial administrator who would arrange for the protection of one living being and allow another to be killed. Because he was a devotee of the Lord, he knew perfectly well how to conduct his administration for everyone’s happiness, men, animals, plants and all living creatures. He was not selfishly interested. Selfishness is either self-centered or self-extended. He was neither. His interest was to please the Supreme Truth Personality of Godhead. The king is the representative of the Supreme Lord, and therefore the king’s interest must be identical with that of the Supreme Lord. The Supreme Lord wants all living beings to be obedient to Him and thereby become happy. Therefore the king’s interest is to guide all subjects back to the kingdom of God. Hence the activities of the citizens should be so coordinated that they can at the end go back home, back to Godhead. Under the administration of a representative king, the kingdom is full of opulence. At that time human beings need not eat animals. There is ample food, grains, milk, fruit and vegetables so that the human beings as well as the animals can eat sumptuously and to their heart’s content. If all living beings are satisfied with food and shelter and obey the prescribed rules, there cannot be any disturbance between one living being and another. Emperor Parīkṣit was a worthy king, and therefore all were happy during his reign.
tat sarvaṁ naḥ samācakṣva
pṛṣṭo yad iha kiñcana
manye tvāṁ viṣaye vācāṁ
snātam anyatra chāndasāt
tat—that; sarvam—all; naḥ—unto us; samācakṣva—clearly explain; pṛṣṭaḥ—questioned; yat iha—herein; kiñcana—all that; manye—we think; tvām—yourself; viṣaye—in all subjects; vācām—meanings of words; snātam—fully acquainted; anyatra—except; chāndasāt—portion of the Vedas.
We know that you are expert in the meaning of all subjects, except some portions of the Vedas, and thus you can clearly explain the answers to all the questions we have just put to you.
The difference between the Vedas and the Purāṇas is like that between the brāhmaṇas and the parivrājakas. The brāhmaṇas are meant to administer some fruitive sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas, but the parivrājakācāryas, or learned preachers, are meant to disseminate transcendental knowledge to one and all. As such, the parivrājakācāryas are not always expert in pronouncing the Vedic mantras, which are practiced systematically by accent and meter by the brāhmaṇas who are meant for administering Vedic rites. Yet it should not be considered that the brāhmaṇas are more important than the itinerant preachers. They are one and different simultaneously because they are meant for the same end, in different ways.
There is no difference also between the Vedic mantras and what is explained in the Purāṇas and Itihāsa. According to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, it is mentioned in the Mādhyandina-śruti that all the Vedas, namely the Sāma, Atharva, Ṛg, Yajus, Purāṇas, Itihāsas, Upaniṣads, etc., are emanations from the breathing of the Supreme Being. The only difference is that the Vedic mantras are mostly begun with praṇava omkāra, and it requires some training to practice the metric pronunciation of the Vedic mantras. But that does not mean that Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam was of less importance than the Vedic mantras. On the other hand, it is the ripened fruit of all the Vedas, as stated before. Besides that, the most perfectly liberated soul, Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī, is absorbed in the studies of the Bhāgavatam, although He is already self-realized. Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī is following his footsteps, and therefore his position is not the least less important because he was not expert in chanting Vedic mantras with metric pronunciation, which depends more on practice than actual realization. Realization is more important than parrot-like chanting.
jātaḥ parāśarād yogī
vāsavyāṁ kalayā hareḥ
sūtaḥ—Sūta Gosvāmī; uvāca—said; dvāpare—in the second millennium; samanuprāpte—on the advent of; tṛtīye—third; yuga—millennium; paryaye—in the place of; jātaḥ—was begotten; parāśarāt—by Parāśara; yogī—the great sage; vāsavyām—in the womb of the daughter of Vasu; kalayā—in the plenary portion; hareḥ—of the Personality of Godhead.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: When the second millennium overlapped the third, the great sage [Vyāsadeva] was born to Parāśara in the womb of Satyavatī, the daughter of Vasu.
There is a chronological order of the four millenniums, namely Satya, Dvāpara, Tretā and Kali. But sometimes there is overlapping. During the regime of Vaivasvata Manu, there was an overlapping of the twenty-eighth round of the four millenniums, and the third millennium appeared prior to the second. In that particular millennium, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa also descends, and because of this there was some particular alteration. The mother of the great sage was Satyavatī the daughter of the Vasu (fisherman), and the father was the great Parāśara Muni. That is the history of Vyāsadeva’s birth. Every millennium is divided into three periods, and each period is called a sandhyā. Vyāsadeva appeared in the third sandhyā of that particular age.
sa kadācit sarasvatyā
upaspṛśya jalaṁ śuciḥ
vivikta eka āsīna
saḥ—he; kadācit—once; sarasvatyāḥ—on the bank of the Sarasvatī; upaspṛśya—after finishing morning ablutions; jalam—water; śuciḥ—being purified; vivikte—concentration; ekaḥ—alone; āsīnaḥ—being thus seated; udite—on the rise; ravi-maṇḍale—of the sun disc.
Once upon a time, he [Vyāsadeva], as the sun rose, took his morning ablution in the waters of the Sarasvatī and sat alone to concentrate.
The River Sarasvatī is flowing in the Badarikāśrama area of the Himalayas. So the place indicated here is Śamyāprāsa in Badarikāśrama where Śrī Vyāsadeva is residing.
parāvara-jñaḥ sa ṛṣiḥ
prāptaṁ bhuvi yuge yuge
parāvara—past and future; jñaḥ—one who knows; saḥ—he; ṛṣiḥ—Vyāsadeva; kālena—in the course of time; avyakta—unmanifested; raṁhasā—by great force; yuga-dharma—acts in terms of the millennium; vyatikaram—anomalies; prāptam—having accrued; bhuvi—on the earth; yuge yuge—different ages.
The great sage Vyāsadeva saw anomalies in the millennium. This happens on the earth in different ages, due to unseen forces in the course of time.
The great sages like Vyāsadeva are liberated souls, and therefore they can see clearly past and future. Thus he could see the future anomalies in the Kali age, and accordingly he made arrangement for the people in general so that they can execute a progressive life in this age which is full of darkness. The people in general in this age of Kali are too much interested in matter, which is temporary. Because of ignorance they are unable to evaluate the assets of life and be enlightened in spiritual knowledge.
bhautikānāṁ ca bhāvānāṁ
śakti-hrāsaṁ ca tat-kṛtam
durbhagāṁś ca janān vīkṣya
munir divyena cakṣuṣā
dadhyau hitam amogha-dṛk
bhautikānām ca—also of everything that is made of matter; bhāvānām—actions; śakti-hrāsam ca—deterioration of natural power; tat-kṛtam—rendered by that; aśraddadhānān—of the faithless; niḥsattvān—impatient due to want of the mode of goodness; hrasita—reduced; āyuṣaḥ—of duration of life; durbhagān ca—also the unlucky; janān—people in general; vīkṣya—by seeing; muniḥ—the muni; divyena—by transcendental; cakṣuṣā—vision; sarva—all; varṇāśramāṇāṁ—of all the statuses and orders of life; yat—what; dadhyau—contemplated; hitam—welfare; amogha-dṛk—one who is fully equipped in knowledge.
The great sage, who was fully equipped in knowledge, could see, through his transcendental vision, the deterioration of everything material, due to the influence of the age. He could also see that the faithless people in general would be reduced in duration of life and would be impatient due to lack of goodness. Thus he contemplated for the welfare of men in all statuses and orders of life.
The unmanifested forces of time are so powerful that they reduce all matter to oblivion in due course. In Kali-yuga, the last millennium of a round of the four millenniums, the power of all material objects deteriorates by the influence of time. In this age the duration of the material body of the people in general is much reduced, and so is the memory. The action of matter has also not so much incentive. The land does not produce food grains in the same proportions as it did in other ages. The cow does not give as much milk as it used to give formerly. The production of vegetables and fruits is less than before. As such, all living beings, both men and animals, do not have sumptuous, nourishing food. Due to want of so many necessities of life, naturally the duration of life is reduced, the memory is short, intelligence is meager, mutual dealings are full of hypocrisy and so on.
The great sage Vyāsadeva could see this by his transcendental vision. As an astrologer can see the future fate of a man, or an astronomer can foretell the solar and lunar eclipses, similarly those who can see through the scriptures and foretell the future of all mankind are called liberated souls. They can see thus due to their sharp vision of spiritual attainment.
And all such transcendentalists, who are naturally devotees of the Lord, are always eager to render welfare service to the people in general. They are the real friends of the people in general, not the so-called public leaders who are unable to see what is going to happen five minutes ahead. In this age the people in general as well as their so-called leaders are all unlucky fellows, faithless in spiritual knowledge and influenced by the age of Kali. They are always disturbed by various diseases. For example, in the present age there are so many TB patients and TB hospitals, but formerly this was not so because the time was not so unfavorable. These unfortunate men of this age are always reluctant to give a reception to the transcendentalists who are representatives of Śrīla Vyāsadeva and selfless workers always busy in planning something which may help everyone in all statuses and orders of life. The greatest philanthropists are those transcendentalists who represent the mission of Vyāsa, Nārada, Madhva, Caitanya, Rūpa, Sarasvatī, etc. They are all one and the same. The personalities may be different, but the aim of the mission is one and the same, namely, to deliver the fallen souls back home, back to Godhead.
cātur-hotraṁ karma śuddhaṁ
prajānāṁ vīkṣya vaidikam
vedam ekaṁ catur-vidham
cātuḥ—four; hotram—sacrificial fires; karma śuddham—purification of work; prajānām—of the people in general; vīkṣya—after seeing; vaidikam—according to Vedic rites; vyadadhāt—made into; yajña—sacrifice; santatyai—to expand; vedam ekam—only one Veda; catuḥ-vidham—in four divisions.
He saw that the sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas were means by which the people’s occupations could be purified. And to simplify the process he divided the one Veda into four, in order to expand them among men.
Formerly there was only the Veda of the name Yajus, and the four divisions of sacrifices were there specifically mentioned. But to make them more easily performable, the Veda was divided into four divisions of sacrifice, just to purify the occupational service of the four orders. Above the four Vedas, namely Ṛk, Yajus, Sāma, and Atharva, there are the Purāṇas, the Mahābhārata, Saṁhitās, etc., which are known as the fifth Veda. Śrī Vyāsadeva and his many disciples were all historical personalities, and they were very kind and sympathetic toward the fallen souls of this age of Kali. As such, the Purāṇas and Mahābhārata were made from related historical facts which explained the teaching of the four Vedas. There is no point in doubting the authority of the Purāṇas and Mahābhārata as parts and parcels of the Vedas. In the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, the Purāṇas and Mahābhārata, generally known as histories, are mentioned as the fifth Veda. According to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, that is the way of ascertaining the respective values of the revealed scriptures.
vedāś catvāra uddhṛtāḥ
pañcamo veda ucyate
ṛg-yajuḥ-sāma-atharva-ākhyāḥ—the names of the four Vedas; vedāḥ—the Vedas; catvāraḥ—four; uddhṛtāḥ—made into separate parts; itihāsa—historical records (Mahābhārata); purāṇam ca—and the Purāṇas; pañcamaḥ—the fifth; vedāḥ—the original source of knowledge; ucyate—is said to be.
The four divisions of the original sources of knowledge [the Vedas] were made separately. But the historical facts and authentic stories mentioned in the Purāṇas are called the fifth Veda.
sāmago jaiminiḥ kaviḥ
niṣṇāto yajuṣām uta
tatra—thereupon; ṛg-veda-dharaḥ—professor of the Ṛg-veda; pailaḥ—the ṛṣi named Paila; sāmagaḥ—that of the Sāma-veda; jaiminiḥ—the ṛṣi named Jaimini; kaviḥ—highly qualified; vaiśampāyanaḥ—the ṛṣi named Vaiśampāyana; eva—only; ekaḥ—alone; niṣṇātaḥ—well versed; yajuṣām—of the Yajur-veda; uta—glorified.
After the Vedas were divided into four divisions, Paila Ṛṣi became the professor of the Ṛg-veda, Jaimini the professor of the Sāma-veda, and Vaiśampāyana alone became glorified by the Yajur-veda.
The different Vedas were entrusted to different learned scholars for development in various ways.
sumantur dāruṇo muniḥ
pitā me romaharṣaṇaḥ
atharva—the Atharva-veda; aṅgirasām—unto the ṛṣi Aṅgirā; āsīt—was entrusted; sumantuḥ—also known as Sumantu Muni; dāruṇaḥ—seriously devoted to the Atharva Veda; muniḥ—the sage; itihāsa-purāṇānām—of the historical records like the Purāṇas; pitā—father; me—mine; romaharṣaṇaḥ—the ṛṣi Romaharṣaṇa
The Sumantu Muni Aṅgirā, who was very devotedly engaged was entrusted with the Atharva-veda. And my father Romaharṣaṇa was entrusted with the Purāṇas and historical records.
In the Śruti-mantras also it is stated that Aṅgirā Muni, who strictly followed the rigid principles of the Atharva-vedas, was the leader of the followers of the Atharva-vedas.
ta eta ṛṣayo vedaṁ
svaṁ svaṁ vyasyann anekadhā
śiṣyaiḥ praśiṣyais tac-chiṣyair
vedās te śākhino ‘bhavan
te—they; ete—all these; ṛṣayaḥ—learned scholars; vedam—the respective Vedas; svam svam—in their own entrusted matters; vyāsyan—rendered; anekadhā—many; śiṣyaiḥ—disciples; praśiṣyaiḥ—grand-disciples; tat-śiṣyaiḥ—great grand-disciples; vedāḥ te—followers of the respective Vedas; śākhinaḥ—different branches; abhavan—thus became.
All these learned scholars, in their turn, rendered their entrusted Vedas unto their many disciples, grand disciples and great grand disciples, and thus the respective branches of the followers of the Vedas came into being.
The original source of knowledge is the Vedas. There are no branches of knowledge, either mundane or transcendental, which do not belong to the original text of the Vedas. They have simply been developed into different branches. They were originally rendered by great, respectable and learned professors. In other words, the Vedic knowledge, broken into different branches by different disciplic successions, has been distributed all over the world. No one, therefore, can claim independent knowledge beyond the Vedas.
ta eva vedā durmedhair
dhāryante puruṣair yathā
evaṁ cakāra bhagavān
te—that; eva—certainly; vedāḥ—the book of the knowledge; durmedhaiḥ—by the less intellectual; dhāryante—can assimilate; puruṣaiḥ—by the man; yathā—as much as; evam—thus; cakāra—edited; bhagavān—the powerful; vyāsaḥ—the great sage of Vyāsa; kṛpaṇa-vatsalaḥ—very kind to the ignorant mass.
Thus the great sage Vyāsadeva, who is very kind to the ignorant masses, edited the Vedas so they might be assimilated by less intellectual men.
The Veda is one, and the reasons for its divisions in many parts are explained herewith. The seed of all knowlegde, or the Veda, is not a subject matter which can easily be understood by any ordinary man. There is a stricture that no one should try to learn the Vedas who is not a qualified brāhmaṇa. This stricture has been wrongly interpreted in so many ways. A class of men, who claim brahminical qualification simply by their birth right in the family of a brāhmaṇa, claim that the study of the Vedas is a monopoly of the brāhmaṇa caste only. Another section of the people take this as an injustice to other castes who do not happen to take birth in a brāhmaṇa family. But both of them are misguided. The Vedas are subjects which had to be explained even to Brahmājī by the Supreme Lord. Therefore the subject matter is understood by persons with exceptional qualities of goodness. Persons who are in the modes of passion and ignorance are unable to understand the subject matter of the Vedas. The ultimate goal of Vedic knowledge is Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead. This Personality is very rarely understood by those who are in the modes of passion and ignorance. In the Satya-yuga everyone was situated in the mode of goodness. Gradually the mode of goodness declined during the Tretā and Dvāpara-yugas, and the general mass of people became corrupt. In the present age the mode of goodness is almost nil, and so for the general mass of people, the kindhearted, powerful sage Śrīla Vyāsadeva divided the Vedas in various ways so that they may be practically followed by less intelligent persons in the modes of passion and ignorance. It is explained in the next śloka as follows.
trayī na śruti-gocarā
śreya evaṁ bhaved iha
iti bhāratam ākhyānaṁ
kṛpayā muninā kṛtam
strī—the woman class; śūdra—the laboring class; dvija-bandhūnām—of the friends of the twice-born; trayī—three; na—not; śruti-gocarā—for understanding; karma—in activities; śreyasi—in welfare; mūḍhānām—of the fools; śreyaḥ—supreme benefit; evam—thus; bhavet—achieved; iha—by this; iti—thus thinking; bhāratam—the great Mahābhārata; ākhyānam—historical facts; kṛpayā—out of great mercy; muninā—by the muni; kṛtam—is completed.
Out of compassion, the great sage thought it wise that this would enable men to achieve the ultimate goal of life. Thus he compiled the great historical narration called the Mahābhārata for women, laborers and friends of the twice-born.
The friends of the twice-born families are those who are born in the families of brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas and vaiśyas, or the spiritually cultured families, but they themselves are not equal to their forefathers. Such descendants are not recognized as such for want of purificatory achievements. The purificatory activities begin even before the birth of a child, and the seed-giving reformatory process is called Garbhādhāna-saṁskāra. One who has not undergone such Garbhādhāna-saṁskāra, or spiritual family planning, is not accepted as being of an actual twice-born family. The Garbhādhāna-saṁskāra is followed by other purificatory processes out of which the sacred thread ceremony is one. This is performed at the time of spiritual initiation. After this particular saṁskāra, one is rightly called twice-born. One birth is calculated during the seed-giving saṁskāra, and the second birth is calculated at the time of spiritual initiation. One who has been able to undergo such important saṁskāras can be called a bona fide twice-born.
If the father and the mother do not undertake the process of spiritual family planning and simply beget chddren out of passion only, their children are called dvija-bandhus. These dvija-bandhus are certainly not as intelligent as the children of the regular twice-born families. The dvija-bandhus are classified as śūdras and the woman class, who are by nature less intelligent. The śūdras and the woman class do not have to undergo any saṁskāra save and except the ceremony of marriage.
The less intelligent classes of men, namely women, śūdras and unqualified sons of the higher castes, are devoid of necessary qualifications to understand the purpose of the transcendental Vedas. For them the Mahābhārata was prepared. The purpose of the Mahābhārata is to administer the purpose of the Vedas, and therefore within this Mahābhārata the summary Veda of Bhagavad-gītā is placed. The less intelligent are more interested in stories than in philosophy, and therefore the philosophy of the Vedas in the form of the Bhagavad-gītā is spoken by the Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Vyāsadeva and Lord Kṛṣṇa are both on the transcendental plane, and therefore they collaborated in doing good to the fallen souls of this age. The Bhagavad-gītā is the essence of all Vedic knowledge. It is the first book of spiritual values, as the Upaniṣads are. The Vedānta philosophy is the subject matter for study by the spiritual graduates. Only the post graduate spiritual student can enter into the spiritual or devotional service of the Lord. It is a great science, and the great professor is the Lord Himself in the form of Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and persons who are empowered by Him can initiate others in the transcendental loving service of the Lord.
evaṁ pravṛttasya sadā
bhūtānāṁ śreyasi dvijāḥ
nātuṣyadd hṛdayaṁ tataḥ
evam—thus; pravṛttasya—one who is engaged in; sadā—always; bhūtānām of the living beings; śreyasi—in the ultimate good; dvijāḥ—O twice-born; sarvātmakena api—by all means; yadā—when; na—not; atuṣyat—become satisfied; hṛdayam—mind; tataḥ—at that time.
O twice-born brāhmaṇas, still his mind was not satisfied, although he engaged himself in working for the total welfare of all people.
Śrī Vyāsadeva was not satisfied with himself, although he prepared literatures of Vedic value for the all-around welfare of the general mass of people. It was expected that he would be satisfied by all such activities, but ultimately he was not satisfied.
sarasvatyās taṭe śucau
idaṁ covāca dharma-vit
na—not; atiprasīdat—very much satisfied; hṛdayaḥ—at heart; sarasvatyāḥ—of the River Sarasvatī; taṭe—on the bank of; śucau—being purified; vitarkayan—having considered; vivikta-sthaḥ—situated in a lonely place; idam ca—also this; uvāca—said; dharma-vit—one who knows what religion is.
Thus the sage, being dissatisfied at heart, at once began to reflect, because he knew the essence of religion, and he said within himself:
The sage began to search out the cause of not being satisfied at heart. Perfection is never attained until one is satisfied at heart. This satisfaction of heart has to be searched out beyond matter.
dhṛta-vratena hi mayā
chandāṁsi guravo ‘gnayaḥ
hy āmnāyārthaś ca pradarśitaḥ
dṛśyate yatra dharmādi
strī-śūdrādibhir apy uta
dhṛta-vratena—under a strict disciplinary vow; hi—certainly; mayā—by me; chandāṁsi—the Vedic hymns; guravaḥ—the spiritual masters; agnayaḥ—the sacrificial fire; mānitāḥ—properly worshiped; nirvyalīkena—without pretense; gṛhītam ca—also accepted; anuśāsanam—traditional discipline; bhārata—the Mahābhārata; vyapadeśena—by compilation of; hi—certainly; āmnāya-arthaḥ—import of disciplic succession; ca—and; pradarśitaḥ—properly explained; dṛśyate—by what is necessary; yatra—where; dharma-ādiḥ—the path of religion; strī-śūdra-ādibhiḥ api—even by women, śūdras, etc.; uta—spoken.
I have, under strict disciplinary vows, unpretentiously worshiped the Vedas, the spiritual master and the altar of sacrifice. I have also abided by the rulings and have shown the import of disciplic succession through the explanation of the Mahābhārata by which even women, śūdras and others [friends of the twice-born] can see the path of religion.
No one can understand the import of the Vedas without having undergone a strict disciplinary vow and disciplic succession. The Vedas, spiritual masters and sacrificial fire must be worshiped by the desiring candidate. All these intricacies of Vedic knowledge are systematically presented in the Mahābhārata for the understanding of the women class, laborer class and the unqualified members of brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya or vaiśya families. In this age, the Mahābhārata is more essential than the original Vedas.
tathāpi bata me daihyo
hy ātmā caivātmanā vibhuḥ
tathāpi—although; bata—defect; me—mine; daihyaḥ—situated in the body; hi—certainly; ātmā—living being; ca—and; eva—even; ātmanā—myself; vibhuḥ—sufficient; asampannaḥ—wanting in; iva ābhāti—it appears to be; brahma-varcasya—of the Vedāntists; sattamaḥ—the supreme.
I am feeling incomplete, though I myself am fully equipped with everything required by the Vedas.
Undoubtedly Śrīla Vyāsadeva was complete in all the details of Vedic achievements. Purification of the living being submerged in matter is made possible by the prescribed activities in the Vedas, but the ultimate achievement is different. Unless it is attained, the living being, even though fully equipped, cannot be situated in the transcendentally normal stage. Śrīla Vyāsadeva appeared to have lost the clue and therefore felt dissatisfaction.
kiṁ vā bhāgavatā dharmā
na prāyeṇa nirūpitāḥ
ta eva hy acyuta-priyāḥ
kim vā—or; bhāgavatāḥ dharmāḥ- devotional activities of the living beings; na—not; prāyeṇa—almost; nirūpitāḥ—directed; priyāḥ—dear; paramahaṁsānām—of the perfect beings; te eva—that also; hi—certainly; acyuta—the infallible; priyāḥ—attractive.
This may be because I did not specifically point out the devotional service of the Lord, which is dear both to perfect beings and the infallible Lord.
The dissatisfaction which was being felt by Śrīla Vyāsadeva is expressed herein in his own words. This was felt for the normal condition of the living being in the devotional service of the Lord. Unless one is fixed in the normal condition of service, neither the Lord nor the living being can become fully satisfied. This defect was felt by him when Nārada Muni, his spiritual master, reached him. It is described as follows.
tasyaivaṁ khilam ātmānaṁ
kṛṣṇasya nārado ‘bhyāgād
āśramaṁ prāg udāhṛtam
tasya—his; evam—thus; khilam—inferior; ātmānam—soul; manya-mānasya—thinking within the mind; khidyataḥ—regretting; kṛṣṇasya—of Kṛṣṇa; nāradaḥ abhyāgāt—Nārada came there; āśramam—the cottage; prāg—before; udāhṛtam—said.
As mentioned before, Nārada reached the cottage of Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa on the banks of the Sarasvatī just as he was regretting his defects.
The vacuum felt by Vyāsadeva was not due to his lack of knowledge. Bhāgavata-dharma is purely devotional service of the Lord to which the monist has no access. The monist is not counted amongst the paramahaṁsas (the most perfect of the renounced order of life). Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is full of narrations of the transcendental activities of the Personality of Godhead. Although Vyāsadeva was an empowered Divinity, he still felt dissatisfaction because in none of his works were the transcendental activities of the Lord properly explained. The inspiration was infused by Śrī Kṛṣṇa directly in the heart of Vyāsadeva, and thus he felt the vacuum as explained above. It is definitely expressed herewith that without transcendental loving service of the Lord, everything is void; but in the transcendental service of the Lord everything is tangible without any separate attempt at fruitive work or empiric philosophical speculation.
tam abhijñāya sahasā
tam abhijñāya—seeing the good fortune of his (Nārada’s) arrival; sahasā—all of a sudden; pratyutthāya—getting up; āgatam—arrived at; muniḥ—Vyāsadeva; pūjayāmāsa—worship; vidhivat—with the same respect as is offered to Vidhi (Brahmā); nāradam—to Nārada; sura-pūjitam—worshiped by the demigods.
At the auspicious arrival of Śrī Nārada, Śrī Vyāsadeva got up respectfully and worshiped him, giving him veneration equal to that given to Brahmājī, the creator.
Vidhi means Brahmā, the first created living being. He is the original student as well as professor of the Vedas. He learned it from Śrī Kṛṣṇa and taught Nārada first. So Nārada is the second ācārya in the line of spiritual disciplic succession. He is the representative of Brahmā, and therefore he is respected exactly like Brahmā, the father of all vidhis (regulations); similarly all other successive disciples in the chain are also equally respected as representatives of the original spiritual master.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the First Canto, Fourth Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled "The Appearance of Śrī Nārada."
Nārada’s instructions on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam for Vyāsadeva
atha taṁ sukham āsīna
devarṣiḥ prāha viprarṣiṁ
vīṇā-pāṇiḥ smayann iva
sūtaḥ—Sūta; uvāca—said; atha—therefore; tam—him; sukham āsīnaḥ—comfortably seated; upāsīnam—unto one sitting nearby; bṛhat-śravāḥ—greatly respected; devarṣiḥ—the great ṛṣi among the gods; prāha—said; viprarṣim—unto the ṛṣi among the brāhmaṇas; vīṇā-pāṇiḥ—one who carries a vīṇā in his hand; smayan iva—apparently smiling.
Sūta Gosvāmī said: Thus the sage among the gods [Nārada], comfortably seated and apparently smiling, addressed the ṛṣi amongst the brāhmaṇas [Vedavyāsa].
Nārada was smiling because he well knew the great sage Vedavyāsa and the cause of his disappointment. As he will explain gradually, Vyāsadeva’s disappointment was due to insufficiency in presenting the science of devotional service. Nārada knew the defect, and it was confirmed by the position of Vyāsa.
bhavataḥ kaccid ātmanā
ātmā mānasa eva vā
nāradaḥ—Nārada; uvāca—said; pārāśarya—O son of Parāśara; mahā-bhāga—the greatly fortunate; bhavataḥ—your; kaccit—if it is; ātmanā—by the self-realization of; parituṣyati—does it satisfy; śārīraḥ—identify the body; ātmā—self; mānasaḥ—identifying the mind; eva—certainly; vā—and.
Addressing Vyāsadeva, the son of Parāśara, Nārada inquired: Are you satisfied by identifying with the body or the mind as objects of self-realization?
This was a hint by Nārada to Vyāsadeva regarding the cause of his despondency. Vyāsadeva, as the descendant of Parāśara, a greatly powerful sage, had the privilege of having a great parentage which should not have given Vyāsadeva cause for despondency. Being a great son of a great father, he should not have identified the self with the body or the mind. Ordinary men with a poor fund of knowledge can identify the body as self or the mind as self, but Vyāsadeva should not have done so. One cannot be cheerful by nature unless one is factually seated in self-realization, which is transcendental to the material body and mind.
api te mahad-adbhutam
kṛtavān bhārataṁ yas tvaṁ
jijñāsitam—fully inquired; susampannam—well versed; api—in spite of; te—your; mahat-adbhutam—great and wonderful; kṛtavān—prepared; bhāratam—the Mahābhārata; yaḥ tvam—what you have done; sarva-artha—including all sequences; paribṛṁhitam—elaborately explained.
Your inquiries were full and your studies were also well fulfilled, and there is no doubt that you have prepared a great and wonderful work, the Mahābhārata, which is full of all kinds of Vedic sequences elaborately explained.
The despondency of Vyāsadeva was certainly not due to his lack of sufficient knowledge because as a student he had fully inquired about the Vedic literatures, as a result of which the Mahābhārata is compiled with full explanation of the Vedas.
jijñāsitam adhītaṁ ca
brahma yat tat sanātanam
tathāpi śocasy ātmānam
akṛtārtha iva prabho
jijñāsitam—deliberated fully well; adhītam—the knowledge obtained; ca—and; brahma—the Absolute; yat—what; tat—that; sanātanam—eternal; tathāpi—in spite of that; śocasi—lamenting; ātmānam—unto self; akṛta-artha—undone; iva—like; prabho—my dear sir.
You have fully delineated the subject of impersonal Brahman as well as the knowledge derived therefrom. In spite of all this, why should you be despondent, thinking that you are undone, my dear prabhu.
The Vedānta-sūtra or Brahma-sūtra compiled by Śrī Vyāsadeva is the full deliberation of the impersonal absolute feature, and it is accepted as the most exalted philosophical exposition in the world. It covers the subject of eternity, and the methods are scholarly. So there cannot be any doubt about the transcendental scholarship of Vyāsadeva. So why should he lament?
asty eva me sarvam idaṁ tvayoktaṁ
tathāpi nātmā parituṣyate me
tan-mūlam avyaktam agādha-bodhaṁ
vyāsaḥ—Vyāsa; uvāca—said; asti—there is; eva—certainly; me—mine; sarvam—all; idam—this; tvayā—by you; uktam—uttered; tathāpi—and yet; na—not; ātmā—self; parituṣyate—does pacify; me—unto me; tat—of which; mūlam—root; avyaktam—undetected; agādha-bodham—the man of unlimited knowledge; pṛcchāmahe—do inquire; tvā—unto you; ātma-bhāva—self-born; ātmā-bhūtam—offspring.
Śrī Vyāsadeva said: All you have said about me is perfectly correct. Despite all this, I am not pacified. I therefore question you about the root cause of my dissatisfaction, for you are a man of unlimited knowledge due to your being the offspring of one [Brahmā] who is self-born [without mundane father and mother].
In the material world everyone is engrossed with the idea of identifying the body or the mind with the self. As such, all knowledge disseminated in the material world is related either with the body or with the mind, and that is the root cause of all despondencies. This is not always detected, even though one may be the greatest erudite scholar in materialistic knowledge. It is good, therefore, to approach a personality like Nārada to solve the root cause of all despondencies. Why Nārada should be approached is explained below.
sa vai bhavān veda samasta-guhyam
upāsito yat puruṣaḥ purāṇaḥ
parāvareśo manasaiva viśvaṁ
sṛjaty avaty atti guṇair asaṅgaḥ
saḥ—thus; vai—certainly; bhavān—yourself; veda—know; samasta—all-inclusive; guhyam—confidential; upāsitaḥ—devotee of; yat—because; puruṣaḥ—the Personality of Godhead; purāṇaḥ—the oldest; parāvareśaḥ—the controller of the material and spiritual worlds; manasā—mind; eva—only; viśvam—the universe; sṛjati—creates; avati atti—annihilates; guṇaiḥ—by the qualitative matter; asaṅgaḥ—unattached.
My lord! Everything that is mysterious is known to you because you worship the creator and destroyer of the material world and the maintainer of the spiritual world, the original Personality of Godhead, who is transcendental to the three modes of material nature.
A person who is cent percent engaged in the service of the Lord is the emblem of all knowledge. Such a devotee of the Lord in full perfection of devotional service is also perfect by the qualification of the Personality of Godhead. As such, the eightfold perfections of mystic power (aṣṭa-siddhi) constitute very little of his godly opulence. A devotee like Nārada can act wonderfully by his spiritual perfection, which every individual is trying to attain. Śrīla Nārada is a cent percent perfect living being, although not equal to the Personality of Godhead.
tvaṁ paryaṭann arka iva tri-lokīm
antaś-caro vāyur ivātma-sākṣī
parāvare brahmaṇi dharmato vrataiḥ
snātasya me nyūnam alaṁ vicakṣva
tvam—your goodness; paryaṭan—traveling; arkaḥ—the sun; iva—like; tri-lokīm—three worlds; antaḥ-caraḥ—can penetrate into everyone’s heart; vāyuḥ iva—as good as the all-pervading air; ātma—self-realized; sākṣī—witness; parāvare—in the matter of cause and effect; brahmaṇi—in the Absolute; dharmataḥ—under disciplinary regulations; vrataiḥ—in vow; snātasya—having been absorbed in; me—mine; nyūnam—deficiency; alam—clearly; vicakṣva—search out.
Like the sun, your goodness can travel everywhere in the three worlds, and like the air you can penetrate the internal region of everyone. As such, you are as good as the all-pervasive Supersoul. Please, therefore, find out the deficiency in me, despite my being absorbed in transcendence under disciplinary regulations and vows.
Transcendental realization, pious activities, worshiping the. Deities, charity, mercifulness, nonviolence and studying the scriptures under strict disciplinary regulations are always helpful.
yaśo bhagavato ‘malam
yenaivāsau na tuṣyeta
manye tad darśanaṁ khilam
śrī-nāradaḥ—Śrī Nārada; uvāca—said; bhavatā—by you; anudita-prāyam—almost not praised; yaśaḥ—glories; bhagavataḥ—of the Personality of God head; amalam—spotless; yena—by which; iva—certainly; asau—He, (the Personality of Godhead); na—does not; tuṣyeta—be pleased; manye—I think; tat—that; darśanam—philosophy; khilam—inferior.
Śrī Nārada said: You have not actually broadcast the sublime and spotless glories of the Personality of Godhead. That philosophy which does not satisfy the transcendental senses of the Lord is considered worthless.
The eternal relation of an individual soul with the Supreme Soul Personality of Godhead is constitutionally one of being the eternal servitor of the eternal master. The Lord has expanded Himself as living beings in order to accept loving service from them, and this alone can satisfy both the Lord and the living beings. A scholar like Vyāsadeva has completed many expansions of the Vedic literatures, ending with the Vedānta philosophy, but none of them have been written directly glorifying the Personality of Godhead. Dry philosophical speculations even on the transcendental subject of the Absolute have very little attraction without directly dealing with the glorification of the Lord. The Personality of Godhead is the last word in transcendental realization. The Absolute realized as impersonal Brahman or localized Supersoul, Paramātmā, is less productive of transcendental bliss than the Supreme Personal realization of His glories.
The compiler of the Vedānta-darśana is Vyāsadeva himself. Yet he is troubled, although he is the author. So what sort of transcendental bliss can be derived by the readers and listeners of Vedānta which is not explained directly by Vyāsadeva the author? Herein arises the necessity of explaining Vedānta-sūtra in the form of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam by the self same author.
yathā dharmādayaś cārthā
na tathā vāsudevasya
mahimā hy anuvarṇitaḥ
yathā—as much as; dharma-ādayaḥ—all four principles of religious behavior; ca—and; arthāḥ—purposes; muni-varya—by yourself, the great sage; anukīrtitāḥ—repeatedly described; na—not; tathā—in that way; vāsudevasya—of the Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa; mahimā—glories; hi—certainly; anuvarṇitaḥ—so constantly described.
Although, great sage, you have very broadly described the four principles beginning with religious performances, you have not described the glories of the Supreme Personality, Vāsudeva.
The prompt diagnosis of Śrī Nārada is at once declared. The root cause of the despondency of Vyāsadeva was his deliberate avoidance of glorifying the Lord in his various editions of the Purāṇas. He has certainly, as a matter of course, given descriptions of the glories of the Lord (Śrī Kṛṣṇa) but not as many as given to religiosity, economic development, sense gratification and salvation. These four items are by far inferior to engagement in the devotional service of the Lord. Śrī Vyāsadeva as the authorized scholar knew very well this difference. And still instead of giving more importance to the better type of engagement, namely, the devotional service to the Lord, he had more or less improperly used his valuable time, and thus he was despondent. From this it is clearly indicated that no one can be pleased substantially without being engaged in the devotional service of the Lord. In the Bhagavad-gītā this fact is clearly mentioned.
After liberation, which is the last item in the line of performing religiosity, etc., one is engaged in pure devotional service. This is called the stage of self-realization or brahma-bhūta stage. After attainment of this brahma-bhūta stage, one is satisfied. But satisfaction is the beginning of transcendental bliss. One should progress by attaining neutrality and equality in the relative world. And passing this stage of equanimity, one is fixed up in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. This is the instruction of the Personality of Godhead in the Bhagavad-gītā. The conclusion is that in order to maintain the status quo of the brahma-bhūta stage, as also to increase the degree of transcendental realization, it is recommended by Nārada to Vyāsadeva that he (Vyāsadeva) should now eagerly and repeatedly describe the path of devotional service. This would cure him from gross despondency.
na yad vacaś citra-padaṁ harer yaśo
jagat-pavitraṁ pragṛṇīta karhicit
tad vāyasaṁ tīrtham uśanti mānasā
na yatra haṁsā niramanty uśikkṣayāḥ
na—not; yat—that; vacaḥ—vocabulary; citra-padam—decorative; hareḥ—of the Lord; yaśaḥ—glories; jagat—universe; pavitram—sanctified; pragṛṇīta—described; karhicit—hardly; tat—that; vāyasam—crows; tirtham—place of pilgrimage; uśanti—think; mānasaḥ—saintly persons; na—not; yatra—where; haṁsāḥ—all-perfect beings; niramanti—take pleasure; uśikkṣayāḥ—those who reside in the transcendental abode.
Those words which do not describe the glories of the Lord, who alone can sanctify the atmosphere of the whole universe, are considered by saintly persons to be like unto a place of pilgrimage for crows. Since the all-perfect persons are inhabitants of the transcendental abode, they do not derive any pleasure there.
Crows and swans are not birds of the same feather because of their different mental attitudes. The fruitive workers or passionate men are compared to the crows, whereas the all-perfect saintly persons are compared to the swans. The crows take pleasure in a place where garbage is thrown out, just as the passionate fruitive workers take pleasure in wine and woman and places for gross sense pleasure. The swans do not take pleasure in the places where crows are assembled for conferences and meetings. They are instead seen in the atmosphere of natural scenic beauty where there are transparent reservoirs of water nicely decorated with stems of lotus flowers in variegated colors of natural beauty. That is the difference between the two classes of birds.
Nature has influenced different species of life with different mentalities, and it is not possible to bring them up into the same rank and file.
Similarly, there are different kinds of literature for different types of men of different mentality. Mostly the market literatures which attract men of the crow’s categories are literatures containing refused remnants of sensuous topics. They are generally known as mundane talks in relation with the gross body and subtle mind. They are full of subject matter described in decorative language full of mundane similes and metaphorical arrangements. Yet with all that, they do not glorify the Lord. Such poetry and prose, on any subject matter, is considered decoration of a dead body. Spiritually advanced men who are compared with the swans do not take pleasure in such dead literatures, which are sources of pleasure for men who are spiritually dead. These literatures in the modes of passion and ignorance are distributed under different labels, but they can hardly help the spiritual urge of the human being, and thus the swanlike spiritually advanced men have nothing to do with them. Such spiritually advanced men are called also mānasa because they always keep up the standard of transcendental voluntary service to the Lord on the spiritual plane. This completely forbids fruitive activities for gross bodily sense satisfaction or subtle speculation of the material egoistic mind.
Social literary men, scientists, mundane poets, theoretical philosophers and politicians who are completely absorbed in the material advancement of sense pleasure are all dolls of the material energy. They take pleasure in a place where rejected subject matters are thrown. According to Svāmī Śrīdhara, this is the pleasure of the prostitute hunters.
But literatures which describe the glories of the Lord are enjoyed by the paramahaṁsas who have grasped the essence of human activities.
yasmin prati-ślokam abaddhavaty api
nāmāny anantasya yaśo ‘ṅkitāni yat
śṛṇvanti gāyanti gṛṇanti sādhavaḥ
tat—that; vāk—vocabulary; visargaḥ—creation; janatā—the people in general; agha—sins; viplavaḥ—revolutionary; yasmin—in which; prati-ślokam—each and every stanza; abaddhavati—irregularly composed; api—in spite of; nāmāni—transcendental names, etc.; anantasya—of the unlimited Lord; yaśaḥ—glories; aṅkitāni—depicted; yat—what; śṛṇvanti—do hear; gāyanti—do sing; gṛṇanti—do accept; sādhavaḥ—the purified men who are honest.
On the other hand, that literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, forms, pastimes, etc., of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world’s misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest.
It is a qualification of the great thinkers to pick up the best even from the worst. It is said that the intelligent man should pick up nectar from a stock of poison, should accept gold even from a filthy place, should accept a good and qualified wife even from an obscure family and should accept a good lesson even from a man or from a teacher who comes from the untouchables. These are some of the ethical instructions for everyone in every place without exception. But a saint is far above the level of an ordinary man, and he is always absorbed in glorifying the Supreme Lord because by broadcasting the holy name and fame of the Supreme Lord, the polluted atmosphere of the world will change, and as a result of propagating the transcendental literatures like Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, people will become sane in their transactions. While preparing this commentation on this particular stanza of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam we have a crisis before us. Our neighboring friend China has attacked the border of India with a militaristic spirit. We have practically no business in the political field, yet we see that previously there were both China and India, and they both lived peacefully for centuries without ill feeling. The reason is that they lived those days in an atmosphere of God consciousness, and every country, over the surface of the world, was God-fearing, purehearted and simple, and there was no question of political diplomacy. There is no cause of quarrel between the two countries of China and India over land which is not very suitable for habitation, and certainly there is no cause for fighting on this issue. But due to the age of quarrel, Kali, which we have discussed, there is always a chance of quarrel on slight provocation. This is due not to the issue in question, but to the polluted atmosphere of this age: systematically there is propaganda by a section of people to stop glorification of the name and fame of the Supreme Lord. Therefore, there is great need for disseminating the message of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam all over the world. It is the duty of every responsible Indian to broadcast the transcendental message of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam throughout the world to do all the supermost good as well as to bring about the desired peace in the world. Because India has failed in her duty by neglecting this responsible work, there is so much quarrel and trouble all over the world. We are confident that if the transcendental message of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is received only by the leading men of the world, certainly there will be a change of heart, and naturally the people in general will follow them. The mass of people in general are tools in the hands of the modern politicians and leaders of the people. If there is a change of heart of the leaders only, certainly there will be a radical change in the atmosphere of the world. We know that our honest attempt to present this great literature conveying transcendental messages for reviving the God consciousness of the people in general and respiritualizing the world atmosphere is fraught with many difficulties. Our presenting this matter in adequate language, especially a foreign language, will certainly fail, and there will be so many literary discrepancies despite our honest attempt to present it in the proper way. But we are sure that with all our faults in this connection the seriousness of the subject matter will be taken into consideration, and the leaders of society will still accept this due to its being an honest attempt to glorify the Almighty God. When there is fire in a house, the inmates of the house go out to get help from the neighbors who may be foreigners, and yet without knowing the language the victims of the fire express themselves, and the neighbors understand the need, even though not expressed in the same language. The same spirit of cooperation is needed to broadcast this transcendental message of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam throughout the polluted atmosphere of the world. After all, it is a technical science of spiritual values, and thus we are concerned with the techniques and not with the language. If the techniques of this great literature are understood by the people of the world, there will be success.
When there are too many materialistic activities by the people in general all over the world, there is no wonder that a person or a nation attacks another person or nation on slight provocation. That is the rule of this age of Kali or quarrel. The atmosphere is already polluted with corruption of all description, and everyone knows it well. There are so many unwanted literatures full of materialistic ideas of sense gratification. The people in general want to read (that is a natural instinct), but because their minds are polluted they want such literatures. Under the circumstances, transcendental literature like Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam will not only diminish the activities of the corrupt mind of the people in general, but also it will supply food for their hankering after reading some interesting literature. In the beginning they may not like it because one suffering from jaundice is reluctant to take sugar-candy, but we should know that sugar-candy is the only remedy for the jaundice. Similarly, let there be systematic propaganda for popularizing reading of the Bhagavad-gītā and the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam which will act like sugar-candy for the jaundice-like condition of sense gratification. When men have a taste for this literature, the other literatures, which are catering poison to society, will then automatically cease.
We are sure, therefore, that everyone in the human society will welcome Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, even though it is now presented with so many faults, for it is recommended by Śrī Nārada, who has very kindly appeared in this chapter.
naiṣkarmyam apy acyuta-bhāva-varjitaṁ
na śobhate jñānam alaṁ nirañjanam
kutaḥ punaḥ śaśvad abhadram īśvare
na cārpitaṁ karma yad apy akāraṇam
naiṣkarmyam—self-realization, being freed from the reactions of fruitive work; api—in spite of; acyuta—the infallible Lord; bhāva—conception; varjitam—devoid of; na—does not; śobhate—look well; jñānam—transcendental knowledge; alam—by and by; nirañjanam—free from designations; kutaḥ—where is; punaḥ—again; śaśvat—always; abhadram—uncongenial; īśvare—unto the Lord; na—not; ca—and; arpitam—offered; karma—fruitive work; yat api—what is; akāraṇam—not fruitive.
Knowledge of self-realization, even though freed from all material affinity, does not look well if devoid of a conception of the Infallible [God]. What, then, is the use of fruitive activities, which are naturally painful from the very beginning and transient by nature, if they are not ultilized for the devotional service of the Lord?
As referred to above, not only ordinary literatures devoid of the transcendental glorification of the Lord are condemned, but also Vedic literatures and speculation on the subject of impersonal Brahman when they are devoid of devotional service. When speculation on the impersonal Brahman is condemned on the above ground, then what to speak of ordinary fruitive work which is not meant to fulfill the aim of devotional service. Such speculative knowledge and fruitive work cannot lead one to the goal of perfection. Fruitive work in which almost all people in general are engaged is always painful either in the beginning or at the end. It can only be fruitful when made subservient to the devotional service of the Lord. In the Bhagavad-gītā also it is confirmed that the result of such fruitive work may be offered for the service of the Lord, otherwise it leads to material bondage. The bona fide enjoyer of the fruitive work is the Personality of Godhead, and thus when it is engaged for the sense gratification of the living beings, it becomes an acute source of trouble.
atho mahā-bhāga bhavān amogha-dṛk
śuci-śravāḥ satya-rato dhṛta-vrataḥ
atho—therefore; mahā-bhāga—highly fortunate; bhavān—yourself; amogha-dṛk—the perfect seer; śuci—spotless; śravāḥ—famous; satya-rataḥ—having taken the vow of truthfulness; dhṛta-vrataḥ—fixed in spiritual qualities; urukramasya—of the one who performs supernatural activities (God); akhila—universal; bandha—bondage; muktaye—for liberation from; samādhinā—by trance; anusmara—think repeatedly and then describe them; tat-viceṣṭitam—various pastimes of the Lord.
O Vyāsadeva, your vision is completely perfect. Your good fame is spotless. You are firm in vow and situated in truthfulness. And thus you can think of the pastimes of the Lord in trance for the liberation of the people in general from all material bondage.
People in general have a taste for literatures by instinct. They want to hear and read from the authorities something about the unknown, but their taste is exploited by unfortunate literatures which are full of subject matter for satisfaction of the material senses. Such literatures contain different kinds of mundane poems and philosophical speculations, more or less under the influence of māyā, ending in sense gratification. These literatures, although worthless in the true sense of the term, are variously decorated to attract the attention of the less intelligent men. Thus the attracted living entities are more and more entangled in material bondage without hope of liberation for thousands and thousands of generations. Śrī Nārada Ṛṣi, being the best amongst the Vaiṣṇavas, is compassionate on such unfortunate victims of worthless literatures, and thus he advises Śrī Vyāsadeva to compose transcendental literature which is not only attractive but can also actually bring liberation from all kinds of bondage. Śrīla Vyāsadeva or his representatives are qualified because they are rightly trained to see things in true perspective. Śrīla Vyāsadeva and his representatives are pure in thought due to their spiritual enlightenment, fixed in their vows due to their devotional service and determined to deliver the fallen souls rotting in the material activities. The fallen souls are very eager to receive novel informations every day, and the transcendentalists like Vyāsadeva or Nārada can supply such eager people in general with unlimited news from the spiritual world. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is said that the material world is only a part of the whole creation and that this earth is only a fragment of the whole material world.
There are thousands and thousands of literary men all over the world, and they have created many, many thousands of literary works for the information of the people in general for thousands and thousands of years. Unfortunately none of them have brought peace and tranquility on the earth. This is due to a spiritual vacuum in those literatures; therefore the Vedic literatures, especially the Bhagavad-gītā and the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, are specifically recommended to the suffering humanity to bring about the desired effect of liberation from the pangs of material civilization, which is eating the vital part of the human energy. The Bhagavad-gītā is the spoken message of the Lord Himself recorded by Vyāsadeva, and the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the transcendental narration of the activities of the same Lord Kṛṣṇa which alone can satisfy the hankering desires of the living being for eternal peace and liberation from miseries. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is, therefore, meant for all the living beings all over the universe for total liberation from all kinds of material bondage. Such transcendental narrations of the pastimes of the Lord can only be described by liberated souls like Vyāsadeva and his bona fide representatives who are completely merged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. Only to such devotees do the pastimes of the Lord and their transcendental nature become automatically manifest by dint of devotional service. No one else can either know or describe the acts of the Lord, even if they speculate on the subject for many, many years. The descriptions of the Bhāgavatam are so precise and accurate that whatever has been predicted in this great literature about 5,000 years before is now exactly happening. Therefore, the vision of the author comprehends past, present and future. Such liberated persons like Vyāsadeva are not only perfect by the power of vision and wisdom, but also in aural reception, in thinking, feeling and all other sense activities. A liberated person possesses perfect senses, and with perfect senses only can one serve the sense-proprietor, Hṛṣīkeśa, Śrī Kṛṣṇa the Personality of Godhead. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is, therefore, the perfect description of the all-perfect Personality of Godhead by the all-perfect personality Śrīla Vyāsadeva, the compiler of the Vedas.
tato ‘nyathā kiñcana yad vivakṣataḥ
pṛthag dṛśas tat-kṛta-rūpa-nāmabhiḥ
na karhicit kvāpi ca duḥsthitā matir
labheta vātā-hata-naur ivāspadam
tataḥ—from that; anyathā—apart; kiñcana—something; yat—whatsoever; vivakṣataḥ—desiring to describe; pṛthak—separately; dṛśaḥ—vision; tat-kṛta—reactionary to that; rūpa—form; nāmabhiḥ—by names; na karhicit—never; kvāpi—any; ca—and; duḥsthitā matiḥ—oscillating mind; labheta—gains; vāta-hata—troubled by the wind; nauḥ—boat; iva—like; āspadam—place.
Whatever you desire to describe, which is separate in vision from the Lord, simply reacts, with different forms, names and results, to agitate the mind as the wind agitates a boat which has no resting place.
Śrī Vyāsadeva is the editor of all descriptions of the Vedic literatures, and thus he has described transcendental realization in different ways, namely by fruitive activities, specualtive knowledge, mystic power and devotional service. Besides that, in his various Purāṇas he has recommended the worship of so many demigods in different forms and names. The result is that people in general are puzzled how to fix up their minds in the service of the Lord; they are always disturbed to find out the real path of self-realization. Śrīla Nāradadeva is stressing this particular defect in the Vedic literatures compiled by Vyāsadeva, and thus he is trying to emphasize describing everything in relation with the Supreme Lord, and no one else. In fact, there is nothing existent except the Lord. The Lord is manifested in different expansions. He is the root of the complete tree. He is the stomach of the complete body. As such, pouring water on the root is the right process to water the tree, as much as feeding the stomach supplies energy to all the parts of the body. Śrīla Vyāsadeva should not have compiled any Purāṇas other than the Bhāgavata Purāṇa because a slight deviation from that may create havoc for self-realization. If a slight deviation can create such havoc, then what to speak of deliberate expansion of the separatist idea from the Absolute Truth Personality of Godhead. The most defective part of worshiping demigods is that it creates a definite conception of pantheism, ending disastrously in many religious sects detrimental to the progress of the principles of the Bhāgavatam, which alone can give the accurate direction for self-realization in eternal relation with the Personality of Godhead by devotional service in transcendental love. The example of the boat disturbed by whirling wind is suitable in this respect. The diverted mind of the pantheist can never reach to the perfection of self-realization due to the disturbed condition of the selection of object.
jugupsitaṁ dharma-kṛte ‘nuśāsataḥ
sva-bhāva-raktasya mahān vyatikramaḥ
yad-vākyato dharma itītaraḥ sthito
na manyate tasya nivāraṇaṁ janaḥ
jugupsitam—verily condemned; dharma-kṛte—for the matter of religion; anuśāsataḥ—instruction; sva-bhāva-raktasya—naturally inclined; mahān—great; vyatikramaḥ—unreasonable; yat-vākyataḥ—under whose instruction; dharmaḥ—religion; iti—it is thus; itaraḥ—the people in general; sthitaḥ—fixed; na—do not; manyate—think; tasya—of that; nivāraṇam—prohibition; janaḥ—they.
The people in general are naturally inclined to enjoy, and you have encouraged them in that way in the name of religion. This is verily condemned and is quite unreasonable. Because they are guided under your instructions, they will accept such activities in the name of religion and will hardly care for prohibitions.
Śrīla Vyāsadeva’s compilation of different Vedic literatures on the basis of regulated performances of fruitive activities as depicted in the Mahābhārata and other literature is condemned herewith by Śrīla Nārada. The human beings, by long material association, life after life, have a natural inclination, by practice, to endeavor to lord it over material energy. They have no sense of the responsibility of human life. This human form of life is a chance to get out of the clutches of illusory matter. The Vedas are meant for going back to Godhead, going back home. To revolve in the cycle of transmigration in a series of lives numbering 8,400,000 is an imprisoned life for the condemned conditioned souls. The human form of life is a chance to get out of this imprisoned life, and as such the only occupation of the human being is to reestablish his lost relationship with God. Under the circumstances, one should never be encouraged in making a plan for sense enjoyment in the name of religious functions. Such diversion of the human energy results in a misguided civilization. Śrīla Vyāsadeva is the authority in Vedic explanations in the Mahābhārata, etc., and his encouragement in sense enjoyment in some form or other is a great barrier for spiritual advancement because the people in general will not agree to renounce material activities which hold them in material bondage. At a certain stage of human civilization, such material activities in the name of religion (as sacrificing animals in the name of yajña) were too much rampant. The Lord incarnated Himself as Buddha and decried the authority of the Vedas to stop animal sacrifice in the name of religion. This was foreseen by Nārada, and therefore he condemned such literatures. The flesh-eaters still continue to perform animal sacrifice before some demigod or goddess in the name of religion because in some of the Vedic literatures such regulated sacrifice is recommended. They are so recommended to discourage flesh-eating, but gradually the purpose of such religious activities is forgotten, and the slaughterhouse becomes prominent. This is because foolish materialistic men do not care to listen to others who are actually in a position to explain the Vedic rites.
In the Vedas it is distinctly said that the perfection of life is never to be attained either by voluminous work, or by accumulation of wealth or even by increasing the number of population. But it is so attained only by renunciation. The materialistic men do not care to listen to such injunctions. According to them, the so-called renounced order of life is meant for those who are unable to earn their livelihood because of some corporeal defects, or for persons who have failed to achieve prosperity in family life.
In histories like the Mahābhārata, of course, there are topics on transcendental subjects along with material topics. The Bhagavad-gītā is there in the Mahābhārata. The whole idea of the Mahābhārata is culminated in the ultimate instructions of the Bhagavad-gītā, that one should relinquish all other engagements and should engage oneself solely and fully in surrendering unto the lotus feet of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. But men with materialistic tendencies are more attracted to politics, economics and philanthropic activities mentioned in the Mahābhārata than to the principal topic, namely the Bhagavad-gītā. This compromising spirit of Vyāsadeva is directly condemned by Nārada, who advises him to directly proclaim that the prime necessity of human life is to realize one’s eternal relation with the Lord and thus surrender unto Him without delay.
A patient suffering from a particular type of malady is almost always inclined to accept eatables which are forbidden for him. The expert physician does not make any compromise with the patient by allowing him to take partially what he should not at all take. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is also said that a man attached to fruitive work should not be discouraged from his occupation, for gradually he may be elevated to the position of self-realization. This is sometimes applicable for those who are only dry empiric philosophers without spiritual realization. But those who are in the devotional line need not be always so advised.
vicakṣaṇo ‘syārhati vedituṁ vibhor
ananta-pārasya nivṛttitaḥ sukham
pravarta-mānasya guṇair anātmanas
tato bhavān darśaya ceṣṭitaṁ vibhoḥ
vicakṣaṇaḥ—very expert; asya—of him; arhati—deserves; veditum—to understand; vibhoḥ—of the Lord; ananta-pārasya—of the unlimited; nivṛttitaḥ—retired from; sukham—material happiness; pravarta-mānasya—those who are attached to; guṇaiḥ—by the material qualities; anātmanaḥ—devoid of knowledge in spiritual value; tataḥ—therefore; bhavān—your goodness; darśaya—show the ways; ceṣṭitam—activities; vibhoḥ—of the Lord.
The Supreme Lord is unlimited. Only a very expert personality, retired from the activities of material happiness, deserves to understand this knowledge of spiritual values. Therefore those who are not so well situated, due to material attachment, should be shown the ways of transcendental realization, by your goodness, through descriptions of the transcendental activities of the Supreme Lord.
Theological science is a difficult subject, especially when it deals with the transcendental nature of God. It is not a subject matter to be understood by persons who are too much attached to material activities. Only the very expert, who have almost retired from materialistic activities by culture of spiritual knowledge, can be admitted to the study of this great science. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is clearly stated that out of many hundreds and thousands of men only one person deserves to enter into transcendental realization. And out of many thousands of such transcendentally realized persons, only a few can understand the theological science specifically dealing with God as a person. Śrī Vyāsadeva is therefore advised by Nārada to describe the science of God directly by relating His transcendental activities. Vyāsadeva is himself a personality expert in this science, and he is unattached to material enjoyment. Therefore he is the right person to describe it, and Śukadeva Gosvāmī, the son of Vyāsadeva, is the right person to receive it. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the topmost theological science, and therefore it can react on the laymen as medicinal doses. Because it contains the transcendental activities of the Lord, there is no difference between the Lord and the literature. The literature is the factual literary incarnation of the Lord. So the laymen can hear the narration of the activities of the Lord. Thereby they are able to associate with the Lord and thus gradually become purified from material diseases. The expert devotees also can discover novel ways and means to convert the nondevotees in terms of particular time and circumstance. Devotional service is dynamic activity, and the expert devotees can find out competent means to inject it into the dull brains of the materialistic population. Such transcendental activities of the devotees for the service of the Lord can bring a new order of life to the foolish society of materialistic men. Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and His subsequent followers exhibited expert dexterity in this connection. By following the same method, one can bring the materialistic men of this age of quarrel into order for peaceful life and transcendental realization.
tyaktvā sva-dharmaṁ caraṇāmbujaṁ harer
bhajann apakvo ‘tha patet tato yadi
yatra kva vābhadram abhūd amuṣya kiṁ
ko vārtha āpto ‘bhajatāṁ sva-dharmataḥ
tyaktvā—having forsaken; sva-dharmam—one’s own occupational engagement; caraṇa-ambujam—the lotus feet; hareḥ—of Hari (the Lord); bhajan—in the course of devotional service; apakvaḥ -immature; atha—for the matter of; patet—falls down; tataḥ—from that place; yadi—if; yatra—whereupon; kva—what sort of; vā—or (used sarcastically); abhadram—unfavorable; abhūt—shall happen; amuṣya—of him; kim—nothing; kaḥ vā arthaḥ—what interest; āptaḥ—obtained; abhajatām—of the nondevotee; sva-dharmataḥ—being engaged in occupational service.
One who has forsaken his material occupations to engage in the devotional service of the Lord may sometimes fall down while in an immature stage, yet there is no danger of his being unsuccessful. On the other hand, a nondevotee, though fully engaged in occupational duties, does not gain anything.
As far as the duties of mankind are concerned, there are innumerable duties. Every man is duty-bound not only to his parents, family members, society, country, humanity, other living beings, the demigods, etc., but also to the great philosophers, poets, scientists, etc. It is enjoined in the scriptures that one can relinquish all such duties and surrender unto the service of the Lord. So if one does so and becomes successful in the discharge of his devotional service unto the Lord, it is well and good. But it so happens sometimes that one surrenders himself unto the service of the Lord by some temporary sentiment, and in the long run, due to so many other reasons, he falls down from the path of service by undesirable association. There are so many instances of this in the histories. Bharata Mahārāja was obliged to take his birth as a stag due to his intimate attachment to a stag. He thought of this stag when he died. As such, in the next birth he became a stag, although he did not forget the incidence of his previous birth. Similarly, Citraketu also fell down due to his offenses at the feet of Śiva. But in spite of all this, the stress is given here to surrendering unto the lotus feet of the Lord, even if there is a chance of falling down. Because, even though one falls down from the prescribed duties of devotional service, he will never forget the lotus feet of the Lord. Once engaged in the devotional service of the Lord, one will continue the service in all circumstances. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is said that even a small quantity of devotional service can save one from the most dangerous position. There are many instances of such examples in history. Ajāmila is one of them. Ajāmila in his early life was a devotee, but in his youth he fell down. Still he was saved by the Lord at the end.
tasyaiva hetoḥ prayateta kovido
na labhyate yad-bhramatām upary adhaḥ
tal-labhyate duḥkhavad anyataḥ sukhaṁ
kālena sarvatra gabhīra-raṁhasā
tasya—for that purpose; eva—only; hetoḥ—reason; prayateta—should endeavor; kovidaḥ—one who is philosophically inclined; na—not; labhyate—is not obtained; yat—what; bhramatām—wandering; upari adhaḥ—from top to bottom; tat—that; labhyate—can be obtained; duḥkhavat—like the miseries; anyataḥ—as a result of previous work; sukham—sense enjoyment; kālena—in course of time; sarvatra—everywhere; gabhīra—subtle; raṁhasā—progress.
Persons who are actually intelligent and philosophically inclined should endeavor only for that purposeful end which is not obtainable even by wandering from the topmost planet [Brahmaloka] down to the lowest planet [Pātāla]. As far as happiness derived from sense enjoyment is concerned, it can be obtained automatically in course of time, just as in course of time we obtain miseries even though we do not desire them.
Every man everywhere is trying to obtain the greatest amount of sense enjoyment by various endeavors. Some of them are busy engaged in trade, industry, economic development, political supremacy, etc., and some of them are engaged in fruitive work to become happy in the next life by attaining higher planets. It is said that in the moon the inhabitants are fit for greater sense enjoyment by drinking soma-rasa, and the Pitṛloka is obtained by good charitable work. So there are various programs for sense enjoyment, either during this life or in the life after death. Some are trying to reach the moon or other planets by some mechanical arrangement, for they are very anxious to get into such planets without doing good work. But it is not to happen. By the law of the Supreme, different places are meant for different grades of living beings according to the work they might have performed. By good work only, as prescribed in the scriptures, one can obtain birth in a good family, opulence, good education and good bodily features. We see also that even in this life one obtains a good education or money or bodily beauty. Similarly, in our next birth we get such desirable positions only by good work. Otherwise, it would not so happen that two persons born in the same place, at the same time are seen differently placed according to previous work. But all such material positions are not permanent. The positions in the topmost Brahmaloka and in the lowest Pātāla are also changeable according to our own work. The philosophically inclined person must not be tempted by such changeable positions. He should try to get into the permanent life of bliss and knowledge where he will not be forced to come back again to the miserable material world, either in this or that planet. Miseries and mixed happiness are two features of material life, and they are obtained in Brahmaloka and in other lokas also. They are obtained in the life of the demigods and also in the life of the dogs and hogs. The miseries and mixed happiness of all living beings are only of different degree and quality, but no one is free from the miseries of birth, death, old age and disease. Similarly, everyone has his destined happiness also. No one can get more or less of these things simply by personal endeavors. Even if they are obtained, they can be lost again. One should not, therefore, waste time with these flimsy things, but one should only endeavor to go back to Godhead. That should be the mission of everyone’s life.
na vai jano jātu kathañcanāvrajen
mukunda-sevy anyavad aṅga saṁsṛtim
smaran mukundāṅghry-upagūhanaṁ punar
vihātum icchenna rasa-graho janaḥ
na—never; vai—certainly; janaḥ—a person; jātu—at any time; kathañcana—somehow or other; āvrajet—does not undergo; mukunda-sevī—the devotee of the Lord; anyavat—like others; aṅga—O my dear; saṁsṛtim—material existence; smaran—remembering; mukunda-aṅghri—the lotus feet of the Lord; upagūhanam—embracing; punaḥ—again; vihātum—willing to give up; icchet—desire; na—never; rasagrahaḥ—one who has relished the mellow; janaḥ—person.
My dear Vyāsa, even though a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa sometimes falls down somehow or other, he certainly does not undergo material existence like others [fruitive workers, etc.] because a person who has once relished the taste of the lotus feet of the Lord can do nothing but remember that ecstasy again and again.
A devotee of the Lord automatically becomes uninterested in the enchantment of material existence because he is rasa-graha, or one who has tasted the sweetness of the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa. There are certainly many instances where devotees of the Lord have fallen down due to uncongenial association, just like fruitive workers, who are always prone to degradation. But even though he falls down, a devotee is never to be considered the same as a fallen karmi. A karmi suffers the result of his own fruitive reactions, whereas a devotee is reformed by chastisement directed by the Lord Himself. The sufferings of an orphan and the sufferings of a beloved child of a king are not one and the same. An orphan is really poor because he has no one to take care of him, but a beloved son of a rich man, although he appears to be on the same level as the orphan, is always under the vigilance of his capable father. A devotee of the Lord, due to wrong association, sometimes imitates the fruitive workers. The fruitive workers want to lord it over the material world. Similarly, a neophyte devotee foolishly thinks of accumulating some material power in exchange for devotional service. Such foolish devotees are sometimes put into difficulty by the Lord Himself. As a special favor, He may remove all material paraphernalia. By such action, the bewildered devotee is forsaken by all friends and relatives, and so he comes to his senses again by the mercy of the Lord and is set right to execute his devotional service.
In the Bhagavad-gītā it is also said that such fallen devotees are given a chance to take birth in a family of highly qualified brāhmaṇas or in a rich mercantile family. A devotee in such a position is not as fortunate as one who is chastised by the Lord and put into a position seemingly of helplessness. The devotee who becomes helpless by the will of the Lord is more fortunate than those who are born in good families. The fallen devotees born in a good family may forget the lotus feet of the Lord because they are less fortunate, but the devotee who is put into a forlorn condition is more fortunate because he swiftly returns to the lotus feet of the Lord, thinking himself helpless all round.
Pure devotional service is so spiritually relishable that a devotee becomes automatically uninterested in material enjoyment. That is the sign of perfection in progressive devotional service. A pure devotee continuously remembers the lotus feet of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa and does not forget Him even for a moment, not even in exchange for all the opulence of the three worlds.
idaṁ hi viśvam bhagavān ivetaro
tadd hi svayaṁ veda bhavāṁs tathāpi te
prādeśa-mātraṁ bhavataḥ pradarśitam
idam—this; hi—all; viśvam—cosmos; bhagavān—the Supreme Lord; iva—almost the same; itaraḥ—different from; yataḥ—from whom; jagat—the worlds; sthāna—exist; nirodha—annihilation; sambhavāḥ—creation; tat hi—all about; svayam—personally; veda—know; bhavān—your good self; tathāpi—still; te—unto your; prādeśa-mātram—a synopsis only; bhavataḥ—unto you; pradarśitam—explained.
The Supreme Lord Personality of Godhead is Himself this cosmos, and still He is aloof from it. From Him only this cosmic manifestation has emanated, in Him it rests, and unto Him it enters after annihilation. Your good self knows all about this. I have only given a synopsis.
For a pure devotee, the conception of Mukunda Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is both personal and impersonal. The impersonal cosmic situation is also Mukunda because it is the emanation of the energy of Mukunda. For example, a tree is a complete unit, whereas the leaves and the branches of the tree are emanated parts and parcels of the tree. The leaves and branches of the tree are also the tree, but the tree itself is neither the leaves nor the branches. The Vedic version that the whole cosmic creation is nothing but Brahman means that since everything is emanating from the Supreme Brahman, nothing is apart from Him. Similarly, the part and parcel hands and legs are called the body, but the body as the whole unit is neither the hands nor the legs. The Lord is the transcendental form of eternity, cognition and beauty. And thus the creation of the energy of the Lord appears to be partially eternal, full of knowledge and beautiful also. The captivated conditioned souls under the influence of the external energy māyā are therefore entrapped in the network of the material nature. They accept this as all in all, for they have no information of the Lord who is the primeval cause. Nor have they information that the parts and parcels of the body, being detached from the whole body, are no longer the same hand or leg as when attached to the body. Similarly, a godless civilization detached from the transcendental loving service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is just like a detached hand or leg. Such parts and parcels may appear like hands and legs, but they have no efficiency. The devotee of the Lord, Śrīla Vyāsadeva, knows this very well. He is further advised by Śrīla Nārada to expand the idea so that the entrapped conditioned souls may take lessons from him to understand the Supreme Lord as the primeval cause.
According to the Vedic version, the Lord is naturally fully powerful, and thus His supreme energies are always perfect and identical with Him. Both the spiritual and the material skies and their paraphernalia are emanations of the internal and external energies of the Lord. External energy is comparatively inferior, whereas the internal potency is superior. The superior energy is living force, and therefore she is completely identical, but the external energy, being inert, is partially identical. But both the energies are neither equal to nor greater than the Lord, who is the generator of all energies; such energies are always under His control, exactly as electrical energy, however powerful it may be, is always under the control of the engineer.
The human being and all other living beings are products of His internal energies. Thus the living being is also identical with the Lord. But he is never equal or superior to the Personality of Godhead. The Lord and living beings are all individual persons. With the help of the material energies the living beings are also creating something, but none of their creations are equal or superior to the creations of the Lord. The human being may create a small playful sputnik and may throw it into outer space, but that does not mean that he can create a planet like the earth or moon and float it in the air as the Lord does. Men with a poor fund of knowledge claim to be equal to the Lord. They are never equal to the Lord. This is never to be. The human being, after attaining complete perfection, may achieve a large percentage of the qualities of the Lord (say up to 78%), but it is never possible to surpass the Lord or to become equal with Him. In a diseased condition only the foolish being claims to be one with the Lord and thus becomes misled by the illusory energy. The misguided living beings, therefore, must accept the supremacy of the Lord and agree to render loving service to Him. For this they have been created. Without this, there cannot be any peace or tranquility in the world. Śrīla Vyāsadeva is advised by Śrīla Nārada to expand this idea in the Bhāgavatam. In the Bhagavad-gītā also the same idea is explained: surrender fully unto the lotus feet of the Lord. That is the only business of the perfect human being.
tvam ātmanā’’tmānam avehy amogha-dṛk
parasya puṁsaḥ paramātmanaḥ kalām
ajaṁ prajātaṁ jagataḥ śivāya tan
tvam—yourself; ātmanā—by your own self; ātmānam—the Supersoul; avehi—search out; amogha-dṛk—one who has perfect vision; parasya—of the Transcendence; puṁsaḥ—Personality of Godhead; paramātmanaḥ—of the Supreme Lord; kalām—plenary part; ajam—birthless; prajātam—have taken birth; jagataḥ—of the world; śivāya—for the well-being; tat—that; mahānubhāva—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa; abhyudayaḥ—pastimes; adhigaṇyatām—describe most vividly.
Your goodness has perfect vision. You yourself can know the Supersoul Personality of Godhead because you are present as the plenary portion of the Lord. Although you are birthless, you have appeared on this earth for the well-being of all people. Please, therefore, describe the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa more vividly.
Śrīla Vyāsadeva is the empowered plenary portion incarnation of the Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa. He descended by his causeless mercy to deliver the fallen souls in the material world. The fallen and forgotten souls are detached from the transcendental loving service of the Lord. The living entities are parts and parcels of the Lord, and they are eternally servitors of the Lord. All the Vedic literatures are, therefore, put into systematic order for the benefit of the fallen souls, and it is the duty of the fallen souls to take advantage of such literatures and be freed from the bondage of material existence. Although formally Śrīla Nārada Ṛṣi is his spiritual master, Śrīla Vyāsadeva is not at all dependent on a spiritual master because in essence he is the spiritual master of everyone else. But because he is doing the work of an ācārya, he has taught us by his own conduct that one must have a spiritual master, even though he be God Himself. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Lord Śrī Rāma and Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, all incarnations of Godhead, accepted formal spiritual masters, although by Their transcendental nature They were cognizant of all knowledge. In order to direct people in general to the lotus feet of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, He Himself in the incarnation of Vyāsadeva is delineating the transcendental pastimes of the Lord.
idaṁ hi puṁsas tapasaḥ śrutasya vā
sviṣṭasya sūktasya ca buddhi-dattayoḥ
avicyuto ‘rthaḥ kavibhir nirūpito
idam—this; hi—certainly; puṁsaḥ—of everyone; tapasaḥ—by dint of austerities; śrutasya—by dint of study of the Vedas; vā—or; sviṣṭasya—sacrifice; sūktasya—spiritual education; ca—and; buddhi—culture of knowledge; dattayoḥ—charity; avicyutaḥ—infallible; arthaḥ—interest; kavibhiḥ—by the recognized learned fellow; nirūpitaḥ—concluded; yat—what; uttamaśloka-the Lord, who is described by choice poetry; guṇa-anuvarṇanam—description of the transcendental qualities of.
Learned circles have positively concluded that the infallible purpose of the advancement of knowledge, namely austerities, study of the Vedas, sacrifice, chanting of hymns and charity, culminates in the transcendental descriptions of the Lord, who is defined in choice poetry.
Human intellect is developed for advancement of learning in art, science, philosophy, physics, chemistry, psychology, economics, politics, etc. By culture of such knowledge the human society can attain perfection of life. This perfection of life culminates in the realization of the Supreme Being Viṣṇu. The Śruti therefore directs that those who are actually advanced in learning should aspire for the service of Lord Viṣṇu. Unfortunately persons who are enamored by the external beauty of Viṣṇu-māyā do not understand that culmination of perfection or self-realization depends on Viṣṇu. Viṣṇu-māyā. means sense enjoyment, which is transient and miserable. Those who are entrapped by Viṣṇu-māyā utilize advancement of knowledge for sense enjoyment. Śrī Nārada Muni has explained that all parapharnalia of the cosmic universe is but an emanation from the Lord out of His different energies because the Lord has set in motion, by His inconceivable energy, actions and reactions of the created manifestation. They have come to be out of His energy, they rest on His energy, and after annihilation they merge into Him. Nothing is, therefore, different from Him, but at the same time the Lord is always different from them.
When advancement of knowledge is applied in the service of the Lord, the whole process becomes absolute. The Personality of Godhead, His transcendental name, fame, glory, etc., are all nondifferent from Him. Therefore, all the sages and devotees of the Lord have recommended that the subject matter of art, science, philosophy, physics, chemistry, psychology and all other branches of knowledge should be wholly and solely applied in the service of the Lord. Art, literature, poetry, painting, etc., may be used in glorifying the Lord. The fiction writers, poets and celebrated literateurs are generally engaged in writing of sensuous subjects, but if they turn towards the service of the Lord they can describe the transcendental pastimes of the Lord. Vālmīki was a great poet, and similarly Vyāsadeva is a great writer, and both of them have absolutely engaged themselves in delineating the transcendental activities of the Lord, and by doing so they have become immortal. Similarly, science and philosophy also should be applied in the service of the Lord. There is no use presenting dry speculative theories for sense gratification. Philosophy and science should be engaged to establish the glory of the Lord. Advanced people are eager to understand the Absolute Truth through the medium of science, and therefore a great scientist should endeavor to prove the existence of the Lord on a scientific basis. Similarly, philosophical speculations should be utilized to establish the Supreme Truth as sentient and all-powerful. Similarly, all other branches of knowledge should always be engaged in the service of the Lord. In the Bhagavad-gītā also the same is affirmed. All "knowledge" not engaged in the service of the Lord is but nescience. Real utilization of advanced knowledge is to establish the glories of the Lord, and that is the real import. Scientific knowledge engaged in the service of the Lord and all similar activities are all factually Hari-kīrtana or glorification of the Lord.
ahaṁ purātītabhave ‘bhavaṁ mune
dāsyāstu kasyāścana veda-vādinām
nirūpito bālaka eva yogināṁ
śuśrūṣaṇe prāvṛṣi nirvivikṣatām
aham—I; purā—formerly; atītabhave—in the previous millennium; abhavam—became; mune—of the muni; dāsyāḥ—of the maidservant; tu—but; kasyāścana—certain; veda-vādinām—of the followers of Vedānta; nirūpitaḥ—engaged; bālakaḥ—boy servant; eva—only; yoginām—of the devotees; śuśrūṣaṇe—in the service of; prāvṛṣi—during the four months of the rainy season; nirvivikṣatām—living together.
O Muni, in the last millennium I was born as the son of a certain maidservant engaged in the service of brāhmaṇas who were following the principles of Vedānta. When they were living together during the four months of the rainy season, I was engaged in their personal service.
The wonder of an atmosphere surcharged with devotional service of the Lord is briefly described herein by Śrī Nārada Muni. He was the son of the most insignificant parentage. He was not properly educated. Still, because his complete energy was engaged in the service of the Lord, he became an immortal sage. Such is the powerful action of devotional service. The living entities are the marginal energy of the Lord, and therefore they are meant for being properly utilized in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. When this is not done, it is called māyā. Therefore the illusion of māyā. is at once dissipated as soon as one’s full energy is converted in the service of the Lord instead of in sense enjoyment. From the personal example of Śrī Nārada Muni in his previous birth, it is clear that the service of the Lord begins with the service of the Lord’s bona fide servants. The Lord says that the service of His servants is greater than His personal service. Service of the devotee is more valuable than the service of the Lord. One should therefore choose a bona fide servant of the Lord constantly engaged in His service and accept such a servant as the spiritual master and engage himself in his (the spiritual master’s) service. Such a spiritual master is the transparent medium by which to visualize the Lord who is beyond the conception of the material senses. By service of the bona fide spiritual master, the Lord consents to reveal Himself in proportion to the service rendered. Utilization of the human energy in the service of the Lord is the progressive path of salvation. The whole cosmic creation becomes at once identical with the Lord as soon as service in relation with the Lord is rendered under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master. The expert spiritual master knows the art of utilizing everything to glorify the Lord, and therefore under his guidance the whole world can be turned into the spiritual abode by the divine grace of the Lord’s servant.
te mayy apetākhila-cāpale ‘rbhake
dānte ‘dhṛta-krīḍanake ‘nuvartini
cakruḥ kṛpāṁ yadyapi tulya-darśanāḥ
śuśrūṣamāṇe munayo ‘lpa-bhāṣiṇi
te—they; mayi—unto me; apeta—not having undergone; akhila—all kinds of; cāpale—proclivities; arbhake—unto a boy; dānte—having controlled the senses; adhṛta-krīḍanake—without being accustomed to sporting habits; anuvartini—obedient; cakruḥ—did bestow; kṛpām—causeless mercy; yadyapi—although; tulya-darśanāḥ—impartial by nature; śuśrūṣamāṇe—unto the faithful; munayaḥ—the muni followers of the Vedānta; alpa-bhāṣiṇi—one who does not speak more than required.
Although they were impartial by nature, those followers of the Vedānta blessed me with their causeless mercy. As far as I was concerned, I was self-controlled and had no attachment for sports, even though I was a boy. In addition, I was not naughty, and I did not speak more than required.
In the Bhagavad-gītā the Lord says, "All the Vedas are searching after Me." Lord Śrī Caitanya says that in the Vedas the subject matters are only three, namely to establish the relation of the living entities with the Personality of Godhead, perform the relative duties in devotional service and thus achieve the ultimate goal, back to Godhead. As such, Vedānta-vādī, or the followers of the Vedānta, indicates the pure devotees of the Personality of Godhead. Such Vedānta-vādī or the bhakti-vedāntas are impartial in distributing the transcendental knowledge of devotional service. To them no one is enemy or friend; no one is educated or uneducated. No one is especially favorable, and no one is unfavorable. The bhakti-vedāntas see the people in general are wasting time in false sensuous things. Their business is to get the ignorant mass of people to reestablish the lost relationship with the Personality of Godhead. By such endeavor, even the most forgotten soul is roused up to the sense of spiritual life, and thus being initiated by the bhakti-vedāntas, the people in general gradually progress on the path of transcendental realization. So the Vedānta-vādīs initiated the boy even before he became self-controlled and was detached from childish sporting, etc. But before the initiation, he (the boy) became more and more advanced in discipline, which is very essential for one who wishes to make progress in the line. In the system of varṇāśrama-dharma, which is the beginning of actual human life, small boys after five years of age are sent to become brahmacārī at the guru’s āśrama where these things are systematically taught to boys, be they king’s sons or sons of ordinary citizens. The training was compulsory not only to create good citizens of the state, but also to prepare the boy’s future life for spiritual realization. The irresponsible life of sense enjoyment was unknown to the children of the followers of the varṇāśrama system. The boy was even injected with spiritual acumen before being placed by the father in the womb of the mother. Both the father and the mother were responsible for the boy’s success in being liberated from the material bondage. That is the process of successful family planning. It is to beget children for complete perfection. Without being self-controlled, without being disciplinary and without being fully obedient, no one can become successful in following the instructions of the spiritual master, and without doing so, no one is able to go back to Godhead.
ucchiṣṭa-lepān anumodito dvijaiḥ
sakṛt sma bhuñje tad-apāsta-kilbiṣaḥ
evaṁ pravṛttasya viśuddha-cetasas
tad-dharma evātma-ruciḥ prajāyate
ucchiṣṭa lepān—the remnants of foodstuff; anumoditaḥ—being permitted; dvijaiḥ—by the Vedāntist brāhmaṇas; sakṛt—once upon a time; sma—in the past; bhuñje—took; tat—by that action; apāsta—eliminated; kilbiṣaḥ—all sins; evam—thus; pravṛttasya—being engaged; viśuddha-cetasaḥ—of one whose mind is purified; tat—that particular; dharma—nature; eva—certainly; ātma-ruciḥ—transcendental attraction; prajāyate—was manifested.
Once only, by their permission, I took the remnants of their food, and by so doing all my sins were at once eradicated. Thus being engaged, I became purified in heart, and at that time the very nature of the transcendentalist became attractive to me.
Pure devotion is as much infectious, in a good sense, as infectious diseases. A pure devotee is cleared from all kinds of sins. The Personality of Godhead is the purest entity, and unless one is equally pure from the infection of material qualities, one cannot become a pure devotee of the Lord. The bhakti-vedāntas as above mentioned were pure devotees, and the boy became infected with their qualities of purity by their association and by eating once the remnants of the foodstuff taken by them. Such remnants may be taken even without permission of the pure devotees. There are sometimes pseudo-devotees, and one should be very much cautious about them. There are many things which hinder one from entering devotional service. But by the association of pure devotees all these obstacles are removed. The neophyte devotee becomes practically enriched with the transcendental qualities of the pure devotee, which means attraction for the Personality of Godhead’s name, fame, quality, pastimes, etc. Infection of the qualities of the pure devotee means to imbibe the taste of pure devotion always in the transcendental activities of the Personality of Godhead. This transcendental taste at once makes all material things distasteful. Therefore a pure devotee is not at all attracted by material activities. After the elimination of all sins or obstacles on the path of devotional service, one can become attracted, one can have steadiness, one can have perfect taste, one can have transcendental emotions, and at last one can be situated on the plane of loving service of the Lord. All these stages develop by the association of pure devotees, and that is the purport of this stanza.
tatrānvahaṁ kṛṣṇa-kathāḥ pragāyatām
tāḥ śraddhayā me ‘nupadaṁ viśṛṇvataḥ
priyaśravasy aṅga mamābhavad ruciḥ
tatra—thereupon; anu—every day; aham—I; kṛṣṇa-kathāḥ—narration of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s activities; pragāyatām—describing; anugraheṇa—by causeless mercy; aśṛṇavam—giving aural reception; manaḥ-harāḥ—attractive; tāḥ—those; śraddhayā—respectfully; me—unto me; anupadam—every step; viśṛṇvataḥ—hearing attentively; priyaśravasi—of the Personality of Godhead; aṅga-O Vyāsadeva; mama—mine; abhavat—it so became; ruciḥ—taste.
O Vyāsadeva, in that association and by the mercy of those great Vedāntists, I could hear them describe the attractive activities of Lord Kṛṣṇa. And thus listening attentively, my taste for hearing of the Personality of Godhead increased at every step.
Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa the Absolute Personality of Godhead is not only attractive in His personal features, but also in His transcendental activities. It is so because the Absolute is absolute by His name, fame, form, pastimes, entourage, parapharnalia, etc. The Lord descends on this material world out of His causeless mercy and displays His various transcendental pastimes as a human being so that human beings attracted towards Him become able to go back to Godhead. Men are naturally apt to hear histories and narrations of various personalities performing mundane activities without knowing that by such association one simply wastes valuable time and also becomes addicted to the three qualities of mundane nature. Instead of wasting time one can get spiritual success by turning his attention to the transcendental pastimes of the Lord. By hearing the narration of the pastimes of the Lord, one contacts directly the Personality of Godhead, and, as explained before, by hearing about the Personality of Godhead, from within, all accumulated sins of the mundane creature are cleared. Thus being cleared of all sins, the hearer gradually becomes liberated from mundane association and becomes attracted to the features of the Lord. Nārada Muni has just explained this by his personal experience. The whole idea is that simply by hearing about the Lord’s pastimes one can become one of the associates of the Lord. Nārada Muni has eternal life, unlimited knowledge and unfathomed bliss, and he can travel all over the material and spiritual worlds without restriction. One can attain to the highest perfection of life simply by attentive hearing of the transcendental pastimes of the Lord from the right sources, as Śrī Nārada heard them from the pure devotees (bhakti-vedāntas) in his previous life. This process of hearing in the association of the devotees, is especially recommended in this age of quarrel (Kali).
tasmiṁs tadā labdhā-rucer mahāmate
priyaśravasy askhalitā matir mama
yayāham etat sad-asat sva-māyayā
paśye mayi brahmaṇi kalpitaṁ pare
tasmin—it being so; tadā—at that time; labdhā—achieved; ruceḥ—taste; mahāmate—great sage; priyaśravasi—upon the Lord; askhalitā matiḥ—uninterrupted attention; mama—mine; yayā—by which; aham—I; etat—all these; sat-asat—gross and subtle; sva-māyayā—one’s own ignorance; paśye—see; mayi—in me; brahmaṇi—the Supreme; kalpitam—is accepted; pare—in the Transcendence.
O great sage, as soon as I got a taste of the Personality of Godhead, my attention to hear of the Lord was unflinching. And as my taste developed, I could realize that it was only in my ignorance that I had accepted gross and subtle coverings, for both the Lord and I are transcendental.
Ignorance in material existence is compared to darkness, and in all Vedic literatures the Personality of Godhead is compared to the sun. Wherever there is light there cannot be darkness. Hearing of the Lord’s pastimes is itself transcendental association with the Lord because there is no difference between the Lord and His transcendental pastimes. To become associated with the supreme light is to dissipate all ignorance. By ignorance only the conditioned soul wrongly thinks that both he and the Lord are products of material nature. But in fact the Personality of Godhead and the living beings are transcendental, and they have nothing to do with the material nature. When ignorance is removed and it is perfectly realized that there is nothing existing without the Personality of Godhead, then nescience is removed. Since the gross and the subtle bodies are emanations from the Personality of Godhead, the knowledge of light permits one to engage both of them in the service of the Lord. The gross body should be engaged in acts of rendering service to the Lord (as in bringing water, cleansing the temple or making obeisances, etc.). The path of arcanā, or worshiping the Lord in the temple, involves engaging one’s gross body in the service of the Lord. Similarly, the subtle mind should be engaged in hearing the transcendental pastimes of the Lord, thinking about them, chanting His name, etc. All such activities are transcendental. None of the gross or subtle senses should otherwise be engaged. Such realization of transcendental activities is made possible by many, many years of apprenticeship in the devotional service, but simply attraction of love to the Personality of Godhead, as it was developed in Nārada Muni, by hearing, is highly effective.
itthaṁ śarat-prāvṛṣikāv ṛtū harer
viśṛṇvato me ‘nusavaṁ yaśo ‘malam
saṅkīrtyamānaṁ munibhir mahātmabhir
ittham—thus; śarat—autumn; prāvṛṣikau—rainy season; ṛtū—two seasons; hareḥ—of the Lord; viśṛṇvataḥ—continuously hearing; me—myself; anusavam—constantly; yaśaḥ amalam—unadulterated glories; saṅkīrtyamānam—chanted by; munibhiḥ—the great sages; mahātmabhiḥ—great souls; bhaktiḥ—devotional service; pravṛttā—began to flow; ātma—living being; rajaḥ—mode of passion; tamaḥ—mode of ignorance; apahā—vanishing.
Thus during two seasons—the rainy season and autumn—I had the opportunity to hear these great-souled sages constantly chant the unadulterated glories of the Lord Hari. As my devotional service began, the coverings of the modes of passion and ignorance vanished.
Transcendental loving service for the Supreme Lord is the natural inclination of every living being. The instinct is dormant in everyone, but due to the association of material nature the modes of passion and ignorance cover this from time immemorial. If, by the grace of the Lord and the great-souled devotees of the Lord, a living being becomes fortunate enough to associate with the unadulterated devotees of the Lord and gets a chance to hear the unadulterated glories of the Lord, certainly the flow of devotional service takes place like the flow of a river. As the river flows on till she reaches the sea, similarly pure devotional service flows by the association of pure devotees till it reaches the ultimate goal, namely, transcendental love of God. Such a flow of devotional service cannot stop. On the contrary, it increases more and more without limitation. The flow of devotional service is so potent that any onlooker also becomes liberated from the influence of the modes of passion and ignorance. These two qualities of nature are thus removed, and the living being is liberated, being situated in his original position.
tasyaivaṁ me ‘nuraktasya
tasya—his; evam—thus; me—mine; anuraktasya—attached to them; praśritasya—obediently; hata—freed from; enasaḥ—sins; śraddadhānasya—of the faithful; bālasya—of the boy; dāntasya—subjugated; anucarasya—strictly following the instructions; ca—and.
I was very much attached to those sages. I was gentle in behavior, and all my sins were eradicated in their service. In my heart I had strong faith in them. I had subjugated the senses, and I was strictly following them with body and mind.
These are the necessary qualifications of a prospective candidate who can expect to be elevated to the position of a pure unadulterated devotee. Such a candidate must seek always the association of pure devotees. One should not be misled by a pseudo-devotee. He himself must be plain and gentle to receive the instructions of such a pure devotee. A pure devotee is a completely surrendered soul unto the Personality of Godhead. He knows the Personality of Godhead as the supreme proprietor and all others as His servitors. And by the association of pure devotees only, one can get rid of all sins accumulated by mundane association. A neophyte devotee must faithfully serve the pure devotee, and he should be very much obedient and strictly follow the instructions. These are the signs of a devotee who is determined to achieve success even in the existing duration of life.
jñānaṁ guhyatamaṁ yat tat
jñānam—knowledge; guhyatamam—most confidential; yat-what is; tat—that; sākṣāt—directly; bhagavatā uditam—propounded by the Lord Himself; anvavocan—gave instruction; gamiṣyantaḥ—while departing from; kṛpayā—by causeless mercy; dīna-vatsalāḥ—those who are very kind to the poor and meek.
As they were leaving, those bhakti-vedāntas, who are very kind to poor-hearted souls, instructed me in that most confidential subject, which is instructed by the Personality of Godhead Himself.
A pure Vedāntist, or a bhakti-vedānta, instructs followers exactly according to the instructions of the Lord Himself. The Personality of Godhead, both in the Bhagavad-gītā and in all other scriptures, has definitely instructed men to follow the Lord only. The Lord is the creator, maintainer and annihilator of everything. The whole manifested creation is existing by His will, and by His will when the whole show will be finished He will remain in His eternal abode with all His paraphernalia. Before the creation He was there in the eternal abode, and after the annihilation He will continue to remain. He is not, therefore, one of the created beings. He is transcendental. In the Bhagavad-gītā the Lord says that long, long ago, the instruction was imparted to Arjuna, the same was instructed to the sun-god, and in course of time, the same instruction, being wrongly handled and being broken, was again reinstructed to Arjuna because he was His perfect devotee and friend. Therefore, the instruction of the Lord can be understood by the devotees only and no one else. The impersonalist, who has no idea of the transcendental form of the Lord, cannot understand this most confidential message of the Lord. The word "most confidential" is significant here because knowledge of devotional service is far, far above knowledge of impersonal Brahman. Jñānam means ordinary knowledge or any branch of knowledge. This knowledge develops up to the knowledge of impersonal Brahman. Above this, when it is partially mixed with devotion, such knowledge develops to knowledge of Paramātmā, or the all-pervading Godhead. This is more confidential. But when such knowledge is turned into pure devotional service and the confidential part of transcendental knowledge is attained, it is called the most confidential knowledge. This most confidential knowledge was imparted by the Lord to Brahmā, Arjuna, Uddhava, etc.
yena gacchanti tat-padam
yena—by which; eva—certainly; aham—I; bhagavataḥ—of the Personality of Godhead; vāsudevasya—of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa; vedhasaḥ—of the supreme creator; māyā—energy; anubhāvam—influence; avidam—easily understood; yena—by which; gacchanti—they go; tat-padam—at the lotus feet of the Lord.
By that confidential knowledge, I could understand clearly the influence of the energy of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the creator, maintainer and annihilator of everything, and knowing that, I could return to Him and personally meet Him.
By devotional service or by the most confidential knowledge, one can understand very easily how the different energies of the Lord are working. One part of energy is manifesting the material world; the other (superior) part of His energy is manifesting the spiritual world. And the via medium energy is manifesting the living entities who are serving either of the above-mentioned energies. The living entities serving material energy are struggling hard for existence and happiness, which is presented to them as illusion. But those in the spiritual energy are placed under the direct service of the Lord in eternal life, complete knowledge and perpetual bliss. The Lord desires, as He has directly said in the Bhagavad-gītā, that all conditioned souls, rotting in the kingdom of material energy, come back to Him by giving up all engagements in the material world. This is the most confidential part of knowledge. But this can be understood only by the pure devotees, and only such devotees enter the kingdom of God to see Him personally and serve Him personally. The concrete example is Nārada Himself, who attained this stage of eternal knowledge and eternal bliss. And the ways and means are open to all, provided one agrees to follow in the foot steps of Śrī Nārada Muni. According to Śruti, the Supreme Lord has unlimited energies (without effort by Him) and these are described under three principal headings, as above mentioned.
etat saṁsūcitaṁ brahmaṁs
karma brahmaṇi bhāvitam
etat—this much; saṁsūcitam—decided by the learned; brahmam—O brāhmaṇa Vyāsa; tāpatraya—three kinds of miseries; cikitsitam—remedial measures; yat—what; īśvare—the supreme controller; bhagavati—unto the Personality of Godhead; karma—one’s prescribed activities; brahmaṇi—unto the great; bhāvitam—dedicated.
O Brāhmaṇa Vyāsadeva, it is decided by the learned that the best remedial measure for removing all troubles and miseries is to dedicate one’s activities to the service of the Supreme Lord Personality of Godhead [Śrī Kṛṣṇa].
Śrī Nārada Muni personally experienced that the most feasible and practical way to open the path of salvation or get relief from all miseries of life is to hear submissively the transcendental activities of the Lord from the right and bona fide sources. This is the only remedial process. The entire material existence is full of miseries. Foolish people have manufactured, out of their tiny brains, many remedial measures for removing the threefold miseries pertaining to the body and mind, pertaining to the natural distrubances and in relation with other living beings. The whole world is struggling very hard to exist out of these miseries, but men do not know that without the sanction of the Lord no plan or no remedial measure can actually bring about the desired peace and tranquility. The remedial measure to cure a patient by medical treatment is useless if it is not sanctioned by the Lord. To cross the river or the ocean by a suitable boat is no remedial measure if it is not sanctioned by the Lord. We should know for certain that the Lord is the ultimate sanctioning officer, and we must therefore dedicate our attempts to the mercy of the Lord for ultimate success or to get rid of the obstacles on the path of success. The Lord is all-pervading, all-powerful, omniscient and omnipresent. He is the ultimate sanctioning agent of all good or bad effects. We should, therefore, learn to dedicate our activities unto the mercy of the Lord and accept Him either as impersonal Brahman, localized Paramātmā or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It does not matter what one is. One must dedicate everything in the service of the Lord. If one is a learned scholar, scientist, philosopher, poet, etc., then he should employ his learning to establish the supremacy of the Lord. Try to study the energy of the Lord in every sphere of life. Do not decry Him and try to become like Him or take His position simply by fragmental accumulation of knowledge. If one is an administrator, statesman, warrior, politician, etc., then one should try to establish the Lord’s supremacy in statesmanship. Fight for the cause of the Lord as Śrī Arjuna did. In the beginning, Śrī Arjuna, the great fighter, declined to fight, but when he was convinced by the Lord that the fighting was necessary, Śrī Arjuna changed his decision and fought for His cause. Similarly, if one is a businessman, an industrialist, an agriculturist, etc., then one should spend his hard-earned money for the cause of the Lord. Think always that the money which is accumulated is the wealth of the Lord. Wealth is considered to be the goddess of fortune (Lakṣmī), and the Lord is Nārāyaṇa or the husband of Lakṣmī. Try to engage Lakṣmī in the service of Lord Nārāyaṇa and be happy. That is the way to realize the Lord in every sphere of life. The best thing is, after all, to get relief from all material activities and engage oneself completely in hearing the transcendental pastimes of the Lord. But in case of the absence of such an opportunity, one should try to engage everything, for which one has specific attraction, in the service of the Lord, and that is the way of peace and prosperity. The word saṁsūcitam in this stanza is also significant. One should not think for a moment that the realization of Nārada was childish imagination only. It is not like that. It is so realized by the expert and erudite scholars, and that is the real import of the word saṁsūcitam.
āmayo yaś ca bhūtānāṁ
jāyate yena suvrata
tad eva by āmayaṁ dravyaṁ
na punāti cikitsitam
āmayaḥ—diseases; yaḥ ca—whatever; bhūtānām-of the living being; jāyate—become possible; yena—by the agency; suvrata—O good soul; tat—that; eva—very; hi—certainly; āmayam—disease; dravyam—thing; na—does it not; punāti—cure; cikitsitam—treated with.
O good soul, does not a thing, applied therapeutically, cure a disease which was caused by that very same thing?