Bg 8.17 P Attaining the Supreme
By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together is the duration of Brahma's one day. And such also is the duration of his night.
The duration of the material universe is limited. It is manifested in cycles of kalpas. A kalpa is a day of Brahma, and one day of Brahma consists of a thousand cycles of four yugas or ages: Satya, Treta, Dvapara, and Kali. The cycle of Satya is characterized by virtue, wisdom and religion, there being practically no ignorance and vice, and the yuga lasts 1,728,000 years. In the Treta-yuga vice is introduced, and this yuga lasts 1,296,000 years. In the Dvapara-yuga there is an even greater decline in virtue and religion, vice increasing, and this yuga lasts 864,000 years. And finally in Kali-yuga (the yuga that we have now been experiencing over the past 5,000 years) there is an abundance of strife, ignorance, irreligion and vice, true virtue being practically nonexistent, and this yuga lasts 432,000 years. In Kali-yuga vice increases to such a point that at the termination of the yuga the Supreme Lord Himself appears as the Kalki avatara, vanquishes the demons, saves His devotees, and commences another Satya-yuga. Then the process is set rolling again. These four yugas, rotating a thousand times, comprise one day of Brahma, the creator god, and the same number comprise one night. Brahma lives one hundred of such "years" and then dies. These "hundred years" by earth calculations total to 311 trillion and 40 million earth years. By these calculations the life of Brahma seems fantastic and interminable, but from the viewpoint of eternity it is as brief as a lightning flash. In the Causal Ocean there are innumerable Brahmas rising and disappearing like bubbles in the Atlantic. Brahma and his creation are all part of the material universe, and therefore they are in constant flux.
In the material universe not even Brahma is free from the process of birth, old age, disease and death. Brahma, however, is directly engaged in the service of the Supreme Lord in the management of this universe--therefore he at once attains liberation. Elevated sannyasis are promoted to Brahma's particular planet, Brahmaloka, which is the highest planet in the material universe and which survives all the heavenly planets in the upper strata of the planetary system, but in due course Brahma and all the inhabitants of Brahmaloka are subject to death, according to the law of material nature.
SB 2.10.46 P Bhagavatam Is the Answer to All Questions
This process of creation and annihilation described in summary herein is the regulative principle during the duration of Brahma's one day. It is also the regulative principle in the creation of mahat, in which the material nature is dispersed.
There are three different types of creation, called maha-kalpa, vikalpa and kalpa. In the maha-kalpa the Lord assumes the first purusa incarnation as Karanodakasayi Visnu with all the potencies of the mahat-tattva and the sixteen principles of creative matter and instruments. The creative instruments are eleven, the ingredients are five, and all of them are products of mahat, or materialistic ego. These creations by the Lord in His feature of Karanodakasayi Visnu are called maha-kalpa. The creation of Brahma and dispersion of the material ingredients are called vikalpa, and the creation by Brahma in each day of his life is called kalpa. Therefore each day of Brahma is called a kalpa, and there are thirty kalpas in terms of Brahma's days. This is also confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (8.17) as follows:
ahar yad brahmano viduh
te 'ho-ratra-vido janah
In the upper planetary system the duration of one complete day and night is equal to one complete year of this earth. This is accepted even by the modern scientist and attested by the astronauts. Similarly, in the region of still higher planetary systems the duration of day and night is still greater than in the heavenly planets. The four yugas are calculated in terms of the heavenly calendars and accordingly are twelve thousand years in terms of the heavenly planets. This is called a divya-yuga, and one thousand divya-yugas make one day of Brahma. The creation during the day of Brahma is called kalpa, and the creation of Brahma is called vikalpa. When vikalpas are made possible by the breathing of Maha-Visnu, this is called a maha-kalpa. There are regular and systematic cycles of these maha-kalpas, vikalpas and kalpas. In answer to Maharaja Pariksit's question about them, Sukadeva Gosvami answered in the Prabhasa-khanda of the Skanda Purana. They are as follows:
prathamah sveta-kalpas ca
vamadevas trtiyas tu
tato gathantaro 'parah
rauravah pancamah proktah
sasthah prana iti smrtah
saptamo 'tha brhat-kalpah
kandarpo 'stama ucyate
sadyotha navamah kalpa
isano dasamah smrtah
dhyana ekadasah proktas
tatha sarasvato 'parah
trayodasa udanas tu
garudo 'tha caturdasah
kaurmah pancadaso jneyah
sodaso narasimhas tu
samadhis tu tato 'parah
agneyo visnujah saurah
soma-kalpas tato 'parah
dvavimso bhavanah proktah
supuman iti caparah
vaikunthas carstisas tadvad
vali-kalpas tato 'parah
saptavimso 'tha vairajo
mahesvaras tatha proktas
tripuro yatra ghatitah
pitr-kalpas tatha cante
yah kuhur brahmanah smrta
Therefore the thirty kalpas of Brahma are: (1) Sveta-kalpa, (2) Nilalohita, (3) Vamadeva, (4) Gathantara, (5) Raurava, (6) Prana, (7) Brhat-kalpa, (8) Kandarpa, (9) Sadyotha, (10) Isana, (11) Dhyana, (12) Sarasvata, (13) Udana, (14) Garuda, (15) Kaurma, (16) Narasimha, (17) Samadhi, (18) Agneya, (19) Visnuja, (20) Saura, (21) Soma-kalpa, (22) Bhavana, (23) Supuma, (24) Vaikuntha, (25) Arcisa, (26) Vali-kalpa, (27) Vairaja, (28) Gauri-kalpa, (29) Mahesvara, (30) Paitr-kalpa.
These are Brahma's days only, and he has to live months and years up to one hundred, so we can just imagine how many creations there are in kalpas only. Then again there are vikalpas, which are generated by the breathing of Maha-Visnu, as stated in the Brahma-samhita (yasyaika-nisvasita-kalam athavalambya jivanti loma-vilaja jagadanda-nathah). The Brahmas live only during the breathing period of Maha-Visnu. So the exhaling and inhaling of Visnu are maha-kalpas, and all these are due to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for no one else is the master of all creations.
SB 3.8.12 Manifestation of Brahma from Garbhodakasayi Visnu
The Lord lay down for four thousand yuga cycles in His internal potency, and by His external energy He appeared to be sleeping within the water. When the living entities were coming out for further development of their fruitive activities, actuated by the energy called kala-sakti, He saw His transcendental body as bluish.
In the Visnu Purana, kala-sakti is mentioned as avidya. The symptom of the influence of the kala-sakti is that one has to work in the material world for fruitive results. The fruitive workers are described in Bhagavad-gita as mudhas, or foolish. Such foolish living entities are very enthusiastic to work for some temporary benefit within perpetual bondage. One thinks himself very clever throughout his life if he is able to leave behind him a great asset of wealth for his children, and to achieve this temporary benefit he takes the risk of all sinful activities, without knowledge that such activities will keep him perpetually bound by the shackles of material bondage. Due to this polluted mentality and due to material sins, the aggregate combination of living entities appeared to be bluish. Such an impetus of activity for fruitive result is made possible by the dictation of the external energy of the Lord, kala.
SB 7.10.11 P Prahlada, the Best Among Exalted Devotees
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Prahlada, a devotee like you never desires any kind of material opulences, either in this life or in the next. Nonetheless, I order you to enjoy the opulences of the demons in this material world, acting as their king until the end of the duration of time occupied by Manu.
One Manu lives for a duration of time calculated to be an aggregate of seventy-one yuga cycles, each of which equals 4,300,000 years. Although atheistic men like to enjoy material opulences and they endeavor with great energy to build big residences, roads, cities and factories, unfortunately they cannot live more than eighty, ninety or at the utmost one hundred years. Although the materialist exerts so much energy to create a kingdom of hallucinations, he is unable to enjoy it for more than a few years. However, because Prahlada Maharaja was a devotee, the Lord allowed him to enjoy material opulence as the king of the materialists. Prahlada Maharaja had taken birth in the family of Hiranyakasipu, who was the topmost materialist, and since Prahlada was the bona fide heir of his father, the Supreme Lord allowed him to enjoy the kingdom created by his father for so many years that no materialist could calculate them. A devotee does not have to desire material opulence, but if he is a pure devotee, there is ample opportunity for him to enjoy material happiness also, without personal endeavor. Therefore, everyone is advised to take to devotional service under all circumstances. If one desires material opulence, he can also become a pure devotee, and his desires will be fulfilled. It is stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.3.10):
akamah sarva-kamo va
yajeta purusam param
"Whether one desires everything or nothing, or whether he desires to merge into the existence of the Lord, he is intelligent only if he worships Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by rendering transcendental loving service."
SB 8.13.36 Description of Future Manus
O King, I have now described to you the fourteen Manus appearing in the past, present and future. The total duration of time ruled by these Manus is one thousand yuga cycles. This is called a kalpa, or one day of Lord Brahma.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Eighth Canto, Thirteenth Chapter, of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, entitled "Description of Future Manus."
The System of Universal Management
This chapter describes the duties allotted to Manu by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. All the Manus, as well as their sons, the sages, the demigods and the Indras, act under the orders of various incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. At the end of every catur-yuga, consisting of Satya-yuga, Dvapara-yuga, Treta-yuga and Kali-yuga, the sages, acting under the orders of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, distribute the Vedic knowledge and thus reinstate eternal religious principles. Manu's duty is to reestablish the system of religion. Manu's sons execute Manu's orders, and thus the entire universe is maintained by Manu and his descendants. The Indras are various rulers of the heavenly planets. Assisted by the demigods, they rule the three worlds. The Supreme Personality of Godhead also appears as incarnations in different yugas. He appears as Sanaka, Sanatana, Yajnavalkya, Dattatreya and others, and thus He gives instructions in spiritual knowledge, prescribed duties, principles of mystic yoga, and so on. As Marici and others, He creates progeny; as the king, He punishes the miscreants; and in the form of time, He annihilates the creation. One may argue, "If the all-powerful Supreme Personality of Godhead can do anything simply by His will, why has He arranged for so many personalities to manage?" How and why He does this cannot be understood by those who are under the clutches of maya.
NoD 22 Qualities of Krsna Further Explained One gopi, expressing herself to Krsna, says, "When we meet You at night, we consider the duration of night to be very small. And why speak of only this night? Even if we had a night of Brahma*<footnote> we would consider it a very short time!" We get an idea of Brahma's day from the following statement of Bhagavad-gita (8.17): "By human calculation, a thousand yuga cycles taken together is Brahma's one day. And such also is the duration of his night." The gopis said that even if they could have that duration of night, it would still not be sufficient for their meeting with Krsna.
<footnote> 64,300,000,000 solar years equals twelve hours or one night of Brahma.
PoP 10 The Path of Perfection The duration of the material universe is limited. It is manifested in cycles of kalpas. A kalpa is a day of Brahma, and one day of Brahma consists of a thousand cycles of four yugas, or ages: Satya, Treta, Dvapara, and Kali. The cycle of Satya is characterized by virtue, wisdom, and religion, there being practically no ignorance and vice, and the yuga lasts 1,728,000 years. In the Treta-yuga vice is introduced, and this yuga lasts 1,296,000 years. In the Dvapara-yuga there is an even greater decline in virtue and religion, vice increasing, and this yuga lasts 564,000 years. And finally, in Kali-yuga (the yuga we have now been experiencing over the past 5,000 years), there is an abundance of strife, ignorance, irreligion, and vice, true virtue being practically nonexistent, and this yuga lasts 432,000 years. In Kali-yuga vice increases to such a point that at the termination of the yuga, the Supreme Lord Himself appears as the Kalki-avatara, vanquishes the demons, saves His devotees, and commences another Satya-yuga. Then the process is set rolling again. These four yugas rotating a thousand times comprise one day of Brahma, the creator god, and the same number comprise one night. Brahma lives one hundred of such "years" and then dies. These "hundred years" by earth calculations total 311 trillion and 40 million earth years. By these calculations, the life of Brahma seems fantastic and interminable, but from the viewpoint of eternity, it is as brief as a lightning flash. In the Causal Ocean there are innumerable Brahmas rising and disappearing like bubbles in the Atlantic. Brahma and his creation are all part of the material universe, and therefore they are in constant flux.
In the material universe, not even Brahma is free from the process of birth, old age, disease, and death. Brahma, however, is directly engaged in the service of the Supreme Lord in the management of this universe; therefore he at once attains liberation. Elevated sannyasis are promoted to Brahma's particular planet, Brahmaloka, which is the highest planet in the material universe and which survives all the heavenly planets in the upper strata of the planetary system, but in due course Brahma and all inhabitants of Brahmaloka are subject to death, according to the law of material nature. So even if we live millions and trillions of years, we have to die. Death cannot be avoided. Throughout the entire universe the process of creation and annihilation is taking place, as described in the next verse:
avyaktad vyaktayah sarvah
"When Brahma's day is manifest, this multitude of living entities comes into being, and at the arrival of Brahma's night they are all annihilated." (Bg. 8.18)
Unless we go to the spiritual sky, there is no escaping this process of birth and death, creation and annihilation. When Brahma's days are finished, all these planetary systems are covered by water, and when Brahma rises again, creation takes place. The word ahar means "in the daytime," which is twelve hours of Brahma's life. During this time this material manifestation--all these planets--are seen, but when night comes they are all merged in water. That is, they are annihilated. The word ratry-agame means "at the fall of night." During this time, all these planets are invisible because they are inundated with water. This flux is the nature of the material world.
bhuta-gramah sa evayam
bhutva bhutva praliyate
ratry-agame 'vasah partha
"Again and again the day comes, and this host of beings is active; and again the night falls, O Partha, and they are helplessly dissolved." (Bg. 8.19) Although we do not want devastation, devastation is inevitable. At night, everything is flooded, and when day appears, gradually the waters disappear. For instance, on this one planet, the surface is three-fourths covered with water. Gradually, land is emerging, and the day will come when there will no longer be water but simply land. That is nature's process.
paras tasmat tu bhavo 'nyo
'vyakto 'vyaktat sanatanah
yah sa sarvesu bhutesu
nasyatsu na vinasyati
"Yet there is another nature, which is eternal and is transcendental to this manifested and nonmanifested matter. It is supreme and is never annihilated. When all in this world is annihilated, that part remains as it is." (Bg. 8.20)
We cannot calculate the length and breadth of this universe. There are millions and millions of universes like this within this material world, and above this material world is the spiritual sky, where the planets are all eternal. Life on those planets is also eternal. This material manifestation comprises only one fourth of the entire creation. Ekamsena sthito jagat. Ekamsena means "one fourth." Three fourths of the creation is beyond this material sky, which is covered like a ball. This covering extends millions and millions of miles, and only after penetrating that covering can one enter the spiritual sky. That is open sky, eternal sky. In this verse it is stated, paras tasmat tu bhavo 'nyah: "Yet there is another nature." The word bhava means another "nature." We have experience only with this material nature, but from Bhagavad-gita we understand that there is a spiritual nature that is transcendental and eternal. We actually belong to that spiritual nature, because we are spirit, but presently we are covered by this material body, and therefore we are a combination of the material and spiritual. Just as we can understand that we are a combination of both natures, we should understand also that there is a spiritual world beyond this material universe. Spiritual nature is called superior, and material nature is called inferior, because without spirit, matter cannot move.
This cannot be understood by experimental knowledge. We may look at millions and millions of stars through telescopes, but we cannot approach what we are seeing. Similarly, our senses are so insufficient that we cannot approach an understanding of the spiritual nature. Being incapable, we should not try to understand God and His kingdom by experimental knowledge. Rather, we have to understand by hearing Bhagavad-gita. There is no other way. If we want to know who our father is, we simply have to believe our mother. We have no other way of knowing except by her. Similarly, in order to understand who God is and what His nature is, we have to accept the information given in Bhagavad-gita. There is no question of experimenting. Once we become advanced in Krsna consciousness, we will realize God and His nature. We can come to understand, "Yes, there is God and a spiritual kingdom, and I have to go there. Indeed, I must prepare myself to go there."
The word vyakta means "manifest." This material universe that we are seeing (or partially seeing) before us is manifest. At least at night we can see that stars are twinkling and that there are innumerable planets. But beyond this vyakta is another nature, called avyakta, which is unmanifest. That is the spiritual nature, which is sanatana, eternal. This material nature has a beginning and an end, but that spiritual nature has neither beginning nor end. This material sky is within the covering of the mahat-tattva, matter. This matter is like a cloud. When there is a storm, it appears that the entire sky is covered with clouds, but actually only an insignificant part of the sky is covered. Because we are very minute, if just a few hundred miles are covered, it appears that the entire sky is covered. As soon as a wind comes and blows the clouds away, we can see the sky once again. Like the clouds, this mahat-tattva covering has a beginning and an end. Similarly, the material body, being a part of material nature, has a beginning and an end. The body is born, grows, stays for some time, leaves some by-products, dwindles, and then vanishes. Whatever material manifestation we see undergoes these six basic transformations. Whatever exists within material nature will ultimately be vanquished. But herein Krsna is telling us that beyond this vanishing, cloudlike material nature, there is a superior nature, which is sanatana, eternal. Yah sa sarvesu bhutesu nasyatsu na vinasyati. When this material manifestation is annihilated, that spiritual sky remains. This is called avyakto 'vyaktat.
In the Second Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, we find a description of the spiritual sky and the people who live there. Its nature and features are also discussed. From this Second Canto we understand that there are spiritual airplanes in the spiritual sky, and that the living entities there--who are all liberated--travel like lightning on those planes throughout the spiritual sky. This material world is simply an imitation; whatever we see here is simply a shadow of what exists there. The material world is like a cinema, wherein we see but an imitation or a shadow of the real thing that is existing. This material world is only a shadow. As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.1.1), yatra tri-sargo 'mrsa: "This illusory material world is a combination of matter." In store windows we often see mannequins, but no sane man thinks that these mannequins are real. He can see that they are imitations. Similarly, whatever we see here may be beautiful, just as a mannequin may be beautiful, but it is simply an imitation of the real beauty found in the spiritual world. As Sridhara Svami says, yat satyataya mithya-sargo 'pi satyavat pratiyate: the spiritual world is real, and this unreal material manifestation only appears to be real. We must understand that reality will never be vanquished and that in essence reality means eternality. Therefore material pleasure, which is temporary, is not actual; real pleasure exists in Krsna. Consequently, those who are after the reality don't participate in this shadow pleasure.
Thus when everything in the material world is annihilated, that spiritual nature remains eternally, and it is the purpose of human life to reach that spiritual sky. Unfortunately, people are not aware of the reality of the spiritual sky. According to Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.5.31), na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum: people do not know their self-interest. They do not know that human life is meant for understanding spiritual reality and preparing oneself to be transferred to that reality. No one can remain here in this material world. All Vedic literatures instruct us in this way. Tamasi ma jyotir gama: "Don't remain in this darkness. Go to the light." According to the Fifteenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita (15.6),
na tad bhasayate suryo
na sasanko na pavakah
yad gatva na nivartante
tad dhama paramam mama
"That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world." This material world is dark by nature, and we are artificially illuminating it with electric lights, fire, and so on. In any case, its nature is dark, but the spiritual nature is full of light. When the sun is present, there is no darkness; similarly, every planet in the spiritual sky is self-luminous. Therefore there is no darkness, nor is there need of sun, moon, or electricity. The word suryo means "sun," sasanko means "moon," and pavakah means "fire" or "electricity." So these are not required in the spiritual sky for illumination. And again, Krsna herein says, yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama: "That is My supreme abode, and one who reaches it never returns to this material world." This is stated throughout Bhagavad-gita. Again, in this Eighth Chapter (Bg. 8.21),
avyakto 'ksara ity uktas
tam ahuh paramam gatim
yam prapya na nivartante
tad dhama paramam mama
"That supreme abode is called unmanifested and infallible, and it is the supreme destination. When one goes there, he never comes back. That is My supreme abode." Again, the word avyakta, meaning "unmanifest," is used. The word aksara means "that which is never annihilated," or "that which is infallible." This means that since the supreme abode is eternal, it is not subject to the six transformations mentioned previously.
Because we are presently covered by a dress of material senses, we cannot see the spiritual world, and the spiritual nature is inconceivable for us. Yet we can feel that there is something spiritual present. Even a man completely ignorant of the spiritual nature can somehow feel its presence. One need only analyze his body silently: "What am I? Am I this finger? Am I this body? Am I this hair? No, I am not this, and I am not that. I am something other than this body. I am something beyond this body. What is that? That is the spiritual." In this way, we can feel or sense the presence of spirituality within this matter. We can sense the absence of spirit when a body is dead. If we witness someone dying, we can sense that something is leaving the body. Although we do not have the eyes to see it, that something is spirit. Its presence in the body is explained in the very beginning of Bhagavad-gita (2.17):
avinasi tu tad viddhi
yena sarvam idam tatam
na kascit kartum arhati
"Know that which pervades the entire body is indestructible. No one is able to destroy the imperishable soul."
Spiritual existence is eternal, whereas the body is not. It is said that the spiritual atmosphere is avyakta, unmanifest. How, then, can it be manifest for us? Making the unmanifest manifest is this very process of Krsna consciousness. According to Padma Purana,
na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevonmukhe hi jihvadau
svayam eva sphuraty adah
"No one can understand Krsna as He is by the blunt material senses. But He reveals Himself to the devotees, being pleased with them for their transcendental loving service unto Him." In this verse, the word indriyaih means "the senses." We have five senses for gathering knowledge (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin), and five senses for working (voice, hands, legs, genitals, and anus). These ten senses are under the control of the mind. It is stated in this verse that with these dull material senses, we cannot understand Krsna's name, form, and so forth. Why is this? Krsna is completely spiritual, and He is also absolute. Therefore His name, form, qualities, and paraphernalia are also spiritual. Due to material conditioning, or material bondage, we cannot presently understand what is spiritual, but this ignorance can be removed by chanting Hare Krsna. If a man is sleeping, he can be awakened by sound vibration. You can call him, "Come on, it's time to get up!" Although the person is unconscious, hearing is so prominent that even a sleeping man can be awakened by sound vibration. Similarly, overpowered by this material conditioning, our spiritual consciousness is presently sleeping, but it can be revived by this transcendental vibration of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. As stated before, Hare refers to the energy of the Lord, and Krsna and Rama refer to the Lord Himself. Therefore, when we chant Hare Krsna, we are praying, "O Lord, O energy of the Lord, please accept me." We have no other prayer than "Please accept me." Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught us that we should simply cry and pray that the Lord accept us. As Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself prayed,
ayi nanda-tanuja kinkaram
patitam mam visame bhavambudhau
krpaya tava pada-pankaja-
"O Krsna, son of Nanda, somehow or other I have fallen into this ocean of nescience and ignorance. Please pick me up and place me as one of the atoms at Your lotus feet." If a man has fallen into the ocean, his only hope for survival is that someone comes to pick him up. He only has to be lifted one inch above the water in order to feel immediate relief. Similarly, as soon as we take to Krsna consciousness, we are lifted up, and we feel immediate relief.
We cannot doubt that the transcendental is there. Bhagavad-gita is being spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself; therefore we should not doubt His word. The only problem is feeling and understanding what He is telling us. That understanding must be developed gradually, and that knowledge will be revealed by the chanting of Hare Krsna. By this simple process, we can come to understand the spiritual kingdom, the self, the material world, God, the nature of our conditioning, liberation from material bondage, and everything else. This is called ceto-darpana-marjanam, cleaning the dusty mirror of the impure mind.
Whatever the case, we must have faith in the word of Krsna. When we purchase a ticket on Pan American or Air India, we have faith that that company will take us to our destination. Faith is created because the company is authorized. Our faith should not be blind; therefore we should accept that which is recognized. Bhagavad-gita has been recognized as authorized scripture in India for thousands of years, and even outside India there are many scholars, religionists, and philosophers who have accepted Bhagavad-gita as authoritative. It is said that even such a great scientist as Albert Einstein was reading Bhagavad-gita regularly. So we should not doubt Bhagavad-gita's authenticity.
Therefore when Lord Krsna says that there is a supreme abode and that we can go there, we should have faith that such an abode exists. Many philosophers think that the spiritual abode is impersonal or void. Impersonalists like the Sankarites and Buddhists generally speak of the void or emptiness, but Bhagavad-gita does not disappoint us in this way. The philosophy of voidism has simply created atheism, because it is the nature of the living entity to want enjoyment. As soon as he thinks that his future is void, he will try to enjoy the variegatedness of this material life. Thus impersonalism leads to armchair philosophical discussions and attachment to material enjoyment. We may enjoy speculating, but no real spiritual benefit can be derived from such speculation.
Bhaktih paresanubhavo viraktir anyatra ca (Bhag. 11.2.42). Once we have developed the devotional spirit, we will become immediately detached from all kinds of material enjoyment. As soon as a hungry man eats, he feels immediate satisfaction and says, "No, I don't want any more. I am satisfied." This satisfaction is a characteristic of the Krsna conscious man.
na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu
mad-bhaktim labhate param
"One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me." (Bg. 18.54)
As soon as one is spiritually realized, he feels full satisfaction and no longer hankers after flickering material enjoyment. As stated in the Second Chapter of Bhagavad-gita (2.59),
rasa-varjam raso 'py asya
param drstva nivartate
"The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness." A doctor may tell a diseased man, "Don't eat this. Don't eat that. Don't have sex. Don't. Don't." In this way, a diseased man is forced to accept so many "don'ts," but inside he is thinking, "Oh, if I can just get these things, I'll be happy." The desires remain inside. However, when one is established in Krsna consciousness, he is so strong inside that he doesn't experience the desire. Although he's not impotent, he doesn't want sex. He can marry thrice, but still be detached. Param drstva nivartate. When something superior is acquired, one naturally gives up all inferior things. That which is superior is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and atheism and impersonalism cannot give us this. He is attained only by unalloyed devotion.
purusah sa parah partha
bhaktya labhyas tv ananyaya
yena sarvam idam tatam
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is greater than all, is attained by unalloyed devotion. Although He is present in His abode, He is all-pervading, and everything is situated within Him." (Bg. 8.22) The words purusah sa parah indicate the supreme person who is greater than all others. This is not a void speaking, but a person who has all the characteristics of personality in full. Just as we are talking face to face, when we reach the supreme abode we can talk to God face to face. We can play with Him, eat with Him, and everything else. This state is not acquired by mental speculation but by transcendental loving service (bhaktya labhyah). The words tv ananyaya indicate that this bhakti must be without adulteration. It must be unalloyed.
Although the Supreme Personality is a person and is present in His abode in the spiritual sky, He is so widespread that everything is within Him. He is both inside and outside. Although God is everywhere, He still has His kingdom, His abode. The sun may pervade the universe with its sunshine, yet the sun itself is a separate entity.
In His supreme abode, the Supreme Lord has no rival. Wherever we may be, we find a predominating personality. In the United States, the predominating personality is the President. However, when the next election comes, the President will have so many rivals, but in the spiritual sky the Supreme Lord has no rival. Those who want to become rivals are placed in this material world, under the conditions of material nature. In the spiritual sky there is no rivalry, and all the inhabitants therein are liberated souls. From Srimad-Bhagavatam we receive information that their bodily features resemble gods. In some of the spiritual planets, God manifests a two-armed form, and in others He manifests a four-armed form. The living entities of those planets have corresponding features, and one cannot distinguish who is God and who is not. This is called sarupya-mukti liberation, wherein one has the same features as the Lord. There are five kinds of liberation: sayujya, sarupya, salokya, sarsti, and samipya. Sayujya-mukti means merging into God's impersonal effulgence, the brahmajyoti. We have discussed this, and have concluded that the attempt to merge and lose individuality is not desirable and is very risky. Sarupya-mukti means attaining a body exactly like God's. Salokya-mukti means living on the same planet with God. Sarsti-mukti means having the opulence of God. For instance, God is very powerful, and we can become powerful like Him. That is called sarsti. Samipya-mukti means always remaining with God as one of His associates. For instance, Arjuna is always with Krsna as His friend, and this is called samipya-mukti. We can attain any one of these five types of liberation, but out of these five, sayujya-mukti, merging into the brahmajyoti, is rejected by Vaisnava philosophy. According to the Vaisnava philosophy, we worship God as He is and retain our separate identity eternally in order to serve Him. According to the Mayavada philosophy, impersonalism, one tries to lose his individual identity and merge into the existence of the Supreme. That, however, is a suicidal policy and is not recommended by Krsna in Bhagavad-gita.
This has also been rejected by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who advocated worship in separation. As stated before, the pure devotee does not even want liberation; he simply asks to remain Krsna's devotee birth after birth. This is Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu's prayer, and the words "birth after birth" indicate that there is no liberation. This means that the devotee doesn't care whether he is liberated or not. He simply wants to engage in Krsna consciousness, to serve the Supreme Lord. Always wanting to engage in God's transcendental loving service is the symptom of pure devotion. Of course, wherever a devotee is, he remains in the spiritual kingdom, even though in the material body. On his part, he does not demand any of the five types of liberation, nor anything for his personal superiority or comfort. But in order to associate with God in the spiritual planets, one must become His pure devotee.
For those who are not pure devotees, Lord Krsna explains at what times one should leave the body in order to attain liberation.
yatra kale tv anavrttim
avrttim caiva yoginah
prayata yanti tam kalam
"O best of the Bharatas, I shall now explain to you the different times at which, passing away from this world, one does or does not come back." (Bg. 8.23) In India, unlike in the West, it is common for astrologers to make minute calculations of the astronomical situation at the moment of one's birth. Indeed, a person's horoscope is read not only when he is born but also when he dies, in order to determine what his situation will be in the next life. All this can be determined by astrological calculation. In this verse, Lord Krsna is accepting those astrological principles, confirming that if one leaves his body at a particular time, he may attain liberation. If one dies at one moment, he may be liberated, or if he dies at another moment, he may have to return to the material world. It is all a question of "chance," but that chance someway or other is what one has. For the devotee, however, there is no question of chance. Whatever the astrological situation, the devotee in Krsna consciousness is guaranteed liberation. For others, there are chances that if they leave their body at a particular moment, they may attain liberation and enter the spiritual kingdom, or they may be reborn.
agnir jyotir ahah suklah
tatra prayata gacchanti
brahma brahma-vido janah
"Those who know the Supreme Brahman pass away from the world during the influence of the fiery god, in the light, at an auspicious moment, during the fortnight of the moon and the six months when the sun travels in the north." (Bg. 8.24) As we all know, the sun's movements are different: six months it is north of the equator, and six months it is south. The sun is also moving, according to Vedic calculations, and from Srimad-Bhagavatam we are informed that the sun is situated at the center of the universe. Just as all the planets are moving, the sun is also moving at a speed calculated to be sixteen thousand miles per second. If a person dies when the sun is in the northern hemisphere, he can attain liberation. That is not only the verdict of Bhagavad-gita, but also of other scriptures.
dhumo ratris tatha krsnah
tatra candramasam jyotir
yogi prapya nivartate
"The mystic who passes away from this world during the smoke, the night, the moonless fortnight, or in the six months when the sun passes to the south, or who reaches the moon planet, again comes back." (Bg. 8.25) No one can say when he is going to die, and in that sense the moment of one's death is accidental. However, for a devotee in Krsna consciousness, there is no question of "accidents."
sukla-krsne gati hy ete
jagatah sasvate mate
ekaya yaty anavrttim
"According to the Vedas, there are two ways of passing from this world--one in light and one in darkness. When one passes in light, he does not come back; but when one passes in darkness, he returns." (Bg. 8.26) The same description of departure and return is quoted by Acarya Baladeva Vidyabhusana from the Chandogya Upanisad. In such a way, those who are fruitive laborers and philosophical speculators from time immemorial are constantly going and coming. Actually they do not attain ultimate salvation, for they do not surrender to Krsna.
naite srti partha janan
yogi muhyati kascana
tasmat sarvesu kalesu
"The devotees who know these two paths, O Arjuna, are never bewildered. Therefore be always fixed in devotion." (Bg. 8.27) Herein the Lord confirms that there is no "chance" for one who practices bhakti-yoga. His destination is certain. Whether he dies when the sun is in the northern or southern hemisphere is of no importance. As we have already stated, if one thinks of Krsna at the time of death, he will at once be transferred to Krsna's abode. Therefore Krsna tells Arjuna to always remain in Krsna consciousness. This is possible through the chanting of Hare Krsna. Since Krsna and His spiritual kingdom are nondifferent, being absolute, Krsna and His sound vibration are the same. Simply by vibrating Krsna's name, we can enjoy Krsna's association. If we are walking down the street chanting Hare Krsna, Krsna is also going with us. If we walk down the street and look up at the sky, we may see that the sun or the moon is accompanying us. I can recall about fifty years ago, when I was a householder, my second son, who was about four years old at the time, was walking with me down the street, and he suddenly asked me, "Father, why is the moon going with us?"
If a material object like the moon has the power to accompany us, we can surely understand that the Supreme Lord, who is all-powerful, can always remain with us. Being omnipotent, He can always keep us company, provided that we are also qualified to keep His company. Pure devotees are always merged in the thought of Krsna and are always remembering that Krsna is with them. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu has confirmed the absolute nature of Krsna in His Siksastaka (verse 2):
namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-saktis
tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalah
etadrsi tava krpa bhagavan mamapi
durdaivam idrsam ihajani nanuragah
"My Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, in Your holy name there is all good fortune for the living entity, and therefore You have many names, such as Krsna and Govinda, by which You expand Yourself. You have invested all Your potencies in those names, and there are no hard-and-fast rules for remembering them. My dear Lord, although You bestow such mercy upon the fallen, conditioned souls by liberally teaching Your holy names, I am so unfortunate that I commit offenses while chanting the holy name, and therefore I do not achieve attachment for chanting."
We may take the effort to spend a great deal of money and attempt to build or establish a temple for Krsna, but if we do so we must observe many rules and regulations and see properly to the temple's management. But herein it is confirmed that simply by chanting, any man can have the benefit of keeping company with Krsna. Just as Arjuna is deriving benefit by being in the same chariot with Lord Sri Krsna, we can also benefit by associating with Krsna through the chanting of His holy names--Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This maha-mantra is not my personal concoction but is authorized by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is considered to be not only an authority but the incarnation of Lord Sri Krsna Himself. It was Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu who said, "O Lord, You are so kind to the people of this material world that You expand Yourself in Your holy name so that they can associate with You."
Although the maha-mantra is in the Sanskrit language and many people do not know its meaning, it is still so attractive that people participate when it is chanted publicly. When chanting the maha-mantra, we are completely safe, even in this most dangerous position. We should always be aware that in this material world, we are always in a dangerous position. Srimad-Bhagavatam confirms: padam padam yad vipadam na tesam. In this world, there is danger at every step. The devotees of the Lord, however, are not meant to remain in this miserable, dangerous place. Therefore we should take care to advance in Krsna consciousness while in this human form. Then our happiness is assured.
N98:RTW 5.1 The Highest Use of Intelligence books
The cycle of four yugas, or millenniums--namely, Satya, Treta, Dvapara, and Kali--goes around a thousand times in one day of Lord Brahma. The Bhagavad-gita (8.17) confirms this: sahasra-yuga-paryantam ahar yad brahmano viduh. "By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together form the duration of Brahma's one day." According to the Vedic calculation, one day of Brahma sees the coming and going of fourteen Manus. Therefore, each Manu lives for seventy-one cycles of the four millenniums. At present we are in the period of Vaivasvata Manu, in the twenty-eighth cycle of the four millenniums, and it is the Kali-yuga. This Kali-yuga is very special, however, because Lord Caitanya appears in this age in His original form and propagates the esoteric science of pure love of Godhead. All this we learn from the scriptures. We have great expectations that this science of pure love of Godhead will be propagated world-wide in the immediate future.
During the Satya-yuga the mode of goodness is in abundance. Or one can say that when the quality of goodness increases in a person to the extent that he becomes situated in his original constitutional identity as a servant of the Lord, thus making his human life a complete success, at that time he enjoys the bliss and tranquillity of the Satya-yuga. The three modes--goodness, passion, and ignorance--are always present in this material nature. According to the predominance of a particular mode, the yugas change from Satya to Treta to Dvapara to Kali. The jivas in Kali-yuga are predominantly in the mode of ignorance, and with with the increase of this mode the threefold material miseries expand unlimitedly. Thus people today are afflicted by a short life-span, ill luck, warped intelligence, lethargy, disease, and many other sufferings.
Still, there is no reason to despise this age, for the most munificent incarnation of Godhead, Lord Caitanya, has appeared in Kali-yuga to shower His kindness upon the afflicted souls. The extent of the Supreme Lord's mercy is decidedly more generous in this age than in any other. In his play entitled Vidagdha-madhava, Srila Rupa Gosvami has described Lord Caitanya in this way:
anarpita-carim cirat karunayavatirnah kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasam sva-bhakti-sriyam
sada hrdaya-kandare sphuratu vah saci-nandana
May that Lord who is known as the son of Srimati Sacidevi be transcendentally situated in the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has descended in the Age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation ever offered before: the most sublime and radiant spiritual knowledge of the mellow taste of His service.
The present Kali-yuga is therefore very auspicious, for in this age one can attain the treasure of devotional service to the Lord that He Himself propagated. Our hope rests fully with the Lord's surrendered devotees, who are endowed with perfect knowledge of how to disseminate this transcendental science. Srila Sukadeva Gosvami, after describing the evil aspects of Kali-yuga, sums up this subject toward the very end of the Srimad-Bhagavatam (12.3.51-52):
kaler dosa-nidhe rajann
asti hy eko mahan gunah
kirtanad eva krsnasya
mukta-sangah param vrajet
krte yad dhyayato visnum
tretayam yajato makhaih
kalau tad dhari-kirtanat
My dear king, although Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: Simply by chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom. Whatever result was obtained in Satya-yuga by meditating on Visnu, in Treta-yuga by performing sacrifices, and Dvapara-yuga by serving the Lord's lotus feet can be obtained in the Kali-yuga simply by chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra.
The word hari-kirtana used in these verses, which means "singing or chanting the glories of Krsna," could very well apply to the Bhagavad-gita, the song sung by God Himself. The promulgation of the Bhagavad-gita's knowledge on a world-wide scale will establish a foundation upon which the edifice of the science of love of God will be constructed. This edifice will be the repository of the sublime treasure of devotional service as taught by Lord Caitanya in Kali-yuga, and it will serve as a shining monument to the transcendental endeavors of the Lord's pure devotees.
At present only a small portion of the knowledge contained in the Vedas, Vedanta-sutra, and Upanisads is available to the general populace. What is noteworthy, however, is that the essence of all Vedic knowledge is available in the Gitopanisad, popularly known as the Bhagavad-gita. Lord Krsna milked the cow of the Upanisads, and Arjuna drank the milk thus obtained--the Bhagavad-gita. If Arjuna found time to hear the Bhagavad-gita in the middle of a battlefield at Kuruksetra, then what urgent business is stopping us from hearing the Gita? When knowledge of the Gita spreads, then everyone will easily be able to attain the platform of yoga. And as the pure devotees of the Lord become successful in their efforts to use their spiritual intelligence in the Lord's service, then the science of love of God taught by Lord Caitanya, the most magnanimous incarnation of Godhead, will be distributed everywhere. Judging from all the symptoms, the time is now ripe. Indians should now take shelter of their saintly preceptors, the pure devotees, and unitedly propagate the glorification of Krsna via the medium of the Bhagavad-gita. In this way the world will become prosperous and perfect. The present age has seen interest in spiritual matters markedly increase. Yoga and meditation societies have mushroomed expressly to transmit the knowledge of the Bhagavad-gita, but how this will be accomplished is still a question. We are confident that Lord Caitanya's teachings on the process of loving devotional service will easily harmonize all conflicting concepts.
The most effective method for directing humanity toward a positive and favorable consciousness is available in India. Any person, under any circumstances, can reach an elevated state of consciousness by properly hearing the Bhagavad-gita, and then, by constantly chanting the name of God, he can win God over. The present state of world affairs is full of foreboding, strife, and struggle. These are the effects of Kali-yuga. But our faith in the eternal nature of jiva prompts us to believe that anyone can attain devotional service to Krsna simply by hearing and chanting His name and thereby awakening his inherent dormant love for Him. We have full faith in the words of Srila Sukadeva Gosvami quoted above from the Srimad-Bhagavatam--that simply by chanting the name of Krsna one can reach His eternal kingdom.
Therefore all signs point toward auspicious changes in the global consciousness. But these changes must be initiated from within every individual's heart; they are impossible to accomplish through political lobbying or social adjustments. The devotional feelings that reach out from within the hearts of men find their culmination in the pure devotees' spiritual perfection. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna describes this spiritual perfection as bhakti-yoga, or buddhi-yoga, the yoga of devotional service. At a certain stage, all the systems of yoga become obsolete and have to be discarded--except for buddhi-yoga. The Lord says (Bhagavad-gita 2.39-40) that a little progress on this path gives immense results:
esa te 'bhihita sankhye
buddhir yoge tv imam srnu
buddhya yukto yaya partha
pratyavayo na vidyate
sv-alpam apy asya dharmasya
trayate mahato bhayat
Thus far I have described this knowledge to you through analytical study. Now listen as I explain it in terms of working without fruitive results. O son of Prtha, when you act in such knowledge you can free yourself from the bondage of works. In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.
Real yoga is buddhi-yoga, the yoga of devotional service, which brings about direct perception of the Supreme Lord. When the devotee meets the Lord face to face, liberation takes the form of a woman and is at his beck and call, eager to serve him, and she is accompanied by personified material opulence, sense pleasure, and religiosity, all of whom wait upon the devotee like servants. The pure devotees of the Lord are all embodiments of perfection in yoga; thus the four Vedic goals are truly at their beck and call. And beyond these four goals is the supreme destination: superconsciousness, or God consciousness. This is the fifth and paramount Vedic goal. One who has reached the state of unalloyed Krsna consciousness is an extremely rare personality--one in a million devotees, according Lord Caitanya.
Such an elevated state of consciousness is the last word in yoga. None of the other yoga processes, such as hatha-yoga or raja-yoga, can bring one to this platform. Buddhi-yoga lies far above these yoga practices, which are mostly physical disciplines. Buddhi-yoga, however, is a spiritual discipline for self-realization. This realization is a full perception of the nondual Absolute Truth, whereby one sees everything resting in the Supreme Lord and the Supreme Lord in everything. As Lord Krsna explains in the Bhagavad-gita (7.7):
mattah parataram nanyat
kincid asti dhananjaya
mayi sarvam idam protam
sutre mani-gana iva
O conquerer of wealth, there is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.
This means that every living entity, from demons to demigods to human beings to lower creatures, is fully dependent on the Supreme Lord. One who perceives the Absolute Truth in this way can wholeheartedly surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The vision of a pure devotee is described by Lord Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita (15.19-20):
yo mam evam asammudho
sa sarva-vid bhajati mam
iti guhyatamam sastram
idam uktam mayanagha
etad buddhva buddhiman syat
krta-krtyas ca bharata
Whoever knows Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, without doubting, is the knower of everything. He therefore engages himself in full devotional service to Me, O son of Bharata. This is the most confidential part of the Vedic scriptures, O sinless one, and it is disclosed now by Me. Whoever understands this will become wise, and his endeavors will know perfection.
Once a person surrenders fully to the Lord's lotus feet, he sees the Lord's from everywhere, not this world of moving and nonmoving matter. Such surrender has six limbs:
goptrtve varanam tatha
The six divisions of surrender are the acceptance of those things favorable to devotional service, the rejection of unfavorable things, the conviction that Krsna will give protection, the acceptance of the Lord as one's guardian or master, full surrender, and humility.
The relationship between the Supreme Lord and His surrendered devotee is very intimate. Everything about the devotee is known to the Lord. The devotee has no separate interest that would involve him in speculative knowledge, fruitive activities, sense pleasures, lamentation, meditation, and so on. He simply engages full-time in serving the Supreme Lord. His consciousness becomes purified of all contamination, and the fire of conditioned life is put out. Duality and illusion is eradicated from his heart, his devotion to Lord Krsna becomes single-minded, and He throws himself at the Lord's lotus feet, feeling like a sold-out animal. At this stage the Supreme Lord Himself imparts all spiritual knowledge, or buddhi-yoga, to the devotee so that he can attain Him:
dadami buddhi-yogam tam
yena mam upayanti te
aham ajnana-jam tamah
To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me. To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance. (Bhagavad-gita 10.10-11)
When the devotee adopts such a mood of surrender and complete dependence, everything easily happens by the Lord's desire. Even if the process of surrender somehow remains incomplete, the devotee achieves the ends attainable through other yogic practices. As the Lord says, "A little advancement on this path protects one from the most dangerous type of fear." In other words, the Supreme Lord personally intervenes and arranges for His surrendered devotee's success in spiritual life. Is there any doubt that once the Lord's divine energy is active, all our artificial endeavors are most insignificant and futile? The Lord's inconceivable potency that descends to bless us with spiritual perfection shows the magnitude and glory of His potencies. Certainly there are other methods for spiritual advancement, such as raja-yoga, by which one can become equipoised, or difficult pranayama exercises, severe austerities, and renunciation, and these practices are very powerful. But when the Lord's divine potency acts, they all seem extremely ineffectual compared to the process of surrender, which invokes that potency. All these other methods, though very potent, are human endeavors. So how can they compare with the Supreme Lord's divine potency? With this divine potency the Lord blesses particular persons in particular circumstances.
The first limb of surrender is to accept that which helps us invoke the Lord's mercy. This means to completely depend on the Lord's will. Such surrender is free from any conditions. It is untinged by the desire for sense pleasure, liberation, or mystic perfections. The devotee, unlike others, is never in anxiety. His only concern is to execute the will of the Lord. In this connection, Srila Vyasadeva says,
If a surrendered soul tries to arrange for food and shelter but does not succeed, or if, once having these things, he loses them, then despite such reverses he remains unperturbed and simply remembers the Supreme Lord, Hari.
It is true that when one prays sincerely at the Lord's lotus feet, the Lord generally fulfills one's wishes. But those who have completely surrendered to the Lord, throwing themselves at the His lotus feet, do not pray to the Him for anything material. Yet the Lord automatically provides for all their needs. As Lord Krsna assures us in the Gita (9.22):
ananyas cintayanto mam
ye janah paryupasate
yoga-ksemam vahamy aham
But those who worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form--to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have.
The single-minded devotees are surrendered souls. They can perceive how the Lord's potencies are working. They feel no anxiety if sometimes the Lord's mercy does not manifest, even after long pleading and prayers, for they have unflinching conviction that the Lord will protect them under all circumstances. The mood of the present age is not spiritually conducive, and hence it is difficult to develop a high degree of faith in the Lord. Still, it is certain that faith in the Lord never goes in vain. In the beginning we may be somewhat hesitant to accept this fact, but in time we come to understand that the Supreme Lord is always protecting us.
At times, when doubts and restlessness assail us, we must remain fixed in our resolve. The best remedy for doubts is to seek the association of saintly persons. Saintly souls who are learned in the conclusions of the revealed scriptures and have realized the Supreme Lord can dissipate our doubts and calm our restless mind with unequivocal instructions and exemplary actions. When Krsna conscious topics, which are both very potent and nectarean to the ears and heart, are heard and discussed in the association of saints, then faith in the Supreme Lord gradually increases, along with attraction and devotion to Him. Faith inspires initial surrender, and later, by the powerful influence of saintly association, one's faith deepens and becomes steady. Once faith becomes steady, all mental agitations and doubts clear up due to constant worship of the Lord. One then practices bhajana (chanting meditation) of a very esoteric and elevated nature, and this leads one to the stage of love of Godhead. To attain this state, saintly association is imperative; there is no substitute. Therefore it is said:
'sadhu-sanga', 'sadhu-sanga'--sarva-sastre kaya
lava-matra sadhu-sange sarva-siddhi haya
The verdict of all revealed scriptures is that by even a moment's association with a pure devotee, one can attain all success. (Cc. Madhya 22.54)
And how the Lord feels about sadhus is revealed by the Lord Himself in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (9.4.68):
sadhavo hrdayam mahyam
sadhunam hrdayam tv aham
mad-anyat te na jananti
naham tebhyo manag api
The pure devotee is always within the core of My heart, and I am always in the heart of the pure devotee. My devotees do not know anything else but Me, and I do not know anyone else but them.
The Lord always resides in the heart of His pure devotees, and so they have the potency to purify the places of pilgrimage, which become heavily laden with the sins deposited there by all the pilgrims. These are some of the glories of the Lord's pure, surrendered devotees.
Lord Krsna says In the Bhagavad-gita (18.58), mac-cittah sarva-durgani mat-prasadat tarisyasi: "If you become conscious of Me, you will pass over all the obstacles of conditioned life by My grace." Therefore fruitive activity, the search for empirical knowledge, and mystic yoga all culminate in surrender to the Supreme Lord. As Lord Krsna says in the Gita (18.66):
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah
Abandon all varieties of religion and surrender unto Me. I will deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.
When the Supreme Lord has agreed to personally take responsibility for our protection, what is there to fear? When He who is omnipotent and the maintainer of the entire cosmic creation is willing to take charge of our life, then what objection can we have to surrendering to Him? If I am guaranteed the protection of the Supreme Personality, who creates, maintains, and destroys this limitless cosmic manifestation simply by His will, then what is left for me to desire? If we try in the proper way to realize the Supreme Lord's potencies, He will certainly reveal them to us as they are. How much can we accomplish with our puny physical and mental abilities? Real success in yoga comes only by fully surrendering to His lotus feet.
However, since it is not possible to attain such a mood of complete surrender in a moment, we should also not expect the Lord's mercy to manifest before us instantaneously. Although the Lord, and sometimes even His devotees, perform miracles, still we must not expect such extraordinary things to happen to us. Of course, it is certain that the degree of mercy the Lord bestows upon us is much greater than our degree of surrender to Him. Another danger is this: If we were to receive all His mercy at once, we would become corrupt and fallen, like many yogis who attain mystic perfection. Better that we continue to perform our duties in a regulated way, with patience and enthusiasm; then undoubtedly we will receive the Lord's full mercy.
Both the Vedas and the Srimad-Bhagavatam describe the conditioned soul with the same analogy: On the tree-like human body reside two similar birds. One is the Supreme Soul, the Paramatma feature of the Supreme Lord, and the other is the jiva soul. One bird, the jiva, is enjoying the fruits of material existence, while the other remains aloof, replete with all His transcendental potencies. The jiva soul must surrender to the Supreme Soul and relish the fruits given to him by the Lord.
The Lord says that His external potency--Maha-maya, or Kali--serves Him in the form of the internal, spiritual potency. The jiva must allow this spiritual potency to influence him freely, without interference from the false ego, which makes the him think he is the doer. Thus surrendering to the Lord is the method prescribed to reach the highest stages of devotional service.
The Svetasvatara Upanisad says, parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate: "The Supreme Lord's potencies are multifarious." These potencies act in different capacities at different levels: On the platform of jnana, empirical knowledge, they manifest in a particular way, different from any other. On the spiritual, transcendental platform, these potencies produce variegated spiritual manifestations. These potencies can be known if one attains perfection in Krsna consciousness. On the platform of material nature, the senses are superior to the body as a whole, mind is superior to the senses, the intelligence is superior to the mind, and the soul is subtler and better than the intelligence. On the spiritual platform, when the pure soul is situated in his original spiritual identity, he renders devotional service to the absolute embodiment of sweet transcendence, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This devotional service is imbued with the partial expansion of hladini-sakti, the Lord's pleasure-giving potency.
Great thinkers and philosophers like Sri Aurobindo describe this stage as vijnanananda, "the pure bliss of realized knowledge." Jesus Christ called it "the kingdom of heaven." By contrast, when one tries to enjoy mundane pleasures on the material plane, spiritual bliss becomes smothered and lies dormant, in a slumbering state. Perfection in yoga, therefore, is marked by the awakening of spiritual bliss. And when one is strongly drawn to this blissful state, one attains to the transcendental abode of the Supreme Lord. Iron in constant touch with fire develops the properties of fire. Similarly, when the jiva in the material nature rises to the state of spiritual bliss by means of devotional service, his spiritual consciousness awakens and he becomes oblivious of this phenomenal world. In the Bhagavad-gita (12.8-9) Lord Krsna tells us how to increase the influence of His spiritual energy upon us:
mayy eva mana adhatsva
mayi buddhim nivesaya
nivasisyasi mayy eva
ata urdhvam na samsayah
atha cittam samadhatum
na saknosi mayi sthiram
mam icchaptum dhananjaya
Just fix your mind upon Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and engage all your intelligence in Me. Thus you will live in Me always, without a doubt. My dear Arjuna, O winner of wealth, if you cannot fix your mind upon Me without deviation, then follow the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga. In this way you will develop a desire to attain Me.
When a person fixes his mind on the eternal, exquisite form of Syamasundara, the blackish, beautiful Lord Krsna, all distress and anguish are vanquished. In the initial stages, the attempt to fix the mind on Krsna may be unsuccessful, but with regulated practice (abhyasa-yoga) it becomes possible. Abhyasa-yoga means sincere engagement in the ninefold process of bhakti, beginning with hearing and chanting the holy name, pastimes, and so on, of Lord Krsna. Proper execution of abhyasa-yoga culminates in the awakening of divine consciousness, or superconsciousness. This is true success.
The modern sage Sri Aurobindo has explained that in the third stage of yoga practice, the yogi sees God everywhere. In the process of jnana-yoga, or the cultivation of empirical knowledge, when the yogi attains impersonal Brahman realization he sees Brahman as all-pervasive and inactive. This realization is bereft of any understanding of the Lord's name, form, qualities, pastimes, or paraphernalia. But if these transcendental topics arrest our attention, one very soon begins following the path of bhakti-yoga--the path enunciated in the Vedas, Upanisads, and Bhagavad-gita. A transformation of vision takes place as one advances on this path. The rare soul who perfects this process can see the Supreme Lord in everything and everything in relation to the Supreme Lord. Quotes from various scriptures substantiate this point: In the Bhagavad-gita the Lord says, vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma sudurlabhah: [Bg. 7.19] "[The surrendered devotee knows] Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare." And the Upanisads state, sarvam khalv idam brahma: "Everything is permeated by Brahman." A person attains the highest stage of this realization when he sees this cosmic creation as a transformation and manifestation of the Supreme Lord's divine energies. Sri Narada instructed Srila Vyasadeva with the following words:
idam hi visvam bhagavan ivetaro
tad dhi svayam veda bhavams tathapi te
pradesa-matram bhavatah pradarsitam
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is Himself this cosmos, and still He is aloof from it. From Him only has this cosmic manifestation emanated, in Him it rests, and unto Him it enters after annihilation. Your good self knows all about this. I have given only a synopsis.
In this stage of realization, the eternal truth is no longer covered by the illusory, mundane pall of impersonal omnipresence, and what shines forth is the absolute spiritual personality. The fullest manifestation of that spiritual personality is Sri Krsna, the transcendental form of eternity, knowledge, and bliss, who is beyond the manifested and unmanifested material cosmos. As the Brahma-samhita explains:
isvarah paramah krsnah
anadir adir govindah
Krsna who is known as Govinda is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body [sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah]. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the prime cause of all causes.
The impersonal Brahman is the transcendental bodily effulgence of the Supreme Lord's sac-cid-ananda form, and the illusory and transitory material nature is a transformation of His separated energy.
Although the sac-cid-ananda Supreme Personality is a permanent resident of His own eternal abode, Goloka Vrndavana, He manifests Himself in His all-pervasive universal form and is present throughout this cosmic creation by means of His partial expansion, the Supersoul. As the Brahma-samhita (5.37 and 43) states,
tabhir ya eva nija-rupataya kalabhih
goloka eva nivasaty akhilatma-bhuto
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
goloka-namni nija-dhamni tale ca tasya
devi-mahesa-hari-dhamasu tesu tesu
te te prabhava-nicaya vihitas ca yena
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, residing in His own realm, Goloka, with Radha, resembling His own spiritual figure, the embodiment of the ecstatic potency possessed of the sixty-four artistic activities, in the company of Her confidantes [sakhis], embodiments of the extensions of Her bodily form, permeated and vitalized by His ever-blissful spiritual rasa.
Lowest of all is located Devi-dhama [mundane world], next above it is Mahesa-dhama [abode of Mahesa]; above Mahesa-dhama is placed Hari-dhama [abode of Hari] and above them all is located Krsna's own realm named Goloka. I adore the primeval Lord Govinda, who has allotted their respective authorities to the rulers of those graded realms.
Lord Govinda is the Supreme Personality, unsurpassable, the topmost being, the unlimited Godhead. He is known as Krsna because He attracts everyone by His extraordinary transcendental pastimes. It is therefore unanimously accepted that all His other names and expansions are partial. As the Srimad-Bhagavatam declares, ete camsa-kalah pumsah krsnas tu bhagavan svayam: [SB 1.3.28] "All these incarnations of Godhead are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Sri Krsna is the original Personality of Godhead."
Thus Lord Sri Krsna is the original, beginningless, and supreme Personality of Godhead, and this material universe is simply part of His unlimited energy. We may now reject this material world as illusory, but one day, with Krsna conscious vision, we will see its intimate connection with the Lord. In this stage of spiritual vision we will see material things as objects of neither exploitation nor rejection. Such transcendental vision is attained by the process of buddhi-yoga, or bhakti-yoga. We will then clearly see the truth of the following verse from the Brahma-samhita (5.51):
agnir mahi gaganam ambu marud disas ca
kalas tathatma-manasiti jagat-trayani
yasmad bhavanti vibhavanti visanti yam ca
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
The three worlds are composed of the nine elements, viz., fire, earth, ether, water, air, direction, time, soul, and mind. I adore the primeval Lord Govinda from whom they originate, in whom they exist and into whom they enter at the time of the universal cataclysm.
Once one is fixed in transcendental realization, all distress, lamentation, illusion, fear, and so on, are immediately eradicated. The soul is assailed by these miseries as long as he harbors the delusion that something exists outside of Krsna. Therefore when one is situated in transcendence, one feels happiness even in this world. The mundane conception of life is a product of the three modes of material nature, which affect the mind and senses. But when one's vision is transformed through buddhi-yoga, one sees everything as having a direct link with Krsna. The material elements, such as fire, water, ether, and mind, along with the directions, the soul, and time--everything material and spiritual, personal and impersonal-- all reflect Krsna, the Supreme Being. When one reaches this state of realization, the dualities and illusion of sin and piety, happiness and distress, are dissolved by the ecstatic harmony of transcendence. In one Upanisad there is a statement that once a person experiences the happiness derived from Brahman realization, he no longer has anything to fear. A verse from the Isopanisad (7) conveys a similar mood:
yasmin sarvani bhutany
tatra ko mohah kah soka
One who always sees all living entities as spiritual sparks, in quality one with the Lord, becomes a true knower of things. What, then, can be illusion or anxiety for Him?
Self-realization leads to the understanding that everything is situated in the Supreme Lord. At that time there is no more illusion or lamentation, and everything is wonderfully harmonized. One sees the whole material universe as a manifestation of unity in diversity. On this platform everything is full of happiness, knowledge, and eternity. This is the platform of Brahman realization.
In this realized state, we perceive Lord Narayana's presence not only in all living beings but also in all nonliving things. When the darkness of ignorance cloaking our consciousness is dissipated by the merciful light of knowledge emanating from the spiritual master, we gain spiritual vision and can see that every object is directly linked with the Supreme Lord.
There are various stages of elevation the jiva goes through, which are like different shells (kosas) covering him. They are the coverings of food (anna-maya), life air (prana-maya), mind (mano-maya, or jnana-maya), and transcendental knowledge (vijnana-maya). When the final shell is penetrated, the soul attains pure consciousness, enters the state of complete bliss (ananda-maya), and experiences sac-cid-ananda as universal. First the soul has covered consciousness, then he reaches the stage of budding consciousness, then blossoming consciousness, and finally fully blossomed consciousness. And all the while he experiences a gradual expansion of bliss--but only in relation to Lord Krsna and His devotional service. At the final stage, flowers, fruits, plants, trees, clay--all objects and elements--become spiritualized by being used in Lord Krsna's service. In other words, nothing is seen to be separate from the Lord. As the Isopanisad (1) explains, isavasyam idam sarvam: "Everything animate or inanimate that is within this universe is controlled and owned by the Lord."
To see God everywhere and in every living entity is not the final word in self-realization; one needs to see Him in all events, in every activity, in every thought influencing everyone's life, including one's own. Two things are indispensable for acquiring such a vision: first we must offer the results of all our activities to Lord Krsna, and second, every action we perform must be done exclusively as devotional service to Him. We must constantly meditate on the fact that Lord Krsna is the only enjoyer and proprietor of every action. As the Lord says in the Bhagavad-gita (9.24, 27),
aham hi sarva-yajnanam
bhokta ca prabhur eva ca
na tu mam abhijananti
tattvenatas cyavanti te
yat karosi yad asnasi
yaj juhosi dadasi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya
tat kurusva mad-arpanam
I am the only enjoyer and master of all sacrifices. Therefore, those who do not recognize My true transcendental nature fall down. Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform--do that, O son of Kunti, as an offering to Me.
Considering everything material, some people make a show of renunciation and reject even those things that can be used in the Lord's service. This is futile. All objects in the material world are meant not for our enjoyment or gratification but for the Lord's service. This is the mood of one in transcendental consciousness, or superconsciousness. And all activities performed in this consciousness constitute true renunciation, or yukta-vairagya, as opposed to false renuniciation, or phalgu-vairagya. By instructing Arjuna to act in this way, the Supreme Lord has ordered us to do so as well. It is our duty to execute His instruction. Whatever the result may be, we must be convinced that all such activities are all-auspicious. As the Lord says in the Bhagavad-gita (9.28):
vimukto mam upaisyasi
In this way you will be freed from bondage to work and its auspicious and inauspicious results. With your mind fixed on Me in this principle of renunciation, you will be liberated and come to Me.
Real perfection in yoga comes when we forget our personal demands and determine what service the Lord wants from us. Personal interest must be sacrificed, along with our conceptions of good and bad, right and wrong, necessary and unnecessary, ans so on. We must emulate that great warrior Arjuna and try to find out what service the Supreme Lord wants from us. Such Krsna conscious activities alone will lead us to the full consummation of all our duties, and the results will be all-auspicious. This degree of fixed faith is indispensable to progress. In the Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 22.62), Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja defines this faith:
'sraddha'-sabde--visvasa kahe sudrdha niscaya
krsne bhakti kaile sarva-karma krta haya
By rendering transcendental loving service to Krsna, one automatically performs all subsidiary activities. This confident, firm faith, favorable to the discharge of devotional service, is called sraddha.
We need to accept one fact: The energy of the omnipotent Supreme Lord, which carries out the work of creation, maintenance, and annihilation, is in no respect inferior to our puny potency. Therefore God does not have to consult anyone about His or our difficulties or advantages. The question is, What is our duty? In the Bhagavad-gita (4.16-17) the Lord says,
kim karma kim akarmeti
kavayo 'py atra mohitah
tat te karma pravaksyami
yaj jnatva moksyase 'subhat
Even the intelligent are bewildered in determining what is action and what is inaction. Now I shall explain to you what action is, knowing which you shall be liberated from all misfortune. The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one should know what action is, what forbidden action is, and what inaction is.
The confidential truth about what constitutes good action is almost impenetrable. Some hold that good action consists of executing one's social responsibilities. This is what common men generally understand by good action. But a few verses after the ones quoted above, Lord Krsna uses the phrase brahma-karma to describe good action, and the word brahma points to Brahman. Therefore some say work done on the platform of Brahman is good action. Others say that good action includes works beneficial for the self, the society, the nation, and humanity at large. When a person acts with such lofty intentions, he is surely known as a good man. Indeed, his actions are certainly noble compared with those of persons with warped mentalities. This kind of action is not buddhi-yoga, however, because such philanthropic works can at best replace one set of people's mundane desires with a new set, but they can never completely root out these unwanted desires from within the heart. Philanthropic activities cannot prepare us for unalloyed devotional service, which is uncontaminated by empirical knowledge and fruitive action.
Individual material cravings are less harmful to the world than mass movements for sense gratification. If the material desires of an individual are unfulfilled, he certainly becomes depressed, but when the mass of people remain dissatisfied, the distress is much greater and gives rise to social conflict. In any case, mundane yearnings bring suffering, both individual or collective. Even if a person starts out not intending enjoy the fruits of his actions, once those fruits come he is forced to enjoy them because he thinks of himself as the doer, influenced as he is by the three modes nature--goodness, passion, and ignorance. These fruits are not without the bitter seeds of anxiety, entanglement, frustration, and disruption. Therefore, neither the execution of social responsibilities nor philanthropic work is ultimately good action. Devotional service to the Supreme Lord, which is beyond the three modes, must be accepted as the only good action.
The noble Arjuna thoroughly analyzed what was good and bad, what was his duty and not his duty, and decided not to take up arms to fight. Then Lord Krsna, understanding that Arjuna was motivated by self-gratificatory social sentiments and sheer selfish interests, gave him two kinds of instructions: The first dealt with the process by which the conditioned jiva attains liberation; the second taught Arjuna how the liberated soul can surrender to the Lord and render pure devotional service. Authorized scriptures like Bhagavad-gita contain the transcendental teachings of the Lord Himself or of self-realized personalities. These scriptures are free from the four human frailties, that is, illusion, mistakes, limited senses, and the cheating propensity. Thus the scriptural injunctions have always remained pristine, despite childish attempts by imperfect men to distort them. Such scriptural instructions not only teach self-control and the elevation of consciousness, but they also help rid us of false ego, bring us to the stage of goodness, and offer us ultimate liberation.
Uncorrupted by any kind of discrepancy or mistake, the Vedas out as the most ancient religious texts in the world. Every human being has a right to follow their edicts, along with the instructions contained in other books of Vedic literature. The Vedic literature consists of the sruti (the Vedas and Upanisads) and the smrti (the Vedanta-sutra, the Puranas, Itihasas like the Mahabharata and Ramayana, the Pancaratras, and finally the Srimad-Bhagavatam). The Srimad-Bhagavatam is the natural commentary on the Vedanta-sutra and offers solid education on how to conduct life perfectly. In recent ages the smrti texts have become prominent and influenced human thought and action. All these scriptures fully support the varnasrama system of four social and four religious orders. But what is today being labeled varnasrama is an atheistic concept totally unsupported by the scriptures. Real varnasrama is based not on birth but on people's qualities and activities. One cannot reach the goal of the scriptures by practicing today's demoniac caste system. Only the introduction of daivi-varnasrama, the transcendental varnasrama system, will serve the purpose of the scriptures. This will move humanity toward liberation.
It is not at all difficult to compromise the real purport of the magnificent scriptural edicts by selfish motivations and a cheating mentality. When this happens, people aspire for show-bottle religiosity, material gain, sense enjoyment, and impersonal liberation. On the other hand, sincere observance of the scriptural injunctions leads to all-round success in life.
It is not enough to take only the first steps toward liberation. We must strive to reach the final goal within this very life-time. To achieve this end, it is imperative that we approach a spiritual master well-versed in the Vedas and take instruction from him on how to follow the scriptural rules. These rules are meant for the conditioned souls, not the liberated souls who are fully surrendered to the Lord's lotus feet; they have transcended the rules and regulations of the scriptures and can be called paramahamsas--self-realized pure devotees.
In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna says:
gunaih karmani sarvasah
kartaham iti manyate
The spirit soul bewildered by the influence of false ego thinks himself the doer of activities that are in actuality carried out by the three modes of material nature.
Success in any activity depends on five essential factors: the place, the doer, the tools or senses, the endeavor, and finally the sanction of the Supreme Lord. Of these, the Supreme Lord's blessing is the most important. This sanction is enacted through the Supreme Lord's favorable supervision of His material energy, for it is by the Lord's will that material nature acts. Material nature acts according to one's consciousness: when the living entity is under the influence of the three modes of nature, his actions are conducted by the Lord's external energy, the material nature. But when he is in transcendental coonsciousness, the suddha-sattva state, his actions are conducted by the Lord's internal, spiritual potency. The living entity can choose to have his activities conducted by either the Lord's external energy or His internal energy. This is the extent of the jiva's minute independence.
The moment the spirit soul surrenders completely at the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord and prays to Him for engagement in His loving devotional service, the soul is freed from the bondage of fruitive reactions. In this stage he proves the truth of the scriptural injunction jivera svarupa haya krsnera nitya-dasa: [Cc. Madhya 20.108] "In his original spiritual identity, the spirit soul is an eternal servant of Krsna." This position gives the soul immense bliss. It is wrong to equate the position of an eternal servant of Krsna with that of a slave of maya, the illusory potency of Krsna. In other words, the feelings of power and pleasure gained by lording it over matter are insignificant compared to the ecstacy one feels in the Lord's service. Even the eight kinds of mystic perfections are puny compared with the bliss of being an eternal servant of Krsna. And surrender is the only means to attain this state; no artificial method can be applied. The awakening of pure Krsna consciousness, which is the perfection of the living entity, is obtained only by surrendering to the Lord, the propensity for which is eternally inherent in the jiva. Hence Lord Caitanya says in the Caitanya-caritamrta:
nitya-siddha-krsna-prema 'sadhya' kabhu naya
sravanadi-suddha-citte karaye udaya
[Cc. madhya 22.107]
Pure love for Krsna is eternally established in the hearts of living entities. It is not something to be gained from another source. When the heart is purified by hearing and chanting, the living entity naturally awakens.
In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna states:
hrd-dese 'rjuna tisthati
The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.
The Lord is present in everyone's heart by His inconceivable spiritual potency. He also directs the movements of the jivas by means of His material energy, consisting of the three modes of nature. After placing the jivas in a material body, the Lord controls their wanderings. The intelligence of those jivas who surrender to the Lord is fixed in devotional service, and so they are never again attracted to mundane activities. Transcending the three modes, they dispassionately observe all activities within the realm of the three modes.
In the early stages of devotional service one may be apprehensive because of reactions to sins and pious deeds. All this is due to previous habits. But if one fully surrenders to the Supreme Lord, the Lord Himself burns to ashes all reactions to pious and impious deeds. As stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.7.42):
yesam sa esa bhagavan dayayed anantah
sarvatmanasrita-pado yadi nirvyalikam
te dustaram atitaranti ca deva-mayam
naisam mamaham iti dhih sva-srgala-bhaksye
But anyone who is specifically favored by the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead, due to unalloyed surrender unto the service of the Lord, can overcome the insurmountable ocean of illusion and can understand the Lord. But those who are attached to this body, which is meant to be eaten at the end by dogs and jackals, cannot do so.
Lord Krsna encourages all living entities with these words in the Gita (9.31), kaunteya pratijanihi na me bhaktah pranasyati: "O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes." Here the Lord clearly intends to relieve all our fears. One can understand the Supreme Lord as He is only by His mercy, which can elevate one from a second-class devotee to a first-class, pure devotee. As said in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.14.29):
athapi te deva padambuja-dvaya-
prasada-lesanugrhita eva hi
janati tattvam bhagavan-mahimno
na canya eko 'pi ciram vicinvan
My Lord, if one is favored by even a slight trace of the mercy of Your lotus feet, he can understand the greatness of Your personality. But those who speculate to understand the Personality of Godhead are unable to know You, even though they continue to study the Vedas for many years.
For the fully surrendered pure devotee, not only is he himself transcendentally situated, but he sees this material nature as untainted by the three material modes. He then employs the material gunas--the qualities of ignorance, passion, and goodness--in the Lord's service. For example, he uses his anger to chastise the enemies of the Lord's devotees.
Lord Krsna makes the following statement in the Bhagavad-gita (14.26):
mam ca yo 'vyabhicarena
sa gunan samatityaitan
One who engages in full devotional service, unfailing in all circumstances, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman.
Such a pure devotee sees the material quality of goodness as the Lord's bodily effulgence. For him the quality of ignorance is transformed into peacefulness and equanimity. And he uses lust, a product of the mode of passion, to love and serve the supremely beautiful Lord. He meditates on how to serve the Supreme Lord, and then with enthusiasm and patience he performs all kinds devotional service. In the devotional mellow of santa, or neutrality, such devotional enthusiasm may be absent, but because such a mood of devotion attracts the Lord's love, it is fully spiritual.
Here is another thought for meditation: The Supreme Personality of Godhead is unlimited, and any service rendered Him is also unlimited because the Lord's unlimited energy is the dynamic force behind such service. When this supernatural energy is reposed in us, all our thoughts and feelings, our physical body, our mind, our knowledge, and so on, are energized by it. Every endeavor then simply merges into this flow of energy, and we become like a lotus growing from the mud--in the world but uncontaminted by it. This is how the nondual principle comes alive: our mind, heart, consciousness, and activities become nondifferent from the Supreme Lord, the Absolute Truth. We consider ourselves the Lord's property, surrendered at His lotus feet, His unalloyed, eternal slaves. Rejecting all mental speculation and mundane desire, with a serene mind we experience incessant spiritual bliss in rendering Him loving service. In the Bhagavad-gita (3.30) the Lord describes the process of surrender in this way:
mayi sarvani karmani
nirasir nirmamo bhutva
Therefore, O Arjuna, surrendering all your works unto Me, with full knowledge of Me, without desires for profit, with no claims to proprietorship, and free from lethargy, fight.
To achieve such a state of surrender, one has to be free from selfish desires, unaffected by dualities, and devoid of all false prestige. Dualities are born of false ego, the worst enemy of surrender. One who transcends false ego, and with it the effects of duality, is very easily freed from material desires, and then he vanquishes hate, greed, anger, fear, and so on. In the stage of full surrender to the Lord, even negative qualities like mundane desire and envy, along with dualities like hunger and thirst, heat and cold, joy and sorrow, loss and gain, sin and piety, and honor and dishonor, are converted into spiritual energy by being brought into contact with the Supreme Lord. Saintly, blissful personalities who are devoid of undesirable characteristics like lust and envy are found especially in India. One can conquer duality, illusion, and so on only by spiritual elevation to the state of directly perceiving the Supreme Lord and seeing everything in relation to Him. The only method of achieving this state of consciousness is buddhi-yoga.
For the devotee of the Lord, this kind of vision develops easily. Conversely, the empirical philosophers, fruitive workers, and gross materialists cannot possibly attain this stage. The devotees are inspired by Him to develop spiritual perception, and thus the dualities fade into inconsequence. Such a state is the ultimate result of their devotional surrender and love for the Lord. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna describes the neophyte stage of such divine consciousness:
na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu
mad-bhaktim labhate param
One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything. He is equally disposed toward every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.
The living entity becomes bound up by the ropes of ignorance, duality, and illusion as soon as he sees this material world through the coloured crystal known as "me and mine." To nullify such false ego and contaminated consciousness, one must follow the process of buddhi-yoga, which is uncontaminated by the three modes of nature (ignorance, passion, and goodness). Otherwise superconsciousness is unattainable.
The state of pure goodness is marked by pure knowledge of the Absolute. But when this knowledge is pervertedly reflected in the material world, it becomes mundane and empirical, and the jiva is thrown into the whirlpool of dualities, which condition him. The mode of passion increases attachment, sense gratification, and material desires, and the jiva becomes entangled in fruitive activities. The mode of ignorance induces illusion, covering the jiva's intelligence; then he slides down to the lowest consciousness, spending time only in sleeping and laziness. And the material mode of goodness also turns the jiva away from the Absolute Truth and makes him conditioned. With an increase of the mode of passion, goodness and ignorance both decrease. When the mode of goodness increases, passion and ignorance decline. In this way the material modes wax and wane in varying degrees. The mode of goodness promotes mundane knowledge and elevated material consciousness, the mode of passion produces untiring energy for work and insatiable desire for results, and the mode of ignorance drags the jiva down to nescience, laziness, sleep, and delusion. The jiva in goodness moves up to more elevated consciousness, one in passion remains suspended in the mediocre state, and one in ignorance descends to the depths of depravity.
Therefore, it is a hazardous path of elevation that depends on personal characteristics within the jurisdiction of the three modes of nature. Without transcending these three material modes, a person will find himself securely in their clutches, and thus deluded, he will think that all his activities are divinely inspired. He will then broadcast this false concept, considering himself an advanced devotee and everyone else inferior. Impressed with his own knowledge, he will try to see God by dint of this knowledge instead acting in such a way that God will want to see him. Intoxicated by false ego, he will see his activities, which are motivated by passion, as divine. Those who are proud of their knowledge do not surrender to the Lord; instead, they try to attain the Supreme Lord's mercy by the inductive method and thus exhibit an obnoxious mentality. One should constantly remember the Lord and pray to Him for mercy. The Lord, situated in the devotee's heart, responds to such a prayer and illumines his heart with knowledge, which dissipates the darkness of ignorance.
Lord Caitanya has taught:
trnad api sunicena
taror iva sahisnuna
kirtaniyah sada harih
[Cc. adi 17.31]
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 ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.
Often people do not understand the transcendental message of this verse. Although they are forced to act by the influence of the three modes, they make an artificial show of humility, pretending to be weak, lowly, and penniless beggars. This sort of cheating mood is most undesirable. Realizing the truth of the Vedic statement aham brahmasmi ("I am Brahman") is one meaning of humility. The essence of this teaching is to understand that matter and spirit are diametrically opposed. When we are inspired by devotional service to the Lord, our original identity begins to manifest in us and ultimately brings us to God-realization. The devotees work hard to induce people from the materialistic masses to take up devotional service, all the while trying to not disturb their minds. Such spiritual efforts are never to be confused with the mundane endeavors of fruitive workers, empirical philosophers, or outright sense gratifiers. As the Supreme Lord says in the Gita (3.24), utsideyur ime lokah na kuryam karma ced aham: "If I did not perform prescribed duties, all these worlds would be put to ruination."
Those who are not enthusiastic to execute the Supreme Lord's transcendental orders will automatically be forced by the mode of passion to perform useless action, which is really the state of inactivity. Arjuna asked Lord Krsna about the symptoms and behavior of one who has transcended the material modes. The following verses from the Gita (14.26-27) summarize the Lord's respoins to this question:
mam ca yo 'vyabhicarena
sa gunan samatityaitan
brahmano hi pratisthaham
sasvatasya ca dharmasya
One who engages in full devotional service, unfailing in all circumstances, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman. And I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman, which is immortal, imperishable and eternal and is the constitutional position of ultimate happiness.
Bhakti-yoga can be divided into three stages: 1) to take the first step toward complete surrender by accepting things favorable to the execution of devotional service; 2) to serve the Supreme Lord after realizing one's true nature; 3) to become situated on the elevated stage, in which one sees the Supreme Lord in everything and everything in the Supreme Lord. In this way, initial faith increases and leads to full surrender to the Lord.
Once a person resolves to accept only those things conducive to devotional service, the Lord's internal potency helps him reach goal. Our sole duty is to constantly remember the Lord and pray for His sanction in everything. The instructions we receive from a spiritual master firmly situated in Krsna consciousness help us properly engage in the devotional processes of hearing, chanting, and constant remembrance of the Lord. If we are inspired by our remembrance of the Lord and by His will, then we will never be misdirected. We will not be intimidated by the horrible hallucinations of this illusory material energy. By following the spiritual master's orders with single-minded determination, we will remain undeterred in executing the Lord's service and will make quick progress.
The mood of surrender during the stage of vaidhi-bhakti (devotional service under strict rules and regulations) is different from that in the stage of raganuga-bhakti (spontaneous devotional service). In the spontaneous stage, the mood of surrender is the natural expression of the self. When the process of surrender is followed step by step, one patiently executes the Lord's orders and gradually becomes enthusiastic. Such a devotee follows the regulative principles of hearing, chanting, remembering, and so on, and emulates previous saintly preceptors. In the association of devotees he becomes more and more proficient in rendering devotional service. Gradually his service becomes easier. Thus constant remembrance of the Lord comes simply by developing enthusiasm and patience in devotional activities.
One deviates from the path of yoga because of forgetfulness. In devotional service there is no such apprehension, because the Supreme Lord always protects the bhakti-yogi. Even if the bhakti-yogi falls down, he can regain his former position by receiving strength from the Lord. Because of his remembrance of the Lord, all obstacles on his path are cleared away. Therefore the process of surrender leads to real perfection in yoga; it is the easiest path to follow and is also the most direct.
We learn from the book Sanat Sujatiya that four things are required in attaining perfection in yoga practice: 1) the scriptures; 2) enthusiasm; 3) a bona fide spiritual master; 4) sufficient time. The scriptures recommend the path of surrender described in this book. Enthusiasm means to constantly remember the Lord and to pray for His mercy. The spiritual master in the heart of the surrendered devotee is the Supreme Lord Himself. He manifests as the beloved initiating spiritual master and the instructing spiritual masters. It is the Supreme Lord who, acting as the spiritual master in the heart, enlightens us with buddhi-yoga, or divine consciousness. And this consciousness helps us understand the Supreme Lord as He is.
The sages say that when we surrend to the Lord, we will clearly see how the He personally makes arrangements for us, even in small matters. Then we will easily see how with His omnipotent supreme intelligence He is assisting us out of love. So it is unnecessary to waste time in further speculation. We have to vanquish illusion, develop equanimity and spontaneity, and practice bhakt-yoga. Then a supremely powerful force will gradually transform our material existence into spiritual existence. All our misconceptions, accumulated over millions of lifetimes, will be rectified in a short time. Hence we need not become anxious because of a lack of time. The eightfold yoga practice--yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, and so on--gives quick results, and one feels that he is doing something substantial. However, although such efforts may certainly make one materially proficient, they are nevertheless simply human endeavors. They are totally distinct from the activities carried out by the Lord's potency. The Supreme Lord's energy often works in subtle ways, but where it ultimately takes us is inconceivable to the human mind.
The mundane processes for elevation are, after all, initiated by intelligent human brains. They are like man-made canals: useful for easy transportation from one place to another, but otherwise of limited utility. Human efforts are imperfect, and therefore they keep us in the material world. As the Lord says in the Bhagavad-gita (8.16),
punar avartino 'rjuna
mam upetya tu kaunteya
punar janma na vidyate
From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again.
The energy of the Lord is like a fathomless ocean that remains undisturbed in all circumstances. It is shoreless, without beginning or end; therefore the process which directly manifests from this energy is omnipotent and can transport one to any heights or levels. The necessities for ocean travel are a ship, a navigator, a rudder, and a favorable wind. One must clearly understand that this human body is the most suitable ship to take us across the ocean of nescience, the spiritual master is the best navigator, the scriptures are the rudder, and the Lord's mercy is the perfect wind. If we do not take advantage of this excellent arrangement and cross over the material ocean of nescience, then we are our own worst enemy. We must always fix our attention on the favorable wind of the Lord's mercy, which incarnates as the spiritual master. Therefore one must approach a spiritual master, take shelter of his lotus feet, and learn from him the science of devotional service. This is what the Upanisads enjoin--tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet [MU tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet
samit-panih srotriyam brahma-nistham
"To understand these things properly, one must humbly approach, with firewood in hand, a spiritual master who is learned in the Vedas and firmly devoted to the Absolute Truth."
[Mundaka Upanisad 1.2.12]
The saintly, pure devotees, the guru, and the scriptures all represent the same Absolute Truth. The pure devotees are in fact all gurus because they never swerve from the spiritual principles enunciated in the scriptures: they see only through the lens of the scriptures. Spiritual practices are impossible to execute without the authority of these three ruling principles--the saintly devotees, the guru, and the scriptures. One must vehemently denounce the Western mentality of defying spiritual tradition and the scriptures. Such a mentality reveres mundane philosophies based on speculation and concocted logic, considering these practices signs of superior intelligence. The only weapon the proponents of such philosophies have is mundane argument, but often they exhibit a lack of mastery even of this art. Recent trends show that without probing deeply into a subject, these Westerners uselessly debate direct and indirect meanings ad infinitum. Each of these sophists surely realizes that he must one day accept defeat in the hands of a greater sophist, for there is always someone more intelligent. Therefore the process of debate leads nowhere.
There is a wide gulf between superficial dabbling in philosophy to impress people with a few stock phrases, and a sincere search for knowledge of the Absolute. Through the speculative process it is impossible to fathom the inconceivable topics concerning the Absolute Truth, for they can be understood only through the science of devotion. As Srila Rupa Gosvami writes in his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, quoting from the Mahabharata:
acintyah khalu ye bhava
na tams tarkena yojayet
prakrtibhyah param yac ca
tad acintyasya laksanam
Anything transcendental to material nature is inconceivable and thus cannot be grasped through mundane arguments. Therefore one should not try to understand transcendental subjects in this way.
Without the mercy of the Supreme Lord, such esoteric subjects are incomprehensible, even if one spends many years researching them. Beyond the sensual realm lie indirect, subtle perceptions, which need to be properly understood. But they can be understood properly only if one sees their relationship to the inconceivable, transcendental Absolute Truth. Without seeing this connection, one will find all discussion of these subtle perceptions to be like beating the chaff for grain--a mere exercise in futility that brings only frustration and distress. Such empty sophistry may show off some mundane erudition, but it cannot help one make spiritual progress. In fact, these dry empirical debates often create big hurdles. So it is better to avoid them.
It is strongly recommended that one simply follow in the footsteps of spiritual stalwarts who act according to the scriptural injunctions and the spiritual guidelines given by saintly souls and guru. One should not raise too many doubts and questions. As the Lord states in the Bhagavad-gita, tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya: [Bg. 4.34] "Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him." This process, which strictly follows the Vedas, will bring us to a realization of the inconceivable truth. Once we are on this path, many realizations dawn on us, and it is imperative that we pursue them in order to progress further. The faint illumination of knowledge that appears at first is certain to lead to full enlightenment, but we have to be patient. We must carefully avoid letting pride enter our hearts because of some initial perceptions of the inconceivable Absolute; rather, we must eagerly approach the guru, or the pure devotee, and ask how to proceed. We must reject the narrow and bigoted idea that there is nothing more to know. The most important point is to always fully depend on the mercy of the supreme spiritual master residing in the heart.
In recent times we have heard two words being loudly voiced: Mayavada (impersonalist) and Advaita-vada (monist). I deem it proper to write a few words about them. Sripada Sankaracarya was a brahmana who propagated the impersonalist philosophy. But if he were to hear the pathetic version of his theory being espoused today, complete with nonbrahminical Western logic and mundane concepts, he would surely be struck dumb. Sripada Sankaracarya taught and exhibited ideal brahminical behaviour. He propounded irrefutable arguments that destroyed materialistic views. Furthermore, his erudition, realization, and renunciation were of an extremely high caliber. Yet when his so-called followers dilute and mutilate his philosophy, we are moved simultaneously to tears and laughter.
Through logic and sophistry one can never understand how the Supreme Lord created this unlimited cosmos, but the demoniac atheists will never tire of using these methods. Lord Krsna describes their mentality in the Bhagavad-gita (16.8): asatyam apratistham te. "They say that this world is unreal, with no foundation, no God in control." In fact, the very brain that thinks these childish thoughts is also a most insignificant creation of the Supreme Lord. Hence to expect that such pea-brains can grasp the mysteries behind the Supreme Lord's extraordinary plans is to hope for the impossible. Sripada Sankaracarya assessed the prevailing trends of his time and concluded that the monistic view, or the impersonal philosophy, was best suited for his contemporaries. But that was not his final conclusion. He went on to say, bhaja govindam mudha-mate: "O fools, simply worship Govinda." From his use of the word bhaja, "worship," we understand him to mean that one should worship Lord Govinda's name, form, qualities, pastimes, and do on. The state of transcendence discussed here is far beyond impersonal realization, the ultimate goal of the monists. Indeed, thgose who worship Govinda enter into Sri Vrndavana in Sri Mathura, the highest spiritual realm, where Sri Sri Radha and Krsna enact Their quintessential pastimes.
The Supreme Lord is one, yet He has prabhava (fully potent) expansions and vaibhava (partially potent) expansions. The Supreme Lord is endowed with at least six unlimited opulences--absolute wealth, power, beauty, knowledge, fame, and renunciation. With His countless mouths Sri Ananta Sesa is unable to fully describe these opulences. Therefore the Lord is also said to be indescribable, all-pervading, and unmanifest. The Upanisads describe the Supreme Lord as asamaurdhva, "one without a second." We have already established this truth. Similarly, Lord Krsna Himself says in the Bhagavad-gita (Chapter 10) that He is the Asvattha tree, fire, Srila Vyasadeva, Arjuna, and so on. These facts have also been firmly substantiated. To perfectly comprehend the absolute pastimes of the absolute Supreme Godhead is impossible through any of the "isms," such as empiricism, impersonalism, or sophism. Only by the Lord's mercy can one fathom the Supreme Godhead. That same Supreme Personality benignly reveals the truth about Himself in the Bhagavad-gita. This text is the essence of all the Vedic scriptures and is the synthesis of all conflicting "isms." Lord Caitanya is the unchallenged spiritual stalwart who propagated the process of surrender to Krsna, the conclusion of all the Bhagavad-gita's teachings. Those who follow in His footsteps are the real yogis and devotees.
All the Supreme Lord's pastimes are eternal. Those who doubt this are impersonalists. When one tries to gauge the omnipotent Supreme Godhead with a limited measuring principle, one is drawn to the impersonal concept. One must carefully avoid this all-devouring philosophy. When Sri Narada Muni saw how Lord Krsna had expanded Himself in His original form and was dancing with many gopis simultaneously, he realized that Lord Krsna was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the source of everything. Lord Krsna is always being served and worshiped by Srimati Radharani, yet He expands Himself unlimitedly. Just as a candle can light other candles yet remain unchanged, so the Supreme Lord, though "one without a second," can expand Himself in unlimited forms, and also as the omnipresent, all-pervading, universal soul. This is direct proof of the Supreme Lord's absolute divinity.
The Lord is different from all, yet the same as all. This is His inconceivable potency of being simultaneously one with and different from everything. One has to hear this philosophy from a pure devotee of the Lord; otherwise it is impossible to understand whether the Absolute Truth is a Person or an impersonal substance. If the Supreme is omnipotent, He should be simultaneously personal and impersonal. One who rejects either of these aspects of the Lord tries to limit the absoluteness of the Supreme. Such logic is described as "the logic of half a hen," by which a fool wishes to profit from the egg-laying half of the hen without having to feed the front half. Those who have been blessed by the spiritual master and the Supreme Lord can easily see through this foolish concept and abstain from futile, time-wasting debates. The process of surrender gradually reveals the wonderful glories of the Supreme Lord. Puny human attempts to comprehend such topics will merely end in confusion. The Supreme Lord manifests Himself to the devotee in proportion to the devotee's service attitude and surrender. Arguments and debates are totally inadequate means for understanding the Supreme Absolute Truth.
The objective of life is not simply a subject of debate or speculation. The ultimate aim of life is to realize that supreme object, the Personality of Godhead. Buddhi-yoga, or Krsna consciousness, means to become absorbed in serving the Supreme Lord and His name, qualities, form, pastimes, etc. In other words, it means becoming an instrument for His satisfaction. We have to become infused with His spiritual potency; thus strengthened, we then have to make the propagation of His transcendental glories our prime duty in life. By means of such Potent missionary activities, innumerable jivas can experience endless spiritual joy.
Neither spiritual retreats, churches, mosques, temples, karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, dry empirical philosophy, nor imitation devotees can save humanity from the jaws of death. They are inadequate for purifying the consciousness because what they offer as spiritual succor is limited by their sectarian vision, a set of do's and don'ts, and a rigid approach that simply further entangle humanity in the material energy. What is needed are exemplary spiritual actions and the espousal of the genuine path of self-realization, but these have not been properly instituted. Just as Bhagiratha brought down the Ganga and liberated his forefathers, similarly, we must bring a deluge of love of Godhead that can extricate the conditioned souls from the clutches of gross materialism. At least for some time, we must create Satya-yuga, the age of reason and piety. We can easily accomplish this Herculean task simply by reintroducing Lord Caitanya's sankirtana movement of the congregational chanting of Lord Krsna's name and thus flooding the world with krsna-prema. All living entities--the human beings, who are afflicted by Kali-yuga, as well as sub-human beings--must be drowned in the floodwaters of krsna-prema.
By studying the Vedas, the Vedanta-sutra, and the Upanisads, one may find processes for purifying the consciousness and elevating oneself to the transcendental platform. But for the conditioned souls of Kali-yuga, such means are beyond reach. Lord Caitanya alone can liberate the conditioned souls of this age. In His younger days Lord Caitanya was known as Nimai Pandita because He was an erudite scholar. Indeed, He became famous as a master of logic. Yet for the sake of the jivas afflicted by the Kali-yuga, He presented Himself as illiterate. Such pastimes are possible only for the Supreme Lord. When the famous Mayavadi sannyasi Prakasananda Sarasvati met Lord Caitanya in Benares, he spoke as follows to the Lord: "I see You are a sannyasi, yet You are in the company of sentimentalists, and like them You are dancing and singing. The real business of sannyasis is to study the Vedas and meditate on Brahman. But You have rejected these duties and are acting like a sentimentalist. I am impressed with Your effulgent form, which resembles that of Lord Narayana Himself, but why do You act below your status?"
The Mayavadi sannyasis study the Vedas simply to gain liberation. Lord Caitanya did not advent merely to teach such an insignificant goal. He propagated the congregational chanting of the holy name and the scientific method of devotional service. His main aim was to establish the authorized religious principle for this age--sankirtana--and thereby liberate all living entities. His reply to Prakasananda Sarasvati was very simple, as if coming from an ordinary mortal. The Lord said,
Respected Swamiji, please listen to the reason why I act as I do. My guru saw that I was ignorant, and so he instructed Me as follows: 'You are foolish and have no proper understanding of Vedanta philosophy. So simply chant this Hare Krsna mantra, which is the essence of all mantras. This mantra will deliver You from the entanglement of material existence and award You the shelter of Krsna's lotus feet. In the Age of Kali there is no religious principle except chanting Krsna's name. It has been ascertained from all the scriptures that Krsna's holy name is the essence of all mantras.' He then made Me learn a verse, which I will repeat to you for your consideration:
"harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha"
"If one wants to make spiritual progress in this Age of Kali, there is no alternative, there is no alternative, there is no alternative to the holy name, the holy name, the holy name of the Lord."
By chanting Krsna's holy name, one cleanses all the dust from the mirror of one's consciousness. The blazing fire of material existence is then extinguished. This fire is especially severe in the present materialistic civilization, which is full of conflict, the hallmark of Kali-yuga. But extinguishing the fire of material existence is far from the final result of chanting. Indeed, it is only a preliminary consequence. Gradually, the knowledge that love of Godhead is the absolute necessity of life becomes clearer, the dark veil of ignorance is lifted, and one gets a glimpse of absolute knowledge. As the devotee realizes this transcendental knowledge, he feels ever-increasing spiritual ecstasy overwhelming his heart. This spiritual joy expands at every moment. Let the all-auspicious chanting of the holy name of Krsna be ever victorious!
Those who seek the smaller values of life and thus take up yoga for selfish motives are not very noble, and even if they achieve success, they still remain inferior. But those who practice yoga for the benefit of others are truly worthy, for even if they personally do not attain perfection, they are very elevated souls. Devotees of the Lord practice the yoga called buddhi-yoga, or Krsna consciousness. This yoga is meant to bless all humanity, as well as bring the practitioner to the perfection of life. The Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.5.17) aptly describes the great value of such yoga:
tyaktva sva-dharmam caranambujam harer
bhajann apakvo 'tha patet tato yadi
yatra kva vabhadram abhud amusya kim
ko vartha apto 'bhajatam sva-dharmatah
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.
680318SB.SF Lectures There are four seasons in a year, similarly, in one day of Brahma there are one hundred cycles of four yugas. Four yugas means forty-three thousand..., forty-three hundred thousands of years. It is a very long period. That is the duration of four yugas. Similarly, one thousand yugas passes, then one day of Brahma finished, twelve hours. It is a big calculation. Anyway, there are four yugas, this Satya-yuga, Dvapara-yuga, Treta-yuga, and Kali-yuga. So in the previous chapter, some description of these yugas have been described. Now here, in this chapter... This is second chapter of Twelfth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Sukadeva Gosvami is describing,
tatas canu-dinam dharmah
satyam saucam ksama daya
kalena balina rajan
nanksyaty ayur balam smrtih
"My dear King..." Sukadeva Gosvami was speaking to Maharaja Pariksit, who was emperor of this planet. Maharaja Pariksit. And he was cursed by a brahmana that he should die within seven days. So he was utilizing the seven days by hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam. So he's explaining, "My dear King, as the days of Kali-yuga will make progress..." Make progress means we have passed only five thousand years of this Kali-yuga. The total duration of Kali-yuga is 432,000's of years. Out of that we have passed only five thousands of years. I think in the world history there is no..., nobody can place records of five thousand years. At most, the historians can present history of three thousand years. That's all. So Kali-yuga has begun prehistoric age. And before that, what was there in the history nobody can say. But in the Vedic literatures everything is there. You believe or not believe, that is a different thing.
Now here, Sukadeva Gosvami says, tatas ca anudinam. Anudinam means "as the days will pass." Then what will be the symptoms? Now, nanksyaty. Nanksyaty means gradually diminish, will diminish. What will diminish? Dharmah, religiosity; satyam, truthfulness; saucam, cleanliness; ksama, forgiveness; daya, mercifulness; ayuh, duration of life; bala, strength; and smrtih, memory. These eight items, just try to know. First thing is religiosity. As the age of Kali will make progress, people will become more and more irreligious. And they will become more and more liars. They'll forget to speak what is true. Saucam, cleanliness, that will also diminish. Cleanliness is required.Bahyabhyantarah-sucih. If one is to advance, he has to clean himself. According to Vedic civilization, one has to take bath thrice daily. Actually, in India they take. In our country I was also taking twice bath till I was attacked last year. So I thought that in this country, twice taking bath is not possible, so I am taking once now. But India, there are many gentlemen, high class gentlemen, they take bath thrice. Morning, and before lunch, and in the evening. Especially the brahmanas. So cleanliness is next to godliness. To take bath, to evacuate daily, to wash the teeth, wash clothings, this cleanliness process. But as the days of this Kali-yuga will make progress, this system of hygenic cleanliness, cleanliness both inside and outside Outside by taking bath, inside by becoming Krsna conscious--two kinds of cleanliness. Simply if we take bath with soap outside, and inside all rubbish things, that is not cleanliness. Cleanliness means bahyabhyantarah. Bahya means outside, without. Abhyantara means inside. Unless we are clean, unless we are pure, how we can make advance to approach the Supreme? The Supreme is described as the purest. In the Bhagavad-gita Arjuna said, param brahma param dhama pavitram paramam bhavan: "My dear Krsna, You are the Supreme Lord, Brahman." And pavitram paramam: "You are supreme pure." There is no impurity. Impurity means material contamination, and purity means spiritual life. So this cleanliness inside and outside, that will also decrease. Just know.
First decreasing--religiosity. People will become irreligious, and they will forget what is telling truth. They will be accustomed to speak lie. And saucam, no cleanliness. And ksama. Ksama means forgiveness. Suppose I have done some wrong... (break) ...but there is no forgiveness. Ksama-rupam tapasvinah, people is advised, especially those who are following penance and austerity, yogic principle or devotional life, they should learn to excuse. In our dealings, there are so many faulty dealings between ourselves. So if we take everything very seriously, then it is very difficult to live. So ksama. But that ksama--ksama means forgiveness--will reduce. Nobody will forgive. Retaliation, vengeance, that will increase. So four items: religiosity, truthfulness, cleanliness, and forgiveness. Four. Then daya. Daya means mercy. What is daya? Who is, I mean to say, less strong. Just like animals, birds, beast, you should be very merciful. Just like children: you should be very merciful to children. According to Vedic injunctions, children, woman, brahmanas, old men, and cows. How many? Children, women, brahmana, cow, and what else?
Devotees: Old men.
Prabhupada: Old men. Yes. These five items, according to Manu-samhita, or Hindu law, they have no offense. They have no offense. They cannot be criminally prosecuted. Excused. If a brahmana has committed some fault or a woman has committed some fault or a child has committed some fault or a cow has transgressed the law, oh, there is no punishment for them. Daya. They should be shown always mercy. They require protection, especially. These five items have been especially enjoined that they should be given protection. That is required in human civilization. Cow protection is very important. Woman's protection is very important. Brahmana's protection is very important. Children's protection is very important. Of course, nowadays there is protection for chidren, of course, from the state. But that is also artificial. There is killing process also. So many children in the womb are killed. But according to Vedic civilization, they are greatest offense. So daya. Daya means you should show your mercifulness those who are weak. So this will reduce, daya. And ayuh, duration of life. Duration of life. In the Satya-yuga the duration of life was 100,000's years. A man used to live for 100,000's of years. Then in the Treta-yuga it reduced ten times. They used to live for 10,000 years. Then in Dvapara-yuga it reduced again ten times. They used to live for 1,000 years. And now, in the Kali-yuga, the duration of life is prescribed as 100 years. But you see that it is reducing. Everyone may note it. Perhaps your grandfather lived for 100 years. Your father lived for 80 years. And nowadays, 60 or 70 years. Gradually, it will so reduce, we shall come to that statement, that if a man lives for 20 to 30 years he will be considered a very grand old man. If he lives for 20 to 30 years he'll be considered, "Oh, you have got very good life." That will come, gradually. This is the progressive age. Progressive age for material civilization. We are proud of making advancement of our civilization, but these nice thing are being reduced. That means... We are advancing means reducing the nice things. This is advanced. Ayuh and smrtih. Smrtih means memory. So these eight items will reduce gradually. You can keep it noted, and you'll see how they are being reduced. And we have already experienced. Smrtih.
The next description is,
vittam eva kalau nrnam
karanam balam eva hi
Another symptom is how a man is respectable. He says, Sukadeva Gosvami says, vittam eva kalau nrnam. Vittam means money. If you have got money, some way or other, whatever you may be, you are very respected. Janmacara-gunodayah. Formerly a man was respectable by his birth in a respectable family and by his behavior. Just like a brahmana. A brahmana was respected because his behavior was so nice. He was truthful, he was clean, he was man of knowledge, he was faithful in scriptures, and so many qualifications. Therefore he was respected. So here it is said that janma, birth in a good family or high family, or good behavior. Janmacara. Janmacara, and guna, quality. Suppose a man is a great philosopher, a great learned scholar. That is a very good qualification. So these things will not be considered. If a man is very learned scholar or coming of a very respectable family and has got all good qualities, that will be neglected. Another man, if he has all the bad qualities but he has got money, he's respected. He'll be respected. This is the symptom of this age. And dharma-nyaya-vyavasthayam karanam balam eva hi. Dharma. Dharma means suppose you have acted something irreligious. In every religion, in every scripture, there are many things, you do it, and do not do it. So that is called following the religious principle. In every religion, either Hindu or Christian or Muhammadan, there are some rules and regulations. Just like in Muhammadan religion, drinking is greatest sin. And Hindu religion, flesh eating, especially cow's meat, is greatest sin. So these are religious principles. So dharma-nyaya-vyavasthayam. So there are some rules and regulation according to different types of religion. So how they will be settled? Karanam balam eva hi: by might. If one has... "Might is right." That "Might is right." There is no reason. "Why you are doing against religious principle?" If I ask, if you are powerful, stronger than me, you'll say, "Yes! I can do that. What is that? What for you? What is that to you?" So balam eva hi. If anyone is powerful in power, oh, he can act against the rules and regulations of religious or scriptural injunctions. Nobody can protest.
Dharma-nyaya-vyavasthayam karanam balam eva hi. Dampatye abhirucir hetur mayaiva vyavaharike. Dampatye. Dampatye means making husband and wife relationship. Abhirucih. Abhirucih means liking. A boy likes another girl, and the girl likes another boy. That's finished. Let them become husband and wife. Formerly, it was not. Formerly, according to Vedic civilization, there was no liking of the boy or the girl. The parents of the boy and the girl, they would see, "Whether this combination will be happy." They will bring horoscope and calculate astronomically, "What is the symptoms of this boy? What is the symptoms of this girl? Whether they will be peaceful in married life?" They calculated, and the parents would see in what kind of family the girl is born, and what kind of boy, the family he's born. So many things. If they do not agree, the parents of the girl and the boy, then there is no marriage. Still, in India... At least, I was also married, and some of my children, they were also married. But this system in India is still followed. The parents, they select the suitable boy and the suitable girl. The primary aim is that they may live very peacefully. There may not be unnecessarily disturbance in their family life. That was the aim. But in the Kali-yuga it is said dampatye, selection of husband and wife, will depend on agreement. That's all. "I like you; you like me." That's all. Finished. Dampatye abhirucir hetuh. Abhirucih. Because the boy likes the girl. And suppose the parents do not like? That will be taken, "The girl likes, so that's it." That's all.
So dampatye... It is not only in your country. In every country. Because the age is like that. Dampatye abhirucir hetur mayaiva vyavaharike. Maya means false dealing. Vyavahare. Even in ordinary dealing there will be cheating and faultiness, even in ordinary. Even you go to purchase something from a store, oh, there is false dealing. Dampatye. Stritve pumstve ca hi ratih. And stritve, a husband and wife will agree so long they are sexually strong. That's all. Stritve pumstve ca hi ratih. Ratih means sex. Formerly it was not the system. The husband and wife combined together as life companion. Even the husband becomes diseased and paralyzed, the wife cannot give, give him up. "Oh, he is my husband." Similarly, wife. Either she becomes diseased or so many things, the husband and wife combined together for life. There was no question of divorce. There was no question of divorce, even they do not like each other, even they fight. Fight there must be, whenever there are two men or woman. That is individuality. Therefore Canakya Pandita says, dampatye kalahe caiva bambharambhe laghu-kriya. Whenever there is fight between husband and wife, it should be neglected. The formula of Canakya Pandita is given like this: Aja-yuddhe. When the goats are fighting, as it is very insignificant... If you understand that in the door two goats are fighting, you don't care for it. You see, a goat fight. So aja-yuddhe muni-sraddhe. And some sages are performing sraddha ceremony. Sraddha ceremony means after the death of one's father and mother there is great ceremony and the son spends lots of money. The father spends lots of money during the marriage ceremony of the boy and the girl, and the boy spends lots of money after the death of the father and mother. That is the system, Hindu system. So aja-yuddhe muni-sraddhe. Muni-sraddhe means the muni is performing the sraddha ceremony after the death of his father. Muni means he lives in the forest. They are mendicants. And what is the expenditure? Some flowers and fruits, that's all. So that is not very expensive. So... And in the forest you haven't got to pay anything for flowers and fruits. You can get from the trees. Aja-yuddhe muni-sraddhe, and prabhate megra-dumbhake (?). In the morning if there is thundering sound in the cloud, you should know it will not rain. It will never rain. That thundering may be very loud, but there will be no rain. That means you can neglect. As you can neglect the fight between two goats, as you can take not seriously the sraddha ceremony of muni, as you do not take very seriously the thundering sound of the cloud in the morning, similarly, dampatye kalahe caiva, similarly, whenever there is fight between husband and wife, you should take like that. Don't take it seriously. But at the modern civilization, the husband and wife quarrel is taken so seriously that immediately they go to the court and there is filing of divorce, and the combination, the married life, dissolved, and both are unhappy. And this psychology is, as it is stated... I do not know, but probably it is right, that disagreement between husband and wife is due to sex difficulty. That's all. It is clearly stated here. Either the husband or the wife, if there is not complete sex satisfaction, one of them must be very unhappy, and disagreement and dissolution...
Stritve pumstve ca hi ratir vipratve sutram eva hi. Vipratve means... Just this morning I was explaining vipra, who is vipra. Vipra means one who has studied Vedas nicely, or one who has passed in the studies of Vedas, he is called vipra. And before becoming a vipra, there is sacred thread ceremony. Janmana jayate sudrah. There are stages: sudra, dvija, vipra, and brahmana. These four steps. One is born a sudra. Sudra means the lowest class, almost animal. So anyone who is born of father and mother, he is accepted as sudra. And Janmana jayate sudrah. By birth, everyone is born a sudra, the lower class. And samskarad bhaved dvijah. And if that man, the boy, or the child, is reformed by education gradually, then he is, samskarad bhaved dvijah, his second birth is there. So amongst the higher class, the brahmanas, the ksatriyas, and the vaisyas, especially amongst the brahmanas and ksatriya, the boys were trained very nicely. Very nicely. So by reformation, when the boy is, I mean to say, mature, at the age of twelve years or thirteen years, he goes automatically to a spiritual master. He automatically goes to a spiritual master for becoming initiated. Just like sometimes some students come to me also: "Swamiji, get me..." That is the process. When one understands the importance of spiritual life, that is reformation. So automatically he offers to a learned person to accept him as his disciple. That point is, acceptance of a disciple, is the second birth. He is called dvija. Dvi means second, and ja means janma, or life. So samskarad bhaved dvijah. Dvija, second life, means reformation and acceptance of spiritual master. Then education, spiritual education, begins. And what is that spiritual education? The Vedic literature, just like Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Vedanta. There are many. Especially Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.
ahar yad brahmano viduh
te 'ho-ratra-vido janah
By human calculation a thousand ages taken together is the duration of Brahma's one day, and such also is the duration of his night."
Prabhupada: What is the purport? Read.
Srutakirti: "The duration of the material universe is limited. It is manifested in cycles of kalpas. A kalpa is a day of Brahma and one day of Brahma consists of a thousand cycles of four yugas or ages, Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali. A cycle of Satya is characterized by virtue, wisdom and religion, there being practically no ignorance and vice, and the yuga lasts one million, seven hundred and twenty-eight thousand years. In the Treta-yuga vice is introduced and this yuga lasts 1,296,000 years. In the Dvapara-yuga there is an even greater decline in virtue and religion, vice increasing, and the yuga lasts 864,000 years. And finally in Kali-yuga, the yuga we have now been experiencing over the past five thousand years, there is an abundance of strife, ignorance, irreligion and vice, true virtue being practically non-existent, and this yuga lasts 432,000 years. In Kali-yuga vice increases to such a point that at the termination of the yuga, the Supreme Lord Himself appears as the Kalki avatara, vanquishes the demons, saves His devotees and commences another Satya-yuga. Then the process is set rolling again. These four yugas, rotating a thousand times, compromise one day of Brahma, the creator god, and the same number compromise one night. Brahma lives one hundred of such years and then dies. These hundred years, by Earth calculations total to 311,000,040,000,000 Earth years. By these calculations, a life of Brahma seems fantastic and interminable, but from the point, from the viewpoint of eternity, it is as brief as a lightning flash. In the Causal Ocean, there are innumerable Brahmas, rising and disappearing like bubbles in the Atlantic. Brahma and his creation are all part of the material universe, and therefore they are in constant flux. In the material universe, not even Brahma is free from the process of birth, disease, old age and death. Brahma, however, is directly engaged in the service of the Supreme Lord in the management of this universe. Therefore he at once attains liberation. Elevated sannyasis are promoted to Brahma's particular planet, Brahmaloka, which is the highest planet in the material universe, and which survives all the heavenly planets in the upper strata of the planetary system. But in due course, Brahma, and all inhabitants of Brahmaloka are subject to death, according to the law of material nature."
Prabhupada: In the higher planetary system also, the four rules, birth, death, old age and disease, they are also there. The life is long duration. But the miserable conditions of, or living conditions, that one must die, that is there also. Simply if you go to Krsna's planet, you haven't got to die. Abrahma-bhuvanal lokah punar avartino 'rjuna. Abrahma-bhuvanal lokah punar avartino 'rjuna.
Srutakirti: Abrahma-bhuvanal lokah punar avartino 'rjuna, mam upetya...
Prabhupada: Upetya punar janma na vidyate.
Srutakirti: Punar janma na vidyate. "From the highest planet in the material world to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again."
Prabhupada: Just see. So going to the higher planetary system means to achieve higher standard of life, but that does not mean solution of material problems. Just like Western countries, they are supposed to be living in higher standard of life than Eastern countries, but that does not mean they have conquered over death. That's not possible. They might possess a nice motor car, but the Eastern man may not possess. He has a bullock cart. This much advancement may be there. But the death, birth, death, is the same, in the Eastern and the Western.
Guru Gauranga: Why should we think that birth and death is so painful, Srila Prabhupada, because wherever we are, we can think about Krsna...
Prabhupada: But you feel pain, or do you like to die?
Guru Gauranga: Well, some people like to travel.
Prabhupada: Why it is painful. That is painful. You, even if you think, shudder, that "I have to die immediately," you'll shudder immediately. It is very painful. It is very painful because as soon as you die, you are again packed up within the womb of the mother to develop another body. And that is also not certain. Nowadays the father, mother is killing the child. So even if you develop a body to come with the expectation to come out, the father, mother kills you, again you have to enter another mother's body. Again you may be killed. This is the position of the sinful man. Because a man is sinful, he shudders. "Oh, again death is coming." So you, you cannot argue... Death is very painful. It is so painful that at the last stage, because the pain is not tolerated, the soul immediately gives up the body. Just like a man commits suicide. It is very painful. Janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha. It is painful. Duhkha-dosanudarsanam. Anudarsanam means if he's a foolish, if he cannot understand, then he should understand described by higher authorities. It is painful. So unless you make a solution that no more birth, there is no question of getting out of the painful condition of material condition. That's not possible.
Anna Conan Doyle: But what if you are reincarnated into other planets?
Prabhupada: Yes. That is easy.
Anna Conan Doyle: Is it less painful, or is it the same procedure of...?
Prabhupada: As soon as you enter into the womb of a mother, it is painful. You are packed up like this, in this way. Can you, can you live for a few minutes, packed up like that, At the present moment, if I pack up and put in a bag, and then put in a box, how long you can exist?
Anna Conan Doyle: But we are not conscious at, at that particular moment.
Prabhupada: That doesn't matter. Just like surgical operation is going on. He's unconscious. That is another thing. By some method, he's unconscious. But the pain is there. The pain is there. The pain is not felt. Just like animals. They, they are in painful condition, but because they are animal, they do not feel it. On the horseback, you are driving horseback, like this, like this. It is painful, but because he's animal he cannot protect himself. It is very painful. Suppose if a chain is shackled on your mouth, and I constantly push like this...? Is it not painful? The horse is controlled by the mouth...
Anna Conan Doyle: Yes, by the foot...
Prabhupada: By the chain, yes. Horse is very powerful animal than the man. How the man can control the horse? But he knows the trick, that it has to be controlled in the mouth. As soon as there is pain in the mouth, he becomes puzzled. He has to abide by the order. The man knows the tricks. Horse is not controlled by the tai... (break) ...he's controlled.
Hamsaduta: So every animal can be controlled...
Prabhupada: Therefore there was a meeting of all animals that how to get out of the control of man. (laughter) The elephant said: "My dear sir, I am so powerful. I am also controlled by that. So it is useless to hold meeting." "I am also controlled by man." The meeting was organized by an ass. (laughter) He thought that: "I have to work so hard. Let us have a conference of animals to avoid man's control." But he saw that elephant also said that "I am so powerful. Still I am also controlled by the man. So it is useless."