asav ihaneka-guno ’guno ’dhvarah
asau—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; iha—in this material world; aneka—various; gunah—qualities; agunah—transcendental; adhvarah—yajna; prthak-vidha—varieties; dravya—physical elements; guna—ingredients; kriya—performances; uktibhih—by chanting different mantras; sampadyate—is worshiped; artha—interest; asaya—purpose; linga—form; namabhih—name; visuddha—without contamination; vijnana—science; ghanah—concentrated; sva-rupatah—in His own form.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is transcendental and not contaminated by this material world. But although He is concentrated spirit soul without material variety, for the benefit of the conditioned soul He nevertheless accepts different types of sacrifice performed with various material elements, rituals and mantras and offered to the demigods under different names according to the interests and purposes of the performers.
For material prosperity there are recommendations in the Vedas for various types of yajna (sacrifice). In Bhagavad-gita (3.10) it is confirmed that Lord Brahma created all living entities, including human beings and demigods, and advised them to perform yajna according to their material desires (saha-yajnah prajah srstva). These performances are called yajnas because their ultimate goal is to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Visnu. The purpose of performing yajnas is to get material benefit, but because the aim is to simultaneously satisfy the Supreme Lord, such yajnas have been recommended in the Vedas. Such performances are, of course, known as karma-kanda, or material activities, and all material activities are certainly contaminated by the three modes of material nature. Generally the karma-kanda ritualistic ceremonies are performed in the mode of passion, yet the conditioned souls, both human beings and demigods, are obliged to perform these yajnas because without them one cannot be happy at all.
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura comments that these karma-kanda ritualistic ceremonies, although contaminated, contain touches of devotional service because whenever there is a performance of any yajna, Lord Visnu is given a central position. This is very important because even a little endeavor to please Lord Visnu is bhakti and is of great value. A tinge of bhakti purifies the material nature of the performances, which by devotional service gradually come to the transcendental position. Therefore although such yajnas are superficially material activities, the results are transcendental. Such yajnas as Surya-yajna, Indra-yajna and Candra-yajna are performed in the names of the demigods, but these demigods are bodily parts of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The demigods cannot accept sacrificial offerings for themselves, but they can accept them for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, just as a departmental tax collector of a government cannot collect taxes for his personal account but can realize them for the government. Any yajna performed with this complete knowledge and understanding is described in Bhagavad-gita as brahmarpanam, or a sacrifice offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Since no one but the Supreme Lord can enjoy the results of sacrifice, the Lord says that He is the actual enjoyer of all sacrifices (bhoktaram yajna-tapasam sarva-loka-mahesvaram [Bg. 5.29]). Sacrifices should be performed with this view in mind. As stated in Bhagavad-gita (4.24):
“A person who is fully absorbed in Krsna consciousness is sure to attain the spiritual kingdom because of his full contribution to spiritual activities, in which the consummation is absolute and that which is offered is of the same spiritual nature.” The performer of sacrifices must always keep in view that the sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas are meant to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Visnur aradhyate panthah (Visnu Purana 3.8.9). Anything material or spiritual done for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord is understood to be an actual yajna, and by performing such yajnas one gets liberation from material bondage. The direct method of getting liberation from material bondage is devotional service, comprising the nine following methods:
This ninefold process is described in this verse as visuddha-vijnana-ghanah, or satisfying the Supreme Personality of Godhead directly by transcendental knowledge concentrated on the form of the Supreme Lord, Visnu. This is the best method for satisfying the Supreme Lord. One who cannot take to this direct process, however, should take the indirect process of performing yajnas for the satisfaction of Visnu, or Yajna. Visnu is therefore called yajna-pati. Sriyah patim yajna-patim jagat-patim (Bhag. 2.9.15).
The Supreme Personality of Godhead’s deep scientific knowledge is concentrated to the supreme point. For example, medical science knows some things superficially, but doctors do not know exactly how things happen in the body. Lord Krsna, however, knows everything in detail. Therefore His knowledge is vijnana-ghana because it does not have any of the defects of material science. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is visuddha-vijnana-ghana, concentrated transcendental knowledge; therefore, even though He accepts karma-kandiya materialistic yajnas, He always remains in a transcendental position. Therefore, the mention of aneka-guna refers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s many transcendental qualities, for He is not affected by the material qualities. The different kinds of material paraphernalia or physical elements are also gradually transformed into spiritual understanding because ultimately there is no difference between material and spiritual qualities, for everything emanates from the Supreme Spirit. This is realized by a gradual process of realization and purification. One vivid example of this is Dhruva Maharaja, who took to meditation in the forest to achieve material benefit but ultimately became spiritually advanced and did not want any benediction for material profit. He was simply satisfied with the association of the Supreme Lord. Asaya means “determination.” Generally a conditioned soul has the determination for material profit, but when these desires for material profit are satisfied through performance of yajna, one gradually achieves the spiritual platform. Then his life becomes perfect. Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.3.10) therefore recommends:
Everyone—whether akama (a devotee), sarva-kama (a karmi) or moksa-kama (a jnani or yogi)—is encouraged to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead by the direct method of devotional service. In this way one can get both material and spiritual profit simultaneously.
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