jyotir-adir ivabhati
sanghatan na vivicyate
vidanty atmanam atma-stham
mathitva kavayo ’ntatah
jyotih—fire; adih—and other elements; iva—just as; abhati—appear; sanghatat—from the bodies of demigods and others; na—not; vivicyate—are distinguished; vidanti—perceive; atmanam—the Supersoul; atma-stham—situated in the heart; mathitva—by discerning; kavayah—expert thinkers; antatah—within.
The all-pervading Personality of Godhead exists within the heart of every living being, and an expert thinker can perceive how He is present there to a large or small extent. Just as one can understand the supply of fire in wood, the water in a waterpot, or the sky within a pot, one can understand whether a living entity is a demon or a demigod by understanding that living entity’s devotional performances. A thoughtful man can understand how much a person is favored by the Supreme Lord by seeing his actions.
In Bhagavad-gita (10.41) the Lord says:
“Know that all beautiful, glorious and mighty creations spring from but a spark of My splendor.” We have the practical experience of seeing that one person is able to do very wonderful things whereas another cannot do those same things and cannot even do things that require only a little common sense. Therefore, how much a devotee has been favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead can be tested by the activities the devotee has performed. In Bhagavad-gita (10.10) the Lord also says:
“To those who are constantly devoted and who worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.” This is very practical. A teacher instructs the student if the student is capable of taking more and more instructions. Otherwise, in spite of being instructed by the teacher, the student cannot make strides in his understanding. This has nothing to do with partiality. When Krsna says tesam satata-yuktanam bhajatam priti-purvakam/ dadami buddhi-yogam tam [Bg. 10.10], this indicates that Krsna is prepared to give bhakti-yoga to everyone, but one must be capable of receiving it. That is the secret. Thus when a person exhibits wonderful devotional activities, a thoughtful man understands that Krsna has been more favorable to this devotee.
This is not difficult to understand, but envious persons do not accept that Krsna has bestowed His favor upon a particular devotee in accordance with his advanced position. Such foolish persons become envious and try to minimize an advanced devotee’s activities. That is not Vaisnavism. A Vaisnava should appreciate the service rendered to the Lord by other Vaisnavas. Therefore a Vaisnava is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam as nirmatsara. Vaisnavas are never envious of other Vaisnavas or of anyone else, and therefore they are called nirmatsaranam satam.
As Bhagavad-gita informs us, one can understand how one is saturated with sattva-guna, rajo-guna or tamo-guna. In the examples given herewith, fire represents the mode of goodness. One can understand the constitution of a container for wood, petrol or other inflammable substances by the quantity of the fire. Similarly, water represents rajo-guna, the mode of passion. A small skin and the vast Atlantic Ocean both contain water, and by seeing the quantity of water in a container one can understand the size of the container. The sky represents the mode of ignorance. The sky is present in a small earthen pot and also in outer space. Thus by proper judgment one can see who is a devata, or demigod, and who is an asura, Yaksa or Raksasa according to the quantities of sattva-guna, rajo-guna and tamo-guna. One cannot judge whether a person is a devata, an asura or a Raksasa by seeing him, but a sane man can understand this by the activities such a person performs. A general description is given in the Padma Purana: visnu-bhaktah smrto daiva asuras tad-viparyayah. A devotee of Lord Visnu is a demigod, whereas an asura or Yaksa is just the opposite. An asura is not a devotee of Lord Visnu; instead, for his sense gratification he is a devotee of the demigods, bhutas, pretas and so on. Thus one can judge who is a devata, who is a Raksasa and who is an asura by how they conduct their activities.
The word atmanam in this verse means paramatmanam. The Paramatma, or Supersoul, is situated in the core of everyone’s heart (antatah). This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (18.61). Isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese ’rjuna tisthati. The isvara, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, being situated in everyone’s heart, gives directions to everyone in terms of one’s capabilities in taking the instructions. The instructions of Bhagavad-gita are open to everyone, but some people understand them properly, whereas others understand them so improperly that they cannot even believe in the existence of Krsna, although reading Krsna’s book. Although the Gita says sri-bhagavan uvaca, indicating that Krsna spoke, they cannot understand Krsna. This is due to their misfortune or incapability, which is caused by rajo-guna and tamo-guna, the modes of passion and ignorance. It is because of these modes that they cannot even understand Krsna, whereas an advanced devotee like Arjuna understands Him and glorifies Him, saying, param brahma param dhama pavitram paramam bhavan: [Bg. 10.12] “You are the Supreme Brahman, the supreme abode and purifier.” Krsna is open to everyone, but one needs the capability to understand Him.
By external features one cannot understand who is favored by Krsna and who is not. According to one’s attitude, Krsna becomes one’s direct adviser, or Krsna becomes unknown. This is not Krsna’s partiality; it is His response to one’s ability to understand Him. According to one’s receptiveness—whether one be a devata, asura, Yaksa or Raksasa—Krsna’s quality is proportionately exhibited. This proportionate exhibition of Krsna’s power is misunderstood by less intelligent men to be Krsna’s partiality, but actually it is no such thing. Krsna is equal to everyone, and according to one’s ability to receive the favor of Krsna, one advances in Krsna consciousness. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura gives a practical example in this connection. In the sky there are many luminaries. At night, even in darkness, the moon is extremely brilliant and can be directly perceived. The sun is also extremely brilliant. When covered by clouds, however, these luminaries are not distinctly visible. Similarly, the more one advances in sattva-guna, the more his brilliance is exhibited by devotional service, but the more one is covered by rajo-guna and tamo-guna, the less visible his brilliance, for he is covered by these qualities. The visibility of one’s qualities does not depend on the partiality of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; it is due to various coverings in different proportions. Thus one can understand how far he has advanced in terms of sattva-guna and how much he is covered by rajo-guna and tamo-guna.

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