Instructions for Civilized Human Beings
The summary of the Fifteenth Chapter is as follows. In the previous chapter, Śrī Nārada Muni proved the importance of the brāhmaṇa in society. Now, in this chapter, he will show the differences between different grades of brāhmaṇas. Among the brāhmaṇas, some are householders and are mostly attached to fruitive activities or the betterment of social conditions. Above them, however, are brāhmaṇas who are very much attracted by austerities and penances and who retire from family life. They are known as vānaprasthas. Other brāhmaṇas are very much interested in studying the Vedas and explaining the purport of the Vedas to others. Such brāhmaṇas are called brahmacārīs. And still other brāhmaṇas are interested in different types of yoga, especially bhakti-yoga and jñāna-yoga. Such brāhmaṇas are mostly sannyāsīs, members of the renounced order of life.
As far as householders are concerned, they engage in different types of scriptural activities, especially in offering oblations to their forefathers and giving as charity to other brāhmaṇas the paraphernalia engaged in such sacrifices. Generally the charity is given to sannyāsīs, brāhmaṇas in the renounced order of life. If such a sannyāsī is not available, the charity is given to brāhmaṇa householders engaged in fruitive activities.
One should not make very elaborate arrangements to perform the śrāddha ceremony of offering oblations to one’s forefathers. The best process for the śrāddha ceremony is to distribute bhāgavata-prasāda (remnants of food that has first been offered to Kṛṣṇa) to all of one’s forefathers and relatives. This makes a first-class śrāddha ceremony. In the śrāddha ceremony there is no need to offer meat or eat meat. Unnecessary killing of animals must be avoided. Those who are in the lower grades of society prefer to perform sacrifices by killing animals, but one who is advanced in knowledge must avoid such unnecessary violence.
Brāhmaṇas should execute their regulative duties in worshiping Lord Viṣṇu. Those who are advanced in knowledge of religious principles must avoid five kinds of irreligion, known as vidharma, para-dharma, dharmābhāsa, upadharma and chala-dharma. One must act according to the religious principles that suit his constitutional position; it is not that everyone must adhere to the same type of religion. A general principle is that a poor man should not unnecessarily endeavor for economic development. One who refrains from such endeavors but who engages in devotional service is most auspicious.
One who is not satisfied with the mind must fall to degradation. One must conquer lusty desires, anger, greed, fear, lamentation, illusion, fright, unnecessary talks on material subjects, violence, the four miseries of material existence, and the three material qualities. That is the objective of human life. One who has no faith in the spiritual master, who is identical with Śrī Kṛṣṇa, cannot get any benefit from reading śāstra. One should never consider the spiritual master an ordinary human being, even though the members of the spiritual master’s family may think of him as such. Meditation and other processes of austerity are useful only if they help in advancement toward Kṛṣṇa consciousness; otherwise, they are simply a waste of time and labor. For those who are not devotees, such meditation and austerity cause falldown.
Every householder should be very careful because even though a householder may try to conquer the senses, he becomes a victim to the association of relatives and falls down. Thus a gṛhastha must become a vānaprastha or sannyāsī, live in a secluded place, and be satisfied with food gotten by begging from door to door. He must chant the oṁkāra mantra or Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, and in this way he will perceive transcendental bliss within himself. After taking sannyāsa, however, if one returns to gṛhastha life, he is called a vāntāśī, which means “one who eats his own vomit.” Such a person is shameless. A householder should not give up the ritualistic ceremonies, and a sannyāsī should not live in society. If a sannyāsī is agitated by the senses, he is a cheater influenced by the modes of passion and ignorance. When one assumes a role in goodness by starting philanthropic and altruistic activities, such activities become impediments on the path of devotional service.
The best process for advancing in devotional service is to abide by the orders of the spiritual master, for only by his direction can one conquer the senses. Unless one is completely Kṛṣṇa conscious, there is a chance of falling down. Of course, in performing ritualistic ceremonies and other fruitive activities there are also many dangers at every moment. Fruitive activities have been divided into twelve portions. Because of performing fruitive activities, which are called the path of dharma, one has to accept the cycle of birth and death, but when one takes the path of mokṣa, or liberation, which is described in Bhagavad-gītā as arcanā-mārga, one can get relief from the cycle of birth and death. The Vedas describe these two paths as pitṛ-yāna and deva-yāna. Those who follow the paths of pitṛ-yāna and deva-yāna are never bewildered, even while in the material body. A monistic philosopher who gradually develops control of the senses understands that the objective of all the different āśramas, the statuses of life, is salvation. One must live and act according to śāstras.
If one who is performing the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies becomes a devotee, even if he is a gṛhastha, he can receive the causeless mercy of Kṛṣṇa. The objective of a devotee is to return home, back to Godhead. Such a devotee, even though not performing ritualistic ceremonies, advances in spiritual consciousness by the supreme will of the Personality of Godhead. One may actually become successful in spiritual consciousness by the mercy of devotees, or one may fall from spiritual consciousness by being disrespectful to devotees. In this regard, Nārada Muni narrated the history of how he had fallen from the Gandharva kingdom, how he was born in a śūdra family, and how by serving exalted brāhmaṇas he became the son of Lord Brahmā and was reinstated in his transcendental position. After narrating all these stories, Nārada Muni praised the mercy received from the Lord by the Pāṇḍavas. Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, after hearing from Nārada, became ecstatic in love of Kṛṣṇa, and then Nārada Muni left that place and returned to his own place. Thus Śukadeva Gosvāmī, having described various descendants of the daughters of Dakṣa, ends the Seventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
karma-niṣṭhā dvijāḥ kecit
svādhyāye ’nye pravacane
śrī-nāradaḥ uvāca—Nārada Muni said; karma-niṣṭhāḥ—attached to ritualistic ceremonies (according to one’s social status as a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra); dvi-jāḥ—the twice-born (especially the brāhmaṇas); kecit—some; tapaḥ-niṣṭhāḥ—very much attached to austerities and penances; nṛpa—O King; apare—others; svādhyāye—in studying Vedic literature; anye—others; pravacane—delivering speeches on Vedic literature; kecana—some; jñāna-yogayoḥ—in culturing knowledge and practicing bhakti-yoga.
Nārada Muni continued: My dear King, some brāhmaṇas are very much attached to fruitive activities, some are attached to austerities and penances, and still others study the Vedic literature, whereas some, although very few, cultivate knowledge and practice different yogas, especially bhakti-yoga.
kavyāny ānantyam icchatā
daive ca tad-abhāve syād
jñāna-niṣṭhāya—to the impersonalist or the transcendentalist desiring to merge into the Supreme; deyāni—to be given in charity; kavyāni—ingredients offered to the forefathers as oblations; ānantyam—liberation from material bondage; icchatā—by a person desiring; daive—the ingredients to be offered to the demigods; ca—also; tat-abhāve—in the absence of such advanced transcendentalists; syāt—it should be done; itarebhyaḥ—to others (namely, those addicted to fruitive activities); yathā-arhataḥ—comparatively or with discrimination.
A person desiring liberation for his forefathers or himself should give charity to a brāhmaṇa who adheres to impersonal monism [jñāna-niṣṭhā]. In the absence of such an advanced brāhmaṇa, charity may be given to a brāhmaṇa addicted to fruitive activities [karma-kāṇḍa].
There are two processes by which to get free from material bondage. One involves jñāna-kāṇḍa and karma-kāṇḍa, and the other involves upāsanā-kāṇḍa. Vaiṣṇavas never want to merge into the existence of the Supreme; rather, they want to be everlastingly servants of the Lord to render loving service unto Him. In this verse the words ānantyam icchatā refer to persons who desire to achieve liberation from material bondage and merge into the existence of the Lord. Devotees, however, whose objective is to associate personally with the Lord, have no desire to accept the activities of karma-kāṇḍa or jñāna-kāṇḍa, for pure devotional service is above both karma-kāṇḍa and jñāna-kāṇḍa. Anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam [Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu
“One should render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa favorably and without desire for material profit or gain through fruitive activities or philosophical speculation. That is called pure devotional service.” Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.1.11
Charity, therefore, should be given to the first-class transcendentalist, the devotee, because the śāstras recommend:
“O great sage, among many millions who are liberated and perfect in knowledge of liberation, one may be a devotee of Lord Nārāyaṇa, or Kṛṣṇa. Such devotees, who are fully peaceful, are extremely rare.” (Bhāg. 6.14.5) A Vaiṣṇava is in a higher position than a jñānī, and therefore Advaita Ācārya selected Haridāsa Ṭhākura to be the person to accept His charity. The Supreme Lord also says:
“Even though a person is a very learned scholar of the Sanskrit Vedic literatures, he is not accepted as My devotee unless he is pure in devotional service. However, even though a person is born in a family of dog-eaters, he is very dear to Me if he is a pure devotee who has no motive to enjoy fruitive activity or mental speculation. Indeed, all respect should be given to him, and whatever he offers should be accepted. Such devotees are as worshipable as I am.” (Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 10.127) Therefore, even if not born in a brāhmaṇa family, a devotee, because of his devotion to the Lord, is above all kinds of brāhmaṇas, whether they be karma-kāṇḍīs or jñāna-kāṇḍīs.
In this regard, it may be mentioned that brāhmaṇas in Vṛndāvana who are karma-kāṇḍīs and jñāna-kāṇḍīs sometimes decline to accept invitations to our temple because our temple is known as the aṅgarejī temple, or “Anglican temple.” But in accordance with the evidence given in the śāstra and the example set by Advaita Ācārya, we give prasāda to devotees regardless of whether they come from India, Europe or America. It is the conclusion of the śāstra that instead of feeding many jñāna-kāṇḍī or karma-kāṇḍī brāhmaṇas, it is better to feed a pure Vaiṣṇava, regardless of where he comes from. This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (9.30):
“Even if one commits the most abominable actions, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated.” Thus it doesn’t matter whether a devotee comes from a brāhmaṇa family or non-brāhmaṇa family; if he is fully devoted to Kṛṣṇa, he is a sādhu.
dvau daive pitṛ-kārye trīn
ekaikam ubhayatra vā
bhojayet susamṛddho ’pi
śrāddhe kuryān na vistaram
dvau—two; daive—during the period when oblations are offered to the demigods; pitṛ-kārye—in the śrāddha ceremony, in which oblations are offered to the forefathers; trīn—three; eka—one; ekam—one; ubhayatra—for both occasions; vā—either; bhojayet—one should feed; su-samṛddhaḥ api—even though one is very rich; śrāddhe—when offering oblations to the forefathers; kuryāt—one should do; na—not; vistaram—very expensive arrangements.
During the period for offering oblations to the demigods, one should invite only two brāhmaṇas, and while offering oblations to the forefathers, one may invite three brāhmaṇas. Or, in either case, only one brāhmaṇa will suffice. Even though one is very opulent, he should not endeavor to invite more brāhmaṇas or make various expensive arrangements on those occasions.
As we have already mentioned, Śrīla Advaita Ācārya, during the generally observed ceremony to offer oblations to the forefathers, invited only Haridāsa Ṭhākura. Thus He followed this principle: na me’bhaktaś catur-vedī mad-bhaktaḥ śva-pacaḥ priyaḥ. The Lord says, “It is not necessary that one become very expert in Vedic knowledge before he can become My bhakta, or devotee. Even if one is born in a family of dog-eaters, he can become My devotee and be very dear to Me, in spite of having taken birth in such a family. Therefore, offerings should be given to My devotee, and whatever My devotee has offered Me should be accepted.” Following this principle, one should invite a first-class brāhmaṇa or Vaiṣṇava—a realized soul—and feed him while observing the śrāddha ceremony to offer oblations to one’s forefathers.
samyag bhavanti naitāni
deśa—place; kāla—time; ucita—proper; śraddhā—respect; dravya—ingredients; pātra—a suitable person; arhaṇāni—paraphernalia for worship; ca—and; samyak—proper; bhavanti—are; na—not; etāni—all these; vistarāt—due to expansion; sva-jana-arpaṇāt—or due to inviting relatives.
If one arranges to feed many brāhmaṇas or relatives during the śrāddha ceremony, there will be discrepancies in the time, place, respectability and ingredients, the person to be worshiped, and the method of offering worship.
Nārada Muni has prohibited unnecessarily gorgeous arrangements to feed relatives or brāhmaṇas during the śrāddha ceremony. Those who are materially opulent spend lavishly during this ceremony. Indians spend especially lavishly on three occasions—at the birth of a child, at marriage and while observing the śrāddha ceremony—but the śāstras prohibit the excessive expenditures involved in inviting many brāhmaṇas and relatives, especially during the śrāddha ceremony.
deśe kāle ca samprāpte
śraddhayā vidhivat pātre
nyastaṁ kāmadhug akṣayam
deśe—in a proper place, namely a holy place of pilgrimage; kāle—at an auspicious time; ca—also; samprāpte—when available; muni-annam—foodstuffs prepared with ghee and suitable to be eaten by great saintly persons; hari-daivatam—unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari; śraddhayā—with love and affection; vidhi-vat—according to the directions of the spiritual master and the śāstras; pātre—unto the suitable person; nyastam—if it is so offered; kāmadhuk—becomes a source of prosperity; akṣayam—everlasting.
When one gets the opportunity of a suitable auspicious time and place, one should, with love, offer food prepared with ghee to the Deity of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and then offer the prasāda to a suitable person—a Vaiṣṇava or brāhmaṇa. This will be the cause of everlasting prosperity.
ātmane sva-janāya ca
annaṁ saṁvibhajan paśyet
sarvaṁ tat puruṣātmakam
deva—unto the demigods; ṛṣi—saintly persons; pitṛ—forefathers; bhūtebhyaḥ—the living entities in general; ātmane—relatives; sva-janāya—family members and friends; ca—and; annam—foodstuff (prasāda); saṁvibhajan—offering; paśyet—one should see; sarvam—all; tat—them; puruṣa-ātmakam—related to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
One should offer prasāda to the demigods, the saintly persons, one’s forefathers, the people in general, one’s family members, one’s relatives and one’s friends, seeing them all as devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
As mentioned above, it is recommended that everyone distribute prasāda, considering every living being a part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. Even in feeding the poor, one should distribute prasāda. In Kali-yuga there is a scarcity of food almost every year, and thus philanthropists spend lavishly to feed the poor. For this they invent the term daridra-nārāyaṇa-sevā. This is prohibited. One should distribute sumptuous prasāda, considering everyone a part of the Supreme Lord, but one should not juggle words to make a poor man Nārāyaṇa. Everyone is related to the Supreme Lord, but one should not mistakenly think that because one is related to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he has become the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa. Such a Māyāvāda philosophy is extremely dangerous, especially for a devotee. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has therefore strictly forbidden us to associate with Māyāvādī philosophers. Māyāvādi-bhāṣya śunile haya sarva-nāśa: if one associates with the Māyāvāda philosophy, his devotional life is doomed.
na dadyād āmiṣaṁ śrāddhe
na cādyād dharma-tattvavit
muny-annaiḥ syāt parā prītir
yathā na paśu-hiṁsayā
na—never; dadyāt—should offer; āmiṣam—meat, fish, eggs and so on; śrāddhe—in the performance of the śrāddha ceremony; na—nor; ca—also; adyāt—one should eat personally; dharma-tattva-vit—one who is actually learned in regard to religious activities; muni-annaiḥ—by preparations made with ghee for saintly persons; syāt—should be; parā—first-class; prītiḥ—satisfaction; yathā—for the forefathers and the Supreme Personality of Godhead; na—not; paśu-hiṁsayā—by killing animals unnecessarily.
A person fully aware of religious principles should never offer anything like meat, eggs or fish in the śrāddha ceremony, and even if one is a kṣatriya, he himself should not eat such things. When suitable food prepared with ghee is offered to saintly persons, the function is pleasing to the forefathers and the Supreme Lord, who are never pleased when animals are killed in the name of sacrifice.
naitādṛśaḥ paro dharmo
nṛṇāṁ sad-dharmam icchatām
nyāso daṇḍasya bhūteṣu
na—never; etādṛśaḥ—like this; paraḥ—a supreme or superior; dharmaḥ—religion; nṛṇām—of persons; sat-dharmam—superior religion; icchatām—being desirous of; nyāsaḥ—giving up; daṇḍasya—causing trouble because of envy; bhūteṣu—unto the living entities; manaḥ—in terms of the mind; vāk—words; kāya-jasya—and body; yaḥ—which.
Persons who want to advance in superior religion are advised to give up all envy of other living entities, whether in relationship to the body, words or mind. There is no religion superior to this.
eke karmamayān yajñān
eke—some; karma-mayān—resulting in a reaction (such as the killing of animals); yajñān—sacrifices; jñāninaḥ—persons advanced in knowledge; yajña-vit-tamāḥ—who know perfectly well the purpose of sacrifice; ātma-saṁyamane—by self-control; anīhāḥ—who are without material desires; juhvati—execute sacrifice; jñāna-dīpite—enlightened in perfect knowledge.
Because of an awakening of spiritual knowledge, those who are intelligent in regard to sacrifice, who are actually aware of religious principles and who are free from material desires, control the self in the fire of spiritual knowledge, or knowledge of the Absolute Truth. They may give up the process of ritualistic ceremonies.
People are generally very much interested in karma-kāṇḍa ritualistic ceremonies for elevation to the higher planetary systems, but when one awakens his spiritual knowledge, he becomes uninterested in such elevation and engages himself fully in jñāna-yajña to find the objective of life. The objective of life is to stop completely the miseries of birth and death and to return home, back to Godhead. When one cultivates knowledge for this purpose, he is considered to be on a higher platform than one who is engaged in karma-yajña, or fruitive activities.
dṛṣṭvā bhūtāni bibhyati
eṣa mākaruṇo hanyād
ataj-jño hy asu-tṛp dhruvam
dravya-yajñaiḥ—with animals and other eatable things; yakṣyamāṇam—the person engaged in such sacrifices; dṛṣṭvā—by seeing; bhūtāni—the living entities (animals); bibhyati—become afraid; eṣaḥ—this person (the performer of sacrifice); mā—us; akaruṇaḥ—who is inhumane and merciless; hanyāt—will kill; a-tat-jñaḥ—most ignorant; hi—indeed; asu-tṛp—who is most satisfied by killing others; dhruvam—certainly.
Upon seeing the person engaged in performing the sacrifice, animals meant to be sacrificed are extremely afraid, thinking, “This merciless performer of sacrifices, being ignorant of the purpose of sacrifice and being most satisfied by killing others, will surely kill us.”
Animal sacrifice in the name of religion is current practically all over the world in every established religion. It is said that Lord Jesus Christ, when twelve years old, was shocked to see the Jews sacrificing birds and animals in the synagogues and that he therefore rejected the Jewish system of religion and started the religious system of Christianity, adhering to the Old Testament commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” At the present day, however, not only are animals killed in the name of sacrifice, but the killing of animals has increased enormously because of the increasing number of slaughterhouses. Slaughtering animals, either for religion or for food, is most abominable and is condemned herein. Unless one is merciless, one cannot sacrifice animals, either in the name of religion or for food.
santuṣṭo ’har ahaḥ kuryān
tasmāt—therefore; daiva-upapannena—obtainable very easily by the grace of the Lord; muni-annena—with food (prepared in ghee and offered to the Supreme Lord); api—indeed; dharma-vit—one who is actually advanced in religious principles; santuṣṭaḥ—very happily; ahaḥ ahaḥ—day after day; kuryāt—one should perform; nitya-naimittikīḥ—regular and occasional; kriyāḥ—duties.
Therefore, day by day, one who is actually aware of religious principles and is not heinously envious of poor animals should happily perform daily sacrifices and those for certain occasions with whatever food is available easily by the grace of the Lord.
The word dharmavit, meaning “one who knows the actual purpose of religion,” is very significant. As explained in Bhagavad-gītā (18.66), sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja [Bg. 18.66]: becoming Kṛṣṇa conscious is the topmost stage in understanding of religious principles. One who reaches this stage performs the arcanā process in devotional service. Anyone, whether a gṛhastha or a sannyāsī, can keep small Deities of the Lord suitably packed or, if possible, installed, and thus worship the Deities of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, Sītā-Rāma, Lakṣmī-Nārāyaṇa, Lord Jagannātha or Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu by offering food prepared in ghee and then offering the sanctified prasāda to the forefathers, demigods and other living entities as a matter of routine daily work. All the centers of our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement have Deity worship programs very nicely going on in which food is offered to the Deity and distributed to the first-class brāhmaṇas and Vaiṣṇavas and even to the people in general. This performance of sacrifice brings complete satisfaction. The members of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement engage daily in such transcendental activities. Thus in our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement there is no question at all of killing animals.
vidharmaḥ para-dharmaś ca
ābhāsa upamā chalaḥ
dharma-jño ’dharmavat tyajet
vidharmaḥ—irreligion; para-dharmaḥ—religious principles practiced by others; ca—and; ābhāsaḥ—pretentious religious principles; upamā—principles that appear religious but are not; chalaḥ—a cheating religion; adharma-śākhāḥ—which are different branches of irreligion; pañca—five; imāḥ—these; dharma-jñaḥ—one who is aware of religious principles; adharma-vat—accepting them as irreligious; tyajet—should give up.
There are five branches of irreligion, appropriately known as irreligion [vidharma], religious principles for which one is unfit [para-dharma], pretentious religion [ābhāsa], analogical religion [upadharma] and cheating religion [chala-dharma]. One who is aware of real religious life must abandon these five as irreligious.
Any religious principles opposed to the principle of surrendering to the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, are to be considered religious principles of irregularity or cheating, and one who is actually interested in religion must give them up. One should simply follow the instructions of Kṛṣṇa and surrender unto Him. To do this, of course, one needs very good intelligence, which may be awakened after many, many births through good association with devotees and the practice of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Everything but the principle of religion recommended by Kṛṣṇa—sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja [Bg. 18.66]—should be given up as irreligion.
dharma-bādho vidharmaḥ syāt
upadharmas tu pākhaṇḍo
dambho vā śabda-bhic chalaḥ
dharma-bādhaḥ—obstructs the execution of one’s own religious principles; vidharmaḥ—against the principles of religion; syāt—should be; para-dharmaḥ—imitating religious systems for which one is unfit; anya-coditaḥ—which is introduced by someone else; upadharmaḥ—concocted religious principles; tu—indeed; pākhaṇḍaḥ—by one who is against the principles of Vedas, standard scriptures; dambhaḥ—who is falsely proud; vā—or; śabda-bhit—by word jugglery; chalaḥ—a cheating religious system.
Religious principles that obstruct one from following his own religion are called vidharma. Religious principles introduced by others are called para-dharma. A new type of religion created by one who is falsely proud and who opposes the principles of the Vedas is called upadharma. And interpretation by one’s jugglery of words is called chala-dharma.
To create a new type of dharma has become fashionable in this age. So-called svāmīs and yogīs support that one may follow any type of religious system, according to one’s own choice, because all systems are ultimately the same. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, however, such fashionable ideas are called vidharma because they go against one’s own religious system. The real religious system is described by the Supreme Personality of Godhead: sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja [Bg. 18.66]. The real religious system is that of surrender to the lotus feet of the Lord. In the Sixth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, in connection with Ajāmila’s deliverance, Yamarāja says, dharmaṁ tu sākṣād bhagavat-praṇītam: [SB 6.3.19] real religion is that which is given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, just as real law is that which is given by the government. No one can manufacture actual law at home, nor can one manufacture actual religion. Elsewhere it is said, sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhokṣaje: [SB 1.2.6] the real religious system is that which leads one to become a devotee of the Supreme Lord. Therefore, anything opposed to this religious system of progressive Kṛṣṇa consciousness is called vidharma, para-dharma, upadharma or chala-dharma. Misinterpretation of Bhagavad-gītā is chala-dharma. When Kṛṣṇa directly says something and some rascal interprets it to mean something different, this is chala-dharma—a religious system of cheating—or śabda-bhit, a jugglery of words. One should be extremely careful to avoid these various types of cheating systems of religion.
yas tv icchayā kṛtaḥ pumbhir
ābhāso hy āśramāt pṛthak
kasya neṣṭaḥ praśāntaye
yaḥ—that which; tu—indeed; icchayā—whimsically; kṛtaḥ—conducted; pumbhiḥ—by persons; ābhāsaḥ—dim reflection; hi—indeed; āśramāt—from one’s own order of life; pṛthak—different; sva-bhāva—according to one’s own nature; vihitaḥ—regulated; dharmaḥ—religious principle; kasya—in what respect; na—not; iṣṭaḥ—capable; praśāntaye—for relieving all kinds of distress.
A pretentious religious system manufactured by one who willfully neglects the prescribed duties of his order of life is called ābhāsa [a dim reflection or false similarity]. But if one performs the prescribed duties for his particular āśrama or varṇa, why are they not sufficient to mitigate all material distresses?
It is indicated here that everyone should strictly follow the principles of varṇa and āśrama as given in the śāstra. In the Viṣṇu Purāṇa (3.8.9) it is said:
One should focus upon the destination for progress, which is to become Kṛṣṇa conscious. This is the aim and end of all varṇas and āśramas. However, if Viṣṇu is not worshiped, the followers of the varṇāśrama institution manufacture some concocted God. Thus it has now become fashionable for any rascal or fool to be elected God, and there are many missionaries who have concocted their own gods, giving up their relationship with the real God. In Bhagavad-gītā it is clearly said that one who worships the demigods has lost his intelligence. Nonetheless we find that even an illiterate person who has lost all intelligence is elected God, and although he has a temple, it has meat-eating sannyāsīs, and many polluted activities go on there. This type of religious system, which misguides its poor followers, is strictly forbidden. Such pretentious religions should be stopped altogether.
The original system is that a brāhmaṇa should actually become a brāhmaṇa; he should not only take birth in a brāhmaṇa family, but must also be qualified. Also, even if one is not born in a brāhmaṇa family but has brahminical qualifications, he must be considered a brāhmaṇa. By strictly following this system, one can be happy without extra endeavor. Sva-bhāva-vihito dharmaḥ kasya neṣṭaḥ praśāntaye. The real aim of life is to mitigate distress, and one can do this very easily by following the principles of śāstra.
dharmārtham api neheta
yātrārthaṁ vādhano dhanam
mahāher iva vṛttidā
dharma-artham—in religion or economic development; api—indeed; na—not; īheta—should try to obtain; yātrā-artham—just to maintain the body and soul together; vā—either; adhanaḥ—one who has no wealth; dhanam—money; anīhā—the desirelessness; anīhamānasya—of a person who does not endeavor even to earn his livelihood; mahā-aheḥ—the great serpent known as the python; iva—like; vṛtti-dā—which obtains its livelihood without endeavor.
Even if a man is poor, he should not endeavor to improve his economic condition just to maintain his body and soul together or to become a famous religionist. Just as a great python, although lying in one place, not endeavoring for its livelihood, gets the food it needs to maintain body and soul, one who is desireless also obtains his livelihood without endeavor.
Human life is simply meant for developing Kṛṣṇa consciousness. One need not even try to earn a livelihood to maintain body and soul together. This is illustrated here by the example of the great python, which lies in one place, never going here and there to earn a livelihood to maintain itself, and yet is maintained by the grace of the Lord. As advised by Nārada Muni (Bhāg. 1.5.18), tasyaiva hetoḥ prayateta kovidaḥ: one should simply endeavor to increase his Kṛṣṇa consciousness. One should not desire to do anything else, even to earn his livelihood. There are many, many examples of this attitude. Mādhavendra Purī, for instance, would never go to anyone to ask for food. Śukadeva Gosvāmī has also said, kasmād bhajanti kavayo dhana-durmadāndhān. Why should one approach a person who is blind with wealth? Rather, one should depend on Kṛṣṇa, and He will give everything. All the members of our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, whether they be gṛhasthas or sannyāsīs, should try to spread the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement with determination, and Kṛṣṇa will supply all necessities. The process of ājagara-vṛtti, the means of livelihood of a python, is very much appreciated in this regard. Even though one may be very poor, he should simply try to advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and not endeavor to earn his livelihood.
svātmārāmasya yat sukham
kutas tat kāma-lobhena
dhāvato ’rthehayā diśaḥ
santuṣṭasya—of one who is fully satisfied in Kṛṣṇa consciousness; nirīhasya—who does not endeavor for his livelihood; sva—own; ātma-ārāmasya—who is self-satisfied; yat—that; sukham—happiness; kutaḥ—where; tat—such happiness; kāma-lobhena—impelled by lust and greed; dhāvataḥ—of one who is wandering here and there; artha-īhayā—with a desire for accumulating wealth; diśaḥ—in all directions.
One who is content and satisfied and who links his activities with the Supreme Personality of Godhead residing in everyone’s heart enjoys transcendental happiness without endeavoring for his livelihood. Where is such happiness for a materialistic man who is impelled by lust and greed and who therefore wanders in all directions with a desire to accumulate wealth?
sarvāḥ śivamayā diśaḥ
sadā—always; santuṣṭa-manasaḥ—for a person who is self-satisfied; sarvāḥ—everything; śiva-mayāḥ—auspicious; diśaḥ—in all directions; śarkarā—from pebbles; kaṇṭaka-ādibhyaḥ—and thorns, etc.; yathā—as; upānat-padaḥ—for a person who has suitable shoes; śivam—there is no danger (auspicious).
For a person who has suitable shoes on his feet, there is no danger even when he walks on pebbles and thorns. For him, everything is auspicious. Similarly, for one who is always self-satisfied there is no distress; indeed, he feels happiness everywhere.
santuṣṭaḥ kena vā rājan
na vartetāpi vāriṇā
santuṣṭaḥ—a person who is always self-satisfied; kena—why; vā—or; rājan—O King; na—not; varteta—should live (happily); api—even; vāriṇā—by drinking water; aupasthya—due to the genitals; jaihvya—and the tongue; kārpaṇyāt—because of a wretched or miserly condition; gṛha-pālāyate—he becomes exactly like a household dog; janaḥ—such a person.
My dear King, a self-satisfied person can be happy even with only drinking water. However, one who is driven by the senses, especially by the tongue and genitals, must accept the position of a household dog to satisfy his senses.
According to the śāstras, a brāhmaṇa, or a cultured person in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, will not enter anyone’s service to maintain body and soul together, and especially not for satisfaction of the senses. A true brāhmaṇa is always satisfied. Even if he has nothing to eat, he can drink a little water and be satisfied. This is only a matter of practice. Unfortunately, however, no one is educated in how to be satisfied in self-realization. As explained above, a devotee is always satisfied because he feels the presence of the Supersoul within his heart and thinks of Him twenty-four hours a day. That is real satisfaction. A devotee is never driven by the dictations of the tongue and genitals, and thus he is never victimized by the laws of material nature.
tejo vidyā tapo yaśaḥ
asantuṣṭasya—of one who is not self-satisfied; viprasya—of such a brāhmaṇa; tejaḥ—strength; vidyā—education; tapaḥ—austerity; yaśaḥ—fame; sravanti—dwindle; indriya—of the senses; laulyena—because of greed; jñānam—knowledge; ca—and; eva—certainly; avakīryate—gradually vanishes.
Because of greed for the sake of the senses, the spiritual strength, education, austerity and reputation of a devotee or brāhmaṇa who is not self-satisfied dwindle, and his knowledge gradually vanishes.
kāmasyāntaṁ hi kṣut-tṛḍbhyāṁ
jano yāti na lobhasya
jitvā bhuktvā diśo bhuvaḥ
kāmasya—of the desire for sense gratification or the urgent needs of the body; antam—end; hi—indeed; kṣut-tṛḍbhyām—by one who is very hungry or thirsty; krodhasya—of anger; etat—this; phala-udayāt—by venting chastisement and its reaction; janaḥ—a person; yāti—crosses over; na—not; lobhasya—greed; jitvā—conquering; bhuktvā—enjoying; diśaḥ—all directions; bhuvaḥ—of the globe.
The strong bodily desires and needs of a person disturbed by hunger and thirst are certainly satisfied when he eats. Similarly, if one becomes very angry, that anger is satisfied by chastisement and its reaction. But as for greed, even if a greedy person has conquered all the directions of the world or has enjoyed everything in the world, still he will not be satisfied.
In Bhagavad-gītā (3.37) it is stated that lust, anger and greed are the causes of the conditioned soul’s bondage in this material world. Kāma eṣa krodha eṣa rajo-guṇa-samudbhavaḥ. When strong lusty desires for sense gratification are unfulfilled, one becomes angry. This anger can be satisfied when one chastises his enemy, but when there is an increase in lobha, or greed, which is the greatest enemy caused by rajo-guṇa, the mode of passion, how can one advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness?
If one is very greedy to enhance his Kṛṣṇa consciousness, this is a great boon. Tatra laulyam ekalaṁ mūlam. This is the best path available.
paṇḍitā bahavo rājan
sadasas patayo ’py eke
asantoṣāt patanty adhaḥ
paṇḍitāḥ—very learned scholars; bahavaḥ—many; rājan—O King (Yudhiṣṭhira); bahu-jñāḥ—persons with varied experience; saṁśaya-cchidaḥ—expert in legal advice; sadasaḥ patayaḥ—persons eligible to become presidents of learned assemblies; api—even; eke—by one disqualification; asantoṣāt—simply by dissatisfaction or greed; patanti—fall down; adhaḥ—into hellish conditions of life.
O King Yudhiṣṭhira, many persons with varied experience, many legal advisers, many learned scholars and many persons eligible to become presidents of learned assemblies fall down into hellish life because of not being satisfied with their positions.
For spiritual advancement, one should be materially satisfied, for if one is not materially satisfied, his greed for material development will result in the frustration of his spiritual advancement. There are two things that nullify all good qualities. One is poverty. Daridra-doṣo guṇa-rāśi-nāśī. If one is poverty-stricken, all his good qualities become null and void. Similarly, if one becomes too greedy, his good qualifications are lost. Therefore the adjustment is that one should not be poverty-stricken, but one must try to be fully satisfied with the bare necessities of life and not be greedy. For a devotee to be satisfied with the bare necessities is therefore the best advice for spiritual advancement. Learned authorities in devotional life consequently advise that one not endeavor to increase the number of temples and maṭhas. Such activities can be undertaken only by devotees experienced in propagating the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. All the ācāryas in South India, especially Śrī Rāmānujācārya, constructed many big temples, and in North India all the Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana constructed large temples. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura also constructed large centers, known as Gauḍīya Maṭhas. Therefore temple construction is not bad, provided proper care is taken for the propagation of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Even if such endeavors are considered greedy, the greed is to satisfy Kṛṣṇa, and therefore these are spiritual activities.
asaṅkalpāj jayet kāmaṁ
asaṅkalpāt—by determination; jayet—one should conquer; kāmam—lusty desire; krodham—anger; kāma-vivarjanāt—by giving up the objective of sense desire; artha—accumulation of wealth; anartha—a cause of trouble; īkṣayā—by considering; lobham—greed; bhayam—fear; tattva—the truth; avamarśanāt—by considering.
By making plans with determination, one should give up lusty desires for sense gratification. Similarly, by giving up envy one should conquer anger, by discussing the disadvantages of accumulating wealth one should give up greed, and by discussing the truth one should give up fear.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has suggested how one can conquer lusty desires for sense gratification. One cannot give up thinking of women, for thinking in this way is natural; even while walking on the street, one will see so many women. However, if one is determined not to live with a woman, even while seeing a woman he will not become lusty. If one is determined not to have sex, he can automatically conquer lusty desires. The example given in this regard is that even if one is hungry, if on a particular day he is determined to observe fasting, he can naturally conquer the disturbances of hunger and thirst. If one is determined not to be envious of anyone, he can naturally conquer anger. Similarly, one can give up the desire to accumulate wealth simply by considering how difficult it is to protect the money in one’s possession. If one keeps a large amount of cash with him, he is always anxious about keeping it properly. Thus if one discusses the disadvantages of accumulating wealth, he can naturally give up business without difficulty.
ānvīkṣikyā—by deliberation upon material and spiritual subject matters; śoka—lamentation; mohau—and illusion; dambham—false pride; mahat—a Vaiṣṇava; upāsayā—by serving; yoga-antarāyān—obstacles on the path of yoga; maunena—by silence; hiṁsām—envy; kāma-ādi—for sense gratification; anīhayā—without endeavor.
By discussing spiritual knowledge one can conquer lamentation and illusion, by serving a great devotee one can become prideless, by keeping silent one can avoid obstacles on the path of mystic yoga, and simply by stopping sense gratification one can conquer envy.
If one’s son has died, one may certainly be affected by lamentation and illusion and cry for the dead son, but one may overcome lamentation and illusion by considering the verses of Bhagavad-gītā.
As the soul transmigrates, one who has taken birth must give up the present body, and then he must certainly accept another body. This should be no cause for lamentation. Therefore Lord Kṛṣṇa says, dhīras tatra na muhyati: one who is dhīra, or sober, who is learned in philosophy and established in knowledge, cannot be unhappy over the transmigration of the soul.
kṛpayā bhūtajaṁ duḥkhaṁ
daivaṁ jahyāt samādhinā
kṛpayā—by being merciful to all other living entities; bhūta-jam—because of other living entities; duḥkham—suffering; daivam—sufferings imposed by providence; jahyāt—one should give up; samādhinā—by trance or meditation; ātma-jam—sufferings due to the body and mind; yoga-vīryeṇa—by practicing haṭha-yoga, prāṇāyāma and so forth; nidrām—sleeping; sattva-niṣevayā—by developing brahminical qualifications or the mode of goodness.
By good behavior and freedom from envy one should counteract sufferings due to other living entities, by meditation in trance one should counteract sufferings due to providence, and by practicing haṭha-yoga, prāṇāyāma and so forth one should counteract sufferings due to the body and mind. Similarly, by developing the mode of goodness, especially in regard to eating, one should conquer sleep.
By practice, one should avoid eating in such a way that other living entities will be disturbed and suffer. Since I suffer when pinched or killed by others, I should not attempt to pinch or kill any other living entity. People do not know that because of killing innocent animals they themselves will have to suffer severe reactions from material nature. Any country where people indulge in unnecessary killing of animals will have to suffer from wars and pestilence imposed by material nature. Comparing one’s own suffering to the suffering of others, therefore, one should be kind to all living entities. One cannot avoid the sufferings inflicted by providence, and therefore when suffering comes one should fully absorb oneself in chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. One can avoid sufferings from the body and mind by practicing mystic haṭha-yoga.
rajas tamaś ca sattvena
sattvaṁ copaśamena ca
etat sarvaṁ gurau bhaktyā
puruṣo hy añjasā jayet
rajaḥ tamaḥ—the modes of passion and ignorance; ca—and; sattvena—by developing the mode of goodness; sattvam—the mode of goodness; ca—also; upaśamena—by giving up attachment; ca—and; etat—these; sarvam—all; gurau—unto the spiritual master; bhaktyā—by rendering service in devotion; puruṣaḥ—a person; hi—indeed; añjasā—easily; jayet—can conquer.
One must conquer the modes of passion and ignorance by developing the mode of goodness, and then one must become detached from the mode of goodness by promoting oneself to the platform of śuddha-sattva. All this can be automatically done if one engages in the service of the spiritual master with faith and devotion. In this way one can conquer the influence of the modes of nature.
Just by treating the root cause of an ailment, one can conquer all bodily pains and sufferings. Similarly, if one is devoted and faithful to the spiritual master, he can conquer the influence of sattva-guṇa, rajo-guṇa and tamo-guṇa very easily. Yogīs and jñānīs practice in many ways to conquer the senses, but the bhakta immediately attains the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead through the mercy of the spiritual master. Yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo **. If the spiritual master is favorably inclined, one naturally receives the mercy of the Supreme Lord, and by the mercy of the Supreme Lord one immediately becomes transcendental, conquering all the influences of sattva-guṇa, rajo-guṇa and tamo-guṇa within this material world. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (sa guṇān samatītyaitān brahma-bhūyāya kalpate [Bg. 14.26]). If one is a pure devotee acting under the directions of the guru, one easily gets the mercy of the Supreme Lord and thus becomes immediately situated on the transcendental platform. This is explained in the next verse.
yasya sākṣād bhagavati
martyāsad-dhīḥ śrutaṁ tasya
yasya—one who; sākṣāt—directly; bhagavati—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; jñāna-dīpa-prade—who enlightens with the torch of knowledge; gurau—unto the spiritual master; martya-asat-dhīḥ—considers the spiritual master to be like an ordinary human being and maintains such an unfavorable attitude; śrutam—Vedic knowledge; tasya—for him; sarvam—everything; kuñjara-śauca-vat—like the bath of an elephant in a lake.
The spiritual master should be considered to be directly the Supreme Lord because he gives transcendental knowledge for enlightenment. Consequently, for one who maintains the material conception that the spiritual master is an ordinary human being, everything is frustrated. His enlightenment and his Vedic studies and knowledge are like the bathing of an elephant.
It is recommended that one honor the spiritual master as being on an equal status with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sākṣād dharitvena samasta-śāstraiḥ. This is enjoined in every scripture. Ācāryaṁ māṁ vijānīyāt. One should consider the ācārya to be as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In spite of all these instructions, if one considers the spiritual master an ordinary human being, one is doomed. His study of the Vedas and his austerities and penances for enlightenment are all useless, like the bathing of an elephant. An elephant bathes in a lake quite thoroughly, but as soon as it comes on the shore it takes some dust from the ground and strews it over its body. Thus there is no meaning to the elephant’s bath. One may argue by saying that since the spiritual master’s relatives and the men of his neighborhood consider him an ordinary human being, what is the fault on the part of the disciple who considers the spiritual master an ordinary human being? This will be answered in the next verse, but the injunction is that the spiritual master should never be considered an ordinary man. One should strictly adhere to the instructions of the spiritual master, for if he is pleased, certainly the Supreme Personality of Godhead is pleased. Yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo yasyāprasādān na gatiḥ kuto ’pi .
eṣa vai bhagavān sākṣāt
loko yaṁ manyate naram
eṣaḥ—this; vai—indeed; bhagavān—Supreme Personality of Godhead; sākṣāt—directly; pradhāna—the chief cause of the material nature; puruṣa—of all living entities or of the puruṣāvatāra, Lord Viṣṇu; īśvaraḥ—the supreme controller; yoga-īśvaraiḥ—by great saintly persons, yogīs; vimṛgya-aṅghriḥ—Lord Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet, which are sought; lokaḥ—people in general; yam—Him; manyate—consider; naram—a human being.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Kṛṣṇa, is the master of all other living entities and of the material nature. His lotus feet are sought and worshiped by great saintly persons like Vyāsa. Nonetheless, there are fools who consider Lord Kṛṣṇa an ordinary human being.
The example of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s being the Supreme Personality of Godhead is appropriate in regard to understanding the spiritual master. The spiritual master is called sevaka-bhagavān, the servitor Personality of Godhead, and Kṛṣṇa is called sevya-bhagavān, the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is to be worshiped. The spiritual master is the worshiper God, whereas the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is the worshipable God. This is the difference between the spiritual master and the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Another point: Bhagavad-gītā, which constitutes the instructions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is presented by the spiritual master as it is, without deviation. Therefore the Absolute Truth is present in the spiritual master. As clearly stated in Text 26, jñāna-dīpa-prade. The Supreme Personality of Godhead gives real knowledge to the entire world, and the spiritual master, as the representative of the Supreme Godhead, carries the message throughout the world. Therefore, on the absolute platform, there is no difference between the spiritual master and the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If someone considers the Supreme Personality—Kṛṣṇa or Lord Rāmacandra—to be an ordinary human being, this does not mean that the Lord becomes an ordinary human being. Similarly, if the family members of the spiritual master, who is the bona fide representative of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, consider the spiritual master an ordinary human being, this does not mean that he becomes an ordinary human being. The spiritual master is as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and therefore one who is very serious about spiritual advancement must regard the spiritual master in this way. Even a slight deviation from this understanding can create disaster in the disciple’s Vedic studies and austerities.
tad-antā yadi no yogān
ṣaṭ-varga—the six elements, namely the five working senses and the mind; saṁyama-ekāntāḥ—the ultimate aim of subjugating; sarvāḥ—all such activities; niyama-codanāḥ—the regulative principles further meant for controlling the senses and mind; tat-antāḥ—the ultimate goal of such activities; yadi—if; no—not; yogān—the positive link with the Supreme; āvaheyuḥ—did lead to; śrama-āvahāḥ—a waste of time and labor.
Ritualistic ceremonies, regulative principles, austerities and the practice of yoga are all meant to control the senses and mind, but even after one is able to control the senses and mind, if he does not come to the point of meditation upon the Supreme Lord, all such activities are simply labor in frustration.
One may argue that one may achieve the ultimate goal of life—realization of the Supersoul—by practicing the yoga system and ritualistic performances according to the Vedic principles, even without staunch devotion to the spiritual master. The actual fact, however, is that by practicing yoga one must come to the platform of meditating upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As stated in the scriptures, dhyānāvasthita-tad-gatena manasā paśyanti yaṁ yoginaḥ: [SB 12.13.1] a person in meditation achieves the perfection of yoga practice when he can see the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By various practices, one may come to the point of controlling the senses, but simply controlling the senses does not bring one to a substantial conclusion. However, by staunch faith in the spiritual master and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one not only controls the senses but also realizes the Supreme Lord.
“Unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master, all the imports of Vedic knowledge are automatically revealed.” (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.23)
“No one can understand Kṛṣṇa 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.” (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.234)
“One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God.” (Bg. 18.55)
These are Vedic instructions. One must have full faith in the words of the spiritual master and similar faith in the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then the real knowledge of ātmā and Paramātmā and the distinction between matter and spirit will be automatically revealed. This ātma-tattva, or spiritual knowledge, will be revealed within the core of a devotee’s heart because of his having taken shelter of the lotus feet of a mahājana such as Prahlāda Mahārāja.
“Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of the Vedic knowledge automatically revealed.” (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.23) It is further stated, tuṣyeyaṁ sarva-bhūtātmā guru-śuśrūṣayā and taranty añjo bhavārṇavam. Simply by rendering service to the spiritual master, one crosses the ocean of nescience and returns home, back to Godhead. Thus he gradually sees the Supreme Lord face to face and enjoys life in association with the Lord. The ultimate goal of yoga is to come in contact with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Unless this point is achieved, one’s so-called yoga practice is simply labor without any benefit.
yathā vārtādayo hy arthā
yogasyārthaṁ na bibhrati
anarthāya bhaveyuḥ sma
pūrtam iṣṭaṁ tathāsataḥ
yathā—as; vārtā-ādayaḥ—activities like occupational or professional duties; hi—certainly; arthāḥ—income (from such occupational duties); yogasya—of mystic power for self-realization; artham—benefit; na—not; bibhrati—help; anarthāya—without value (binding one to repeated birth and death); bhaveyuḥ—they are; sma—at all times; pūrtam iṣṭam—ritualistic Vedic ceremonies; tathā—similarly; asataḥ—of a materialistic nondevotee.
As professional activities or business profits cannot help one in spiritual advancement but are a source of material entanglement, the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies cannot help anyone who is not a devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
If one becomes very rich through his professional activities, through trade or through agriculture, this does not mean that he is spiritually advanced. To be spiritually advanced is different from being materially rich. Although the purpose of life is to become spiritually rich, unfortunate men, misguided as they are, are always engaged in trying to become materially rich. Such material engagements, however, do not help one in the actual fulfillment of the human mission. On the contrary, material engagements lead one to be attracted to many unnecessary necessities, which are accompanied by the risk that one may be born in a degraded condition. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (14.18):
“Those situated in the mode of goodness gradually go upward to the higher planets; those in the mode of passion live on the earthly planets; and those in the mode of ignorance go down to the hellish worlds.” Especially in this Kali-yuga, material advancement means degradation and attraction to many unwanted necessities that create a low mentality. Therefore, jaghanya-guṇa-vṛtti-sthā: since people are contaminated by the lower qualities, they will lead their next lives either as animals or in other degraded forms of life. Making a show of religion without Kṛṣṇa consciousness may make one popular in the estimation of unintelligent men, but factually such a materialistic display of spiritual advancement does not help one at all; it will not prevent one from missing the goal of life.
yaś citta-vijaye yattaḥ
syān niḥsaṅgo ’parigrahaḥ
yaḥ—one who; citta-vijaye—conquering the mind; yattaḥ—is engaged; syāt—must be; niḥsaṅgaḥ—without contaminated association; aparigrahaḥ—without being dependent (on the family); ekaḥ—alone; vivikta-śaraṇaḥ—taking shelter of a solitary place; bhikṣuḥ—a renounced person; bhaikṣya—by begging alms just to maintain the body; mita-aśanaḥ—frugal in eating.
One who desires to conquer the mind must leave the company of his family and live in a solitary place, free from contaminated association. To maintain the body and soul together, he should beg as much as he needs for the bare necessities of life.
This is the process for conquering the agitation of the mind. One is recommended to take leave of his family and live alone, maintaining body and soul together by begging alms and eating only as much as needed to keep himself alive. Without such a process, one cannot conquer lusty desires. Sannyāsa means accepting a life of begging, which makes one automatically very humble and meek and free from lusty desires. In this regard, the following verse appears in the Smṛti literature:
In this world of duality, family life is the cause that spoils one’s spiritual life or meditation. Specifically understanding this fact, one should accept the order of sannyāsa without hesitation.
deśe śucau same rājan
sthiraṁ sukhaṁ samaṁ tasminn
āsītarjv-aṅga om iti
deśe—in a place; śucau—very sacred; same—level; rājan—O King; saṁsthāpya—placing; āsanam—on the seat; ātmanaḥ—one’s self; sthiram—very steady; sukham—comfortably; samam—equipoised; tasmin—on that sitting place; āsīta—one should sit down; ṛju-aṅgaḥ—the body perpendicularly straight; oṁ—The Vedic mantra praṇava; iti—in this way.
My dear King, in a sacred and holy place of pilgrimage one should select a place in which to perform yoga. The place must be level and not too high or low. There one should sit very comfortably, being steady and equipoised, keeping his body straight, and thus begin chanting the Vedic praṇava.
Generally the chanting of oṁ is recommended because in the beginning one cannot understand the Personality of Godhead. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.11):
“Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramātmā or Bhagavān.” Unless one is fully convinced of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one has the tendency to become an impersonalist yogī searching for the Supreme Lord within the core of his heart (dhyānāvasthita-tad-gatena manasā paśyanti yaṁ yoginaḥ [SB 12.13.1]). Here the chanting of oṁkāra is recommended because in the beginning of transcendental realization, instead of chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, one may chant oṁkāra (praṇava). There is no difference between the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra and oṁkāra because both of them are sound representations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. praṇavaḥ sarva-vedeṣu. In all Vedic literatures, the sound vibration oṁkāra is the beginning. Oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya. The difference between chanting oṁkāra and chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is that the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra may be chanted without consideration of the place or the sitting arrangements recommended in Bhagavad-gītā (6.11):
“To practice yoga, one should go to a secluded place and should lay kuśa grass on the ground and then cover it with a deerskin and a soft cloth. The seat should neither be too high nor too low and should be situated in a sacred place.” The Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra may be chanted by anyone, without consideration of the place or how one sits. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has openly declared, niyamitaḥ smaraṇe na kālaḥ. In chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra there are no particular injunctions regarding one’s sitting place. The injunction niyamitaḥ smaraṇe na kālaḥ includes deśa, kāla and pātra—place, time and the individual. Therefore anyone may chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, without consideration of the time and place. Especially in this age, Kali-yuga, it is very difficult to find a suitable place according to the recommendations of Bhagavad-gītā. The Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, however, may be chanted at any place and any time, and this will bring results very quickly. Yet even while chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra one may observe regulative principles. Thus while sitting and chanting one may keep his body straight, and this will help one in the chanting process; otherwise one may feel sleepy.
yāvan manas tyajet kāmān
yato yato niḥsarati
manaḥ kāma-hataṁ bhramat
tatas tata upāhṛtya
hṛdi rundhyāc chanair budhaḥ
prāṇa—incoming breath; apānau—outgoing breath; sannirundhyāt—should stop; pūra-kumbhaka-recakaiḥ—by inhaling, exhaling and holding, which are technically known as pūraka, kumbhaka and recaka; yāvat—so long; manaḥ—the mind; tyajet—should give up; kāmān—all material desires; sva—one’s own; nāsa-agra—the tip of the nose; nirīkṣaṇaḥ—looking at; yataḥ yataḥ—from whatever and wherever; niḥsarati—withdraws; manaḥ—the mind; kāma-hatam—being defeated by lusty desires; bhramat—wandering; tataḥ tataḥ—from here and there; upāhṛtya—after bringing it back; hṛdi—within the core of the heart; rundhyāt—should arrest (the mind); śanaiḥ—gradually, by practice; budhaḥ—a learned yogī.
While continuously staring at the tip of the nose, a learned yogī practices the breathing exercises through the technical means known as pūraka, kumbhaka and recaka—controlling inhalation and exhalation and then stopping them both. In this way the yogī restricts his mind from material attachments and gives up all mental desires. As soon as the mind, being defeated by lusty desires, drifts toward feelings of sense gratification, the yogī should immediately bring it back and arrest it within the core of his heart.
The practice of yoga is concisely explained herein. When this practice of yoga is perfect, one sees the Supersoul, the Paramātmā feature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, within the core of one’s heart. However, in Bhagavad-gītā (6.47) the Supreme Lord says:
“Of all yogīs, he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all.” A devotee can immediately become a perfect yogī because he practices keeping Kṛṣṇa constantly within the core of his heart. This is another way to practice yoga easily. The Lord says:
“Always think of Me and become My devotee. Worship Me and offer your homage unto Me.” (Bg. 18.65) If one practices devotional service by always keeping Kṛṣṇa within the core of his heart (man-manāḥ), he immediately becomes a first-class yogī. Furthermore, keeping Kṛṣṇa within the mind is not a difficult task for the devotee. For an ordinary man in the bodily concept of life, the practice of yoga may be helpful, but one who immediately takes to devotional service can immediately become a perfect yogī without difficulty.
evam abhyasyataś cittaṁ
aniśaṁ tasya nirvāṇaṁ
evam—in this way; abhyasyataḥ—of the person practicing this yoga system; cittam—the heart; kālena—in due course of time; alpīyasā—very shortly; yateḥ—of the person practicing yoga; aniśam—without cessation; tasya—of him; nirvāṇam—purification from all material contamination; yāti—reaches; anindhana—without flame or smoke; vahnivat—like a fire.
When the yogi regularly practices in this way, in a short time his heart becomes fixed and free from disturbance, like a fire without flames or smoke.
Nirvāṇa means the cessation of all material desires. Sometimes desirelessness is understood to imply an end to the workings of the mind, but this is not possible. The living entity has senses, and if the senses stopped working, the living entity would no longer be a living entity; he would be exactly like stone or wood. This is not possible. Because he is living, he is nitya and cetana—eternally sentient. For those who are not very advanced, the practice of yoga is recommended in order to stop the mind from being agitated by material desires, but if one fixes his mind on the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, his mind naturally becomes peaceful very soon. This peace is described in Bhagavad-gītā (5.29):
If one can understand Kṛṣṇa as the supreme enjoyer, the supreme proprietor of everything, and the supreme friend of everyone, one is established in peace and is free from material agitation. However, for one who cannot understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the practice of yoga is recommended.
kāma-ādibhiḥ—by various lusty desires; anāviddham—unaffected; praśānta—calm and peaceful; akhila-vṛtti—in every respect, or in all activities; yat—that which; cittam—consciousness; brahma-sukha-spṛṣṭam—being situated on the transcendental platform in eternal bliss; na—not; eva—indeed; uttiṣṭheta—can come out; karhicit—at any time.
When one’s consciousness is uncontaminated by material lusty desires, it becomes calm and peaceful in all activities, for one is situated in eternal blissful life. Once situated on that platform, one does not return to materialistic activities.
“One who is transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed toward every living entity. In this situation, he begins transcendental activities, or devotional service to the Lord.” Generally, once elevated to the transcendental platform of brahma-sukha, transcendental bliss, one never comes down. But if one does not engage in devotional service, there is a chance of his returning to the material platform. Āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ patanty adho ’nādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅghrayaḥ: [SB 10.2.32] one may rise to the platform of brahma-sukha, transcendental bliss, but even from that platform one may fall down to the material platform if he does not engage himself in devotional service.
yaḥ pravrajya gṛhāt pūrvaṁ
yadi seveta tān bhikṣuḥ
sa vai vāntāśy apatrapaḥ
yaḥ—one who; pravrajya—being finished for good and leaving for the forest (being situated in transcendental bliss); gṛhāt—from home; pūrvam—at first; tri-varga—the three principles of religion, economic development and sense gratification; āvapanāt—from the field in which they are sown; punaḥ—again; yadi—if; seveta—should accept; tān—materialistic activities; bhikṣuḥ—a person who has accepted the sannyāsa order; saḥ—that person; vai—indeed; vānta-āśī—one who eats his own vomit; apatrapaḥ—without shame.
One who accepts the sannyāsa order gives up the three principles of materialistic activities in which one indulges in the field of household life—namely religion, economic development and sense gratification. One who first accepts sannyāsa but then returns to such materialistic activities is to be called a vāntāśī, or one who eats his own vomit. He is indeed a shameless person.
Materialistic activities are regulated by the institution of varṇāśrama-dharma. Without varṇāśrama-dharma, materialistic activities constitute animal life. Yet even in human life, while observing the principles of varṇa and āśrama—brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra, brahmacarya, gṛhastha, vānaprastha and sannyāsa—one must ultimately accept sannyāsa, the renounced order, for only by the renounced order can one be situated in brahma-sukha, or transcendental bliss. In brahma-sukha one is no longer attracted by lusty desires. Indeed, when one is no longer disturbed, especially by lusty desires for sexual indulgence, he is fit to become a sannyāsī. Otherwise, one should not accept the sannyāsa order. If one accepts sannyāsa at an immature stage, there is every possibility of his being attracted by women and lusty desires and thus again becoming a so-called gṛhastha or a victim of women. Such a person is most shameless, and he is called vāntāśī, or one who eats that which he has already vomited. He certainly leads a condemned life. In our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement it is advised, therefore, that the sannyāsīs and brahmacārīs keep strictly aloof from the association of women so that there will be no chance of their falling down again as victims of lusty desires.
yaiḥ sva-dehaḥ smṛto ’nātmā
ta enam ātmasāt kṛtvā
ślāghayanti hy asattamāḥ
yaiḥ—by sannyāsīs who; sva-dehaḥ—own body; smṛtaḥ—consider; anātmā—different from the soul; martyaḥ—subjected to death; viṭ—becoming stool; kṛmi—worms; bhasma-vat—or ashes; te—such persons; enam—this body; ātmasāt kṛtvā—again identifying with the self; ślāghayanti—glorify as very important; hi—indeed; asat-tamāḥ—the greatest rascals.
Sannyāsīs who first consider that the body is subject to death, when it will be transformed into stool, worms or ashes, but who again give importance to the body and glorify it as the self, are to be considered the greatest rascals.
A sannyāsī is one who has clearly understood, through advancement in knowledge, that Brahman—he, the person himself—is the soul, not the body. One who has this understanding may take sannyāsa, for he is situated in the “ahaṁ brahmāsmi” position. Brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā na śocati na kāṅkṣati [Bg. 18.54]. Such a person, who no longer laments or hankers to maintain his body and who can accept all living entities as spirit souls, can then enter the devotional service of the Lord. If one does not enter the devotional service of the Lord but artificially considers himself Brahman or Nārāyaṇa, not perfectly understanding that the soul and body are different, one certainly falls down (patanty adhaḥ). Such a person again gives importance to the body. There are many sannyāsīs in India who stress the importance of the body. Some of them give special importance to the body of the poor man, accepting him as daridra-nārāyaṇa, as if Nārāyaṇa had a material body. Many other sannyāsīs stress the importance of the social position of the body as a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra. Such sannyāsīs are considered the greatest rascals (asattamāḥ). They are shameless because they have not yet understood the difference between the body and the soul and instead have accepted the body of a brāhmaṇa to be a brāhmaṇa. Brahmanism (brāhmaṇya) consists of the knowledge of Brahman. But actually the body of a brāhmaṇa is not Brahman. Similarly, the body is neither rich nor poor. If the body of a poor man were daridra-nārāyaṇa, this would mean that the body of a rich man, on the contrary, must be dhanī-nārāyaṇa. Therefore sannyāsīs who do not know the meaning of Nārāyaṇa, those who regard the body as Brahman or as Nārāyaṇa, are described here as asattamāḥ, the most abominable rascals. Following the bodily concept of life, such sannyāsīs make various programs to serve the body. They conduct farcical missions consisting of so-called religious activities meant to mislead all of human society. These sannyāsīs have been described herein as apatrapaḥ and asattamāḥ—shameless and fallen from spiritual life.
āśramāpasadā hy ete
gṛhasthasya—for a person situated in householder life; kriyā-tyāgaḥ—to give up the duty of a householder; vrata-tyāgaḥ—to give up vows and austerity; vaṭoḥ—for a brahmacārī; api—also; tapasvinaḥ—for a vānaprastha, one who has adopted a life of austerities; grāma-sevā—to live in a village and serve the people therein; bhikṣoḥ—for a sannyāsī who lived by begging alms; indriya-lolatā—addicted to sense enjoyment; āśrama—of the spiritual orders of life; apasadāḥ—the most abominable; hi—indeed; ete—all these; khalu—indeed; āśrama-viḍambanāḥ—imitating and therefore cheating the different spiritual orders; deva-māyā-vimūḍhān—who are bewildered by the external energy of the Supreme Lord; tān—them; upekṣeta—one should reject and not accept as genuine; anukampayā—or by compassion (teach them real life).
It is abominable for a person living in the gṛhastha-āśrama to give up the regulative principles, for a brahmacārī not to follow the brahmacārī vows while living under the care of the guru, for a vānaprastha to live in the village and engage in so-called social activities, or for a sannyāsī to be addicted to sense gratification. One who acts in this way is to be considered the lowest renegade. Such a pretender is bewildered by the external energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and one should either reject him from any position, or taking compassion upon him, teach him, if possible, to resume his original position.
We have repeatedly stressed that human culture does not begin unless one takes to the principles of varṇāśrama-dharma. Although gṛhastha life is a concession for the enjoyment of sex, one cannot enjoy sex without following the rules and regulations of householder life. Furthermore, as already instructed, a brahmacārī must live under the care of the guru: brahmacārī guru-kule vasan dānto guror hitam [SB 7.12.1]. If a brahmacārī does not live under the care of the guru, if a vānaprastha engages in ordinary activities, or if a sannyāsī is greedy and eats meat, eggs and all kinds of nonsense for the satisfaction of his tongue, he is a cheater and should immediately be rejected as unimportant. Such persons should be shown compassion, and if one has sufficient strength one should teach them to stop them from following the wrong path in life. Otherwise one should reject them and pay them no attention.
ātmānaṁ ced vijānīyāt
kim icchan kasya vā hetor
dehaṁ puṣṇāti lampaṭaḥ
ātmānam—the soul and the Supersoul; cet—if; vijānīyāt—can understand; param—who are transcendental, beyond this material world; jñāna—by knowledge; dhuta-āśayaḥ—one who has cleansed his consciousness; kim—what; icchan—desiring material comforts; kasya—for whom; vā—or; hetoḥ—for what reason; deham—the material body; puṣṇāti—he maintains; lampaṭaḥ—being unlawfully addicted to sense gratification.
The human form of body is meant for understanding the self and the Supreme Self, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, both of whom are transcendentally situated. If both of them can be understood when one is purified by advanced knowledge, for what reason and for whom does a foolish, greedy person maintain the body for sense gratification?
Of course, everyone in this material world is interested in maintaining the body for sense gratification, but by cultivating knowledge one should gradually understand that the body is not the self. Both the soul and the Supersoul are transcendental to the material world. This is to be understood in the human form of life, especially when one takes sannyāsa. A sannyāsī, one who has understood the self, should be engaged in elevating the self and associating with the Superself. Our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is meant for elevating the living being for promotion back home, back to Godhead. Seeking such elevation is one’s duty in the human form of life. Unless one performs this duty, why should one maintain the body? Especially if a sannyāsī not only maintains the body by ordinary means but does everything to maintain the body, including even eating meat and other abominable things, he must be a lampaṭaḥ, a greedy person simply engaged in sense gratification. A sannyāsī must specifically remove himself from the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals, which disturb one as long as one is not fully aware that the body is separate from the soul.
āhuḥ śarīraṁ ratham indriyāṇi
hayān abhīṣūn mana indriyeśam
vartmāni mātrā dhiṣaṇāṁ ca sūtaṁ
sattvaṁ bṛhad bandhuram īśa-sṛṣṭam
āhuḥ—it is said; śarīram—the body; ratham—the chariot; indriyāṇi—the senses; hayān—the horses; abhīṣūn—the reins; manaḥ—the mind; indriya—of the senses; īśam—the master; vartmāni—the destinations; mātrāḥ—the sense objects; dhiṣaṇām—the intelligence; ca—and; sūtam—the chariot driver; sattvam—consciousness; bṛhat—great; bandhuram—bondage; īśa—by the Supreme Personality of Godhead; sṛṣṭam—created.
Transcendentalists who are advanced in knowledge compare the body, which is made by the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, to a chariot. The senses are like the horses; the mind, the master of the senses, is like the reins; the objects of the senses are the destinations; intelligence is the chariot driver; and consciousness, which spreads throughout the body, is the cause of bondage in this material world.
For a bewildered person in the materialistic way of life, the body, the mind and the senses, which are engaged in sense gratification, are the cause of bondage to repeated birth, death, old age and disease. But for one who is advanced in spiritual knowledge, the same body, senses and mind are the cause of liberation. This is confirmed in the Kaṭha Upaniṣad (1.3.3–4,9) as follows:
The soul is the occupant of the chariot of the body, of which the driver is the intelligence. The mind is the determination to reach the destination, the senses are the horses, and the sense objects are also included in that activity. Thus one can reach the destination, Viṣṇu, who is paramaṁ padam, the supreme goal of life. In conditioned life the consciousness in the body is the cause of bondage, but the same consciousness, when transformed into Kṛṣṇa consciousness, becomes the cause for one’s returning home, back to Godhead.
The human body, therefore, may be used in two ways—for going to the darkest regions of ignorance or for going forward, back home, back to Godhead. To go back to Godhead, the path is mahat-sevā, to accept the self-realized spiritual master. Mahat-sevāṁ dvāram āhur vimukteḥ [SB 5.5.2]. For liberation, one should accept the direction of authorized devotees who can actually endow one with perfect knowledge. On the other hand, tamo-dvāraṁ yoṣitāṁ saṅgi-saṅgam: if one wants to go to the darkest regions of material existence, one may continue to associate with persons who are attached to women (yoṣitāṁ saṅgi-saṅgam). The word yoṣit means “woman.” Persons who are too materialistic are attached to women.
It is said, therefore, ātmānaṁ rathinaṁ viddhi śarīraṁ ratham eva ca. The body is just like a chariot or car in which one may go anywhere. One may drive well, or else one may drive whimsically, in which case it is quite possible that he may have an accident and fall into a ditch. In other words, if one takes directions from the experienced spiritual master one can go back home, back to Godhead; otherwise, one may return to the cycle of birth and death. Therefore Kṛṣṇa personally advises:
“Those who are not faithful on the path of devotional service cannot attain Me, O conqueror of foes, but return to birth and death in this material world.” (Bg. 9.3) The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, personally gives instructions on how one can return home, back to Godhead, but if one does not care to listen to His instructions, the result will be that one will never go back to Godhead, but will continue life in this miserable condition of repeated birth and death in material existence (mṛtyu-saṁsāra-vartmani).
The advice of experienced transcendentalists, therefore, is that the body be fully engaged for achieving the ultimate goal of life (svārtha-gatim). The real interest or goal of life is to return home, back to Godhead. To enable one to fulfill this purpose, there are so many Vedic literatures, including Vedānta-sūtra, the Upaniṣads, Bhagavad-gītā, Mahābhārata and the Rāmāyaṇa. One should take lessons from these Vedic literatures and learn how to practice nivṛtti-mārga. Then one’s life will be perfect. The body is important as long as it has consciousness. Without consciousness, the body is merely a lump of matter. Therefore, to return home, back to Godhead, one must change his consciousness from material consciousness to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. One’s consciousness is the cause of material bondage, but if this consciousness is purified by bhakti-yoga, one can then understand the falsity of his upādhi, his designations as Indian, American, Hindu, Muslim, Christian and so on. Sarvopādhi-vinirmuktaṁ tat-paratvena nirmalam [Cc. Madhya 19.170]. One must forget these designations and use this consciousness only for the service of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore if one takes advantage of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, his life is certainly successful.
akṣaṁ daśa-prāṇam adharma-dharmau
cakre ’bhimānaṁ rathinaṁ ca jīvam
dhanur hi tasya praṇavaṁ paṭhanti
śaraṁ tu jīvaṁ param eva lakṣyam
akṣam—the spokes (on the chariot wheel); daśa—ten; prāṇam—the ten kinds of air flowing within the body; adharma—irreligion; dharmau—religion (two sides of the wheel, up and down); cakre—in the wheel; abhimānam—false identification; rathinam—the charioteer or master of the body; ca—also; jīvam—the living entity; dhanuḥ—the bow; hi—indeed; tasya—his; praṇavam—the Vedic mantra oṁkāra; paṭhanti—it is said; śaram—an arrow; tu—but; jīvam—the living entity; param—the Supreme Lord; eva—indeed; lakṣyam—the target.
The ten kinds of air acting within the body are compared to the spokes of the chariot’s wheels, and the top and bottom of the wheel itself are called religion and irreligion. The living entity in the bodily concept of life is the owner of the chariot. The Vedic mantra praṇava is the bow, the pure living entity himself is the arrow, and the target is the Supreme Being.
Ten kinds of life air always flow within the material body. They are called prāṇa, apāna, samāna, vyāna, udāna, nāga, kūrma, kṛkala, devadatta and dhanañjaya. They are compared here to the spokes of the chariot’s wheels. The life air is the energy for all of a living being’s activities, which are sometimes religious and sometimes irreligious. Thus religion and irreligion are said to be the upper and lower portions of the chariot’s wheels. When the living entity decides to go back home, back to Godhead, his target is Lord Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the conditioned state of life, one does not understand that the goal of life is the Supreme Lord. Na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇuṁ durāśayā ye bahir-artha-māninaḥ [SB 7.5.31]. The living entity tries to be happy within this material world, not understanding the target of his life. When he is purified, however, he gives up his bodily conception of life and his false identity as belonging to a certain community, a certain nation, a certain society, a certain family and so on (sarvopādhi-vinirmuktaṁ tat-paratvena nirmalam [Cc. Madhya 19.170]). Then he takes the arrow of his purified life, and with the help of the bow—the transcendental chanting of praṇava, or the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra—he throws himself toward the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has commented that because the words “bow” and “arrow” are used in this verse, one might argue that the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the living entity have become enemies. However, although the Supreme Personality of Godhead may become the so-called enemy of the living being, this is His chivalrous pleasure. For example, the Lord fought with Bhīṣma, and when Bhīṣma pierced the Lord’s body on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra, this was a kind of humor or relationship, of which there are twelve. When the conditioned soul tries to reach the Lord by hurling an arrow at Him, the Lord takes pleasure, and the living entity gains the profit of going back home, back to Godhead. Another example given in this regard is that Arjuna, as a result of piercing the ādhāra-mīna, or the fish within the cakra, achieved the valuable gain of Draupadī. Similarly, if with the arrow of chanting the holy name of the Lord one pierces Lord Viṣṇu’s lotus feet, by dint of performing this heroic activity of devotional service one receives the benefit of returning home, back to Godhead.
rāgo dveṣaś ca lobhaś ca
śoka-mohau bhayaṁ madaḥ
māno ’vamāno ’sūyā ca
māyā hiṁsā ca matsaraḥ
rajaḥ pramādaḥ kṣun-nidrā
śatravas tv evam ādayaḥ
rāgaḥ—attachment; dveṣaḥ—hostility; ca—also; lobhaḥ—greed; ca—also; śoka—lamentation; mohau—illusion; bhayam—fear; madaḥ—madness; mānaḥ—false prestige; avamānaḥ—insult; asūyā—finding fault with others; ca—also; māyā—deception; hiṁsā—envy; ca—also; matsaraḥ—intolerance; rajaḥ—passion; pramādaḥ—bewilderment; kṣut—hunger; nidrā—sleep; śatravaḥ—enemies; tu—indeed; evam ādayaḥ—even other such conceptions of life; rajaḥ-tamaḥ—because of the conception of passion and ignorance; prakṛtayaḥ—causes; sattva—because of the conception of goodness; prakṛtayaḥ—causes; kvacit—sometimes.
In the conditioned stage, one’s conceptions of life are sometimes polluted by passion and ignorance, which are exhibited by attachment, hostility, greed, lamentation, illusion, fear, madness, false prestige, insults, fault-finding, deception, envy, intolerance, passion, bewilderment, hunger and sleep. All of these are enemies. Sometimes one’s conceptions are also polluted by goodness.
The actual aim of life is to go back home, back to Godhead, but there are many hindrances created by the three modes of material nature—sometimes by a combination of rajo-guṇa and tamo-guṇa, the modes of passion and ignorance, and sometimes by the mode of goodness. In the material world, even if one is a philanthropist, a nationalist and a good man according to materialistic estimations, these conceptions of life form a hindrance to spiritual advancement. How much more of a hindrance, then, are hostility, greed, illusion, lamentation and too much attachment to material enjoyment? To progress toward the target of Viṣṇu, which is our real self-interest, one must become very powerful in conquering these various hindrances or enemies. In other words, one should not be attached to being a good man or a bad man in this material world.
In this material world, so-called goodness and badness are the same because they consist of the three modes of material nature. One must transcend this material nature. Even the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies consist of the three modes of material nature. Therefore Kṛṣṇa advised Arjuna:
“The Vedas mainly deal with the subject of the three modes of material nature. Rise above these modes, O Arjuna. Be transcendental to all of them. Be free from all dualities and from all anxieties for gain and safety, and be established in the self.” (Bg. 2.45) Elsewhere in Bhagavad-gītā the Lord says, ūrdhvaṁ gacchanti sattva-sthāḥ: if one becomes a very good person—in other words, if one is in the mode of goodness—he may be elevated to the higher planetary systems. Similarly, if one is infected by rajo-guṇa and tamo-guṇa, he may remain in this world or go down to the animal kingdom. But all of these situations are hindrances on the path of spiritual salvation. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore says:
If one is fortunate enough to transcend all this so-called goodness and badness and come to the platform of devotional service by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa and the guru, his life becomes successful. In this regard, one must be very bold so that he can conquer these enemies of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Not caring for the good and bad of this material world, one must boldly propagate Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
yāvan nṛ-kāya-ratham ātma-vaśopakalpaṁ
dhatte gariṣṭha-caraṇārcanayā niśātam
jñānāsim acyuta-balo dadhad asta-śatruḥ
svānanda-tuṣṭa upaśānta idaṁ vijahyāt
yāvat—as long as; nṛ-kāya—this human form of body; ratham—considered to be a chariot; ātma-vaśa—dependent upon one’s own control; upakalpam—in which there are many other subordinate parts; dhatte—one possesses; gariṣṭha-caraṇa—the lotus feet of the superiors (namely the spiritual master and his predecessors); arcanayā—by serving; niśātam—sharpened; jñāna-asim—the sword or weapon of knowledge; acyuta-balaḥ—by the transcendental strength of Kṛṣṇa; dadhat—holding; asta-śatruḥ—until the enemy is defeated; sva-ānanda-tuṣṭaḥ—being fully self-satisfied by transcendental bliss; upaśāntaḥ—the consciousness being cleansed of all material contamination; idam—this body; vijahyāt—one should give up.
As long as one has to accept a material body, with its different parts and paraphernalia, which are not fully under one’s control, one must have the lotus feet of his superiors, namely his spiritual master and the spiritual master’s predecessors. By their mercy, one can sharpen the sword of knowledge, and with the power of the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s mercy one must then conquer the enemies mentioned above. In this way, the devotee should be able to merge into his own transcendental bliss, and then he may give up his body and resume his spiritual identity.
“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.” This is the highest perfection of life, and the human body is meant for this purpose. It is said in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.20.17):
This human form of body is a most valuable boat, and the spiritual master is the captain, guru-karṇadhāram, to guide the boat in plying across the ocean of nescience. The instruction of Kṛṣṇa is a favorable breeze. One must use all these facilities to cross over the ocean of nescience. Since the spiritual master is the captain, one must serve the spiritual master very sincerely so that by his mercy one will be able to get the mercy of the Supreme Lord.
A significant word here is acyuta-balaḥ. The spiritual master is certainly very merciful to his disciples, and consequently by satisfying him a devotee gets strength from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore says, guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja: one must first please the spiritual master, and then one automatically pleases Kṛṣṇa and gets the strength with which to cross the ocean of nescience. If one seriously desires to return home, back to Godhead, one must therefore become strong enough by pleasing the spiritual master, for thus one gets the weapon with which to conquer the enemy, and one also gets the grace of Kṛṣṇa. Simply getting the weapon of jñāna is insufficient. One must sharpen the weapon by serving the spiritual master and adhering to his instructions. Then the candidate will get the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In general warfare one must take help from his chariot and horses in order to conquer his enemy, and after conquering his enemies he may give up the chariot and its paraphernalia. Similarly, as long as one has a human body, one should fully use it to obtain the highest perfection of life, namely going back home, back to Godhead.
The perfection of knowledge is certainly to become transcendentally situated (brahma-bhūta). As the Lord says in Bhagavad-gītā (18.54):
“One who is transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed toward all living entities. In that state he attains pure devotional service.” Simply by cultivating knowledge as the impersonalists do, one cannot get out of the clutches of māyā. One must attain the platform of bhakti.
“One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God.” (Bg. 18.55) Unless one has attained the stage of devotional service and the mercy of the spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa, there is a possibility that one may fall down and again accept a material body. Therefore Kṛṣṇa stresses in Bhagavad-gītā (4.9):
“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.”
The word tattvataḥ, meaning “in reality,” is very important. Tato māṁ tattvato jñātvā. Unless one understands Kṛṣṇa in truth by the mercy of the spiritual master, one is not free to give up his material body. As it is said, āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ patanty adho ’nādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅghrayaḥ: [SB 10.2.32] if one neglects to serve the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, one cannot become free from the material clutches simply by knowledge. Even if one attains the stage of brahma-padam, merging in Brahman, without bhakti he is prone to fall down. One must be very careful in regard to the danger of falling down again into material bondage. The only insurance is to come to the stage of bhakti, from which one is sure not to fall. Then one is free from the activities of the material world. In summary, as stated by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, one must get in touch with a bona fide spiritual master coming in the paramparā of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, for by his mercy and instructions one is able to get strength from Kṛṣṇa. Thus one engages in devotional service and attains the ultimate goal of life, the lotus feet of Viṣṇu.
Significant in this verse are the words jñānāsim acyuta-balaḥ. Jñānāsim, the sword of knowledge, is given by Kṛṣṇa, and when one serves the guru and Kṛṣṇa in order to hold the sword of Kṛṣṇa’s instructions, Balarāma gives one strength. Balarāma is Nityānanda. Vrajendra-nandana yei, śacī-suta haila sei, balarāma ha-ila nitāi. This bala—Balarāma—comes with Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and both of Them are so merciful that in this age of Kali one may very easily take shelter of Their lotus feet. They come especially to deliver the fallen souls of this age. pāpī tāpī yata chila, hari-nāme uddhārila. Their weapon is saṅkīrtana, hari-nāma. Thus one should accept the sword of knowledge from Kṛṣṇa and be strong with the mercy of Balarāma. We are therefore worshiping Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma in Vṛndāvana. In the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad (3.2.4) it is said:
One cannot attain the goal of life without the mercy of Balarāma. Śrī Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura therefore says, nitāiyera karuṇā habe, vraje rādhā-kṛṣṇa pābe: when one receives the mercy of Balarāma, Nityānanda, one can attain the lotus feet of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa very easily.
If one has no connection with Nitāi, Balarāma, then even though one is a very learned scholar or jñānī or has taken birth in a very respectable family, these assets will not help him. We must therefore conquer the enemies of Kṛṣṇa consciousness with the strength received from Balarāma.
nocet pramattam asad-indriya-vāji-sūtā
nītvotpathaṁ viṣaya-dasyuṣu nikṣipanti
te dasyavaḥ sahaya-sūtam amuṁ tamo ’ndhe
saṁsāra-kūpa uru-mṛtyu-bhaye kṣipanti
nocet—if we do not follow the instructions of Acyuta, Kṛṣṇa, and do not take shelter of Balarāma; pramattam—careless, inattentive; asat—which are always prone to material consciousness; indriya—the senses; vāji—acting as the horses; sūtāḥ—the chariot driver (intelligence); nītvā—bringing; utpatham—to the roadway of material desire; viṣaya—the sense objects; dasyuṣu—in the hands of the plunderers; nikṣipanti—throw; te—those; dasyavaḥ—plunderers; sa—with; haya-sūtam—the horses and chariot driver; amum—all of them; tamaḥ—dark; andhe—blind; saṁsāra-kūpe—into the well of material existence; uru—great; mṛtyu-bhaye—fear of death; kṣipanti—throw.
Otherwise, if one does not take shelter of Acyuta and Baladeva, then the senses, acting as the horses, and the intelligence, acting as the driver, both being prone to material contamination, inattentively bring the body, which acts as the chariot, to the path of sense gratification. When one is thus attracted again by the rogues of viṣaya—eating, sleeping and mating—the horses and chariot driver are thrown into the blinding dark well of material existence, and one is again put into a dangerous and extremely fearful situation of repeated birth and death.
Without the protection of Gaura-Nitāi—Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma—one cannot get out of the dark well of ignorance in material existence. This is indicated here by the word nocet, which means that one will always remain in the dark well of material existence. The living entity must get strength from Nitāi-Gaura, or Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma. Without the mercy of Nitāi-Gaura, there is no way to come out of this dark well of ignorance. As stated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi 1.2):
“I offer my respectful obeisances unto Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya and Lord Nityānanda, who are like the sun and moon. They have arisen simultaneously on the horizon of Gauḍa to dissipate the darkness of ignorance and thus wonderfully bestow benediction upon all.” This material world is a dark well of ignorance. The fallen soul in this dark well must take shelter of the lotus feet of Gaura-Nitāi, for thus he can easily emerge from material existence. Without Their strength, simply attempting to get out of the clutches of matter by speculative knowledge will be insufficient.
pravṛttaṁ ca nivṛttaṁ ca
dvi-vidhaṁ karma vaidikam
pravṛttam—inclination for material enjoyment; ca—and; nivṛttam—cessation of material enjoyment; ca—and; dvi-vidham—these two varieties; karma—of activities; vaidikam—recommended in the Vedas; āvartate—one travels up and down through the cycle of saṁsāra; pravṛttena—by an inclination for enjoying material activities; nivṛttena—but by ceasing such activities; aśnute—one enjoys; amṛtam—eternal life.
According to the Vedas, there are two kinds of activities—pravṛtti and nivṛtti. Pravṛtti activities involve raising oneself from a lower to a higher condition of materialistic life, whereas nivṛtti means the cessation of material desire. Through pravṛtti activities one suffers from material entanglement, but by nivṛtti activities one is purified and becomes fit to enjoy eternal, blissful life.
As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (16.7), pravṛttiṁ ca nivṛttiṁ ca janā na vidur āsurāḥ: the asuras, nondevotees, cannot distinguish between pravṛtti and nivṛtti. Whatever they like they do. Such persons think themselves independent of the strong material nature, and therefore they are irresponsible and do not care to act piously. Indeed, they do not distinguish between pious and impious activity. Bhakti, of course, does not depend on pious or impious activity. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.6):
“The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted in order to completely satisfy the self.” Nonetheless, those who act piously have a better chance to become devotees. As Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (7.16), catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ janāḥ sukṛtino ’rjuna: “O Arjuna, four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me.” One who takes to devotional service, even with some material motive, is considered pious, and because he has come to Kṛṣṇa, he will gradually come to the stage of bhakti. Then, like Dhruva Mahārāja, he will refuse to accept any material benediction from the Lord (svāmin kṛtārtho ’smi varaṁ na yāce). Therefore, even if one is materially inclined, one may take to the shelter of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, or Gaura and Nitāi, so that he will very soon be purified of all material desires (kṣipraṁ bhavati dharmātmā śaśvac chāntiṁ nigacchati). As soon as one is freed from inclinations toward pious and impious activities, he becomes a perfect candidate for returning home, back to Godhead.
hiṁsraṁ dravyamayaṁ kāmyam
darśaś ca pūrṇamāsaś ca
cāturmāsyaṁ paśuḥ sutaḥ
etad iṣṭaṁ pravṛttākhyaṁ
hutaṁ prahutam eva ca
hiṁsram—a system of killing and sacrificing animals; dravya-mayam—requiring much paraphernalia; kāmyam—full of unlimited material desires; agni-hotra-ādi—ritualistic ceremonies such as the agni-hotra-yajña; aśānti-dam—causing anxieties; darśaḥ—the darśa ritualistic ceremony; ca—and; pūrṇamāsaḥ—the pūrṇamāsa ritualistic ceremony; ca—also; cāturmāsyam—observing four months of regulative principles; paśuḥ—the ceremony of sacrificing animals or paśu-yajña; sutaḥ—the soma-yajña; etat—of all this; iṣṭam—the goal; pravṛtta-ākhyam—known as material attachment; hutam—Vaiśvadeva, an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; prahutam—a ceremony called Baliharaṇa; eva—indeed; ca—also; pūrtam—for the benefit of the public; sura-ālaya—constructing temples for demigods; ārāma—resting houses and gardens; kūpa—digging wells; ājīvya-ādi—activities like distributing food and water; lakṣaṇam—symptoms.
The ritualistic ceremonies and sacrifices known as agni-hotra–yajña, darśa-yajña, pūrṇamāsa-yajña, cāturmāsya-yajña, paśu-yajña and soma-yajña are all symptomized by the killing of animals and the burning of many valuables, especially food grains, all for the fulfillment of material desires and the creation of anxiety. Performing such sacrifices, worshiping Vaiśvadeva, and performing the ceremony of Baliharaṇa, which all supposedly constitute the goal of life, as well as constructing temples for demigods, building resting houses and gardens, digging wells for the distribution of water, establishing booths for the distribution of food, and performing activities for public welfare—these are all symptomized by attachment to material desires.
dhūmo rātrir apakṣayaḥ
ayanaṁ dakṣiṇaṁ somo
annaṁ reta iti kṣmeśa
bhūtvā bhūtveha jāyate
dravya-sūkṣma-vipākaḥ—the paraphernalia offered as oblations in the fire, such as food grains mixed with ghee; ca—and; dhūmaḥ—turned to smoke, or the demigod in charge of smoke; rātriḥ—the demigod in charge of night; apakṣayaḥ—in the dark fortnight of the moon; ayanam—the demigod in charge of the passing of the sun; dakṣiṇam—in the southern zone; somaḥ—the moon; darśaḥ—returning; oṣadhi—plant life (on the surface of the earth); vīrudhaḥ—vegetation in general (the birth of lamentation); annam—food grains; retaḥ—semen; iti—in this way; kṣma-īśa—O King Yudhiṣṭhira, lord of the earth; pitṛ-yānam—the way of taking birth from the father’s semen; punaḥ-bhavaḥ—again and again; eka-ekaśyena—one after another; anupūrvam—successively, according to the gradation; bhūtvā—taking birth; bhūtvā—again taking birth; iha—in this material world; jāyate—one exists in the materialistic way of life.
My dear King Yudhiṣṭhira, when oblations of ghee and food grains like barley and sesame are offered in sacrifice, they turn into celestial smoke, which carries one to successively higher planetary systems like the kingdoms of Dhumā, Rātri, Kṛṣṇapakṣa, Dakṣiṇam and ultimately the moon. Then, however, the performers of sacrifice descend again to earth to become herbs, creepers, vegetables and food grains. These are eaten by different living entities and turned to semen, which is injected into female bodies. Thus one takes birth again and again.
“When those who follow the pravṛtti-mārga have enjoyed heavenly sense pleasure, they return to this mortal planet again. Thus, through the Vedic principles, they achieve only flickering happiness.” Following the pravṛtti-mārga, the living entity who desires to be promoted to the higher planetary systems performs sacrifices regularly, and how he goes up and comes down again is described here in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, as well as in Bhagavad-gītā. It is also said, traiguṇya-viṣayā vedāḥ: “The Vedas deal mainly with the three modes of material nature.” The Vedas, especially three Vedas, namely Sāma, Yajur and Ṛk, vividly describe this process of ascending to the higher planets and returning. But Kṛṣṇa advises Arjuna, traiguṇya-viṣayā vedā nistraiguṇyo bhavārjuna: one has to transcend these three modes of material nature, and then one will be released from the cycle of birth and death. Otherwise, although one may be promoted to a higher planetary system such as Candraloka, one must again come down (kṣīṇe puṇye martya-lokaṁ viśanti [Bg. 9.21]). After one’s enjoyment due to pious activities is finished, one must return to this planet in rainfall and first take birth as a plant or creeper, which is eaten by various animals, including human beings, and turned to semen. This semen is injected into the female body, and thus the living entity takes birth. Those who return to earth in this way take birth especially in higher families like those of brāhmaṇas.
It may be remarked in this connection that even the modern so-called scientists who are going to the moon are not able to stay there, but are returning to their laboratories. Therefore, whether one goes to the moon by modern mechanical arrangements or by performing pious activities, one must return to earth. That is clearly stated in this verse and explained in Bhagavad-gītā. Even if one goes to the higher planetary systems (yānti deva-vratā devān [Bg. 9.25]), one’s place there is not secure; one must return to martya-loka. Ābrahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ punar āvartino ’rjuna: [Bg. 8.16] aside from the moon, even if one goes to Brahmaloka, one must return. Yaṁ prāpya na nivartante tad dhāma paramaṁ mama: but if one goes back home, back to Godhead, he need not return to this material world.
saṁskāraiḥ saṁskṛto dvijaḥ
niṣeka-ādi—the beginning of life (the purificatory process of garbhādhāna, performed when the father begets a child by discharging semen into the womb of the mother); śmaśāna-antaiḥ—and at death, when the body is put into a crematorium and burnt to ashes; saṁskāraiḥ—by such purificatory processes; saṁskṛtaḥ—purified; dvijaḥ—a twice-born brāhmaṇa; indriyeṣu—into the senses; kriyā-yajñān—activities and sacrifices (which elevate one to a higher planetary system); jñāna-dīpeṣu—by enlightenment in real knowledge; juhvati—offers.
A twice-born brāhmaṇa [dvija] gains his life by the grace of his parents through the process of purification known as garbhādhāna. There are also other processes of purification, until the end of life, when the funeral ceremony [antyeṣṭi-kriyā] is performed. Thus in due course a qualified brāhmaṇa becomes uninterested in materialistic activities and sacrifices, but he offers the sensual sacrifices, in full knowledge, into the working senses, which are illuminated by the fire of knowledge.
Those interested in materialistic activities remain in the cycle of birth and death. Pravṛtti-mārga, or the inclination to stay in the material world to enjoy varieties of sense gratification, has been explained in the previous verse. Now, in this verse, it is explained that one who has perfect brahminical knowledge rejects the process of elevation to higher planets and accepts nivṛtti-mārga; in other words, he prepares himself to go back home, back to Godhead. Those who are not brāhmaṇas but atheists do not know what is pravṛtti-mārga or nivṛtti-mārga; they simply want to obtain pleasure at any cost. Our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is therefore training devotees to give up the pravṛtti-mārga and accept the nivṛtti-mārga in order to return home, back to Godhead. This is a little difficult to understand, but it is very easy if one takes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness seriously and tries to understand Kṛṣṇa. A Kṛṣṇa conscious person can understand that performing yajña according to the karma-kāṇḍa system is a useless waste of time and that merely giving up the karma-kāṇḍa and accepting the process of speculation is also unfruitful. Therefore Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura has sung in his prema-bhakti-candrikā:
karma-kāṇḍa, jñāna-kāṇḍa, kevala viṣera bhāṇḍa
’amṛta’ baliyā yebā khāya
nānā yoni sadā phire, kadarya bhakṣaṇa kare,
tāra janma adhaḥ-pāte yāya
A life of karma-kāṇḍa or jñāna-kāṇḍa is like a poison pot, and one who takes to such a life is doomed. In the karma-kāṇḍa system, one is destined to accept birth and death again and again. Similarly, with jñāna-kāṇḍa one falls down again to this material world. Only worship of the Supreme Person offers one the safety of going back home, back to Godhead.
indriyāṇi manasy ūrmau
vāci vaikārikaṁ manaḥ
tam oṁkāre svare nyaset
oṁkāraṁ bindau nāde taṁ
taṁ tu prāṇe mahaty amum
indriyāṇi—the senses (acting and knowledge-gathering); manasi—in the mind; ūrmau—in the waves of acceptance and rejection; vāci—in the words; vaikārikam—infected by changes; manaḥ—the mind; vācam—the words; varṇa-samāmnāye—in the aggregate of all alphabets; tam—that (aggregate of all alphabets); oṁkāre—in the concise form of oṁkāra; svare—in the vibration; nyaset—one should give up; oṁkāram—the concise sound vibration; bindau—in the point of oṁkāra; nāde—in the sound vibration; tam—that; tam—that (sound vibration); tu—indeed; prāṇe—in the life air; mahati—unto the Supreme; amum—the living entity.
The mind is always agitated by waves of acceptance and rejection. Therefore all the activities of the senses should be offered into the mind, which should be offered into one’s words. Then one’s words should be offered into the aggregate of all alphabets, which should be offered into the concise form oṁkāra. Oṁkāra should be offered into the point bindu, bindu into the vibration of sound, and that vibration into the life air. Then the living entity, who is all that remains, should be placed in Brahman, the Supreme. This is the process of sacrifice.
The mind is always agitated by acceptance and rejection, which are compared to mental waves that are constantly tossing. The living entity is floating in the waves of material existence because of his forgetfulness. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has therefore sung in his Gītāvalī: miche māyāra vaśe, yāccha bhese’, khāccha hābuḍubu, bhāi. “My dear mind, under the influence of māyā you are being carried away by the waves of rejection and acceptance. Simply take shelter of Kṛṣṇa.” Jīva kṛṣṇa-dāsa, ei viśvāsa, karle ta’ āra duḥkha nāi: if we simply regard the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa as our ultimate shelter, we shall be saved from all these waves of māyā, which are variously exhibited as mental and sensual activities and the agitation of rejection and acceptance. Kṛṣṇa instructs in Bhagavad-gītā (18.66):
“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” Therefore if we simply place ourselves at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa by taking to Kṛṣṇa consciousness and keeping always in touch with Him by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, we need not take much trouble in arranging to return to the spiritual world. By the mercy of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, this is very easy.
agniḥ sūryo divā prāhṇaḥ
śuklo rākottaraṁ sva-rāṭ
viśvo ’tha taijasaḥ prājñas
turya ātmā samanvayāt
agniḥ—fire; sūryaḥ—sun; divā—day; prāhṇaḥ—the end of the day; śuklaḥ—the bright fortnight of the moon; rāka—the full moon at the end of the śukla-pakṣa; uttaram—the period when the sun passes to the north; sva-rāṭ—the Supreme Brahman or Lord Brahmā; viśvaḥ—gross designation; atha—Brahmaloka, the ultimate in material enjoyment; taijasaḥ—subtle designation; prājñaḥ—the witness in the causal designation; turyaḥ—transcendental; ātmā—the soul; samanvayāt—as a natural consequence.
On his path of ascent, the progressive living entity enters the different worlds of fire, the sun, the day, the end of the day, the bright fortnight, the full moon, and the passing of the sun in the north, along with their presiding demigods. When he enters Brahmaloka, he enjoys life for many millions of years, and finally his material designation comes to an end. He then comes to a subtle designation, from which he attains the causal designation, witnessing all previous states. Upon the annihilation of this causal state, he attains his pure state, in which he identifies with the Supersoul. In this way the living entity becomes transcendental.
deva-yānam idaṁ prāhur
hy ātma-stho na nivartate
deva-yānam—the process of elevation known as deva-yāna; idam—on this (path); prāhuḥ—it is said; bhūtvā bhūtvā—having repeated birth; anupūrvaśaḥ—consecutively; ātma-yājī—one who is eager for self-realization; upaśānta-ātmā—completely free from all material desires; hi—indeed; ātma-sthaḥ—situated in his own self; na—not; nivartate—does return.
This gradual process of elevation for self-realization is meant for those who are truly aware of the Absolute Truth. After repeated birth on this path, which is known as deva-yāna, one attains these consecutive stages. One who is completely free from all material desires, being situated in the self, need not traverse the path of repeated birth and death.
ya ete pitṛ-devānām
śāstreṇa cakṣuṣā veda
jana-stho ’pi na muhyati
yaḥ—one who; ete—on this path (as recommended above); pitṛ-devānām—known as pitṛ-yāna and deva-yāna; ayane—on this path; veda-nirmite—recommended in the Vedas; śāstreṇa—by regular study of the scriptures; cakṣuṣā—by enlightened eyes; veda—is fully aware; jana-sthaḥ—a person situated in a material body; api—even though; na—never; muhyati—is bewildered.
Even though situated in a material body, one who is fully aware of the paths known as pitṛ-yāna and deva-yāna, and who thus opens his eyes in terms of Vedic knowledge, is never bewildered in this material world.
Ācāryavān puruṣo veda: one who is guided by the bona fide spiritual master knows everything as stated in the Vedas, which set forth the standard of infallible knowledge. As recommended in Bhagavad-gītā, ācāryopāsanam: one must approach the ācārya for real knowledge. Tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet: [MU
“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.”
[Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.2.12]
ādāv ante janānāṁ sad
bahir antaḥ parāvaram
jñānaṁ jñeyaṁ vaco vācyaṁ
tamo jyotis tv ayaṁ svayam
ādau—in the beginning; ante—at the end; janānām—of all living entities; sat—always existing; bahiḥ—externally; antaḥ—internally; para—transcendental; avaram—material; jñānam—knowledge; jñeyam—the objective; vacaḥ—expression; vācyam—the ultimate object; tamaḥ—darkness; jyotiḥ—light; tu—indeed; ayam—this one (the Supreme Lord); svayam—Himself.
He who exists internally and externally, at the beginning and end of everything and of all living beings, as that which is enjoyable and as the enjoyer of everything, superior and inferior, is the Supreme Truth. He always exists as knowledge and the object of knowledge, as expression and the object of understanding, as darkness and as light. Thus He, the Supreme Lord, is everything.
Here the Vedic aphorism sarvaṁ khalv idaṁ brahma is explained. It is also explained in the catuḥ-ślokī Bhāgavatam. Aham evāsam evāgre. The Supreme Lord existed in the beginning, He exists after the creation and maintains everything, and after destruction everything merges in Him, as stated in Bhagavad-gītā (prakṛtiṁ yānti māmikām). Thus the Supreme Lord is actually everything. In the conditioned state, we are bewildered in our understanding, but in the perfect stage of liberation we can understand that Kṛṣṇa is the cause of everything.
“Kṛṣṇa, who is known as Govinda, is the supreme controller. He has an eternal, blissful, spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin, for He is the prime cause of all causes.” (Brahma-saṁhitā 5.1) This is the perfection of knowledge.
ābādhito ’pi hy ābhāso
yathā vastutayā smṛtaḥ
ābādhitaḥ—rejected; api—although; hi—certainly; ābhāsaḥ—a reflection; yathā—as; vastutayā—a form of reality; smṛtaḥ—accepted; durghaṭatvāt—because of being very difficult to prove the reality; aindriyakam—knowledge derived from the senses; tadvat—similarly; artha—reality; vikalpitam—speculated or doubtful.
Although one may consider the reflection of the sun from a mirror to be false, it has its factual existence. Accordingly, to prove by speculative knowledge that there is no reality would be extremely difficult.
The impersonalists try to prove that the varieties in the vision of the empiric philosopher are false. The impersonalist philosophy, vivarta-vāda, generally cites the acceptance of a rope to be a snake as an example of this fact. According to this example, the varieties within our vision are false, just as a rope seen to be a snake is false. The Vaiṣṇavas say, however, that although the idea that the rope is a snake is false, the snake is not false; one has experience of a snake in reality, and therefore he knows that although the representation of the rope as a snake is false or illusory, there is a snake in reality. Similarly, this world, which is full of varieties, is not false; it is a reflection of the reality in the Vaikuṇṭha world, the spiritual world.
The reflection of the sun from a mirror is nothing but light within darkness. Thus although it is not exactly sunlight, without the sunlight the reflection would be impossible. Similarly, the varieties of this world would be impossible unless there were a real prototype in the spiritual world. The Māyāvādī philosopher cannot understand this, but a real philosopher must be convinced that light is not possible at all without a background of sunlight. Thus the jugglery of words used by the Māyāvādī philosopher to prove that this material world is false may amaze inexperienced children, but a man with full knowledge knows perfectly well that there cannot be any existence without Kṛṣṇa. Therefore a Vaiṣṇava insists on the platform of somehow or other accepting Kṛṣṇa (tasmāt kenāpy upāyena manaḥ kṛṣṇe niveśayet).
When we raise our unmixed faith to the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, everything is revealed. Kṛṣṇa also says in Bhagavad-gītā (7.1):
“Now hear, O son of Pṛthā [Arjuna], how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt.” Simply by raising one’s staunch faith in Kṛṣṇa and His instructions, one can understand reality without a doubt (asaṁśayaṁ samagraṁ mām). One can understand how Kṛṣṇa’s material and spiritual energies are working and how He is present everywhere although everything is not Him. This philosophy of acintya-bhedābheda, inconceivable oneness and difference, is the perfect philosophy enunciated by the Vaiṣṇavas. Everything is an emanation from Kṛṣṇa, but it is not that everything must therefore be worshiped. Speculative knowledge cannot give us reality as it is, but will continue to be nefariously imperfect. So-called scientists try to prove that there is no God and that everything is happening because of the laws of nature, but this is imperfect knowledge because nothing can work unless directed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is explained in Bhagavad-gītā (9.10) by the Lord Himself:
“This material nature is working under My direction, O son of Kuntī, and it is producing all moving and unmoving beings. By its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again.” In this regard, Śrīla Madhvācārya gives this note: durghaṭatvād arthatvena parameśvareṇaiva kalpitam. The background of everything is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vāsudeva. Vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ [Bg. 7.19]. This can be understood by a mahātmā who is perfect in knowledge. Such a mahātmā is rarely seen.
chāyā na katamāpi hi
na saṅghāto vikāro ’pi
na pṛthaṅ nānvito mṛṣā
kṣiti-ādīnām—of the five elements, beginning with the earth; iha—in this world; arthānām—of those five elements; chāyā—shadow; na—neither; katamā—which of them; api—indeed; hi—certainly; na—nor; saṅghātaḥ—combination; vikāraḥ—transformation; api—although; na pṛthak—nor separated; na anvitaḥ—nor inherent in; mṛṣā—all these theories are without substance.
In this world there are five elements—namely earth, water, fire, air and ether—but the body is not a reflection of them, nor a combination or transformation of them. Because the body and its ingredients are neither distinct nor amalgamated, all such theories are insubstantial.
A forest is certainly a transformation of the earth, but one tree does not depend on another tree; if one is cut down, this does not mean that the others are cut down. Therefore, the forest is neither a combination nor a transformation of the trees. The best explanation is given by Kṛṣṇa Himself:
“By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.” (Bg. 9.4) Everything is an expansion of Kṛṣṇa’s energy. As it is said, parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate: the Lord has multi-energies, which are expressed in different ways. The energies are existing, and the Supreme Personality of Godhead also exists simultaneously; because everything is His energy, He is simultaneously one with everything and different from everything. Thus our speculative theories that ātmā, the living force, is a combination of matter, that matter is a transformation of the soul, or that the body is part of the soul are all insubstantial.
Since all the Lord’s energies are simultaneously existing, one must understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But although He is everything, He is not present in everything. The Lord must be worshiped in His original form as Kṛṣṇa. He can also present Himself in any one of His various expanded energies. When we worship the Deity of the Lord in the temple, the Deity appears to be stone or wood. Now, because the Supreme Lord does not have a material body, He is not stone or wood, yet stone and wood are not different from Him. Thus by worshiping stone or wood we get no result, but when the stone and wood are represented in the Lord’s original form, by worshiping the Deity we get the desired result. This is supported by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s philosophy, acintya-bhedābheda, which explains how the Lord can present Himself everywhere and anywhere in a form of His energy to accept service from the devotee.
dhātavo ’vayavitvāc ca
na syur hy asaty avayaviny
asann avayavo ’ntataḥ
dhātavaḥ—the five elements; avayavitvāt—being the cause of the bodily conception; ca—and; tat-mātra—the sense objects (sound, taste, touch, etc.); avayavaiḥ—the subtle parts; vinā—without; na—not; syuḥ—can exist; hi—indeed; asati—unreal; avayavini—in the formation of the body; asan—not existing; avayavaḥ—the part of the body; antataḥ—at the end.
Because the body is formed of the five elements, it cannot exist without the subtle sense objects. Therefore, since the body is false, the sense objects are also naturally false or temporary.
syāt sādṛśya-bhramas tāvad
vikalpe sati vastunaḥ
jāgrat-svāpau yathā svapne
syāt—it so becomes; sādṛśya—similarity; bhramaḥ—mistake; tāvat—as long as; vikalpe—in separation; sati—the part; vastunaḥ—from the substance; jāgrat—waking; svāpau—sleeping; yathā—as; svapne—in a dream; tathā—similarly; vidhi-niṣedhatā—the regulative principles, consisting of injunctions and prohibitions.
When a substance and its parts are separated, the acceptance of similarity between one and the other is called illusion. While dreaming, one creates a separation between the existences called wakefulness and sleep. It is in such a state of mind that the regulative principles of the scriptures, consisting of injunctions and prohibitions, are recommended.
In material existence there are many regulative principles and formalities. If material existence is temporary or false, this does not mean that the spiritual world, although similar, is also false. That one’s material body is false or temporary does not mean that the body of the Supreme Lord is also false or temporary. The spiritual world is real, and the material world is similar to it. For example, in the desert we sometimes find a mirage, but although the water in a mirage is false, this does not mean that there is no water in reality; water exists, but not in the desert. Similarly, nothing real is in this material world, but reality is in the spiritual world. The Lord’s form and His abode—Goloka Vṛndāvana in the Vaikuṇṭha planets—are eternal realities.
From Bhagavad-gītā we understand that there is another prakṛti, or nature, which is real. This is explained by the Lord Himself in the Eighth Chapter of Bhagavad-gītā (8.19–21):
“Again and again the day of Brahmā comes, and all living beings are active; and again the night falls, O Pārtha, and they are helplessly dissolved. Yet there is another nature, which is eternal and is transcendental to this manifested and unmanifested matter. It is supreme and is never annihilated. When all in this world is annihilated, that part remains as it is. 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.” The material world is a reflection of the spiritual world. The material world is temporary or false, but the spiritual world is an eternal reality.
trīn svapnān dhunute muniḥ
bhāva-advaitam—oneness in one’s conception of life; kriyā-advaitam—oneness in activities; dravya-advaitam—oneness in different paraphernalia; tathā—as well as; ātmanaḥ—of the soul; vartayan—considering; sva—one’s own; anubhūtyā—according to realization; iha—in this material world; trīn—the three; svapnān—living conditions (wakefulness, dreaming and sleep); dhunute—gives up; muniḥ—the philosopher or speculator.
After considering the oneness of existence, activity and paraphernalia and after realizing the self to be different from all actions and reactions, the mental speculator [muni], according to his own realization, gives up the three states of wakefulness, dreaming and sleep.
The three words bhāvādvaita, kriyādvaita and dravyādvaita are explained in the following verses. However, one has to give up all the nonduality of philosophical life in the material world and come to the actual life of reality in the spiritual world in order to attain perfection.
bhāvādvaitaṁ tad ucyate
kārya—the result or effect; kāraṇa—the cause; vastu—substance; aikya—oneness; darśanam—observation; paṭa—the cloth; tantu—the thread; vat—like; avastutvāt—because of being ultimately unreality; vikalpasya—of differentiation; bhāva-advaitam—the conception of oneness; tat ucyate—that is called.
When one understands that result and cause are one and that duality is ultimately unreal, like the idea that the threads of a cloth are different from the cloth itself, one reaches the conception of oneness called bhāvādvaita.
yad brahmaṇi pare sākṣāt
kriyādvaitaṁ tad ucyate
yat—that which; brahmaṇi—in the Supreme Brahman; pare—transcendental; sākṣāt—directly; sarva—of all; karma—activities; samarpaṇam—dedication; manaḥ—by the mind; vāk—the words; tanubhiḥ—and the body; pārtha—O Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira; kriyā-advaitam—oneness in activities; tat ucyate—it is called.
My dear Yudhiṣṭhira [Pārtha], when all the activities one performs with his mind, words and body are dedicated directly to the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one reaches oneness of activities, called kriyādvaita.
The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is teaching people how to come to the stage of dedicating everything to the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (9.27):
“O son of Kuntī, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.” If whatever we do, whatever we eat, whatever we think and whatever we plan is for the advancement of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, this is oneness. There is no difference between chanting for Kṛṣṇa consciousness and working for Kṛṣṇa consciousness. On the transcendental platform, they are one. But we must be guided by the spiritual master about this oneness; we should not manufacture our own oneness.
yat svārtha-kāmayor aikyaṁ
dravyādvaitaṁ tad ucyate
ātma—of one’s self; jāyā—wife; suta-ādīnām—and children; anyeṣām—of one’s relatives, etc.; sarva-dehinām—of all other living entities; yat—whatever; sva-artha-kāmayoḥ—of one’s ultimate goal and benefit; aikyam—oneness; dravya-advaitam—oneness of interest; tat ucyate—it is called.
When the ultimate goal and interest of one’s self, one’s wife, one’s children, one’s relatives and all other embodied living beings is one, this is called dravyādvaita, or oneness of interest.
The actual interest of all living entities—indeed, the goal of life—is to return home, back to Godhead. This is the interest of one’s own self, one’s wife, one’s children, one’s disciples and one’s friends, relatives, countrymen and all humanity. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement can give directions for management by which everyone can partake in Kṛṣṇa conscious activities and reach the ultimate goal, which is known as svārtha-gatim. This objective of everyone’s interest is Viṣṇu, but because people do not know this (na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇum [SB 7.5.31]), they are making various plans by which to fulfill so many concocted interests in life. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is trying to bring everyone to the highest interest. The process may be differently named, but if the aim is one, people should follow it to achieve the ultimate goal in life. Unfortunately, people are thinking of different interests, and blind leaders are misleading them. Everyone is trying to reach the goal of complete happiness materially; because people do not know what complete happiness is, they are materially diverted toward different interests.
yad yasya vāniṣiddhaṁ syād
yena yatra yato nṛpa
sa teneheta kāryāṇi
naro nānyair anāpadi
yat—whatever; yasya—of a man; vā—either; aniṣiddham—not forbidden; syāt—it is so; yena—by which means; yatra—in place and time; yataḥ—from which; nṛpa—O King; saḥ—such a person; tena—by such a process; īheta—should perform; kāryāṇi—prescribed activities; naraḥ—a person; na—not; anyaiḥ—by other ways; anāpadi—in the absence of danger.
In normal conditions, in the absence of danger, O King Yudhiṣṭhira, a man should perform his prescribed activities according to his status of life with the things, endeavors, process and living place that are not forbidden for him, and not by any other means.
This instruction is given for men in all statuses of life. Generally society is divided into brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas, śūdras, brahmacārīs, vānaprasthas, sannyāsīs and gṛhasthas. Everyone must act according to his position and try to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for that will make one’s life successful. This was instructed in Naimiṣāraṇya:
“O best among the twice-born, it is therefore concluded that the highest perfection one can achieve, by discharging his prescribed duties [dharma] according to caste divisions and order of life, is to please the Lord Hari.” (Bhāg. 1.2.13) Everyone should act according to his occupational duties just to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then everyone will be happy.
etair anyaiś ca vedoktair
gṛhe ’py asya gatiṁ yāyād
rājaṁs tad-bhakti-bhāṅ naraḥ
etaiḥ—by these ways; anyaiḥ—by other ways; ca—and; veda-uktaiḥ—as directed in the Vedic literatures; vartamānaḥ—abiding; sva-karmabhiḥ—by one’s occupational duties; gṛhe api—even at home; asya—of Lord Kṛṣṇa; gatim—destination; yāyāt—can reach; rājan—O King; tat-bhakti-bhāk—who renders devotional service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead; naraḥ—any person.
O King, one should perform his occupational duties according to these instructions, as well as other instructions given in the Vedic literature, just to remain a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Thus, even while at home, one will be able to reach the destination.
The ultimate goal of life is Viṣṇu, Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, either by Vedic regulative principles or by materialistic activities, if one tries to reach the destination of Kṛṣṇa, that is the perfection of life. Kṛṣṇa should be the target; everyone should try to reach Kṛṣṇa, from any position of life.
“O son of Pṛthā, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth—women, vaiśyas [merchants], as well as śūdras [workers]—can approach the supreme destination.” It does not matter what one’s position is; if one aims at reaching Kṛṣṇa by performing his occupational duty under the direction of the spiritual master, his life is successful. It is not that only sannyāsīs, vānaprasthas and brahmacārīs can reach Kṛṣṇa. A gṛhastha, a householder, can also reach Kṛṣṇa, provided he becomes a pure devotee without material desires. An example of this is cited in the next verse.
yathā hi yūyaṁ nṛpa-deva dustyajād
āpad-gaṇād uttaratātmanaḥ prabhoḥ
ahāraṣīn nirjita-dig-gajaḥ kratūn
yathā—as; hi—indeed; yūyam—all of you (Pāṇḍavas); nṛpa-deva—O lord of the kings, human beings and demigods; dustyajāt—insurmountable; āpat—dangerous conditions; gaṇāt—from all; uttarata—escaped; ātmanaḥ—own; prabhoḥ—of the Lord; yat-pāda-paṅkeruha—whose lotus feet; sevayā—by serving; bhavān—yourself; ahāraṣīt—performed; nirjita—defeating; dik-gajaḥ—the most powerful enemies, who were like elephants; kratūn—ritualistic ceremonies.
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