Direct Connection with Krsna
When challenged by the Visnudutas to describe the principles of religion, the Yamadutas had said, veda-pranihito dharmah: “The Vedic literature defines religious principles.” They did not know, however, that the Vedic literature contains ritualistic ceremonies that are not transcendental but are meant to keep peace and order among materialistic persons in the material world. Real religious principles are nistraigunya, above the three modes of material nature, or transcendental. The Yamadutas did not know these transcendental religious principles, and therefore when prevented from arresting Ajamila, they were surprised.
Materialistic persons who attach all their faith to the Vedic rituals are described in the Bhagavad-gita (2.42), wherein Krsna says, veda-vada-ratah partha nanyad astiti vadinah: “The supposed followers of the Vedas say that there is nothing beyond the Vedic ceremonies.” Indeed, there is a group of men in India who are very fond of the Vedic rituals, not understanding the meaning of these rituals, which are intended to elevate one gradually to the transcendental platform of knowing Krsna (vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah [Bg. 15.15]). Those who do not know this principle but who simply attach their faith to the Vedic rituals are called veda-vada-ratah.
Herein it is stated that the real religious principle is that which is given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Krsna states that principle in the Bhagavad-gita (18.66): sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja. “Give up all other duties and surrender unto Me.” That is the real religious principle everyone should follow. Even though one follows the Vedic scriptures, one may not know this transcendental principle, for it is not known to everyone. To say nothing of human beings, even the demigods in the upper planetary systems are unaware of it. This transcendental religious principle must be understood from the Supreme Personality of Godhead directly or from His special representative, as stated in these verses.
In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna refers to bhagavata-dharma as the most confidential religious principle (sarva-guhyatamam, guhyad guhyataram). Krsna says to Arjuna, “Because you are My very dear friend, I am explaining to you the most confidential religion.” Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: [Bg. 18.66] “Give up all other duties and surrender unto Me.” One may ask, If this principle is very rarely understood, what is the use of it? In answer, Yamaraja states herein that this religious principle is understandable if one follows the parampara system of Lord Brahma, Lord Siva, the four Kumaras, and the other standard authorities. There are four lines of disciplic succession: one from Lord Brahma, one from Lord Siva, one from Laksmi, the goddess of fortune, and one from the Kumaras. The disciplic succession from Lord Brahma is called the Brahma-sampradaya, the succession from Lord Siva (Sambhu) is called the Rudra-sampradaya, the one from the goddess of fortune, Laksmiji, is called the Sri-sampradaya, and the one from the Kumaras is called the Kumara-sampradaya. One must take shelter of one of these four sampradayas in order to understand the most confidential religious system. In the Padma Purana it is said, sampradaya-vihina ye mantras te nisphala matah: if one does not follow the four recognized disciplic successions, his mantra, or initiation, is useless.
At present there are many apasampradayas, or un–bona fide sampradayas, which have no link to authorities like Lord Brahma, Lord Siva, the Kumaras, or Laksmi. People are misguided by such sampradayas. The sastras say that being initiated into such a sampradaya is a waste of time, for it will never enable one to understand real religious principles and surrender to Krsna.
Real religious principles are bhagavata-dharma, the principles described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam itself or in the Bhagavad-gita, the preliminary study of the Bhagavatam. What are these principles? The Bhagavatam (1.1.2) says, dharmah projjhita-kaitavo ’tra: “In the Srimad-Bhagavatam there are no cheating religious systems.” In other words, everything in the Bhagavatam is directly connected with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Bhagavatam (1.2.6) further says, sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje: “The supreme religion is that which teaches its followers how to love the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is beyond the reach of experimental knowledge.” Such a religious system begins with tan-nama-grahana, chanting the holy name of the Lord. After chanting the holy name and dancing in ecstasy, one gradually sees the transcendental form of the Lord, the qualities of the Lord, and the pastimes of the Lord. In this way one fully understands the situation of the Personality of Godhead.
One can come to this understanding of the Lord, however, only by executing devotional service. As Krsna states in the Bhagavad-gita (18.55), bhaktya mam abhijanati yavan yas casmi tattvatah: “One can understand Me as I am only by devotional service.” If a person is fortunate enough to understand the Supreme Lord in this way, the result is that after giving up his material body he no longer has to take birth in this material world (tyaktva deham punar janma naiti [Bg. 4.9]). Instead, he returns home, back to Godhead. That is the ultimate perfection. Therefore Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita (8.15):
“After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogis in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection.”

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