The Srimad Bhagavatam
After the conversion of the Mayavadi sannyasis to the path of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, many scholars and inquisitive people visited the Lord at Benares. Since it was not possible for everyone to see Caitanya Mahaprabhu at His residence, people used to stand in line to see Him as He passed on His way to the temple of Visvanatha and Bindumadhava. One day, when the Lord visited the temple with His associates, Candrasekhara Acarya, Paramananda, Tapana Misra, Sanatana Gosvami and others, He was singing:
When the Lord sang in this way, chanting and dancing, thousands of people gathered around Him, and when the Lord chanted, they roared. The vibration was so tumultuous that Prakasananda Sarasvati, who was sitting nearby, immediately joined the crowd with his disciples. As soon as he saw the beautiful body of Lord Caitanya and the Lord dancing with His associates, Prakasananda Sarasvati also joined and began to sing: "Hari! Hari!" All the inhabitants of Benares were struck with wonder upon seeing the ecstatic dancing of Lord Caitanya. However, Lord Caitanya checked His continuous ecstasy and stopped dancing when He saw the Mayavadi sannyasis. As soon as the Lord stopped chanting and dancing, Prakasananda Sarasvati fell at His feet. Trying to stop him, Lord Caitanya said, "Oh, you are the spiritual master of the whole world, jagad-guru, and I am not even equal to your disciples. You should therefore not worship an inferior like Me. You are exactly like the Supreme Brahman, and if I allow you to fall down at My feet, I will commit a very great offense. Although you have no vision of duality, for the sake of teaching the people in general you should not do this."
"Previously I spoke ill of You many times," Prakasananda Sarasvati replied. "Now in order to free myself from the results of my offense, I fall down at Your feet." He then quoted a verse from Vedic literatures which states that when even a liberated soul commits an offense against the Supreme Lord, he again becomes a victim of material contamination. Prakasananda Sarasvati then quoted another verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.34.9) regarding Nanda Maharaja's being attacked by a serpent who was previously Vidyadhararcita. When the serpent was touched by the lotus feet of Krsna, he regained his previous body and was freed from the reactions of his sinful activities. When Lord Caitanya thus heard Himself equated with Krsna, He mildly protested. He wanted to warn people in general not to compare the Supreme Lord with any living entity, and although He was the Supreme Lord Himself, He protested against this comparison in order to teach us. Thus He said that it is the greatest offense to compare anyone with the Supreme Lord Krsna. Lord Caitanya always maintained that Visnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is great and the living entities, however great they may be, are but infinitesimal. In this connection, He quoted a verse from Padma Purana which is found in the Vaisnava tantra (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 1.73): "A person who compares the Supreme Lord even with the greatest of demigods like Brahma and Siva must be considered a number one atheist."
"I can understand that You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna," Prakasananda Sarasvati continued, "and even though You present Yourself as a devotee, You are still worshipable because You are greater than all of us in education and realization. Therefore by blaspheming You, we have committed the greatest offense. Please excuse us."
How a devotee becomes the greatest of all transcendentalists is stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (6.14.5):
"There are many liberated souls and perfected souls, but out of all of them he who is a devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is best. The devotees of the Supreme Lord are always calm and quiet, and their perfection is very rarely seen, even in millions of persons." Prakasananda also quoted another verse (SB 10.4.46) in which it is stated that one's duration of life, prosperity, fame, religion and the benediction of higher authorities are all lost when one offends a devotee. Prakasananda also quoted another verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.5.32) which said that all the misgivings of the conditioned soul disappear at the touch of the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. However, one cannot touch the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord unless one receives the benediction of the dust of the lotus feet of the Lord's pure devotee. In other words, one cannot become a pure devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead unless he is favored by another pure devotee of the Lord.
"Now I am taking shelter of Your lotus feet," Prakasananda Sarasvati said, "for I want to be elevated to the position of a devotee of the Supreme Lord."
After talking in this way, both Prakasananda Sarasvati and Lord Caitanya sat together. "Whatever You have said concerning discrepancies in the Mayavadi philosophy is also known by us," Prakasananda said. "Indeed, we know that all the commentaries on Vedic scriptures by Mayavadi philosophers are erroneous, especially those of Sankaracarya. Sankaracarya's interpretations of Vedanta-sutra are all figments of his imagination. You have not explained the codes of the Vedanta-sutra and Upanisads according to Your own imagination but have presented them as they are. Thus we are all pleased to have heard Your explanation. Such explanations of the codes of Vedanta-sutra and the Upanisads cannot be given by anyone but the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Since You have all the potencies of the Supreme Lord, please explain the Vedanta-sutra further so that I may be benefited."
Lord Caitanya protested against being called the Supreme Lord, and He said, "My dear sir, I am an ordinary living entity. I cannot know the real meaning of Vedanta-sutra, but Vyasadeva, who is an incarnation of Narayana, knows its real meaning. No ordinary living entity can interpret Vedanta-sutra according to his mundane conceptions. In order to curb commentaries on Vedanta-sutra by unscrupulous persons, the author himself, Vyasadeva, has already commentated upon the Vedanta-sutra by writing Srimad-Bhagavatam." In other words, the best explanation of a book is written by the author himself. No one can understand the author's mind unless the author himself discloses the purpose behind his writing. Therefore Vedanta-sutra should be understood through Srimad-Bhagavatam, the commentary written by the author of Vedanta-sutra.
Pranava, or omkara, is the divine substance of all the Vedas. Omkara is further explained in the gayatri mantra exactly as it was explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam. There are four verses written in this connection, and these are explained to Brahma by Lord Krsna Himself. In his turn, Brahma explains them to Narada, and Narada explains them to Vyasadeva. In this way the purport of the verses of Srimad-Bhagavatam come down through disciplic succession. It is not that anyone and everyone can make his own foolish commentaries on Vedanta-sutra and mislead readers. Anyone who wants to understand Vedanta-sutra must read Srimad-Bhagavatam carefully. Under the instructions of Narada Muni, Vyasadeva compiled Srimad-Bhagavatam with the purpose of explaining the Vedanta-sutra. In writing Srimad-Bhagavatam, Vyasadeva collected all the essence of the Upanisads, the purpose of which was also explained in Vedanta-sutra. Srimad-Bhagavatam is thus the essence of all Vedic knowledge. That which is stated in the Upanisads and restated in Vedanta-sutra is explained very nicely in Srimad-Bhagavatam.
There is a passage in Isopanisad similar to a verse found in Srimad-Bhagavatam (8.1.10) which states that whatever one sees in the cosmic manifestation is but the Supreme Lord's energy and is nondifferent from Him. Consequently He is the controller, friend and maintainer of all living entities. We should live by the mercy of God and take only those things which are allotted to us. In this way, by not encroaching on another's property, one can enjoy life.
In other words, the purpose of the Upanisads, Vedanta-sutra and Srimad-Bhagavatam is one and the same. If one studies Srimad-Bhagavatam carefully, he will find that all the Upanisads and the Vedanta-sutra are nicely explained therein. Srimad-Bhagavatam teaches us how to reestablish our eternal relationship with the Supreme Lord, how to act in that relationship, and, lastly, how to achieve the highest benefit from it.
The four verses beginning with aham eva are the gist of the whole Bhagavatam. These are: "I am the supreme center for the relationships of all living entities, and My knowledge is the supreme knowledge. That process by which I can be attained by the living entity is called abhidheya. By it, one can attain the highest perfection of life, love of Godhead. When one attains love of Godhead, his life becomes perfect." The explanation of these four verses is given in Srimad-Bhagavatam, and Lord Caitanya gave a short description of the principles of these verses. He said that no one can understand the constitutional position of the Supreme Lord-His situation, His transcendental qualities, His transcendental activities and His six opulences. These cannot be understood by mental speculation or academic education; they can only be understood by the mercy of the Lord. As stated in Bhagavad-gita, one who is fortunate enough to receive the Lord's favor can understand all these explanations by the mercy of the Lord.
The Lord existed before the material creation; therefore the material ingredients, nature and the living entities all emanated from Him, and after dissolution they rest in Him. When the creation is manifest, it is maintained by Him; indeed, whatever manifestation we see is but a transformation of His external energy. When the Supreme Lord withdraws His external energy, everything enters into Him. In the first of the four verses, the word aham is given three times in order to stress that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is full with all opulences. Aham is stated three times just to chastise one who cannot understand or believe in the transcendental nature and form of the Supreme Lord.
The Lord possesses His internal energy, His external, marginal and relative energies, the manifestation of the cosmic world and the living entities. The external energy is manifested by the qualitative modes (gunas) of material nature. One who can understand the nature of the living entity in the spiritual world can actually understand vedyam, or perfect knowledge. One cannot understand the Supreme Lord simply by seeing the material energy and the conditioned soul, but when one is in perfect knowledge, he is freed from the influence of the external energy. The moon reflects the light of the sun, and without the sun the moon cannot illuminate anything. Similarly, this material cosmic manifestation is but the reflection of the spiritual world. When one is actually liberated from the spell of the external energy, he can understand the constitutional nature of the Supreme Lord. Devotional service to the Lord is the only means by which the Lord can be attained, and this devotional service can be accepted by everyone and anyone in any country and under any circumstance. Devotional service is above the four principles of religion and the understanding derived from liberation. Even the preliminaries of devotional service are transcendental to the highest understanding derived from liberation and the understanding derived from ordinary religion.
One should therefore approach a bona fide spiritual master-irrespective of caste, creed, color, country, etc.-and hear from him everything about devotional service. The real purpose of life is to revive our dormant love of God. Indeed, that is our ultimate necessity. How that love of God can be attained is explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam. There is theoretical knowledge and specific or realized knowledge, and perfect realized knowledge is attained when one realizes the teachings received from the spiritual master.
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