TEXT 18
jnana-vairagya-yuktena
bhakti-yuktena catmana
paripasyaty udasinam
prakrtim ca hataujasam
TRANSLATION
In that position of self-realization, by practice of knowledge and renunciation in devotional service, one sees everything in the right perspective; he becomes indifferent to material existence, and the material influence acts less powerfully upon him.
PURPORT
As the contamination of the germs of a particular disease can influence a weaker person, similarly the influence of material nature, or illusory energy, can act on the weaker, or conditioned, soul but not on the liberated soul. Self-realization is the position of the liberated state. One understands his constitutional position by knowledge and vairagya, renunciation. Without knowledge, one cannot have realization. The realization that one is the infinitesimal part and parcel of the Supreme Spirit makes one unattached to material, conditional life. That is the beginning of devotional service. Unless one is liberated from material contamination, one cannot engage in the devotional service of the Lord. In this verse, therefore, it is stated, jnana-vairagya-yuktena: when one is in full knowledge of one’s constitutional position and is in the renounced order of life, detached from material attraction, then, by pure devotional service, bhakti-yuktena, he can engage himself as a loving servant of the Lord. paripasyati means that he can see everything in its right perspective. Then the influence of material nature becomes almost nil. This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gita. Brahma-bhutah prasannatma: [Bg. 18.54] when one is self-realized he becomes happy and free from the influence of material nature, and at that time he is freed from lamentation and hankering. The Lord states that position as mad-bhaktim labhate param [Bg. 18.54], the real beginning of devotional service. Similarly, it is confirmed in the Narada-pancaratra that when the senses are purified, they can then be engaged in the devotional service of the Lord. One who is attached to material contamination cannot be a devotee.
In the conditional state, we are influenced by material nature. We have already discussed how we are conditioned by the three modes of material nature—ignorance, passion and goodness. Goodness is superior to ignorance and passion because from the platform of goodness we can come to understand Krsna and thereby transcend the modes altogether. In this age, people are generally influenced by the lower modes, the modes of ignorance and passion. In these modes, we are not able to serve Krsna. It is our constitutional position to serve someone, but when we do not serve Krsna, we serve maya. In any case, we cannot become master. Who can say that he is a master, that he is not serving anyone? We may serve our family, society, country, business, automobile or whatever. If one cannot find anything to serve, he goes and buys a cat or dog and serves it. Why is this? It is because service is our nature. We are simply lacking the knowledge of where to direct the service. Service is meant to be rendered to Krsna. In the material world we are serving our lusty desires, not Krsna, and we are deriving no pleasure from this. We are also serving in an office or in some employment in order to get some money. In this case, we are serving money, not the person. Thus in the material world we serve the senses and money. In any case, service is there. We must serve.
Actually the only master is Krsna. Ekale isvara krsna, ara saba bhrtya (Cc. Adi 5.142). All the demigods, human beings, animals, trees and everything else are servants. Self-realization is realizing that one is the eternal servant of Krsna and that one’s duty is to serve Him. Self-realization is not thinking aham brahmasmi, “I have become Brahman, Bhagavan.” How can we become Bhagavan? If we are Bhagavan, we are actually the supreme powerful one. If this is the case, why are we in a miserable condition? Why are we under the influence of maya? Does Bhagavan come under the influence of maya? No. Krsna says specifically in Bhagavad-gita that prakrti, maya, is working under His directions. Maya is the maidservant of Krsna, and if we are the servants of ma-ya-, how can we be Krsna, Bhagavan? When we come to our spiritual senses, we can understand that we are erroneously engaged in maya’s service and that our duty is to engage in Krsna’s service. That is self-realization. As stated here: jnana-vairagya-yuktena. Real understanding is knowing oneself to be the servant of Krsna, no one else. Because we are under illusion, we are serving kama, lobha, moha, matsaryalust and greed—without benefit and without pleasure. Kamadinam kati na katidha palita durnidesa: “There is no limit to the unwanted orders of lusty desires.” (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 3.2.25) When we come to the understanding that our pleasure lies in serving Krsna only, we have attained jnana-vairagya. Therefore in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.7) it is stated:
“By rendering devotional service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, one immediately acquires causeless knowledge and detachment from the world.” If one engages in the service of Vasudeva, Krsna, this knowledge comes, and one becomes a mahatma. A mahatma is one who realizes that Krsna is everything. He does not defy Krsna or try to become Krsna. One who does so is not a mahatma but a duratma, a rascal. What is the position and knowledge of a mahatma? Krsna states:
mahatmanas tu mam partha
daivim prakrtim asritah
bhajanty ananya-manaso
jnatva bhutadim avyayam
“O son of Prtha, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible.” (Bg. 9.13)
A mahatma cannot be manufactured. He is under the daivi prakrti, the divine nature. There are two kinds of prakrtipara prakrti and apara prakrti. Apara prakrti is the material world, and daivi prakrti is the spiritual world. As soon as one understands that he is uselessly serving maya in the material world in the form of society, friends, country and so forth, one reaches the stage called jnana, knowledge. As soon as one attains this knowledge, he reaches the brahma-bhuta stage, Brahman realization, and he becomes prasannatma, happy. One may ask, “Why should I serve Krsna?” We have already explained that being a part means serving the whole. The whole is Krsna, and the individuals are meant for Krsna’s satisfaction. Isavasyam idam sarvam.
There are many isvaras, controllers, but the supreme isvara is Krsna. As soon as one attains this realization, he has attained perfect knowledge, and he renders service in bhakti-yoga. Foolish people say that bhakti is meant for ajnanis, unintelligent people, but this is not the case. In Bhagavad-gita Krsna indicates that after many births, the jnani, the man in knowledge, surrenders unto Him.
As long as we do not understand Krsna, Vasudeva, we should understand that we are still fools. We may advertise ourselves as very great jnanis, learned personalities, but we are actually fools. That is the sastric conclusion. If we are actually jnanis, we should surrender unto Krsna.
There are many dharmas, or activities. Some are pious and some impious, but Krsna tells us to give up both. Arjuna was thinking that it was impious to fight with his relatives, but Krsna was insisting that he fight. How could Arjuna act impiously? He could not, because Krsna’s service is transcendental to pious and impious activity. At midnight, when the gopis heard the sound of Krsna’s flute, they ran to the forest to join Him. According to the sastras, it is immoral for young girls to go see a young boy in a forest in the dead of night. But this was not an impious activity because the gopis did this for Krsna. Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who was so strict that no woman could even come near Him to offer respects, actually said: ramya kacid upasana vraja-vadhu-vargena ya kalpita. “What could be more wonderful than that worship conceived by the gopis?” Although it actually appeared immoral for the gopis to dance with Krsna, Caitanya Mahaprabhu states that their relation with Krsna is the highest
form of worship. This is actually transcendental knowledge. One becomes transcendental to all pious and impious activities when one serves Krsna. After all, piety and impiety are within the material modes. Krsna’s service is transcendental to good and bad, pious and impious. Bhakti-yoga begins when jnana and vairagya are complete. Jnana is knowledge, and vairagya is detachment from matter and engagement of the mind in spirit. Both of these are automatically attained when we engage in devotional service to Krsna.

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