Perfection in self-realization cannot be attained by any kind of yogi unless he engages in devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for that is the only auspicious path.
That knowledge and renunciation are never perfect unless joined by devotional service is explicitly explained here. Na yujyamanaya means “without being dovetailed.” When there is devotional service, the question arises where to offer that service. Devotional service is to be offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the Supersoul of everything, for that is the only reliable path of self-realization, or Brahman realization. The word brahma-siddhaye means to understand oneself to be different from matter, to understand oneself to be Brahman. The Vedic words are aham brahmasmi. Brahma-siddhi means that one should know that he is not matter; he is pure soul. There are different kinds of yogis, but every yogi is supposed to have attained self-realization, or Brahman realization. It is clearly stated here that unless one is fully engaged in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one cannot easily approach the path of brahma-siddhi.
In the beginning of the Second Chapter of Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated that when one engages in the devotional service of Vasudeva, spiritual knowledge and renunciation of the material world are automatically manifest. Thus a devotee does not have to strive separately for renunciation or knowledge. Devotional service itself is so powerful that by one’s service, everything is revealed. It is stated here, sivah pantha: this is the only auspicious path for self-realization. The path of devotional service is the most confidential means for attaining Brahman realization. That perfection in Brahman realization is attained through the auspicious path of devotional service indicates that the so-called Brahman realization, or realization of the brahmajyoti effulgence, is not brahma-siddhi. Beyond that brahmajyoti there is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the Upanisads a devotee prays to the Lord to kindly put aside the effulgence, brahmajyoti, so that the devotee may see within the brahmajyoti the actual eternal form of the Lord. Unless one attains realization of the transcendental form of the Lord, there is no question of bhakti. Bhakti necessitates the existence of the recipient of devotional service and the devotee who renders devotional service. Brahma-siddhi through devotional service is realization of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The understanding of the effulgent rays of the body of the Supreme Godhead is not the perfect stage of brahma-siddhi, or Brahman realization. Nor is the realization of the Paramatma feature of the Supreme Person perfect because Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is akhilatma—He is the Supersoul. One who realizes the Supreme Personality realizes the other features, namely the Paramatma feature and the Brahman feature, and that total realization is brahma-siddhi.
As stated before, the word yoga means “to connect.” Brahma-siddhaye means “self-realization,” and aham brahmasmi means “I am spirit soul.” Actually, realizing oneself to be spirit is not sufficient. One has to progress further. One’s fever may be cured, but one must also regain his strength and appetite in order to be totally cured. Then one can have a normal, healthy life, free of disease. Similarly, simply realizing that one is spirit soul is not sufficient. One has to engage in spiritual activity, and that spiritual activity is bhakti. Mayavadi philosophers think that it is sufficient to stop all material activity, and the Buddhist philosophers advocate nirvana, cessation of material life. Neither give more information. Actually we are suffering due to this material combination, and that is a fact. This body is composed of earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and ego. The Buddhists and Mayavadis advocate the annihilation of the components. They say, “Let the earth go to earth, let the water go to water, let the fire go to fire and become zero.” If we dismantle the house of the material body and become zero, we attain nirvana. Nirvana means the cessation of pleasure and pain. The Mayavadis and Buddhists claim that if we fill an empty pitcher, the water will make some sound as long as the pitcher is not completely filled. When the pitcher is filled, there will no longer be any sound. Thus they claim that all the Vedic mantras and hymns stop when one is completely Brahman-realized. In other words, the Buddhists and Mayavadis claim that the material world is false, mithya, and that we should somehow or other make it zero. However, simply realizing Brahman, realizing one’s identity as spirit soul, is insufficient. We must realize that Bhagavan is everywhere:
eko ’py asau racayitum jagad-anda-kotim
yac-chaktir asti jagad-anda-caya yad-antah
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
“I worship the Personality of Godhead, Govinda, who, by one of His plenary portions, enters the existence of every universe and every atomic particle and thus unlimitedly manifests His infinite energy all over the material creation.” (Brahma-samhita 5.35)
Sri Bhagavan is not alone. He is not only localized, but is everywhere. Although Krsna has a particular place, He is everywhere. It is not that because Krsna is in one place, He cannot be in others. Since we are conditioned, when we sit in our office we cannot be at home. Krsna is not like this. Goloka eva nivasaty akhilatma-bhutah [Bs. 5.37]. Krsna is always in Goloka Vrndavana, yet He is andantara- stha-paramanu- cayantara-stham. He is within every atom of this universe. This universe is existing due to the Garbhodakasayi Visnu. There is not only one universe, but there are many millions, and they are all working very nicely because the Garbhodakasayi Visnu is present. We should not think that all these planets are floating in space without any arrangement having been made. There is definitely an arrangement.
In order to be completely free of the material modes, one has to come not only to the platform of jnana and vairagya, but to bhakti also. When we mention bhakti, some people say, “I render bhakti to my wife. I love her very much and take care of her. If I do not see her, I become mad.” Thus people have bhakti for their family, country, goddess Durga, other demigods and so on. However, that kind of bhakti will not do. Therefore it is said, bhaktir bhagavati. Bhakti must be rendered unto the Supreme. It is not that one should render bhakti unto an imitation Bhagavan. If one says that he is Bhagavan, we should ask, “Are you present in everyone’s heart? Can you tell me what I am thinking now?” If one is Bhagavan, he must be akhilatma. If one is isvara, he must be present in everyone’s heart. Krsna is present in everyone’s heart (sarvasya caham hrdi sannivistah). All this should be scrutinizingly studied. It is not that one should accept this rascal or that rascal as Bhagavan. Nor should one render bhakti to this demigod or that demigod, to one’s family, country, society, wife, cat, dog or whatever. All this is not really bhakti but imitation bhakti. It is actually lustful desire. If we can develop bhakti for Krsna, Krsna consciousness, our lives will be successful. Actually there is no alternative. As stated in this verse, sadrso ’sti sivah pantha. Parabrahman is Krsna, and brahma-siddhaye means understanding our relationship with Krsna. It is all right for one to understand oneself as Brahman (aham brahmasmi), but what is our relationship with the Parabrahman? There are always two: Brahman and Parabrahman, atma and Paramatma, isvara and Paramesvara, the individual living being and the supreme living being, nitya and nityanam, cetanas and cetananam. There are always two present, and two means a relationship. We should therefore understand our relationship with the Supreme, with Parabrahman. Understanding that relationship is brahma-siddhaye.
We are qualitatively one with Parabrahman, but Parabrahman is very great whereas we are very small. Parabrahman is one (kaivalya). There is no alternative and no duplicate. There is no one equal to Him or greater than Him. That is the meaning of kaivalya. Human life is meant for inquiring about Parabrahman and one’s relationship with Him. Unfortunately, people are not asking questions about Parabrahman. Everyone is asking about the news and the morning paper, and everyone is concerned with going to the market and purchasing so many goods for cheaper prices. All this is going on in human society and in cat and dog society also.
This world is full of darkness and ignorance, but Krsna consciousness is transcendental to this material world. In Krsna consciousness, there is no darkness but simply light. If we try to find things at night, it becomes very difficult; however, in the daytime, there is no difficulty. The sastras enjoin that we leave this darkness and come to light. This light is given by the guru.
“I was born in the darkest ignorance, and my spiritual master opened my eyes with the torch of knowledge. I offer my respectful obeisances unto him.”
It is the guru’s business to give light by knowledge. The guru has completely assimilated the Vedic essence of life. Sruti, knowledge, is received by hearing. It is not experimental. We cannot understand that which is beyond our sense perception by experiment. We cannot understand who our father is by experimental knowledge. One cannot say, “Let me find out who my father is by experiment.” Our father was existing before we were existing, and it is not possible to understand by experimental knowledge that this or that man is my father. The real authority is the mother; therefore Vedic knowledge has been likened to the mother and the puranas to the sisters. We should understand from the Vedas what ultimate knowledge really is. The ultimate knowable objective is Krsna, and simply by understanding Krsna, we can understand everything. We do not have to understand things separately. Krsna is within our hearts. He is not far away; rather, He is everywhere. If Krsna sees that we are attached to Him, He becomes our friend. He is a friend to everyone, but He is especially a friend to His devotees. As Krsna Himself says in Bhagavad-gita (10.11):
“Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.”
Jnana is there, it is simply covered with the curtain of ignorance. Light is there, and darkness is there, but when we are in darkness we cannot see things as they are. Krsna says that as one devotes himself to rendering service, He Himself dispels the darkness of ignorance. If we actually want to become perfect in this life, we only need to engage in devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan. It is not that Bhagavan is difficult to find. Bhagavan is within the heart. Isvarah sarva bhutanam hrd-dese ’rjuna tisthati (Bg. 18.61). That is the real Bhagavan, within the hearts of all. That Bhagavan is always active. He instructed Brahma, the lord of the universe, and Brahma, having received Krsna’s instructions, created the entire universe. Krsna will also give instructions to us if we simply take to devotional service.
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