A living entity is eternally related with Kṛṣṇa in the relationship of servant and master. Once that service is wanting—or, in other words, when one is not situated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness—it is to be understood that his study of the Vedānta is insufficient. When one does not understand Kṛṣṇa or does not engage in His transcendental loving service, it is to be understood that he is averse to studying the Vedānta and understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The path of Vedānta study shown by Lord Caitanya should be followed by all. A person who is puffed up by so-called education has no humility and therefore does not seek the protection of a bona fide spiritual master. He thinks that he does not require a spiritual master and that he can achieve the highest perfection by his own efforts. Such persons are not eligible for studying the Vedānta-sūtra. Those who are under the spell of the material energy do not follow the instructions of the disciplic succession but try to manufacture something on their own. In this way they step outside the sphere of Vedānta study. A bona fide spiritual master must always condemn such independent mental speculators. If the bona fide spiritual master directly points out the foolishness of a disciple, it should not be taken wrongly.
A person who is completely ignorant of the science of God cannot be considered learned. More or less, everyone who is not in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is subject to foolishness. Sometimes we display our foolishness by accepting someone who is barely educated as a spiritual master. It is our duty to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose lotus feet are worshiped by all the Vedas. One who does not understand Him and is proud of a false understanding of the Vedānta is actually a fool. Mundane attempts at academic knowledge are simply another type of foolishness. As long as one cannot understand the cosmic manifestation as a representation of the three modes of material nature, he must be considered to be in the darkness of inebriety and caught in the duality of this material world. A person who is in perfect knowledge of the Vedānta becomes a servitor of the Supreme Lord, who is the maintainer and sustainer of the whole cosmic manifestation. As long as one is not transcendental to the service of the limited, he cannot have knowledge of the Vedānta.
As long as one is within the limited jurisdiction of fruitive activities or is involved in mental speculation, he may perhaps be eligible to study or teach theoretical knowledge of the Vedānta-sūtra, but he cannot understand the supreme, eternal, transcendental (completely liberated) vibration of Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. One who has achieved perfection in chanting this transcendental vibration does not have to separately learn the philosophy of the Vedānta-sūtra. According to the teachings of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the bona fide spiritual master, those who do not understand that this transcendental vibration is nondifferent from the Supreme, yet who try to become Māyāvādī philosophers expert in the Vedānta-sūtra, are all fools. Studying the Vedānta-sūtra by one's own efforts (the ascending process of knowledge) is a sign of foolishness. On the other hand, he who has attained a taste for chanting this transcendental vibration has actually reached the conclusion of the Vedānta. In this connection, there are two verses in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam which are very instructive. The purport of the first is that if a person is chanting the transcendental vibration Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, then even if he was born in the family of the lowest of human beings it is to be understood that in his previous lives he performed all types of renunciation, austerities and sacrifice and studied all the Brahma-sūtras. The purport of the second verse is that one who chants the two syllables ha-ri must be considered to have studied all the Vedas—the Ṛg Veda, Atharva Veda, Yajur Veda and Sāma Veda.
On the other hand, there are many so-called devotees who think the Vedānta is not meant for devotees. Such people are ignorant of the fact that the Vedānta is the only platform of pure devotees. Great ācāryas in all four Vaiṣṇava sampradāyas have made commentaries on the Vedānta-sūtra, but the so-called devotees known as prākṛta-sahajiyās carefully avoid the study of the Vedānta-sūtra. The prākṛta-sahajiyās mistakenly take the pure devotees and Vaiṣṇava ācāryas to be mental speculators or fruitive actors. Consequently they themselves become Māyāvādīs and leave the service of the Supreme Lord.
Understanding the Vedānta-sūtra by academic knowledge never enables one to understand the value of the transcendental vibration. People who are entangled in academic knowledge are conditioned souls who are confused about the facts of "I" and "mine" understanding. Consequently they are unable to detach their minds from the external energy. When a person actually attains transcendental knowledge, he becomes free from this duality and engages in the transcendental loving service of the Supreme Lord. The Lord's service is the only means by which one can become detached from material activities. A person properly initiated by a bona fide spiritual master and engaged in chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare gradually becomes freed from the conception of "I" and "mine" and becomes attached to the Lord's transcendental loving service in one of the five transcendental relationships. Such transcendental service is not a subject matter for gross and subtle bodies. Only when one can understand that there is no difference between the Supreme and His name can one be situated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. At such a time one no longer needs to make grammatical adjustments. Rather, one becomes more interested in petitioning the Lord: "Hare Kṛṣṇa—O my Lord, O energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your service!"
Lord Caitanya explained all this to Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī and told him that He had heard all this from His spiritual master. He further informed Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī that His spiritual master had taught Him that Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the actual commentary on the Vedānta-sūtra, as stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam by Vyāsadeva, the author of the Vedānta-sūtra.
A student's perfection is to understand the identity of the holy name and the Supreme Lord. Unless one is under the shelter of a realized spiritual master, his understanding of the Supreme is simply foolishness. However, one can fully understand the transcendental Lord by service and devotion. When Lord Caitanya offenselessly chanted the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, He declared that the mantra could at once deliver a conditioned soul from material contamination. In this Age of Kali there is no alternative to chanting this mahā-mantra. It is stated that the essence of all Vedic literature is the chanting of this holy name of Kṛṣṇa: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. Lord Caitanya also told Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī, “In order to convince Me about this essential fact of Vedic knowledge, My spiritual master has taught Me a verse from Bṛhan-nāradīya Purāṇa (38.126). Harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam/ kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva nāsty eva gatir anyathā: "In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the only means of deliverance is the chanting of the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way."