The Lord was at once carried to the home of Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, who at that time had sufficient power of authority due to his being the sabhā-paṇḍita, or the state dean of faculty in Sanskrit literatures. The learned paṇḍita wanted to scrutinizingly test the transcendental feats of Lord Caitanya because often unscrupulous devotees imitate physical feats in order to flaunt transcendental achievements just to attract innocent people and take advantage of them. A learned scholar like the Bhaṭṭācārya can detect such imposters, and when he finds them out he at once rejects them.
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- 1 Bhagavad-gita As It Is
- 2 Srimad-Bhagavatam
- 3 Sri Caitanya-caritamrta
- 4 Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Bhagavad-gita As It Is
BG Chapters 1 - 6
Unless the mind is fixed on the lotus feet of the Lord by constant remembrance, such transcendental engagements are not practical. In the devotional service of the Lord, therefore, these prescribed activities are called arcana, or engaging all the senses in the service of the Lord. The senses and the mind require engagements. Simple abnegation is not practical. Therefore, for people in general—especially those who are not in the renounced order of life—transcendental engagement of the senses and the mind as described above is the perfect process for transcendental achievement, which is called yukta in the Bhagavad-gītā.
BG Chapters 7 - 12
The demigods cannot award benedictions to their devotees without the permission of the Supreme Lord. The living entity may forget that everything is the property of the Supreme Lord, but the demigods do not forget. So the worship of demigods and achievement of desired results are due not to the demigods but to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by arrangement. The less intelligent living entity does not know this, and therefore he foolishly goes to the demigods for some benefit.
The results achieved by the demigods' benedictions are perishable because within this material world the planets, the demigods and their worshipers are all perishable. Therefore it is clearly stated in this verse that all results achieved by worshiping demigods are perishable, and therefore such worship is performed by the less intelligent living entity. Because the pure devotee engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness in devotional service of the Supreme Lord achieves eternal blissful existence that is full of knowledge, his achievements and those of the common worshiper of the demigods are different. The Supreme Lord is unlimited; His favor is unlimited; His mercy is unlimited. Therefore the mercy of the Supreme Lord upon His pure devotees is unlimited.
One should lower his head before the Deity and engage his mind, his body, his activities-everything. That will make one fully absorbed in Kṛṣṇa without deviation. This will help one transfer to the Kṛṣṇaloka. One should not be deviated by unscrupulous commentators. One must engage in the nine different processes of devotional service, beginning with hearing and chanting about Kṛṣṇa. Pure devotional service is the highest achievement of human society.
As stated before, the Supreme Lord can be appreciated only by devotional service. Therefore, one should be fully devoted. One should fix his mind fully on Kṛṣṇa in order to achieve Him. One should work only for Kṛṣṇa. It does not matter in what kind of work one engages, but that work should be done only for Kṛṣṇa. That is the standard of devotional service. The devotee does not desire any achievement other than pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead. His life's mission is to please Kṛṣṇa, and he can sacrifice everything for Kṛṣṇa's satisfaction, just as Arjuna did in the Battle of Kurukṣetra. The process is very simple: one can devote himself in his occupation and engage at the same time in chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. Such transcendental chanting attracts the devotee to the Personality of Godhead.
SB Preface and Introduction
It was further suggested by Rāya that attainment of spiritual realization freed from the material conception of life is the topmost achievement for a living being. The Lord rejected this suggestion also because on the plea of such spiritual realization much havoc has been wrought by unscrupulous persons; therefore all of a sudden this is not possible. The Rāya then suggested sincere association of self-realized souls and hearing submissively the transcendental message of the pastimes of the Personality of Godhead. This suggestion was welcomed by the Lord.
SB Canto 1
The friends of the twice-born families are those who are born in the families of brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas and vaiśyas, or the spiritually cultured families, but who themselves are not equal to their forefathers. Such descendants are not recognized as such, for want of purificatory achievements. The purificatory activities begin even before the birth of a child, and the seed-giving reformatory process is called Garbhādhāna-saṁskāra. One who has not undergone such Garbhādhāna-saṁskāra, or spiritual family planning, is not accepted as being of an actual twice-born family.
Undoubtedly Śrīla Vyāsadeva was complete in all the details of Vedic achievements. Purification of the living being submerged in matter is made possible by the prescribed activities in the Vedas, but the ultimate achievement is different. Unless it is attained, the living being, even though fully equipped, cannot be situated in the transcendentally normal stage. Śrīla Vyāsadeva appeared to have lost the clue and therefore felt dissatisfaction.
Now the question which was raised by the great ṛṣis headed by Śaunaka regarding the confidential part of Sūta's achievement through the spiritual masters is explained herein by the chanting of this hymn consisting of thirty-three letters. And this mantra is addressed to the four Deities, or the Lord with His plenary expansions. The central figure is Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa because the plenary portions are His aides-de-camp. The most confidential part of the instruction is that one should always chant and remember the glories of the Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, along with His different plenary portions expanded as Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. Those expansions are the original Deities for all other truths, namely either viṣṇu-tattva or śakti-tattvas.
Advancement of material vision or material civilization is a great stumbling block for spiritual advancement. Such material advancement entangles the living being in the bondage of a material body followed by all sorts of material miseries. Such material advancement is called anartha, or things not wanted. Actually this is so. In the present context of material advancement one uses lipstick at a cost of fifty cents, and there are so many unwanted things which are all products of the material conception of life. By diverting attention to so many unwanted things, human energy is spoiled without achievement of spiritual realization, the prime necessity of human life. The attempt to reach the moon is another example of spoiling energy because even if the moon is reached, the problems of life will not be solved.
Beginning from Rāvaṇa, who wanted to prepare a direct staircase to the planets of heaven, down to the present age, they are trying to overcome the laws of nature. They are trying now to approach distant planetary systems by electronic mechanical power. But the highest goal of human civilization is to work hard under the guidance of the Lord and become completely dependent on Him. The highest achievement of perfect civilization is to work with valor but at the same time depend completely on the Lord.
The ṛṣis are those who have attained perfection by spiritual achievements. Such spiritual achievements can be earned by all, whether one is a king or a mendicant. Bhīṣmadeva himself was also one of the brahmarṣis and the chief of the descendants of King Bharata. All ṛṣis are situated in the quality of goodness. All of them assembled there on hearing the news of the great warrior's impending death.
The good King (Yudhiṣṭhira) inquired: O great souls, will he become as saintly a king, as pious in his very name and as famous and glorified in his achievements, as others who appeared in this great royal family?
The forefathers of King Yudhiṣṭhira were all great saintly kings, pious and glorified by their great achievements. They were all saints on the royal throne. And therefore all the members of the state were happy, pious, well behaved, prosperous and spiritually enlightened. Under strict guidance of the great souls and spiritual injunctions, such great saintly kings were trained up, and as a result the kingdom was full of saintly persons and was a happy land of spiritual life.
The King began to cut flesh from his body to weigh in the balance equivalent to the weight of the pigeon, but the mystic pigeon always remained heavier. The King then put himself on the balance to equate with the pigeon, and the demigods were pleased with him. The King of heaven and the fire-god disclosed their identity, and the King was blessed by them. Devarṣi Nārada also glorified Mahārāja Śibi for his great achievements, specifically in charity and protection. Mahārāja Śibi sacrificed his own son for the satisfaction of human beings in his kingdom. And thus child Parīkṣit was to become a second Śibi in charity and protection.
Human civilization means to advance the cause of brahminical culture, and to maintain it, cow protection is essential. There is a miracle in milk, for it contains all the necessary vitamins to sustain human physiological conditions for higher achievements. Brahminical culture can advance only when man is educated to develop the quality of goodness, and for this there is a prime necessity of food prepared with milk, fruits and grains. Mahārāja Parīkṣit was astonished to see that a black śūdra, dressed like a ruler, was mistreating a cow, the most important animal in human society.
So there are many instances in the transcendental histories of the world of an impersonalist who has later become a devotee. But a devotee has never become an impersonalist. This very fact proves that on the transcendental steps, the step occupied by a devotee is higher than the step occupied by an impersonalist. It is also stated in the Bhagavad-gītā (12.5) that persons stuck on the impersonal step undergo more sufferings than achievement of reality. Therefore knowledge imparted by Śukadeva Gosvāmī unto Mahārāja Parīkṣit helped him attain the service of the Lord. And this stage of perfection is called apavarga, or the perfect stage of liberation.
Mahārāja Parīkṣit sat down firmly on the banks of the Ganges to concentrate his mind in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, rejecting all other practices of self-realization, because transcendental loving service to Kṛṣṇa is the greatest achievement, superseding all other methods.
Gādhi-suta, or Viśvāmitra: A great sage of austerity and mystic power. He is famous as Gādhi-suta because his father was Gādhi, a powerful king of the province of Kanyākubja (part of Uttara Pradesh). Although he was a kṣatriya by birth, he became a brāhmaṇa in the very same body by the power of his spiritual achievements. He picked a quarrel with Vasiṣṭha Muni when he was a kṣatriya king and performed a great sacrifice in cooperation with Maṭaṅga Muni and thus was able to vanquish the sons of Vasiṣṭha. He became a great yogī, and yet he failed to check his senses and thus was obliged to become the father of Śakuntalā, the beauty queen of world history.
Foolish politicians who hold political administrative posts think that the temporary posts they occupy are the highest material gain of life, and therefore they stick to those posts even up to the last moment of life, without knowing that achievement of liberation as one of the associates of the Lord in His eternal abode is the highest gain of life. The human life is meant for achieving this end.
The Lord has assured us in the Bhagavad-gītā many times that going back to Godhead, His eternal abode, is the highest achievement. Prahlāda Mahārāja, while praying to Lord Nṛsiṁha, said, "O my Lord, I am very much afraid of the materialistic way of life, and I am not the least afraid of Your present ghastly ferocious feature as Nṛsiṁhadeva. This materialistic way of life is something like a grinding stone, and we are being crushed by it. We have fallen into this horrible whirlpool of the tossing waves of life, and thus, my Lord, I pray at Your lotus feet to call me back to Your eternal abode as one of Your servitors. This is the summit liberation of this materialistic way of life. I have very bitter experience of the materialistic way of life. In whichever species of life I have taken birth, compelled by the force of my own activities, I have very painfully experienced two things, namely separation from my beloved and meeting with what is not wanted. And to counteract them, the remedies which I undertook were more dangerous than the disease itself. So I drift from one point to another birth after birth, and I pray to You therefore to give me a shelter at Your lotus feet."
The word bhagavān is sometimes used in relation with some of the great devotees of the Lord, like Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Such liberated souls are disinterested in the affairs of this material world because they are self-satisfied by the great achievements of devotional service. As explained before, Śukadeva Gosvāmī never accepted any formal spiritual master, nor did he undergo any formal reformatory performances. His father, Vyāsadeva, was his natural spiritual master because Śukadeva Gosvāmī heard Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam from him. After this, he became completely self-satisfied. Thus he was not dependent on any formal process.
A respectable personality is described beginning with the legs, and this honored system is observed here with Śukadeva Gosvāmī. He was only sixteen years of age. A person is honored for his achievements and not for advanced age. A person can be older by experience and not by age. Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī, who is described herein as the son of Vyāsadeva, was by his knowledge more experienced than all the sages present there, although he was only sixteen years old.
SB Canto 2
There are many historical instances of the achievement of spiritual perfection, such as that of the Sanakādi Ṛṣis or the nine celebrated Yogendras, who attained perfection only after being situated in the devotional service of the Lord. None of the devotees of the Lord ever deviated from the path of devotional service by taking to other methods as adopted by the jñānīs or yogīs. Everyone is anxious to achieve the highest perfection of his particular activity, and it is indicated herein that such perfection is nārāyaṇa-smṛti, for which everyone must endeavor his best. In other words, life should be molded in such a manner that one is able to progressively remember the Personality of Godhead in every step of life.
Hearing of the holy name gradually promotes one to the stage of hearing about His form, about His attributes, His pastimes and so on, and thus the necessity of the chanting of His glories develops successively. This process is recommended not only for the successful execution of devotional service, but also even for those who are materially attached. According to Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī, this way of attaining success is an established fact, concluded not only by him, but also by all other previous ācāryas. Therefore, there is no need of further evidence. The process is recommended not only for the progressive students in different departments of ideological success, but also for those who are already successful in their achievement as fruitive workers, as philosophers or as devotees of the Lord.
Self-realization is, as it were, offering a fight for eternal life against the material struggle for existence, and therefore by the illusory grace of the external energy, the yogī or the devotee is faced with many allurements which can entangle a great fighter again in the bondage of material existence. A yogī can attain miraculous successes in material achievements, such as aṇimā and laghimā, by which one can become more minute than the minutest or lighter than the lightest, or in the ordinary sense, one may achieve material benedictions in the shape of wealth and women. But one is warned against such allurements because entanglement again in such illusory pleasure means degradation of the self and further imprisonment in the material world. By this warning, one should follow one's vigilant intelligence only.
However, O King, if a yogī maintains a desire for improved material enjoyments, like transference to the topmost planet, Brahmaloka, or the achievement of the eightfold perfections, travel in outer space with the Vaihāyasas, or a situation in one of the millions of planets, then he has to take away with him the materially molded mind and senses.
In the upper status of the planetary systems there are facilities thousands and thousands of times greater for material enjoyments than in the lower planetary systems. The topmost planetary systems consist of planets like Brahmaloka and Dhruvaloka (the polestar), and all of them are situated beyond Maharloka. The inhabitants of those planets are empowered with eightfold achievements of mystic perfection.
It was known to Śrī Nārada Muni that Lord Brahmā attained creative energy by undergoing severe austerities. As such, he could understand that there was someone else superior to Brahmājī who invested Brahmā with the power of creation. Therefore he asked all the above questions. Discoveries of progressive scientific achievements are therefore not independent. The scientist has to attain the knowledge of a thing already existing by means of the wonderful brain made by someone else. A scientist can work with the help of such an awarded brain, but it is not possible for the scientist to create his own or a similar brain. Therefore no one is independent in the matter of any creation, nor is such creation automatic.
"The frog in the well" logic illustrates that a frog residing in the atmosphere and boundary of a well cannot imagine the length and breadth of the gigantic ocean. Such a frog, when informed of the gigantic length and breadth of the ocean, first of all does not believe that there is such an ocean, and if someone assures him that factually there is such a thing, the frog then begins to measure it by imagination by means of pumping its belly as far as possible, with the result that the tiny abdomen of the frog bursts and the poor frog dies without any experience of the actual ocean. Similarly, the material scientists also want to challenge the inconceivable potency of the Lord by measuring Him with their froglike brains and their scientific achievements, but at the end they simply die unsuccessfully, like the frog.
Parents and other relatives of the Lord achieve all mystic opulences automatically because of their intimate relationship with the Lord. Such opulences include all details of material enjoyment, salvation and mystic powers. Therefore, the devotee of the Lord does not seek them separately, wasting his valuable time in life. The valuable time of one's life must therefore be fully engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. Then other desirable achievements are automatically gained. But even after obtaining such achievements, one should be on guard against the pitfall of offenses at the feet of the devotees. The vivid example is Haihaya, who achieved all such perfection in devotional service but, because of his offense at the feet of a devotee, was killed by Lord Paraśurāma. The Lord became the son of the great sage Atri and became known as Dattātreya.
The history of Hiraṇyakaśipu and his great devotee-son Prahlāda Mahārāja is narrated in the Seventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Hiraṇyakaśipu became very powerful by material achievements and thought himself to be immortal by the grace of Brahmājī. Brahmājī declined to award him the benediction of immortality because he himself is not an immortal being. But Hiraṇyakaśipu derived Brahmājī's benediction in a roundabout way, almost equal to becoming an immortal being.
A poor man in want of water digs a well and undertakes the trouble of digging. Similarly, those who are poor in transcendental realization speculate on the mind or meditate by controlling the senses. But they do not know that such control of the senses and achievement of spiritual perfection are simultaneously made possible as soon as one is factually engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Supreme Person, the Personality of Godhead. It is for this reason that the great liberated souls also desire to be associated in hearing and chanting the activities of the Lord.
Lord Śiva is the greatest yogī, and he can perform such wonderful things, far beyond the ordinary living beings. The devotees of the Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, do not directly practice the process of mystic powers, but, by the grace of the Lord, His devotee can defeat even a great yogeśvara like Durvāsā Muni, who picked a quarrel with Mahārāja Ambarīṣa and wanted to show the wonderful achievements of his mystic powers.
SB Canto 3
Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the Lord of all kinds of threes and is independently supreme by achievement of all kinds of fortune. He is worshiped by the eternal maintainers of the creation, who offer Him the paraphernalia of worship by touching their millions of helmets to His feet.
In spite of his strenuous efforts to attain perfect knowledge, the impersonalist attains merging into the impersonal oneness of the brahmajyoti of the Lord, which is also attained by the enemies of the Lord simply because of their being killed by Him. The devotees, however, attain to the highest stage of knowledge and renunciation and achieve the Vaikuṇṭhalokas, the planets in the spiritual sky. The impersonalist attains only the sky, and does not achieve any tangible transcendental bliss, whereas the devotee attains to the planets where real spiritual life prevails. With a serious attitude, the devotee throws away all achievements like so much dust, and he accepts only devotional service, the transcendental culmination.
Nothing remains unachieved when the Supreme Personality of Godhead is pleased with someone. By transcendental achievement one understands everything else to be insignificant. One who engages in transcendental loving service is elevated to the highest perfectional stage by the Lord Himself, who is seated in everyone's heart.
This is the form of the Lord which is meditated upon by the followers of the yoga process, and it is pleasing to the yogīs in meditation. It is not imaginary but factual, as proved by great yogīs. The Lord is full in eight kinds of achievement, but for others these achievements are not possible in full perfection.
For a perfect yogī, there are eight kinds of superachievements: one can become lighter than air, one can become smaller than the atom, one can become bigger than a mountain, one can achieve whatever he desires, one can control like the Lord, and so on. But when one rises to the perfectional stage of receiving dictation from the Lord, that is greater than any stage of material achievements above mentioned. The breathing exercise of the yoga system which is generally practiced is just the beginning. Meditation on the Supersoul is just another step forward. But to obtain direct contact with the Supersoul and take dictation from Him is the highest perfectional stage.
The Lord is eternal, the Lord's servitor is eternal, and the Lord's abode is also eternal. They are all described here as sanātana, or eternal. The result of devotional service, therefore, is not temporary, as is the achievement of heavenly planets by worshiping the demigods. The sages wanted to stress that although the Lord, out of His causeless mercy, says that He worships the brāhmaṇas and Vaiṣṇavas, actually the Lord is worshipable not only by the brāhmaṇas and Vaiṣṇavas but also by the demigods.
The paramparā system of disciplic succession is very important as a means of spiritual success. One becomes a mahat by the grace of his mahat spiritual master. If one takes shelter of the lotus feet of a great soul, there is every possibility of one's also becoming a great soul. When Mahārāja Rahūgaṇa asked Jaḍa Bharata about his wonderful achievement of spiritual success, he replied to the King that spiritual success is not possible simply by following the rituals of religion or simply by converting oneself into a sannyāsī or offering sacrifices as recommended in the scriptures. These methods are undoubtedly helpful for spiritual realization, but the real effect is brought about by the grace of a mahātmā.
People are after dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa. Generally they perform religious activities to achieve some material gain, and they engage in material activity for sense gratification. After being frustrated in material sense gratification, one wants to be liberated and become one with the Absolute Truth. These four principles form the transcendental path for the less intelligent. Those who are actually intelligent engage in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, not caring for these four principles of the transcendental method. They at once elevate themselves to the transcendental platform which is above liberation. Liberation is not a very great achievement for a devotee, to say nothing of the results of ritualistic performances in religion, economic development or the materialistic life of sense gratification. Devotees do not care for these. They are situated always on the transcendental platform of the brahma-bhūta (SB 4.30.20) stage of self-realization.
Kardama Muni continued: I have achieved the blessings of the Lord in discharging my own religious life of austerity, meditation and Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Although you have not yet experienced these achievements, which are free from fear and lamentation, I shall offer them all to you because you are engaged in my service. Now just look at them. I am giving you the transcendental vision to see how nice they are.
Devahūti engaged only in the service of Kardama Muni. She was not supposed to be so advanced in austerity, ecstasy, meditation or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but, imperceptibly, she was sharing her husband's achievements, which she could neither see nor experience. Automatically she achieved these graces of the Lord.
When situated in the transcendental position, one is freed from the two kinds of material diseases—hankering and lamentation. This is also stated in Bhagavad-gītā. After devotional life begins, we can achieve the full result of love of Godhead. Love of Kṛṣṇa is the highest perfection of bhagavat-prasāda, or divine mercy. This transcendental achievement is so greatly valuable that no material happiness can compare to it. Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī said that if one achieves the grace of Lord Caitanya he becomes so great that he does not care a fig even for the demigods, he thinks of monism as hellish, and for him the perfection of controlling the senses is as easy as anything. Heavenly pleasures become to him no more than stories. Actually, there is no comparison between material happiness and transcendental happiness.
By the grace of Kardama Muni, Devahūti experienced actual realization simply by serving. We get a similar example in the life of Nārada Muni. In his previous life, Nārada was a maidservant's son, but his mother was engaged in the service of great devotees. He got the opportunity to serve the devotees, and simply by eating the remnants of their foodstuff and carrying out their orders he became so elevated that in his next life he became the great personality Nārada. For spiritual achievement the easiest path is to take shelter of a bona fide spiritual master and to serve him with heart and soul. That is the secret of success.
As stated by Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura in his eight stanzas of prayer to the spiritual master, yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādaḥ: ** by serving or receiving the grace of the spiritual master, one receives the grace of the Supreme Lord. By serving her devotee husband, Kardama Muni, Devahūti shared in his achievements. Similarly, a sincere disciple, simply by serving a bona fide spiritual master, can achieve all the mercy of the Lord and the spiritual master simultaneously.
Kardama Muni continued: What is the use of enjoyments other than the Lord's grace? All material achievements are subject to be annihilated simply by a movement of the eyebrows of Lord Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By your principles of devotion to your husband, you have achieved and can enjoy transcendental gifts very rarely obtained by persons proud of aristocracy and material possessions.
Lord Caitanya recommended that the greatest achievement of human life is to achieve the grace of the Lord, love of God. He said, premā pumartho mahān: to achieve love of Godhead is the highest perfection of life. The same perfection is recommended by Kardama Muni to his wife. His wife belonged to a very aristocratic royal family. Generally, those who are very materialistic or who possess material wealth and prosperity are unable to appreciate the value of transcendental love of God. Although Devahūti was a princess coming from a very great royal family, fortunately she was under the supervision of her great husband, Kardama Muni, who offered her the best gift which can be bestowed in human life—the grace of the Lord, or love of God. This grace of the Lord was achieved by Devahūti by the good will and satisfaction of her husband. She served her husband, who was a great devotee and saintly person, with great sincerity, love, affection and service, and Kardama Muni was satisfied. He willingly gave love of God, and he recommended that she accept it and enjoy it because he had already achieved it.
The word strī means "expansion." By bodily union of the husband and wife their qualities are expanded: children born of good parents are expansions of the parents' personal qualifications. Both Kardama Muni and Devahūti were spiritually enlightened; therefore she desired from the beginning that first she be pregnant and then she be empowered with the achievement of God's grace and love of God. For a woman it is a great ambition to have a son of the same quality as a highly qualified husband. Since she had the opportunity to have Kardama Muni as her husband, she also desired to have a child by bodily union.
People do not know what they are doing when they worship the material energy in the form of goddess Kālī or Durgā for material boons. They ask, "Mother, give me great riches, give me a good wife, give me fame, give me victory." But such devotees of the goddess Māyā, or Durgā, do not know that they are being cheated by that goddess. Material achievement is actually no achievement because as soon as one is illusioned by the material gifts, he becomes more and more entangled, and there is no question of liberation. One should be intelligent enough to know how to utilize material assets for the purpose of spiritual realization. That is called karma-yoga or jñāna-yoga.
It is stated in Bhagavad-gītā that one may elevate himself to the higher planetary systems, even up to Brahmaloka, by dint of pious activities, but when the effects of such pious activities are finished, one again comes back to this earth to begin a new life of activities. Thus even though one is promoted to the higher planetary system for enjoyment and a long duration of life, still that is not a permanent settlement. But as far as the devotees are concerned, their assets—the achievement of devotional service and the consequent opulence of Vaikuṇṭha, even on this planet—are never destroyed.
There are so-called yoga practices in which one concentrates the mind on voidness or on the impersonal, but this is not approved by the authorized yoga system as explained by Kapiladeva. Even Patañjali explains that the target of all yoga is Viṣṇu. Aṣṭāṅga-yoga is therefore part of Vaiṣṇava practice because its ultimate goal is realization of Viṣṇu. The achievement of success in yoga is not acquisition of mystic power, which is condemned in the previous chapter, but, rather, freedom from all material designations and situation in one's constitutional position. That is the ultimate achievement in yoga practice.
Three words have been used in this connection to describe the achievement of Devahūti: ātmānam, brahma-nirvāṇam and bhagavantam. These refer to the gradual process of discovery of the Absolute Truth, mentioned herein as the bhagavantam. The Supreme Personality of Godhead resides in various Vaikuṇṭha planets. Nirvāṇa means to extinguish the pangs of material existence. When one is able to enter into the spiritual kingdom or into spiritual realization, one is automatically freed from material pangs. That is called brahma-nirvāṇa.
SB Canto 4
The human form of life is called arthada because the body can very nicely help the embodied soul to achieve the highest perfection. Prahlāda Mahārāja said that even though temporary, the body can give us the highest perfectional achievement. In the process of evolution from the lower to the higher grade of living, the human form of life is a great boon. But māyā is so strong that in spite of achieving this great boon of the human form of life, we are influenced by temporary material happiness, and we forget our goal of life.
Within this universe there is a planet called Siddhaloka. The inhabitants of Siddhaloka are by nature perfect in the yoga achievements, which are of eight varieties: one can become smaller than the smallest, lighter than the lightest, or bigger than the biggest; one can immediately get whatever he likes, one can even create a planet, etc. These are some of the yogic perfections.
The Lord fulfilled all Dhruva Mahārāja's desires. His revengeful attitude towards his stepmother and stepbrother was satisfied, his desire for a more exalted position than that of his great-grandfather was also fulfilled, and at the same time, his eternal position in Dhruvaloka was fixed. Although Dhruva Mahārāja's achievement of an eternal planet was not conceived of by him, Kṛṣṇa thought, "What will Dhruva do with an exalted position within this material world?" Therefore He gave Dhruva the opportunity to rule this material world for thirty-six thousand years with unchangeable senses and the chance to perform many great sacrifices and thus become the most reputed king within this material world. And, after finishing with all this material enjoyment, Dhruva would be promoted to the spiritual world, which includes the Dhruvaloka.
The perfection of one's execution of his appointed duties is the ultimate satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. The word kāma-sandohāḥ means "achievement of the desired result." Everyone desires to achieve the ultimate goal of life, but in modern civilization the great scientists think that man's life has no plan. This gross ignorance is very dangerous and makes civilization very risky.
The four Kumāras are described herein as siddheśvarān, which means "masters of all mystic power." One who has attained perfection in yoga practice immediately becomes master of the eight mystic perfections—to become smaller than the smallest, to become lighter than the lightest, to become bigger than the biggest, to achieve anything one desires, to control everything, etc. These four Kumāras, as siddheśvaras, had achieved all the yogic perfectional achievements, and as such they could travel in outer space without machines.
We should try to get out of the material cosmic manifestation, go to the spiritual world and take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is our highest achievement. We should not be attracted by anything material, higher or lower, but should consider them all on the same level. Our real engagement should be in inquiring about the real purpose of life and rendering devotional service to the Lord. Thus we will be eternally blessed in our spiritual activities, full of knowledge and bliss.
Unless one is fully situated in unalloyed devotional service, there is no guarantee of liberation, even if one is elevated to the heavenly planets or to the impersonal Brahman effulgence. A devotee's achievement, however, is never lost by the influence of time. Even if a devotee cannot completely execute devotional service, in his next life he begins from the point where he left off. Such an opportunity is not given to the karmīs and jñānīs, whose achievements are destroyed.
The bhakta's achievement is never destroyed, for it goes on perpetually, be it complete or incomplete. This is the verdict of all Vedic literatures. Śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ gehe yoga-bhraṣṭo'bhijāyate (BG 6.41). If one is unable to complete the process of bhakti-yoga, he is given a chance in his next life to take birth in a pure family of devotees or in a rich family. In such families a person can have a good opportunity to further progress in devotional service.
In this material world there are different types of achievement, but of all of them the achievement of knowledge is considered to be the highest because one can cross the ocean of nescience only on the boat of knowledge. Otherwise the ocean is impassable.
Opposed to such ignorance, full knowledge is the greatest achievement within this material world. We can practically see that one who has sufficient knowledge is saved from many dangerous pitfalls in life. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (7.19), bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate: "When one actually becomes wise, he surrenders unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead." Vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ: "Such a great soul is very rarely to be found."
Sometimes devotees desire to enjoy material happiness also; therefore, by the arrangement of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the devotee is given a chance to enjoy the material world before his final entrance into the spiritual world. Sometimes a devotee is transferred to a heavenly planet—to Janaloka, Maharloka, Tapoloka, Siddhaloka and so on. However, a pure devotee never aspires for any kind of material happiness. The pure devotee is consequently transferred directly to Vaikuṇṭhaloka, which is described here as param. In this verse Vidura asks Maitreya, the disciple of Bṛhaspati, about the different achievements of the Pracetās.
SB Canto 5
One must have a superior taste in spiritual life; then he can give up material opulence. Mahārāja Priyavrata had already tasted spiritual bliss, and therefore he had no interest in any of the material achievements available in the lower, higher or middle planetary systems.
When one attains the service of the Lord, which is non-different from the Lord, one does not desire anything material. Mukti means relief from material existence. Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura says: muktiḥ mukulitāñjaliḥ sevate 'smān. For a devotee, mukti is not a very great achievement. Mukti means being situated in one's constitutional position. The constitutional position of every living being is that of the Lord's servant; therefore when a living entity is engaged in the Lord's loving service, he has already attained mukti. Consequently a devotee does not aspire for mukti, even if it is offered by the Supreme Lord Himself.
Bharata Mahārāja was constantly thinking of the activities of the deer, forgetting that such meditation and diversion of attention was killing his progress in spiritual achievement.
The demigods continue: After performing the very difficult tasks of executing Vedic ritualistic sacrifices, undergoing austerities, observing vows and giving charity, we have achieved this position as inhabitants of the heavenly planets. But what is the value of this achievement? Here we are certainly very engaged in material sense gratification, and therefore we can hardly remember the lotus feet of Lord Nārāyaṇa. Indeed, because of our excessive sense gratification, we have almost forgotten His lotus feet.
SB Canto 6
We have come to this material world to enjoy material resources, and by mental concoction we discover many, many objects of enjoyment because our minds are absorbed in material things. This is why we receive various bodies. According to our mental concoctions we work in various ways, desiring various achievements, and by nature and the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (karmaṇā-daiva-netreṇa (SB 3.31.1)) we get the advantages we desire. Thus we become more and more involved with material concoctions. This is the reason for our suffering in the material world. By one kind of activity we create another, and they are all products of our mental concoctions.
A devotee's ultimate achievement is to take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord in any one of the planets in the spiritual sky. As a result of rigid execution of devotional service, a devotee receives all material opulences if these are required; otherwise, the devotee is not interested in material opulences, nor does the Supreme Lord award them. When a devotee is actually engaged in the devotional service of the Lord, his apparently material opulences are not material; they are all spiritual.
This person is puffed up because of his achievements, thinking, "I am the best." He does not deserve to approach the shelter of Lord Viṣṇu's lotus feet, which are worshiped by all saintly persons, for he is impudent, thinking himself greatly important.
"Wherever there is Kṛṣṇa, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality. That is my opinion." Yogeśvara is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master of all mystic yoga, who can do anything and everything He likes. This is the omnipotence of the Supreme Lord. For one who pleases the Supreme Lord, no achievement is wonderful. Everything is possible for him.
SB Canto 7
Śiśupāla's achievement of oneness with the Supreme Lord was different because Jaya and Vijaya, from the very beginning of their material existence, were ordained to treat the Supreme Lord as an enemy for three lives and then return home, back to Godhead. Jaya and Vijaya inwardly knew that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but they purposely became His enemies to be delivered from material life. From the very beginning of their lives they thought of Lord Kṛṣṇa as an enemy, and even though blaspheming Lord Kṛṣṇa, they chanted the holy name of Kṛṣṇa constantly along with their inimical thoughts.
We have actual experience that even on this planet there have been many great politicians and military commanders like Napoleon, Hitler, Shubhash Chandra Bose and Gandhi, but as soon as their lives were finished, their popularity, influence and everything else were finished also. Prahlāda Mahārāja formerly gathered the same experience by seeing the activities of Hiraṇyakaśipu, his great father. Therefore Prahlāda Mahārāja did not give any importance to anything in this material world. No one can maintain his body or material achievements forever. A Vaiṣṇava can understand that nothing within this material world, not even that which is powerful, opulent or influential, can endure. At any time such things may be vanquished. And who can vanquish them? The Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Material achievements are not the ultimate goal of devotional service. The ultimate goal of devotional service is love of Godhead.
"One's devotional service is spoiled when he becomes too entangled in the following six activities: (1) eating more than necessary or collecting more funds than required; (2) overendeavoring for mundane things that are very difficult to obtain; (3) talking unnecessarily about mundane subject matters; (4) practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of spiritual advancement, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and working independently or whimsically; (5) associating with worldly-minded persons who are not interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness; and (6) being greedy for mundane achievements." A sannyāsī should have an institution meant to preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness; he need not accumulate money for himself.
SB Canto 8
When Gajendra, by the mercy of the Lord, became one of the Lord's associates in Vaikuṇṭha, he got four hands. This achievement is called sārūpya-mukti, or the liberation of receiving a spiritual body exactly like that of Nārāyaṇa. Gajendra, in his previous birth, had been a great devotee of Lord Viṣṇu. His name was Indradyumna, and he was the King of the Tāmila country. Following the Vedic principles, this King retired from family life and constructed a small cottage in the Malayācala Hills, where he always worshiped the Supreme Personality of Godhead in silence.
Let us offer our respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is completely silent, free from endeavor, and completely satisfied by His own achievements. He is not attached to the activities of the material world through His senses. Indeed, in performing His pastimes in this material world, He is just like the unattached air.
O unlimited one, if Your Lordship is satisfied, one can very easily obtain a lifetime as long as that of Lord Brahmā, a body either in the upper, lower or middle planetary systems, unlimited material opulence, religion, economic development and satisfaction of the senses, full transcendental knowledge, and the eight yogic perfections, what to speak of such petty achievements as conquering one's rivals.
SB Canto 9
Those who are saturated with the transcendental happiness of rendering service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead are uninterested even in the achievements of great mystics, for such achievements do not enhance the transcendental bliss felt by a devotee who always thinks of Kṛṣṇa within the core of his heart.
One who achieves the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead certainly surpasses all material wealth, even that of the demigods in the heavenly planets. Yaṁ labdhvā cāparaṁ lābhaṁ manyate nādhikaṁ tataḥ. The achievement of the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the most exalted achievement in life.
SB Canto 10.1 to 10.13
Persons who do not ultimately accept the Supreme Personality of Godhead and take to devotional service, but who instead are attached to impersonalism and voidism, must undergo great labor to achieve their goals.
- śreyaḥ-sṛtiṁ bhaktim udasya te vibho
- kliśyanti ye kevala-bodha-labdhaye
- (SB 10.14.4)
To achieve understanding, such persons work very hard and undergo severe austerities, but their hard labor and austerities themselves are their only achievement, for they do not actually achieve the real goal of life.
We should be careful to understand that to get Kṛṣṇa as one's son, one must undergo such great austerities. If we want to get the Supreme Personality of Godhead to become one of us in this material world, this requires great penance, but if we want to go back to Kṛṣṇa (tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti so 'rjuna (BG 4.9)), we need only understand Him and love Him. Through love only, we can very easily go back home, back to Godhead. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore declared, premā pum-artho mahān: love of Godhead is the highest achievement for anyone.
Pūtanā was always hankering for the blood of human children, and with that desire she came to kill Kṛṣṇa; but because she offered her breast to the Lord, she attained the greatest achievement. What then is to be said of those who had natural devotion and affection for Kṛṣṇa as mothers and who offered Him their breasts to suck or offered something very dear, as a mother offers something to a child?
Pūtanā had no affection for Kṛṣṇa; rather, she was envious and wanted to kill Him. Nonetheless, because with or without knowledge she offered her breast, she attained the highest achievement in life. But the offerings of devotees attracted to Kṛṣṇa in parental love are always sincere. A mother likes to offer something to her child with affection and love; there is no question of envy.
The word prayojana means "necessities," and the ultimate necessity is explained by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. premā pum-artho mahān: the greatest necessity for a human being is the achievement of love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Here we see that mother Yaśodā is on the highest stage of necessity, for she is completely absorbed in love for Kṛṣṇa.
SB Cantos 10.14 to 12 (Translations Only)
(Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued:) When his wife thus repeatedly implored him in various ways, the brāhmaṇa thought to himself, "To see Lord Kṛṣṇa is indeed the greatest achievement in life." Thus he decided to go, but first he told her, "My good wife, if there is anything in the house I can bring as a gift, please give it to me."
Seeing You Lords is a rare achievement for most living beings. But even persons like us, situated in the modes of passion and ignorance, can easily see You when You reveal Yourself by Your own sweet will.
The residents of both heaven and hell desire human birth on the earth planet because human life facilitates the achievement of transcendental knowledge and love of Godhead, whereas neither heavenly nor hellish bodies efficiently provide such opportunities.
The human body, which can award all benefit in life, is automatically obtained by the laws of nature, although it is a very rare achievement. This human body can be compared to a perfectly constructed boat having the spiritual master as the captain and the instructions of the Personality of Godhead as favorable winds impelling it on its course. Considering all these advantages, a human being who does not utilize his human life to cross the ocean of material existence must be considered the killer of his own soul.
A specific time is considered pure when it is appropriate, either by its own nature or through achievement of suitable paraphernalia, for the performance of one's prescribed duty. That time which impedes the performance of one's duty is considered impure.
Lord Brahmā, Bhṛgu Muni, Lord Śiva, Prajāpati Dakṣa, the great sons of Brahmā, and many others among the human beings, demigods, forefathers and ghostly spirits—all were astonished by the achievement of Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi.
At that moment the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the original master of all mysticism and who is hidden within everyone's heart, became invisible to the sage, just as the achievements of an incompetent person can suddenly vanish.
Still, my dear Bhavānī, let us talk with this saintly personality. After all, association with saintly devotees is man's highest achievement.
Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi, the best of the descendants of Bhṛgu, is glorious because of his achievement of perfection in mystic yoga. Even today he travels about this world, fully absorbed in unalloyed devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The great endeavor one undergoes in executing the ordinary social and religious duties of the varṇāśrama system, in performing austerities, and in hearing from the Vedas culminates only in the achievement of mundane fame and opulence. But by respecting and attentively hearing the recitation of the transcendental qualities of the Supreme Lord, the husband of the goddess of fortune, one can remember His lotus feet.
The Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas who follow strictly in the line of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu worship the Divinity by chanting transcendental sounds meant to develop a sense of one's transcendental relationship with the Supreme Lord, a reciprocation of mellows (rasas) of mutual affection, and, ultimately, the achievement of the desired success in loving service. These three Deities are worshiped in three different stages of one's development. The followers of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu scrupulously follow these principles of approach.
When Rūpa Gosvāmī met Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu at Prayāga (Allahabad), he offered his respectful obeisances by submitting that Lord Caitanya was more magnanimous than any other avatāra of Kṛṣṇa because He was distributing love of Kṛṣṇa. His mission was to enhance love of Godhead. In the human form of life the highest achievement is to attain the platform of love of Godhead. Lord Caitanya did not invent a system of religion, as people sometimes assume. Religious systems are meant to show the existence of God, who is then generally approached as the cosmic order-supplier. But Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's transcendental mission is to distribute love of Godhead to everyone.
To come to the stage of manipulating finer elements like mind, intelligence and spirit, one needs appropriate training, an appropriate mode of life and appropriate association. Such training depends upon sincere prayers, devotional service, achievement of success in mystic perfection, and the successful merging of oneself in the activities of the soul and Supersoul. A gross materialist, whether he be an empiric philosopher, a scientist, a psychologist or whatever, cannot attain such success through blunt efforts and word jugglery.
It is clearly stated in the Bhagavad-gītā that even those who are advocates of knowledge alone, without any religious ritualistic processes, advance in knowledge after many, many lifetimes of speculation and thus come to the conclusion that Vāsudeva is the supreme cause of everything that be. As a result of this achievement of the goal of life, such an advanced learned scholar or philosopher surrenders unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Religious ritualistic performances are actually meant to cleanse the contaminated mind in the material world, and the special feature of this Age of Kali is that one can easily execute the process of cleansing the mind of contamination by chanting the holy names of God—Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.
While chanting the holy name of the Lord, one should not desire the material advancements represented by religiosity, economic development, sense gratification and ultimately liberation from the material world. As stated by Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the highest perfection in life is to develop one's love for Kṛṣṇa (premā pum-artho mahān śrī-caitanya-mahāprabhor matam idam). When we compare love of Godhead with religiosity, economic development, sense gratification and liberation, we can understand that these achievements may be desirable objectives for bubhukṣus, or those who desire to enjoy this material world, and mumukṣus, or those who desire liberation from it, but they are very insignificant in the eyes of a pure devotee who has developed bhāva, the preliminary stage of love of Godhead.
"By chanting the holy name," Lord Caitanya continued, "I became almost mad. However, after inquiring from My spiritual master I have come to the conclusion that instead of striving for achievement in the four principles of religiosity (dharma), economic development (artha), sense gratification (kāma) and liberation (mokṣa), it is better if somehow or other one develops transcendental love of Godhead. That is the greatest success in life. One who has attained love of Godhead chants and dances by his nature, not caring for the public." This stage of life is known as bhāgavata-jīvana, or the life of a devotee.
To become a śruti-dhara, one who can remember simply by hearing, is a great achievement for a student. In the Bhagavad-gītā (10.41) the Lord says:
- yad yad vibhūtimat sattvaṁ śrīmad ūrjitam eva vā
- tat tad evāvagaccha tvaṁ mama tejo-’ṁśa-sambhavam
"Know that all opulent, beautiful and glorious creations spring from but a spark of My splendor."
Dharma-vrata-tyāga-hutādi-sarva-śubha-kriyā-sāmyam api pramādaḥ: to chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa in exchange for the achievement of piety is an offense. This, of course, was unknown to the student. Thus he innocently asked, "What piety is there in the chanting of the name gopī?" He did not know that there is no question of piety or impiety. The chanting of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa or the holy name gopī is on the transcendental platform of loving affairs. Since he was not expert in understanding such transcendental activities, his question was merely impudent.
Similarly, the Lalita-mādhava is a description of Kṛṣṇa's pastimes in Dvārakā. These pastimes were made into a drama, and the work was finished in the year 1459 Śakābda. The first part deals with festivities in the evening, the second with the killing of the Śaṅkhacūḍa, the third with maddened Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, the fourth with Rādhārāṇī’s proceeding toward Kṛṣṇa, the fifth with the achievement of Candrāvalī, the sixth with the achievement of Lalitā, the seventh with the meeting in Nava-vṛndāvana, the eighth with the enjoyment in Nava-vṛndāvana, the ninth with looking over pictures, and the tenth with complete satisfaction of the mind. Thus the entire drama is divided into ten parts.
Impersonalists cannot understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead; therefore it is not possible for them to enter into the spiritual kingdom of God and return home, back to Godhead. Actually one attains different results by different means. It is not that all achievements are one and the same. Those interested in the four principles of dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa cannot be compared to those interested in the unalloyed devotional service of the Lord.
The Tattvavādīs thus established their principles in terms of human society. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, however, differed when He said that the best process is hearing and chanting about Lord Viṣṇu. According to the Tattvavādīs, the highest goal is returning home, back to Godhead, but in Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's opinion the highest goal is attaining love of Godhead, in either the material world or the spiritual world. In the material world this is practiced according to śāstric injunction, and in the spiritual world the real achievement is already there.
The greatest achievement for a devotee is to become a servant of the servants of the Lord. Actually, no one should desire to become the direct servant of the Lord. That is not a very good idea. When Prahlāda Mahārāja was offered a benediction by Nṛsiṁhadeva, Prahlāda rejected all kinds of material benedictions, but he prayed to become the servant of the servants of the Lord. When Dhruva Mahārāja was offered a benediction by Kuvera, the treasurer of the demigods, Dhruva could have asked for unlimited material opulence, but he simply asked for the benediction of becoming the servant of the servants of the Lord.
In the Upadeśāmṛta of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, it is said:
- atyāhāraḥ prayāsaś ca prajalpo niyamāgrahaḥ
- jana-saṅgaś ca laulyaṁ ca ṣaḍbhir bhaktir vinaśyati
- (NOI 2)
"One's devotional service is spoiled when he becomes too entangled in the following six activities: (1) eating more than necessary or collecting more funds than required, (2) overendeavoring for mundane things that are very difficult to attain, (3) talking unnecessarily about mundane subject matters, (4) practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of spiritual advancement, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and working independently or whimsically, (5) associating with worldly-minded persons who are not interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and (6) being greedy for mundane achievements."
"To taste the fruit of devotional service in Goloka Vṛndāvana is the highest perfection of life, and in the presence of such perfection, the four material perfections—religion, economic development, sense gratification and liberation—are very insignificant achievements."
The highest achievement attained by the jñānīs, or impersonalists, is becoming one with the Supreme, generally known as mokṣa, liberation. The highest achievements of the yogīs are the eight material perfections, such as aṇimā, laghimā and prāpti. Yet these are nothing compared to the eternal bliss of the devotee who returns back to Godhead and tastes the fruit of devotional service to the lotus feet of the Lord. The material perfections, even up to the point of liberation, are very insignificant in comparison; therefore the pure devotee is never interested in such things. His only interest is in perfecting his devotional service to the Lord. The pleasure of the impersonalist, monist philosophers is condemned in the following verse, which is also found in Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Lalita-mādhava.
Karma, jñāna and yoga cannot actually awaken love of Godhead. One has to take to the Lord's devotional service, and the more one is inclined to devotional service, the more he loses interest in other so-called achievements. Dhruva Mahārāja went to practice mystic yoga to see the Lord personally, face to face, but when he developed an interest in devotional service, he saw that he was not being benefited by karma, jñāna and yoga.
Firm faith and confidence are called śraddhā. When one engages in the Lord's devotional service, he is to be understood to have performed all his responsibilities in the material world. He has satisfied his forefathers, ordinary living entities, and demigods and is free from all responsibility. Such a person does not need to meet his responsibilities separately. It is automatically done. Fruitive activity (karma) is meant to satisfy the senses of the conditioned soul. However, when one awakens to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he does not have to work separately for pious activity. The best achievement of all fruitive activity is detachment from material life, and this detachment is spontaneously enjoyed by the devotee firmly engaged in the Lord's service.
"My dear Lord, You are the Supreme Lord, and although You consider Yourself the Lord's servant, You are nonetheless worshipable. You are much greater than I am; therefore all my spiritual achievements have been lost because I have blasphemed You."
Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Teachings of Lord Caitanya
When King Rahūgaṇa expressed surprise upon seeing King Bharata's spiritual achievements, Bharata replied:
- rahūgaṇaitat tapasā na yāti
- na cejyayā nirvapaṇād gṛhād vā
- na cchandasā naiva jalāgni-sūryair
- vinā mahat-pāda-rajo 'bhiṣekam
"My dear Rahūgaṇa, no one can attain the perfected stage of devotional service without being favored by a great soul or a pure devotee. No one can attain the perfectional stages simply by following the regulative principles of scriptures, or by accepting the renounced order of life, or by prosecuting the prescribed duties of householder life, or by becoming a great student of spiritual science, or by accepting severe austerity and penances for realization."
The word ātmā also means "to endeavor." In every practice there is some endeavor, and the ultimate endeavor is the endeavor to reach the highest perfectional stage of devotional service. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.5.18) it is stated that one should try to attain the highest goal, which cannot be attained either in the higher or lower planetary systems. The idea is that material happiness and misery are available in all planetary systems in the course of time, but the highest achievement, devotional service, cannot be attained anywhere without endeavor. Therefore in the Bṛhan-nāradīya Purāṇa it is said that one who is serious about understanding the highest perfectional stage of devotional service can become successful in everything simply by his endeavor. One cannot attain the highest perfectional stage of devotional service without personal endeavor.
Nectar of Devotion
The spiritual master must never be carried away by an accumulation of wealth or a large number of followers. A bona fide spiritual master will never become like that. But sometimes, if a spiritual master is not properly authorized and only on his own initiative becomes a spiritual master, he may be carried away by an accumulation of wealth and large numbers of disciples. His is not a very high grade of devotional service. If a person is carried away by such achievements, then his devotional service becomes slackened. One should therefore strictly adhere to the principles of disciplic succession.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī is trying here to describe the different achievements of the impersonalists and the personalists. Generally, those who are impersonalists and are inimical to the Supreme Personality of Godhead get entrance only into the impersonal Brahman, when and if they reach spiritual perfection. The impersonalist philosophers are in one sense like the enemies of the Lord, because the out-and-out enemies of the Lord and the impersonalists are both allowed to enter only into the impersonal effulgence of the brahmajyoti.
As described in the Lalita-mādhava, Kṛṣṇa's shyness was manifested when He lifted Govardhana Hill by the little finger of His left hand. All of the gopīs were observing Kṛṣṇa's wonderful achievement, and Kṛṣṇa was also smiling at seeing the gopīs. When Kṛṣṇa's glance went over the breasts of the gopīs, His hand began to shake, and upon seeing His hand shake, all of the cowherd men underneath the hill became a little disturbed. Then there was a tumultuous roaring sound, and they all began to pray to Kṛṣṇa for safety. At this time Lord Balarāma was smiling, thinking that these cowherd men had been frightened by the shaking of Govardhana Hill. But, seeing Balarāma smile, Kṛṣṇa thought that Balarāma had understood His mind in observing the breasts of the gopīs, and He immediately became bashful.
Nectar of Instruction
One's devotional service is spoiled when he becomes too entangled in the following six activities: (1) eating more than necessary or collecting more funds than required; (2) overendeavoring for mundane things that are very difficult to obtain; (3) talking unnecessarily about mundane subject matters; (4) Practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of spiritual advancement, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and working independently or whimsically; (5) associating with worldly-minded persons who are not interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness; and (6) being greedy for mundane achievements.
Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead
The impersonalists simply think that they are liberated, but actually they have no feeling for the Personality of Godhead. They think that when Kṛṣṇa comes into the material world He accepts a material body. They therefore overlook the transcendental body of Kṛṣṇa. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā: avajānanti māṁ mūḍhāḥ (BG 9.11). In spite of conquering material lust and rising to the point of liberation, the impersonalists fall down. If they are engaged just in knowing things for the sake of knowledge and do not take to the devotional service of the Lord, they cannot achieve the desired result. Their achievement is the trouble they take, and that is all.
During the rainy season, the mercantile community cannot move from one place to another and so do not get their desired profit. Nor can the royal order go from one place to another to collect taxes from the people. As for saintly persons, who must travel to preach transcendental knowledge, they also are restrained by the rainy season. But during the autumn, all of them leave their confines. In the case of the transcendentalist, be he a jñānī, a yogī or a devotee, because of the material body he cannot actually enjoy spiritual achievement. But as soon as he gives up the body, or after death, the jñānī merges into the spiritual effulgence of the Supreme Lord, the yogī transfers himself to the various higher planets, and the devotee goes to the planet of the Supreme Lord, Goloka Vṛndāvana or one of the Vaikuṇṭhas, and thus enjoys his eternal spiritual life.
The demigods in the celestial planets showered flowers on Kṛṣṇa for His wonderful achievement. Kṛṣṇa was already the life and soul of the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana, and after killing this demon in the shape of a bull, He became the cynosure of all eyes. With Balarāma, He triumphantly entered Vṛndāvana village, and the inhabitants glorified Him and Balarāma with great jubilation. When a person performs some wonderful feat, his kinsmen and relatives and friends naturally become jubilant.
"We can execute a particular action with the help of a particular part of our body, but He can do anything and everything with any part of His body. And because His transcendental body is full of knowledge and bliss in eternity, He doesn’t undergo the six kinds of material changes—birth, existence, growth, production, dwindling and vanishing. Unforced by any external energy, He is the supreme cause of the creation, maintenance and dissolution of everything that be. By the grace of Kṛṣṇa only, everyone is engaged in the practice of religion, the development of economic conditions, the satisfaction of the senses and, ultimately, the achievement of liberation from material bondage."
"Our dear Lord, You are the last word in good fortune and the last resort of all saintly persons; therefore we all consider that we have achieved the perfection of our life, education, austerity and acquisition of transcendental knowledge by meeting You. Factually, You are the ultimate goal of all transcendental achievements."
Message of Godhead
According to Patañjali's system, mysticism means perfect control of the mental plane with its various fickle inclinations. According to Patañjali, the transcendental state is to become free from sensuous activities and to attain the stage of perfection perceptible purely by the spirit soul. In such a state, the attention of the mystic never deviates from that spiritual achievement. The eightfold material perfections—such as aṇimā, laghimā, prāpti, īśitā, vaśitā, prākāmya, and so on—are concomitant in the attainment of perfection in mysticism, and are but indirect by-products of that process.
Light of the Bhagavata
There are 8,400,000 species of life, and each type of body is destined to enjoy and suffer in accordance with its particular formation. The bodily enjoyments and sufferings of a wealthy man's son are different from those of a poor man's son. Although no one undergoes severe austerities to obtain distress, it comes upon us uncalled. Similarly, the happiness we are destined to enjoy will come upon us even without our desires. Even though we may be able to avoid distress and artificially enjoy some material happiness by temporary achievements, this represents no factual gain in life. Our duty is to achieve permanent happiness and eternal life, and it is for that purpose only—for the ultimate gain—that we should undertake all sorts of penances and austerities.
There are varieties of life, varieties of planets, and varieties of success in spiritual realization. And all these can be achieved only when we have finished the Cāturmāsya-like period of life. It is a foolish imagination, therefore, that we can go to other planets in the present body. If we want to go to Devaloka, the planets of the demigods, we must achieve the required qualifications, and the same is true if we want to go back to the kingdom of God. If we want to remain on this planet in some better condition of life, that also will depend on the required achievements. In any case, those achievements can be fulfilled just after one leaves the body.
Nationalism has developed in different parts of the world due to the cultivation of nescience by the general people. No one considers that this tiny earth is just a lump of matter floating in immeasurable space along with many other lumps. In comparison to the vastness of space, these material lumps are like dust particles in the air. Because God has kindly made these lumps of matter complete in themselves, they are perfectly equipped with all necessities for floating in space. The drivers of our spaceships may be very proud of their achievements, but they do not consider the supreme driver of these greater, more gigantic spaceships called planets.
Narada-bhakti-sutra (sutras 1 to 8 only)
Until a person achieves this perfection, he cannot be peaceful. He may artificially think he is one with the Supreme, but actually he is not; therefore, he has no peace. Similarly, someone may aspire for one of the eight yogic perfections in the mystic yoga process, such as to become the smallest, to become the heaviest, or to acquire anything he desires, but these achievements are material; they are not perfection. Perfection means to regain one's original spiritual form and engage in the loving service of the Lord. The living entity is part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, and if he performs the duties of the part and parcel, without proudly thinking he is one in all respects with the Supreme Lord, he attains real perfection and becomes peaceful.
As soon as the body is finished, all material achievements are also finished. No one takes with him anything he has achieved materially in this world. The only thing he can carry with him is his asset of devotional service; that alone is never vanquished.
Similarly, there are six positive items for advancing in devotional service. First, while one should not be enthusiastic to attain material achievements, one should be very enthusiastic to attain the perfectional stage of devotional service. This enthusiasm is called utsāha. A living entity cannot stop acting. So when he is forbidden to become enthusiastic about material achievements, he should at once be encouraged to be enthusiastic about spiritual achievements. Enthusiasm is a symptom of the living entity; it cannot be stopped. It is just like a powerful engine: if you utilize it properly, it will give immense production. Therefore enthusiasm should be purified. Instead of employing enthusiasm for attaining material goals, one should be enthusiastic about achieving the perfectional stage of devotional service. Indeed, enthusing His devotees in devotional service is the purpose for which Kṛṣṇa descends to this material world.