Even during the annihilation of the material world, the process of bhakti-yoga can be applied. Kālena naṣṭā pralaye vāṇīyam: the Lord is worshiped in devastation because He protects the Vedas from being annihilated. He is worshiped in every millennium or yuga. As it is said in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 12.3.52):
- kṛte yad dhyāyato viṣṇuṁ
- tretāyāṁ yajato makhaiḥ
- dvāpare paricaryāyāṁ
- kalau tad dhari-kīrtanāt
In the Viṣṇu Purāṇa it is written:
- sa hānis tan mahac chidraṁ
- sa mohaḥ sa ca vibhramaḥ
- yan-muhūrtaṁ kṣaṇaṁ vāpi
- vāsudevaṁ na cintayet
"If even for a moment remembrance of Vāsudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is missed, that is the greatest loss, that is the greatest illusion, and that is the greatest anomaly." The Lord can be worshiped in all stages of life. For instance, even in the wombs of their mothers Mahārāja Prahlāda and Mahārāja Parīkṣit worshiped the Lord; even in his very childhood, at the age of only five years, Dhruva Mahārāja worshiped the Lord; even in full youth, Mahārāja Ambarīṣa worshiped the Lord; and even at the last stage of his frustration and old age Mahārāja Dhṛtarāṣṭra worshiped the Lord. Ajāmila worshiped the Lord even at the point of death, and Citraketu worshiped the Lord even in heaven and in hell. In the Narasiṁha Purāṇa it is said that as the hellish inhabitants began to chant the holy name of the Lord they began to be elevated from hell towards heaven. Durvāsā Muni has also supported this view: mucyeta yan-nāmny udite nārako 'pi. "Simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord the inhabitants of hell became released from their hellish persecution." So the conclusion of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, as given by Śukadeva Gosvāmī to Mahārāja Parīkṣit, is:
- etan nirvidyamānānām
- icchatām akuto-bhayam
- yogināṁ nṛpa nirṇītaṁ
- harer nāmānukīrtanam
"O King, it is finally decided that everyone, namely those in the renounced order of life, the mystics, and the enjoyers of fruitive work, should chant the holy name of the Lord fearlessly to achieve the desired success in their pursuits." (SB 2.1.11)
Similarly, as indicated indirectly in various places in revealed scriptures:
- Even though one is well versed in all the Vedas and scriptures, if one is not a devotee of the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead, he is considered to be the lowest of mankind.
- In the Garuḍa Purāṇa, Bṛhan-nāradīya Purāṇa and Padma Purāṇa, the same is repeated: What is the use of Vedic knowledge and penances for one who is devoid of devotional service to the Lord?
- What is the comparison of thousands of prajāpatis to one devotee of the Lord?
- Śukadeva Gosvāmī said (SB 2.4.17) that neither the ascetic, nor one who is greatly munificent, nor one who is famous, nor the great philosopher, nor the great occultist, nor anyone else can achieve the desired result without being engaged in the service of the Lord.
- Even if a place is more glorious than heaven, if there is no glorification of the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha or His pure devotee, it should at once be quitted.
- The pure devotee refuses to accept all the five different types of liberation in order to be engaged in the service of the Lord.
The final conclusion, therefore, is that the glories of the Lord must be always and everywhere proclaimed. One should hear about His glories, one should chant about His glories, and one should always remember His glories because that is the highest perfectional stage of life. As far as fruitive work is concerned, it is limited to an enjoyable body; as far as yoga is concerned, it is limited to the acquirement of mystic power; as far as empiric philosophy is concerned, it is limited to the attainment of transcendental knowledge; and as far as transcendental knowledge is concerned, it is limited to attainment of salvation. Even if they are adopted, there is every chance of discrepancies in discharging the particular type of functions. But adoption of the transcendental devotional service of the Lord has no limit, nor is there fear of falling down. The process automatically reaches the final stage by the grace of the Lord. In the preliminary stage of devotional service there is an apparent requisite for knowledge, but in the higher stage there is no necessity of such knowledge. The best and guaranteed path of progress is therefore engagement in bhakti-yoga, pure devotional service.
The cream of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in the foregoing four ślokas is sometimes squeezed out by the impersonalist for different interpretations in their favor, but it should be carefully noted that the four ślokas were first described by the Personality of Godhead Himself, and thus the impersonalist has no scope to enter into them because he has no conception of the Personality of Godhead. Therefore, the impersonalist may squeeze out any interpretations from them, but such interpretations will never be accepted by those who are taught in the disciplic succession from Brahmā, as will be cleared up in the following verses. Besides that, the śruti confirms that the Supreme Truth Absolute Personality of Godhead never reveals Himself to anyone who is falsely proud of his academic knowledge. The śruti-mantra clearly says (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 1.2.23):
- nāyam ātmā pravacanena labhyo
- na medhayā na bahudhā śrutena
- yam evaiṣa vṛṇute tena labhyas
- tasyaiṣa ātmā vivṛṇute tanuṁ svām
The whole matter is explained by the Lord Himself, and one who has no approach to the Lord in His personal feature can rarely understand the purport of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam without being taught by the bhāgavatas in the disciplic succession.