"I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvān, and Vivasvān instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikṣvāku." (BG 4.1) This is the method of paramparā, or disciplic succession. Similarly, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam explains that Kṛṣṇa imparted knowledge into the heart of Brahmā, the first created being within the universe. Brahmā imparted those lessons to his disciple Nārada, and Nārada imparted that knowledge to his disciple Vyāsadeva. Vyāsadeva imparted it to Madhvācārya, and from Madhvācārya the knowledge came down to Mādhavendra Purī and then to Īśvara Purī, and from him to Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
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Impart (CC & Other Books)
- 1 Sri Caitanya-caritamrta
- 2 Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
- 2.1 Teachings of Lord Caitanya
- 2.2 Nectar of Devotion
- 2.3 Nectar of Instruction
- 2.4 Easy Journey to Other Planets
- 2.5 Renunciation Through Wisdom
- 2.6 Message of Godhead
- 2.7 Light of the Bhagavata
- 2.8 Sri Isopanisad
- 2.9 Mukunda-mala-stotra (mantras 1 to 6 only)
- 2.10 Narada-bhakti-sutra (sutras 1 to 8 only)
CC Preface and Introduction
We should not think, however, that the Lord takes a spiritual master because He is in want of knowledge. He is simply stressing the importance of accepting the disciplic succession. The knowledge of that disciplic succession actually comes from the Lord Himself, and if the knowledge descends unbroken, it is perfect. Although we may not be in touch with the original personality who first imparted the knowledge, we may receive the same knowledge through this process of transmission. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is stated that Kṛṣṇa, the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, transmitted transcendental knowledge into the heart of Brahmā.
Modern science can communicate using material discoveries such as radio, television and computers, but the science invoked by the austerities of Śrī Brahmā, the original father of mankind, was still more subtle. In time, material scientists may also know how we can communicate with the Vaikuṇṭha world. Lord Brahmā inquired about the potency of the Supreme Lord, and the Personality of Godhead answered his inquiry in the following six consecutive statements. These instructions, which are reproduced from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.9.31–36), were imparted by the Personality of Godhead, acting as the supreme spiritual master.
It is indicated that to learn the transcendental science, it is imperative that one avoid the company of undesirable persons and always seek the company of saints and sages who are able to impart lessons of transcendental knowledge. The potent words of such realized souls penetrate the heart, thereby eradicating all misgivings accumulated through years of undesirable association. For a neophyte devotee there are two kinds of persons whose association is undesirable: (1) gross materialists who constantly engage in sense gratification and (2) unbelievers who do not serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead but serve their senses and their mental whims in terms of their speculative habits. Intelligent persons seeking transcendental realization should very scrupulously avoid their company.
The Māyāvādī philosophers, however, try to equate the minute living entities with the supreme living entity. Because they recognize no distinctions between them, their philosophy is called Advaita-vāda, or monism. Factually, however, there is a distinction. This verse is especially meant to impart to the Māyāvādī philosopher the understanding that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the supreme controller. The supreme controller, the Personality of Godhead, is Kṛṣṇa Himself, but as a transcendental pastime He has accepted the form of a devotee, Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
If one does not, therefore, understand this science of transmigration but considers the body to be all in all, his intelligence is not very advanced. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, without neglecting the necessities of the body, imparted spiritual advancement to purify the existential condition of humanity. Therefore if a logician makes his judgment impartially, he will surely find that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the mahā-vadānyāvatāra, the most magnanimous incarnation. He is even more magnanimous than Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself. Lord Kṛṣṇa demanded that one surrender unto Him, but He did not distribute love of Godhead as magnanimously as Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
A Vaiṣṇava never agrees with the speculative system of the jñānīs. Both the jñānīs and karmīs depend on direct sense perception for their imperfect knowledge. The karmīs never agree to accept anything not directly perceived, and the jñānīs put forth only hypotheses. However, the Vaiṣṇavas, the unalloyed devotees of the Lord, do not follow the process of acquiring knowledge by direct sense perception or mental speculation. Because they are servants of the Supreme Lord, devotees receive knowledge directly from the Supreme Personality of Godhead as He speaks it in the Bhagavad-gītā, or sometimes as He imparts it from within as the caittya-guru.
""O my Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, son of Vasudeva, O all-pervading Personality of Godhead, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You. I meditate upon Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa because He is the Absolute Truth and the primeval cause of all causes of the creation, sustenance and destruction of the manifested universes. He is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestations, and He is independent because there is no other cause beyond Him. It is He only who first imparted the Vedic knowledge unto the heart of Brahmājī, the original living being. By Him even the great sages and demigods are placed into illusion, as one is bewildered by the illusory representations of water seen in fire, or land seen on water. Only because of Him do the material universes, temporarily manifested by the reactions of the three modes of nature, appear factual, although they are unreal. I therefore meditate upon Him, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is eternally existent in the transcendental abode, which is forever free from the illusory representations of the material world. I meditate upon Him, for He is the Absolute Truth.""
Obviously the Vedas did not come from an ordinary person born in this material world. According to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, tene brahma hṛdā ya ādi-kavaye: (SB 1.1.1) after the creation, the Supreme Person imparted Vedic knowledge within the heart of Brahmā. There was no person in the beginning of the creation other than Brahmā, yet he did not compile the Vedas; therefore the conclusion is that the Vedas were not compiled by any created being. Vedic knowledge was given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who created this material world. This is also accepted by Śaṅkarācārya, although he is not a Vaiṣṇava.
Those with a background of pious life are eligible to receive life's supreme benefit, and to bestow this benefit, the Supreme Personality of Godhead sends His representative to impart His mercy. Endowed with the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the spiritual master distributes the mercy to those who are elevated and pious. Thus the spiritual master trains his disciples to render devotional service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is called guru-kṛpā. It is kṛṣṇa-prasāda, Kṛṣṇa's mercy, that He sends a bona fide spiritual master to the deserving disciple. By the mercy of Kṛṣṇa, one meets the bona fide spiritual master, and by the mercy of the spiritual master, the disciple is fully trained in the devotional service of the Lord.
Everything within the cosmic creation has a material body, but Kṛṣṇa, being beyond the material cosmic creation, always has a spiritual body. He imparted Vedic knowledge into the heart of Brahmā. Although Brahmā is the most important and exalted personality within this universe, he could not remember what he did in his past life. Kṛṣṇa had to remind him through the heart. When Lord Brahmā was thus inspired, he was able to create the entire universe. Remembering everything about the past and inspiring Lord Brahmā to create are vivid examples of the characteristics called svarūpa-lakṣaṇa and taṭastha-lakṣaṇa.
Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Teachings of Lord Caitanya
This is the method of paramparā, or disciplic succession. Similarly, in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam Kṛṣṇa imparted knowledge into the heart of Brahmā, the first created creature within the universe. Brahmā imparted those lessons to his disciple, Nārada, and Nārada imparted that knowledge to his disciple, Vyāsadeva. Vyāsadeva imparted it to Madhvācārya, and from Madhvācārya the knowledge comes down to Mādhavendra Purī, to Īśvara Purī and from him to Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
We should not think, however, that the Lord takes a spiritual master because He is in want of knowledge. He is simply stressing the importance of accepting the disciplic succession. The knowledge of that disciplic succession actually comes from the Lord Himself, and if the knowledge descends unbroken, it is perfect. Although we may not be in touch with the original personality who first imparted the knowledge, we may receive the same knowledge through this process of transmission. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, it is stated that Kṛṣṇa, the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, transmitted transcendental knowledge into the heart of Brahmā. This then is one way knowledge is received—through the heart.
In the material sense, this conception is self-contradictory, but Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam explicitly deals with this aspect of simultaneous oneness and difference. This philosophy is also found in the Vedānta-sūtra beginning with the janmādy asya sūtra. Knowledge of the simultaneous oneness and difference found in the Absolute Truth is imparted for the well-being of everyone. Mental speculators mislead people by establishing the energy of the Lord as absolute, but when the truth of simultaneous oneness and difference is understood, the imperfect concepts of monism and dualism cease to satisfy. By understanding the Lord's simultaneous oneness with and difference from His creation, one can immediately attain freedom from the threefold miseries—miseries inflicted by the body and mind, by other living entities and by acts of nature.
This is the system of receiving instructions from the Supersoul. Externally He is not to be seen, but internally He speaks to the devotee. That is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā—the Lord dictates from within one who is sincerely engaged in His service, and the Lord acts in such a way that such a person can ultimately attain the supreme goal of life. When Brahmā was born, there was no one to instruct him; therefore the Supreme Lord Himself instructed Brahmā in Vedic knowledge through Brahmā's heart. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.4.22) Śukadeva Gosvāmī confirms that the gāyatrī mantra was first imparted within the heart of Brahmā by the Supreme. Śukadeva Gosvāmī prayed to the Lord to help him speak Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam before Mahārāja Parīkṣit.
Nectar of Devotion
All of the previous instructions imparted by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī in his broad statements can be summarized thus: as long as one is materially inclined or desirous of merging into the spiritual effulgence, one cannot enter into the realm of pure devotional service. Next, Rūpa Gosvāmī states that devotional service is transcendental to all material considerations and that it is not limited to any particular country, class, society or circumstance. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, devotional service is transcendental and has no cause. Devotional service is executed without any hope for gain, and it cannot be checked by any material circumstances. It is open for all, without any distinction, and it is the constitutional occupation of the living entities.
Kṛṣṇa is always remembered, and His name is always chanted by millions of devotees, but the devotees never become saturated. Instead of becoming disinterested in thinking of Kṛṣṇa and in chanting His holy name, the devotees get newer and newer impetus to continue the process. Therefore Kṛṣṇa is ever fresh. Not only Kṛṣṇa Himself, but also Kṛṣṇa's knowledge is ever fresh. Bhagavad-gītā, which was imparted five thousand years ago, is still being read repeatedly by many, many men, and still new light is always being found in it. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa and His name, fame, qualities—and everything in relationship with Him—is ever fresh.
Nectar of Instruction
Śravaṇam, or hearing, is the first step in acquiring transcendental knowledge. One should not give aural reception to unauthorized persons, but should approach the proper person, as recommended in Bhagavad-gītā (4.34):
- tad viddhi praṇipātena
- paripraśnena sevayā
- upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
- jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ
"Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth."
Easy Journey to Other Planets
The Vedic knowledge was thus imparted unto the heart of Brahmā, the first living being in the material creation. It was Brahmā who related this knowledge to the sage Nārada Muni. Similarly, the Bhagavad-gītā was spoken by the Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, to Vivasvān, the presiding deity of the sun, and when the aural chain of disciplic succession was broken, Lord Kṛṣṇa repeated the Bhagavad-gītā to Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra. At that time, Arjuna took the role of disciple and student in order to receive transcendental knowledge from Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
Renunciation Through Wisdom
The leaders of society are therefore advised to perform devotional service for Lord Viṣṇu's satisfaction—both for their own benefit and for the benefit of those they lead. As Lord Kṛṣṇa says to Śrī Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gītā (3.21), "Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues." Because everyone follows their example, the leaders are required to carefully study the process of devotional service to Lord Viṣṇu. This is their duty. Thus for the benefit of human society, there is a great need to construct universities that will impart knowledge of devotional service.
Decorating a dead body and taking it to the funeral pyre with pomp is certainly nothing but a flagrant display for entertainment only. The public is similarly cheated when accolades and scholarly degrees are piled on a demon who is an arrant competitor of the Supreme Lord. The atheistic, demoniac education imparted to the young in modern universities is simply producing a bunch of demons with titles. Proof of this is the recent incident in which Principal Garg of Aligarh University was murdered by some students. The whole state of Uttar Pradesh is shocked and has opened a probe into this vicious act. The governor has called for a conference of the leaders and teachers, but in the past all such conferences have met with the same frustrating fate: no solution. We think the present conference will also fail.
I meditate upon Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa because He is the Absolute Truth and the primeval cause of all causes of the creation, sustenance, and destruction of the manifested universes. He is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestations, and He is independent because there is no other cause beyond Him. It is He only who first imparted the Vedic knowledge unto the heart of Brahmājī, the original living being. By Him even the great sages and demigods are placed into illusion, as one is bewildered by the illusory representations of water seen in fire, or land seen on water. Only because of Him do the material universes, temporarily manifested by the reactions of the three modes of nature, appear factual, although they are unreal. I therefore meditate upon Him, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is eternally existent in the transcendental abode, which is forever free from the illusory representations of the material world. I meditate upon Him, for He is the Absolute Truth.
In this realized consciousness Śrīla Vyāsadeva described the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as fully independent and transcendental. This implies that there is no one superior to Him or equal to Him. In the material world Lord Brahmā is accepted as the highest personality among the living entities. But even Lord Brahmā, who is described here as the ādi-kavi, the original intelligent being, is subservient to the fully independent Supreme Lord. Indeed, it was the Supreme Lord who first imparted the Vedic knowledge unto Lord Brahmā.
To refute this impersonal conception of the Absolute, the previously quoted verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam unequivocally states that the Absolute Truth is a person. This transcendental personality is so powerful that He could impart the knowledge of the Vedas even to Lord Brahmā, who then went on to create the material universe. Lord Brahmā did not receive this extraordinary Vedic knowledge after creation but before he began the work of creation. The knowledge that existed before the mundane nature came into being is transcendental and is known as saṁvit. The Viṣṇu Purāṇa delves into the subjects of sandhinī, saṁvit, and hlādinī, the Lord's potencies of existence, knowledge, and pleasure.
Duality and illusion is eradicated from his heart, his devotion to Lord Kṛṣṇa becomes single-minded, and He throws himself at the Lord's lotus feet, feeling like a sold-out animal. At this stage the Supreme Lord Himself imparts all spiritual knowledge, or buddhi-yoga, to the devotee so that he can attain Him:
- teṣāṁ satata-yuktānām
- bhajatāṁ prīti-pūrvakam
- dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ taṁ
- yena mām upayānti te
- teṣām evānukampārtham
- aham ajñāna-jaṁ tamaḥ
- nāśayāmy ātma-bhāva-stho
- jñāna-dīpena bhāsvatā
To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me. To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance. (Bhagavad-gītā 10.10-11)
Message of Godhead
After Arjuna had understood the spirit of the philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā, the Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, never advised him to give up his seemingly ordinary duties. On the contrary, Arjuna fought the battle with even greater energy and vigor after he had obtained the transcendental knowledge imparted by Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The real spirit we attain through transcendental knowledge is self-negation and the determination to render transcendental service unto the Personality of Godhead. The purport of Bhagavad-gītā is this and nothing else.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, imparted to Marshal Arjuna the vitally important teachings of Bhagavad-gītā only when He saw that Arjuna had surrendered to Him without any vanity regarding his own erudition, and without any other reservation. It is very common for us, like Arjuna, to try to dissipate our disillusionments by our own devices, culled from our own mundane experience. This attempt to remove our daily bodily and mental difficulties is always misdirected. Unless one tries to solve his problems from the perspective of eternal varities, there cannot be any peace whatsoever, either in this life or in the life after death. That is the supreme teaching of Bhagavad-gītā.
Light of the Bhagavata
The so-called followers of the Vedas deny the existence of God, as in the darkness of a cloudy evening the glowworms deny the existence of the moon and stars. Saner people should not be waylaid by such unscrupulous men. Bhagavad-gītā is the summary of all Vedic knowledge because it is spoken by the same Personality of Godhead who imparted the Vedic knowledge into the heart of Brahmā, the first created being in the universe. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam was especially spoken for the guidance of the people of this age, which is darkened by the cloud of ignorance.
As clouds pour water on a blazing fire in the forest and thus extinguish it, the intelligent men who work as the spiritual masters of society pour water on the blazing fire of miseries by disseminating spiritual knowledge and inspiring the richer section of the society to help in the cause. Temples of worship, for example, are constructed by the rich, and these temples are meant to impart spiritual education to people in general. The periodic spiritual ceremonies are held for inspiration, and not for exploitation. If there are flaws now because of the age of Kali, they should be rectified, but the institutions must be saved.
The Vedas are considered to be the mother, and Brahmā is called the grandfather, the forefather, because he was the first to be instructed in the Vedic knowledge. In the beginning the first living creature was Brahmā. He received this Vedic knowledge and imparted it to Nārada and other disciples and sons, and they also distributed it to their disciples. In this way, the Vedic knowledge comes down by disciplic succession. It is also confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā that Vedic knowledge is understood in this way. If you make experimental endeavor, you come to the same conclusion, but just to save time you should accept.
The words spoken by the Lord are called apauruṣeya, which indicates that they are not delivered by any mundane person. A living being who lives in the mundane world has four defects: (1) he is certain to commit mistakes; (2) he is subject to illusion; (3) he has a propensity to cheat others; and (4) his senses are imperfect. No one with these four imperfections can deliver perfect knowledge. The Vedas are not produced by such an imperfect creature. Vedic knowledge was originally imparted by the Lord into the heart of Brahmā, the first created living being, and Brahmā in his turn disseminated this knowledge to his sons and disciples, who have handed it down through history.
In the modern society, even a boy thinks himself self-sufficient and pays no respect to elderly men. Due to the wrong type of education being imparted in our universities, boys all over the world are giving their elders headaches. Thus Śrī Īśopaniṣad very strongly warns that the culture of nescience is different from that of knowledge. The universities are, so to speak, centers of nescience only; consequently scientists are busy discovering lethal weapons to wipe out the existence of other countries. University students today are not given instructions in the regulative principles of brahmacarya (celibate student life), nor do they have any faith in any scriptural injunctions.
Those who are not as perfect as the pure devotees—namely, those who have realized only the Brahman or Paramātmā features of the Lord—cannot appreciate the activities of the perfect devotees. The Lord always helps the pure devotees by imparting necessary knowledge within their hearts, and thus out of His special favor He dissipates all the darkness of ignorance. The speculative philosophers and yogīs cannot imagine this, because they more or less depend on their own strength. As stated in the Kaṭha Upaniṣad (1.2.23), the Lord can be known only by those whom He favors, and not by anyone else.
Mukunda-mala-stotra (mantras 1 to 6 only)
By the mercy of the Lord, a devotee develops all the good qualities of God, for a devotee can never remain in the darkness of ignorance. A father is always anxious to impart knowledge and experience to his son, but the son can choose whether to accept such instructions. A submissive devotee becomes automatically enlightened in all the intricacies of knowledge because the Lord, from within, dissipates his ignorance with the self-illumined lamp of wisdom. If the Lord Himself instructs the devotee, how can he remain foolish like the mundane wranglers?
Narada-bhakti-sutra (sutras 1 to 8 only)
Only by the combined mercy of the pure devotee—the bona fide spiritual master—and the Supreme Lord Himself can one attain pure devotional service to the Lord. If someone is fortunate enough to find a pure devotee and accept him as his spiritual master, then this spiritual master, out of his causeless mercy, will impart the knowledge of pure devotional service. And it is the Lord, out of His causeless mercy, who sends His most confidential servitor to this world to instruct pure devotional service.