In the material world also, suppose if I want to learn the art of music. Then I have to find out somebody who is a musician. Without having the association of a musician, nobody can learn the art of music. Or any art. Suppose if you want to become an engineer. So you have to enter yourself in an engineering college or technical college and learn there. Nobody can become a medical practitioner simply by purchasing book from the market and reading at home. That is not possible. You have to admit yourself in a medical college and undergo training and practical examination, so many things. Simply by purchasing book, it is not possible.
Similarly, if you want to learn Bhagavad-gītā or any transcendental subject matter, here is the instruction by Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself. Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself, because He is the speaker of this Bhagavad-gītā, He says that tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā (BG 4.34):
You must go to a person where you can surrender yourself. That means you have to check, "Who is the real person who can give me instruction on Bhagavad-gītā or any Vedic literature, or any scripture, right?" And not that to search out a person as a, whimsically. No. You have to search out a person very serious, that who is actually in the knowledge of the thing. Otherwise why you shall surrender? No. There is no necessity of surrender.
But here it is said clearly that, "You have to surrender to a person." That means you have to find out such a person where you can voluntarily surrender. Without finding, your mission will not be fulfilled. Because very word, first thing, is . . . just like Arjuna in the beginning. We have discussed that point. Arjuna was talking with Kṛṣṇa in friendly terms, just like friend. He was . . . Kṛṣṇa was saying something, "Oh, you cannot . . . you are a kṣatriya. You are a military man. How can you give up the fighting?" Just like friendly talks. But when Arjuna saw it, that "Our friendly talk will not make a solution," so he surrendered unto Kṛṣṇa that, "I'll . . . siṣyas te 'haṁ śādhi māṁ prapannam (BG 2.7):
"I just become surrendered disciple unto You. Please instruct me what is my duty." So this is the process. Here also, Kṛṣṇa advises that "If you have to learn," say, for Bhagavad-gītā, "then you have to go to a person where you can surrender." Not only surrender—not blindly surrender—you must be able to enquire. Paripraśna. The next qualification is paripraśna. Paripraśna means enquiry. Without enquiry, you cannot make advance. Just like a student in the school who enquires from the teacher, he's very intelligent. Even a boy, a child, if he enquires from the father, "Oh, father, what is this? What is this?" that child is very intelligent. Very intelligent.
So enquiry is required, so not only praṇipāta . . . "Oh, I have found out a very good spiritual master, very learned and very good, soul. All right. I have surrendered. Then all my business finished." No. That is not . . . you may have a very good spiritual master, but if you have no power to enquire, then you cannot make progress. Enquiries must be there. But enquiry, how enquiry? Not to challenge. Enquiry, not that "Oh, I shall see what kind of spiritual master he is. Let me challenge him and put some irrelevant question and talk nonsensically, this way and that way." Oh, that will not make . . . enquiry on the point. Paripraśna means enquiry on the point, and that enquiry should be sevā.
Sevā means service. Not that: "Oh, I have enquired so many things from such-and-such person. Oh, I have not rendered any payment or any service, so I have gained." No. Without service, your enquiry will be futile. So three things here: praṇipāta, paripraśna and sevā. Praṇipāta. Praṇipāta means you must have the qualification to, at least, to find out a person who is actually qualified to give you real instruction. That you have to do. That remains on you.
Suppose you have to purchase some gold or jewelry, and if you do not know where to purchase, if you go to a grocer shop to purchase a jewel, oh, then you'll be cheated. If he says . . . go to a grocer shop and ask, "Oh, can you give me diamond?" he will understand that "Here is a fool. So let him . . . give him something: This is diamond." "Oh. What is the price?" He can charge anything, and when you come home, your relatives say, "What you have brought?" "This is diamond. I went to the grocer shop." So that kind of finding spiritual master will not do. You have to become a little intelligent. Because without being intelligent nobody can make any spiritual progress.
Athāto brahma . . . in the Brahma-sūtra, in the Vedānta-sūtra, it is stated, athāto brahma jijñāsā. Brahma-jijñāsā. Brahma-jijñāsā means to enquire, enquire about the supreme subject matter, Brahman. That requires a qualification. Atha. Atha means those who have become experienced of this miserable life of this material world. They can enquire. They can enquire what is Absolute Truth, what is spiritual life. Athāto brahma jijñāsā.
Similarly, in the Bhāgavata also it is stated, tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam (SB 11.3.21).
Śreya uttamam. Uttamam means the udgata-tamam. That is transcendental. Tama means darkness. Anything of this material world, that is in darkness, because this material world is dark. You know that the whole world, whole universe, is dark. Therefore there is requisition of the sunlight, moonlight, electricity. It is dark. So uttamam means which is beyond this darkness. Beyond this darkness. That means transcendental subject, spiritual subject. In the spiritual world there is no darkness.
So if anyone is desirous of inquiring about the spiritual world, then he requires to find out a spiritual master. Otherwise there is no necessity. For a man who wants to remain in this darkness, for material benefit . . . suppose I want some spiritual master or I want to study Bhagavad-gītā or Vedānta-sūtra so that I may make some material improvement. Oh, that is not required. For material improvement you can work, just so many people are working; they are making, trying industry or something like . . . that is prescribed. But if you are at all interested about the Brahman subject, the spiritual subject, then you require a spiritual master.