The highest perfectional knowledge is knowledge of the Supreme Lord. He cannot be understood by any process of religion other than devotional service; therefore, the immediate result of perfect knowledge is achieved by executing devotional service. After attainment of knowledge, one becomes uninterested in the material world. This is not because of dry philosophical speculation. The devotees become uninterested in the material world not simply because of theoretical understanding but because of practical experience. When a devotee realizes the effect of association with the Supreme Lord, he naturally hates the association of so-called society, friendship and love. This detachment is not dry but is due to achieving a higher status of life by relishing transcendental mellows. It is further stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that after attainment of such knowledge and such detachment from material sense gratification, one’s advancement in the eight opulences attained through mystic yoga practice, such as the aṇimā, laghimā and prāpti siddhis, is also achieved without separate effort. The perfect example is Mahārāja Ambarīṣa. He was not a mystic yogī but a great devotee, yet in a disagreement with Mahārāja Ambarīṣa, the great mystic Durvāsā was defeated in the presence of the King’s devotional attitude. In other words, a devotee does not need to practice the mystic yoga system to achieve power. The power is behind him by the grace of the Lord, just as when a small child is surrendered to a powerful father, all the powers of the father are behind him.
When a person becomes famous as a devotee of the Lord, his reputation is never to be extinguished. Lord Caitanya, when discoursing with Rāmānanda Rāya, questioned, “What is the greatest fame?” Rāmānanda Rāya replied that to be known as a pure devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa is the perfect fame. The conclusion, therefore, is that viṣṇu-dharma, or the religion of devotional service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is meant for persons who are thoughtful. By proper utilization of thoughtfulness, one comes to the stage of thinking of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By thinking of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one becomes free from the contamination of the faulty association of the material world, and thus one becomes peaceful. The world is in a disturbed condition because of a scarcity of such peaceful devotees in human society. Unless one is a devotee, one cannot be equal to all living entities. A devotee is equally disposed toward the animals, the human beings and all living entities because he sees every living entity as a part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. In the Īśopaniṣad it is clearly stated that one who has come to the stage of seeing all living beings equally does not hate anyone or favor anyone. The devotee does not hanker to possess more than he requires. Devotees are therefore akiñcana; in any condition of life a devotee is satisfied. It is said that a devotee is even-minded whether he is in hell or in heaven. A devotee is callous to all subjects other than his engagement in devotional service. This mode of life is the highest perfectional stage, from which one can be elevated to the spiritual world, back home, back to Godhead. The devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are especially attracted by the highest material quality, goodness, and the qualified brāhmaṇa is the symbolic representation of this goodness. Therefore, a devotee is attached to the brahminical stage of life. He is not very much interested in passion or ignorance, although these qualities also emanate from the Supreme Lord, Viṣṇu. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam the devotees are described as nipuṇa-buddhayaḥ, which means that they are the most intelligent class of men. Uninfluenced by attachment or hatred, the devotee lives very peacefully and is not agitated by the influence of passion and ignorance.
It may be questioned here why a devotee should be attached to the quality of goodness in the material world if he is transcendental to all material qualities. The answer is that there are different kinds of people existing in the modes of material nature. Those in the mode of ignorance are called Rākṣasas, those in the mode of passion are called asuras, and those in the mode of goodness are called suras, or demigods. Under the direction of the Supreme Lord, these three classes of men are created by material nature, but those in the mode of goodness have a greater chance to be elevated to the spiritual world, back home, back to Godhead.
Thus all the sages who assembled on the bank of the river Sarasvatī to try to determine who is the supreme predominating deity became freed from all doubts about Viṣṇu worship. All of them thereafter engaged in devotional service, and thus they achieved the desired result and went back to Godhead.
Those who are actually eager to be liberated from material entanglement would do well to accept at once the conclusion given by Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī. In the beginning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which is spoken by Śukadeva Gosvāmī, it is said that hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is extremely conducive to liberation. The same fact is now confirmed by Sūta Gosvāmī: if anyone who is traveling aimlessly within this material world cares to hear the nectarean words spoken by Śukadeva Gosvāmī, certainly he will come to the right conclusion, which is that simply by discharging devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead one will be able to stop the fatigue of perpetually migrating from one material body to another. In other words, one who becomes fixed in loving devotional service to Viṣṇu will certainly be able to get relief from this journey of material life, and the process is very simple: one has to give aural reception to the sweet words spoken by Śukadeva Gosvāmī in the form of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
Another conclusion is that we should never consider the demigods, even Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā, to be on an equal level with Lord Viṣṇu. If we do this, then according to the Padma Purāṇa we are immediately categorized as atheists. Also, in the Vedic scripture known as Hari-vaṁśa it is stated that only the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu, is to be worshiped and that the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, or any such viṣṇu-mantra, is always to be chanted. In the Second Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Lord Brahmā says, “Both Lord Śiva and I are engaged by the Supreme Personality of Godhead to act in different capacities under His direction.” In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta it is also stated that the only master is Kṛṣṇa and that all others in all categories of life are servants of Kṛṣṇa only.
In the Bhagavad-gītā it is confirmed by the Lord that there is no truth superior to Kṛṣṇa. Śukadeva Gosvāmī also, in order to draw attention to the fact that among all viṣṇu-tattva forms Lord Kṛṣṇa is one hundred percent the Supreme Personality of Godhead, narrated the story of an incident which took place when Lord Kṛṣṇa was present.
Once upon a time in Dvārakā, a brāhmaṇa’s wife gave birth to a child. Unfortunately, however, just after being born and touching the ground, the child immediately died. The brāhmaṇa father took the child and went directly to the palace of the King. The brāhmaṇa was very upset because of the untimely death of the child in the presence of his young father and mother. Thus his mind became very much disturbed. Formerly, when there were responsible kings, up to the time of Dvāpara-yuga, when Lord Kṛṣṇa was present, the king was liable to be blamed for the untimely death of a child in the presence of his parents. Similarly, such responsibility was there during the time of Lord Rāmacandra. As we have explained in the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the king was so responsible for the comforts of the citizens that he was to see that there was not even excessive heat or cold. Now the brāhmaṇa whose child had died, thinking there was no fault on his own part, immediately went to the palace door with the dead child in his arms and accused the King as follows.
“The present King, Ugrasena, is envious of the brāhmaṇas!” The exact word used in this connection is brahma-dviṣaḥ. One who is envious of the Vedas, of a qualified brāhmaṇa or of the brāhmaṇa caste is called brahma-dviṣ. So the King was accused of being brahma-dviṣ. He was also accused of being śaṭha-dhī, falsely intelligent. The executive head of a state must be very intelligent to see to the comforts of the citizens, but according to the brāhmaṇa the King was not at all intelligent, although he was occupying the royal throne. Therefore the brāhmaṇa also called him lubdha, which means “greedy.” In other words, a king or an executive head of state should not occupy the exalted post of president or king if he is greedy and self-interested. But it is natural that an executive head becomes self-interested when he is attached to material enjoyment. Therefore, another word used here is viṣayātmanaḥ.
The brāhmaṇa also accused the King of being kṣatra-bandhu, which refers to a person born in the family of kṣatriyas, or the royal order, but lacking the qualifications of a royal personality. A king should protect brahminical culture and should be very alert to the welfare of his citizens; he should not be greedy due to attachment to material enjoyment. If a person with no qualifications represents himself as a kṣatriya of the royal order, he is not called a kṣatriya but a kṣatra-bandhu. Similarly, if a person is born of a brāhmaṇa father but has no brahminical qualification, he is called brahma-bandhu or dvija-bandhu. This means that a brāhmaṇa or a kṣatriya is not accepted simply by birth. One has to qualify himself for the particular position; only then is he accepted as a brāhmaṇa or a kṣatriya.