Devotee (2): Śrīla Prabhupāda? How does one know when he has the understanding of the Bhagavad-gītā?
Prabhupāda: What does he say? Answer him.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: What did you say?
Devotee (2): How does one know when he has the understanding of Bhagavad-gītā?
Dhṛṣṭadyumna: One has understood Bhagavad-gītā who surrenders to Kṛṣṇa, because Kṛṣṇa says sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekam śaraṇaṁ vraja (BG 18.66), that "The essence of all knowledge is to surrender unto Me, to give up all other duties." So one who takes that instruction as life and soul, he has understood Bhagavad-gītā. Is that all right?
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: The same verse again in the Second Chapter."The compilers of the Upaniṣads speak very highly of the impersonal Brahman. The Upaniṣads, which are considered the most elevated portion of the Vedic literatures, are meant for persons who desire to get free from material association and who therefore approach a bona fide spiritual master for enlightenment. The prefix upa indicates that one must receive knowledge about the Absolute Truth from a spiritual master. One who has faith in his spiritual master actually receives transcendental instruction, and as his attachment for material life slackens, he is able to advance on the spiritual path. Knowledge of the transcendental science of the Upaniṣads..."
Prabhupāda: Where is that boy? You are hearing?
Devotee (2): Yes, Prabhupāda.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: "Knowledge of the transcendental science of the Upaniṣads can free one from the entanglement of existence in the material world, and when thus liberated, one can be elevated to the spiritual kingdom of the Supreme Personality of Godhead by advancement in spiritual life. The beginning of spiritual enlightenment is realization of impersonal Brahman. Such realization is effected by gradual negation of material variegatedness. Impersonal Brahman realization is the partial, distant experience of the Absolute Truth that one achieves through the rational approach. It is compared to one's seeing a hill from a distance and taking it to be a smoky cloud. A hill is not a smoky cloud, but it appears to be one from a distance because of our imperfect vision. In imperfect or smoky realization of the Absolute Truth, spiritual variegatedness is conspicuous by its absence. This experience is therefore called advaita-vāda, or realization of the oneness of the Absolute. The impersonal glowing effulgence of Brahman consists only of the personal bodily rays of the Supreme Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Since Śrī Gaurasundara, or Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, is identical with Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself, the Brahman effulgence consists of the rays of His transcendental body. Similarly, the Supersoul, which is called the Paramātmā, is a plenary representation of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. The antaryāmi, the Supersoul in everyone's heart, is the controller of all living entities. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā, wherein Lord Kṛṣṇa says sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭaḥ: "I am situated in everyone's heart." (BG 15.15) Bhagavad-gītā also states; bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ sarva-loka-maheśvaram (BG 5.29), indicating that the Supreme Lord, acting in His expansion as the Supersoul, is the proprietor of everything. Similarly, the Brahma-saṁhitā states, aṇḍāntara-stha-paramāṇu-cayāntara-stham: (Bs. 5.35) the Lord is present everywhere within the heart of every living entity and within each and every atom as well. Thus by this Supersoul feature the Lord is all-pervading. Furthermore, Lord Caitanya is also the master of all wealth, strength, fame, beauty, knowledge and renunciation because He is Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself. He is described as pūrṇa, or complete. In the feature of Lord Caitanya, the Lord is an ideal renouncer, just as Śrī Rāma was an ideal king. He accepted the order of sannyāsa and exemplified exceedingly wonderful principles in His own life. No one can compare to Him in the order of sannyāsa. Although in Kali-yuga acceptance of the sannyāsa order is generally forbidden, Lord Caitanya accepted it because He is complete in renunciation. Others cannot imitate Him but can only follow in His footsteps as far as possible. Those who are unfit for this order of life are strictly forbidden by the injunctions of the śāstras to accept it. Lord Caitanya, however, is complete in renunciation as well as all other opulences. He is therefore the highest principle of the Absolute Truth. By an analytical study of the truth of Lord Caitanya, one will find that He is not different from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa; no one is greater than or even equal to Him. In Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa says to Arjuna, mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañjaya: (BG 7.7) 'O conqueror of wealth (Arjuna), there is no truth superior to Me.' Thus it is here confirmed that there is no truth higher than Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya. The impersonal Brahman is the goal of those who cultivate the study of books of transcendental knowledge, and the Supersoul is the goal of those who perform the yoga practices. One who knows the Supreme Personality of Godhead surpasses realization of both Brahman and Paramātmā, because Bhagavān is the ultimate platform of absolute knowledge. The Personality of Godhead is the complete form of sac-cidananda (full life, knowledge and bliss). By realization of the sat portion of the Complete Whole (unlimited existence), one realizes the impersonal Brahman of the Lord. By realization of the cit portion of the Complete Whole (unlimited knowledge) one can realize the localized aspect of the Lord, Paramātmā. But neither of these partial realizations of the Complete Whole can help one realize ānanda, or complete bliss. Without such realization of ānanda, knowledge of the Absolute Truth is incomplete. This verse of Caitanya-caritāmṛta by Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī is confirmed by a parallel statement in the Tattva-sandarbha by Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī. In the Eighth Part of Tattva-sandarbha it is said that the Absolute Truth is sometimes approached as impersonal Brahman, which, although spiritual, is only a partial representation of the Absolute Truth. Nārāyaṇa, the predominating Deity in Vaikuṇṭha, is to be known as an expansion of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, but Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Absolute Truth, the object of the transcendental love of all living entities."
Prabhupāda: So is it clear? (laughs) It is not so easy. Therefore it is postgraduate.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Can these things be understood theoretically, Śrīla Prabhupāda, or is realization required?
Prabhupāda: Realization required. What is the use of theoretical knowledge?
Devotee (2): Śrīla Prabhupāda, can realization be had through service without theoretical understanding?
Prabhupāda: This whole science is understood through service only. Everything becomes revealed. Sevonmukhe hi jihvādau svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ (BRS. 1.2.234). Revelation. Everything is revelation. Unless one is very sincere servant, there is no revelation.
Dhṛṣṭadyumna: Śrīla Prabhupāda, it described a gradual process of realizing Kṛṣṇa, but does the devotee go through these levels of understanding Brahman then Paramātmā then Bhagavān? Does the devotee gradually go through these levels, or does he immediately realize Brahman when his service is perfect?
Prabhupāda: That depends on his capacity. (directing someone:) Just on the head of the...
Devotee (2): Mahārāja Kīrtanānanda said that our actual realization comes through our actions. So we are building this New Vrindaban we are, actually..., this is taken to be our preaching or our life and soul.
Dhṛṣṭadyumna: What is your question?
Devotee (2): My question is how do we...
Devotee (3): Prabhupāda, his question is will one become realized by continually engaging in devotional service under the direction of a bona fide representative of the spiritual master?
Dhṛṣṭadyumna: The question is that his service is here in New Vrindaban under Kīrtanānanda Mahārāja. Will serving the representative of the spiritual master..., is that as good as serving the spiritual master? Will it get the same result?
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: I don't think that was the question. No? At least, I understand the question to be: Is service to the Supreme Lord the same as realization of the Absolute Truth?
Dhṛṣṭadyumna: That is the Absolute Truth.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Is service to the Supreme Lord the same as realization of the Absolute Truth?
Prabhupāda: Yes. Absolute means there is no difference. Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa's service, same. So discuss it further.
Devotee: Is that to say that if one-brahmeti paramātmeti bhagavān iti śabdyate (SB 1.2.11)—that if one simply goes on serving, engaging in all sorts of different activities for the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa, but he never, in this lifetime at least, has realization of Brahman, Paramātmā or Bhagavān...?
Prabhupāda: What is the difficulty? Everything is explained. By seeing the sun one can understand the sunshine, the sun globe and the sun-god. There are three things. Within the sun globe, there is the sun-god. It is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ proktavān aham avyayam: (BG 4.1) "I spoke to Vivasvata." So there is a person Vivasvata, and the globe is there, we see, and the sunshine is there. So what is the difficulty to understand? Three things are there. The person within the sun globe, Vivasvata, is there, otherwise how Kṛṣṇa could speak with him? He says, imaṁ vivasvate yogam, "unto Vivasvata I spoke." So there is a person. And we can see the globe, and we can see the sunshine. Is there any difficulty? So similarly, the Brahman is the sunshine, light, and Paramātmā is the sun globe, and Bhagavān is the sun-god. This is, the sun is one example. From this example, we can understand the Absolute. Where is the difficulty? (aside:) Sit down properly. Brahmeti paramātmeti bhagavān iti śabdyate (SB 1.2.11). As heat and light, all of them are the same... In the sunshine there is heat and light, in the sun globe there is heat and light, and within the sun globe there is heat and light, but the temperature is different. You can tolerate the heat and light of the sunshine, but if you go to the sun globe you'll be finished. Temperature's so high, it requires a special qualification. Similarly, from heat and light point of view, Brahman, Paramātmā, Bhagavān, the same. Everywhere there is heat and light, but the temperature is different. So one who understands Brahman, he cannot understand Paramātmā. He understands, but not as thoroughly. Similarly, one who understands Paramātmā, he can (not) understand Bhagavān, but if you understand Bhagavān, then you understand Paramātmā, Brahman, everything.