Meanwhile, the brāhmaṇa Śrutadeva, simultaneously receiving Lord Kṛṣṇa and His associates at his home, was transcendentally overwhelmed with joy. After offering his guests nice sitting places, the brāhmaṇa began to dance, waving around his wrap. Śrutadeva, being not at all rich, offered only mattresses, wooden planks, straw carpets and so on to his distinguished guests, Lord Kṛṣṇa and the sages, but he welcomed them to the best of his ability. He spoke very highly of the Lord and the sages, and he and his wife washed the feet of each one of them. After this, he took the water and sprinkled it over all the members of his family, and although the brāhmaṇa appeared very poor, he was at that time most fortunate. While Śrutadeva was welcoming Lord Kṛṣṇa and His associates, he simply forgot himself in transcendental joy. After welcoming the Lord and His companions, according to his ability he brought fruits, incense, scented water, scented clay, tulasī leaves, kuśa straw and lotus flowers. They were not costly items and could be secured very easily, but because they were offered with devotional love, Lord Kṛṣṇa and His associates accepted them gladly. The brāhmaṇa’s wife cooked simple foods like rice and dhal, and Lord Kṛṣṇa and His followers were very much pleased to accept them because they were offered in devotional love. When Lord Kṛṣṇa and His associates were fed in this way, the brāhmaṇa Śrutadeva was thinking thus: “I have fallen into the deep, dark well of householder life and am the most unfortunate person. How has it become possible that Lord Kṛṣṇa, who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and His associates, the great sages, whose very presence makes a place as sanctified as a pilgrimage site, have agreed to come to my place?” While the brāhmaṇa was thinking in this way, the guests finished their lunch and sat back very comfortably. At that time, the brāhmaṇa Śrutadeva and his wife, children and other relatives appeared there to render service to the distinguished guests. While touching the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa, the brāhmaṇa began to speak.
“My dear Lord,” he said, “You are the Supreme Person, Puruṣottama, transcendentally situated beyond the manifested and unmanifested material creation. The activities of this material world and of the conditioned souls have nothing to do with Your position. We can appreciate that not only today have You given me Your audience, but You are associating with all the living entities as Paramātmā since the beginning of creation.”
This statement by the brāhmaṇa is very instructive. It is a fact that the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead, in His Paramātmā feature, enters the creation of this material world as Mahā-Viṣṇu, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu and Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, and in a very friendly attitude the Lord sits along with the conditioned soul in the body. Therefore, every living entity has the Lord with him from the very beginning, but due to his mistaken consciousness of life, the living entity cannot understand this. When his consciousness, however, is changed into Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he can immediately understand how Kṛṣṇa is trying to assist the conditioned souls to get out of the material entanglement.
Śrutadeva continued: “My dear Lord, You have entered this material world as if sleeping. A conditioned soul, while sleeping, creates false or temporary worlds in his mind; he becomes busy in many illusory activities—sometimes becoming a king, sometimes being murdered or sometimes going to an unknown city—and all these are simply temporary affairs. Similarly, Your Lordship, apparently also in a sleeping condition, enters this material world to create a temporary manifestation, not for Your personal necessities but for the conditioned soul who wants to imitate Your Lordship as enjoyer. The conditioned soul’s enjoyment in the material world is temporary and illusory. And yet the conditioned soul is by himself unable to create such a temporary situation for his illusory enjoyment. To fulfill his desires, although they are temporary and illusory, You enter this temporary manifestation to help him. Thus from the beginning of the conditioned soul’s entering into the material world, You are his constant companion. When, therefore, the conditioned soul comes in contact with a pure devotee and takes to devotional service, beginning with the process of hearing Your transcendental pastimes, glorifying Your transcendental activities, worshiping Your eternal form in the temple, offering prayers to You and engaging in discussion to understand Your transcendental position, he gradually becomes freed from the contamination of material existence. And as his heart becomes cleansed of all material dust, You gradually become visible there. Although You are constantly with the conditioned soul, only when he becomes purified by devotional service do You become revealed to him. Others, who are bewildered by fruitive activities, either by Vedic injunction or by customary dealings, and who do not take to devotional service, are captivated by the external happiness of the bodily concept of life. You are not revealed to such persons. Rather, You remain far, far away from them. But for one who engages in Your devotional service and purifies his heart by constant chanting of Your holy name, You are very easily understood as his eternal, constant companion.
“It is said that Your Lordship, sitting in the heart of a devotee, gives him direction by which he can very quickly come back home, back to You. This direct dictation by You reveals Your existence within the heart of the devotee. Only a devotee can immediately appreciate Your existence within his heart, whereas for a person who has only a bodily concept of life and is engaged in sense gratification, You always remain covered by the curtain of yogamāyā. Such a person cannot realize that You are very near, sitting within his heart. For a nondevotee, You are appreciated only as ultimate death. The difference is like the difference between a cat’s carrying its kittens in its mouth and carrying a rat in its mouth. In the mouth of the cat, the rat feels its death, whereas the kittens in the mouth of the cat feel motherly affection. Similarly, You are present to everyone, but the nondevotee feels You as ultimate cruel death, whereas for a devotee You are the supreme instructor and philosopher. The atheist, therefore, understands the presence of God as death, but the devotee understands the presence of God always within his heart, takes dictation from You and lives transcendentally, unaffected by the contamination of the material world.
“You are the supreme controller and superintendent of the material nature’s activities. The atheistic class of men simply observe the activities of material nature but cannot find You as the original background. A devotee, however, can immediately see Your hand in every movement of material nature. The curtain of yogamāyā cannot cover the eyes of the devotee of Your Lordship, but it can cover the eyes of the nondevotee. The nondevotee is unable to see You face to face, just as a person whose eyes are blocked by the covering of a cloud cannot see the sun, although persons flying above the cloud can see the sunshine brilliantly, as it is. My dear Lord, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You. My dear self-effulgent Lord, I am Your eternal servitor. Therefore, kindly order me—what can I do for You? The conditioned soul feels the pangs of material contamination as the threefold miseries as long as You are not visible to him. And as soon as You are visible by development of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, all miseries of material existence are simultaneously vanquished.”
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is naturally very much affectionately inclined to His devotees. When He heard Śrutadeva’s prayers of pure devotion, He was very much pleased and immediately caught his hands and addressed him thus: “My dear Śrutadeva, all these great sages, brāhmaṇas and saintly persons have been very kind to you by personally coming here to see you. You should consider this opportunity to be a great fortune for you. They are so kind that they are traveling with Me, and wherever they go they immediately make the whole atmosphere as pure as transcendence simply by the touch of the dust of their feet. People are accustomed to go to the temples of God. They also visit holy places of pilgrimage, and after prolonged association with such activities for many days by touch and by worship, they gradually become purified. But the influence of great sages and saintly persons is so great that by seeing them one immediately becomes completely purified.