Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the transcendental science not only for knowing the ultimate source of everything but also for knowing our relation with Him and our duty toward perfection of the human society on the basis of this perfect knowledge. It is powerful reading matter in the Sanskrit language, and it is now rendered into English elaborately so that simply by a careful reading one will know God perfectly well, so much so that the reader will be sufficiently educated to defend himself from the onslaught of atheists. Over and above this, the reader will be able to convert others to accepting God as a concrete principle.
Transcendental science (Books)
- 1 Bhagavad-gita As It Is
- 2 Srimad-Bhagavatam
- 3 Sri Caitanya-caritamrta
- 4 Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Bhagavad-gita As It Is
BG Chapters 7 - 12
Śrī Yāmunācārya Albandaru of South India said, "O my Lord! You are unknowable to persons involved with atheistic principles, despite Your uncommon qualities, features and activities, despite Your personality's being confirmed by all the revealed scriptures in the quality of goodness, and despite Your being acknowledged by the famous authorities renowned for their depth of knowledge in the transcendental science and situated in the godly qualities."
SB Preface and Introduction
On His way back from Vṛndāvana He first came to Prayāga, where He met Rūpa Gosvāmī along with his younger brother, Anupama. Then He came down to Benares. For two months, He instructed Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī in the transcendental science. The instruction to Sanātana Gosvāmī is in itself a long narration, and full presentation of the instruction will not be possible here. The main ideas are given as follows.
SB Canto 1
One should conclude, therefore, that the serious student of the rasa should receive the message of Bhāgavatam in the chain of disciplic succession from Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī, who describes the Bhāgavatam from its very beginning and not whimsically to satisfy the mundaner who has very little knowledge in transcendental science. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is so carefully presented that a sincere and serious person can at once enjoy the ripened fruit of Vedic knowledge simply by drinking the nectarean juice through the mouth of Śukadeva Gosvāmī or his bona fide representative.
The Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana, who were authorized by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to preach the bhakti cult, rigidly followed this rule and made immense literatures of transcendental science for our benefit. They have chalked out ways for all classes of men in terms of the different castes and orders of life in pursuance of the teachings of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and similar other authoritative scriptures.
It is a great transcendental science and begins with the process of hearing and chanting the name, fame, glory, etc., of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Revival of the dormant affection or love of Godhead does not depend on the mechanical system of hearing and chanting, but it solely and wholly depends on the causeless mercy of the Lord. When the Lord is fully satisfied with the sincere efforts of the devotee, He may endow him with His loving transcendental service. But even with the prescribed forms of hearing and chanting, there is at once mitigation of the superfluous and unwanted miseries of material existence. Such mitigation of material affection does not wait for development of transcendental knowledge. Rather, knowledge is dependent on devotional service for the ultimate realization of the Supreme Truth.
Dhanur-veda, or military science, was taught by Droṇācārya with all its confidential secrets of throwing and controlling by Vedic hymns. Gross military science is dependent on material weapons, but finer than that is the art of throwing the arrows saturated with Vedic hymns, which act more effectively than gross material weapons like machine guns or atomic bombs. The control is by Vedic mantras, or the transcendental science of sound.
You Yourself descend to propagate the transcendental science of devotional service unto the hearts of the advanced transcendentalists and mental speculators, who are purified by being able to discriminate between matter and spirit. How, then, can we women know You perfectly?
Sūta Gosvāmī learned the science of Kṛṣṇa from great ṛṣis and authorities like Śukadeva and Vyāsadeva and he was so qualified that even the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya eagerly wanted to hear from him the science of Kṛṣṇa in the form of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. So he had the double association of great souls by hearing and preaching. Transcendental science, or the science of Kṛṣṇa, has to be learned from the authorities, and when one preaches the science, he becomes still more qualified.
So Sūta Gosvāmī had both the advantages, and thus undoubtedly he was completely freed from all disqualifications of low birth and mental agonies. This verse definitely proves that Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī did not refuse to teach Sūta Gosvāmī about the transcendental science nor did the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya refuse to hear lessons from him because of his inferior birth. This means that thousands of years ago there was no bar to learning or preaching the transcendental science because of inferior birth.
The scriptural injunction is that one should humbly approach a spiritual master to understand the transcendental science. Mahārāja Parīkṣit was now prepared for meeting his death, and within the very short time of seven days he was to know the process of entering the kingdom of God. In such important cases, one is required to approach a spiritual master.
SB Canto 2
So Bhagavad-gītā, although containing the high philosophy of the Vedic wisdom, is for the beginners in the transcendental science, and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is for graduates and postgraduates in the transcendental science. Therefore literatures like Mahābhārata, the, purāṇas and similar other literatures which are full of the pastimes of the Lord, are all transcendental literatures, and they should be discussed with full confidence in the society of great devotees.
In the Brahma-saṁhitā it is said that the Supreme Absolute Truth, Govinda, the Personality of Godhead, although one without a second, is infallibly expanded by innumerable forms nondifferent from one another, and although He is the original person, He is still ever young with permanent youthful energy. He is very difficult to know simply by learning the transcendental science of the Vedas, but He is very easily realized by His pure devotees.
The conclusion is, therefore, that a serious devotee must first approach a spiritual master who not only is well versed in the Vedic literatures but is also a great devotee with factual realization of the Lord and His different energies. Without the help of such a devotee spiritual master, one cannot make progress in the transcendental science of the Lord. And a bona fide spiritual master like Śukadeva Gosvāmī does not speak about the Lord only in the matter of His internal potencies, but also explains how He associates with His external potencies.
A Vaiṣṇava is powerful enough to turn into a Vaiṣṇava even the Kirāta, etc., as above mentioned. In the Bhagavad-gītā (9.32) it is said by the Lord that there is no bar to becoming a devotee of the Lord (even for those who are lowborn, or women, śūdras or vaiśyas), and by becoming a devotee everyone is eligible to return home, back to Godhead. The only qualification is that one take shelter of a pure devotee of the Lord who has thorough knowledge in the transcendental science of Kṛṣṇa (Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam). Anyone from any part of the world who becomes well conversant in the science of Kṛṣṇa becomes a pure devotee and a spiritual master for the general mass of people and may reclaim them by purification of heart.
The frog in the well cannot even think of the sea, and when such a frog is informed of the greatness of the sea, it takes the conception of the sea as being a little greater than the well. As such, one who is foolish about the transcendental science of the Lord will find it difficult to understand how Lord Viṣṇu can equally manifest Himself in every society of living entities.
SB Canto 3
As a student, Mahārāja Parīkṣit was serious about learning the science of God, and Śukadeva Gosvāmī was a bona fide spiritual master in the transcendental science. Both of them knew that the topics discussed by Vidura and Ṛṣi Maitreya were elevated, and thus Mahārāja Parīkṣit was very interested in learning from the bona fide spiritual master.
Although one may be well versed in the transcendental science, one should be careful about the offense of maryādā-vyatikrama, or impertinently surpassing a greater personality. According to scriptural injunction one should be very careful of transgressing the law of maryādā-vyatikrama because by so doing one loses his duration of life, his opulence, fame and piety and the blessings of all the world. To be well versed in the transcendental science necessitates awareness of the techniques of spiritual science. Uddhava, being well aware of all these technicalities of transcendental science, advised Vidura to approach Maitreya Ṛṣi to receive transcendental knowledge.
Maitreya Muni, who was experienced in the science of Transcendence, could understand that Vidura's mind was fully absorbed in Transcendence. Adhokṣaja means that which transcends the limits of sense perception or sensuous experience. The Lord is transcendental to our sense experience, but He reveals Himself to the sincere devotee. Because Vidura was always absorbed in thought of the Lord, Maitreya could estimate Vidura's transcendental value. He appreciated the valuable inquiries of Vidura and thus thanked him with great honor.
Upon hearing the speaking of her husband, who excelled in knowledge of all kinds of transcendental science, innocent Devahūti was very satisfied. Her smiling face shining with a slightly bashful glance, she spoke in a choked voice because of great humility and love.
It is said that if one is already engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and is rendering transcendental loving service to the Lord, then it can be supposed that he has finished all the recommended courses of austerity, penance, religion, sacrifice, mystic yoga and meditation. Devahūti's husband was so expert in the transcendental science that there was nothing for him to argue about, and when she heard him speak she was confident that since he was very much advanced in devotional service he had already surpassed all transcendental educational activities. She had no doubt about the gifts offered by her husband; she knew that he was expert in offering such gifts, and when she understood that he was offering the greatest gift, she was very satisfied. She was overwhelmed with ecstatic love, and therefore she could not reply; then, with faltering language, just like an attractive wife, she spoke the following words.
SB Canto 4
Simply by academic qualifications a śūdra cannot understand the transcendental science. At the present moment, throughout the entire world the educational system is geared to produce śūdras. A big technologist is no more than a big śūdra. Kalau śūdra-sambhavaḥ: in the age of Kali, everyone is a śūdra. Because the whole population of the world consists only of śūdras, there is a decline of spiritual knowledge, and people are unhappy. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement has been started especially to create qualified brāhmaṇas to broadcast spiritual knowledge all over the world, for thus people may become very happy.
Vidura accepted Maitreya as his spiritual master. A disciple always inquires from the spiritual master, and the spiritual master answers the question, provided the disciple is very gentle and devoted. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura said that by the mercy of the spiritual master one is blessed with the mercy of the Supreme Lord. The spiritual master is not inclined to disclose all the secrets of transcendental science unless the disciple is very submissive and devoted. As stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, the process of receiving knowledge from the spiritual master entails submission, inquiry and service.
Mahārāja Pṛthu was well conversant in transcendental science, yet he presented himself before the Kumāras as one ignorant of it. The idea is that even if a person is very exalted and knows everything, before his superior he should present questions. For instance, although Arjuna knew all the transcendental science, he questioned Kṛṣṇa as if he did not know. Similarly, Pṛthu Mahārāja knew everything, but he presented himself before the Kumāras as if he did not know anything. The idea is that questions by exalted persons put before the Supreme Personality of Godhead or His devotees are meant for the benefit of the general people. Therefore sometimes great personalities put themselves in that position and inquire from a higher authority because they are always thinking of the benefit of others.
Trying to advance in spiritual life outside the disciplic succession is simply ludicrous. It is said, therefore, ācāryavān puruṣo veda: one who follows the disciplic succession of ācāryas knows things as they are (Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.14.2). Tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet: (MU 1.2.12) in order to understand the transcendental science, one must approach the bona fide spiritual master.
As sunshine dissipates the darkness of this material world, the effulgence emanating from the body of the Lord immediately dries up the darkness in the heart of the conditioned soul. In other words, everyone serious about understanding the transcendental science and seeing the transcendental form of the Lord must first of all attempt to see the lotus feet of the Lord by studying the First and Second Cantos of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. When one sees the lotus feet of the Lord, all kinds of doubts and fears within the heart are vanquished.
When one actually reaches the platform of frustration in an attempt to discharge karma-bandha-phāṅsa, he inquires about the real value of life, which is called brahma jijñāsā. In order to inquire about the ultimate goal of life, the Vedas enjoin, tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet: (MU 1.2.12) "In order to understand the transcendental science, one must approach a bona fide spiritual master."
SB Canto 5
The Vedic literature instructs: tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam (SB 11.3.21). An intelligent man must be very inquisitive to know the transcendental science deeply. Therefore one must approach a guru, a spiritual master. Although Jaḍa Bharata explained everything to Mahārāja Rahūgaṇa, it appears that his intelligence was not perfect enough to understand clearly. He therefore requested a further explanation.
SB Canto 6
Only one who is actually eager to receive knowledge to eradicate the darkness of ignorance is eligible to approach a guru, or spiritual master. The guru should not be approached for material benefits. One should not approach a guru just to cure some disease or receive some miraculous benefit. This is not the way to approach the guru. Tad-vijñānārtham: one should approach the guru to understand the transcendental science of spiritual life. Unfortunately, in this age of Kali there are many bogus gurus who display magic to their disciples, and many foolish disciples want to see such magic for material benefits. These disciples are not interested in pursuing spiritual life to save themselves from the darkness of ignorance.
SB Canto 9
The son of Janamejaya known as Śatānīka will learn from Yājñavalkya the three Vedas and the art of performing ritualistic ceremonies. He will also learn the military art from Kṛpācārya and the transcendental science from the sage Śaunaka.
SB Cantos 10.14 to 12 (Translations Only)
During this season the mountains sometimes released their pure water and sometimes did not, just as experts in transcendental science sometimes give the nectar of transcendental knowledge and sometimes do not.
When the cloud originally produced from the sun is torn apart, the eye can see the actual form of the sun. Similarly, when the spirit soul destroys his material covering of false ego by inquiring into the transcendental science, he regains his original spiritual awareness.
Transcendental knowledge of Śrī Kṛṣṇa is deeper than the impersonal knowledge of Brahman, for it includes knowledge of not only His form and personality but also everything else related to Him. There is nothing in existence not related to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. In a sense, there is nothing but Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and yet nothing is Śrī Kṛṣṇa save and except His primeval personality. This knowledge constitutes a complete transcendental science, and Viṣṇu wanted to give Brahmājī full knowledge about that science. The mystery of this knowledge culminates in personal attachment to the Lord, with a resulting effect of detachment from anything "non-Kṛṣṇa."
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.
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 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.
Foolish Māyāvādīs, not knowing that the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is based on a solid philosophy of transcendental science, superficially conclude that those who dance and chant do not have philosophical knowledge. Those who are Kṛṣṇa conscious actually have full knowledge of the essence of Vedānta philosophy, for they study the real commentary on the Vedānta philosophy, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and follow the actual words of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as found in Bhagavad-gītā As It Is.
The karmīs are fully under the bodily conception of life, and the jñānīs, although theoretically understanding that they are not the body, also have no information about the lotus feet of the Lord because they overly stress impersonalism. Consequently both karmīs and jñānīs are unfit for receiving the mercy of the Lord and becoming devotees. Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura therefore says, karma-kāṇḍa jñāna-kāṇḍa, kevala viṣera bhāṇḍa: those who have taken to the process of karma-kāṇḍa (fruitive activity) and jñāna-kāṇḍa (speculation on the science of transcendence) have simply eaten from poisoned pots. They are condemned to remain in material existence life after life until they take shelter of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa.
Before becoming Caitanya Mahāprabhu's disciple, Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya considered Rāmānanda Rāya an ordinary viṣayī because he was a householder engaged in government service. However, when the Bhaṭṭācārya was actually enlightened in Vaiṣṇava philosophy, he could understand the exalted transcendental position of Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya; therefore he referred to him as adhikārī. An adhikārī is one who knows the transcendental science of Kṛṣṇa and is engaged in His service; therefore all gṛhastha devotees are designated as dāsa adhikārī.
Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Teachings of Lord Caitanya
N His Śikṣāṣṭaka, Lord Caitanya said that one should be in a humble state of mind, should think himself lower than the grass on the street, should be more tolerant than a tree, and should be devoid of all sense of prestige and ready to offer all kinds of respects to others. In such a state of mind, one can chant the Vedānta philosophy or the holy name of God constantly. The Lord also wanted to teach that a serious student of transcendental science should follow the words of his spiritual master. According to the calculations of the spiritual master, Lord Caitanya appeared to be a fool; therefore he said that He should not indulge in the study of Vedānta but should continue chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. Lord Caitanya strictly obeyed this order. In other words, Lord Caitanya impressed on the Māyāvādīs that the words of a bona fide spiritual master must be strictly followed. By following them, one becomes perfect in all respects.
When one is freed from all material contaminations, any one of the relationships with Kṛṣṇa is transcendentally relishable. Unfortunately, those who are inexperienced in the transcendental science cannot appreciate the different relationships with the Supreme Lord. They think that all such relationships arise from māyā. Caitanya-caritāmṛta states that earth, water, fire, air and ether (the five gross elements) are developed from subtle forms to grosser forms.
Nectar of Devotion
In the ecstasy of ghastliness in devotional service, feelings of neutral love, laughter or servitude are compatible, whereas feelings of conjugal union and fraternity are incompatible. The above analysis is a sample of the study of rasābhāsa, or incompatible mixing of rasas. This transcendental science of rasābhāsa can thoroughly explain the humors in ecstatic love which are compatible and incompatible with one another.
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."
It is further recommended in the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad, tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet: (MU 1.2.12) "To understand that transcendental science, one must approach a bona fide spiritual master." Thus this method of submissively receiving transcendental confidential knowledge is not merely based on mental speculation.
Tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet: (MU 1.2.12) when one is interested in the transcendental subject matter of the Absolute Truth, he should be initiated. Such a person should approach a spiritual master in order to take dīkṣā. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.3.21) also prescribes: tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam. "When one is actually interested in the transcendental science of the Absolute Truth, he should approach a spiritual master."
One should not accept a spiritual master without following his instructions. Nor should one accept a spiritual master just to make a fashionable show of spiritual life. One must be jijñāsu, very much inquisitive to learn from the bona fide spiritual master. The inquiries one makes should strictly pertain to transcendental science (jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam). The word uttamam refers to that which is above material knowledge. Tama means "the darkness of this material world," and ut means "transcendental."
This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is a transcendental science, and there is no room for jealousy. This movement is meant for the paramahaṁsas who are completely free from all jealousy (paramaṁ nirmatsarāṇām). One should not be jealous, whether he is born in a family of gosvāmīs or has the title of gosvāmī awarded to him. As soon as anyone becomes envious, he falls from the platform of paramahaṁsa.
Renunciation Through Wisdom
The present Kali-yuga is therefore very auspicious, for in this age one can attain the treasure of devotional service to the Lord that He Himself propagated. Our hope rests fully with the Lord's surrendered devotees, who are endowed with perfect knowledge of how to disseminate this transcendental science.
Message of Godhead
We can see such signs in the method of preaching espoused by Gandhijī. Although he chants the name of Rāma, he is not aware of the transcendental science of the name. He is a worshiper of the impersonal Godhead. That is to say, his Godhead or Viṣṇu is devoid of transcendental activities. His Godhead cannot eat, cannot see, and cannot hear; for impersonality means being without any of these sensory activities.
Mukunda-mala-stotra (mantras 1 to 6 only)
The theists, on the other hand, have faith in the Lord and pray to Him with various motives. One attains such a theistic life not by chance but as a result of performing many pious acts in both the present life and the past life. Such pious men also belong to four categories: (1) the needy, (2) those who have fallen into difficulty, (3) those who are inquisitive about the transcendental science, and (4) the genuine philosophers. The philosophers and those who are inquisitive are better than those in categories (1) and (2). But a pure devotee is far above these four classes of pious men, for he is in the transcendental position.