The main purport and necessity for writing this Śrī Kṛṣṇa-saṁhitā have already been described in the Introduction. We have covered all relevant topics in the verses of this saṁhitā, but we have not used the method that modern scholars use in considering those topics. Therefore, I fear that many people will reject Śrī Kṛṣṇa-saṁhitā as an old-fashioned book. I am in a dilemma. If I would have used the modern process when I composed the verses, then the ancient scholars would have certainly disregarded the book. For this reason, I have composed the main book according to the ancient method, and I have written the Introduction and Conclusion according to the modern. In this way I have tried to satisfy both classes of people. Therefore, I have been compelled to accept the fault of repetition. In this conclusion I will briefly consider all topics.
The swan-like Vaiṣṇava dharma is the soul’s eternal constitutional duty. It is not created by any person or sect. In the course of time we are gradually realising the purity of these duties. Where is the doubt? The progression of clarity depends on the person, not the subject. The sun is always equal to everyone, but due to the perception of the observer it appears hotter at midday. Similarly, pure constitutional duties are progressively understood as superior by progressively advanced people, though in truth constitutional duties remain the same at all times. Now I will begin to discuss the science of these constitutional duties.
The inaugurator of the swan-like Vaiṣṇava faith, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, has said, “Since people are all conditioned, we are compelled to consider their eternal duties in three different categories—sambandha, the soul’s relationship with the Lord; abhidheya, the regulated activities for reviving that relationship; and prayojana, the ultimate goal of life.” According to the Lord’s instructions, we will now separately discuss these three subjects.
First we will discuss sambandha. One who is thoughtful should first examine oneself. From the existence of one’s own self, the existence of other objects is ascertained. A thoughtful person may say, “If I do not exist, then nothing else exists; because without me, how is it possible to realise other things?” By the tendency to believe in one’s self, a thoughtful person establishes his own existence and then observes the insignificance and dependence of the soul. As soon as one sees one’s own self, one immediately observes the support of the Supersoul. Feeling the existence of the ātmā and Paramātmā should be the first step in belief of one’s self. When a thoughtful person looks at the material world, he can easily see three things—the ātmā, the Paramātmā, and the material world. Those who cannot realise the soul consider themselves dull matter. In their estimation, matter is eternal. They also come to the conclusion that all material elements produce consciousness through the process of evolution, and when they are separated from their natural status then consciousness reverts to unconscious matter. Thoughtful persons conclude like this because they are more under the control of material propensities than spiritual propensities, and as such they are more inclined towards matter than knowledge. That is why their hope, faith, enthusiasm, consideration, and love are all material. It is unfortunate that the dealings of persons who are in samādhi cause pain to the hearts of such people. There is no possibility of reconciliation between their opinion and ours, because we are not ready to accept the method they follow to ascertain the Absolute Truth. They are under the grip of argument, and arguments are never able to establish the existence of the self. What is the use of putting a telescope to the ears? Can one see pictures through a microphone? How, then, can one see Vaikuṇṭha through the instrument of argument? All subjects of this material world are under the jurisdiction of argument, but the soul cannot be seen by any method other than self-realisation. If argument accepts the proper path, then one can quickly understand its incompetence in matters related with the soul. The soul is pure knowledge, and therefore it is self-illuminating and the illuminator of matter. But the propensity for argument born of matter can never illuminate the soul. Therefore, not being obliged to accept the materialistic conclusions of those who argue, we will consider and perceive the soul and Supersoul through the process of self-realisation and with the temporary instrument of argument, which is situated between matter and spirit, we will enumerate the truths of this material world.
We need to separately discuss the ātmā, Paramātmā, and material world. Śrī Rāmānujācārya has elaborately explained these three subjects as spiritual, material, and the Lord. In the discussion on sambandha, we should consider and ascertain the relationship between these three. Ācārya Kapila, the propounder of Sāṅkhya philosophy, has enumerated twenty-four elements within the material world. If we want to discuss the material world, we have to take Kapila’s twenty-four elements into account. Modern scholars who are expert in material sciences are painstakingly discovering the original elements’ names, qualities, and characteristics through newly invented machines. In this way they increase peoples’ material knowledge. Their discoveries are especially respected because they are helpful in the progress of spiritual life. Yet even though we respect their discoveries, that does not mean we have to disrespect Kapila’s Sāṅkhya philosophy. There may be sixty, sixty-five, or seventy original elements, but this does not disturb the Sāṅkhya system of counting the gross elements like earth, water, and fire. Therefore, Kapila’s discussions about the material world—consisting of the material elements, their qualities, the senses, the mind, the intelligence, and the false ego—are not useless. Rather, the divisions of Sāṅkhya appear more scientific. In the Bhagavad-gītā (7.4), which is a compilation of Vedānta, the following elements are enumerated:
bhūmir āpo ‘nalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca
ahaṅkāra itīyaṁ me bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā
“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false ego—all together these eight constitute My separated material energies.” In this context, the qualities of the elements are included in the elements, and all the senses are merged into the subtle material elements, consisting of the mind, intelligence, and false ego. Therefore, as far as counting the material elements is concerned, Sāṅkhya and Vedānta are the same.
At this point it should be considered whether the mind, intelligence, and false ego are material elements or characteristics of the soul. In this regard, a few scholars from Europe have concluded that the mind, intelligence, and false ego are composed of material elements and the soul is beyond them. Modern scholars often accept the mind and soul to be one. I have discussed with many English scholars and found that they consider the soul to be different from the mind, but due to language shortcomings, they often use the word “mind” when referring the soul. In the Bhagavad-gītā (7.5) it is stated:
apareyam itas tv anyāṁ prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parām
jīva-bhūtāṁ mahā-bāho yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat
“Besides these, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is another, superior energy of Mine, which comprises the living entities who are exploiting the resources of this material, inferior nature.”
By studying this verse, it is clearly understood that the living entities are different from the previously mentioned material elements—mind, intelligence, and false ego. This is certainly a swan-like conclusion.
In this visible world of varieties, two subjects are found—spirit and matter, or the living entity and the material elements. The Vaiṣṇavas accept these two subjects as the effects of the inconceivable potency of the Supreme Lord. Now let us standardise the definitions of the material elements and the living entities. The living entities are conscious and can act independently. Matter is dull and under the control of consciousness. If we consider the existence of a human being in his present conditioned state, then we will undoubtedly consider his consciousness and the material elements, because by the Lord’s sweet will the conditioned souls are seen to be riding on a machine of the material elements.
The material body made of seven constituent fluids. Pus, blood, flesh, fat, bone, marrow, and semen, the senses, as well as the mind, intelligence, and false ego (which are the sources of material knowledge), the place, the time factor, and consciousness are all seen in the existence of a human being. The body is completely material, because it is made of material elements and their characteristics. The material elements are not able to realise spirit, but we can perceive some evidence of spiritual existence in wonderful instruments like the eyes, ears, and nervous system in the body of a human being. The instruments by which material knowledge enters the material body are called senses. After entering the material body, material knowledge mixes with an internal instrument that interprets the material elements. This instrument is called the mind. The mind realises material knowledge through the medium of the heart and accumulates knowledge through the medium of remembrance. The shape of material knowledge changes through the medium of imagination. Material objects are considered with the support of two mediums—developed and undeveloped intelligence. Apart from this, in the existence of a human being an indication of spirit (cidābhāsa) is found in the form of ego, which pervades the intelligence, mind, and body. From these symptoms a strong feeling of “I” and “mine” has become accepted as part of the human beings’ existence. This is known as false ego. It is to be understood that knowledge of subjects up to false ego is called material knowledge. Yet false ego, intelligence, mind, and the prowess of the senses are not totally material. In other words, they do not consist entirely of material elements, but their existence is rooted in material elements. In other words, unless they are related with the material elements their existence is incomplete. They are under the shelter of spirit to some extent, because the act of revelation is their very life and material knowledge is the result. From where does this consciousness originate? The soul is pure and the basis of consciousness. It is not easy for a soul to come under the subordination of matter. By the will of the Supreme Lord—certainly for some reason—a pure spirit soul has contacted matter. Although in our conditioned state it is very difficult to investigate the cause, if we consider the lack of happiness in our conditioned state, we can certainly realise that our present condition is a degradation from our original consciousness. Although modern scholars think, “The living entities have been created in this condition and by fruitive activities they gradually advance,” according to the process of self-realisation this cannot be accepted as a fact. There is no further argument in this connection, because argument is a product of material elements and has no entrance in the science of self-realisation or the pastimes of the Supreme Lord. It is our duty to establish that an indication of spirit, in the form of false ego, intelligence, mind, and senses, has been manifested due to the pure soul’s contact with matter. This indication of spirit will no longer exist when the soul is liberated. Therefore, three items are found in the existence of a human being—the soul, the instrument that indicates the presence of the soul and connects it with matter, and the material body. According to Vedānta, the soul is called jīva, or living entity, the instrument that indicates the presence of the soul is called the subtle body, and the material body is called the gross body. After death the gross body is left behind, but the subtle body continues to exist by taking shelter of fruitive activities and their results until one is liberated. The instrument for indicating the presence of spirit remains as long as the soul is conditioned, but it has no actual connection with the pure spirit soul. The pure spirit soul is full of spiritual bliss. The pure spirit soul is aloof from material existence, beginning from false ego down to the gross body. If one wants to realise the existence of the pure spirit soul, one must give up material thoughts; but in the presence of false ego, all thoughts are material. Thoughts cannot leave the association of matter, because they are born from an indication of spirit. Therefore, only one who checks the activities of the mind and cultivates self-realisation through samādhi can realise the soul without doubt. But those who have surrendered their independence to the false ego are not brave enough to cross the border of argument and are therefore totally unable to realise the existence of the soul. Those who argue on the basis of Vaiśeṣika philosophy can never realise the existence of the pure soul. That is why they accept the mind as eternal.
In the Seventh Canto of the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (7.19.20) the twelve symptoms of a pure spirit soul are described by Prahlāda Mahārāja as follows:
ātmā nityo ‘vyayaḥ śuddha ekaḥ kṣetra-jña āśrayaḥ
avikriyaḥ sva-dṛg hetur vyāpako ‘saṅgy anāvṛtaḥ
etair dvādaśabhir vidvān ātmano lakṣaṇaiḥ paraiḥ
ahaṁ mamety asad-bhāvaṁ dehādau mohajaṁ tyajet
The soul is nitya, or eternal, for it is not temporary like the gross and subtle bodies. Avyaya means the soul is not destroyed when the gross and subtle bodies are destroyed. Śuddha refers to that which is free from material contamination. Eka means that the soul is devoid of dualities such as qualities and the possessor of qualities, religious principles and the follower of religious principles, or limbs and the possessor of limbs. Kṣetra-jña means the seer. Āśraya means the soul is not under the shelter of gross and subtle objects, rather gross and subtle objects are under the shelter of the soul. Avikriya means the soul is unaffected by the transformations of the material body. The six bodily transformations are birth, growth, maintenance, by-products, dwindling, and death. Sva-dṛk refers to one who perceives himself, though not as an object of material vision. Hetu means that even though the soul is not material, it is the root cause of the existence, nature, and activities of the material body. Vyāpaka means the soul is not localised; it does not belong to a particular material place. Asaṅgī means that although the soul is situated within the material world, it does not associate with material qualities. Anāvṛta means the soul is not covered by matter. Learned people should distinguish the soul by these twelve spiritual symptoms and give up illusion in the form of “I” and “mine.”
There is much argument over whether a pure living entity has any existence in time and space. But argument is useless in considering the Absolute Truth and is therefore condemned. Arguments can only reveal indications of spirit; they can never fully reveal spiritual subjects. The spirit soul is transcendental, or beyond everything material. The word “material” in this case does not refer only to the material elements, but it refers to the characteristics of the elements, the indication of spirit, and the activities of the senses, mind, intelligence, and false ego. Since the indication of spirit is under the jurisdiction of matter, many material situations are mistaken for spiritual activities. Although time and space are found among the material elements, they nevertheless have their pure spiritual existence. If one carefully studies the first and second chapters of Śrī Kṛṣṇa-saṁhitā, one will understand that although spiritual and material sciences appear contradictory, they are not. All spiritual existence is pure and faultless. But when this spiritual existence manifests in the material world, it becomes full of inebrieties. Therefore, pure time and space will be seen in the pure state of the living entity, and contaminated time and space will be seen in the contaminated material world. This is the only scientific consideration of time and space. In his pure state, a living entity is a pure spiritual being, but in the conditioned state there are three types of existence—pure existence, or spiritual existence; an indication of spiritual existence, or subtle existence; and material existence, or gross existence. The natural law is that gross elements cover subtle elements. Because the indication of spiritual existence is more gross, it has covered the soul’s pure spiritual existence. And because material existence is the most gross, it has covered both the pure spiritual existence and the indication of spiritual existence. Still, all three of these existences do manifest, because even when they are covered, they are not lost. The soul’s pure spiritual existence is properly situated in pure time and space. Therefore, it should be understood that an individual soul is properly situated in pure time and space. Since the soul has a proper abode, we can accept that he has a fixed place. Since the soul has a fixed place, we can also accept that the soul has a pure body and form. We then have to accept that this form has spiritual qualities such as beauty, will-power, feelings, and actions. This form cannot be seen through the indication of spirit, because it is beyond matter. As all the limbs of a gross body act in harmony and thus exhibit the beauty of that form, all the required instruments are similarly present in the spiritual body, which is the ideal model of the gross body. The difference between gross and spiritual bodies is that the spirit soul is the proprietor of the gross body. Therefore, the body and its owner are different. But in the spiritual body there is no difference between the body and its owner. Every object has two means of identification—by form and by activity. Consciousness, or knowledge, is the identification of a liberated soul. The living entity is the personification of knowledge—that is, his body is composed of pure knowledge. Blissfulness is the identification of his activities. Therefore, the existence of the liberated soul is complete spiritual happiness. The ego, heart, mind, and senses are non-different from consciousness in the living entity’s pure state. But in the conditioned state a living entity is seen as an indication of spirit, and material happiness and distress, which are reflections of spiritual bliss, are the identification of his activities.
The omniscient Supersoul is eternal, full of knowledge and bliss. Another name of the omniscient Supersoul is Bhagavān. The material world and the living entities are products of His superior energy. When we speak of a living entity, we refer to an atomic spiritual spark. Similarly, when we speak about the Lord, we refer to an extraordinary spiritual personality. This personality is seen by pure living entities as full of all good qualities, most beautiful, and enchanting. Endowed with indescribably sweet qualities, beautiful Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra manifests eternal bliss and increases the beauty of Vaikuṇṭha. Pure living entities are eternally absorbed in His beauty, and conditioned living entities are searching for His beauty in the pastimes of Vraja. It has been explained in Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu that the living entities possess fifty qualities in minute quantity. In Lord Nārāyaṇa these fifty qualities are present in full, along with ten other qualities. His form, endowed with spiritual happiness, Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra, possesses sixty-four qualities. Therefore, devotees accept Lord Kṛṣṇa as the topmost embodiment of the manifestation of the Supreme Lord’s energies.
Consideration on sambandha means to ascertain the relationship between these three subjects. This has already been described in the following verses from the Bhagavad-gītā (7.4-7):
bhūmir āpo ‘nalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca
ahaṅkāra itīyaṁ me bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā
“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false ego—all together these eight constitute My separated material energies.
apareyam itas tv anyāṁ prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parām
jīva-bhūtāṁ mahā-bāho yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat
“Besides these, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is another, superior energy of Mine, which comprises the living entities who are exploiting the resources of this material, inferior nature.
etad-yonīni bhūtāni sarvāṇīty upadhāraya
ahaṁ kṛtsnasya jagataḥ prabhavaḥ pralayas tathā
“All created beings have their source in these two natures. Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, know for certain that I am both the origin and the dissolution.
mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañjaya
mayi sarvam idaṁ protaṁ sūtre maṇi-gaṇā iva
“O conqueror of wealth, there is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.”
The principle truth is one—the Lord. The living entities and the material world have been manifested from the aspects and potencies of the superior energy, therefore the entire universe is the effect of His energy. The spiritual energy has three aspects—sandhinī, samvit, and hlādinī —and three potencies—spiritual, marginal, and external. The entire universe has been manifested by the interaction of these aspects and potencies. Please refer to the second chapter of this book. By this conclusion the long-standing philosophies of vivarta, the māyāvāda theory of illusion, and brahma-pariṇāma, the theory of transformation of the Supreme, are defeated. We cannot accept vivarta or pariṇāma of the Supreme Lord, rather we understand that everything is possible by the activities and effects of the superior energy. Since the living entities and the material world are manifested from the energy of the Supreme Lord, they are considered separated from the Lord, but they have no independent power. They cannot do anything without the mercy of the Lord. This is clearly described in the first and second chapters of this book. We can briefly say that the Lord is their only shelter and they are totally dependent on Him. The Lord is the sole cause of their existence, so they are fully under His shelter. The special feature of the living entities is that they are conscious by nature, therefore the supreme conscious Lord is their only shelter. The material world is foreign to the living entities and therefore unfit as their shelter. The constitutional duties of the living entities are presently transformed into material activities, and their loving sentiments for the Lord have become perverted into material attachment. Therefore, to minimize this perverted attachment and increase one’s real attachment is called śreyaḥ, or ultimate benefit, for there is no permanent relationship between the living entities and the material world. Whatever little relationship does exist is merely transient. Until one is liberated by the mercy of the Lord, however, one must accept this material connection as unavoidable for maintaining one’s life. One cannot achieve liberation just by searching, but it can be easily achieved by the mercy of the Lord. Therefore, one should abandon desires for liberation and material enjoyment. The only duty of a living entity is to engage in one’s constitutional occupation by practicing yukta-vairāgya without any desire for material enjoyment or liberation. This material world is a product of the external energy, which is a shadow of the superior energy, who is the maidservant of the Lord. It is therefore understood that the external energy is always engaged in carrying out the will of the Lord. This material universe is the house of enjoyment for the living entities who are averse to the Lord. The only way to escape the imprisonment of Māyā is devotional service to the Lord, as stated in the Bhagavad-gītā (7.14):
daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī mama māyā duratyayā
mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etāṁ taranti te
“This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.”
We have considered the relationship, or sambandha, between the three subjects, and now I will try to briefly explain abhidheya and prayojana. The process by which prayojana is achieved is called abhidheya. Therefore, I will consider prayojana first.
The condition of the living entity is very pathetic, for although he is pure spirit, he has become the servant of matter. He considers himself a product of matter and becomes afflicted by material scarcity. Sometimes he cries due to scarcity of food, sometimes he laments due to being attacked by fever, and sometimes he engages in abominable activities in order to draw the attention of women. Sometimes he exclaims, “I’m dying!” and sometimes he says, “I’ve been saved by this medicine.” Sometimes he is absorbed in the formidable ocean of lamentation due to the death of his child. Sometimes he builds a big palace, lives in it, and thinks, “Now I’ve become king.” Being envious of a few people, he thinks, “I’m a great hero.” Sometimes he is struck by wonder while sending a message by telegram, sometimes he writes a book on medicine and expands his title, sometimes he builds a train and considers himself a big scholar, and sometimes he ascertains the movements of the stars and advertises himself as an astrologer. Such people pollute their hearts with envy, violence, lust, and anger. Sometimes they teach physics, medicine, and farming and think, “I’ve earned so much piety.” Alas! Are such activities proper for a pure spirit soul? Such insignificant propensities are meaningless for one who has lived in Vaikuṇṭha and relished pure love of God. Where is the happiness in exchanges with women when compared to the nectar of love for Hari? What comparison can be made between the arrangement for fighting, which disturbs one’s heart, and the association with devotees, which pleases one’s heart? Alas! If we carefully consider what we actually are and what we have become, then we can understand that we have fallen and become inflicted with threefold miseries—those caused by the demigods, those caused by other living entities, and those caused by one’s own body and mind. Why have we been misguided? We have certainly become offenders to the all-blissful Supreme Lord. That is why we have become fallen; there is no doubt about it. Our offence is discrepancy in the constitutional occupation of the spirit soul. It has already been shown that the living entity is full of spiritual bliss. The soul is pure knowledge, and blissfulness is his constitution. The thread of relationship between a living entity and the Absolute Truth, who is eternally full of knowledge and bliss, is called prīti, or love. This thread of love eternally connects the happiness of the living entities with the happiness of the Lord. The quality of their love is mutually attractive. It is most pleasing, subtle, and pure. When a living entity falls into the net of illusion, however, he shuns the loving service of the Lord and searches for enjoyment in the material world. Knowing him to be an offender, Māyā, the maidservant of Kṛṣṇa, then imprisons him. We are suffering in the material world due to this offence. Our constitutional duties, in the form of love of God, have become reflected as attachment for material objects, which increases our inauspiciousness. At this juncture, cultivation of our constitutional duties is our only prayojana, or goal of life. As long as we are conditioned, we cannot purely practice our constitutional duties. Our constitutional propensities are neither lost nor can they be lost; they are simply in a dormant state. As soon as one starts cultivation of those duties, they will awaken from their dormant state and again shine brightly. Then liberation and attainment of Vaikuṇṭha will automatically ensue. Since liberation is not our goal of life, it is not our prayojana. Prīti is our goal of life and therefore our only prayojana. People who are on the path of knowledge and are disturbed by material miseries search for liberation; but the endeavours of those with undesirable goals will be unsuccessful, for the performer achieves no benefit. Those who cultivate prīti can easily achieve complete knowledge and liberation. Therefore, prīti is the only prayojana.
The symptoms of prīti are described in my book, Datta-kaustubha, as follows:
ākarṣa-sannidhau lauhaḥ pravṛtto dṛśyate yathā
aṇor mahati caitanye pravṛttiḥ prīti-lakṣaṇam
“As a piece of iron is naturally attracted by a magnet, the atomic spirit soul is naturally attracted by the supreme consciousness of the Personality of Godhead.” This natural tendency is called prīti. Just as the soul and Supersoul are both devoid of material designations, the prīti exchanged between them is similarly pure and without a tinge of material inebriety. Our prayojana is to awaken this pure prīti.
If one wants to achieve a goal, then he must follow the proper method. According to their qualifications, previous great souls have introduced various methods to achieve success in their respective goals. I will now discuss abhidheya, which is the method for achieving prayojana.
All the methods that have been devised for achieving success in spiritual life are divided into three classes. The names of these three classes are karma, jñāna, and bhakti.
To maintain one’s life by performing prescribed duties is called karma. Karma has two aspects—prescriptions and prohibitions. Akarma, or inactivity, and vikarma, or sinful activities, are both prohibited. Karma is prescribed. There are three kinds of karma—constitutional, conditional, and desirous. Activities that are always required to be performed are called constitutional. Maintaining one’s body and family, performing welfare activities, gratefulness, and worshiping the Lord are called constitutional activities. That which becomes a duty by circumstance is called conditional activity. Attempting to avoid death after seeing the death of one’s father is an example of a conditional activity. Activities that are performed with a desire are called desirous activities. An example is performing a sacrifice to get a child.
If one wants to properly perform one’s duties, then he must connect the prescriptions for bodily activities, moral codes, acts of chastisement, inheritance, ruling the kingdom, divisions of work, war, alliances, marriages, time, and atonement with the devotional service of the Lord and thus be properly situated in this world. This has been practiced by various castes in some form or other. The land of Bhārata is populated by Āryans, therefore it is an example for all castes, for all the above-mentioned activities are beautifully present in this land in the wonderful form of varṇāśrama dharma. No other race was able to make such a perfect arrangement. Among other races, activities are performed according to people’s nature and the above-mentioned prescriptions are chaotically arranged; but among the Āryans of India, these prescriptions are arranged so that all activities become favourable for devotional service. What a wonderful intelligence the Indian ṛṣis possessed! Even in the very ancient past they made an extraordinary arrangement without the help of any other race. When we refer to India as the land of karma and the example for other countries, it is not an exaggeration.
The sages realised that people’s eligibility for performing duties is born from their nature. If we prescribe activities without considering one’s qualification, then the activity will never be properly performed. Therefore, the sages ascertained people’s duties after considering their nature. Human nature is divided into four categories—brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, and śūdra. The sages have thus ascertained people’s varṇa according to their nature. In the last chapter of Bhagavad-gītā (18.41-45) it is stated:
brāhmaṇa-kṣatriya-viśāṁ śūdrāṇāṁ ca parantapa
karmāṇi pravibhaktāni svabhāva-prabhavair guṇaiḥ
“Brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas, and śūdras are distinguished by the qualities born of their own natures in accordance with the material modes, O chastiser of the enemy.
śamo damas tapaḥ śaucaṁ kṣāntir ārjavam eva ca
jñānaṁ vijñānam āstikyaṁ brahma-karma svabhāva-jam
“Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom, and religiousness—these are the natural qualities by which the brāhmaṇas work.
śauryaṁ tejo dhṛtir dākṣyaṁ yuddhe cāpy apalāyanam
dānam īśvara-bhāvaś ca kṣātraṁ karma svabhāva-jam
“Heroism, power, determination, resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity, and leadership are the natural qualities of work for the kṣatriyas.
kṛṣi-go-rakṣya-vāṇijyaṁ vaiśya-karma svabhāva-jam
paricaryātmakaṁ karma śūdrasyāpi svabhāva-jam
sve sve karmaṇy abhirataḥ saṁsiddhiṁ labhate naraḥ
“Farming, cow protection, and business are the natural work for the vaiśyas, and for the śūdras there is labor and service to others. By following his qualities of work, every man can become perfect.”
After dividing the varṇas according to people’s qualities and activities, which are born of one’s nature, the sages considered that there was a need for ascertaining their āśrama position. They thus designated married people as gṛhasthas, traveling students as brahmacārīs, elderly retired people as vānaprasthas, and those who have renounced everything as sannyāsīs. They have also concluded that women and śūdras are meant to be gṛhasthas. No one can accept sannyāsa other than brāhmaṇas. This arrangement is a clear indication of the sages’ extraordinary intelligence. All the prescriptions and prohibitions that are born of śāstra and argument are under the jurisdiction of varṇāśrama dharma. It is difficult to discuss all the prescriptions in this small concluding chapter, therefore I will conclude by saying that the varṇāśrama system is a wonderful prescription for peoples’ material life. This varṇāśrama system is certainly the most respected of all arrangements that have been manifested from the Āryans’ intelligence.
Due to improper consideration and envy, people from foreign countries criticize this arrangement. Some foolish people of our country do also. This is primarily due to their animosity towards their own country. Inadequate understanding of its purpose and imitating the behaviour of foreigners are also counted among the main reasons.
Besides that, there is no doubt that this arrangement has been polluted. It has been improperly functioning due to a lack of scholars who know the purpose of the system. That is why people nowadays criticize the varṇāśrama system. Actually the arrangement of varṇāśrama is faultless. But how can it remain faultless when employed in an inappropriate way? One’s varṇāśrama position, which is born from one’s nature, is now being designated according to one’s birth. This yields contrary results. The unqualified son of a brāhmaṇa will be known as a brāhmaṇa, and a learned peaceful son of a śūdra will be known as a śūdra. This arrangement is most contrary to the original varṇāśrama system. The ancient custom was that when a boy attained maturity, the elderly family members, the family priest, the family ācārya, the landlord, and the leaders of the village would consider his nature and then ascertain his varṇa. The main consideration in ascertaining a boy’s varṇa was to analyse whether he was qualified to accept the same varṇa as his father. Due to their inherent nature and hard work to achieve a high status, higher caste children would often be accepted as belonging to the same varṇa as their father. Yet due to inability, some children would be accepted as lower caste. Then again, children of lower castes would often be accepted into the higher castes at the time of examination. If we refer to the histories in the Purāṇas, we can find many examples of this. Since the leadership succession of blind men and the examination for the sake of formality began, qualified people did not get qualified posts and thus the sun of the Āryans’ fame has set. While explaining religious codes, Śrī Nārada Muni has stated in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (7.11.35):
yasya yal lakṣaṇaṁ proktaṁ puṁso varṇābhivyañjakam
yad anyatrāpi dṛśyeta tat tenaiva vinirdiśet
“If one shows the symptoms of being a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, or śūdra, as described above, even if he has appeared in a different class, he should be accepted according to those symptoms of classification.”
The sages of ancient times did not think even in their dreams that the natural occupation of men would gradually be considered simply by birth. To some extent it is natural for the son of a great person to become great, but this should not be taken for granted. The natural system of varṇāśrama was established in order to deliver the world from the leadership succession of blind men, but the religious scriptures unfortunately fell into the hands of some selfish and foolish smārtas, or ritualistic brāhmaṇas. The danger that this system was introduced to prevent has itself attacked the system. This is a subject of great lamentation. One who tries to remove the contamination that has entered into this system is engaged in his country’s welfare. It is not the duty of intelligent persons to remove the whole system because some portion of it is contaminated. Therefore, O great souls! You who wish to engage in the welfare of your country, please reestablish this faultless system given by your forefathers after collectively refining it! Do not try to give up the proper system of your country under the bad advice of foreigners. Will those who live in the land of India as the glorious descendants of great personalities like Brahmā, Manu, Dakṣa, Marīci, Parāśara, Vyāsa, Janaka, Bhīṣma, and Bharadvāja learn the arrangements for material life from modern races? Alas! I don’t see anywhere for such people to hide their shame! If the varṇāśrama system is faultlessly reestablished, then India will advance in all respects. I need not elaborate on this. The main purpose of the varṇāśrama system is to help one gradually advance by performing prescribed duties with the Lord in the center.
In this way people can gradually attain spiritual life by performing their prescribed duties according to the varṇāśrama system. Therefore, in the karma-kāṇḍa scholars’ consideration on abhidheya, fruitive activities are accepted as the only means for achieving prayojana. A conditioned soul cannot live for a moment without activity. He must at least work to maintain his life. Unless we maintain our lives, we cannot practice the means for attaining prayojana. Therefore, activities are unavoidable. Since one cannot remain without activity, all activities should be dovetailed for the pleasure of the Lord, otherwise those activities will transform into atheistic activities. As stated in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (1.5.32):
etat saṁsūcitaṁ brahmaṁs tāpa-traya-cikitsitam
yad īśvare bhagavati karma brahmaṇi bhāvitam
“O brāhmaṇa Vyāsadeva, it is decided by the learned that the best remedial measure for removing all troubles and miseries is to dedicate one’s activities to the service of the Supreme Lord Personality of Godhead [Śrī Kṛṣṇa].”
Fruitive activities are simply a disturbance, even if they are performed without motive. Therefore, unless the activities one performs according to one’s qualification are offered either to Brahman through knowledge, to the Supersoul through the results, or to the Supreme Lord through the path of attachment, such activities will never yield auspiciousness. We will describe the path of attachment in its proper place. The activities one performs to achieve the supreme goal must be directed towards the worship of the Supersoul, the Lord of sacrifice. Worship of the Lord cannot be given up either in constitutional or conditional activities, because one is enjoined to perform his prescribed duties with a sense of gratefulness towards the Supreme Lord, and this is called worshiping the Lord. Desirous activities are meant for low-class people, yet there is an arrangement to dovetail those activities in relation to the Lord. As stated in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (2.3.10):
akāmaḥ sarva-kāmo vā mokṣa-kāma udāra-dhīḥ
tīvreṇa bhakti-yogena yajeta puruṣaṁ param
“A person who has broader intelligence, whether he be full of all material desire, without any material desire, or desiring liberation, must by all means worship the supreme whole, the Personality of Godhead.”
Jñāna is also considered a means of attaining spiritual perfection. The Supreme Brahman and the living entities are beyond the material creation. The jñānīs conclude that certain transcendental activities are the only means to attain the Supreme Brahman, which is the goal of spiritual life. Although karma is sufficient for maintaining one’s body and family life, it is born of material activities and so has no potency to detach one from matter. Through karma one’s mind is trained to concentrate on the Supreme Lord, but one cannot achieve eternal benefit until material activities are given up. One achieves spiritual results only by spiritual endeavours. A living entity should first discuss the material world, and after subduing all material qualities and existence he should engage in samādhi to attain the wealth of Brahman. As long as one remains in a material body, he must accept bodily activities. There are two types of jñāna—knowledge of Brahman and knowledge of the Supreme Lord. By knowledge of Brahman a soul achieves the result of merging with Brahman. Such brahma-jñānīs do not accept the independent existence of a soul after merging. Brahman is impersonal, and when a soul is liberated he also becomes impersonal and merges with Brahman. This type of practice is a stimulation for cultivating knowledge of the Supreme Lord. As the Lord Himself says in the Bhagavad-gītā (12.3-5) concerning the purpose of devotional service:
ye tv akṣaram anirdeśyam avyaktaṁ paryupāsate
sarvatra-gam acintyaṁ ca kūṭa-stham acalaṁ dhruvam
sanniyamyendriya-grāmaṁ sarvatra sama-buddhayaḥ
te prāpnuvanti mām eva sarva-bhūta-hite ratāḥ
kleśo ‘dhikataras teṣām avyaktāsakta-cetasām
avyaktā hi gatir duḥkhaṁ dehavadbhir avāpyate
“But those who fully worship the unmanifested, that which lies beyond the perception of the senses, the all-pervading, inconceivable unchanging, fixed, and immovable—the impersonal conception of the Absolute Truth—by controlling the various senses and being equally disposed to everyone, such persons, engaged in the welfare of all, at last achieve Me. For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied.”
The main purport of these three verses is that when the material conception of a living entity is destroyed by the cultivation of brahma-jñāna, impersonal knowledge, then by the association of devotees and the mercy of the Lord, he attains the spiritually variegated Supreme Lord. The contamination of this material world pollutes the concentration, or samādhi, of the living entity so much that after giving up the material elements, from the five gross elements up to the false ego, one needs to focus on the impersonal Brahman in the beginning of one’s samādhi. But when the spirit soul transcends material pains and attains oneness with Brahman, then with fixed intelligence through samādhi he soon sees the variegatedness of Vaikuṇṭha. Then uncertainty will no longer block his ability to see the Lord. Then the beauty of Vaikuṇṭha gradually manifests and satisfies the transcendental eyes of the devotee. At this point, brahma-jñāna transforms into bhagavad-jñāna, knowledge of the Personality of Godhead. When one’s knowledge of the Supreme Lord awakens, he automatically understands all mysteries regarding the Lord. Therefore, jñāna, which is a means for achieving the Absolute Truth, is also recommended as abhidheya, or a means for achieving the ultimate goal. If one cultivates knowledge of the Supreme Lord, then there is a good possibility of awakening pure love, which is the living entities’ prayojana.
It is necessary to say one other thing about jñāna. Knowledge of the Supreme Lord is natural knowledge, whereas nescience and too much knowledge are unnatural knowledge. Nescience results in adoration of matter, and too much knowledge results in atheism and monism. Adoration of matter has two forms—positive adoration is to accept material characteristics as knowledge of the Supreme Lord and negative adoration is to accept material characteristics as the Supreme. Those who engage in positive adoration accept and worship a material image as the Supreme. Those who engage in negative worship accept the negative features of material characteristics as Brahman. Such people conclude that the Supreme is impersonal, without form, without activity, and without senses. Regarding these two classes, the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (2.10.33-35) states:
etad bhagavato rūpaṁ sthūlaṁ te vyāhṛtaṁ mayā
mahy-ādibhiś cāvaraṇair aṣṭabhir bahir āvṛtam
ataḥ paraṁ sūkṣmatamam avyaktaṁ nirviśeṣaṇam
anādi-madhya-nidhanaṁ nityaṁ vāṅ-manasaḥ param
amunī bhagavad-rūpe mayā te hy anuvarṇite
ubhe api na gṛhṇanti māyā-sṛṣṭe vipaścitaḥ
“Thus by all this, the external feature of the Personality of Godhead is covered by gross forms such as those of planets, which were explained to you by me. Therefore, beyond this [gross manifestation] is a transcendental manifestation finer than the finest form. It has no beginning, no intermediate stage, and no end; therefore, it is beyond the limits of expression or mental speculation and is distinct from the material conception. Neither of the above forms of the Lord, as just described unto you from the material angle of vision, is accepted by the pure devotees of the Lord who know Him well.”
Both of the above-mentioned features of the Lord are material. Swan-like scholars should disregard the gross and subtle features of the Lord and eternally focus on His transcendental form. Therefore, acceptance of the gross form of the Supreme as well as acceptance of the impersonal form are both products of nescience and always contradictory. When reasoning overcomes knowledge and becomes established as argument, then one does not accept the soul as eternal. In this situation the philosophy of atheism is born. When knowledge comes under the subordination of reasoning and gives up its nature, then one aspires for merging. This aspiration is born from too much knowledge and does not benefit the living entity. As stated in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (10.2.32):
ye ‘nye ‘ravindākṣa vimukta-māninas
tvayy asta-bhāvād aviśuddha-buddhayaḥ
āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ
patanty adho ‘nādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅghrayaḥ
“O lotus-eyed one, those who think they are liberated in this life but do not render devotional service to You must be of impure intelligence. Although they accept severe austerities and penances and rise to the spiritual position, to impersonal Brahman realisation, they fall down again because they neglect to worship Your lotus feet.”
Even by proper reasoning, too much knowledge cannot be beneficial. We will now give four considerations in this regard:
- If merging with the Supreme Brahman were the living entities’ ultimate goal, then we would have to imagine that the living entities have been created by the Lord out of cruelty. If we did not introduce such an improper existence, we would not feel any difficulty. If we accept Māyā as the sole creator in order to verify Brahman as faultless, then we are bound to accept an independent truth that is separate from Brahman.
- When a soul merges with Brahman, neither are benefited.
- In the eternal pastimes of the Absolute Truth there is no need for the souls to merge in Brahman.
- If one does not fully accept the quality of variegatedness, which is the manifestation of the Lord’s energies, then there is no possibility of existence, knowledge, or happiness, and as a result, the Supreme Brahman is considered impersonal and without basis. One may even develop doubts about the existence of Brahman. But if one accepts the quality of variegatedness as eternal, then the soul cannot merge with Brahman. Please refer to Māyāvāda-śata-dūṣaṇī for an elaboration on this subject.
If one can understand the relationship between knowledge and love, then one will see that there is no discord between them. The original feelings of a soul are one’s constitutional duties. These original feelings expand in two ways: (1) they expand in the form of knowledge of an object and its characteristics, and (2) they expand through the realisation of rasa. Another name for the first way is jñāna, or speculative knowledge, which is naturally dry and troublesome. Another name for the second way is prīti, or love. At the time of realising an object and its characteristics, an extraordinary feeling of rasa between the subject and object is experienced. This is called prīti. In the relationship between jñāna and prīti, we see a proportionate increase in one relative to the respective decrease in the other. As jñāna increases, prīti decreases, and as prīti increases, jñāna decreases. When jñāna attains its highest platform, then the original feelings of the soul become one. This platform is dry and totally devoid of happiness. When prīti attains its highest platform, the original feelings of the soul are not lost, rather they become alive in the subjects of sambandha, abhidheya, and prayojana and they then expand the rasa of love. Therefore, expanding love is the only prayojana for a living entity.
In the consideration of abhidheya, devotional service is accepted as the main practice. Śāṇḍilya Ṛṣi has stated in his book named Bhakti-mīmāṁsā, bhaktiḥ parānuraktir īśvare—“Pure attachment to the Supreme Lord is called bhakti.”
Bhakti, or devotional service, is defined as the activities a conditioned soul performs out of attachment for the Supersoul. Some of these activities resemble karma and some resemble jñāna. The gross bodily activities are called karma, and the subtle bodily activities are called jñāna. Devotional service is the practice meant for conditioned souls, so it cannot be called prīti, or love. When prīti is awakened it should be understood that devotional service has reached its full maturity. It is not possible to elaborately describe each of the stages of devotional service, so we will describe only the main stages. If after understanding the basic science of bhakti the esteemed reader studies devotional scriptures such as Śāṇḍilya-sūtras and Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, then all the topics related with devotional service will be understood.
Bhakti, like prīti, has two natures—opulent (based on aiśvarya) and sweet (based on mādhurya). When bhakti is attracted by the glories and opulences of the Lord, it is called aiśvarya-bhakti. A mood of servitude arises from the practitioners’ feelings of insignificance. The Lord is known as the extraordinary master due to His supremely opulent aspect. Then the Lord, who is supremely opulent, appears as the King of kings, Nārāyaṇa, and bestows auspiciousness on the living entities. This is not temporary, it is eternal and ever-lasting. The Supreme Lord is by nature full of all opulences. One cannot separate opulences from the Lord. But He also possesses a wonderfully sweet feature, which is superior to that of opulence. When the sweet nature of bhakti becomes prominent, then the sweet feature of the Lord is manifest and the opulent nature of bhakti becomes invisible, just as the moon is invisible in the presence of the sun. When the nature of opulence becomes invisible, then the Lord becomes the subject of higher rasas. Then the heart of a practitioner takes shelter of different rasas like sakhya, vātsalya, and mādhurya. The Lord then manifests as Kṛṣṇa, the personification of compassion for His devotees, the abode of supreme bliss, and the attractor of everyone’s heart. It is not that Kṛṣṇa has manifested from Nārāyaṇa, but They are both eternally wonderful and ever-lasting. The different forms of the Lord manifest according to the nature and qualification of the devotee. The personality of Kṛṣṇa is the shelter of the topmost of the five primary rasas of the living entities, therefore Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is accepted as the topmost personality in the science of bhakti and prīti. This subject has been clearly explained in Śrī Kṛṣṇa-saṁhitā.
If we deeply consider, we can understand that only topics concerning the Lord should be discussed. In order to understand the non-dual truth, we have to consider the three features of the Absolute Truth described in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (1.2.11):
vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvaṁ yaj jñānam advayam
brahmeti paramātmeti bhagavān iti śabdyate
“Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramātmā, or Bhagavān.”
At first, due to indirect perception, the Absolute Truth is known as Brahman. The direct form of Brahman is not visible; only an indirect form of the Absolute Truth is realised through jñāna. Attainment of knowledge is the highest achievement of inquiry into Brahman. Yet in Brahman one cannot relish knowledge, because in Brahman there is no difference between the enjoyer and the enjoyed. In the second case, through the help of direct and indirect features, the Paramātmā, or Supersoul, is known by the individual soul. Although in this case there is a hint of difference [between the soul and Supersoul], due to the absence of the complete form of the Lord, this feature of Paramātmā is only known through artificial samādhi. At this juncture the devotee and the Lord cannot fully manifest variegated exchanges. The Lord, or Bhagavān, is the only worshipable truth. He is therefore mentioned in the conclusion of the previously quoted verse. Among the many qualities of the Lord, He is manifest as Brahman by one of those qualities and as Paramātmā by another of those qualities. But when all the qualities are gathered together, the feature of the Lord described in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (2.9.35), yathā mahānti bhūtāni—“just as the universal elements,” becomes manifest in the heart of the living entities through samādhi. Of all the names (A) God, goodness, fame; (B) Allah, greatness, opulence; (C) Supersoul, spirituality, renunciation; and (D) Brahma, spiritual unity, and jñāna are different names and qualities of the Lord as found in different countries and forms of the Lord current in the world, the form of Bhagavān mentioned in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is the most pure. That is why the Paramahaṁsa-saṁhitā is known as the Bhāgavata. The Absolute Truth, Bhagavān, is the source of all qualities. The word Bhagavān refers to six principle qualities mentioned in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa (6.5.47) as follows:
aiśvaryasya samagrasya vīryasya yaśasaḥ śriyaḥ
jñāna-vairāgyayoś caiva saṇṇāṁ bhaga itiṅgana
“Bhagavān, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is He who is full in six opulences. He has full strength, fame, wealth, knowledge, beauty, and renunciation.”
It is to be understood at this point that the Lord is not simply a collection of qualities, rather the qualities are naturally manifest in a particular form. Among the six qualities of the Lord, opulence and beauty are seen as one in His form. The other four qualities shine brightly as His characteristics. In the opulent form of the Lord the quantity of enjoyment is less, while in the sweet form of the Lord enjoyment is more relishable, because only sweetness is experienced. Opulence and the five other qualities are identified as characteristics of that form. There is naturally an inverse ratio between sweetness and opulence. Opulence decreases in proportion to the increase in sweetness, and sweetness decreases in proportion to the increase in opulence. The wonderful feature of sweetness in the Lord is exhibited by independence and equality between the devotee and the Lord. In this position the Lord maintains His features as the supreme controller, as Brahman, and as Paramātmā, because the Absolute Truth naturally remains nondual, although according to the qualifications of the devotees He appears differently. The form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is the sweet kadamba flower of mādhurya-rasa, is the only independent object of spiritual cultivation.
As Śukadeva Gosvāmī described the rāsa-līlā, Mahārāja Parīkṣit had a doubt whether cultivation of God consciousness without a tinge of opulence could be successful, so he inquired:
kṛṣṇaṁ viduḥ paraṁ kāntaṁ na tu brahmatayā mune
guṇa-pravāhoparamas tāsāṁ guṇa-dhiyāṁ katham
“O sage, the gopīs knew Kṛṣṇa only as their lover, not as the Supreme Absolute Truth. So how could these girls, their minds caught up in the waves of the modes of nature, free themselves from material attachment?” (Bhāg. 10.29.12)
In response to his question, Śukadeva Gosvāmī replied:
uktaṁ purastād etat te caidyaḥ siddhiṁ yathā gataḥ
dviṣann api hṛṣīkeśaṁ kim utādhokṣaja-priyāḥ
nṛṇāṁ niḥśreyasārthāya vyaktir bhagavato nṛpa
avyayasyāprameyasya nirguṇasya guṇātmanaḥ
“This point was explained to you previously. Since even Śiśupāla, who hated Kṛṣṇa, achieved perfection, then what to speak of the Lord’s dear devotees. O King, the Supreme Lord is inexhaustible and immeasurable, and He is untouched by the material modes because He is their controller. His personal appearance in this world is meant for bestowing the highest benefit on humanity.” (Bhāg. 10.29.13-14)
Among the six qualities, headed by opulence, the quality of beauty is the best. This was concluded by Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Therefore, those who support this—whether kaniṣṭha-adhikārī or uttama-adhikārī—will attain the supreme goal. By the strength of their sādhana, the kaniṣṭha-adhikārīs give up connection with material qualities, which are born from pious and impious activities, and become uttama-adhikārīs and thus achieve Kṛṣṇa, while the uttama-adhikārīs receive some uddīpana, or instigation, and enter the rāsa dance.
The primary symptoms of bhakti are described in the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, (Pūrva-vibhāga 1.9) as follows:
ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānu- śīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā
“One should render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa favourably and without desire for material profit or gain through fruitive activities or philosophical speculation. That is called pure devotional service.”
The symptom of pure bhakti is favourable loving service. But favourable loving service unto whom—Brahman, Paramātmā, or Nārāyaṇa? No, it is not to Brahman, because Brahman is an impersonal object of thought. Devotion has no shelter in Brahman. Nor is loving service offered to Paramātmā, because Paramātmā is known through the path of yoga. Therefore, Paramātmā is not the object of devotion. Nor is devotional service exactly meant for Nārāyaṇa, because all the propensities of bhakti cannot take shelter of Nārāyaṇa. When a living entity’s knowledge of and thirst for Brahman is given up, then knowledge of the Supreme Lord arises along with śānta-rasa. This rasa is meant for Nārāyaṇa. But this rasa has an indifferent mood. When affection for Nārāyaṇa arises, then the relationship between servant and Lord awakens. With the feature of Nārāyaṇa, however, this relationship cannot advance further, because the form of Nārāyaṇa can never be the goal for sakhya, vātsalya, or mādhurya rasas. Who will have the courage to put his arm around Nārāyaṇa’s neck and say, “O my friend, I have brought some gift for You. Please take it.” Which living entity is able to take Nārāyaṇa on their lap and kiss Him in a parental mood? Who can say, “O my beloved, You are the Lord of my life. I am Your wife.” How great is Nārāyaṇa, the Lord of immense opulence and King of kings, and how incapable are the insignificant, poor, and fallen living entities! For such living entities it is extremely difficult to give up the fear, respect, and worship of Lord Nārāyaṇa. But the worshipable Lord is most merciful and always absorbed in loving pastimes. When the Lord sees the living entity’s advancement and awakening of rasas such as sakhya, then the Lord mercifully becomes the object of those advanced rasas and enjoys transcendental pastimes with the living entity. Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra is the ideal object for the propensities of bhakti. Therefore, cultivation of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the ideal symptom of pure devotional service. In this cultivation of Kṛṣṇa consciousness one should not maintain any desire other than the advancement of his constitutional duties. If one cultivates the desire for liberation or sense gratification, then one’s rasa will not develop and his cultivation will result in jñāna or karma. One should be careful that fruitive activities and speculative knowledge do not cover this wonderful subtle propensity. If jñāna covers this propensity, then one will be attracted to Brahman and lose one’s identity. If karma covers this propensity, then one’s heart will become attached to dull fruitive activities like an ordinary smārta and one will ultimately leave Kṛṣṇa to engage in atheistic activities. Qualities like anger are also a type of cultivation, but by cultivating Kṛṣṇa consciousness in such a mood one will taste the opposing rasa enjoyed by Kaṁsa. Therefore, this type of cultivation is unfavourable. At this juncture one may argue that if bhakti is like karma and jñāna, then the names “karma” and “jñāna” should have been sufficient. What is the need of uselessly naming some practices bhakti? The answer to this question is that the science of bhakti cannot be explained in the name of karma and jñāna. There are separate results in constitutional, conditional, and desirous activities. The principle goal of all activities is to attain one’s constitutional occupation—of this there is no doubt. But all activities have their own irrelevant fruits. For example, the irrelevant fruits of bodily activities are nourishment of the body and sensual pleasure. No one can deny this. The irrelevant fruits of mental activities are happiness of the heart and sharpness of the intelligence. One who surpasses these irrelevant fruits and searches for the principle fruit may develop a devotional mood in his activities. That is why activities with irrelevant fruits are known as karma-kāṇḍa. Karma and bhakti have been scientifically divided in order to incorporate the favourable fruits of karma into bhakti. Similarly, jñāna that simply aims at liberation is called jñāna-kāṇḍa, while the favourable fruits of jñāna that help one progress towards the goal of life have been incorporated into bhakti. There is something more to be said in this regard. If all karma and jñāna aim at attaining the principle fruit, then they may be considered bhakti. But only some karma is meant for attaining the principle fruit. These activities are identified as direct devotional service. Some examples are worshiping the Lord, chanting japa, following devotional vows, visiting holy places, studying devotional scriptures, and serving the devotees. When other karmas and their irrelevant fruits aim at the principle fruit, then they may be called indirect devotional service. Similarly, knowledge of the Supreme Lord is closer to bhakti than knowledge of Brahman or feelings of renunciation. If renunciation and knowledge of Brahman, along with their irrelevant fruit, liberation from māyā, helps one achieve attraction for the Lord, then they are also included in bhakti.
Another name for karma-kāṇḍa is karma-yoga, and another name for jñāna-kāṇḍa is jñāna-yoga or Sāṅkhya-yoga. The main purpose of sādhana is to awaken one’s attraction for the Supreme Lord. When favourable karma and jñāna are dovetailed with bhakti they are called bhakti-yoga. Those who cannot understand this synthesis are improperly engaged either in fruitive activities, speculative knowledge, or demigod worship. It is indicated in the Bhagavad-gītā (5.4, 5, 7):
sāṅkhya-yogau pṛthag bālāḥ pravadanti na paṇḍitāḥ
ekam apy āsthitaḥ samyag ubhayor vindate phalam
“Only the ignorant speak of devotional service [karma-yoga] as being different from the analytical study of the material world [Sāṅkhya]. Those who are actually learned say that he who applies himself well to one of these paths achieves the results of both.
yat sāṅkhyaiḥ prāpyate sthānaṁ tad yogair api gamyate
ekaṁ sāṅkhyaṁ ca yogaṁ ca yaḥ paśyati sa paśyati
“One who knows that the position reached by means of analytical study can also be attained by devotional service, and who therefore sees analytical study and devotional service to be on the same level, sees things as they are.
yoga-yukto viśuddhātmā vijitātmā jitendriyaḥ
sarva-bhūtātma-bhūtātmā kurvann api na lipyate
“One who works in devotion, who is a pure soul, and who controls his mind and senses is dear to everyone, and everyone is dear to him. Though always working, such a man is never entangled.”
In other words, such a person performs physical, mental, and household activities up to the end of his life without accepting the irrelevant fruits of his activities, because all his activities and irrelevant fruits are engaged simply in nourishing attraction for the Supreme Lord, which is the principle fruit. The purport is that the above-mentioned yogi who can synthesis his various activities is worshipable and superior to the karma-yogis who have attained perfections such as aṇimā and laghimā or the jñāna-yogis who are attached to liberation. The wonderful process of bhakti-yoga has three phases—sādhana, bhāva, and prema.
Due to forgetfulness of one’s identity, the conditioned living entity under the influence of false ego identifies with his body. The prīti that is the constitutional nature of a living entity is at present pervertedly transformed into prīti for objects of the senses. In this condition one should endeavour to follow pratyag-gati for attaining one’s constitutional duties. Under the influence of the false ego, the living entity accepts a form made of material elements and their qualities and with an irreligious mentality and the help of the senses experiences happiness and distress. This material attachment is called the current of parāg. In other words, one’s internal feelings are improperly flowing externally. When this current is brought back from external objects, it is called the current of pratyak. The method by which this is achieved is called sādhana-bhakti. When one’s original propensities are carried away by the perverted current and the instrument of the senses, then one becomes absorbed in material objects. These propensities then become absorbed in material sense objects—tasting through the tongue, smelling through the nose, seeing through the eyes, hearing through the ears, and feeling through the skin. This current is so powerful that it is not possible for the mind to check it. The process for checking this current is mentioned in the Bhagavad-gītā (2.59) as follows:
viṣayā vinivartante nirāhārasya dehinaḥ
rasa-varjaṁ raso ‘py asya paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate
There are two ways for checking this current. If an embodied soul is deprived of sense enjoyment, his taste for sense objects will certainly be checked. But it is impossible for an embodied soul to remain aloof from material sense objects. So if there is another process to check this current, then it is one’s duty to follow that process. There is one ultimate process to divert the current of attachment from sense objects. When the current of attachment meets rasa, it is enchanted. So if that current is diverted to a rasa that is superior to material rasa, it will naturally accept the superior rasa. As stated in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (1.5.34):
evaṁ nṛṇāṁ kriyā-yogāḥ sarve saṁsṛti-hetavaḥ
ta evātma-vināśāya kalpante kalpitāḥ pare
“Thus when all a man’s activities are dedicated to the service of the Lord, those very activities which caused his perpetual bondage become the destroyer of the tree of work.”
This is the principle truth of sādhana on the path of rāga. The whole life of a sādhaka on the path of rāga is dedicated to cultivating Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This cultivation is divided into seven categories. These seven categories of cultivation are naturally reciprocal practices. If one is unable to synthesis these practices, then one must take shelter of a qualified ācārya. One who has synthesised these practices in his behaviour leads the life of a Vaiṣṇava, his family life is God-centered, and his existence is godly. When one is liberated from material life, he begins to practice unalloyed devotional service. Until one is liberated he should cultivate all seven items mentioned on the following pages as follows:
It is the duty of everyone to follow these seven categories of cultivation. But all the descriptions are not to be performed by everyone, because there is a need to consider one’s qualification.
- Spiritual cultivation— (1) Prīti and (2) realisation of sambandha, abhidheya, and prayojana.
- Mental cultivation— (1) Remembrance, (2) thinking, (3) meditation, (4) concentrated meditation, (5) samādhi, (6) consideration on the science of sambandha, (7) repentance, (8) yama. Truthfulness, refraining from theft, giving up bad association, intelligence, not accumulating more than necessary, religiosity, celibacy, refraining from unnecessary talk, steadiness, forgiveness, and fearlessness, and (9) purification of the heart.
- Bodily cultivation— (1) Niyamas. Cleanliness, japa, austerity, sacrifice, faith, hospitality, worship, pilgrimage, welfare work, satisfaction, proper behavior, and serving the spiritual master, (2) serving others, (3) seeing and touching the devotees and the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, (4) praying, (5) hearing, (6) engaging the senses in devotional service, (7) transformations of ecstatic love, and (8) developing the mood of servitude to the Lord.
- Cultivation of speech—(1) Chanting hymns, (2) studying, (3) kīrtana, (4) teaching, (5) praying, and (6) preaching.
- Cultivation of one’s relationship— (1) śānta, (2) dāsya, (3) sakhya, (4) vātsalya, and (5) kānta. There are two types of relationships—with the Lord and with the Lord’s associates.
- Social cultivation—(1) Varṇa—brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, and śūdra—their occupations and positions are divided according to people’s nature, (2) āśrama—gṛhastha, brahmācārya, vānaprastha, and sannyāsa—divided according to peoples’ social situation, (3) assemblies, (4) general festivals, and (5) activities like sacrifice.
- Cultivation of sense objects—The following sense objects help one in the development of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. (1) The objects for the eyes are the Deity, the temple, the scriptures, the holy places, spiritual dramas, and spiritual festivals; (2) the objects for the ears are the scriptures, songs, lectures, and conversations; (3) the objects for the nose are tulasī, flowers, sandalwood, and other fragrant items offered to the Lord; (4) the objects for the tongue are kīrtana and taking a vow to accept only the palatable foodstuffs and drinks that were offered to the Lord; (5) the objects for the touch are the air of holy places, pure water, the body of a Vaiṣṇava, the soft bed offered to Kṛṣṇa, and association with a chaste woman in order to propagate a God-centered family; (6) the times like Hari-vāsara (Ekādaśī) and festive days; and (7) the places like Vṛndāvana, Navadvīpa, Jagannātha Purī, and Naimiṣāraṇya.
If one’s attachment experiences the higher taste of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then that attachment will naturally give up material objects and be absorbed in that higher taste. When attachment is absorbed in material objects, how can it experience a higher taste? Therefore, Vaiṣṇavas, who are the well-wishers of all living entities, have devised a process for dovetailing material objects with Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Although the creation of Māyā is a perverted reflection of the pure Absolute Truth, she is the maidservant of the Lord and always engaged in His service. So if one desires to worship Kṛṣṇa through Māyā, she abandons her adverse aspect and accepts that worship with respect as a devotee. This is the great mystery of the Vaiṣṇava faith. In order to establish the Vaiṣṇava family for the welfare of the living entities, Śrī Nārada Gosvāmī gave Vyāsadeva the following hint in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (1.5.20):
idaṁ hi viśvaṁ bhagavān ivetaro
tad dhi svayaṁ veda bhavāṁs tathāpi te
prādeśa-mātraṁ bhavataḥ pradarśitam
“Know for certain that this material world is non-different from the Lord because it is created, maintained, and annihilated by Him. The spiritual world, Vaikuṇṭha, is the Lord’s eternal abode. This visible material world is only the reflection of Vaikuṇṭha. The ingredients, existence, and nature of this material world are therefore simply imitations of Vaikuṇṭha. The conditioned living entities are the enjoyers of this material world. The fault of the material world is that the living entities here are rebellious by nature. O Vyāsadeva, don’t be afraid of describing the pastimes of the Lord through the medium of this material world, because, in truth, describing the material world is the same as describing Vaikuṇṭha, for they are considered material or spiritual only due to one’s conviction. If you describe this material world in terms of its relationship with the Supreme Lord, then your attachment for Vaikuṇṭha will automatically awaken. This fact is already known to you through your own self-realisation. Since you have asked me, I have given you this synopsis. Please, therefore, describe the pastimes of the Lord through the process of natural samādhi and thus guide the living entities toward Vaikuṇṭha. You have previously described mundane religious principles and the process of pseudo samādhi, which are not always beneficial.”
People who follow the pratyak current have established the whole world as a Vaiṣṇava family by dovetailing material objects in God consciousness. People who enjoy eating grains can eat mahā-prasāda that has been offered to the Lord, and in this way practice the pratyak current of the tongue. Similarly, those who are fond of hearing can hear the names and pastimes of the Lord and thus practice the pratyak current of the ears. In this way they gradually engage their senses and sense objects in the service of the Lord and thus increase their internal current of rāga by providing their senses a higher taste. This is called sādhana-bhakti. In order to deliver the living entities from the atheistic mentality of, “I am the enjoyer,” Śrī Mahādeva, who is worshiped by all Vaiṣṇavas, has established in the tantras different methods such as latā-sādhana, vāmācāra, vīrācāra, and paśvācāra. Ultimately, Śrī Mahādeva has established the Supreme Lord as the enjoyer and the living entities as the enjoyed and created a platform from which one can achieve a higher taste from material sense objects. There is no contradiction between the tantra-śāstras and Vaiṣṇava śāstras. They are simply different provisions on the path of rāga for people of different qualifications. Sādhana-bhakti is divided into nine processes as described in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (7.9.23):
śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam
arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanam
“Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia, and pastimes of Lord Viṣṇu, remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship with sixteen types of paraphernalia, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming His servant, considering the Lord one’s best friend, and surrendering everything unto Him (in other words, serving Him with the body, mind, and words)—these are the nine processes of sādhana-bhakti.” Some ṛṣis have divided these nine processes into sixty-four processes. Various people have attained perfection by following either one of the processes, some of the processes, or all of the processes.
There are two types of sādhana-bhakti—vaidhi and rāgānugā. Those practitioners whose rāga has not yet awakened are eligible for vaidhi-bhakti, in the form of scriptural injunctions. They are followers of the pure devotees. The practices of those who have no rāga but who try to imitate the rāga of the ācārya and thus engage in sādhana are called rāgānugā-sādhana. This is also a form of regulated devotional service. But in its mature stage, rāgānugā-sādhana is no longer controlled by regulations.
When sādhana-bhakti matures, or when a little bhāva awakens by the association of devotees, the jurisdiction of vaidhi-bhakti is crossed. The symptoms of the nine processes of devotional service are found equally in both sādhana-bhakti and bhāva-bhakti, but in bhāva-bhakti they are more deep. In bhāva-bhakti the internal mood of a servant, friend, or surrendered soul becomes more prominent. In sādhana-bhakti gross bodily activities are more prominent. But in bhāva-bhakti the activities of the spiritually reflected subtle body, being very close to the subtle existence of the soul, are more prominent than gross bodily activities. In this situation one’s bodily requirements diminish and one’s desire and endeavour to attain prayojana become very strong. At that time one develops from among the limbs of sādhana-bhakti a special taste for chanting the holy names.
When bhāva matures, prema-bhakti awakens. As long as one is connected with the material world, prema-bhakti cannot attain pure prīti but remains a replica of pure prīti. Persons who have attained the stage of prema-bhakti achieve all puruṣārthas. Their pure powerful existence weakens their gross and spiritually reflected, or subtle, existences. There is no superior state in life than this.
Many apparent contradictions may be found in the characteristics of persons in prema-bhakti. Their characteristics, however, are actually most pure and independent. Regulations or reason cannot control them. They are not under the control of any scriptural or sectarian injunctions. Their activities emanate from compassion, and their knowledge is naturally pure. They are beyond the dualities of piety and impiety or religion and irreligion. They always remain situated in the self, and they always see Vaikuṇṭha, even though they may reside in a material body.
Ordinary people do not give them much respect, because kaniṣṭha and madhyama-adhikārīs are unable to understand their qualification and thus criticise them. They perfectly understand the purport of the scriptures, and according to the situation they sometimes act contrary to those injunctions. Seeing this, ass-like people may call them misbehaved. Sectarian people who see that they are not decorated with the signs of a sect conclude that they are irreligious. Logicians who see their loving dealings may consider those dealings unreasonable. Dry renunciates who see their physical and family endeavours may mistakenly consider them as attached to their house or body. Persons attached to material enjoyment who see their detachment from work may suspect that they are inefficient. Jñānīs who see their indifference towards impersonalism may consider them unreasonable. Materialists may consider them mad. But actually they are fully independent and spiritually situated. For all such people the prema-bhaktas are aimless and incomprehensible.
Although the exalted prema-bhaktas’ devotional service sometimes resembles fruitive activities, it is never actually tinged with karma, because whatever activities they perform are only meant for their liberation from fruitive activities, not entanglement. Although their devotional service sometimes resembles speculative knowledge, it is never actually tinged with jñāna, because their pure knowledge is not polluted with the dirt of impersonalism or voidism. Although knowledge and renunciation is their wealth, they do not consider these part of their devotional service, because it has been concluded that bhakti is different from knowledge and renunciation.
The swan-like prema-bhaktas are worshipable examples for all devotees even though they act like a farmer amongst farmers, a businessman amongst businessmen, a servant amongst servants, a general amongst soldiers, a husband with his wife, a parent with his child, a wife with her husband, a child with its parents, a brother with his brothers, a chastiser with the criminals, a king with his subjects, a subject with his king, a thoughtful person amongst the learned, a doctor with his patient, or a patient with his doctor. By the mercy of the pure devotees, we are constantly desiring with undeviating attention the shelter of the lotus feet of the divine couple, who is their only wealth. O prema-bhakta mahājanas! Please shower the rain of your mercy, in the form of your association, and moisten our hard heart, which is attached to argument and crushed by material enjoyment. Let the wonderful transcendental truth of the divine couple, who are the Absolute Truth without second, be reflected in our purified and melted heart.
śrī kṛṣṇārpanam astu