Anyway, that assembly gathered long after the battle of Kurukṣetra. There is no doubt about this.
The Darśana-śāstras, philosophical scriptures, were compiled a short time after the compilation of the Mahābhārata. There are six prominent philosophical systems current in India—Nyāya, or logic; Sāṅkhya; Pātañjala, or yoga; Kāṇāda, or Vaiśeṣika; Pūrva-mīmāṁsā, or Karma-mīmāṁsā; and Uttara-mīmāṁsā, or Vedānta. All these philosophical systems were introduced after Buddhism. The ṛṣis who propounded these systems first composed these philosophies in sūtras. The Vedic sūtras were compiled to facilitate easy remembrance, but this was not the case with the sūtras of these philosophical systems. When the brāhmaṇas were attacked by the mighty Buddhist philosophy, they first compiled the Upaniṣads, which are the pinnacle of Vedic literature, and thus strengthened their doctrine with logic and argument. The Buddhists gradually presented many philosophical systems such as Saugata, Mādhyamika, and Yogācāra. Soon afterwards they entered into intense debate with the brāhmaṇas. The brāhmaṇas then introduced their six philosophical systems, beginning with Nyāya and Sāṅkhya, keeping them in the form of sūtras and passing them on only to their disciples. During the time of Rāmacandra some Vedic logic in the form of Ānvikṣīkī was composed by Gautama Ṛṣi and was current at that time. According to their needs, the brāhmaṇas composed the present system of Nyāya under Gautama’s name and substituted it for the previous system. In Gautama’s sūtras there is a tendency to counter the Saugata philosophy.
notpattivināśakāraṇopalabdheḥ. na payasaḥ pariṇāma-guṇāntara prādurbhāvāt
“No, [things are not momentary and created out of nothing] because there is perception of the causes of generation and destruction. No, the milk [that became yogurt was not destroyed, it] was only transformed, which means new qualities were manifest.” Gautama–sūtras (3.2.12, 15).
The scriptures of Kaṇāda come under the category of Nyāya scriptures. In the system of Sāṅkhya there are also many statements against Buddhism. The system of Pātañjala falls under the category of Sāṅkhya. The Pūrva-mīmāṁsā propounded by Jaimini supports the karma-kāṇḍa system that was rejected by the Buddhists. Although Vedānta scriptures are the most recent, they have been accepted as another form of Ānvikṣīkī, since they are based on the Upaniṣads. Therefore, all philosophical scriptures were written in the 800 years between 400 B.C. to 400 A.D.
The Purāṇas were compiled after the Darśana-śāstras, or philosophical scriptures. The Purāṇas that are mentioned in the Mahābhārata and Bṛhad–āraṇyaka Upaniṣad are composed of Vedic stories. There are eighteen in all. The Mārkeṇḍeya Purāṇa is the oldest, because there is no mention of future kings in it. The Mārkeṇḍeya Purāṇa contains explanations of the Dharma-śāstras, glorifications of the sun-god and goddess Durgā, and elimination of doubts regarding the Mahābhārata. The story of King Suratha of the Caitra dynasty is also given. From this it is understood that the Mārkeṇḍeya Purāṇa may have been written after the kings of the Citranāga dynasty of Choṭanāgapura were defeated by the Kolas [Cholas]. This is confirmed by the word kolāvidvaṁsinaḥ. At that time the brāhmaṇas and kṣatriyas created by Paraśurāma were very prominent in India. Therefore, it has been concluded that this Purāṇa was written after 500 A.D. Among the other Purāṇas, the Viṣṇu Purāṇa is the most respected. It was compiled just after the Mārkeṇḍeya Purāṇa. There is no doubt that the Viṣṇu Purāṇa was composed by a South Indian scholar because it is stated therein that people should begin their meal with tasty preparations and finish with bitter preparations. This practice is current in South India. The author of the Viṣṇu Purāṇa has mentioned in his book the particular system of eating found in his own province. The Āryans, however, ate sweets at the end of their meal. The Viṣṇu Purāṇa was written about 600 A.D. Other Purāṇas like the Padma and Skanda Purāṇas were written around 800 A.D., because those Purāṇas contain discussions of modern philosophies.
māyāvādam asac-chāstraṁ pracchannaṁ bauddham ucyate
mayaiva vihitaṁ devī kalau brāhmaṇa-mūrtinā
[Lord Śiva informed the goddess Durgā, the superintendent of the material world,] “In the age of Kali I take the form of a brāhmaṇa and explain the Vedas through false scriptures in an atheistic way, similar to Buddhist philosophy.”
These Purāṇas were written after Śaṅkarācārya preached his philosophy of advaita-vāda, or monism. In his commentary, he quotes verses from the Viṣṇu Purāṇa, so it is believed that Viṣṇu Purāṇa was written before his time.
Now we will consider the modern scholars view on the date of the appearance of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, the jewel of all scriptures. Not understanding our statements, third-grade people may lose all faith and consider this scripture a recent work. Therefore, they should not read this section. Actually Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is not a recent book. It is eternal and ancient like the Vedas. Respected Śrīdhara Svāmī has confirmed the eternality of the Bhāgavatam by using the words tārāṅkuraḥ sajjaniḥ. Śrīmad Bhāgavatam has been accepted as the supreme fruit of the Vedic desire tree.
nigama-kalpa-taror galitaṁ phalaṁ
pibata bhāgavataṁ rasam ālayaṁ
muhur aho rasikā bhuvi bhāvukāḥ
“O expert and thoughtful men, relish Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, the mature fruit of the desire tree of Vedic literatures. It emanated from the lips of Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Therefore, this fruit has become even more tasteful, although its nectarean juice was already relishable for all, including liberated souls.” (Bhāg. 1.1.3).
From praṇava (oṁ) came Gāyatrī, from Gāyatrī came the Vedas, from the Vedas came the Brahma-sūtras, and from the Brahma-sūtras came Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. This Paramahaṁsa–saṁhitā consists of inconceivable topics in relation with the Supreme Truth that have brightly risen in the form of a sat-cid-ānanda sun after being reflected through the samādhi of the author. Those who have eyes should see, those who have ears should hear, and those who have a mind should meditate on the topics of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. People who are infected by the blindness of partiality are deprived of the sweet taste of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. Let the supremely conscious Lord be merciful by destroying their blindness.
Śrīmad Bhāgavatam has no birth because it is eternal, without beginning or end. Nevertheless, it is extremely desirable to ascertain when, where, and by whom this literature was manifested according to modern opinion. Modern scholars have concluded that Vyāsadeva wrote Śrīmad Bhāgavatam on the bank of the Sarasvatī River under the instructions of Nārada Muni, the knower of the truth. Being dissatisfied after writing the scriptures, Vyāsadeva presented the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam after visualising the Absolute Truth through samādhi. He presented Śrīmad Bhāgavatam for the benefit of third-class people, who are unable to understand the deep meaning of a subject. Those great personalities who wrote the scriptures were all known as Vyāsas, and they were all respected by people in general. In this regard, the title Vyāsa indicates all Vyāsas, beginning from Vedavyāsa up to the Vyāsa who wrote Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. When he was unable to ascertain the Absolute Truth after studying all the scriptures, then Vyāsadeva, who is expert in the spiritual science, withdrew his mind and speech from those literatures, realised the Truth through samādhi, and then wrote the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. The modern scholars also say that Śrīmad Bhāgavatam appeared in Drāviḍa-deśa (South India) about 1,000 years ago. The living entity has a natural inclination for being attached to his native place. Therefore, even great personalities have this inclination to some extent. Due to the glorification found in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam of Drāviḍa-deśa, which is not very ancient, it appears that Vyāsadeva was a native of that place.
kṛtādiṣu prajā rājan kalāv icchanti sambhavam
kalau khalu bhaviṣyanti nārāyaṇa-parāyaṇāḥ
kvacit kvacin mahā-rāja draviḍeṣu ca bhūriśaḥ
tāmraparṇī nadī yatra kṛtamālā payasvinī
kāverī ca mahā-puṇyā pratīcī ca mahā-nadī
ye pibanti jalaṁ tāsāṁ manujā manujeśvara
prāyo bhaktā bhagavati vāsudeve ‘malāśayāḥ
“My dear King, the inhabitants of Satya-yuga and other ages eagerly desire to take birth in this age of Kali, since in this age there will be many devotees of the Supreme Lord, Nārāyaṇa. These devotees will appear in various places but will be especially numerous in South India. O master of men, in the age of Kali those persons who drink the waters of the holy rivers of Draviḍa-deśa, such as the Tāmraparṇī, Kṛtamālā, Payasvinī, the extremely pious Kāverī and the Pratīcī Mahānadī, will almost all be pure-hearted devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vāsudeva.” (Bhāg. 11.5.38-40).
If the glories of Drāviḍa-deśa were mentioned in other scriptures, then we would have no right to give this conclusion. Our conclusion is further confirmed by the mention of a very recent holy place in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.
dṛṣṭvādriṁ veṅkaṭaṁ prabhuḥ
“In the southern provinces known as Draviḍa-deśa the Supreme Lord saw the sacred Veṅkaṭa Hill.” (Bhāg. 10.79.13).
It is stated in the Veṅkaṭa-māhātmya, which is popular in the South, that Veṅkaṭa-tīrtha was established when Lakṣmī-devī went to Kolapura from Chola. Kolapura is situated to the south of Satara. The Chalukya kings defeated the Cholas in the eight century and established a large kingdom in that province. Therefore, Lakṣmī went to Kolapura and Veṅkaṭa was established at that time. For this reason, they do not hesitate to accept that Śrīmad Bhāgavatam was written in the ninth century. Śaṭhakopa, Yāmunācārya, and Rāmānujācārya vigorously preached Vaiṣṇavism in the tenth century. They were also from Drāviḍa-deśa. They all highly respected Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, so we cannot accept that Śrīmad Bhāgavatam was written after the ninth century. Furthermore, when Śrīdhara Svāmī wrote his commentary on the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam in the eleventh century, there were already a few commentaries like Hanumad-bhāṣya available. So there is no need to further consider this matter. I have not found a means of determining the family name of the author of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. Whoever he may be, we are grateful, and with awe and reverence we accept that great personality, Vyāsadeva, as the spiritual master of the swan-like people. We disagree with this type of conclusion. This type of belief cannot be called faith.
So far I have described the modern opinion on the dating of the scriptures that we are concerned with. There is no need to analyse all the scriptures of the Āryans. There were many other ancient scriptures studied by the Āryans. After considering the views of Playfair Sahib, Mahatma Archdikan Prat Sahib has decided that astrology was current in Āryāvarta 1000 years before the beginning of Kali-yuga. Prior to that the Vedas existed in the form of śruti, or hearing. Wilford Sahib has determined that the Vedic astrologer Parāśara Ṛṣi wrote his astrology book in 1391 B.C. According to the opinion of Davis Sahib, this is confirmed in a verse of the Atharva Veda. But the possibility that this verse on astrology in the Atharva Veda was later added on was not considered by Wilford Sahib. According to our opinion, Archdikan Prat’s calculation is more acceptable, because the stars named after the seven ṛṣis were originally named after the Prajāpatis. Since there was no written language at that time, astrology was expressed through various signs. In this way, medicine, in the form of ayurveda, was practiced since very ancient times. If we consider all these things, this book will become voluminous, so we stop here. We have described the various books that directly and indirectly explain the spiritual science in the following chart.
We have thus described the dating of incidents and scriptures as far as possible according to modern opinion. Swan-like people are not interested in quarrel.
vāda-vādāṁs tyajet tarkān pakṣaṁ kaṁca na saṁśrayet
“One should not indulge in arguments and counter-arguments. Nor should one take shelter of any cause or faction.” (Bhāg. 7.13.7)
Therefore if some contrary conclusion is presented with proper argument, we will accept it. We hope to hear further on these conclusions from future transcendentalists or intelligent materialists.
According to our scriptures, the calculation of the dates are not like this. We believe only the statements of the scriptures. I have presented the modern conclusions for the benefit of the concerned people. According to them the beginning of the Āryans’ rule in India was 6,341 years ago. We have thus established the incomparably long history of India. No other civilisation can compare with it. It is said that Egypt, or Misore, is a very ancient country. It is estimated from the descriptions of Menitho, a historian from Misore, that people started living in that country in 3553 B.C. The name of their first king was Minis. It is calculated that his rule began when Hariścandra was ruling India. The strange thing is this: There was a king named Maniscandra who was a contemporary of Hariścandra. It may be noted how similar the names Maniscandra and Minis are. It is also said that King Minis came to Egypt from some eastern country. The great pyramid was created by the Suphu dynasty. A king named Hiksas from the east attacked Egypt about 2000 B.C., or about two hundred years before the battle of Kurukṣetra. A religion similar to varṇāśrama-dharma was previously practiced in Egypt. From these facts it appears there was some kind of connection between Egypt and India. Let future scholars research more about this. According to the opinion of the Hebrews, their kingdom was created around 4000 B.C., probably from the time of King Śrāvasta. It is difficult, however, to prove these things nowadays. When the situation of the Hebrews and Misore [Egypt] is such, there is no need to mention other races. Descriptions of incidents prior to the time of King Minis of Egypt are uncommon. The 1,000 year life history of Adam of the Hebrews has become the subject of discussion for the third-grade people of that country. Modern scholars of India compare his life-span with the seventy-one mahā–yuga life-span of a Manu or the 1,000 year life-span of Daśaratha. Swan-like people should not think that we are trying to establish India as the oldest country in order to increase its prestigious position. Since swan-like Vaiṣṇavas see all people as equal, they accept whatever truth is substantiated regarding the age of the different races.
The previous history of India and the age of the various scriptures are thus described according to the modern scholars’ opinion. Everyone has a right to decide whether or not these should be accepted as facts. The advancement of Vaiṣṇavism does not depend on this type of conclusion. We know that Vaiṣṇavism, the Vedas, and devotional scriptures such as the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam are eternal. Now I will try to discuss the development and advancement of spiritual knowledge from the time of its appearance up to the present. The constitution duty of the living entity is to inquire into the Absolute Truth. We have to accept that these eternal duties accompany the creation of the living entities.
brahmā devānāṁ prathamaḥ sambabhūva
viśvasya kartā bhuvanasya goptā
sa brahma-vidyāṁ sarva-vidyā-pratiṣṭhām
atharvāya jyeṣṭha-putrāya prāha
atharvā tāṁ purovācāṅgire brahma-vidyāṁ
“Among all the demigods, Brahmā was the first to take birth. He is both the creator and protector of this universe. To his eldest son, Atharvā, he instructed the spiritual science of the self, which is the basis of all other branches of knowledge. Thereafter Atharvā imparted this knowledge to Aṅgirā.” (Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.1.1).
In the beginning these eternal duties were self-manifested in the undeveloped state of considering the Lord and the living entity as one. At that time specific differences between the Lord and the living entity had not yet been established and the knot of devotion for the Lord had not yet been tied.
sa vā ayam ātmā brahma
(Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad 4.4.5)
This spiritual perception of oneness between the Lord and the living entity was current for a long time. But the sunlike truth does not like to be covered forever by the cloud of ignorance and illusion. From time to time the ṛṣis have revived the living entities’ constitutional duties by introducing various methods like sacrifice, austerity, worship, self-control, peacefulness, tolerance, and charity.
kālena naṣṭā pralaye vāṇīyaṁ veda-saṁjñitā
mayādau brahmaṇe proktā dharmo yasyāṁ mad-ātmakaḥ
“By the influence of time, the transcendental sound of Vedic knowledge was lost at the time of annihilation. Therefore, when the subsequent creation took place, I spoke the Vedic knowledge to Brahmā because I Myself am the religious principles enunciated in the Vedas.” (Bhāg. 11.14.3)
man-māyā-mohita-dhiyaḥ puruṣāḥ puruṣarṣabha
śreyo vadanty anekāntaṁ yathā-karma yathā-ruci
“O best among men, the intelligence of human beings is bewildered by My illusory potency, and thus, according to their own activities and whims, they speak in innumerable ways about what is actually good for people.” (Bhāg. 11.14.9)
dharmam eke yaśaś cānye
kāmaṁ satyaṁ damaṁ śamam
“Some say that people will be happy by performing pious religious activities. Others say that happiness is attained through fame, sense gratification, truthfulness, self-control, or peacefulness.” (Bhāg. 11.14.10).
A long time ago people rejected the idea of oneness with the Lord and began to engage in mundane fruitive activities. Falling from one illusion into another appears to be advancement for a person in illusion. But within a short time this illusion is dispelled. When the Āryans considered the insignificant and adverse results of fruitive activities, they turned their minds towards liberation.
anye vadanti svārthaṁ vā aiśvaryaṁ tyāga-bhojanam
kecid yajñaṁ tapo dānaṁ vratāni niyamān yamān
ādy-anta-vanta evaiṣāṁ lokāḥ karma-vinirmitāḥ
duḥkhodarkās tamo-niṣṭhāḥ kṣudrā mandāḥ śucārpitāḥ
“All the persons I have just mentioned obtain temporary fruits from their material work. Indeed, the meagre and miserable situations they achieve bring future unhappiness and are based on ignorance. Even while enjoying the fruits of their work, such persons are filled with lamentation.”
mayy arpitātmanaḥ sabhya nirapekṣasya sarvataḥ
mayātmanā sukhaṁ yat tat kutaḥ syād viṣayātmanām
“O learned Uddhava, those who fix their consciousness on Me, giving up all material desires, share with Me a happiness that cannot possibly be experienced by those engaged in sense gratification.” (Bhāg. 11.14.10-12)
carituṁ viśuddha gamanās tasamaṁ
taṁ śuddha-sattvam anubandhayat
“One should engage in activities in the mode of pure goodness in order to be freed from the bondage of life in the the material world and end the sufferings caused by birth, death, and old age.” (Lalita-vistāra)
But that also is simply dry and fruitless. The truth certainly prevails, however, even if it takes time. Later, when the incomparable truth appeared in the hearts of the Āryans, the form of ecstatic love became clear to them.
kṛṣṇam enam avehi tvam
“You should know Kṛṣṇa to be the original Soul of all living entities.” (Bhāg. 10.14.55).
The swan-like Vaiṣṇavas have ascertained the following subjects regarding the living entities’ eternal duties. They may have changed in the course of time.
- Paramātmā—the superconscious sunlike personality, who is eternally full of knowledge and bliss. Jīvātma—the minutely conscious rays of the supreme sun.
- The superconscious Lord is different from the minutely conscious living entities, who are the superior eternal energy of the Lord. The living entities are individual, and they reside in different environments according to their qualification. The material world is an emanation from the superconscious Lord.
- The material world is a perverted reflection of the spiritual world. The pure bliss of the spiritual world is pervertedly reflected as the happiness and distress of the material world.
- The living entities have no relationship with the material world. The material world is the residence for only the conditioned souls. By the inconceivable energy of the Lord, the conditioned souls are encaged in material bodies. Some are absorbed in material happiness, and some endeavour for spiritual happiness.
- The natural tendency for attachment to the Lord is the constitutional duty of a living entity. In conditional life, this constitutional duty is transformed into attachment for material enjoyment. This is a lamentable condition of life.
- Liberation means being situated in the constitutional position of one’s constitutional duties. This is attained through devotional service.
- According to one’s qualification, the cultivation of constitutional duties varies. It may be either direct or indirect.
- Direct cultivation aims at realising one’s constitutional position; there is no possibility of other results.
- Indirect cultivation results in irrelevant fruits related with one’s material body.
- Samādhi, or full absorption in the Supreme, is the primary and direct means of cultivation. Activities such as bodily maintenance that are meant to help attain samādhi are called primary indirect cultivation.
- It is the living entity’s eternal duty to cultivate Kṛṣṇa consciousness following in the mood of the residents of Vraja through samādhi, because this is the most desirable goal.
- The most glorious activity of a living entity is to engage according to one’s qualification in discussions of the conjugal mellows enjoyed by Kṛṣṇa, the personification of sweetness.
Among these twelve items, the first four concern the living entity’s relationship with the Lord. Items five to ten concern the living entity’s duties, and the last two concern the supreme goal.
During the reigns of the Prajāpatis, Manus, and demigods, the science of one’s relationship with the Lord remained in the form of a seed. They only considered that there was a worshipable personality who should be kept happy. This is understood from the praṇava and Gāyatrī mantras. At that time there was some debate between karmis and jñānīs over the duties of the living entities. A few personalities like Sanaka and Sanātana completely neglected pravṛtti-mārga, the path of increasing material prosperity, while the Prajāpatis, Manus, and demigods like Indra desired to satisfy Hari by advancing in material prosperity through the performance of sacrifices. As a result, the thought of heaven and hell entered their minds. At that time the pure state of the living entities, the search for liberation, and, ultimately, love of God were unknown. In the later part of Vaivasvata Manu’s reign, when the smṛtis and histories were introduced, people began considering the science of self-realisation and the goal of life.
ye pāka-yajñāś catvāro vidhi-yajñas amanṛtāḥ
sarve te japa-yajñasya kalāṁ nārhanti ṣoḍaśīm
“The proper performance of the four kinds of simple sacrifices—vaiśvadeva, offerings to the Viśvadevas; homa, offering oblations to the demigods; balikarma nitya–śrāddha, offering oblations to the forefathers and other living entities; and atithi–bhojana, feeding guests—cannot be compared to even one sixteenth part of the benefit of chanting the holy names of the Lord.” (Manu–saṁhitā 2.86).
But it does not appear that there was any progress made towards the goal of life.
During the reign of the Outcastes and the brāhmaṇas and kṣatriyas created by Paraśurāma there was particular advancement made in understanding one’s relationship with the Lord, the activities in cultivating that relationship, and the attainment of life’s goal, as found in the Purāṇas and philosophical scriptures.
ahaṁ hare tava pādaika-mūla-
dāsānudāso bhavitāsmi bhūyaḥ
manaḥ smaretāsu-pater guṇāṁs te
gṛṇīta vāk karma karotu kāyaḥ
“O my Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, will I again be able to be a servant of Your eternal servants who find shelter only at Your lotus feet? O Lord of my life, may I again become their servant so that my mind may always think of Your transcendental attributes, my words always glorify those attributes, and my body always engage in the loving service of Your Lordship?”
na nāka-pṛṣṭhaṁ na ca pārameṣṭhyaṁ
na sārva-bhaumaṁ na rasādhipatyam
na yoga-siddhīr apunar-bhavaṁ vā
samañjasa tvā virahayya kāṅkṣe
“O my Lord, source of all opportunities, I do not desire to enjoy in Dhruvaloka, the heavenly planets, or the planet where Lord Brahmā resides, nor do I want to be the supreme ruler of all the earthly planets or the lower planetary systems. I do not desire to be master of the powers of mystic yoga, nor do I want liberation if I have to give up Your lotus feet.” (Bhāg. 6.11.24-25).
The complete discussion of these three truths is found in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, and the conclusions are clearly presented. But the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is like an ocean, and it is extremely difficult for a madhyama-adhikārī to ascertain what part contains which jewels. After considering this, the most merciful disciple of Śaṭhakopa, Śrī Rāmānujācārya, compiled the essential truths of Vaiṣṇavism for the first time. Some time before that, Śrī Śaṅkarācārya wrote a commentary on the Vedānta–sūtras and thus extended the cultivation of knowledge so far that Bhakti-devī. The general symptoms of bhakti are described by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī in his Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 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.”
Fruitive activities and cultivation of knowledge are not rejected in explaining the symptoms of devotional service, but when the tendency for pure devotion is covered by jñāna and karma, then devotion will not manifest. When fruitive activities became prominent, the discussion of devotional service was checked. When Buddhism was prominent, the cultivation of knowledge was checked, rather it was even worse.> became surprised and full of anxiety. She hid herself within the core of the devotees’ hearts. We cannot blame Śaṅkarācārya, for he was a devotee of the Lord and benefactor of all. We therefore offer our obeisances unto him. He had a reason to engage in such work at that particular time. Everyone knows that about 500 B.C. a great soul named Gautama took birth in the family of Śakas in the village of Kapilāvāstu. He preached the principles of jñāna–kāṇḍa so vigorously that the religious principles of varṇāśrama–dharma established by the Āryans were almost destroyed. The Buddhist philosophy that he preached became like a thorn in the side for all the Āryans’ ancient practices. With the help of Kaniṣka, Haviṣka, and Vāsudeva of the Sidia dynasty, Buddhism gradually crossed Punjab and extended to various countries like China, Tatara, and Trivarta, which are situated north of the Himalayas. In the South, King Aśokavardhana vigorously preached Buddhism in Brahma-deśa and Śrī Laṅkā. Under the patronage of Aśokavardhana, Buddhism was gradually spread throughout India by the disciples of Sārīputra, Modgalāyana, Kāśyapa, and Ānanda. The holy places of the Āryans were converted into holy places for Buddhists. All signs of brahminical culture practically disappeared. In the seventh century, when this disaster was no longer tolerable, the brāhmaṇas became very angry and conspired together to destroy Buddhism. At that time, by providence, the most learned and intelligent Śaṅkarācārya became the commander-in-chief of the brāhmaṇas in Kāśī. By discussing his activities, it appears he was an incarnation of Paraśurāma. There are many differing opinions regarding his birth. His brāhmaṇa followers accept him as the son of Mahādeva. Actually his widow mother was from Drāviḍa-deśa, but she moved to Kāśī out of a desire to live in that holy place. Swan-like persons do not care about faults pertaining to a person’s birth, because a person’s greatness is judged according to his advancement in Vaiṣṇavism. Nārada, Vyāsa, Jesus, and Śaṅkara have all become respected throughout the world by the qualities of their work. There is no argument. But I have mentioned Śaṅkarācārya at this time to illustrate a point. That is, from the seventh century, keen and powerful intelligence was found among the people of South India, and nowhere else. From that time on, Śaṅkarācārya, Śaṭhakopa, Yāmunācārya, Rāmānuja, Viṣṇusvāmī, Madhvācārya, and many other great learned scholars appeared as shining stars in the southern sky. Śaṅkarācārya was not satisfied with his brāhmaṇa followers, so he introduced ten types of sannyāsīs, such as Giri, Purī, and Bhāratī. With the help of these sannyāsīs‘ physical and mental strength, Śaṅkarācārya converted the brāhmaṇas who were attached to fruitive activities and prepared himself for vanquishing the Buddhists. Wherever he failed to convert the Buddhists to his philosophy, he engaged Nāgas, naked sannyāsīs, who took the help of weapons such as spears. Ultimately he wrote a commentary on Vedānta, and thus he combined the karma-kāṇḍa of the brāhmaṇas with the jñāna–kāṇḍa of the Buddhists. In this way he united both groups. After that, all the Buddhist temples and deities were converted into Vedic.
Out of fear of being beaten, as well as by realising the insignificance of their religious practices, the Buddhists helplessly accepted the authority of the brāhmaṇas. Those Buddhists who hated being converted took the remnants of their cult and fled to Śrī Laṅkā and Brahma-deśa (Burma). The old Buddhists took Lord Buddha’s tooth and went to Śrī Laṅkā from Jagannātha Purī. They left Buddha, his teachings, and his association in Jagannātha Purī. Later these three were identified as Jagannātha, Baladeva, and Subhadrā. In the fifth century a scholar from China named Phāhiyān visited Jagannātha Purī and joyfully wrote that Buddhism was present there in a pure state and there was no torture by the brāhmaṇas. After this incident, in the seventh century, another Chinese scholar named Huyensāṁ went to Jagannātha Purī and wrote that the tooth of Lord Buddha had been taken to Śrī Laṅkā and the brāhmaṇas had totally polluted Purī. When we discuss these incidents, the activities of Śaṅkarācārya appear astonishing. Śaṅkarācārya has, to some extent, done a favour to India by evicting Buddhism. He helped stop the gradual deterioration of the ancient Āryan community. In particular, he changed the course of the Āryans’ mentality by introducing a new method of thought on their scriptures. He even inspired in them an urge to consider new subjects with their intelligence. The flower of devotion in the devotees’ hearts became unsteady as it floated in the current of Śaṅkarācārya’s arguments. Based on the strength of Śaṅkarācārya’s philosophy, Rāmānujācārya, by the mercy of the Lord, wrote a commentary that differed from Śārīraka–bhāṣya. Thus the strength and prosperity of Vaiṣṇavism again increased. Within a short time Viṣṇusvāmī, Nimbārka, and Madhvācārya all introduced slight variations of the Vaiṣṇava principles by presenting their own commentaries on Vedānta. But they all followed the footsteps of Śaṅkarācārya. Like Śaṅkarācārya, they all wrote commentaries on the Bhagavad-gītā, Viṣṇu-sahasra-nama, and the Upaniṣads. At that time a thought arose in the hearts of people, that in order to establish a sampradāya one must have commentaries on the four above-mentioned works. From these four Vaiṣṇavas, the four Vaiṣṇava sampradāyas, such as the Śrī sampradāya, have been introduced. Among the previously mentioned twelve truths, the first ten were particularly accepted by the four sampradāyas. The last two truths were accepted to some extent by the Madhva, Nimbārka, and Viṣṇusvāmī sampradāyas.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu appeared in Navadvīpa in 1486. In the beginning of His life, He remained at home. Later He accepted the renounced order of life and preached knowledge of the last two items. Where is the doubt that the land of Bengal is rarely attained even by the demigods? Who does not know that the son of Śacī, who is supremely worshipable by Vaiṣṇavas, descended in the land of Bengal and distributed matchless wealth to one and all? Fortunately we were born in that country. All Vaiṣṇavas who are born in that land in the future will consider themselves fortunate like us.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, with the help of Nityānanda and Advaita, clearly explained the truth regarding one’s relationship with the Lord. He clearly explained the truths of the living entities’ relationship with the Lord through Rūpa, Sanātana, Jīva, Gopāla Bhaṭṭa, the two Raghunāthas, Rāmānanda Rāya, Svarūpa Dāmodara, and Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya. He consolidated the process of acting in that relationship by establishing the supremacy of performing kīrtana. Regarding the ultimate goal of life, He ascertained the simple means of relishing the mellows of Vraja.
If the readers carefully consider, they will find that the spiritual science gradually evolved from ancient times and became more simple, more clear, and more condensed. The more impurities arising from time and place are removed, the more the beauties of spiritual science brightly shine before us. This spiritual science took birth in the land of kuśa grass on the banks of the Sarasvatī River in Brahmāvarta. As it gradually gained strength, this spiritual science spent its childhood in the abode of Badarikāśrama, which is covered with snow. It spent its boyhood in Naimiṣāraṇya on the banks of the Gomatī River and its youth on the beautiful banks of the Kāverī River in the province of Drāviḍa. The spiritual science attained maturity in Navadvīpa, on the banks of the Ganges, which purifies the universe.
By studying the history of the world, it is found that the spiritual science reached its peak in Navadvīpa. The Supreme Absolute Truth is the only object of love for the living entities. Unless one worships Him with attachment, however, the living entity can never attain Him. Even if a person gives up all affection for this world and thinks of the Supreme Lord, He is still not easily achieved. He is controlled and attained by transcendental mellows alone.r
aso vai saḥ, rasaṁ hy evāyaṁ labdhvānandī bhavati
“When one understands the Personality of Godhead, the reservoir of pleasure, Kṛṣṇa, he actually becomes transcendentally blissful.” (Taittirīya Upaniṣad 2.7.1).
Those mellows are of five types—śānta, dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya, and mādhurya. The first mellow, śānta, is the stage in which the living entity surpasses the pains of material existence and situates himself in transcendence. In that state there is a little happiness, but no feeling of independence. At that time the relationship between the practitioner and the Lord is not yet established. Dāsya–rasa is the second mellow. It contains all the ingredients of śānta–rasa as well as affection. “The Lord is my master, and I am His eternal servant.” This type of relationship is found in dāsya-rasa. No one will care much for any of the best things of this world unless they are connected with affection. Therefore, dāsya-rasa is better than śānta-rasa in many ways. Just as dāsya is better than śānta, know for certain that sakhya is superior to dāsya. In dāsya-rasa there is a thorn in the form of awe and reverence, but the main ornament in sakhya-rasa is the feeling of friendship in equality. Among the servants, anyone who is a friend is superior. There is no doubt about it. In sakhya-rasa all the wealth of śānta and dāsya is included. Just as sakhya is superior to dāsya, similarly vātsalya is superior to sakhya. This is easily understood. Among all the friends, the son is more dear and the source of more happiness. In vātsalya-rasa the wealth of four rasas, beginning with śānta, is found. Although vātsalya-rasa is superior to these other rasas, it appears insignificant before mādhurya-rasa. There may be many secrets unknown between father and son, but this is not the case between wife and husband. Therefore, if we deeply consider, it will be seen that all the above-mentioned rasas are seen in perfection within mādhurya-rasa.
If we go through the histories of these five rasas, it is clearly believed that śānta-rasa was seen in the beginning days of India. When the soul was not satisfied after performing sacrifices with material ingredients, then transcendentalists like Sanaka, Sanātana, Sanat-kumāra, Sananda, Nārada, and Mahādeva all became detached from the material world, situated in transcendence, and realised śānta-rasa. Much later, dāsya-rasa manifested in Hanumān, the leader of the monkeys. That dāsya-rasa gradually expanded to the northwest and manifested in a great personality named Moses. Long after Hanumān, the leader of the monkeys, Uddhava and Arjuna became the qualified authorities of sakhya-rasa. They preached about this rasa throughout the world. Gradually that rasa expanded up to the Arabian countries and touched the heart of Mohammed, the knower of religious principles. Vātsalya-rasa manifested throughout India in different forms at different times. Among the different forms, vātsalya mixed with opulence crossed India and appeared in a great personality named Jesus Christ, who was a preacher of Jewish religious principles. Mādhurya–rasa first shone brightly in Vraja. It is extremely rare for this rasa to enter the hearts of conditioned souls, because this rasa tends to remain with qualified, pure living entities. Navadvīpa-candra, Śrī Śacī-kumāra, preached this secret rasa along with His followers. This rasa has not crossed beyond India as yet. A short while ago a scholar from England named Newman realised something about this rasa and wrote a book about it. The people of Europe and America have not been satisfied with vātsalya-rasa mixed with opulence, as preached by Jesus Christ. I hope, by the grace of the Lord, in a very short time they will become attached to drinking the intoxicating nectar of mādhurya-rasa. It has been seen that any rasa that appears in India eventually spreads to the western countries. Therefore, within a short time mādhurya-rasa will preached throughout the world. Just as the sun rises first in India and gradually spreads its light to the western countries, the matchless shining of spiritual truth appears first in India and gradually spreads to the western countries.
The past compilers of the scriptures have established the appropriate holy names to deliver one in the different ages after analysing the peoples’ stage of advancement. The holy names to deliver one in Satya-yuga are as follows:
nārāyaṇa-para vedā nārāyaṇa-parākṣarāḥ
nārāyaṇa-parā muktir nārāyaṇa-parā gatiḥ
The purport of this verse is that Lord Nārāyaṇa is the goal of all science, language, and liberation, and He is the supreme destination. The name of the Absolute Truth mixed with opulence is Nārāyaṇa. The Supreme Lord is fully realised in the form of Nārāyaṇa, who is surrounded by His associates in Vaikuṇṭha. Pure śānta-rasa and a little dāsya-rasa is found at this stage.
rāma nārāyaṇānanta mukunda madhusūdana
kṛṣṇa keśava kaṁsāre hare vaikuṇṭha vāmana
These are the holy names to deliver one in Tretā-yuga. The names that are mentioned in this text indicate Nārāyaṇa’s prowess. At this stage full dāsya-rasa and a reflection of sakhya-rasa are indicated.
hare murāre madhu-kaiṭabhāre gopāla govinda mukunda saure
yajñeśa nārāyaṇa kṛṣṇa viṣṇo virāśrayaṁ māṁ jagadīśa rakṣa
These are the holy names to deliver one in Dvāpara-yuga. The names that are mentioned in this verse aim towards Kṛṣṇa, who is the shelter of unsheltered persons. In this stage there is a prominence of śānta, dāsya, sakhya, and vātsalya-rasas.
hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare
hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare
These are the topmost sweet names of the Lord. There is no prayer in this mantra. Provocation for all rasas mixed with affection is found in this mantra. There is no mention of the Lord’s prowess or giving of liberation. This mantra reveals only that a soul has an indescribable attraction for the Supersoul by the thread of love. These names are the mantra for those who are on the path of mādhurya-rasa. Constant deliberation on these names is the best form of worshiping the Lord. All spiritual activities of swan-like people such as worshiping the Deity, following vows, and studying the scriptures are included in these holy names. There is no consideration of time, place, and candidate for chanting this mantra. The chanting of this mantra does not depend on the instructions of a guru or worshiping a Deity for some reward.
taj janma tāni karmāṇi tad āyus tan mano vacaḥ
nṛṇāṁ yena hi viśvātmā sevyate harir īśvaraḥ
“When a living entity is born to engage in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the supreme controller, his birth, all his fruitive activities, his life-span, his mind and his words are all factually perfect.”
kiṁ janmabhis tribhir veha śaukra-sāvitra-yājñikaiḥ
karmabhir vā trayī-proktaiḥ puṁso ‘pi vibudhāyuṣā
“A civilised human being has three kinds of births. The first birth is by a pure father and mother, and this birth is called birth by semen. The next birth takes place when one is initiated by the spiritual master, and this birth is called sāvitra. The third birth, called yājñika, takes place when one is given the opportunity to worship Lord Viṣṇu. Despite the opportunities for attaining such births, even if one gets the life-span of a demigod, if one does not actually engage in the service of the Lord, everything is useless. Similarly, one’s activities may be mundane or spiritual, but they are useless if they are not meant for satisfying the Lord.”
śrutena tapasā vā kiṁ vacobhiś citta-vṛttibhiḥ
buddhyā vā kiṁ nipuṇayā balenendriya-rādhasā
“Without devotional service, what is the meaning of severe austerities, the process of hearing, the power of speech, the power of mental speculation, elevated intelligence, strength, and the power of the senses?”
kiṁ vā yogena sāṅkhyena nyāsa-svādhyāyayor api
kiṁ vā śreyobhir anyaiś cajjna yatrātma-prado hariḥ
“Transcendental practices that do not ultimately help one realise the Supreme Personality of Godhead are useless, be they mystic yoga practices, the analytical study of matter, severe austerity, the acceptance of sannyāsa, or the study of Vedic literature. All these may be very important aspects of spiritual advancement, but unless one understands the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, all these processes are useless.”
śreyasām api sarveṣām ātmā hy avadhir arthataḥ
sarveṣām api bhūtānāṁ harir ātmātmadaḥ priyaḥ
“Factually the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the original source of all self-realisation. Consequently, the goal of all auspicious activities—karma, jñāna, yoga and bhakti—is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Bhāg. 4.31.9-13).
It is the duty of swan-like people to take shelter of these names while accepting the previously mentioned twelve truths. Swan-like people of foreign countries, whose language and social position are different, should accept these holy names in their own language by taking a hint from this mantra. This means that in the process of worshiping this mantra there should not be any complex scientific consideration, useless arguments, or any type of direct or indirect prayer. If there is any prayer at all, it should be aimed at advancing one’s love for God, then it will be faultless. Swan-like people lead simple lives, completely satisfied and internally remaining surrendered souls.
dayayā sarva-bhūteṣu santuṣṭyā yena kena vā
sarvendriyopaśāntyā ca tuṣyaty āśu janārdanaḥ
“By showing mercy to all living entities, being satisfied somehow or other and controlling the senses from sense enjoyment, one can very quickly satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Janārdana.” (Bhāg. 4.31.19).
Those who have divine eyes consider them equipoised yogis, and those who are less-intelligent, or third-grade people, consider them as attached to material enjoyment. Some people may occasionally even consider them averse to the Lord. A swan-like person can identify another swan-like brother who possesses all the appropriate symptoms, whether he is from the same country or not. Although their dress, language, worship, Deity, and behaviour may appear different, they should freely address each other as brother. These type of people are called paramahaṁsas, and Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is the scripture that is meant for such paramahaṁsas.
sarvataḥ sāram ādatte
yathā madhu-karo budhaḥ
“A learned man takes the essence of knowledge from all places, just as a bumblebee collects honey from each and every flower.” (Bhāg. 4.18.2).
I cannot end this introduction without discussing one more subject. Due to prejudices, many learned persons accuse the swan-like persons of overly discussing loving affairs and thus being incompetent in family affairs. They say that unless one endeavours to prosper in family life, the Supreme Lord is not satisfied; and because of excessive endeavours for self-realisation, affection for family life diminishes. This argument, however, is extremely weak, because if one carefully endeavours to act according to the desire of the Supreme Lord and in the course one’s temporary material life is ruined, then what is the harm. Considering argument to be useless, Vyāsadeva saw:
bhakti-yogena manasi samyak praṇihite ‘male
apaśyat puruṣaṁ pūrṇaṁ māyāṁ ca tad-apāśrayam
“Thus he fixed his mind, perfectly engaging it by linking it in devotional service [bhakti-yoga] without any tinge of materialism, and thus he saw the Absolute Personality of Godhead along with His external energy, which was under full control.
yayā sammohito jīva ātmānaṁ tri-guṇātmakam
paro ‘pi manute ‘narthaṁ tat-kṛtaṁ cābhipadyate
“Due to this external energy, the living entity, although transcendental to the three modes of material nature, thinks of himself as a material product and thus undergoes the reactions of material miseries.
anarthopaśamaṁ sākṣād bhakti-yogam adhokṣaje
lokasyājānato vidvāṁś cakre sātvata-saṁhitām
“The material miseries of the living entity, which are superfluous to him, can be directly mitigated by the linking process of devotional service. But the mass of people do not know this, and therefore the learned Vyāsadeva compiled this Vedic literature, which is in relation to the Supreme Truth.
yasyāṁ vai śrūyamāṇāyāṁ kṛṣṇe parama-pūruṣe
bhaktir utpadyate puṁsaḥ śoka-moha-bhayāpahā
“Simply by giving aural reception to this Vedic literature, the feeling for loving devotional service to Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, sprouts up at once to extinguish the fire of lamentation, illusion and fearfulness.”?
=It is a fact that the material world was created in order to fulfil a distant plan of the Supreme Lord, but no one can explain what that plan is. Some people guess that the soul was first born in this gross world in the form of a human being. The Supreme Lord has created this material world with the desire that the living entities would gradually advance by following religious principles. Some people say that this material world will become a happy place, like heaven, through human intelligence. Yet there are others who have decided that at the end of the body they will achieve liberation in the form of nirvāṇa. All these conclusions are as useless as blind people ascertaining the shape of an elephant. Swan-like people do not enter into this type of useless argument, because no one can come to the proper conclusion by human intelligence.
na cāsya kaścin nipuṇena dhātur
avaiti jantuḥ kumanīṣa ūtīḥ
nāmāni rūpāṇi mano-vacobhiḥ
santanvato naṭa-caryām ivājñaḥ
“The foolish with a poor fund of knowledge cannot know the transcendental nature of the forms, names and activities of the Lord, who is playing like an actor in a drama. Nor can they express such things, neither in their speculations nor in their words.
sa veda dhātuḥ padavīṁ parasya
yo ‘māyayā santatayānuvṛttyā
“Only those who render unreserved, uninterrupted, favourable service unto the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa, who carries the wheel of the chariot in His hand, can know the creator of the universe in His full glory, power and transcendence.” (Bhāg. 1.3.37/38)
Swan-like Vaiṣṇavas reject the propensity for argument in their cultivation of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Taking shelter of naturally obtained knowledge, they discuss the soul’s two states—developed and undeveloped. What is the need to search for a conclusion? If we maintain our life simply, while remaining subordinate to the Supreme Lord, then by His mercy everything will easily be revealed to us. Persons who are pierced by the arrows of lust will naturally endeavour for material prosperity. Let them make the material world prosperous, and we will utilise that prosperity. Let them discuss subjects like economics, and let them accumulate wealth, and we, by Kṛṣṇa’s mercy, will use that wealth for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. But in the course of maintaining this material body, if there is any advancement of our material situation, there is no harm. We are completely indifferent to the advancement and deterioration of our material situation. But we are naturally busy for the advancement of the living entities’ spiritual life. We are even ready to throw the happiness of our life in the water in order to always benefit our brothers. The primary engagement of Vaiṣṇavas is to deliver their fallen brothers from the well of material existence. The more the Vaiṣṇava family expands, the more the atheists’ family diminishes. This is the natural law of the universe. Let the love and devotion of all living entities flow towards the unlimited Supreme Lord. Let Vaiṣṇava principles, which are the source of happiness, gradually spread from one end of the universe to the other. Let the hearts of those who are averse to the Lord melt with love of God. By the mercy of the Lord, the association of devotees, and the influence of devotional service, let the third-grade people become first-grade people and take shelter of pure ecstatic love. Let the exalted madhyama-adhikārīs give up their doubts and the cultivation of knowledge and establish themselves in the science of love. Let the whole universe echo with the sound of the congregational chanting of the holy names of Hari.
śrī śrī kṛṣṇārpaṇam astu
oṁ śānti śānti śānti hari oṁ