A. C. Bhaktivedanta swami acharya, international society for krishna consciousness

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IT IS SAID in The Bhagavad Gita that simply by surrendering oneself unto the Lotus Feet of the Supreme Personality Krishna one can surmount the stringent laws of material Nature. At this point a question arises: How is it that educated philosophers, scientists, businessmen, administrators, and all the leaders of ordinary men do not surrender to the Lotus Feet of Sri Krishna, the All-Powerful Personality of Godhead? Mukti, or liberation from the laws of material Nature, is sought by the abovementioned leaders in different ways and with great plans and perseverance for a great many years and births. But if that liberation is possible by simply surrendering unto the Lotus Feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then why don’t these intelligent and hardworking leaders adopt this simple method?

The Gita answers this question very frankly. Those really learned leaders of society like Brahma, Shiva, Kapila, Kumara, Manu, Vyasa, Devala, Ashita, Janaka, Prahlada, Bali, and later on Madhyacharya, Ramanujacharya, Sri Chaitanya, and many others who are faithful philosophers, politicians, educators, scientists, etc., surrender to the Lotus Feet of the Supreme Person, the All-Powerful Authority. Those who are not actually philosophers, scientists, educators, administrators, etc., but who pose themselves as such for material gain, do not accept the plan or path of the Supreme Lord. They have no idea of God; they simply manufacture their own worldly plans and consequently complicate the problems of material existence in their vain attempts to solve them. Because material energy (Nature) is so powerful, it can resist the unauthorized plans of the atheists and baffle the knowledge of "planning commissions."

The atheistic plan-makers are described herein by the word Duskritina, or "miscreants." Kritina means one who has performed meritorious work. The atheist plan-maker is sometimes very intelligent and meritorious also, because any gigantic plan, good or bad, must take intelligence to execute. But because the atheist’s brain is improperly utilized in its opposition to the plan of the Supreme Lord, the atheistic plan-maker is called Duskritina, which indicates that his intelligence and efforts are misdirected.

In The Gita it is clearly mentioned that material energy works fully under the direction of the Supreme Lord. It has no independent authority. It works as the shadow moves, in accordance with the movements of the object. But still material energy is very powerful, and the atheist, due to his godless temperament, cannot know how it works; nor can he know the plan of the Supreme Lord. Under illusion and the modes of passion and ignorance, all his plans are baffled, as in the cases of Hiranya Kashipu and Ravana, whose plans were smashed to dust although they were both materially learned as scientists, philosophers, administrators, and educators. These Duskritinas, or miscreants, are of four different patterns, as outlined below:

(1) The Mudhas are those who are grossly foolish, like hardworking beasts of burden. They want to enjoy the fruits of their labor by themselves, and so do not want to part with them for the Supreme. The typical example of the beast of burden is the ass. This humble beast is made to work very hard by his master. The ass does not really know for whom he works so hard day and night. He remains satisfied by filling his stomach with a bundle of grass, sleeping for a while under fear of being beaten by his master, and satisfying his sex appetite at the risk of being repeatedly kicked by the opposite party. The ass sings poetry and philosophy sometimes, but this braying only disturbs others. This is the position of the foolish fruitive worker who does not know for whom he should work. He does not know that Karma (action) is meant for Yajna (sacrifice).

Most often, those who work very hard day and night to clear the burden of self-created duties say that they have not time to hear of the immortality of the living being. To such Mudhas, material gains, which are destructible, are life’s all in all—despite the fact that the Mudhas enjoy only a very small fraction of the fruit of labor. Sometimes they spend sleepless days and nights for fruitive gain, and although they may have ulcers or indigestion, they are satisfied with practically no food; they are simply absorbed in working hard day and night for the benefit of illusory masters. Ignorant of their real Master, the foolish workers waste their valuable time serving Mammon. Unfortunately, they never surrender to the Supreme Master of all masters, nor do they take time to hear of Him from the proper sources. The swine who eat the soil do not care to accept sweet meats made of sugar and ghee. Similarly, the foolish worker will untiringly continue to hear of the sense-enjoyable tidings of the flickering mundane force that moves the material world.

(2) Another class of Duskritina is called the Naradhamas, or the lowest of Mankind. Nara means the human being, and Adhama means the lowest. Out of the 8,400,000 different species of living beings, there are 400,000 human species. Out of these there are innumerable lower forms of human life that are mostly uncivilized. Comparatively, there are only a very few classes of men who are actually civilized. The civilized human beings are those who have regulated principles of social, political, and religious life. Those who are socially and politically developed but who have no religious principles must be considered Naradhamas. Nor is religion without God religion, because the purpose of following religious principles is to know the Supreme Truth and man’s relation with Him. In The Gita the Personality of Godhead clearly states that there is no authority above Him and that He is the Supreme Truth. The civilized form of human life is meant for man’s reviving the lost consciousness of his eternal relation with the Supreme Truth, the Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna, Who is All-Powerful. Whoever loses this chance is classified as a Naradhama. We get information from revealed scriptures that when the baby is in the mother’s womb (an extremely uncomfortable situation) he prays to God for deliverance and promises to worship Him alone as soon as he gets out. That is a natural instinct in every living being—to pray to God when he is in difficulty—because he is eternally related with God. But after his deliverance the child forgets the difficulties of birth and forgets his Deliverer also, being influenced by Maya, the illusory energy.

It is the duty of the guardians of children to revive the Divine consciousness dormant in them. The ten processes of reformatory ceremonies, as enjoined in The Manu-Smriti, which is the guide to religious principles, are meant for reviving God consciousness in the system of Varna Ashram. However, no process is strictly followed now in any part of the world, and therefore 99.9 per cent of the population is Naradhama.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, in propagating The Bhagwat Dharma, or activities of the devotees, has recommended that people submissively hear the message of the Personality of Godhead. The essence of this message is The Bhagavad Gita. The lowest of human beings can be delivered by this submissive hearing process only, but unfortunately, since they even deny giving an aural reception to these messages, what to speak of surrendering to the Will of the Supreme Lord? Naradhama, or the lowest of Mankind, will fully neglect the prime duty of the human being.

(3) The next class of Duskritina is called Mayaya Apahrita Jnana, or those persons whose erudite knowledge has been nullified by the influence of illusory material energy. They are mostly very learned fellows—great philosophers, poets, litterateurs, scientists, etc.—but the illusory energy misguides them and therefore they disobey the Supreme Lord. When the whole population becomes Naradhama, naturally all their so-called education is made null and void by the all-powerful energy of physical Nature. According to the standard of The Gita, a learned man is he who sees on equal terms the learned Brahmin, the dog, the cow, the elephant, and the dog-eater. That is the vision of a true devotee.

(4) The last class of Duskritina is called Asurabhabamashrita, or those of demonic principles. This class is openly atheistic. Some of them argue that the Supreme Lord can never descend upon this material world, but they are unable to give any tangible reasons as to why not. There are others who make Him subordinate to the impersonal feature, although the opposite is declared in The Gita. Envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the atheist will present a number of illicit incarnations manufactured in the factory of his brain. Such persons, whose very principle of life is to decry the Personality of Godhead, cannot surrender unto the Lotus Feet of Sri Krishna.

Sri Jamunacharya Albandru of South India said, "Oh my Lord! You are unknowable to persons involved with atheistic principles, despite Your Uncommon Qualities, Features, and Activities; and despite Your Personality being strongly confirmed by all the revealed scriptures in the quality of goodness; and despite Your being acknowledged by the famous authorities renowned for their depth of knowledge in the transcendental science and situated in the godly qualities."

Therefore, the (1) grossly foolish persons, (2) lowest of Mankind, (3) deluded speculators, and (4) the atheistic people, as above-mentioned, never surrender unto the Lotus Feet of the Personality of Godhead in spite of all scriptural and authoritative advice.

16) O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me—the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.


UNLIKE THE MISCREANTS, these are adherents of the regulative principles of the scriptures, and they are called Sukritina, or those who obey the rules and regulations of scriptures, the moral and social laws, and who are, more or less, devoted to the Supreme Lord. Out of these there are four classes of men: (1) those who are sometimes distressed; (2) in need of money; (3) sometimes inquisitive; and (4) sometimes searching after knowledge of the Absolute Truth. These persons come to the Supreme Lord for devotional service under different conditions. These are not pure devotees because they have some aspiration to fulfill in exchange for devotional service. Pure devotional service is without aspiration and without desire for material profit. The Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu defines pure devotion thusly: "One should render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord Krishna favorably, and without desire for material profit or gain through fruitive activities or philosophical speculation. That is called pure devotional service."

When these four kinds of persons come to the Supreme Lord for devotional service and are completely purified by the association of a pure devotee, they also become pure devotees. So far as the miscreants are concerned, for them devotional service is very difficult because their life is selfish, irregular, and without spiritual goals. But even some of them, by chance, when they come in contact with a pure devotee, also become pure devotees.

Those who are always busy with fruitive activities come to the Lord in material distress and at that time associate with pure devotees and become, in their distress, devotees of the Lord. Those who are simply frustrated also come sometimes to associate with the pure devotees and become inquisitive to know about God. Similarly, when the dry philosophers are frustrated in every field of knowledge, they sometimes want to learn of God and they come to the Supreme Lord to render devotional service, and thus transcend knowledge of the impersonal Brahman and the localized Paramatma, and come to the personal conception of Godhead by the Grace of the Supreme Lord, or by His pure devotee. On the whole, when the distressed, the inquisitive, the seeker of knowledge, and those who are in need of money are free from all material desires, and when they fully understand that material remuneration has no value for spiritual improvement, then they become pure devotees. So long as such a purified stage is not attained, devotees in transcendental service to the Lord are tainted with fruitive activities, seeking after mundane knowledge, etc. So, one has to transcend all this before one can come to the stage of pure devotional service.

17: Of these, the wise one who is in full knowledge, in union with Me through pure devotional service, is the best. For I am very dear to him, and he is dear to Me.

18: All these devotees are undoubtedly magnanimous souls, but he who is situated in knowledge of Me I consider verily to dwell in Me. Being engaged in My transcendental service, he attains Me.

19: After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the Cause of all causes, and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.

20: Those whose minds are distorted by material desires surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures.

21: I am in everyone’s heart as the Supersoul; and as soon as one desires to worship the demigods, I make his faith steady so that he can devote himself to some particular deity.


GOD HAS GIVEN independence to everyone; therefore, if a person desires to have material enjoyment and wants very sincerely to have such facilities from the material demigods, the Supreme Lord, as Supersoul in everyone’s heart, understands and gives facilities to such persons. As Supreme Father of all living entities, He does not interfere with their independence, but gives all facilities so that they can fulfill their material desires. Some may ask why the all-powerful God gives facilities to the living entities for enjoying this material world and so lets them fall into the trap of the illusory energy. The answer is that if the Supreme Lord as Supersoul does not give such facilities, then there is no meaning of independence. Therefore, He gives everyone full independence—whatever one likes—but His ultimate instruction we find in The Bhagavad Gita: Man should give up all other engagements and fully surrender unto Him. That will make him happy. Both the living entity and the demigods are subordinate to the Will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; therefore the living entity cannot worship the demigod by his own desire, nor can the demigod bestow any benediction without the Supreme Will. As it is said, not a blade of grass moves without the Will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Generally, persons who are distressed in the material world go to the demigods, as they are advised in the Vedic literature. A person wanting some particular thing may worship such and such a demigod. For example, a diseased person is recommended to worship the Sun-god; a person wanting education may worship the goddess of learning, Saraswati; and a person wanting a beautiful wife may worship the goddess Uma, the wife of Lord Shiva. In this way there are recommendations in the Shastras (Vedic scriptures) for different modes of worship of different demigods. And because a particular living entity wants to enjoy a particular material facility, the Lord inspires him with a strong desire to achieve that benediction from that particular demigod, and so he successfully receives the benediction. The particular mode of the devotional attitude of the living entity toward a particular type of demigod is also arranged by the Supreme Lord. The demigods cannot infuse the living entities with such an affinity; but because He is the Supreme Lord or the Supersoul Who is present in the heart of all living entities, Krishna gives impetus to man to worship certain demigods. The demigods are actually different parts of the universal body of the Supreme Lord; therefore, they have no independence. In the Vedic literature it is said: "The Supreme Personality of Godhead as Supersoul is also present within the heart of the demigod; therefore, He arranges through the demigod to fulfill the desire of the living entity. But both the demigod and the living entity are dependent on the Supreme Will. They are not independent."

22: Endowed with such a faith, he seeks favors of the demigod and obtains his desires. But in actuality these benefits are bestowed by Me alone.

23: Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary. Those who worship the demigods go to the planets of the demigods, but My devotees reach My Supreme Abode.


SOME COMMENTATORS on The Gita say that one who worships a demigod can reach the Supreme Lord, but here it is clearly stated that the worshipers of demigods go to the different planetary systems where various demigods are situated, just as a worshiper of the sun achieves the sun or a worshiper of the demigod of the moon achieves the moon. Similarly, if anyone wants to worship a demigod like Indra, he can attain that particular god’s planet. It is not that everyone, regardless of whatever demigod is worshiped, will reach the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is denied here, for it is clearly stated that the worshipers of demigods go to different planets in the material world, but the devotee of the Supreme Lord goes directly to the Supreme Planet of the Personality of Godhead.

24: Unintelligent men, who know Me not, think that I have assumed this Form and Personality. Due to their small knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is changeless and supreme.


THOSE WHO ARE WORSHIPERS of demigods have been described as less intelligent persons, and here the impersonalists are similarly described. Lord Krishna in His Personal Form is speaking before Arjuna and still, due to ignorance, they argue that the Supreme Lord ultimately has no Form. Jamunacharya, a great devotee of the Lord, in the disciplic succession from Ramanujacharya, has recited two very nice verses in this connection. He says, "My dear Lord, personalities and devotees like Vyasdeva and Narada know You to be the Personality of Godhead. By understanding different Vedic literatures, Your characteristics, Your Form, and Your activities can be known; and one can thus understand that You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But those who are in the modes of passion and ignorance, the demons, the non-devotees, cannot understand You. They are unable to understand You. However expert such non-devotees may be in discussing the Vedantas and the Upanishads and other Vedic literature, it is not possible for them to understand the Personality of Godhead."

25: I am never manifest to the foolish and unIntelligent. For them I am covered by My eternal creative potency [Maya]; and so the deluded world knows Me not, Who am unborn and infallible.

26: O Arjuna, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, I know everything which has happened in the past, all that is happening in the present, and all things that are yet to come. I also know all living entities; but Me no one knows.


HERE THE QUESTION of personality and impersonality is clearly stated. If Krishna, the Form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is considered by the impersonalists to be Maya, to be material, then He would, like the living entity, change His Body and forget everything in His past life. Anybody with a material body cannot remember his past life, nor can he foretell his future life, nor can he predict the outcome of his present life; therefore, he cannot know what is happening in past, present, and future. Unless one is liberated from material contamination he cannot know past, present, and future. Unlike the ordinary human being, Lord Krishna clearly says that He completely knows what happened in the past, what is happening in the present, and what will happen in the future. In the Fourth Chapter we have seen that Lord Krishna remembers instructing Vivasvan, the Sun-god, millions of years ago. Krishna knows every living entity because He is situated in every living being’s heart as the Supreme Soul. But despite His presence in every living entity as Supersoul, and His presence beyond the material sky as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the less intelligent cannot realize Him as the Supreme Person. Certainly the transcendental Body of Sri Krishna is not perishable. He is just like the sun, and Maya is like the cloud. In the material world we can see there is the sun and there are clouds and different stars and planets. The clouds may cover all these in the sky temporarily, but this covering is only apparent to our limited vision. The sun, moon, and stars are not actually covered. Similarly, Maya cannot cover the Supreme Lord. By His internal potency He is not manifest to the less intelligent class of men. As it is stated in the third verse of this chapter, out of millions and millions of men, some try to become perfect in this human form of life, and out of thousands and thousands of such perfected men, one can hardly understand what Lord Krishna is. Even if somebody is perfected by realization of impersonal Brahman or localized Paramatma, he cannot possibly understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, without being in Krishna consciousness.

27: O scion of Bharata [Arjuna], O conquerer of the foe, all living entities are bom into delusion, overcome by the dualities of desire and hate.

28: Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life, whose sinful actions are completely eradicated, and who are freed from the duality of delusion, engage themselves in My service with determination.


THOSE ELIGIBLE for elevation to the transcendental position are mentioned in this verse. For those who are sinful, atheistic, foolish, and deceitful, it is very difficult to transcend the duality of desire and hate. Only those who have passed their Iife in practicing the regulative principles of religion, who have acted piously and have conquered sinful reactions, can accept devotional service and gradually rise to the pure knowledge of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then, gradually, they can meditate in trance on the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is the process of being situated on the spiritual platform. This elevation is possible in Krishna consciousness in the association of pure devotees who can deliver one from delusion. It is stated in The Srimad Bhagwatam that if one actually wants to be liberated he must render service to the devotees; but one who associates with materialistic people is on the path leading to the darkest region of existence. All the devotees of the Lord traverse this earth just to recover the conditioned souls from their delusion. The impersonalists do not know that to forget their constitutional position as subordinate to the Supreme Lord is the greatest violation of God’s law, and unless one is reinstated in his own constitutional position it is not possible to understand the Supreme Personality, or to be fully engaged in His transcendental loving service with determination.

29: Intelligent persons who are endeavoring for liberation from old age and death take refuge in Me in devotional service. They are actually Brahman because they entirely know everything about transcendental activities.


BIRTH, DEATH, OLD AGE, and diseases affect this material body, but not the spiritual body. There is no birth, death, old age, and disease in the spiritual body, so one who attains a spiritual body and becomes one of the associates of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and is engaged in eternal devotional service, is really liberated. Aham Brahmasmi: I am spirit. It is said that one should understand that he is Brahman—spirit soul. This Brahma conception of life is also in devotional service, as described in this verse. The pure devotees are transcendentally situated on the Brahman platform and they know everything about transcendental and material activities.

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