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

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10: Being freed from attachment, fear, and anger, being fully absorbed in Me and taking refuge in Me, many, many persons in the past became purified—and thus they all attained transcendental love for Me.


AS DESCRIBED ABOVE, it is very difficult for a person who is too materially affected to understand the personal nature of the Supreme Absolute Truth. Generally, people who are attached to the bodily concept of life are so absorbed in materialism that it is almost impossible for them to understand how the Supreme can be a Person. Such materialists cannot even imagine that there is a transcendental body which is non-perishable, full of knowledge and eternally blissful. In the materialistic concept, the body is perishable, full of ignorance and completely miserable. Therefore, people in general keep this same bodily idea in mind when they are informed of the Personal form of the Lord. For such materialistic men, the Form of the gigantic material manifestation is supreme; therefore, they imagine that the Supreme is impersonal. And because they are too materially absorbed, the concept of retaining the personality after liberation from matter frightens them. When such materialistic men are informed that spiritual life is also individual and personal, they are afraid of becoming persons again, and so they naturally prefer a kind of merging into the impersonal void. Generally, they compare the living entities to the bubbles of the ocean, which merge into the ocean. That is the highest perfection of spiritual existence attainable without individual personality. This is a fearful stage of life, devoid of perfect knowledge of spiritual existence. Furthermore, there are many persons who cannot understand spiritual existence at all. Being embarrassed by so many theories and by contradictions of various types of philosophical speculation, they become disgusted or angry, and foolishly conclude that there is no Supreme Cause and that everything is ultimately void. Such people are in diseased conditions of life. Some of them are too materially attached, and therefore do not give attention to spiritual life; some of them want to merge into the Supreme Spiritual Cause; and some of them disbelieve in everything, being angry at all sorts of spiritual speculation out of hopelessness. This last class of men take to the shelter of some kind of intoxication, and their effective hallucinations are sometimes accepted as spiritual visions. One has to get rid of all three stages of attachment to the material world: negligence of spiritual life, fear of a spiritual personal identity, and the concept of void that underlies the frustration of life. To get free of these three stages in the material concept of life, one has to take complete shelter of the Lord, guided by the bona fide spiritual master, and follow the penances of disciplinary and regulative principles of devotional life. The last stage of such devotional life is called Bhava, or transcendental love of Godhead.

According to Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu, The Science of Devotional Service, in the beginning one must have a preliminary desire for self-realization. This will bring one to the stage of trying to associate with persons who are spiritually elevated. The next stage is that one becomes initiated by an elevated spiritual master, and under the instruction of the spiritual master, the neophyte devotee begins the process of devotional service. By execution of devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master, one becomes free from all material attachment and attains steadiness in self-realization, and acquires a taste for hearing about the Absolute Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna. This taste leads one further forward to the attachment for Krishna consciousness, and this Krishna consciousness is matured in Bhava, or the preliminary stage of transcendental love of Godhead. When the devotee reaches the stage of real love for Godhead it is called Prema—the highest perfection of life. In the Prema stage there is a constant engagement in the transcendenta1 loving service of the Lord. So, by the slow process of devotional service—under the guidance of the bona fide spiritual master—one can attain the Bhava stage, being freed from all material attachment, from the fearfulness of one’s individual spiritual personality, and from the frustration of voidness. And when one is actually free from such lower stages of life, one can attain to the Abode of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

11: All of them—as they surrender unto Me—I reward accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pritha.


EVERYONE IS SEARCHING after Krishna in the different aspects of His manifestations. Krishna the Supreme Personality of Godhead is partially realized in His impersonal Brahmajyoti, or shining effulgence. Krishna is also partially realized as the all-pervading Supersoul dwelling within everything—even in the particles of atoms. But Krishna is only fully realized by His pure devotees. Therefore, Krishna is the object of everyone’s realization; and, as such, anyone and everyone is satisfied according to one’s desire to have Him. One devotee may want Krishna as the Supreme Master, another as his personal Friend, another as his Son, and still another as his Lover. Krishna rewards equally all the devotees, in their different intensities of love for Him. In the material world, the same reciprocations of feelings are there, and they are equally exchanged by the Lord with the different types of worshipers. The pure devotees both here and in the transcendental Abode associate with Him in person and are able to render personal service to the Lord, and thus derive transcendental bliss in His loving service. As for those who are impersonalists, and who want to commit spiritual suicide by annihilating the individual existence of the living entity, Krishna helps them also, by absorbing them into His effulgence. Such impersonalists do not agree to accept the eternal, blissful Personality of Godhead: and consequently they cannot relish the bliss of transcendental personal service to the Lord, having extinguished their individuality. Some of them, who are not situated even in the impersonal existence, return to this material field to exhibit their dormant desires for activities. They are not admitted into the spiritual planets, but they are again given a chance to act on the material planets. For those who are fruitive workers, the Lord awards the desired results of their prescribed duties, as the Yajnesvara; and those who are yogis seeking mystic powers are awarded such powers. In other words, everyone is dependent for success upon His mercy alone, and all kinds of spiritual processes are but different degrees of success on the same path. Unless, therefore, one comes to the highest perfection of Krishna consciousness, all attempts remain imperfect, as is stated in The Srimad Bhagwatam: "Whether one is without desire [the condition of the devotees], or is desirous of all fruitive results, or is after liberation—one should with all efforts try to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead for complete perfection, culminating in Krishna consciousness."

12: Men in this world desire success in fruitive activities, and therefore they worship the demigods. Quickly, of course, men get results from fruitive work in this world.

13: According to the three modes of material Nature and the work ascribed to them, the corresponding four divisions of human society were created by Me. And, although I am the Creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.


THE LORD IS THE CREATOR of everything. Everything is born of Him, everything is sustained by Him, and everything, after annihilation, rests in Him. He is therefore the Creator of the four divisions of the social order—beginning with the intelligent class of men, technically called the Brahmins due to their being situated in the mode of goodness. Next is the administrative class, technically called the Kshatriyas due to their being situated in the mode of passion. The mercantile men, called the Vaisyas, are situated in the mixed modes of passion and ignorance; and the Sudras, or the laborer class, are situated in the ignorant mode of material Nature. In spite of His creating the four divisions of human society, Lord Krishna does not belong to any of these divisions because He is not one of the conditioned souls, a section of whom form human society. Human society is the same as animal society, but to elevate men from the animal status, the above-mentioned divisions are created by the Lord—for the systematic development of Krishna consciousness. The tendency of a particular man toward work is determined by the modes of material Nature which he has acquired. Such symptoms of life, according to different modes of material Nature, are described in the Eighteenth Chapter of this book. A person in Krishna consciousness, however, is above even the Brahmins, because a Brahmin by quality is supposed to know about Brahman, the Supreme Absolute Truth. Most of them approach the impersonal Brahman manifestation of Lord Krishna, but only a man who transcends the limited knowledge of a Brahmin, and reaches the knowledge of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna, becomes a person in Krishna consciousness—or, in other words, a Vaishnava. Krishna consciousness includes knowledge of all different plenary expansions of Krishna—namely Rama, Nrisingha, Baraha, etc. As Krishna is transcendental to this system of the four divisions of human society, a person in Krishna consciousness is also transcendental to the mundane divisions of human society, whether we consider the divisions of community, nation, or species.

14: There is no work that affects Me; nor do I aspire for the fruits of action. One who understands this truth about Me does not become entangled in the fruitive reactions of work.

15: All the liberated souls in ancient times acted with this understanding and so attained liberation. Therefore, as did the ancients, you should perform your duty in this divine consciousness.


THERE ARE TWO classes of men: Some of them are full of polluted material things within their hearts, and some of them are materially free. Krishna consciousness is equally beneficial for both of these persons. Those who are full of dirty things can take to the line of Krishna consciousness for a gradual cleansing process, following the regulative principles of devotional service. Those who are already cleansed of the impurities may continue to act in the same Krishna consciousness so that others may follow their exemplary activities and thereby be benefited. Foolish persons or neophytes in Krishna consciousness often want to retire from activities without having knowledge of Krishna consciousness. Arjuna’s desire to retire from activities on the battlefield was not approved by the Lord. One need only know how to act. To retire from activities and to sit aloof making a show of Krishna consciousness is less important than actually engaging in the field of activities for the sake of Krishna. Arjuna is here advised to act in Krishna consciousness, following in the footsteps of the Lord’s previous disciples, such as the Sun-god Vivasvan, as mentioned hereinbefore. The Supreme Lord knows all His past activities, as well as those of persons who acted in Krishna consciousness in the past—therefore He recommends the acts of the Sun-God, who learned this art from the Lord some millions of years before. All such students of Lord Knshna are mentioned here as past liberated persons, engaged in the discharge of duties allotted by Krishna.

16: Even the intelligent are bewildered in determining what is action and what is inaction. Now I shall explain to you what action is, knowing which you shall be liberated from all sins.

17: The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore, one should know properly what action is, what forbidden action is, and what inaction is:


IF ONE IS SERIOUS about liberation from material bondage, one has to understand the distinctions between action, inaction, and unauthorized actions. One has to apply oneself to such an analysis of action, reaction, and perverted actions because it is a very difficult subject matter. To understand Krishna consciousness and action according to the modes, one has to learn one’s relationship with the Supreme. One who has learned perfectly knows that every living entity is the eternal servitor of the Lord, and consequently acts in Krishna consciousness. The entire Bhagavad Gita is directed toward this conclusion. Any other conclusions, against this consciousness and its attendant reactions, are Vikarmas, or prohibitive actions. To understand all this one has to associate with authorities in Krishna consciousness, and learn the secret from them; this is as good as learning from the Lord directly. Otherwise, even the most intelligent person will be bewildered.

18: One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is intelligent among men, and he is in the transcendental position, although engaged in all sorts of activities.


A PERSON ACTING in Krishna consciousness is naturally free from the resultant action of work. His activities are all performed for Krishna, and therefore he does not enjoy or suffer any of the effects of work. Consequently, he is intelligent in human society, even though he is engaged in all sorts of activities for Krishna. Akarma means without reaction to work. The impersonalist ceases fruitive activities out of fear, so that the resultant action may not be a stumbling block on the path of self-realization, whereas the personalist knows rightly his position as the eternal servitor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore, he engages himself in the activities of Krishna consciousness. Because everything is done for Krishna, he enjoys only transcendental happiness in the discharge of this service. Those who are engaged in this process are without desire for personal sense gratification. The sense of eternal servitorship to Krishna makes one immune to all the reactionary elements of work.

19: One is understood to be in full knowledge whose every act is devoid of desire for sense gratification. He is said by sages to be a worker whose fruitive action is burned up by the fire of perfect knowledge.

20: Abandoning all attachment to the results of his activities, ever satisfied and independent, he performs no fruitive action, although engaged in all kinds of undertakings.

21: Such a man of understanding acts with mind and intelligence perfectly controlled, gives up all sense of proprietorship over his possessions, and acts only for the bare necessities of life. Thus working, he is not affected by sinful reactions.

22: He who is satisfied with gain which comes of its own accord, who is free from duality and does not envy, who is steady both in success and failure, is never entangled, although performing actions.


A KRISHNA conscious person does not make much endeavor even to maintain his body. He is satisfied with gains which are obtained of their own accord. He neither begs nor borrows, but he labors honestly as far as is in his power, and is satisfied with whatever is obtained by his own honest labor. A Krishna conscious person is therefore independent in his livelihood. He does not allow anyone’s service to hamper his own service to Krishna. However, for the service of the Lord he can participate in any kind of action without being disturbed by the duality of the material world. The duality of the material world is felt in terms of heat and cold, or misery and happiness. A Krishna conscious person is above this duality because he does not hesitate to act in any way for the satisfaction of Krishna. As he does not care for duality, therefore he is steady both in success and in failure. These signs are visible when one is full in transcendental knowledge.

23: The work of a man who is unattached to the modes of material Nature, and who is fully situated in transcendental knowledge, merges entirely into transcendence.

24: To him, Brahman, the Supreme, is the offering, Brahman is the oblation and the sacrificial fire, and by Brahman the sacrifice is performed. By performing action in this way, one ultimately attains the Supreme.


A PERSON who is fully absorbed in Krishna consciousness is sure to attain the spiritual Kingdom through his full contribution to spiritual activities, for the consummation is Absolute, and the things offered are also of the same spiritual nature. How activities in Krishna consciousness can lead one ultimately to the spiritual goal is described here. There are various activities in Krishna consciousness, and all of them will be described in the following verses. But, for the present, just the principle of Krishna consciousness is described. A conditioned soul, entangled in material contamination, is sure to act in the material atmosphere, and yet he has to get out of such an environment. The process by which the conditioned soul can get out of the material atmosphere is Krishna consciousness. For example, a patient who is suffering from a disorder of the bowels due to overindulgence in milk products is cured by another milk product, curd. Similarly, the materially absorbed conditioned soul can be cured by Krishna consciousness, as it is prescribed here in The Bhagavad Gita. This process is generally known as Yajna, or activities simply meant for the satisfaction of Vishnu or Krishna. Therefore, the more the activities of the material world are performed in Krishna consciousness, or for Vishnu only, the more the atmosphere becomes spiritualized by complete absorption. Brahman means spiritual. The Lord is spiritual and the rays of His transcendental Body are called Brahmajyoti, His spiritual effulgence. Everything that exists is situated in that Brahmajyoti, and when the Jyoti is covered by the illusion of Maya, or sense gratification, it is called Material. This material feature can be removed at once by Krishna consciousness; wherein the offering for the cause of Krishna consciousness, the consuming agent of such an offering or contribution, the process of consumption, the contributor, and the result of such activities, are—all combined together—Brahman, or the Absolute Truth. The Absolute Truth covered by Maya is called Matter. Matter dovetailed for the cause of the Absolute Truth regains its spiritual quality. Krishna consciousness is the process of converting the illusory consciousness into Brahman, or the Supreme. When the mind is fully absorbed in such Krishna consciousness, it is said to be in Samadhi, or trance. Anything done in such transcendental consciousness is called Yajna, or sacrifice for the Absolute; and, in that condition of spiritual consciousness, the contributor, the contribution, the consumption, the performer or leader of the performance, and the result or ultimate gain—everything—becomes one in the Absolute, the Supreme Brahman. That is the explanation of Krishna consciousness.

25: Some yogis perfectly worship the demigods by offering different sacrifices to them, and some of them offer sacrifices in the fire of the Supreme Brahman.


AS DESCRIBED ABOVE, a person engaged in discharging duties in Krishna consciousness is also called a perfect yogi, or a first-class mystic. But there are others also, who perform similar sacrifices in the worship of demigods, and still others who sacrifice to the Supreme Brahman, or the impersonal feature of the Supreme Lord. So there are different kinds of sacrifices in terms of different categories. Such different categories of sacrifice by different types of performers only superficially demark varieties of sacrifice. Factual sacrifice means to satisfy the Supreme Lord, Vishnu, and is also known as Yajna. All the different varieties of sacrifice can be placed within two primary divisions—sacrifice of worldly possessions, and sacrifice in pursuit of transcendental knowledge. Those who are in Krishna consciousness sacrifice all material possessions for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord, while others, who want some temporary material happiness, sacrifice their material possessions to satisfy demigods such as Indra, the sun, etc. And others, who are impersonalists, sacrifice in the sense of merging into the existence of impersonal Brahman. The demigods are powerful living entities appointed by the Supreme Lord for the maintenance and supervision of all material functions like heating, watering, and lighting of the universe. Those who are interested in such supplies of material benefits worship the demigods by various sacrifices according to the Vedic rituals. They are called Bahvisvaravadi, or believers in many gods. Whereas others, who stick to the impersonal feature of the Absolute Truth, and regard the forms of the demigods as temporary, sacrifice their individual selves in the Supreme fire, and thus end their individual existences by merging into the existence of the Supreme. Such impersonalists relinquish their time in philosophical speculation for understanding the transcendental nature of the Supreme. In other words, the fruitive workers sacrifice their material possessions for material enjoyment, whereas the irnpersonalist sacrifices his material designations with a view to merging into the existence of the Supreme. For the impersonalist, the fire altar of sacrifice is the Supreme Brahman, and the offering is the self being consumed by the fire of Brahman. The Krishna conscious person, however, sacrifices everything for the satisfaction of Krishna, and as such all his material possessions as well as his own self—everything—are sacrificed for Krishna (as with Arjuna). Thus, he is the first-class yogi; but he does not lose his individual existence.

26: Some of them sacrifice the hearing process and the senses in the fire of the controlled mind, and others sacrifice the objects of the senses, such as sound, in the fire of sacrifice.


THE FOUR DIVISIONS of human life, namely the Brahmachary, the Grihastha, the Varnaprastha, and the Sannyasins, are all meant to help men become perfect yogis or transcendentalists. Since human life is not meant for our enjoying sense gratification like the animals, the four orders of human life are fixed so that one may become perfect in spintual life. The Brahmacharis, or students under the care of a bona fide spiritual master, control the mind by abstaining from sense gratification. Furthermore, a Brahmacharary hears only words concerning Krishna consciousness. Hearing is the basic principle for understanding, and therefore the pure Brahmachary engages fully in chanting and hearing the glories of the Lord. He restricts himself from the vibrations of material sounds, and his hearing is engaged in the transcendental sound vibration: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna. Similarly, the householders, who have some license for sense gratification, perform such acts with great restraint. Sex life, intoxication, and meat eating are general tendencies of human society, but a regulated householder does not indulge in unrestricted sex life and other sense gratifications. Marriage on principles of religious life is therefore current in all civilized human society because that is the way for restricted sex life. This restricted unattached sex life is also a kind of Yajna, because the restricted householder sacrifices his general tendency toward sense gratification for higher transcendental life.

27: And some offer the work of the senses, and the work of the life force, controlling them in Yoga, to obtain knowledge of the self.

28: There are others who, enlightened by sacrificing their material possessions in severe austerities, take strict vows and practice the Yoga of eightfold mysticism, and others study the Vedas for the advancement of transcendental knowledge.
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