NBS 5: Attaining Perfection
Nārada discourages the egotistic wrangling spirit. One who is proud of his debating skills and eager to defeat others will lose his humility, which, as Nārada says in Sūtra
However, when a Kṛṣṇa conscious preacher defends the Lord or the Vaiṣṇavas against blasphemy, that should not be taken as vain controversy. The devotee doesn't argue on his own account, but on Kṛṣṇa's. Also, a devotee's preaching is not based on mental speculation, which is always imperfect, but on the perfect process of receiving knowledge from the
But sometimes a preacher will avoid a fight if he sees that the challenger simply wants to argue for the sake of argument. Rūpa Gosvāmī once declined to debate a rascal who came to defeat him, but then Rūpa's nephew, Jīva Gosvāmī, took up the challenge. So a devotee may or may not choose to meet the challenges of the atheists and voidists, depending on the circumstances, but in any case he knows that debate and challenge do not lead to a true understanding of God.
Certainly the devotee himself has no challenging spirit when he approaches the scriptures or the
If you base your philosophical conclusions on logical arguments, a superior logician will eventually defeat you. This is the method of Western philosophers, and India also has its
King Yudhiṣṭhira continues:
When Lord Caitanya first came to Jagannātha Purī, a dispute arose between His followers and Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, who was at that time a mundane logician. The Bhaṭṭācārya and his students refused to accept that Lord Caitanya was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, although Gopīnātha Ācārya presented much evidence from Vedic scriptures. Finally the disciples of the Bhaṭṭācārya said, "We derive knowledge of the Absolute Truth by logical hypothesis." Gopīnātha Ācārya replied, "One cannot attain real knowledge of the Supreme Personality of Godhead by such logical hypothesis and argument" (Cc.
athāpi te deva padāmbuja-dvaya-
prasāda-leṣānugṛhīta eva hi
jānāti tattvaṁ bhagavan-mahimno
na cānya eko 'pi ciraṁ vicinvan
"My Lord, one who is favored by even a slight trace of the mercy of Your lotus feet can understand the greatness of Your personality. But those who speculate in order to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead are unable to know You, even though they continue to study the
Vain controversy may also include gossip and rumor (
I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is full of unlimited qualities and whose different potencies bring about agreement and disagreement between disputants. Thus the illusory energy again and again covers the self-realization of both disputants. [
The most important
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" (
Nārada states that a person should not only read
Human birth is rare and one's life span brief. Why is human life so precious? Because we can use it for self-realization and get free of birth and death. But, as implied by this
Every human being has a maximum duration of life of one hundred years, but for one who cannot control his senses, half of those years are completely lost because at night he sleeps twelve hours, being covered by ignorance. Therefore such a person has a lifetime of only fifty years.
In the tender age of childhood, when everyone is bewildered, one passes ten years. Similarly in boyhood, engaged in sporting and playing, one passes another ten years. In this way twenty years are wasted. Similarly, in old age, when one is an invalid, unable to perform even material activities, one passes another twenty years wastefully.
One whose mind and senses are uncontrolled becomes increasingly attached to family because of insatiable lusty desires and very strong illusion. In such a madman's life, the remaining years are also wasted because even during those years he cannot engage himself in devotional service. [
Whenever we misspend time, it is an irretrievable loss. As Cāṇakya Paṇḍita states, all the gold in a rich man's possession cannot buy back a single moment of time.
A devotee uses his time well, and this is one of the symptoms of his advancement. Śrīla Prabhupāda writes, "He is always anxious to utilize his time in the devotional service of the Lord. He does not like to be idle. He wants service always, twenty-four hours a day without deviation" (
We cannot wait until after we complete our many duties before starting to remember Kṛṣṇa. If we give
The voice of delusion says, "When I'm older, I'll be less occupied with the struggle for existence.
adyaiva me viśatu mānasa-rāja-haṁsaḥ
kaṇṭhāvarodhana-vidhau smaraṇaṁ kutas te
"O Lord, at this moment let the royal swan of my mind enter the network of the stems of the lotus flower of Your feet. How will it be possible for me to remember You at the time of death, when my throat will be choked up with mucus, bile, and air?"
Nārada advises that one should "patiently endure." This is advice for the devotee. He should fully engage himself in Kṛṣṇa consciousness with the goal of going back to Godhead, and in the meantime he should tolerate the dualities of life. As Lord Kṛṣṇa advises Arjuna, "O son of Kuntī, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed" (Bg.
The present verse, therefore, must be understood in the context of what has gone before. Far from cultivating the listed virtues for themselves, the aspiring devotee should understand that all virtues will remain within the framework of the material modes until they are dovetailed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The good man is the paragon of the
Nonviolence is generally taken to mean not killing or destroying the body, but actually nonviolence means not to put others into distress. People in general are trapped by ignorance in the material concept of life, and they perpetually suffer material pangs. So unless one elevates people to spiritual knowledge, one is practicing violence. One should try his best to distribute real knowledge to the people, so that they may become enlightened and leave this material entanglement. That is nonviolence. [Bg.
Śrīla Prabhupāda preached tirelessly against violence to animals, especially to the cow. Whenever he met a religionist or educated person, Śrīla Prabhupāda would test him on this point. He never conceded that it was permissible to kill God's creatures "because they have no soul," or for whatever reason the meat-eaters invented. To the followers of Lord Buddha Śrīla Prabhupāda challenged, "We are glad that people are taking interest in the nonviolent movement of Lord Buddha. But will they take the matter very seriously and close the animal slaughterhouses altogether?
Lord Kṛṣṇa lists
Cleanliness refers to both inner and outer states. Both are important, but internal purity is more important. Lord Caitanya declared that the congregational chanting of the holy names is the best process for cleaning the mind. All material concepts—such as identifying the self as the body, seeing dualities in the world, and hankering for sense gratification—are "dirty things" in the heart. The
In discussing a similar list of virtues in the
By listing prominent virtues and using the word
In his purport to Sūtra
yo mām evaṁ asammūḍho jānāti puruṣottamam
sa sarva-vid bhajati māṁ sarva-bhāvena bhārata
"Whoever knows Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, without doubting, is the knower of everything. He therefore engages himself in full devotional service to Me, O scion of Bharata. This is the most confidential part of the Vedic scriptures, O sinless one, and it is disclosed now by Me. Whoever understands this will become wise, and his endeavors will know perfection" (
sarva-guhyatamaṁ bhūyaḥ śṛṇu me paramaṁ vacaḥ
iṣṭo 'si me dṛḍham iti tato vakṣyāmi te hitam
"Because you are My very dear friend, I am speaking to you My supreme instruction, the most confidential knowledge of all. Hear this from Me, for it is for your benefit. Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me, and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend" (Bg.
There is no difference between Lord Kṛṣṇa's instruction to "think of Me always" and Nārada's instruction to "always think of Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa." And indeed, any follower of Nārada's in disciplic succession can repeat his words: "The Supreme Personality of Godhead alone should always be worshiped wholeheartedly." But our words must be uttered with the conviction born from a life dedicated to the practices Nārada has given in the
Our words and acts in devotional service cannot be mechanical. To qualify as
The wholehearted, exclusive devotion to Kṛṣṇa Nārada recommends is echoed in Bhīṣma's definition of love: "Love means reposing one's affection completely upon one person, withdrawing all affinities for any other person" (
We must remember that constant, ecstatic absorption in Lord Kṛṣṇa is the goal of
mayy eva mana ādhatsva mayi buddhiṁ niveśaya
nivasiṣyasi mayy eva ata ūrdhvaṁ na saṁśayaḥ
"Just fix your mind upon Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and engage all your intelligence in Me. Thus you will live in Me always, without a doubt. My dear Arjuna, O winner of wealth, if you cannot fix your mind upon Me without deviation, then follow the regulative principles of
Let us always keep Nārada and his representatives as our worshipable preceptors. They will lead us to Lord Kṛṣṇa.
When He is glorified, the Lord swiftly reveals Himself to His devotees and allows them to know Him as He is.
After this initial
And so Nārada's life is a personal testimony to his own instruction given in this
Nārada once came to Vyāsadeva when Vyāsa was feeling despondent, even after having compiled most of the Vedic scriptures. Nārada quickly diagnosed his disciple's depression and spoke to him:
You have not actually broadcast the sublime and spotless glories of the Personality of Godhead. That philosophy which does not satisfy the transcendental senses of the Lord is considered worthless. Please, therefore, describe the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, more vividly. [
Vyāsa took Nārada's instructions to heart and began composing the
"All glory and success to Śrīla Nārada Muni because he glorifies the activities of the Personality of Godhead, and in so doing he himself takes pleasure and also enlightens all the distressed souls of the universe" (
As the best use of body, speech, and mind,
The Lord inquired, "Of all types of education, which is the most important?" Rāmānanda Rāya replied, "There is no education that is important other than the transcendental devotional service of Kṛṣṇa."
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu then inquired, "Out of all liberated persons, who should be accepted as the greatest?" Rāmānanda replied, "He who has love for Kṛṣṇa has attained the topmost liberation."
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu asked, "Out of all topics people listen to, which is the best for living entities?" Rāmānanda Rāya replied, "Hearing about the loving affairs between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa is most pleasing to the ear." [Cc
My Lord, let me offer my respectful obeisances unto Your lotus feet.... Your unlimited potency cannot even be measured by anyone. My dear Lord, You are the supreme controller. You are under Your own internal potency, and it is simply vain to think that You are dependent on any of Your creations.... Your advent on the surface of the earth in Your original form of eternal blissful knowledge is Your own pastime. You are not dependent on anything but Yourself; therefore I offer my respectful obeisances unto Your lotus feet. [
Let us keep Nārada's spirited words in our hearts so that we may practice
nārada muni bājāya vīṇā
Nārada has taught that
There has been nothing to suggest that Nārada is presenting a theoretical treatise. Thus we should not conclude our reading of the
Of course, the
A devotee appreciates the many services the Lord's devotees engage in, and he studies how to become perfect in his particular relationship with the Lord. Nārada's eleven ways of
(1) Mahārāja Parīkṣit became perfect by hearing about Kṛṣṇa; (2) Śukadeva Gosvāmī became perfect by speaking the glories of the Lord; (3) Prahlāda Mahārāja became perfect by remembering the Lord; (4) Lakṣmīdevī became perfect by serving the lotus feet of the Lord; (5) Mahārāja Pṛthu became perfect by worshiping the Lord; (6) Akrūra became perfect by offering prayers to the Lord; (7) Hanumān became perfect by serving the Lord; (8) Arjuna became perfect by befriending the Lord; and (9) Bali Mahārāja became perfect by offering everything to the Lord.
As for the five
All liberated devotees are situated in absolute transcendence, and one devotee does not hanker for the perfection of another. But the Vaiṣṇava
Although there is a progression in intimacy in the
Nārada previously gave definitions of
While praising Lord Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Brahman and the God of gods, Arjuna also referred to great sages in order to support his statement:
paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān
puruṣaṁ śāśvataṁ divyam ādi-devam ajaṁ vibhum
"You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth. You are the eternal, transcendental, original person, the unborn, the greatest. All the great sages such as Nārada, Asita, Devala, and Vyāsa confirm this truth about You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me" (
Śrīla Prabhupāda writes, "It is not that because Kṛṣṇa is Arjuna's intimate friend Arjuna is flattering Him by calling Him the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth. Whatever Arjuna says in these two verses is confirmed by Vedic truth" (Bg.
svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhuḥ kaumāraḥ kapilo manuḥ
prahlādo janako bhīṣmo balir vaiyāsakir vayam
dvādaśaite vijānīmo dharmaṁ bhāgavataṁ bhaṭāḥ
guhyaṁ viśuddhaṁ durbodhaṁ yaṁ jñātvāmṛtam aśnute
"Lord Brahmā, Bhagavān Nārada, Lord Śiva, the four Kumāras, Lord Kapila [the son of Devahūti], Svāyambhuva Manu, Prahlāda Mahārāja, Janaka Mahārāja, Grandfather Bhīṣma, Bali Mahārāja, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, and I myself know the real religious principle. My dear servants, this transcendental religious principle, which is known as
In his purport, Śrīla Prabhupāda stresses not only the importance of the individual sages but the fact that they are representatives of Vaiṣṇava
There are four lines of disciplic succession: one from Lord Brahmā, one from Lord Śiva, one from Lakṣmī, the goddess of fortune, and one from the Kumāras. The disciplic succession from Lord Brahmā is called the Brahmā-sampradāya, the succession from Lord Śiva (Śambhu) is called the Rudra-sampradāya, the one from the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmījī, is called the Śrī-sampradāya, and the one from the Kumāras is called the Kumāra-sampradāya. One must take shelter of one of these four
Nārada states that the
In his purports, Śrīla Prabhupāda compares the criticism Nārada received to the criticism he himself received from his disciples' parents. Their accusation was the same as Dakṣa's—that the spiritual master has unreasonably caused young boys (and girls) to give up the normal life of sense gratification and take to extreme forms of renunciation and devotion to God. The criticism of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement has taken organized shape as part of the "anti-cult movement," but Śrīla Prabhupāda assured his followers not to be afraid of attacks:
We have no business creating enemies, but the process is such that nondevotees will always be inimical toward us. Nevertheless, as stated in the
Critics deride the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement as a concocted new cult. But just as the
Nārada ends the
aśraddadhānāḥ puruṣā dharmasyāsya parantapa
aprāpya māṁ nivartante mṛtyu-saṁsāra-vartmani
"Those who are not faithful in this devotional service cannot attain Me, O conqueror of enemies. Therefore they return to the path of birth and death in this material world" (
yasya deve parā bhaktir yathā deve tathā gurau
tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ prakāśante mahātmanaḥ
"Unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master, all the imports of the
Let us gratefully receive this benediction and repeatedly hear the
Nārada assures us twice, so there should be no doubt about it: although
—Completed on Unmīlanī Mahā-dvādaśī, November 24, 1989, in Jagannātha Purī, as desired by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda