The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.2.32) states:
ye 'nye 'ravindākṣa vimukta-māninas
tvayy asta-bhāvād aviśuddha-buddhayaḥ
āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ
patanty adho 'nādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅghrayaḥ
O lotus-eyed Lord, although nondevotees who accept severe austerities and penances to achieve the highest position may think themselves liberated, their intelligence is impure. They fall down from their position of imagined superiority because they have no regard for Your lotus feet."
Thus the yogic process a surrendered servant of the Supreme Lord practices is altogether different form Patañjali's eightfold yoga system, beginning with sense control, yogic postures, and breath control. These practices are, in a sense, meant to increase physical prowess for better sense enjoyment. The devotee, on the other hand, follows the best yoga system of God-realization, which is enunciated in the Bhagavad-gītā. His activities are not selfishly motivated, aimed at realizing his own cherished dreams, but are directed toward fulfilling the will of God on earth. This yoga is known as buddhi-yoga, wherein lies the entire world's good fortune.
In the Bhagavad-gītā (6.46-47) Lord Kṛṣṇa states,
tapasvibhyo 'dhiko yogī
jñānibhyo 'pi mato 'dhikaḥ
karmibhyaś cādhiko yogī
tasmād yogī bhavārjuna
yoginām api sarveṣāṁ
śraddhā-vān bhajate yo māṁ
sa me yukta-tamo mataḥ
A yogī is greater than the ascetic, greater than the empiricist, and greater than the fruitive worker. Therefore, O Arjuna, in all circumstances be a yogī. And of all yogīs, the one who with great faith always abides in Me, thinks of Me within Himself, and renders transcendental loving service to Me-he is most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion.
The devotee is placed in the highest position because his sole intention is to establish the will of the Supreme Lord in the world. Once everything in the world is conducted according to the Lord's desire, then all activities will become spiritual and the Lord's presence will be felt everywhere and in everything. For the devotee, therefore, the purpose of yoga is not to attain such mean and miserly goals as liberation or sense enjoyment, but to reestablish his loving relationship of devotional service to the Lord and to spread this truth throughout the world. He knows that without being on the platform of Brahman, one cannot render the Lord pure devotional service, the highest stage of transcendence. Yet he also knows that Brahman realization is a concomitant of the highest stage of devotional surrender. Therefore, if through devotional service he can help create an atmosphere of spirituality that will pervade the earth and make everything blissful, then why should he strive for the meager, selfish joys of liberation?
Lord Caitanya declared that the constitutional position of every living entity is to be an eternal servant of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Therefore every jīva is inherently a liberated being. The jīva's present conditioned state is an illusion caused by his forgetting Lord Kṛṣṇa. Lord Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā that the jīva is His separated part. The conditioned soul is enchained by the mind, senses, and so on, which are agents of māyā, the illusory energy. The jīva is now in captivity as a result of his previous sinful activities, but why should he remain so eternally? His imprisonment can be easily ended simply by the Lord's mercy. And if the Lord's mercy is not available, then on his own the jīva can never free himself. Conceited persons who think they can obtain liberation without the Lord's mercy, simply by performing strict penances and austerities, are totally mistaken; they fail. Still, although receiving the Lord's mercy is the prime cause for attaining liberation, the Lord does not participate directly in the affairs of the conditioned soul. As the Lord states in the Bhagavad-gītā (5.14), referring both to the jīva and Himself,
na kartṛvaṁ na karmāṇi
lokasya sṛjati prabhuḥ
svabhāvas tu pravartate
The embodied spirit, master of the city of his body, does not create activities, nor does he induce people to act, nor does he create the fruits of action. All this is enacted by the modes of material nature.
Although the above statement is true, it is under the Lord's guardianship that the jīva souls in the conditioned state experience the dualities of heat and cold, pleasure and pain, and so on, according to their activities. Since this is all indirectly controlled by the Lord, it is futile to complain about it. One should simply pray for His mercy, and all dualities will be eradicated. Therefore the Lord's devotees are never perturbed by dualities. The pious and intelligent person thinks that the sufferings inflicted upon him due to his previous sinful activities are only slight because of the Lord's mercy, and that by His mercy all suffering can be relieved in moment. As Lord Brahmā states in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.14.8),
tat te 'nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo
bhuñjāna evātma-kṛtaṁ vipākam
hṛd-vāg-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jīveta yo mukti-pade sa dāya-bhāk
My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words, and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim.
Within their hearts, the broad-minded, pure devotees of the Lord are informed of the Lord's orders and of the workings of the material nature. They are also aware that the fully independent Supreme Lord, who is eternally engaged in transcendental activities, chooses a particular land in which to unfold His earthly pastimes, and that this designated country is Bhārata-varṣa, or India. Therefore all Indians should execute the Supreme Lord's commands. As Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī says in his Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi 9.41),
bhārata-bhūmite haila manuṣya-janma yāra
janma sārthaka kari' kara para-upakāra
One who has taken his birth as a human being in the land of India [Bhārata-varṣa] should make his life successful and work for the benefit of all other people.
It is indeed true that Indians are especially able to benefit others world-wide. But if the Indians do not meet this responsibility and instead get enticed and bedazzled by the illusory energy as it is manifest in the West in such variegated forms, then they will become known as misers and end their lives in disgrace. The sun is not visible at night because of the rotation of the earth, yet the sun is very much present in the sky, and the entire solar system is working under its influence. Similarly, the light of India's knowledge, contained in the sublime philosophy of the Vedas, the Upaniṣads, the Vedānta-sūtra, the Purāṇas, the Gītā, and their corollaries, is certainly available, but by divine will it is temporarily beyond our view due to the influence of ignorance and passion. Of course, by the Lord's will and by the mercy of His pure devotee, this knowledge will again spread everywhere. Lord Caitanya has made this prediction;
pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi-grāma
sarvatra pracāra haibe more nāma
[CB Antya-khaṇḍa 4.126]
My holy name will be propagated in every town and village of this globe.
This prediction will very easily come true, for a pure devotee of the Lord can inundate the world with the tidal waves of love of Godhead, the religion preached by Lord Caitanya. Everything is possible if the Lord desires. And thus if the Lord desires, everyone can develop a loving mood of surrender to Him.
Indians must fearlessly preach the glories of the Lord far and wide. One who surrenders to the Supreme Lord, Nārāyaṇa, can easily face all dangers in the effort to propagate His message. As said in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.17.28),
na kutaścana bibhyati
Devotees solely engaged in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa, never fear any condition of life. For them the heavenly planets, liberation, and the hellish planets are all the same, for such devotees are interested only in the service of the Lord.
When knowledge of the Absolute Truth, which is on the platform of pure goodness, is suppressed by the rampant influence of ignorance and passion, the sages and self-realized souls withdraw to a solitary place of worship and concentrate solely on elevating themselves spiritually. They also greatly benefit the few disciples who stay with them and serve them. But if the Lord desires, then these sages and yogīs come forward to benefit the world through missionary activities. For the ultimate good of the world, saintly kings like Janaka, Yudhiṣṭhira, and Kārtavīrya take up the burden of managing world affairs.
All the pastimes of the Supreme Lord in the spiritual world are eternal. His earthly pastimes are similarly transcendental and eternal. As the Caitanya-bhāgavata states, "Even at this very moment Lord Gaurāṅga is enacting His eternal, transcendental pastimes, but only the most fortunate souls can see them." When the sun sets, it goes out of our sight, but it continues to shine somewhere on this globe. Similarly, when the Lord winds up His earthly pastimes, He continues to manifest them in one or more of the uncountable millions of planets in the universe. As Lord Brahmā declares in the Brahma-saṁhitā (5.39):
rāmādi-mūrtiṣu kalā-niyamena tiṣṭhan
nānāvatāram akarod bhuvaneṣu kintu
kṛṣṇaḥ svayaṁ samabhavat paramaḥ pumān yo
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who manifested Himself personally as Kṛṣṇa and the different avatāras in the world in the forms of Rāma, Nṛsiṁha, Vāmana, etc., as His subjective portions.
The cycle of four yugas, or millenniums—namely, Satya, Tretā, Dvāpara, and Kali—goes around a thousand times in one day of Lord Brahmā. The Bhagavad-gītā (8.17) confirms this: sahasra-yuga-paryantam ahar yad brahmaṇo viduḥ. "By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together form the duration of Brahmā's one day." According to the Vedic calculation, one day of Brahmā sees the coming and going of fourteen Manus. Therefore, each Manu lives for seventy-one cycles of the four millenniums. At present we are in the period of Vaivasvata Manu, in the twenty-eighth cycle of the four millenniums, and it is the Kali-yuga. This Kali-yuga is very special, however, because Lord Caitanya appears in this age in His original form and propagates the esoteric science of pure love of Godhead. All this we learn from the scriptures. We have great expectations that this science of pure love of Godhead will be propagated world-wide in the immediate future.
During the Satya-yuga the mode of goodness is in abundance. Or one can say that when the quality of goodness increases in a person to the extent that he becomes situated in his original constitutional identity as a servant of the Lord, thus making his human life a complete success, at that time he enjoys the bliss and tranquillity of the Satya-yuga. The three modes—goodness, passion, and ignorance—are always present in this material nature. According to the predominance of a particular mode, the yugas change from Satya to Tretā to Dvāpara to Kali. The jīvas in Kali-yuga are predominantly in the mode of ignorance, and with with the increase of this mode the threefold material miseries expand unlimitedly. Thus people today are afflicted by a short life-span, ill luck, warped intelligence, lethargy, disease, and many other sufferings.
Still, there is no reason to despise this age, for the most munificent incarnation of Godhead, Lord Caitanya, has appeared in Kali-yuga to shower His kindness upon the afflicted souls. The extent of the Supreme Lord's mercy is decidedly more generous in this age than in any other. In his play entitled Vidagdha-mādhava, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has described Lord Caitanya in this way:
anarpita-carīṁ cirāt karuṇayāvatīrṇaḥ kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasāṁ sva-bhakti-śriyam
sadā hṛdaya-kandare sphuratu vaḥ śacī-nandana
May that Lord who is known as the son of Śrīmatī Śacīdevī be transcendentally situated in the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has descended in the Age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation ever offered before: the most sublime and radiant spiritual knowledge of the mellow taste of His service.
The present Kali-yuga is therefore very auspicious, for in this age one can attain the treasure of devotional service to the Lord that He Himself propagated. Our hope rests fully with the Lord's surrendered devotees, who are endowed with perfect knowledge of how to disseminate this transcendental science. Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī, after describing the evil aspects of Kali-yuga, sums up this subject toward the very end of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (12.3.51-52):
kaler doṣa-nidhe rājann
asti hy eko mahān guṇaḥ
kīrtanād eva kṛṣṇasya
mukta-saṅgaḥ paraṁ vrajet
kṛte yad dhyāyato viṣṇuṁ
tretāyāṁ yajato makhaiḥ
kalau tad dhari-kīrtanāt
My dear king, although Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: Simply by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom. Whatever result was obtained in Satya-yuga by meditating on Viṣṇu, in Tretā-yuga by performing sacrifices, and Dvāpara-yuga by serving the Lord's lotus feet can be obtained in the Kali-yuga simply by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra.
The word hari-kīrtana used in these verses, which means "singing or chanting the glories of Kṛṣṇa," could very well apply to the Bhagavad-gītā, the song sung by God Himself. The promulgation of the Bhagavad-gītā's knowledge on a world-wide scale will establish a foundation upon which the edifice of the science of love of God will be constructed. This edifice will be the repository of the sublime treasure of devotional service as taught by Lord Caitanya in Kali-yuga, and it will serve as a shining monument to the transcendental endeavors of the Lord's pure devotees.
At present only a small portion of the knowledge contained in the Vedas, Vedānta-sūtra, and Upaniṣads is available to the general populace. What is noteworthy, however, is that the essence of all Vedic knowledge is available in the Gītopaniṣad, popularly known as the Bhagavad-gītā. Lord Kṛṣṇa milked the cow of the Upaniṣads, and Arjuna drank the milk thus obtained—the Bhagavad-gītā. If Arjuna found time to hear the Bhagavad-gītā in the middle of a battlefield at Kuruksetra, then what urgent business is stopping us from hearing the Gītā? When knowledge of the Gītā spreads, then everyone will easily be able to attain the platform of yoga. And as the pure devotees of the Lord become successful in their efforts to use their spiritual intelligence in the Lord's service, then the science of love of God taught by Lord Caitanya, the most magnanimous incarnation of Godhead, will be distributed everywhere. Judging from all the symptoms, the time is now ripe. Indians should now take shelter of their saintly preceptors, the pure devotees, and unitedly propagate the glorification of Kṛṣṇa via the medium of the Bhagavad-gītā. In this way the world will become prosperous and perfect. The present age has seen interest in spiritual matters markedly increase. Yoga and meditation societies have mushroomed expressly to transmit the knowledge of the Bhagavad-gītā, but how this will be accomplished is still a question. We are confident that Lord Caitanya's teachings on the process of loving devotional service will easily harmonize all conflicting concepts.
The most effective method for directing humanity toward a positive and favorable consciousness is available in India. Any person, under any circumstances, can reach an elevated state of consciousness by properly hearing the Bhagavad-gītā, and then, by constantly chanting the name of God, he can win God over. The present state of world affairs is full of foreboding, strife, and struggle. These are the effects of Kali-yuga. But our faith in the eternal nature of jīva prompts us to believe that anyone can attain devotional service to Kṛṣṇa simply by hearing and chanting His name and thereby awakening his inherent dormant love for Him. We have full faith in the words of Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī quoted above from the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam—that simply by chanting the name of Kṛṣṇa one can reach His eternal kingdom.
Therefore all signs point toward auspicious changes in the global consciousness. But these changes must be initiated from within every individual's heart; they are impossible to accomplish through political lobbying or social adjustments. The devotional feelings that reach out from within the hearts of men find their culmination in the pure devotees' spiritual perfection. In the Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa describes this spiritual perfection as bhakti-yoga, or buddhi-yoga, the yoga of devotional service. At a certain stage, all the systems of yoga become obsolete and have to be discarded—except for buddhi-yoga. The Lord says (Bhagavad-gītā) that a little progress on this path gives immense results:
eṣā te 'bhihitā sāṅkhye
buddhir yoge tv imāṁ śṛṇu
buddhyā yukto yayā pārtha
pratyavāyo na vidyate
sv-alpam apy asya dharmasya
trāyate mahato bhayāt
Thus far I have described this knowledge to you through analytical study. Now listen as I explain it in terms of working without fruitive results. O son of Pṛthā, when you act in such knowledge you can free yourself from the bondage of works. In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.
Real yoga is buddhi-yoga, the yoga of devotional service, which brings about direct perception of the Supreme Lord. When the devotee meets the Lord face to face, liberation takes the form of a woman and is at his beck and call, eager to serve him, and she is accompanied by personified material opulence, sense pleasure, and religiosity, all of whom wait upon the devotee like servants. The pure devotees of the Lord are all embodiments of perfection in yoga; thus the four Vedic goals are truly at their beck and call. And beyond these four goals is the supreme destination: superconsciousness, or God consciousness. This is the fifth and paramount Vedic goal. One who has reached the state of unalloyed Kṛṣṇa consciousness is an extremely rare personality—one in a million devotees, according Lord Caitanya.
Such an elevated state of consciousness is the last word in yoga. None of the other yoga processes, such as haṭha-yoga or rāja-yoga, can bring one to this platform. Buddhi-yoga lies far above these yoga practices, which are mostly physical disciplines. Buddhi-yoga, however, is a spiritual discipline for self-realization. This realization is a full perception of the nondual Absolute Truth, whereby one sees everything resting in the Supreme Lord and the Supreme Lord in everything. As Lord Kṛṣṇa explains in the Bhagavad-gītā (7.7):
mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyāt
kiñcid asti dhanañjaya
mayi sarvam idaṁ protaṁ
sūtre maṇi-gaṇā iva
O conqueror of wealth, there is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.
This means that every living entity, from demons to demigods to human beings to lower creatures, is fully dependent on the Supreme Lord. One who perceives the Absolute Truth in this way can wholeheartedly surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The vision of a pure devotee is described by Lord Kṛṣṇa in the Bhagavad-gītā (15.19-20):
yo mām evam asammūḍho
sa sarva-vid bhajati māṁ
iti guhyatamaṁ śāstram
idam uktaṁ mayānagha
etad buddhvā buddhimān syāt
kṛta-kṛtyaś ca 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 son 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.
Once a person surrenders fully to the Lord's lotus feet, he sees the Lord's from everywhere, not this world of moving and nonmoving matter. Such surrender has six limbs:
goptṛtve varaṇaṁ tathā
The six divisions of surrender are the acceptance of those things favorable to devotional service, the rejection of unfavorable things, the conviction that Kṛṣṇa will give protection, the acceptance of the Lord as one's guardian or master, full surrender, and humility.
The relationship between the Supreme Lord and His surrendered devotee is very intimate. Everything about the devotee is known to the Lord. The devotee has no separate interest that would involve him in speculative knowledge, fruitive activities, sense pleasures, lamentation, meditation, and so on. He simply engages full-time in serving the Supreme Lord. His consciousness becomes purified of all contamination, and the fire of conditioned life is put out. Duality and illusion is eradicated from his heart, his devotion to Lord Kṛṣṇa becomes single-minded, and He throws himself at the Lord's lotus feet, feeling like a sold-out animal. At this stage the Supreme Lord Himself imparts all spiritual knowledge, or buddhi-yoga, to the devotee so that he can attain Him:
dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ taṁ
yena mām upayānti te
aham ajñāna-jaṁ tamaḥ
To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me. To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance. (Bhagavad-gītā 10.10-11)
When the devotee adopts such a mood of surrender and complete dependence, everything easily happens by the Lord's desire. Even if the process of surrender somehow remains incomplete, the devotee achieves the ends attainable through other yogic practices. As the Lord says, "A little advancement on this path protects one from the most dangerous type of fear." In other words, the Supreme Lord personally intervenes and arranges for His surrendered devotee's success in spiritual life. Is there any doubt that once the Lord's divine energy is active, all our artificial endeavors are most insignificant and futile? The Lord's inconceivable potency that descends to bless us with spiritual perfection shows the magnitude and glory of His potencies. Certainly there are other methods for spiritual advancement, such as rāja-yoga, by which one can become equipoised, or difficult prāṇāyāma exercises, severe austerities, and renunciation, and these practices are very powerful. But when the Lord's divine potency acts, they all seem extremely ineffectual compared to the process of surrender, which invokes that potency. All these other methods, though very potent, are human endeavors. So how can they compare with the Supreme Lord's divine potency? With this divine potency the Lord blesses particular persons in particular circumstances.
The first limb of surrender is to accept that which helps us invoke the Lord's mercy. This means to completely depend on the Lord's will. Such surrender is free from any conditions. It is untinged by the desire for sense pleasure, liberation, or mystic perfections. The devotee, unlike others, is never in anxiety. His only concern is to execute the will of the Lord. In this connection, Śrīla Vyāsadeva says,
If a surrendered soul tries to arrange for food and shelter but does not succeed, or if, once having these things, he loses them, then despite such reverses he remains unperturbed and simply remembers the Supreme Lord, Hari.
It is true that when one prays sincerely at the Lord's lotus feet, the Lord generally fulfills one's wishes. But those who have completely surrendered to the Lord, throwing themselves at the His lotus feet, do not pray to the Him for anything material. Yet the Lord automatically provides for all their needs. As Lord Kṛṣṇa assures us in the Gītā (9.22):
ananyāś cintayanto māṁ
ye janāḥ paryupāsate
yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham
But those who worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form—to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have.
The single-minded devotees are surrendered souls. They can perceive how the Lord's potencies are working. They feel no anxiety if sometimes the Lord's mercy does not manifest, even after long pleading and prayers, for they have unflinching conviction that the Lord will protect them under all circumstances. The mood of the present age is not spiritually conducive, and hence it is difficult to develop a high degree of faith in the Lord. Still, it is certain that faith in the Lord never goes in vain. In the beginning we may be somewhat hesitant to accept this fact, but in time we come to understand that the Supreme Lord is always protecting us.
At times, when doubts and restlessness assail us, we must remain fixed in our resolve. The best remedy for doubts is to seek the association of saintly persons. Saintly souls who are learned in the conclusions of the revealed scriptures and have realized the Supreme Lord can dissipate our doubts and calm our restless mind with unequivocal instructions and exemplary actions. When Kṛṣṇa conscious topics, which are both very potent and nectarean to the ears and heart, are heard and discussed in the association of saints, then faith in the Supreme Lord gradually increases, along with attraction and devotion to Him. Faith inspires initial surrender, and later, by the powerful influence of saintly association, one's faith deepens and becomes steady. Once faith becomes steady, all mental agitations and doubts clear up due to constant worship of the Lord. One then practices bhajana (chanting meditation) of a very esoteric and elevated nature, and this leads one to the stage of love of Godhead. To attain this state, saintly association is imperative; there is no substitute. Therefore it is said:
'sādhu-saṅga', 'sādhu-saṅga'-sarva-śāstre kaya
lava-mātra sādhu-saṅge sarva-siddhi haya
The verdict of all revealed scriptures is that by even a moment's association with a pure devotee, one can attain all success. (Cc. Madhya 22.54)
And how the Lord feels about sādhus is revealed by the Lord Himself in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (9.4.68):
sādhavo hṛdayaṁ mahyaṁ
sādhūnāṁ hṛdayaṁ tv aham
mad-anyat te na jānanti
nāhaṁ tebhyo manāg api
The pure devotee is always within the core of My heart, and I am always in the heart of the pure devotee. My devotees do not know anything else but Me, and I do not know anyone else but them.
The Lord always resides in the heart of His pure devotees, and so they have the potency to purify the places of pilgrimage, which become heavily laden with the sins deposited there by all the pilgrims. These are some of the glories of the Lord's pure, surrendered devotees.
Lord Kṛṣṇa says In the Bhagavad-gītā (18.58), mac-cittaḥ sarva-durgāṇi mat-prasādāt tariṣyasi: "If you become conscious of Me, you will pass over all the obstacles of conditioned life by My grace." Therefore fruitive activity, the search for empirical knowledge, and mystic yoga all culminate in surrender to the Supreme Lord. As Lord Kṛṣṇa says in the Gītā (18.66):
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ
Abandon all varieties of religion and surrender unto Me. I will deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.
When the Supreme Lord has agreed to personally take responsibility for our protection, what is there to fear? When He who is omnipotent and the maintainer of the entire cosmic creation is willing to take charge of our life, then what objection can we have to surrendering to Him? If I am guaranteed the protection of the Supreme Personality, who creates, maintains, and destroys this limitless cosmic manifestation simply by His will, then what is left for me to desire? If we try in the proper way to realize the Supreme Lord's potencies, He will certainly reveal them to us as they are. How much can we accomplish with our puny physical and mental abilities? Real success in yoga comes only by fully surrendering to His lotus feet.
However, since it is not possible to attain such a mood of complete surrender in a moment, we should also not expect the Lord's mercy to manifest before us instantaneously. Although the Lord, and sometimes even His devotees, perform miracles, still we must not expect such extraordinary things to happen to us. Of course, it is certain that the degree of mercy the Lord bestows upon us is much greater than our degree of surrender to Him. Another danger is this: If we were to receive all His mercy at once, we would become corrupt and fallen, like many yogīs who attain mystic perfection. Better that we continue to perform our duties in a regulated way, with patience and enthusiasm; then undoubtedly we will receive the Lord's full mercy.
Both the Vedas and the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam describe the conditioned soul with the same analogy: On the tree-like human body reside two similar birds. One is the Supreme Soul, the Paramātmā feature of the Supreme Lord, and the other is the jīva soul. One bird, the jīva, is enjoying the fruits of material existence, while the other remains aloof, replete with all His transcendental potencies. The jīva soul must surrender to the Supreme Soul and relish the fruits given to him by the Lord.
The Lord says that His external potency—Mahā-māyā, or Kālī-serves Him in the form of the internal, spiritual potency. The jīva must allow this spiritual potency to influence him freely, without interference from the false ego, which makes the him think he is the doer. Thus surrendering to the Lord is the method prescribed to reach the highest stages of devotional service.
The Śvetāṣvatara Upaniśad says, parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate: [Cc. Madhya 13.65, purport] "The Supreme Lord's potencies are multifarious." These potencies act in different capacities at different levels: On the platform of jṇāna, empirical knowledge, they manifest in a particular way, different from any other. On the spiritual, transcendental platform, these potencies produce variegated spiritual manifestations. These potencies can be known if one attains perfection in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. On the platform of material nature, the senses are superior to the body as a whole, mind is superior to the senses, the intelligence is superior to the mind, and the soul is subtler and better than the intelligence. On the spiritual platform, when the pure soul is situated in his original spiritual identity, he renders devotional service to the absolute embodiment of sweet transcendence, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This devotional service is imbued with the partial expansion of hlādinī-śakti, the Lord's pleasure-giving potency.
Great thinkers and philosophers like Śrī Aurobindo describe this stage as vijṇānānanda, "the pure bliss of realized knowledge." Jesus Christ called it "the kingdom of heaven." By contrast, when one tries to enjoy mundane pleasures on the material plane, spiritual bliss becomes smothered and lies dormant, in a slumbering state. Perfection in yoga, therefore, is marked by the awakening of spiritual bliss. And when one is strongly drawn to this blissful state, one attains to the transcendental abode of the Supreme Lord. Iron in constant touch with fire develops the properties of fire. Similarly, when the jīva in the material nature rises to the state of spiritual bliss by means of devotional service, his spiritual consciousness awakens and he becomes oblivious of this phenomenal world. In the Bhagavad-gītā (12.8-9) Lord Kṛṣṇa tells us how to increase the influence of His spiritual energy upon us:
mayy eva mana ādhatsva
mayi buddhiṁ niveśaya
nivasiṣyasi mayy eva
ata ūrdhvaṁ na saṁśayaḥ
atha cittaṁ samādhātuṁ
na śaknoṣi mayi sthiram
mām icchāptuṁ dhanañjaya
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 bhakti-yoga. In this way you will develop a desire to attain Me.
When a person fixes his mind on the eternal, exquisite form of Śyāmasundara, the blackish, beautiful Lord Kṛṣṇa, all distress and anguish are vanquished. In the initial stages, the attempt to fix the mind on Kṛṣṇa may be unsuccessful, but with regulated practice (abhyāsa-yoga) it becomes possible. Abhyāsa-yoga means sincere engagement in the ninefold process of bhakti, beginning with hearing and chanting the holy name, pastimes, and so on, of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Proper execution of abhyāsa-yoga culminates in the awakening of divine consciousness, or superconsciousness. This is true success.
The modern sage Śrī Aurobindo has explained that in the third stage of yoga practice, the yogī sees God everywhere. In the process of jñāna-yoga, or the cultivation of empirical knowledge, when the yogī attains impersonal Brahman realization he sees Brahman as all-pervasive and inactive. This realization is bereft of any understanding of the Lord's name, form, qualities, pastimes, or paraphernalia. But if these transcendental topics arrest our attention, one very soon begins following the path of bhakti-yoga—the path enunciated in the Vedas, Upaniṣads, and Bhagavad-gītā. A transformation of vision takes place as one advances on this path. The rare soul who perfects this process can see the Supreme Lord in everything and everything in relation to the Supreme Lord. Quotes from various scriptures substantiate this point: In the Bhagavad-gītā the Lord says, vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ: [Bg. 7.19] "[The surrendered devotee knows] Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare." And the Upaniṣads state, sarvaṁ khalv idaṁ brahma: "Everything is permeated by Brahman." A person attains the highest stage of this realization when he sees this cosmic creation as a transformation and manifestation of the Supreme Lord's divine energies. Śrī Nārada instructed Śrīla Vyāsadeva with the following words:
idaṁ hi viśvaṁ bhagavān ivetaro
tad dhi svayaṁ veda bhavāṁs tathāpi te
prādeśa-mātraṁ bhavataḥ pradarśitam
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is Himself this cosmos, and still He is aloof from it. From Him only has this cosmic manifestation emanated, in Him it rests, and unto Him it enters after annihilation. Your good self knows all about this. I have given only a synopsis.
In this stage of realization, the eternal truth is no longer covered by the illusory, mundane pall of impersonal omnipresence, and what shines forth is the absolute spiritual personality. The fullest manifestation of that spiritual personality is Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the transcendental form of eternity, knowledge, and bliss, who is beyond the manifested and unmanifested material cosmos. As the Brahma-saṁhitā explains:
īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ
anādir ādir govindaḥ
Kṛṣṇa who is known as Govinda is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body [sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ]. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the prime cause of all causes.
The impersonal Brahman is the transcendental bodily effulgence of the Supreme Lord's sac-cid-ānanda form, and the illusory and transitory material nature is a transformation of His separated energy.
Although the sac-cid-ānanda Supreme Personality is a permanent resident of His own eternal abode, Goloka Vṛndāvana, He manifests Himself in His all-pervasive universal form and is present throughout this cosmic creation by means of His partial expansion, the Supersoul. As the Brahma-saṁhitā states,
tābhir ya eva nija-rūpatayā kalābhiḥ
goloka eva nivasaty akhilātma-bhūto
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
goloka-nāmni nija-dhāmni tale ca tasya
devī-maheśa-hari-dhāmasu teṣu teṣu
te te prabhāva-nicayā vihitāś ca yena
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, residing in His own realm, Goloka, with Rādhā, resembling His own spiritual figure, the embodiment of the ecstatic potency possessed of the sixty-four artistic activities, in the company of Her confidantes [sakhīs], embodiments of the extensions of Her bodily form, permeated and vitalized by His ever-blissful spiritual rasa.
Lowest of all is located Devī-dhāma [mundane world], next above it is Maheśa-dhāma [abode of Maheśa]; above Maheśa-dhāma is placed Hari-dhāma [abode of Hari] and above them all is located Kṛṣṇa's own realm named Goloka. I adore the primeval Lord Govinda, who has allotted their respective authorities to the rulers of those graded realms.
Lord Govinda is the Supreme Personality, unsurpassable, the topmost being, the unlimited Godhead. He is known as Kṛṣṇa because He attracts everyone by His extraordinary transcendental pastimes. It is therefore unanimously accepted that all His other names and expansions are partial. As the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam declares, ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam: [SB 1.3.28] "All these incarnations of Godhead are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the original Personality of Godhead."
Thus Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the original, beginningless, and supreme Personality of Godhead, and this material universe is simply part of His unlimited energy. We may now reject this material world as illusory, but one day, with Kṛṣṇa conscious vision, we will see its intimate connection with the Lord. In this stage of spiritual vision we will see material things as objects of neither exploitation nor rejection. Such transcendental vision is attained by the process of buddhi-yoga, or bhakti-yoga. We will then clearly see the truth of the following verse from the Brahma-saṁhitā (5.51):
agnir mahī gaganam ambu marud diśaś ca
kālas tathātma-manasīti jagat-trayāṇi
yasmād bhavanti vibhavanti viśanti yaṁ ca
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
The three worlds are composed of the nine elements, viz., fire, earth, ether, water, air, direction, time, soul, and mind. I adore the primeval Lord Govinda from whom they originate, in whom they exist and into whom they enter at the time of the universal cataclysm.
Once one is fixed in transcendental realization, all distress, lamentation, illusion, fear, and so on, are immediately eradicated. The soul is assailed by these miseries as long as he harbors the delusion that something exists outside of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore when one is situated in transcendence, one feels happiness even in this world. The mundane conception of life is a product of the three modes of material nature, which affect the mind and senses. But when one's vision is transformed through buddhi-yoga, one sees everything as having a direct link with Kṛṣṇa. The material elements, such as fire, water, ether, and mind, along with the directions, the soul, and time—everything material and spiritual, personal and impersonal—all reflect Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Being. When one reaches this state of realization, the dualities and illusion of sin and piety, happiness and distress, are dissolved by the ecstatic harmony of transcendence. In one Upaniṣad there is a statement that once a person experiences the happiness derived from Brahman realization, he no longer has anything to fear. A verse from the Īśopaniṣad (Īśo. 7) conveys a similar mood:
yasmin sarvāṇi bhūtāny
tatra ko mohaḥ kaḥ śoka
One who always sees all living entities as spiritual sparks, in quality one with the Lord, becomes a true knower of things. What, then, can be illusion or anxiety for Him?
Self-realization leads to the understanding that everything is situated in the Supreme Lord. At that time there is no more illusion or lamentation, and everything is wonderfully harmonized. One sees the whole material universe as a manifestation of unity in diversity. On this platform everything is full of happiness, knowledge, and eternity. This is the platform of Brahman realization.
In this realized state, we perceive Lord Nārāyaṇa's presence not only in all living beings but also in all nonliving things. When the darkness of ignorance cloaking our consciousness is dissipated by the merciful light of knowledge emanating from the spiritual master, we gain spiritual vision and can see that every object is directly linked with the Supreme Lord.
There are various stages of elevation the jīva goes through, which are like different shells (koṣas) covering him. They are the coverings of food (anna-maya), life air (prāṇa-maya), mind (mano-maya, or jñāna-maya), and transcendental knowledge (vijñāna-maya). When the final shell is penetrated, the soul attains pure consciousness, enters the state of complete bliss (ānanda-maya), and experiences sac-cid-ānanda as universal. First the soul has covered consciousness, then he reaches the stage of budding consciousness, then blossoming consciousness, and finally fully blossomed consciousness. And all the while he experiences a gradual expansion of bliss—but only in relation to Lord Kṛṣṇa and His devotional service. At the final stage, flowers, fruits, plants, trees, clay—all objects and elements—become spiritualized by being used in Lord Kṛṣṇa's service. In other words, nothing is seen to be separate from the Lord. As the Īśopaniṣad (1) explains, īśāvāsyam idaṁ sarvaṁ: [Īśo mantra 1] "Everything animate or inanimate that is within this universe is controlled and owned by the Lord."
To see God everywhere and in every living entity is not the final word in self-realization; one needs to see Him in all events, in every activity, in every thought influencing everyone's life, including one's own. Two things are indispensable for acquiring such a vision: first we must offer the results of all our activities to Lord Kṛṣṇa, and second, every action we perform must be done exclusively as devotional service to Him. We must constantly meditate on the fact that Lord Kṛṣṇa is the only enjoyer and proprietor of every action. As the Lord says in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.24-27),
ahaṁ hi sarva-yajñānāṁ
bhoktā ca prabhur eva ca
na tu mām abhijānanti
tattvenātaś cyavanti te
yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi
yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya
tat kuruṣva mad-arpaṇam
I am the only enjoyer and master of all sacrifices. Therefore, those who do not recognize My true transcendental nature fall down. Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform—do that, O son of Kuntī, as an offering to Me.
Considering everything material, some people make a show of renunciation and reject even those things that can be used in the Lord's service. This is futile. All objects in the material world are meant not for our enjoyment or gratification but for the Lord's service. This is the mood of one in transcendental consciousness, or superconsciousness. And all activities performed in this consciousness constitute true renunciation, or yukta-vairāgya, as opposed to false renuniciation, or phalgu-vairāgya. By instructing Arjuna to act in this way, the Supreme Lord has ordered us to do so as well. It is our duty to execute His instruction. Whatever the result may be, we must be convinced that all such activities are all-auspicious. As the Lord says in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.28):
vimukto mām upaiṣyasi
In this way you will be freed from bondage to work and its auspicious and inauspicious results. With your mind fixed on Me in this principle of renunciation, you will be liberated and come to Me.
Real perfection in yoga comes when we forget our personal demands and determine what service the Lord wants from us. Personal interest must be sacrificed, along with our conceptions of good and bad, right and wrong, necessary and unnecessary, ans so on. We must emulate that great warrior Arjuna and try to find out what service the Supreme Lord wants from us. Such Kṛṣṇa conscious activities alone will lead us to the full consummation of all our duties, and the results will be all-auspicious. This degree of fixed faith is indispensable to progress. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 22.62), Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja defines this faith:
'śraddhā'-śabde-viśvāsa kahe sudṛdha niścaya
kṛṣṇe bhakti kaile sarva-karma kṛta haya
By rendering transcendental loving service to Kṛṣṇa, one automatically performs all subsidiary activities. This confident, firm faith, favorable to the discharge of devotional service, is called śraddhā.
We need to accept one fact: The energy of the omnipotent Supreme Lord, which carries out the work of creation, maintenance, and annihilation, is in no respect inferior to our puny potency. Therefore God does not have to consult anyone about His or our difficulties or advantages. The question is, What is our duty? In the Bhagavad-gītā (4.16-17) the Lord says,
kiṁ karma kim akarmeti
kavayo 'py atra mohitāḥ
tat te karma pravakṣyāmi
yaj jñātvā mokṣyase 'śubhāt
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 misfortune. The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one should know what action is, what forbidden action is, and what inaction is.
The confidential truth about what constitutes good action is almost impenetrable. Some hold that good action consists of executing one's social responsibilities. This is what common men generally understand by good action. But a few verses after the ones quoted above, Lord Kṛṣṇa uses the phrase brahma-karma to describe good action, and the word brahma points to Brahman. Therefore some say work done on the platform of Brahman is good action. Others say that good action includes works beneficial for the self, the society, the nation, and humanity at large. When a person acts with such lofty intentions, he is surely known as a good man. Indeed, his actions are certainly noble compared with those of persons with warped mentalities. This kind of action is not buddhi-yoga, however, because such philanthropic works can at best replace one set of people's mundane desires with a new set, but they can never completely root out these unwanted desires from within the heart. Philanthropic activities cannot prepare us for unalloyed devotional service, which is uncontaminated by empirical knowledge and fruitive action.
Individual material cravings are less harmful to the world than mass movements for sense gratification. If the material desires of an individual are unfulfilled, he certainly becomes depressed, but when the mass of people remain dissatisfied, the distress is much greater and gives rise to social conflict. In any case, mundane yearnings bring suffering, both individual or collective. Even if a person starts out not intending enjoy the fruits of his actions, once those fruits come he is forced to enjoy them because he thinks of himself as the doer, influenced as he is by the three modes nature—goodness, passion, and ignorance. These fruits are not without the bitter seeds of anxiety, entanglement, frustration, and disruption. Therefore, neither the execution of social responsibilities nor philanthropic work is ultimately good action. Devotional service to the Supreme Lord, which is beyond the three modes, must be accepted as the only good action.
The noble Arjuna thoroughly analyzed what was good and bad, what was his duty and not his duty, and decided not to take up arms to fight. Then Lord Kṛṣṇa, understanding that Arjuna was motivated by self-gratificatory social sentiments and sheer selfish interests, gave him two kinds of instructions: The first dealt with the process by which the conditioned jīva attains liberation; the second taught Arjuna how the liberated soul can surrender to the Lord and render pure devotional service. Authorized scriptures like Bhagavad-gītā contain the transcendental teachings of the Lord Himself or of self-realized personalities. These scriptures are free from the four human frailties, that is, illusion, mistakes, limited senses, and the cheating propensity. Thus the scriptural injunctions have always remained pristine, despite childish attempts by imperfect men to distort them. Such scriptural instructions not only teach self-control and the elevation of consciousness, but they also help rid us of false ego, bring us to the stage of goodness, and offer us ultimate liberation.
Uncorrupted by any kind of discrepancy or mistake, the Vedas out as the most ancient religious texts in the world. Every human being has a right to follow their edicts, along with the instructions contained in other books of Vedic literature. The Vedic literature consists of the śruti (the Vedas and Upaniṣads) and the smṛti (the Vedānta-sūtra, the Puraṇas, Itihāsas like the Mahābhārata and Rāmāyaṇa, the Pañcarātras, and finally the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam). The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the natural commentary on the Vedānta-sūtra and offers solid education on how to conduct life perfectly. In recent ages the smṛti texts have become prominent and influenced human thought and action. All these scriptures fully support the varṇāśrama system of four social and four religious orders. But what is today being labeled varṇāśrama is an atheistic concept totally unsupported by the scriptures. Real varṇāśrama is based not on birth but on people's qualities and activities. One cannot reach the goal of the scriptures by practicing today's demoniac caste system. Only the introduction of daivī-varṇāśrama, the transcendental varṇāśrama system, will serve the purpose of the scriptures. This will move humanity toward liberation.
It is not at all difficult to compromise the real purport of the magnificent scriptural edicts by selfish motivations and a cheating mentality. When this happens, people aspire for show-bottle religiosity, material gain, sense enjoyment, and impersonal liberation. On the other hand, sincere observance of the scriptural injunctions leads to all-round success in life.
It is not enough to take only the first steps toward liberation. We must strive to reach the final goal within this very life-time. To achieve this end, it is imperative that we approach a spiritual master well-versed in the Vedas and take instruction from him on how to follow the scriptural rules. These rules are meant for the conditioned souls, not the liberated souls who are fully surrendered to the Lord's lotus feet; they have transcended the rules and regulations of the scriptures and can be called paramahaṁsas—self-realized pure devotees.
In the Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa says:
guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ
kartāham iti manyate
The spirit soul bewildered by the influence of false ego thinks himself the doer of activities that are in actuality carried out by the three modes of material nature.
Success in any activity depends on five essential factors: the place, the doer, the tools or senses, the endeavor, and finally the sanction of the Supreme Lord. Of these, the Supreme Lord's blessing is the most important. This sanction is enacted through the Supreme Lord's favorable supervision of His material energy, for it is by the Lord's will that material nature acts. Material nature acts according to one's consciousness: when the living entity is under the influence of the three modes of nature, his actions are conducted by the Lord's external energy, the material nature. But when he is in transcendental coonsciousness, the śuddha-sattva state, his actions are conducted by the Lord's internal, spiritual potency. The living entity can choose to have his activities conducted by either the Lord's external energy or His internal energy. This is the extent of the jīva's minute independence.
The moment the spirit soul surrenders completely at the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord and prays to Him for engagement in His loving devotional service, the soul is freed from the bondage of fruitive reactions. In this stage he proves the truth of the scriptural injunction jīvera svarūpa haya kṛṣṇera nitya-dāsa: [Cc. Madhya 20.108] "In his original spiritual identity, the spirit soul is an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa." This position gives the soul immense bliss. It is wrong to equate the position of an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa with that of a slave of māyā, the illusory potency of Kṛṣṇa. In other words, the feelings of power and pleasure gained by lording it over matter are insignificant compared to the ecstacy one feels in the Lord's service. Even the eight kinds of mystic perfections are puny compared with the bliss of being an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa. And surrender is the only means to attain this state; no artificial method can be applied. The awakening of pure Kṛṣṇa consciousness, which is the perfection of the living entity, is obtained only by surrendering to the Lord, the propensity for which is eternally inherent in the jīva. Hence Lord Caitanya says in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta:
nitya-siddha-kṛṣṇa-prema 'sādhya' kabhu naya
śravaṇādi-śuddha-citte karaye udaya
[Cc. Madhya 22.107]
Pure love for Kṛṣṇa is eternally established in the hearts of living entities. It is not something to be gained from another source. When the heart is purified by hearing and chanting, the living entity naturally awakens.
In the Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa states:
hṛd-deśe 'rjuna tiṣṭhati
The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.
The Lord is present in everyone's heart by His inconceivable spiritual potency. He also directs the movements of the jīvas by means of His material energy, consisting of the three modes of nature. After placing the jīvas in a material body, the Lord controls their wanderings. The intelligence of those jīvas who surrender to the Lord is fixed in devotional service, and so they are never again attracted to mundane activities. Transcending the three modes, they dispassionately observe all activities within the realm of the three modes.
In the early stages of devotional service one may be apprehensive because of reactions to sins and pious deeds. All this is due to previous habits. But if one fully surrenders to the Supreme Lord, the Lord Himself burns to ashes all reactions to pious and impious deeds. As stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.7.42):
yeṣāṁ sa eṣa bhagavān dayayed anantaḥ
sarvātmanāśrita-pado yadi nirvyalīkam
te dustarām atitaranti ca deva-māyāṁ
naiṣāṁ mamāham iti dhīḥ śva-śṛgāla-bhakṣye
But anyone who is specifically favored by the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead, due to unalloyed surrender unto the service of the Lord, can overcome the insurmountable ocean of illusion and can understand the Lord. But those who are attached to this body, which is meant to be eaten at the end by dogs and jackals, cannot do so.
Lord Kṛṣṇa encourages all living entities with these words in the Gītā, kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati: [Bg. 9.31] "O son of Kuntī, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes." Here the Lord clearly intends to relieve all our fears. One can understand the Supreme Lord as He is only by His mercy, which can elevate one from a second-class devotee to a first-class, pure devotee. As said in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.14.29):
athāpi te deva padāmbuja-dvaya-
prasāda-leśānugṛhīta eva hi
jānāti tattvaṁ bhagavan-mahimno
na cānya eko 'pi ciraṁ vicinvan
My Lord, if one is favored by even a slight trace of the mercy of Your lotus feet, he can understand the greatness of Your personality. But those who speculate to understand the Personality of Godhead are unable to know You, even though they continue to study the Vedas for many years.
For the fully surrendered pure devotee, not only is he himself transcendentally situated, but he sees this material nature as untainted by the three material modes. He then employs the material guṇas—the qualities of ignorance, passion, and goodness—in the Lord's service. For example, he uses his anger to chastise the enemies of the Lord's devotees.
Lord Kṛṣṇa makes the following statement in the Bhagavad-gītā (14.26):
māṁ ca yo 'vyabhicāreṇa
sa guṇān samatītyaitān
One who engages in full devotional service, unfailing in all circumstances, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman.
Such a pure devotee sees the material quality of goodness as the Lord's bodily effulgence. For him the quality of ignorance is transformed into peacefulness and equanimity. And he uses lust, a product of the mode of passion, to love and serve the supremely beautiful Lord. He meditates on how to serve the Supreme Lord, and then with enthusiasm and patience he performs all kinds devotional service. In the devotional mellow of śānta, or neutrality, such devotional enthusiasm may be absent, but because such a mood of devotion attracts the Lord's love, it is fully spiritual.
Here is another thought for meditation: The Supreme Personality of Godhead is unlimited, and any service rendered Him is also unlimited because the Lord's unlimited energy is the dynamic force behind such service. When this supernatural energy is reposed in us, all our thoughts and feelings, our physical body, our mind, our knowledge, and so on, are energized by it. Every endeavor then simply merges into this flow of energy, and we become like a lotus growing from the mud—in the world but uncontaminted by it. This is how the nondual principle comes alive: our mind, heart, consciousness, and activities become nondifferent from the Supreme Lord, the Absolute Truth. We consider ourselves the Lord's property, surrendered at His lotus feet, His unalloyed, eternal slaves. Rejecting all mental speculation and mundane desire, with a serene mind we experience incessant spiritual bliss in rendering Him loving service. In the Bhagavad-gītā (3.30) the Lord describes the process of surrender in this way:
mayi sarvāṇi karmāṇi
nirāśīr nirmamo bhūtvā
Therefore, O Arjuna, surrendering all your works unto Me, with full knowledge of Me, without desires for profit, with no claims to proprietorship, and free from lethargy, fight.
To achieve such a state of surrender, one has to be free from selfish desires, unaffected by dualities, and devoid of all false prestige. Dualities are born of false ego, the worst enemy of surrender. One who transcends false ego, and with it the effects of duality, is very easily freed from material desires, and then he vanquishes hate, greed, anger, fear, and so on. In the stage of full surrender to the Lord, even negative qualities like mundane desire and envy, along with dualities like hunger and thirst, heat and cold, joy and sorrow, loss and gain, sin and piety, and honor and dishonor, are converted into spiritual energy by being brought into contact with the Supreme Lord. Saintly, blissful personalities who are devoid of undesirable characteristics like lust and envy are found especially in India. One can conquer duality, illusion, and so on only by spiritual elevation to the state of directly perceiving the Supreme Lord and seeing everything in relation to Him. The only method of achieving this state of consciousness is buddhi-yoga.
For the devotee of the Lord, this kind of vision develops easily. Conversely, the empirical philosophers, fruitive workers, and gross materialists cannot possibly attain this stage. The devotees are inspired by Him to develop spiritual perception, and thus the dualities fade into inconsequence. Such a state is the ultimate result of their devotional surrender and love for the Lord. In the Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa describes the neophyte stage of such divine consciousness:
na śocati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām
One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything. He is equally disposed toward every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.
The living entity becomes bound up by the ropes of ignorance, duality, and illusion as soon as he sees this material world through the coloured crystal known as "me and mine." To nullify such false ego and contaminated consciousness, one must follow the process of buddhi-yoga, which is uncontaminated by the three modes of nature (ignorance, passion, and goodness). Otherwise superconsciousness is unattainable.
The state of pure goodness is marked by pure knowledge of the Absolute. But when this knowledge is pervertedly reflected in the material world, it becomes mundane and empirical, and the jīva is thrown into the whirlpool of dualities, which condition him. The mode of passion increases attachment, sense gratification, and material desires, and the jīva becomes entangled in fruitive activities. The mode of ignorance induces illusion, covering the jīva's intelligence; then he slides down to the lowest consciousness, spending time only in sleeping and laziness. And the material mode of goodness also turns the jīva away from the Absolute Truth and makes him conditioned. With an increase of the mode of passion, goodness and ignorance both decrease. When the mode of goodness increases, passion and ignorance decline. In this way the material modes wax and wane in varying degrees. The mode of goodness promotes mundane knowledge and elevated material consciousness, the mode of passion produces untiring energy for work and insatiable desire for results, and the mode of ignorance drags the jīva down to nescience, laziness, sleep, and delusion. The jīva in goodness moves up to more elevated consciousness, one in passion remains suspended in the mediocre state, and one in ignorance descends to the depths of depravity.
Therefore, it is a hazardous path of elevation that depends on personal characteristics within the jurisdiction of the three modes of nature. Without transcending these three material modes, a person will find himself securely in their clutches, and thus deluded, he will think that all his activities are divinely inspired. He will then broadcast this false concept, considering himself an advanced devotee and everyone else inferior. Impressed with his own knowledge, he will try to see God by dint of this knowledge instead of acting in such a way that God will want to see him. Intoxicated by false ego, he will see his activities, which are motivated by passion, as divine. Those who are proud of their knowledge do not surrender to the Lord; instead, they try to attain the Supreme Lord's mercy by the inductive method and thus exhibit an obnoxious mentality. One should constantly remember the Lord and pray to Him for mercy. The Lord, situated in the devotee's heart, responds to such a prayer and illumines his heart with knowledge, which dissipates the darkness of ignorance.
Lord Caitanya has taught:
tṛnād api sunīcena
taror iva sahiṣṇunā
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
[Cc. Ādi 17.31]
One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street. One should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.
Often people do not understand the transcendental message of this verse. Although they are forced to act by the influence of the three modes, they make an artificial show of humility, pretending to be weak, lowly, and penniless beggars. This sort of cheating mood is most undesirable. Realizing the truth of the Vedic statement ahaṁ brahmāsmi ("I am Brahman") is one meaning of humility. The essence of this teaching is to understand that matter and spirit are diametrically opposed. When we are inspired by devotional service to the Lord, our original identity begins to manifest in us and ultimately brings us to God-realization. The devotees work hard to induce people from the materialistic masses to take up devotional service, all the while trying to not disturb their minds. Such spiritual efforts are never to be confused with the mundane endeavors of fruitive workers, empirical philosophers, or outright sense gratifiers. As the Supreme Lord says in the Gītā (3.24), utsīdeyur ime lokāḥ na kuryāṁ karma ced aham: "If I did not perform prescribed duties, all these worlds would be put to ruination."
Those who are not enthusiastic to execute the Supreme Lord's transcendental orders will automatically be forced by the mode of passion to perform useless action, which is really the state of inactivity. Arjuna asked Lord Kṛṣṇa about the symptoms and behavior of one who has transcended the material modes. The following verses from the Gītā summarize the Lord's respoins to this question:
māṁ ca yo 'vyabhicārena
sa guṇān samatītyaitān
brahmaṇo hi pratiṣṭhāham
śāśvatasya ca dharmasya
One who engages in full devotional service, unfailing in all circumstances, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman. And I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman, which is immortal, imperishable and eternal and is the constitutional position of ultimate happiness.
Bhakti-yoga can be divided into three stages: 1) to take the first step toward complete surrender by accepting things favorable to the execution of devotional service; 2) to serve the Supreme Lord after realizing one's true nature; 3) to become situated on the elevated stage, in which one sees the Supreme Lord in everything and everything in the Supreme Lord. In this way, initial faith increases and leads to full surrender to the Lord.
Once a person resolves to accept only those things conducive to devotional service, the Lord's internal potency helps him reach goal. Our sole duty is to constantly remember the Lord and pray for His sanction in everything. The instructions we receive from a spiritual master firmly situated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness help us properly engage in the devotional processes of hearing, chanting, and constant remembrance of the Lord. If we are inspired by our remembrance of the Lord and by His will, then we will never be misdirected. We will not be intimidated by the horrible hallucinations of this illusory material energy. By following the spiritual master's orders with single-minded determination, we will remain undeterred in executing the Lord's service and will make quick progress.
The mood of surrender during the stage of vaidhi-bhakti (devotional service under strict rules and regulations) is different from that in the stage of rāgānuga-bhakti (spontaneous devotional service). In the spontaneous stage, the mood of surrender is the natural expression of the self. When the process of surrender is followed step by step, one patiently executes the Lord's orders and gradually becomes enthusiastic. Such a devotee follows the regulative principles of hearing, chanting, remembering, and so on, and emulates previous saintly preceptors. In the association of devotees he becomes more and more proficient in rendering devotional service. Gradually his service becomes easier. Thus constant remembrance of the Lord comes simply by developing enthusiasm and patience in devotional activities.
One deviates from the path of yoga because of forgetfulness. In devotional service there is no such apprehension, because the Supreme Lord always protects the bhakti-yogī. Even if the bhakti-yogī falls down, he can regain his former position by receiving strength from the Lord. Because of his remembrance of the Lord, all obstacles on his path are cleared away. Therefore the process of surrender leads to real perfection in yoga; it is the easiest path to follow and is also the most direct.
We learn from the book Sanat Sujātīya that four things are required in attaining perfection in yoga practice: 1) the scriptures; 2) enthusiasm; 3) a bona fide spiritual master; 4) sufficient time. The scriptures recommend the path of surrender described in this book. Enthusiasm means to constantly remember the Lord and to pray for His mercy. The spiritual master in the heart of the surrendered devotee is the Supreme Lord Himself. He manifests as the beloved initiating spiritual master and the instructing spiritual masters. It is the Supreme Lord who, acting as the spiritual master in the heart, enlightens us with buddhi-yoga, or divine consciousness. And this consciousness helps us understand the Supreme Lord as He is.
The sages say that when we surrender to the Lord, we will clearly see how the He personally makes arrangements for us, even in small matters. Then we will easily see how with His omnipotent supreme intelligence He is assisting us out of love. So it is unnecessary to waste time in further speculation. We have to vanquish illusion, develop equanimity and spontaneity, and practice bhakti-yoga. Then a supremely powerful force will gradually transform our material existence into spiritual existence. All our misconceptions, accumulated over millions of lifetimes, will be rectified in a short time. Hence we need not become anxious because of a lack of time. The eightfold yoga practice—yama, niyama, āsana, prāṇāyāma, and so on—gives quick results, and one feels that he is doing something substantial. However, although such efforts may certainly make one materially proficient, they are nevertheless simply human endeavors. They are totally distinct from the activities carried out by the Lord's potency. The Supreme Lord's energy often works in subtle ways, but where it ultimately takes us is inconceivable to the human mind.
The mundane processes for elevation are, after all, initiated by intelligent human brains. They are like man-made canals: useful for easy transportation from one place to another, but otherwise of limited utility. Human efforts are imperfect, and therefore they keep us in the material world. As the Lord says in the Bhagavad-gītā (8.16),
punar āvartino 'rjuna
mām upetya tu kaunteya
punar janma na vidyate
From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kuntī, never takes birth again.
The energy of the Lord is like a fathomless ocean that remains undisturbed in all circumstances. It is shoreless, without beginning or end; therefore the process which directly manifests from this energy is omnipotent and can transport one to any heights or levels. The necessities for ocean travel are a ship, a navigator, a rudder, and a favorable wind. One must clearly understand that this human body is the most suitable ship to take us across the ocean of nescience, the spiritual master is the best navigator, the scriptures are the rudder, and the Lord's mercy is the perfect wind. If we do not take advantage of this excellent arrangement and cross over the material ocean of nescience, then we are our own worst enemy. We must always fix our attention on the favorable wind of the Lord's mercy, which incarnates as the spiritual master. Therefore one must approach a spiritual master, take shelter of his lotus feet, and learn from him the science of devotional service. This is what the Upaniṣads enjoin—tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet [MU
The saintly, pure devotees, the guru, and the scriptures all represent the same Absolute Truth. The pure devotees are in fact all gurus because they never swerve from the spiritual principles enunciated in the scriptures: they see only through the lens of the scriptures. Spiritual practices are impossible to execute without the authority of these three ruling principles—the saintly devotees, the guru, and the scriptures. One must vehemently denounce the Western mentality of defying spiritual tradition and the scriptures. Such a mentality reveres mundane philosophies based on speculation and concocted logic, considering these practices signs of superior intelligence. The only weapon the proponents of such philosophies have is mundane argument, but often they exhibit a lack of mastery even of this art. Recent trends show that without probing deeply into a subject, these Westerners uselessly debate direct and indirect meanings ad infinitum. Each of these sophists surely realizes that he must one day accept defeat in the hands of a greater sophist, for there is always someone more intelligent. Therefore the process of debate leads nowhere.
There is a wide gulf between superficial dabbling in philosophy to impress people with a few stock phrases, and a sincere search for knowledge of the Absolute. Through the speculative process it is impossible to fathom the inconceivable topics concerning the Absolute Truth, for they can be understood only through the science of devotion. As Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī writes in his Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, quoting from the Mahābhārata:
acintyāḥ khalu ye bhāvā
na tāṁs tarkeṇa yojayet
prakṛtibhyaḥ paraṁ yac ca
tad acintyasya lakṣaṇam
Anything transcendental to material nature is inconceivable and thus cannot be grasped through mundane arguments. Therefore one should not try to understand transcendental subjects in this way.
Without the mercy of the Supreme Lord, such esoteric subjects are incomprehensible, even if one spends many years researching them. Beyond the sensual realm lie indirect, subtle perceptions, which need to be properly understood. But they can be understood properly only if one sees their relationship to the inconceivable, transcendental Absolute Truth. Without seeing this connection, one will find all discussion of these subtle perceptions to be like beating the chaff for grain—a mere exercise in futility that brings only frustration and distress. Such empty sophistry may show off some mundane erudition, but it cannot help one make spiritual progress. In fact, these dry empirical debates often create big hurdles. So it is better to avoid them.
It is strongly recommended that one simply follow in the footsteps of spiritual stalwarts who act according to the scriptural injunctions and the spiritual guidelines given by saintly souls and guru. One should not raise too many doubts and questions. As the Lord states in the Bhagavad-gītā, tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā: [Bg. 4.34] "Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him." This process, which strictly follows the Vedas, will bring us to a realization of the inconceivable truth. Once we are on this path, many realizations dawn on us, and it is imperative that we pursue them in order to progress further. The faint illumination of knowledge that appears at first is certain to lead to full enlightenment, but we have to be patient. We must carefully avoid letting pride enter our hearts because of some initial perceptions of the inconceivable Absolute; rather, we must eagerly approach the guru, or the pure devotee, and ask how to proceed. We must reject the narrow and bigoted idea that there is nothing more to know. The most important point is to always fully depend on the mercy of the supreme spiritual master residing in the heart.
In recent times we have heard two words being loudly voiced: Māyāvāda (impersonalist) and Advaita-vāda (monist). I deem it proper to write a few words about them. Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya was a brāhmaṇa who propagated the impersonalist philosophy. But if he were to hear the pathetic version of his theory being espoused today, complete with nonbrahminical Western logic and mundane concepts, he would surely be struck dumb. Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya taught and exhibited ideal brahminical behaviour. He propounded irrefutable arguments that destroyed materialistic views. Furthermore, his erudition, realization, and renunciation were of an extremely high caliber. Yet when his so-called followers dilute and mutilate his philosophy, we are moved simultaneously to tears and laughter.
Through logic and sophistry one can never understand how the Supreme Lord created this unlimited cosmos, but the demoniac atheists will never tire of using these methods. Lord Kṛṣṇa describes their mentality in the Bhagavad-gītā (16.8): asatyam apratiṣṭhaṁ te. "They say that this world is unreal, with no foundation, no God in control." In fact, the very brain that thinks these childish thoughts is also a most insignificant creation of the Supreme Lord. Hence to expect that such pea-brains can grasp the mysteries behind the Supreme Lord's extraordinary plans is to hope for the impossible. Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya assessed the prevailing trends of his time and concluded that the monistic view, or the impersonal philosophy, was best suited for his contemporaries. But that was not his final conclusion. He went on to say, bhaja govindaṁ mūḍha-mate: "O fools, simply worship Govinda." From his use of the word bhaja, "worship," we understand him to mean that one should worship Lord Govinda's name, form, qualities, pastimes, and do on. The state of transcendence discussed here is far beyond impersonal realization, the ultimate goal of the monists. Indeed, those who worship Govinda enter into Śrī Vṛndāvana in Śrī Mathurā, the highest spiritual realm, where Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa enact Their quintessential pastimes.
The Supreme Lord is one, yet He has prābhava (fully potent) expansions and vaibhava (partially potent) expansions. The Supreme Lord is endowed with at least six unlimited opulences—absolute wealth, power, beauty, knowledge, fame, and renunciation. With His countless mouths Śrī Ananta Śeṣa is unable to fully describe these opulences. Therefore the Lord is also said to be indescribable, all-pervading, and unmanifest. The Upaniṣads describe the Supreme Lord as asamaurdhva, "one without a second." We have already established this truth. Similarly, Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself says in the Bhagavad-gītā (Chapter 10) that He is the Aśvattha tree, fire, Śrīla Vyāsadeva, Arjuna, and so on. These facts have also been firmly substantiated. To perfectly comprehend the absolute pastimes of the absolute Supreme Godhead is impossible through any of the "isms," such as empiricism, impersonalism, or sophism. Only by the Lord's mercy can one fathom the Supreme Godhead. That same Supreme Personality benignly reveals the truth about Himself in the Bhagavad-gītā. This text is the essence of all the Vedic scriptures and is the synthesis of all conflicting "isms." Lord Caitanya is the unchallenged spiritual stalwart who propagated the process of surrender to Kṛṣṇa, the conclusion of all the Bhagavad-gītā's teachings. Those who follow in His footsteps are the real yogīs and devotees.
All the Supreme Lord's pastimes are eternal. Those who doubt this are impersonalists. When one tries to gauge the omnipotent Supreme Godhead with a limited measuring principle, one is drawn to the impersonal concept. One must carefully avoid this all-devouring philosophy. When Śrī Nārada Muni saw how Lord Kṛṣṇa had expanded Himself in His original form and was dancing with many gopīs simultaneously, he realized that Lord Kṛṣṇa was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the source of everything. Lord Kṛṣṇa is always being served and worshiped by Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, yet He expands Himself unlimitedly. Just as a candle can light other candles yet remain unchanged, so the Supreme Lord, though "one without a second," can expand Himself in unlimited forms, and also as the omnipresent, all-pervading, universal soul. This is direct proof of the Supreme Lord's absolute divinity.
The Lord is different from all, yet the same as all. This is His inconceivable potency of being simultaneously one with and different from everything. One has to hear this philosophy from a pure devotee of the Lord; otherwise it is impossible to understand whether the Absolute Truth is a Person or an impersonal substance. If the Supreme is omnipotent, He should be simultaneously personal and impersonal. One who rejects either of these aspects of the Lord tries to limit the absoluteness of the Supreme. Such logic is described as "the logic of half a hen," by which a fool wishes to profit from the egg-laying half of the hen without having to feed the front half. Those who have been blessed by the spiritual master and the Supreme Lord can easily see through this foolish concept and abstain from futile, time-wasting debates. The process of surrender gradually reveals the wonderful glories of the Supreme Lord. Puny human attempts to comprehend such topics will merely end in confusion. The Supreme Lord manifests Himself to the devotee in proportion to the devotee's service attitude and surrender. Arguments and debates are totally inadequate means for understanding the Supreme Absolute Truth.
The objective of life is not simply a subject of debate or speculation. The ultimate aim of life is to realize that supreme object, the Personality of Godhead. Buddhi-yoga, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, means to become absorbed in serving the Supreme Lord and His name, qualities, form, pastimes, etc. In other words, it means becoming an instrument for His satisfaction. We have to become infused with His spiritual potency; thus strengthened, we then have to make the propagation of His transcendental glories our prime duty in life. By means of such Potent missionary activities, innumerable jīvas can experience endless spiritual joy.
Neither spiritual retreats, churches, mosques, temples, karma-yoga, jñāna-yoga, dry empirical philosophy, nor imitation devotees can save humanity from the jaws of death. They are inadequate for purifying the consciousness because what they offer as spiritual succor is limited by their sectarian vision, a set of do's and don'ts, and a rigid approach that simply further entangle humanity in the material energy. What is needed are exemplary spiritual actions and the espousal of the genuine path of self-realization, but these have not been properly instituted. Just as Bhagirātha brought down the Gaṅgā and liberated his forefathers, similarly, we must bring a deluge of love of Godhead that can extricate the conditioned souls from the clutches of gross materialism. At least for some time, we must create Satya-yuga, the age of reason and piety. We can easily accomplish this Herculean task simply by reintroducing Lord Caitanya's saṅkīrtana movement of the congregational chanting of Lord Kṛṣṇa's name and thus flooding the world with kṛṣṇa-prema. All living entities—the human beings, who are afflicted by Kali-yuga, as well as sub-human beings—must be drowned in the floodwaters of kṛṣṇa-prema.
By studying the Vedas, the Vedānta-sūtra, and the Upaniṣads, one may find processes for purifying the consciousness and elevating oneself to the transcendental platform. But for the conditioned souls of Kali-yuga, such means are beyond reach. Lord Caitanya alone can liberate the conditioned souls of this age. In His younger days Lord Caitanya was known as Nimāi Paṇḍita because He was an erudite scholar. Indeed, He became famous as a master of logic. Yet for the sake of the jīvas afflicted by the Kali-yuga, He presented Himself as illiterate. Such pastimes are possible only for the Supreme Lord. When the famous Māyāvādī sannyāsī Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī met Lord Caitanya in Benares, he spoke as follows to the Lord: "I see You are a sannyāsī, yet You are in the company of sentimentalists, and like them You are dancing and singing. The real business of sannyāsīs is to study the Vedas and meditate on Brahman. But You have rejected these duties and are acting like a sentimentalist. I am impressed with Your effulgent form, which resembles that of Lord Nārāyaṇa Himself, but why do You act below your status?"
The Māyāvādī sannyāsīs study the Vedas simply to gain liberation. Lord Caitanya did not advent merely to teach such an insignificant goal. He propagated the congregational chanting of the holy name and the scientific method of devotional service. His main aim was to establish the authorized religious principle for this age-saṅkīrtana—and thereby liberate all living entities. His reply to Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī was very simple, as if coming from an ordinary mortal. The Lord said,
Respected Swamijī, please listen to the reason why I act as I do. My guru saw that I was ignorant, and so he instructed Me as follows: 'You are foolish and have no proper understanding of Vedānta philosophy. So simply chant this Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, which is the essence of all mantras. This mantra will deliver You from the entanglement of material existence and award You the shelter of Kṛṣṇa's lotus feet. In the Age of Kali there is no religious principle except chanting Kṛṣṇa's name. It has been ascertained from all the scriptures that Kṛṣṇa's holy name is the essence of all mantras.' He then made Me learn a verse, which I will repeat to you for your consideration:
"harer nāma harer nāma
harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva
nāsty eva gatir anyathā"
[Cc. Ādi 17.21]
"If one wants to make spiritual progress in this Age of Kali, there is no alternative, there is no alternative, there is no alternative to the holy name, the holy name, the holy name of the Lord."
By chanting Kṛṣṇa's holy name, one cleanses all the dust from the mirror of one's consciousness. The blazing fire of material existence is then extinguished. This fire is especially severe in the present materialistic civilization, which is full of conflict, the hallmark of Kali-yuga. But extinguishing the fire of material existence is far from the final result of chanting. Indeed, it is only a preliminary consequence. Gradually, the knowledge that love of Godhead is the absolute necessity of life becomes clearer, the dark veil of ignorance is lifted, and one gets a glimpse of absolute knowledge. As the devotee realizes this transcendental knowledge, he feels ever-increasing spiritual ecstasy overwhelming his heart. This spiritual joy expands at every moment. Let the all-auspicious chanting of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa be ever victorious!
Those who seek the smaller values of life and thus take up yoga for selfish motives are not very noble, and even if they achieve success, they still remain inferior. But those who practice yoga for the benefit of others are truly worthy, for even if they personally do not attain perfection, they are very elevated souls. Devotees of the Lord practice the yoga called buddhi-yoga, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This yoga is meant to bless all humanity, as well as bring the practitioner to the perfection of life. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.5.17) aptly describes the great value of such yoga:
tyaktvā sva-dharmaṁ caraṇāmbujaṁ harer
bhajann apakvo 'tha patet tato yadi
yatra kva vābhadram abhūd amuṣya kiṁ
ko vārtha āpto 'bhajatāṁ sva-dharmataḥ
One who has forsaken his material occupations to engage in the devotional service of the Lord may sometimes fall down while in an immature stage, yet there is no danger of his being unsuccessful. On the other hand, a nondevotee, though fully engaged in occupational duties, does not gain anything.