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SB 5.19: A Description of the Island of Jambūdvīpa
In the Purāṇas there are two different opinions concerning Lord Rāmacandra. In the Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta (5.34-36) this is confirmed in the description of the incarnation of Manu.
pādme tu rāmo bhagavān
śeṣaś cakraṁ ca śaṅkhaś ca
kramāt syur lakṣmaṇādayaḥ
pure ’sya vasatiḥ smṛtā
The Viṣṇu-dharmottara describes that Lord Rāmacandra and His brothers — Lakṣmaṇa, Bharata and Śatrughna — are incarnations of Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha respectively. The Padma Purāṇa, however, says that Lord Rāmacandra is an incarnation of Nārāyaṇa and that the other three brothers are incarnations of Śeṣa, Cakra and Śaṅkha. Therefore Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa has concluded, tad idaṁ kalpa-bhedenaiva sambhāvyam. In other words, these opinions are not contradictory. In some millenniums Lord Rāmacandra and His brothers appear as incarnations of Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha, and in other millenniums They appear as incarnations of Nārāyaṇa, Śeṣa, Cakra and Śaṅkha. The residence of Lord Rāmacandra on this planet is Ayodhyā. Ayodhyā City is still existing in the district of Faizabad, which is situated on the northern side of Uttar Pradesh.
pratyak praśāntaṁ sudhiyopalambhanaṁ
hy anāma-rūpaṁ nirahaṁ prapadye
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, appears in various expansions, as stated 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 the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda, who is always situated in various incarnations such as Rāma, Nṛsiṁha and many subincarnations as well, but who is the original Personality of Godhead known as Kṛṣṇa and who incarnates personally also.” Kṛṣṇa, who is viṣṇu-tattva, has expanded Himself in many Viṣṇu forms, of which Lord Rāmacandra is one. We know that the viṣṇu-tattva is carried by the transcendental bird Garuḍa and is equipped with different types of weapons in four hands. Therefore we may doubt whether Lord Rāmacandra could be in the same category, since He was carried by Hanumān, not by Garuḍa, and had neither four hands nor the śaṅkha, cakra, gadā and padma. Consequently this verse clarifies that Rāmacandra is as good as Kṛṣṇa (rāmādi-mūrtiṣu kalā). Although Kṛṣṇa is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, Rāmacandra is not different from Him. Rāmacandra is unaffected by the modes of material nature, and therefore He is praśānta, never disturbed by those modes.
Unless one is saturated with love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one cannot appreciate the transcendental value of Lord Rāmacandra; one cannot see Him with material eyes. Because demons like Rāvaṇa have no spiritual vision, they consider Lord Rāmacandra an ordinary kṣatriya king. Rāvaṇa therefore attempted to kidnap Lord Rāmacandra’s eternal consort, Sītādevī. Actually, however, Rāvaṇa could not carry off Sītādevī in her original form. As soon as she was touched by Rāvaṇa’s hands, she gave him a material form, but she maintained her original form beyond his vision. Therefore in this verse the words pratyak praśāntam indicate that Lord Rāmacandra and His potency, the goddess Sītā, keep themselves aloof from the influence of the material energy.
In the Upaniṣads it is said: yam evaiṣa vṛṇute tena labhyaḥ (Kaṭha Upaniṣad) 1.2.23. The Supreme Lord, Paramātmā, the Personality of Godhead, can be seen or perceived only by persons who are saturated with devotional service. As stated in the Brahma-saṁhitā (5.38):
santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti
yaṁ śyāmasundaram acintya-guṇa-svarūpaṁ
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
“I worship the primeval Lord, Govinda, who is always seen by the devotee whose eyes are anointed with the pulp of love. He is seen in His eternal form of Śyāmasundara, situated within the heart of the devotee.” Similarly, in the Chāndogya Upaniṣad it is stated, etās tisro devatā anena jīvena. In this verse of the Chāndogya Upaniṣad the word anena is used to distinguish the ātmā and Paramātmā as two separate identities. The words tisro devatā indicate that the body of the living entity is made of three material elements — fire, earth and water. Although the Paramātmā enters the heart of the jīvātmā, who is influenced and designated by a material body, the Paramātmā has nothing to do with the jīvātmā’s body. Because the Paramātmā has no material connections, He is described here as anāma-rūpaṁ niraham. The Paramātmā has no material identity, whereas the jīvātmā does. The jīvātmā may introduce himself as an Indian, American, German and so on, but the Paramātmā has no such material designations, and therefore He has no material name. The jīvātmā is different from his name, but the Paramātmā is not; His name and He Himself are one and the same. This is the meaning of niraham, which means “without material designations.” This word cannot possibly be twisted to mean that the Paramātmā has no ahaṅkāra, no “I-ness” or identity. He has His transcendental identity as the Supreme. This is the explanation given by Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī. According to another interpretation, given by Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, niraham means nirniścayena aham. Niraham does not mean that the Supreme Lord has no identity. Rather, the stress given by the word aham proves strongly that He does have His personal identity because nir not only means “negative” but also means “strong ascertainment.”
rakṣo-vadhāyaiva na kevalaṁ vibhoḥ
kuto ’nyathā syād ramataḥ sva ātmanaḥ
When the Lord appears in this universe in the form of a human being, He has two purposes, as stated in Bhagavad-gītā — paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām: to destroy the demons and protect the devotees. To protect the devotees, the Lord not only satisfies them by His personal presence but also teaches them so that they will not fall down from devotional service. By His personal example, Lord Rāmacandra taught the devotees that it is better not to enter married life, which is certainly followed by many tribulations. As confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.9.45):
yan maithunādi-gṛhamedhi-sukhaṁ hi tucchaṁ
kaṇḍūyanena karayor iva duḥkha-duḥkham
tṛpyanti neha kṛpaṇā bahu-duḥkha-bhājaḥ
kaṇḍūtivan manasijaṁ viṣaheta-dhīraḥ
Kṛpaṇas, those who are not advanced in spiritual knowledge and who are therefore just the opposite of brāhmaṇas, generally take to family life, which is a concession for sex. Thus they enjoy sex again and again, although that sex is followed by many tribulations. This is a warning to devotees. To teach this lesson to devotees and to human society in general, Lord Śrī Rāmacandra, although the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, underwent a series of tribulations because He accepted a wife, mother Sītā. Lord Rāmacandra underwent these austerities, of course, only to instruct us; actually He never has any reason to lament for anything.
Another aspect of the Lord’s instructions is that one who accepts a wife must be a faithful husband and give her full protection. Human society is divided into two classes of men — those who strictly follow the religious principles and those who are devotees. By His personal example, Lord Rāmacandra wanted to instruct both of them how to fully adopt the discipline of the religious system and how to be a beloved and dutiful husband. Otherwise He had no reason to undergo apparent tribulations. One who strictly follows religious principles must not neglect to provide all facilities for the complete protection of his wife. There may be some suffering because of this, but one must nevertheless endure it. That is the duty of a faithful husband. By His personal example, Lord Rāmacandra demonstrated this duty. Lord Rāmacandra could have produced hundreds and thousands of Sītās from His pleasure energy, but just to show the duty of a faithful husband, He not only rescued Sītā from the hands of Rāvaṇa but also killed Rāvaṇa and all the members of his family.
Another aspect of the teachings of Lord Rāmacandra is that although Lord Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and His devotees may apparently suffer from material tribulations, they have nothing to do with such tribulations. They are mukta-puruṣas, liberated persons, under all circumstances. It is therefore said in the Caitanya-bhāgavata:
yata dekha vaiṣṇavera vyavahāra duḥkha
niścaya jāniha tāhā paramānanda-sukha
A Vaiṣṇava is always firmly situated in transcendental bliss because of engagement in devotional service. Although he may appear to suffer material pains, his position is called transcendental bliss in separation (viraha). The emotions a lover and beloved feel when separated from one another are actually very blissful, although apparently painful. Therefore the separation of Lord Rāmacandra from Sītādevī, as well as the consequent tribulation they suffered, is but another display of transcendental bliss. That is the opinion of Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura.
saktas tri-lokyāṁ bhagavān vāsudevaḥ
na strī-kṛtaṁ kaśmalam aśnuvīta
na lakṣmaṇaṁ cāpi vihātum arhati
In defining the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we say that He is full in all six opulences — wealth, fame, strength, influence, beauty and renunciation. He is called renounced because He is not attached to anything in this material world; He is specifically attached to the spiritual world and the living entities there. The affairs of the material world take place under the superintendence of Durgādevī (sṛṣṭi-sthiti-pralaya-sādhana-śaktir ekā/ chāyeva yasya bhuvanāni bibharti durgā). Everything is going on under the strict rules and regulations of the material energy, represented by Durgā. Therefore the Lord is completely detached and need not give attention to the material world. Sītādevī belongs to the spiritual world. Similarly, Lord Lakṣmaṇa, Rāmacandra’s younger brother, is a manifestation of Saṅkarṣaṇa, and Lord Rāmacandra Himself is Vāsudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Since the Lord is always spiritually qualified, He is attached to servants who always render transcendental loving service unto Him. He is attached to the truth in life, not to brahminical qualities. Indeed, He is never attached to any material qualities. Although He is the Supersoul of all living entities, He is specifically manifest to those who are self-realized, and He is especially dear to the hearts of His transcendental devotees. Because Lord Rāmacandra descended to teach human society how dutiful a king should be, He apparently gave up the company of mother Sītā and Lakṣmaṇa. Factually, however, He could not have given them up. One should therefore learn about the activities of Lord Rāmacandra from a self-realized soul. Then one can understand the transcendental activities of the Lord.
na vāṅ na buddhir nākṛtis toṣa-hetuḥ
tair yad visṛṣṭān api no vanaukasaś
cakāra sakhye bata lakṣmaṇāgrajaḥ
In a prayer to Kṛṣṇa expressing her feelings, Śrīmatī Kuntīdevī called Him akiñcana-gocara. The prefix a means “not,” and kiñcana “something of this material world.” One may be very proud of his prestigious position, material wealth, beauty, education and so on, but although these are certainly good qualifications in material dealings, they are not necessary for achieving friendship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One who possesses all these material qualities is expected to become a devotee, and when he actually does, the qualities are properly utilized. Those who are puffed up by a high birth, wealth, education and personal beauty (janmaiśvarya-śruta-śrī) unfortunately do not care for developing Kṛṣṇa consciousness, nor does the Supreme Personality of Godhead care about all these material qualifications. The Supreme Lord is achieved by devotion (bhaktyā mām abhijānāti). One’s devotion and sincere desire to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead are the only qualifications. Rūpa Gosvāmī has also said that the price for achieving God’s favor is simply one’s sincere eagerness to have it (laulyam ekaṁ mūlyam). In the Caitanya-bhāgavata it is said:
kholāvecā sevakera dekha bhāgya-sīmā
brahmā śiva kāṅde yāra dekhiyā mahimā
dhane jane pāṇḍitye kṛṣṇa nāhi pāi
kevala bhaktira vaśa caitanya-gosāñi
“Behold the great fortune of the devotee Kholāvecā. Lord Brahmā and Śiva shed tears upon seeing his greatness. One cannot attain Lord Kṛṣṇa by any amount of wealth, followers, or learning. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is controlled only by pure devotion.” Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu had a very sincere devotee whose name was Kholāvecā Śrīdhara and whose only business was to sell pots made of the skin of banana trees. Whatever income he had, he used fifty percent for the worship of mother Ganges, and with the other fifty percent he provided for his necessities. On the whole, he was so very poor that he lived in a cottage that had a broken roof with many holes in it. He could not afford brass utensils, and therefore he drank water from an iron pot. Nevertheless, he was a great devotee of Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He is a typical example of how a poor man with no material possessions can become a most exalted devotee of the Lord. The conclusion is that one cannot attain shelter at the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa or Śrī Caitanya Gosāñi through material opulence; that shelter is attainable only by pure devotional service.
śīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā
“One should render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa favorably and without desire for material profit or gain through fruitive activities or philosophical speculation. That is called pure devotional service.”
sarvātmanā yaḥ sukṛtajñam uttamam
bhajeta rāmaṁ manujākṛtiṁ hariṁ
ya uttarān anayat kosalān divam iti
Lord Śrī Rāmacandra is so kind and merciful to His devotees that He is very easily satisfied by a little service rendered by anyone, human or not. This is the special advantage of worshiping Lord Rāmacandra, and there is the same advantage in worshiping Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Lord Kṛṣṇa and Lord Rāmacandra, in the manner of kṣatriyas, sometimes showed Their mercy by killing asuras, but Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu awarded love of God without difficulty even to the asuras. All the incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead — but especially Lord Rāmacandra, Lord Kṛṣṇa and, later, Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu — delivered many of the living entities present before Them, indeed almost all of them. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is therefore represented in the six-armed form of ṣaḍ-bhūja-mūrti, which is a combination of Lord Rāmacandra, Lord Kṛṣṇa and Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. The best purpose of human life can be fulfilled by worshiping the ṣaḍ-bhūja-mūrti, the form of the Lord with six arms — two arms of Rāmacandra, two arms of Kṛṣṇa and two arms of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
People in India may visit the temple of Nara-Nārāyaṇa at Badarikāśrama just to learn how the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His incarnation as Nara-Nārāyaṇa engages in austerities to teach the people of the world how to achieve self-realization. It is impossible to realize oneself simply by absorbing oneself in speculation and material activities. One must be very serious about self-realization and the practice of austerity. Unfortunately, the people of this Age of Kali do not even know the meaning of austerity. Under these circumstances, the Lord has appeared as Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to bestow upon the fallen souls the easiest method of self-realization, technically called ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam, cleansing of the dirt from the core of one’s heart. This method is extremely simple. Anyone can chant the glorious kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtana — Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. In this age there are different forms of so-called advanced scientific knowledge, such as anthropology, Marxism, Freudianism, nationalism and industrialism, but if we work very hard under their guidance instead of adopting the process practiced by Nara-Nārāyaṇa, we shall waste our valuable human form of life. Thus we shall certainly be cheated and misled.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has clearly declared:
bhārata-bhūmite haila manuṣya-janma yāra
janma sārthaka kari’ kara para-upakāra
The real success or fulfillment of the mission of human life can be achieved in India, Bhārata-varṣa, because in Bhārata-varṣa the purpose of life and the method for achieving success are evident. People should take advantage of the opportunity afforded by Bhārata-varṣa, and this is especially so for those who are following the principles of varṇāśrama-dharma. If we do not take to the principles of varṇāśrama-dharma by accepting the four social orders (brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra) and the four orders of spiritual life (brahmacārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha and sannyāsa), there can be no question of success in life. Unfortunately, because of the influence of Kali-yuga, everything is now being lost. The inhabitants of Bhārata-varṣa are gradually becoming degraded mlecchas and yavanas. How then will they teach others? Therefore, this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement has been started not only for the inhabitants of Bhārata-varṣa but for all the people of the world, as announced by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. There is still time, and if the inhabitants of Bhārata-varṣa take this movement of Kṛṣṇa consciousness seriously, the entire world will be saved from gliding down to a hellish condition. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement follows the process of pañcarātrika-vidhi and that of bhāgavata-vidhi simultaneously, so that people can take advantage of the movement and make their lives successful.
na hanyate deha-gato ’pi daihikaiḥ
draṣṭur na dṛg yasya guṇair vidūṣyate
tasmai namo ’sakta-vivikta-sākṣiṇe
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is described as sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha, the body of eternity, transcendental bliss and full knowledge. Now in this verse He is more fully described. Kṛṣṇa is the creator of the entire cosmic manifestation, yet He is unattached to it. If we were to construct a very tall skyscraper, we would be very attached to it, but Kṛṣṇa is so renounced that although He has created everything, He is not attached to anything (na badhyate). Furthermore, although Kṛṣṇa has His transcendental form, sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha, He is not disturbed by the bodily necessities of life, which are called daihika; for example, He is never hungry, thirsty or fatigued (na hanyate deha-gato ’pi daihikaiḥ). Then again, since everything is Kṛṣṇa’s property, He sees everything and is present everywhere, but because His body is transcendental, He is above vision, the objects of vision and the process of vision. When we see someone beautiful, we are attracted. The sight of a beautiful woman immediately attracts a man, and the sight of a man naturally attracts a woman. Kṛṣṇa, however, is transcendental to all these faults. Although He is the seer of everything, He is not afflicted with faulty vision (na dṛg yasya guṇair vidūṣyate). Therefore, although He is the witness and seer, He is aloof from all affection for the activities He sees. He is always unattached and separate; He is only a witness.
hiraṇyagarbho bhagavāñ jagāda yat
yad anta-kāle tvayi nirguṇe mano
Śrīla Madhvācārya says:
yasya samyag bhagavati
jñānaṁ bhaktis tathaiva ca
niścintas tasya mokṣaḥ syāt
sarva-pāpa-kṛto ’pi tu
“For one who very seriously practices devotional service during his lifetime in order to understand the constitutional position of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, liberation from this material world is guaranteed, even if he has previously been addicted to sinful habits.” This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā:
api cet su-durācāro
bhajate mām ananya-bhāk
sādhur eva sa mantavyaḥ
samyag vyavasito hi saḥ
“Even if one commits the most abominable actions, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated.” (Bg. 9.30) The only purpose of life is to be fully absorbed in thoughts of Kṛṣṇa and His form, pastimes, activities and qualities. If one is able to think of Kṛṣṇa in this way, twenty-four hours a day, he is already liberated (svarūpeṇa vyavasthitiḥ). Whereas materialists are absorbed in material thoughts and activities, devotees, on the contrary, are always absorbed in thoughts of Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa’s activities. Therefore they are already on the platform of liberation. One has to think of Kṛṣṇa with full absorption at the time of death. Then he will certainly return home, back to Godhead, without a doubt.
suteṣu dāreṣu dhaneṣu cintayan
śaṅketa vidvān kukalevarātyayād
yas tasya yatnaḥ śrama eva kevalam
At the time of death a materialist thinks of his wife and children. He is absorbed in thinking of how they will live and who will take care of them after he leaves. Consequently he is never prepared to give up his body; rather, he wants to continue to live in his body to serve his society, family, friends and so on. Therefore by practicing the mystic yoga system one must become detached from bodily relationships. If despite practicing bhakti-yoga and studying all the Vedic literature, one is afraid of giving up his bad body, which is the cause of all his suffering, what is the use of his attempts to advance in spiritual life? The secret of success in practicing yoga is to become free from bodily attachments. Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura says, deha-smṛti nāhi yāra, saṁsāra-bandhana kāhāṅ tāra: one whose practice has freed him from the anxieties of bodily needs is no longer in conditional life. Such a person is freed from conditional bondage. A person in Kṛṣṇa consciousness must fully discharge his devotional duties without material attachment. Then his liberation is guaranteed.
bhindyāma yenāśu vayaṁ sudurbhidāṁ
vidhehi yogaṁ tvayi naḥ svabhāvam iti
The Lord advises in Bhagavad-gītā: man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru. The perfect yoga system consists of always thinking of Kṛṣṇa, always engaging in devotional service, always worshiping Kṛṣṇa and always offering obeisances unto Him. Unless we practice this yoga system, our illusory attachment for this bad body, which is full of stool and urine, is impossible to give up. The perfection of yoga consists of giving up attachment for this body and bodily relationships and transferring that attachment to Kṛṣṇa. We are very attached to material enjoyment, but when we transfer that same attachment to Kṛṣṇa, we traverse the path of liberation. One has to practice this yoga system and none other.
All these rivers are transcendental. Therefore one can be purified by remembering them, touching them or bathing in them. This practice is still going on.
For further information, one should refer to Bhagavad-gītā (14.18 and 18.42-45). Śrīla Rāmānujācārya writes in his book Vedārta-saṅgraha:
evaṁ-vidha-parābhakti-svarūpa-jñāna-viśeṣasyotpādakaḥ pūrvoktāharahar upacīyamāna-jñāna-pūrvaka-karmānugṛhīta-bhakti-yoga eva; yathoktaṁ bhagavatā parāśareṇa — varṇāśrameti. nikhila-jagad-uddhāraṇāyāvanitale ’vatīrṇaṁ para-brahma-bhūtaḥ puruṣottamaḥ svayam etad uktavān — “svakarma-nirataḥ siddhiṁ yathā vindati tac chṛṇu” “yataḥ pravṛttir bhūtānāṁ yena sarvam idaṁ tatam/ svakarmaṇā tam abhyarcya siddhiṁ vindati mānavaḥ.”
In the Viṣṇu Purāṇa (3.8.9), the great sage Parāśara Muni has recommended:
puruṣeṇa paraḥ pumān
viṣṇur ārādhyate panthā
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Viṣṇu, is worshiped by the proper execution of prescribed duties in the system of varṇa and āśrama. There is no other way to satisfy the Lord.” In the land of Bhārata-varṣa, the institution of varṇāśrama-dharma may be easily adopted. At the present moment, certain demoniac sections of the population of Bhārata-varṣa are disregarding the system of varṇāśrama-dharma. Because there is no institution to teach people how to become brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras or brahmacārīs, gṛhasthas, vānaprasthas and sannyāsīs, these demons want a classless society. This is resulting in chaotic conditions. In the name of secular government, unqualified people are taking the supreme governmental posts. No one is being trained to act according to the principles of varṇāśrama-dharma, and thus people are becoming increasingly degraded and are heading in the direction of animal life. The real aim of life is liberation, but unfortunately the opportunity for liberation is being denied to people in general, and therefore their human lives are being spoiled. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, however, is being propagated all over the world to reestablish the varṇāśrama-dharma system and thus save human society from gliding down to hellish life.
Brahman realization is the beginning of liberation, and Paramātmā realization is still further advancement toward the realm of liberation, but one achieves real liberation when he understands his position as an eternal servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (muktir hitvānyathā rūpaṁ svarūpeṇa vyavasthitiḥ). In the material world, in the bodily concept of life, everyone is working in the wrong direction. When one becomes brahma-bhūta, spiritually realized, one understands that he is not the body and that working in the bodily concept of life is useless and misdirected. Then his devotional service begins. As Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (18.54):
na śocati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām
“One who is thus transcendentally situated realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” Devotional service is actual liberation. When one is attracted by the beauty of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and his mind is always engaged at the Lord’s lotus feet, he is no longer interested in subjects that do not help him in self-realization. In other words, he loses all attraction for material activities. In the Taittirīya Upaniṣad (2.7) it is said: eṣa hy evānandayati; yadā hy evaiṣa etasmin na dṛśye ’nātmye anirukte ’nilayane ’bhayaṁ pratiṣṭhāṁ vindate ’tha so ’bhayaṁ gato bhavati. A living entity becomes established in spiritual, blissful life when he fully understands that his happiness depends on spiritual self-realization, which is the basic principle of ānanda (bliss), and when he is eternally situated in the service of the Lord, who has no other lord above Him.
prasanna eṣāṁ svid uta svayaṁ hariḥ
yair janma labdhaṁ nṛṣu bhāratājire
mukunda-sevaupayikaṁ spṛhā hi naḥ
These facts are further explained in 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.”
There are many facilities in India, Bhārata-varṣa, for executing devotional service. In Bhārata-varṣa, all the ācāryas contributed their experience, and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu personally appeared to teach the people of Bhārata-varṣa how to progress in spiritual life and be fixed in devotional service to the Lord. From all points of view, Bhārata-varṣa is the special land where one can very easily understand the process of devotional service and adopt it to make his life successful. If one makes his life successful in devotional service and then preaches devotional service in other parts of the world, people throughout the world will actually benefit.
dānādibhir vā dyujayena phalgunā
na yatra nārāyaṇa-pāda-paṅkaja-
The land of Bhārata-varṣa is so exalted that by taking birth there one can not only attain the heavenly planets but also go directly back home, back to Godhead. As Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (9.25):
yānti deva-vratā devān
pitṝn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ
bhūtāni yānti bhūtejyā
yānti mad-yājino ’pi mām
“Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; those who worship ancestors go to the ancestors; and those who worship Me will live with Me.” People in the land of Bhārata-varṣa generally follow the Vedic principles and consequently perform great sacrifices by which they can be elevated to the heavenly planets. However, what is the use of such great attainments? As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (9.21), kṣīṇe puṇye martya-lokaṁ viśanti: after the results of one’s sacrifices, charity and other pious activities expire, one must return to the lower planetary systems and again feel the pangs of birth and death. However, one who becomes Kṛṣṇa conscious can go back to Kṛṣṇa (yānti-mad-yājino ’pi mām). Therefore the demigods even regret having been elevated to the higher planetary systems. The denizens of the heavenly planets regret that they could not take full advantage of being born in the land of Bhārata-varṣa. Instead, they became captivated by a higher standard of sense gratification, and therefore they forgot the lotus feet of Lord Nārāyaṇa at the time of death. The conclusion is that one who has taken birth in the land of Bhārata-varṣa must follow the instructions given personally by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Yad gatvā na nivartante tad dhāma paramaṁ mama. One should try to return home, back to Godhead, to the Vaikuṇṭha planets — or to the topmost Vaikuṇṭha planet, Goloka Vṛndāvana — to live eternally in full, blissful knowledge in the company of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
kṣaṇāyuṣāṁ bhārata-bhūjayo varam
kṣaṇena martyena kṛtaṁ manasvinaḥ
sannyasya saṁyānty abhayaṁ padaṁ hareḥ
This is further confirmation of the statement given by Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu:
bhārata-bhūmite haila manuṣya-janma yāra
janma sārthaka kari’ kara para-upakāra
One who has taken birth in the land of Bhārata-varṣa has a full opportunity to study the direct instructions given by Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad-gītā and thus finally decide what to do in his human form of life. One should certainly give up all other propositions and surrender to Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa will then immediately take charge and relieve one of the results of past sinful life (ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ). Therefore one should take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, as Kṛṣṇa Himself recommends. Man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru: “Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer Me obeisances.” This is very easy, even for a child. Why not take this path? One should try to follow the instructions of Kṛṣṇa exactly and thus become fully eligible to be promoted to the kingdom of God (tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti so ’rjuna). One should go directly to Kṛṣṇa and engage in His service. This is the best opportunity offered to the inhabitants of Bhārata-varṣa. One who is fit to return home, back to Godhead, is no longer liable to the results of karma, good or bad.
na sādhavo bhāgavatās tadāśrayāḥ
na yatra yajñeśa-makhā mahotsavāḥ
sureśa-loko ’pi na vai sa sevyatām
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu appeared in the land of Bhārata-varṣa, specifically in Bengal, in the district of Nadia, where Navadvīpa is situated. It is therefore to be concluded, as stated by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, that within this universe, this earth is the best planet, and on this planet the land of Bhārata-varṣa is the best; in the land of Bhārata-varṣa, Bengal is still better, in Bengal the district of Nadia is still better, and in Nadia the best place is Navadvīpa because Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu appeared there to inaugurate the performance of the sacrifice of chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. The śāstras recommend:
yajanti hi sumedhasaḥ
Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is always accompanied by His very confidential associates such as Śrī Nityānanda, Śrī Gadādhara and Śrī Advaita and by many devotees like Śrīvāsa. They are always engaged in chanting the name of the Lord and are always describing Lord Kṛṣṇa. Therefore this is the best among all the places in the universe. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement has established its center in Māyāpur, the birthsite of Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, to give men the great opportunity to go there and perform a constant festival of saṅkīrtana-yajña, as recommended herein (yajñeśa-makhā mahotsavāḥ) and to distribute prasāda to millions of hungry people hankering for spiritual emancipation. This is the mission of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Caitanya-bhāgavata confirms this as follows: “One should not desire to be elevated even to a place in the heavenly planetary systems if it has no propaganda to expand the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, no trace of Vaiṣṇavas, pure devotees of the Lord, and no festivals for spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It would be better to live perpetually cramped within the airtight bag of a mother’s womb, where one can at least remember the lotus feet of the Lord, than to live in a place where there is no opportunity to remember His lotus feet. I pray not to be allowed to take birth in such a condemned place.”
Similarly, in Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī says that since Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the inaugurator of the saṅkīrtana movement, anyone who performs saṅkīrtana to please the Lord is very, very glorious. Such a person has perfect intelligence, whereas others are in the ignorance of material existence. Of all the sacrifices mentioned in the Vedic literatures, the performance of saṅkīrtana-yajña is the best. Even the performance of one hundred aśvamedha sacrifices cannot compare to the sacrifice of saṅkīrtana. According to the author of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, if one compares saṅkīrtana-yajña to other yajñas, he is a pāṣaṇḍī, an infidel, and is liable to be punished by Yamarāja. There are many Māyāvādīs who think that the performance of saṅkīrtana-yajña is a pious activity similar to the performance of the aśvamedha-yajña and other such pious functions, but this is a nāma-aparādha. Chanting of the holy name of Nārāyaṇa and chanting of other names are never equal, despite what Māyāvādīs think.
na vai yaterann apunar-bhavāya te
bhūyo vanaukā iva yānti bandhanam
In the land of Bhārata-varṣa one can very easily perform the saṅkīrtana-yajña, which consists of śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ, or one can perform other methods of devotional service, such as smaraṇaṁ vandanaṁ arcanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam and ātma-nivedanam. In Bhārata-varṣa one has the opportunity to visit many holy places, especially Lord Caitanya’s birthsite and Lord Kṛṣṇa’s birthsite — Navadvīpa and Vṛndāvana — where there are many pure devotees who have no desire other than to execute devotional service (anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam), and one may thus become free from the bondage of material conditions. Other paths, such as the path of jñāna and the path of karma, are not very profitable. Pious activities can elevate one to the higher planetary systems, and by speculative knowledge one can merge into the Brahman existence, but that is not real profit, for one has to come down again even from the liberated condition of being merged in Brahman, and certainly one must come down from the heavenly kingdom. One should endeavor to go back home, back to Godhead (yānti mad-yājino ’pi mām). Otherwise there is no difference between human life and the lives of jungle animals and birds. Animals and birds also have freedom, but because of their lower birth, they cannot use it. Taking advantage of all the facilities offered him, a human being who has taken birth in the land of Bhārata-varṣa should become a fully enlightened devotee and go back home, back to Godhead. This is the subject matter of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. The inhabitants of places other than Bhārata-varṣa have facilities for material enjoyment, but they do not have the same facility to take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Therefore Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has advised that one who has taken birth as a human being in Bhārata-varṣa must first realize himself as a part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, and after taking to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he must distribute this knowledge all over the world.
niruptam iṣṭaṁ vidhi-mantra-vastutaḥ
ekaḥ pṛthaṅ-nāmabhir āhuto mudā
gṛhṇāti pūrṇaḥ svayam āśiṣāṁ prabhuḥ
In Bhagavad-gītā (9.13) Lord Kṛṣṇa says:
mahātmānas tu māṁ pārtha
daivīṁ prakṛtim āśritāḥ
jñātvā bhūtādim avyayam
“O son of Pṛthā, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible.” Mahātmās, advanced devotees, worship only the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Others, however, who are also sometimes called mahātmās, worship the Lord as ekatvena pṛthaktvena. In other words, they accept the demigods as different parts of Kṛṣṇa and worship them for various benedictions. Although the devotees of the demigods thus achieve the desired results offered by Kṛṣṇa, they have been described in Bhagavad-gītā as hṛta-jñānah, not very intelligent. Kṛṣṇa does not desire to be worshiped indirectly through the different parts of His body; Kṛṣṇa wants direct devotional worship. Therefore a devotee who directly worships Lord Kṛṣṇa through staunch devotional service, as recommended in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, (tīvreṇa bhakti-yogena yajeta puruṣaṁ param), is very quickly elevated to the transcendental position. Nevertheless, devotees who worship the demigods, the different parts of the Lord, receive the benedictions they desire because the Lord is the original master of all benedictions. If anyone wants a particular benediction, for the Lord to award it is not at all difficult.
naivārthado yat punar arthitā yataḥ
svayaṁ vidhatte bhajatām anicchatām
The devotees mentioned in the previous verse approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead with material motives, but this verse explains how such devotees are saved from those desires. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.3.10) advises:
akāmaḥ sarva-kāmo vā
yajeta puruṣaṁ param
“Whether one is freed from all material desires, is full of material desires, or desires to become one with the Supreme, he should engage in devotional service.” In this way, not only will the devotee’s desires be fulfilled, but the day will come when he will have no other desire than to serve the lotus feet of the Lord. One who engages in the service of the Lord with some motive is called a sakāma-bhakta, and one who serves the Lord without any motives is called an akāma-bhakta. Kṛṣṇa is so merciful that He turns a sakāma-bhakta into an akāma-bhakta. A pure devotee, an akāma-bhakta, who has no material motives, is satisfied simply to serve the lotus feet of the Lord. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (6.22). Yaṁ labdhvā cāparaṁ lābhaṁ manyate nādhikaṁ tataḥ: if one engages in the service of the lotus feet of the Lord, he does not want anything more. This is the highest stage of devotional service. The Lord is so kind even to a sakāma-bhakta, a motivated devotee, that He satisfies his desires in such a way that one day he becomes an akāma-bhakta. Dhruva Mahārāja, for example, became a bhakta with the motive of getting a better kingdom than that of his father, but finally he became an akāma-bhakta and said to the Lord, svāmin kṛtārtho ’smi varaṁ na yāce: “My dear Lord, I am very satisfied simply to serve Your lotus feet. I do not want any material benefits.” Sometimes it is found that a small child eats dirty things, but his parents take away the dirty things and offer him a sandeśa or some other sweetmeat. Devotees who aspire for material benedictions are compared to such children. The Lord is so kind that He takes away their material desires and gives them the highest benediction. Therefore, even for material motives, one should not worship anyone other than the Supreme Personality of Godhead; one must fully engage himself in the devotional service of the Lord so that all his desires will be fulfilled and at the end he can go back home, back to Godhead. This is explained in Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 22.37-39, 41) as follows.
Anyakāmī — a devotee may desire something other than service to the lotus feet of the Lord; yadi kare kṛṣṇera bhajana — but if he engages in Lord Kṛṣṇa’s service; nā māgiteha kṛṣṇa tāre dena sva-caraṇa — Kṛṣṇa gives him shelter at His lotus feet, even though he does not aspire for it. Kṛṣṇa kahe — the Lord says; āmā bhaje — “He is engaged in My service”; māge viṣaya-sukha — “but he wants the benefits of material sense gratification.” Amṛta chāḍi’ viṣa māge: — “such a devotee is like a person who asks for poison instead of nectar.” Ei baḍa mūrkha: “That is his foolishness.” Ami-vijña: “But I am experienced.” Ei mūrkhe ‘viṣaya’ kene diba: “Why should I give such a foolish person the dirty things of material enjoyment?” Sva-caraṇa-mṛta: “It would be better for Me to give him shelter at My lotus feet.” ‘Viṣaya’ bhulāiba: “I shall cause him to forget all material desires.” Kāma lāgi’ kṛṣṇa bhaje — if one engages in the service of the Lord for sense gratification; paya kṛṣṇa-rase — the result is that he ultimately gets a taste for serving the lotus feet of the Lord. Kāma chāḍi’ ‘dasa’ haite haya abhilāṣe: He then gives up all material desires and wants to become an eternal servant of the Lord.
sviṣṭasya sūktasya kṛtasya śobhanam
tenājanābhe smṛtimaj janma naḥ syād
varṣe harir yad-bhajatāṁ śaṁ tanoti
It is certainly as a result of pious activities that one takes birth in the heavenly planets, but from those planets one must nevertheless come down again to earth, as stated in Bhagavad-gītā (kṣīṇe puṇye martya-lokaṁ viśanti). Even the demigods must return to earth to work like ordinary men when the results of their pious activities expire. Nevertheless, the demigods desire to come to the land of Bhārata-varṣa if even a small portion of the merits of their pious activities remains. In other words, to take birth in Bhārata-varṣa, one must perform more pious activities than the demigods. In Bhārata-varṣa one is naturally Kṛṣṇa conscious, and if one further cultivates his Kṛṣṇa consciousness, by the grace of Kṛṣṇa he certainly expands his good fortune by becoming perfect in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and very easily going back home, back to Godhead. In many other places in the Vedic literature it is found that even the demigods want to come to this land of Bhārata-varṣa. A foolish person may desire to be promoted to the heavenly planets as a result of his pious activities, but even the demigods from the heavenly planets want to come to Bhārata-varṣa and achieve bodies that may be very easily used to cultivate Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Therefore Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu repeatedly says:
bhārata-bhūmite haila manuṣya-janma yāra
janma sārthaka kari’ kara para-upakāra
A human being born in the land of Bhārata-varṣa has the special prerogative to develop Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Therefore those already born in Bhārata-varṣa should take lessons from the śāstras and guru and should fully take advantage of the mercy of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in order to be fully equipped with Kṛṣṇa consciousness. By taking full advantage of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one goes back home, back to Godhead (yānti mad-yājino ’pi mām). The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is therefore spreading this facility to human society by opening many, many centers all over the world so that people may associate with the pure devotees of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, understand the science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and ultimately go back home, back to Godhead.
In the Kūrma Purāṇa there is this statement about the desires of the demigods:
Although the demigods are situated in exalted positions in the heavenly planets, they nevertheless desire to descend to the land of Bhārata-varṣa on the planet earth. This indicates that even the demigods are unfit to reside in Bhārata-varṣa. Therefore if persons already born in Bhārata-varṣa live like cats and dogs, not taking full advantage of their birth in this land, they are certainly unfortunate.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Fifth Canto, Nineteenth Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled “A Description of the Island of Jambūdvīpa.”