Dharma, The Way of Transcendence
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vāsudeve bhagavati
bhakti-yogaḥ prayojitaḥ
janayaty āśu vairāgyaṁ
jñānaṁ ca yad ahaitukam

“By rendering devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, one immediately acquires causeless knowledge and detachment from the world.”
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.2.7

Those who consider devotional service to the Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa to be something like material emotional affairs may argue that in the revealed scriptures, sacrifice, charity, austerity, knowledge, mystic powers, and similar other processes of transcendental realization are recommended. According to them, bhakti, or the devotional service of the Lord, is meant for those who cannot perform the high-grade activities. Generally it is said that the bhakti cult is meant for the śūdras, vaiśyas, and the less intelligent woman class. But that is not the actual fact. The bhakti cult is the topmost of all transcendental activities, and therefore it is simultaneously sublime and easy. It is sublime for the pure devotees who are serious about getting in contact with the Supreme Lord, and it is easy for the neophytes who are just on the threshold of the house of bhakti. To achieve the contact of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa is a great science, and it is open for all living beings, including the śūdras, vaiśyas, women, and even those lower than the lowborn śūdras, so what to speak of the high-class men like the qualified brāhmaṇas and the great self-realized kings. The other high-grade activities designated as sacrifice, charity, austerity, etc., are all corollary factors following the process of pure and scientific bhakti.

The principles of knowledge and detachment are two important factors on the path of transcendental realization. The whole spiritual process leads to perfect knowledge of everything material and spiritual, and the results of such perfect knowledge are that one becomes detached from material affection and becomes attached to spiritual activities. Becoming detached from material things does not mean becoming inert altogether, as men with a poor fund of knowledge think. Naiṣkarmya means not undertaking activities that will produce good or bad effects. Negation does not mean negation of the positive. Negation of the nonessentials does not mean negation of the essential. Similarly, detachment from material forms does not mean nullifying the positive form. The bhakti cult is meant for realization of the positive form. When the positive form is realized, the negative forms are automatically eliminated. Therefore, with the development of the bhakti cult, with the application of positive service to the positive form, one naturally becomes detached from inferior things, and he becomes attached to superior things. Similarly, the bhakti cult, being the supermost occupation of the living being, leads him out of material sense enjoyment. That is the sign of a pure devotee. He is not a fool, nor is he engaged in the inferior energies, nor does he have material values. This is not possible by dry reasoning. It actually happens by the grace of the Almighty. In conclusion, one who is a pure devotee has all other good qualities, namely knowledge, detachment, etc., but one who has only knowledge or detachment is not necessarily well acquainted with the principles of the bhakti cult. Bhakti is the supermost occupation of the human being.

The knowledge that comes from practicing bhakti enables us to answer the question "What am I?" In the conditioned stage of life we pass our days not in knowledge but in ignorance, just like the animals. The animals have no self-knowledge. They are always absorbed in the bodily concept of life. The dog thinks, "I am a dog. I am this body." Of course, he does not know whether he is a dog or a cat. We have given him the name "dog." He simply knows, "I am this body, and I must meet the needs of this body somehow or other." That is his only business. The whole day and night he is simply working to meet the needs of his body. This is ignorance.

When we are no longer cats and dogs but are human beings, we can understand, "I am not this body; I am a spirit soul." Therefore the Vedānta-sūtra says, athāto brahma jijñāsā: "Having achieved the human form of life, one should inquire into the Absolute Truth." The human body is achieved after transmigrating for many, many years through up to 8,000,000 lower forms of life. Therefore this life should not be spoiled by living like cats and dogs—simply eating, sleeping, defending, and engaging in sexual intercourse. These bodily demands are common to both animals and human beings. But what is the special facility of human life? The human being is eligible to understand what is the value of life, what are the problems of life, and how to make a solution to those problems. That is human life, not simply passing our days like cats and dogs, working very hard to satisfy our bodily demands.

Again and again the scriptures warn against this kind of degraded life. Lord Ṛṣabhadeva says (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 5.5.1), nāyaṁ deho deha-bhājāṁ nṛloke kaṣṭān kāmān arhate viḍ-bhujāṁ ye: "This human form of life is not meant for satisfying the senses with great difficulty, like the stool-eating hogs." Eating is necessary, of course, but a village hog eats the most abominable thing, stool, searching it out the whole day and night. And if human beings create a so-called civilization in which one simply has to work hard day and night to get food, then the lives of the human beings in that civilization are no better than the hog's life. That is not human life. Human life should be peaceful. One should be able to acquire food easily, eat nicely, and save time for cultivating Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is human life. But if we create a civilization of cats, dogs, and hogs, then Kṛṣṇa will give us the chance to work day and night simply for eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. And that is the position now because people want it.

Actually, there is no scarcity of food. Kṛṣṇa is so kind that he is providing food for everyone (eko bahūnāṁ yo vidadhāti kāmān). He is feeding millions and trillions of living entities. Throughout the world there are billions of birds. Who is feeding them? Kṛṣṇa is feeding them. So the real problems in the world are not overpopulation or a scarcity of food. The problem is a scarcity of God consciousness. That is why people are suffering. That is not to say that the needs of the body should be neglected; they must be met. But we should not be busy simply for satisfying the needs of the body. We are spirit souls, and the spirit soul has its own needs. We must meet those needs. Then we will be happy.

These needs can be met when we follow the instructions of this verse and attain jñāna and vairāgya, knowledge and detachment. Detachment cannot be achieved without knowledge. Real knowledge means to understand, "I am not this body." As soon as we understand that we are not the body, we can also understand that sense gratification is not required. And that understanding is detachment, or vairāgya. But without jñāna, we think we must satisfy the senses. Absorbed in the bodily concept of life, which is ajñāna, or ignorance, we think our only business is to satisfy our senses.

The whole world is moving on the basis of sense gratification. When a young man and a young woman meet, the desire for sense gratification becomes very strong. As the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (5.5.8) says,

puṁsaḥ striyā mithunī-bhāvam etaṁ
tayor mitho hṛdaya-granthim āhuḥ
ato gṛha-kṣetra-sutāpta-vittair
janasya moho 'yam ahaṁ mameti

“A man is attracted to a woman, and a woman is attracted to man, and as soon as they are united sexually, that mutual attraction becomes very strong. Then they are married and require a house or apartment (gṛha) and a job for earning money or some land for cultivating food (kṣetra). Then come children (suta), a widening circle of friends and relatives (āpta), and wealth (vittaiḥ). In this way the living entity becomes entangled in a network of illusion and thinks, 'I am this body, and this family and property are mine.'”

Actually, nothing belongs to him. As soon as death comes, he has to change his body, and as soon as he changes his body, everything is finished. His property, his wife, his children, his country, his society—everything is lost. As Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā (10.4), mṛtyuḥ sarva-haraś cāham: "As death, I take away everything." For His devotees Kṛṣṇa appears as Himself—as beautiful Śrī Kṛṣṇa playing a flute—but for the nondevotees Kṛṣṇa comes as death. Then they can see God. The atheists simply defy God, challenging "Where is your Kṛṣṇa? Where is God?" and in the end they also see Him, as death.

So the atheists and the theists both see Kṛṣṇa, but whereas the atheists see Him only at the end of their lives, as all-devouring death, the theists see Kṛṣṇa Himself in their hearts at every moment because they have developed love for Him (premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti [Brahma Samhita 5.38]). The previous verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.6) has described the culture of this love of God as the supreme dharma for human beings: sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhokṣaje. That culture is required. You may belong to any type of religion-Hindu, Muslim, Christian-but the test of how religious you are is how much you have developed love of Godhead. Without such development, your religious process is useless.

Sometimes people ask, "Have you seen God?" To see God is not difficult. You simply have to qualify yourself to see Him by developing your love of Godhead. Then you can see God at every moment. This is the formula. And if you have not developed Kṛṣṇa consciousness to the degree that you can always see Him in your heart, then you can see God in the material world, as prescribed in the scriptures. For example, in the Bhagavad-gītā (7.8) Kṛṣṇa says, raso 'ham apsu kaunteya: "I am the taste of water." So, you can see Kṛṣṇa while drinking water if you remember, "The taste of this water is Kṛṣṇa." Is it very difficult? Not at all. Then Kṛṣṇa says, prabhāsmi śaśi-sūryayoḥ: "I am the light of the sun and the moon." If while drinking water you forget that Kṛṣṇa is the taste, you can see Him by remembering that He is the light of the sun and the moon. So when people ask, "Have you seen God?" we reply, "Yes, and you have also seen Him, because Kṛṣṇa says, 'I am the sunshine.'" Who has not seen the sunshine? So, you have to begin seeing God in this way—by remembering Him when you taste water, when you see the sunshine, and so on. Such remembrance of God is also seeing Him. Spiritual seeing is not done simply with the eyes. Because Kṛṣṇa is absolute, you can also see Him by chanting His name or by describing Him. Śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.5.23]. When you hear of Kṛṣṇa, you are seeing Kṛṣṇa, when you chant about Kṛṣṇa, you are seeing Kṛṣṇa, when you are thinking of Kṛṣṇa, you are seeing Kṛṣṇa. This is the process for seeing God.

If you hear about Kṛṣṇa, if you chant about Kṛṣṇa, if you think about Kṛṣṇa, if you worship Kṛṣṇa, if you render some service to Kṛṣṇa, if you offer everything to Kṛṣṇa, you'll see Kṛṣṇa always, twenty-four hours a day. This is bhakti-yoga. My students in the Kṛṣṇa consciousness society are following these principles: They are cooking for Kṛṣṇa, dancing for Kṛṣṇa, singing for Kṛṣṇa, talking for Kṛṣṇa, going around the world for Kṛṣṇa—everything for Kṛṣṇa. Anyone can adopt these principles. Where is the difficulty? Vāsudeve bhagavati bhakti-yogaḥ prayojitaḥ [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.2.7]. And if you practice Kṛṣṇa consciousness in this way, the result will be janayaty āśu vairāgyaṁ jñānaṁ ca yad ahaitukam: Very soon you will automatically attain knowledge and detachment.

The mystic yogīs are trying very hard to become detached from this material world by the processes of yama (proscriptions), niyama (prescribed duties), āsana (sitting postures), prāṇāyāma (breath control), pratyāhāra (withdrawal of the senses), dhāraṇā (concentration), dhyāna (meditation), and samādhi (trance). This is the eightfold mystic yogic system. And what is the goal? Detachment from the material world. Nowadays people take the goal of yoga to be health. But yoga is not actually meant for that purpose. Yoga is meant to detach us from matter and connect us with the Supreme. That is yoga.

There are various types of yoga, but the supreme yoga is described in the Bhagavad-gītā (6.47) by Kṛṣṇa as follows:

yoginām api sarveṣāṁ mad-gatenāntar-ātmanā
śraddhāvān bhajate yo māṁ sa me yuktatamo mataḥ

“And of all yogis, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself, and renders transcendental loving service to Me—he is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion.”

So the first-class yogi is he who is always thinking of Kṛṣṇa, and the easiest and simplest way to think of Kṛṣṇa is to chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. By this process your tongue, voice, and hearing process are all fixed on Kṛṣṇa. That is samādhi, absorption in thought of Kṛṣṇa.

This absorption in Kṛṣṇa, however, can come only if we are detached from the sense objects. As Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā (2.44),

bhogaiśvarya-prasaktānāṁ tayāpahṛta-cetasām
vyavasāyātmikā buddhiḥ samādhau na vidhīyate

“Those who are too much attached to material enjoyment and opulence cannot attain samādhi, absorption in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.”

They are thinking that material enjoyment and opulence will make them happy, and so they are called apahṛta-cetasām, bewildered. But if you practice bhakti-yoga, detachment will automatically come, and absorption in Kṛṣṇa consciousness will follow.

The whole Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is based on the principles of knowledge and detachment. Now we are in ignorance, thinking, "I am this body, and I am attached to my bodily expansions—my wife, children, grandchildren, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, and so on." In this way we gather our attachments around us. These attachments should not be rejected at once, but they should be dovetailed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This principle has been enunciated by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī:

anāsaktasya viṣayān yathārham upayuñjataḥ
nirbandhaḥ kṛṣṇa-sambandhe yuktaṁ vairāgyam ucyate

A man and a woman should live together as householders in relationship with Kṛṣṇa, only for the purpose of discharging duties in the service of Kṛṣṇa. The husband, wife, and children should all be engaged in Kṛṣṇa conscious duties, and then all these bodily or material attachments will disappear. Every family can worship Vāsudeva, or Kṛṣṇa. You can install a small Deity or a picture of Kṛṣṇa in your house and perform worship. For instance, everyone has to cook food to eat. So, cook nice vegetarian foods for Kṛṣṇa, offer them to the Deity form or a picture of Kṛṣṇa, and then partake of the prasādam, or remnants. This is bhakti-yoga. It is not that the Deity should be installed only in the temple. Why not in your home? Although Kṛṣṇa is the virāṭ-puruṣa, with a form as big as the universe, He can also come within your room as a small Deity. Aṇor aṇīyān mahato mahīyān: God is bigger than the biggest and smaller than the smallest. That is His greatness.

So everyone can practice bhakti-yoga under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master, one who knows the science of Kṛṣṇa. Don't lose this opportunity of human life. Practice bhakti-yoga, be Kṛṣṇa conscious, and make your life successful. Our mission is to teach this science. It is not a business—"Give me some money, and I will teach you." The knowledge is free. We are simply encouraging everyone, "Chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra." What is the difficulty? Simply chant Hare Kṛṣṇa and dance. Why go to some club to dance? The whole family can chant and dance at home. You will be happy. Then you will understand your constitutional position as servants of Kṛṣṇa.

This is the main mission of human life: to understand our position as servants of the Lord. This understanding naturally results in vairāgya, detachment. Two good examples are Sanātana Gosvāmī and Rūpa Gosvāmī, the foremost disciples of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Before meeting Lord Caitanya they were the chief ministers of a king, Nawab Hussein Shah. They associated with highly aristocratic men. But after they met Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu they decided to retire from the king's service and join Lord Caitanya's Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. About them it is said, tyaktvā tūrṇam aśeṣa-maṇḍala-pati-śreṇīṁ sadā tuccha-vat: Although they were big leaders of society, they quickly gave it all up as very insignificant. Then what did they do? Bhūtvā dīna-gaṇeśakau karuṇayā kaupīna-kanthāśritau: For the benefit of the whole human society, they became renounced mendicants and taught Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Here the words dīna-gaṇa mean "the general mass of poor people." Rūpa Gosvāmī and Sanātana Gosvāmī saw that the people were very poor because they did not know the aim of life or the means for achieving it. One is actually poor who is poor in transcendental knowledge. Material poverty is no consideration. That may come or go, and one has to tolerate: tāṁs titikṣasva bhārata. And even if you have enough money, you will still be unhappy if you are poor in transcendental knowledge. Therefore transcendental knowledge is real wealth. That is why in India, the brāhmaṇas—those who were rich in knowledge because they understood the Supreme Brahman, Kṛṣṇa—were traditionally respected even by kings.

So we must become rich in knowledge and detachment. For so long we have been entangled in the materialistic way of life because of attachment. We live our life in ignorance, and after death we get another life, another body. Then another chapter begins. In this way our life is going on. Therefore we must attain detachment from this materialistic way of life so that we can end this changing from one body to another.

Unfortunately, people are so ignorant that they do not take this process of transmigration very seriously. They think, "Let us go on as we are. We don't mind getting another body. Whatever happens, happens." That is not very intelligent. You must have knowledge. This knowledge is imparted at the very beginning of Kṛṣṇa's teachings in the Bhagavad-gītā (2.11): aśocyān anvaśocas tvaṁ prajñā-vādāṁś ca bhāṣase. "Arjuna, you are talking like a big paṇḍita, but all your talk concerns this body, which no one should be overly concerned about." Gatāsūn agatāsūṁś ca nānuśocanti paṇḍitāḥ: "Real paṇḍitas are not very much concerned with this body, but fools and rascals are simply involved with bodily problems." This is jñāna, knowledge.

One can achieve this jñāna very easily. How? Kṛṣṇa explains in the Bhagavad-gītā (10.10):

teṣāṁ satata-yuktānāṁ bhajatāṁ prīti-pūrvakam
dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ taṁ yena mām upayānti te

“If you engage in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead—Kṛṣṇa, or Vāsudeva—then Kṛṣṇa, who is within your heart, will impart knowledge to you.”

But that service must be rendered with love and faith, as we are teaching in the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Since He is situated in your heart, Kṛṣṇa knows what you are. You cannot cheat Him. When He understands that you are serious about knowing Him, He supplies the knowledge by which you can go to Him. That knowledge is the process of bhakti-yoga, as Kṛṣṇa clearly says in the Eighteenth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gītā (18.55):

bhaktyā mām abhijānāti yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ
tato māṁ tattvato jñātvā viśate tad-anantaram

“One can understand Me as I am, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of Me by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God.”

So, you do not need to make any separate endeavor to acquire knowledge. As stated in the present verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.2.7, janayaty āśu vairāgyaṁ jñānaṁ ca yad ahaitukam: "By serving Vasudeva, one acquires causes knowledge and detachment." Thus a sincere devotee is perfect in knowledge because he is enlightened from within by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As stated in the beginning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.1., tene brahma hṛdā ādi-kavaye: "From within the heart, Kṛṣṇa gave Lord Brahmā the intelligence to create the universe." Similarly, He will also give you intelligence if you become His sincere servant.

As soon as you acquire this knowledge, you will naturally be reluctant to pursue material sense enjoyment. In the material world everyone is working in ignorance, trying to increase his own sense enjoyment, but in the spiritual world everyone is working in knowledge, trying to increase sense enjoyment of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In two lines the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 4.165) very nicely explains the difference between material and spiritual motivation:

ātmendriya-prīti-vāñchā—tāre bali 'kāma'
kṛṣṇendriya-prīti-icchā dhare 'prema' nāma

“Wanting to satisfy the desires of one's own senses is called kāma, lust, and wanting to satisfy Kṛṣṇa's senses is called prema, pure loving devotion.”

We see the contrast between kāma and prema in the behavior of Arjuna. At first he wanted to satisfy his own senses: "My dear Kṛṇa, I cannot possibly kill my cousin-brothers, my grandfather, or my teacher Droṇācārya." But after Kṛṣṇa had imparted the instructions of the Bhagavad-gītā to Arjuna and then asked him, "Now what is your decision?" Arjuna replied,

naṣṭo mohaḥ smṛtir labdhā tvat-prasādān mayācyuta
sthito 'smi gata-sandehaḥ kariṣye vacanaṁ tava

“My dear Kṛṣṇa, by Your grace all my illusion is now gone and I have regained my original Kṛṣṇa consciousness.”
[Bhagavad-gītā 18.73]

And what is his conclusion? "My duty is to satisfy You, not my senses." In this way Arjuna again came to his position as Kṛṣṇa's devotee and fought the Battle of Kurukṣetra.

Kṛṣṇa consciousness, pure love of God, is not something artificial. In the beginning you must follow the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga. Then after some time you will naturally get spontaneous love of God. As Lord Caitanya explains to Sanātana Gosvāmī in the Caitanya-caritãmrta (Madhya-lilã 22.107),

nitya-siddha kṛṣṇa-prema 'sādhya' kabhu naya
śravaṇādi-śuddha-citte karaye udaya

“Pure love for Kṛṣṇa is eternally established in the hearts of all living entities. It is not something to be gained from another source. When the heart is purified by hearing and chanting about Kṛṣṇa, that love naturally awakens.”

So, love for God is already there within each of us because we are part and parcel of Him, but that love is now covered by lust due to material association. When a mirror is covered by dust, you cannot see yourself reflected in it, but after you polish it you see your face clearly. Similarly, the process of bhakti-yoga polishes the mirror of your heart, and when it is nicely polished, you will see what you are and how you should work so that you will be happy. Everything will be revealed.

Therefore, our request is that you take this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement very seriously and try to apply yourself in the service of Kṛṣṇa.

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