Chapter 8: Attaining the Supreme
vedesu yajnesu tapahsu caiva
danesu yat punya-phalam pradistam
atyeti tat sarvam idam viditva
yogi param sthanam upaiti cadyam
vedeñu—in the study of the Vedas; yajïeñu—in the performances of yajïa, sacrifice; tapaùsu—undergoing different types of austerities; ca—also; eva—certainly; däneñu—in giving charities; yat—that which; puëya-phalam—the result of pious work; pradiñöam—directed; atyeti—surpasses; tat—all those; sarvam idam—all those described above; viditvä—knowing; yogé—the devotee; param—supreme; sthänam—abode; upaiti—achieved peace; ca—also; ädyam—original.
A person who accepts the path of devotional service is not bereft of the results derived from studying the Vedas, performing austere sacrifices, giving charity or pursuing philosophical and fruitive activities. At the end he reaches the supreme abode.
This verse is the summation of the Seventh and Eighth Chapters, particularly as the chapters deal with Kåñëa consciousness and devotional service. One has to study the Vedas under the guidance of the spiritual master and undergo many austerities and penances while living under his care. A brahmacäré has to live in the home of the spiritual master just like a servant, and he must beg alms from door to door and bring them to the spiritual master. He takes food only under the master's order, and if the master neglects to call the student for food that day, the student fasts. These are some of the Vedic principles for observing brahmacarya.
After the student studies the Vedas under the master for a period from five to twenty years, he may become a man of perfect character. Study of the Vedas is not meant for the recreation of armchair speculators, but for the formation of character. After this training, the brahmacäré is allowed to enter into household life and marry. When he is a householder, he also has to perform many sacrifices and strive for further enlightenment. Then after retiring from household life, upon accepting the order of vänaprastha, he undergoes severe penances, such as living in forests, dressing with tree bark, not shaving, etc. By carrying out the orders of brahmacäré, householder, vänaprastha and finally sannyäsa, one becomes elevated to the perfectional stage of life. Some are then elevated to the heavenly kingdoms, and when they become even more advanced they are liberated in the spiritual sky, either in the impersonal brahmajyoti or in the Vaikuëöha planets or Kåñëaloka. This is the path outlined by Vedic literatures.
The beauty of Kåñëa consciousness, however, is that by one stroke, by engaging in devotional service, one can surpass all rituals of the different orders of life.
One should try to understand the Seventh and Eighth Chapters of the Gétä not by scholarship or mental speculation, but by hearing them in association with pure devotees. Chapters Six through Twelve are the essence of the Gétä. If one is fortunate to understand the Gétä-especially these middle six chapters-in the association of devotees, then his life at once becomes glorified beyond all penances, sacrifices, charities, speculations, etc. One should hear the Gétä from the devotee because at the beginning of the Fourth Chapter it is stated that the Géta can only be perfectly understood by devotees. Hearing the Gétä from devotees, not from mental speculators, is called faith. Through association of devotees, one is placed in devotional service, and by this service Kåñëa's activities, form, pastimes, name, etc., become clear, and all misgivings are dispelled. Then once doubts are removed, the study of the Gétä becomes extremely pleasurable, and one develops a taste and feeling for Kåñëa consciousness. In the advanced stage, one falls completely in love with Kåñëa, and that is the beginning of the highest perfectional stage of life which prepares the devotee's transferral to Kåñëa's abode in the spiritual sky, Goloka Våndävana, where the devotee enters into eternal happiness.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta Purports to the Eighth Chapter of the Çrémad-Bhagavad-gétä in the matter of Attaining the Supreme.