cakñur unmélitaà yena
tasmai çré-gurave namaù
sthäpitaà yena bhü-tale
svayaà rüpaù kadä mahyaà
I was born in the darkest ignorance, and my spiritual master opened my eyes with the torch of knowledge. I offer my respectful obeisances unto him.
When will Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé Prabhupäda, who has established within this material world the mission to fulfill the desire of Lord Caitanya, give me shelter under his lotus feet?
vande 'haà çré-guroù çré-yuta-pada-kamalaà çré-gurun vaiñëaväàç ca
çré-rüpaà sägrajätaà saha-gaëa-raghunäthänvitaà taà sa-jévam
sädvaitaà sävadhütaà parijana-sahitaà kåñëa-caitanya-devaà
çré-rädhä-kåñëa-pädän saha-gaëa-lalitä-çré-viçäkhänvitäàç ca
I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of my spiritual master and unto the feet of all Vaiñëavas. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé along with his elder brother Sanätana Gosvämé, as well as Raghunätha Däsa and Raghunätha Bhaööa, Gopäla Bhaööa, and Çréla Jéva Gosvämé. I offer my respectful obeisances to Lord Kåñëa Caitanya and Lord Nityänanda along with Advaita Äcärya, Gadädhara, Çréväsa, and other associates. I offer my respectful obeisances to Çrématé Rädhäräëé and Çré Kåñëa along with Their associates, Çré Lalitä and Viçäkhä.
he kåñëa karuëä-sindho déna-bandho jagat-pate
gopeça gopikä-känta rädhä-känta namo 'stu te
O my dear Kåñëa, You are the friend of the distressed and the source of creation. You are the master of the gopés and the lover of Rädhäräëé. I offer my respectful obeisances unto You.
tapta-käïcana-gauräìgi rädhe våndävaneçvari
våñabhänu-sute devi praëamämi hari-priye
I offer my respects to Rädhäräëé whose bodily complexion is like molten gold and who is the Queen of Våndävana. You are the daughter of King Våñabhänu, and You are very dear to Lord Kåñëa.
väïchä-kalpatarubhyaç ca kåpä-sindhubhya eva ca
patitänäà pävanebhyo vaiñëavebhyo namo namaù
I offer my respectful obeisances unto all the Vaiñëava devotees of the Lord who can fulfill the desires of everyone, just like desire trees, and who are full of compassion for the fallen souls.
çré kåñëa caitanya prabhu nityänanda
çré advaita gadädhara çréväsädi-gaura-bhakta-vånda
I offer my obeisances to Çré Kåñëa Caitanya, Prabhu Nityänanda, Çré Advaita, Gadädhara, Çréväsa and all others in the line of devotion.
hare kåñëa, hare kåñëa, kåñëa kåñëa, hare hare
hare räma, hare räma, räma räma, hare hare.
Bhagavad-gétä is also known as Gétopaniñad. It is the essence of Vedic knowledge and one of the most important Upaniñads in Vedic literature. Of course there are many commentaries in English on the Bhagavad-gétä, and one may question the necessity for another one. This present edition can be explained in the following way. Recently an American lady asked me to recommend an English translation of Bhagavad-gétä. Of course in America there are so many editions of Bhagavad-gétä available in English, but as far as I have seen, not only in America but also in India, none of them can be strictly said to be authoritative because in almost every one of them the commentator has expressed his own opinions without touching the spirit of Bhagavad-gétä as it is.
The spirit of Bhagavad-gétä is mentioned in Bhagavad-gétä itself. It is just like this: if we want to take a particular medicine, then we have to follow the directions written on the label. We cannot take the medicine according to our own whim or the direction of a friend. It must be taken according to the directions on the label or the directions given by a physician. Similarly, Bhagavad-gétä should be taken or accepted as it is directed by the speaker himself. The speaker of Bhagavad-gétä is Lord Çré Kåñëa. He is mentioned on every page of Bhagavad-gétä as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavän. Of course the word "bhagavän" sometimes refers to any powerful person or any powerful demigod, and certainly here Bhagavän designates Lord Çré Kåñëa as a great personality, but at the same time we should know that Lord Çré Kåñëa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as is confirmed by all great äcäryas (spiritual masters) like Çaìkaräcärya, Rämänujäcärya, Madhväcärya, Nimbärka Svämé, Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu and many other authorities of Vedic knowledge in India. The Lord Himself also establishes Himself as the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the Bhagavad-gétä, and He is accepted as such in the Brahma-saàhitä and all the Puräëas, especially the Çrémad-Bhägavatam, known as the Bhägavata Puräëa (Kåñëas tu bhagavän svayam). Therefore we should take Bhagavad-gétä as it is directed by the Personality of Godhead Himself.
In the Fourth Chapter of the Gétä the Lord says:
(1) imaà vivasvate yogaà proktavän aham avyayam
vivasvän manave präha manur ikñväkave 'bravét
(2) evaà paramparä-präptam imaà räjarñayo viduù
sa käleneha mahatä yogo nañöaù parantapa
(3) sa eväyaà mayä te 'dya yogaù proktaù purätanaù
bhakto 'si me sakhä ceti rahasyaà hy etad uttamam
Here the Lord informs Arjuna that this system of yoga, the Bhagavad-gétä, was first spoken to the sun-god, and the sun-god explained it to Manu, and Manu explained it to Ikñväku, and in that way, by disciplic succession, one speaker after another, this yoga system has been coming down. But in the course of time it has become lost. Consequently the Lord has to speak it again, this time to Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kurukñetra.
He tells Arjuna that He is relating this supreme secret to him because he is His devotee and His friend. The purport of this is that Bhagavad-gétä is a treatise which is especially meant for the devotee of the Lord. There are three classes of transcendentalists, namely the jïäné, the yogé and the bhakta, or the impersonalist, the meditator and the devotee. Here the Lord clearly tells Arjuna that He is making him the first receiver of a new paramparä (disciplic succession) because the old succession was broken. It was the Lord's wish, therefore, to establish another paramparä in the same line of thought that was coming down from the sun-god to others, and it was His wish that His teaching be distributed anew by Arjuna. He wanted Arjuna to become the authority in understanding the Bhagavad-gétä. So we see that Bhagavad-gétä is instructed to Arjuna especially because Arjuna was a devotee of the Lord, a direct student of Kåñëa, and His intimate friend. Therefore Bhagavad-gétä is best understood by a person who has qualities similar to Arjuna's. That is to say he must be a devotee in a direct relationship with the Lord. As soon as one becomes a devotee of the Lord, he also has a direct relationship with the Lord. That is a very elaborate subject matter, but briefly it can be stated that a devotee is in a relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead in one of five different ways:
1. One may be a devotee in a passive state;
2. One may be a devotee in an active state;
3. One may be a devotee as a friend;
4. One may be a devotee as a parent;
5. One may be a devotee as a conjugal lover.
Arjuna was in a relationship with the Lord as friend. Of course there is a gulf of difference between this friendship and the friendship found in the material world. This is transcendental friendship which cannot be had by everyone. Of course everyone has a particular relationship with the Lord, and that relationship is evoked by the perfection of devotional service. But in the present status of our life, we have not only forgotten the Supreme Lord, but we have forgotten our eternal relationship with the Lord. Every living being, out of many, many billions and trillions of living beings, has a particular relationship with the Lord eternally. That is called svarüpa. By the process of devotional service, one can revive that svarüpa, and that stage is called svarüpa-siddhi-perfection of one's constitutional position. So Arjuna was a devotee, and he was in touch with the Supreme Lord in friendship.
How Arjuna accepted this Bhagavad-gétä should be noted. His manner of acceptance is given in the Tenth Chapter.
(12) arjuna uväca
paraà brahma paraà dhäma pavitraà paramaà bhavän
puruñaà çäçvataà divyam ädi-devam ajaà vibhum
(13) ähus tväm åñayaù sarve devarñir näradas tathä
asito devalo vyäsaù svayaà caiva bravéñi me
(14) sarvam etad åtaà manye yan mäà vadasi keçava
na hi te bhagavan vyaktià vidur devä na dänaväù
"Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier, the Absolute Truth and the eternal Divine Person. You are the primal God, transcendental and original, and You are the unborn and all-pervading beauty. All the great sages like Närada, Asita, Devala, and Vyäsa proclaim this of You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me. O Kåñëa, I totally accept as truth all that You have told me. Neither the gods nor demons, O Lord, know Thy personality." (Bg. 10. 12-14).
After hearing Bhagavad-gétä from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Arjuna accepted Kåñëa as Paraà Brahma, the Supreme Brahman. Every living being is Brahman, but the supreme living being, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the Supreme Brahman. Paraà dhäma means that He is the supreme rest or abode of everything, pavitram means that He is pure, untainted by material contamination, puruñam means that He is the supreme enjoyer, divyam, transcendental, ädi-devam, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, ajam, the unborn, and vibhum, the greatest, the all-pervading.
Now one may think that because Kåñëa was the friend of Arjuna, Arjuna was telling Him all this by way of flattery, but Arjuna, just to drive out this kind of doubt from the minds of the readers of Bhagavad-gétä, substantiates these praises in the next verse when he says that Kåñëa is accepted as the Supreme Personality of Godhead not only by himself but by authorities like the sage Närada, Asita, Devala, Vyäsadeva and so on. These are great personalities who distribute the Vedic knowledge as it is accepted by all äcäryas. Therefore Arjuna tells Kåñëa that he accepts whatever He says to be completely perfect. Sarvam etad åtaà manye: "I accept everything You say to be true." Arjuna also says that the personality of the Lord is very difficult to understand and that He cannot be known even by the great demigods. This means that the Lord cannot even be known by personalities greater than human beings. So how can a human being understand Çré Kåñëa without becoming His devotee?
Therefore Bhagavad-gétä should be taken up in a spirit of devotion. One should not think that he is equal to Kåñëa, nor should he think that Kåñëa is an ordinary personality or even a very great personality. Lord Çré Kåñëa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, at least theoretically, according to the statements of Bhagavad-gétä or the statements of Arjuna, the person who is trying to understand the Bhagavad-gétä. We should therefore at least theoretically accept Çré Kåñëa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and with that submissive spirit we can understand the Bhagavad-gétä. Unless one reads the Bhagavad-gétä in a submissive spirit, it is very difficult to understand Bhagavad-gétä because it is a great mystery.
Just what is the Bhagavad-gétä? The purpose of Bhagavad-gétä is to deliver mankind from the nescience of material existence. Every man is in difficulty in so many ways, as Arjuna also was in difficulty in having to fight the Battle of Kurukñetra. Arjuna surrendered unto Çré Kåñëa, and consequently this Bhagavad-gétä was spoken. Not only Arjuna, but every one of us is full of anxieties because of this material existence. Our very existence is in the atmosphere of nonexistence. Actually we are not meant to be threatened by nonexistence. Our existence is eternal. But somehow or other we are put into asat. Asat refers to that which does not exist.
Out of so many human beings who are suffering, there are a few who are actually inquiring about their position, as to what they are, why they are put into this awkward position and so on. Unless one is awakened to this position of questioning his suffering, unless he realizes that he doesn't want suffering but rather wants to make a solution to all sufferings, then one is not to be considered a perfect human being. Humanity begins when this sort of inquiry is awakened in one's mind. In the Brahma-sütra this inquiry is called "brahma-jijïäsä." Every activity of the human being is to be considered a failure unless he inquires about the nature of the Absolute. Therefore those who begin to question why they are suffering or where they came from and where they shall go after death are proper students for understanding Bhagavad-gétä. The sincere student should also have a firm respect for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Such a student was Arjuna.
Lord Kåñëa descends specifically to reestablish the real purpose of life when man forgets that purpose. Even then, out of many, many human beings who awaken, there may be one who actually enters the spirit of understanding his position, and for him this Bhagavad-gétä is spoken. Actually we are all followed by the tiger of nescience, but the Lord is very merciful upon living entities, especially human beings. To this end He spoke the Bhagavad-gétä, making His friend Arjuna His student.
Being an associate of Lord Kåñëa, Arjuna was above all ignorance, but Arjuna was put into ignorance on the Battlefield of Kurukñetra just to question Lord Kåñëa about the problems of life so that the Lord could explain them for the benefit of future generations of human beings and chalk out the plan of life. Then man could act accordingly and perfect the mission of human life.
The subject of the Bhagavad-gétä entails the comprehension of five basic truths. First of all, the science of God is explained and then the constitutional position of the living entities, jévas. There is éçvara, which means controller, and there are jévas, the living entities which are controlled. If a living entity says that he is not controlled but that he is free, then he is insane. The living being is controlled in every respect, at least in his conditioned life. So in the Bhagavad-gétä the subject matter deals with the éçvara, the supreme controller, and the jévas, the controlled living entities. Prakåti (material nature) and time (the duration of existence of the whole universe or the manifestation of material nature) and karma (activity) are also discussed. The cosmic manifestation is full of different activities. All living entities are engaged in different activities. From Bhagavad-gétä we must learn what God is, what the living entities are, what prakrti is, what the cosmic manifestation is and how it is controlled by time, and what the activities of the living entities are.
Out of these five basic subject matters in Bhagavad-gétä it is established that the Supreme Godhead, or Kåñëa, or Brahman, or supreme controller, or Paramätmä—you may use whatever name you like—is the greatest of all. The living beings are in quality like the supreme controller. For instance, the Lord has control over the universal affairs, over material nature, etc., as will be explained in the later chapters of Bhagavad-gétä. Material nature is not independant. She is acting under the directions of the Supreme Lord. As Lord Kåñëa says, "Prakåti is working under My direction." When we see wonderful things happening in the cosmic nature, we should know that behind this cosmic manifestation there is a controller. Nothing could be manifested without being controlled. It is childish not to consider the controller. For instance, a child may think that an automobile is quite wonderful to be able to run without a horse or other animal pulling it, but a sane man knows the nature of the automobile's engineering arrangement. He always knows that behind the machinery there is a man, a driver. Similarly, the Supreme Lord is a driver under whose direction everything is working. Now the jévas, or the living entities, have been accepted by the Lord, as we will note in the later chapters, as His parts and parcels. A particle of gold is also gold, a drop of water from the ocean is also salty, and similarly, we the living entities, being part and parcel of the supreme controller, ésvara, or Bhagavän, Lord Çré Kåñëa, have all the qualities of the Supreme Lord in minute quantity because we are minute éçvaras, subordinate éçvaras. We are trying to control nature, as presently we are trying to control space or planets, and this tendency to control is there because it is in Kåñëa. But although we have a tendency to lord it over material nature, we should know that we are not the supreme controller. This is explained in Bhagavad-gétä.
What is material nature? This is also explained in Gétä as inferior prakåti, inferior nature. The living entity is explained as the superior prakåti. Prakåti is always under control, whether inferior or superior. Prakåti is female, and she is controlled by the Lord just as the activities of a wife are controlled by the husband. Prakåti is always subordinate, predominated by the Lord, who is the predominator. The living entities and material nature are both predominated, controlled by the Supreme Lord. According to the Gétä, the living entities, although parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord, are to be considered prakåti. This is clearly mentioned in the Seventh Chapter, fifth verse of Bhagavad-gétä: "Apareyam itas tv anyäm." "This prakåti is My lower nature." "Prakåtià viddhi me paräm jéva-bhütäà mahä-bäho yayedaà dhäryate jagat." And beyond this there is another prakåti: jéva-bhütäm, the living entity.
Prakåti itself is constituted by three qualities: the mode of goodness, the mode of passion and the mode of ignorance. Above these modes there is eternal time, and by a combination of these modes of nature and under the control and purview of eternal time there are activities which are called karma. These activities are being carried out from time immemorial, and we are suffering or enjoying the fruits of our activities. For instance, suppose I am a businessman and have worked very hard with intelligence and have amassed a great bank balance. Then I am an enjoyer. But then say I have lost all my money in business; then I am a sufferer. Similarly, in every field of life we enjoy the results of our work, or we suffer the results. This is called karma.
Éçvara (the Supreme Lord), jéva (the living entity), prakåti (nature), eternal time and karma (activity) are all explained in the Bhagavad-gétä. Out of these five, the Lord, the living entities, material nature and time are eternal. The manifestation of prakåti may be temporary, but it is not false. Some philosophers say that the manifestation of material nature is false, but according to the philosophy of Bhagavad-gétä or according to the philosophy of the Vaiñëavas, this is not so. The manifestation of the world is not accepted as false; it is accepted as real, but temporary. It is likened unto a cloud which moves across the sky, or the coming of the rainy season which nourishes grains. As soon as the rainy season is over and as soon as the cloud goes away, all the crops which were nourished by the rain dry up. Similarly, this material manifestation takes place at a certain interval, stays for a while and then disappears. Such are the workings of prakåti But this cycle is working eternally. Therefore prakrti is eternal; it is not false. The Lord refers to this as "My prakåti." This material nature is the separated energy of the Supreme Lord, and similarly the living entities are also the energy of the Supreme Lord, but they are not separated. They are eternally related. So the Lord, the living entity, material nature and time are all interrelated and are all eternal. However, the other item, karma, is not eternal. The effects of karma may be very old indeed. We are suffering or enjoying the results of our activities from time immemorial, but we can change the results of our karma, or our activity, and this change depends on the perfection of our knowledge. We are engaged in various activities. Undoubtedly we do not know what sort of activities we should adopt to gain relief from the actions and reactions of all these activities, but this is also explained in the Bhagavad-gétä.
The position of ésvara is that of supreme consciousness. The jévas, or the living entities, being parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord, are also conscious. Both the living entity and material nature are explained as prakåti, the energy of the Supreme Lord, but one of the two, the jéva, is conscious. The other prakåti is not conscious. That is the difference. Therefore the jéva-prakåti is called superior because the jéva has consciousness which is similar to the Lord's. The Lord's is supreme consciousness, however, and one should not claim that the jéva, the living entity, is also supremely conscious. The living being cannot be supremely conscious at any stage of his perfection, and the theory that he can be so is a misleading theory. Conscious he may be, but he is not perfectly or supremely conscious.
The distinction between the jéva and the éçvara will be explained in the Thirteenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gétä. The Lord is kñetra-jïaù, conscious, as is the living being, but the living being is conscious of his particular body, whereas the Lord is conscious of all bodies. Because He lives in the heart of every living being, He is conscious of the psychic movements of the particular jévas. We should not forget this. It is also explained that the Paramätmä, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is living in everyone's heart as éçvara, as the controller, and that He is giving directions for the living entity to act as he desires. The living entity forgets what to do. First of all he makes a determination to act in a certain way, and then he is entangled in the acts and reactions of his own karma. After giving up one type of body, he enters another type of body, as we put on and take off old clothes. As the soul thus migrates, he suffers the actions and reactions of his past activities. These activities can be changed when the living being is in the mode of goodness, in sanity, and understands what sort of activities he should adopt. If he does so, then all the actions and reactions of his past activities can be changed. Consequently, karma is not eternal. Therefore we stated that of the five items (éçvara, jéva, prakåti time and karma) four are eternal, whereas karma is not eternal.
The supreme conscious éçvara is similar to the living entity in this way: both the consciousness of the Lord and that of the living entity are transcendental. It is not that consciousness is generated by the association of matter. That is a mistaken idea. The theory that consciousness develops under certain circumstances of material combination is not accepted in the Bhagavad-gétä. Consciousness may be pervertedly reflected by the covering of material circumstances, just as light reflected through colored glass may appear to be a certain color, but the consciousness of the Lord is not materially affected. Lord Kåñëa says, "mayädhyakñeëa prakåtiù." When He descends into the material universe, His consciousness is not materially affected. If He were so affected, He would be unfit to speak on transcendental matters as He does in the Bhagavad-gétä. One cannot say anything about the transcendental world without being free from materially contaminated consciousness. So the Lord is not materially contaminated. Our consciousness, at the present moment, however, is materially contaminated. The Bhagavad-gétä teaches that we have to purify this materially contaminated consciousness. In pure consciousness, our actions will be dovetailed to the will of éçvara, and that will make us happy. It is not that we have to cease all activities. Rather, our activities are to be purified, and purified activities are called bhakti. Activities in bhakti appear to be like ordinary activities, but they are not contaminated. An ignorant person may see that a devotee is acting or working like an ordinary man, but such a person with a poor fund of knowledge does not know that the activities of the devotee or of the Lord are not contaminated by impure consciousness or matter. They are transcendental to the three modes of nature. We should know, however, that at this point our consciousness is contaminated.
When we are materially contaminated, we are called conditioned. False consciousness is exhibited under the impression that I am a product of material nature. This is called false ego. One who is absorbed in the thought of bodily conceptions cannot understand his situation. Bhagavad-gétä was spoken to liberate one from the bodily conception of life, and Arjuna put himself in this position in order to receive this information from the Lord. One must become free from the bodily conception of life; that is the preliminary activity for the transcendentalist. One who wants to become free, who wants to become liberated, must first of all learn that he is not this material body. Mukti or liberation means freedom from material consciousness. In the Çrémad-Bhägavatam also the definition of liberation is given: Mukti means liberation from the contaminated consciousness of this material world and situation in pure consciousness. All the instructions of Bhagavad-gétä are intended to awaken this pure consciousness, and therefore we find at the last stage of the Gétä's instructions that Kåñëa is asking Arjuna whether he is now in purified consciousness. Purified consciousness means acting in accordance with the instructions of the Lord. This is the whole sum and substance of purified consciousness. Consciousness is already there because we are part and parcel of the Lord, but for us there is the affinity of being affected by the inferior modes. But the Lord, being the Supreme, is never affected. That is the difference between the Supreme Lord and the conditioned souls.
What is this consciousness? This consciousness is "I am." Then what am I? In contaminated consciousness "I am" means "I am the lord of all I survey. I am the enjoyer." The world revolves because every living being thinks that he is the lord and creator of the material world. Material consciousness has two psychic divisions. One is that I am the creator, and the other is that I am the enjoyer. But actually the Supreme Lord is both the creator and the enjoyer, and the living entity, being part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, is neither the creator nor the enjoyer, but a cooperator. He is the created and the enjoyed. For instance, a part of a machine cooperates with the whole machine; a part of the body cooperates with the whole body. The hands, feet, eyes, legs and so on are all parts of the body, but they are not actually the enjoyers. The stomach is the enjoyer. The legs move, the hands supply food, the teeth chew and all parts of the body are engaged in satisfying the stomach because the stomach is the principal factor that nourishes the body's organization. Therefore everything is given to the stomach. One nourishes the tree by watering its root, and one nourishes the body by feeding the stomach, for if the body is to be kept in a healthy state, then the parts of the body must cooperate to feed the stomach. Similarly, the Supreme Lord is the enjoyer and the creator, and we, as subordinate living beings, are meant to cooperate to satisfy Him. This cooperation will actually help us, just as food taken by the stomach will help all other parts of the body. If the fingers of the hand think that they should take the food themselves instead of giving it to the stomach, then they will be frustrated. The central figure of creation and of enjoyment is the Supreme Lord, and the living entities are cooperators. By cooperation they enjoy. The relation is also like that of the master and the servant. If the master is fully satisfied, then the servant is satisfied. Similarly, the Supreme Lord should be satisfied, although the tendency to become the creator and the tendency to enjoy the material world are there also in the living entities because these tendencies are there in the Supreme Lord who has created the manifested cosmic world.
We shall find, therefore, in this Bhagavad-gétä that the complete whole is comprised of the supreme controller, the controlled living entities, the cosmic manifestation, eternal time, and karma, or activities, and all of these are explained in this text. All of these taken completely form the complete whole, and the complete whole is called the Supreme Absolute Truth. The complete whole and the complete Absolute Truth are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Çré Kåñëa. All manifestations are due to His different energies. He is the complete whole.
It is also explained in the Gétä that impersonal Brahman is also subordinate to the complete. Brahman is more explicitly explained in the Brahma-sütra to be like the rays of the sunshine. The impersonal Brahman is the shining rays of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Impersonal Brahman is incomplete realization of the absolute whole, and so also is the conception of Paramätmä in the Twelfth Chapter. There it shall be seen that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Puruñottama, is above both impersonal Brahman and the partial realization of Paramätmä. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is called sac-cid-änanda-vigraha. The Brahma-saàhitä begins in this way: éçvaraù paramaù kåñëaù sac-cid-änanda-vigrahaù/anädir ädir govindaù sarva-käraëa-käraëam. "Kåñëa is the cause of all causes. He is the primal cause, and He is the very form of eternal being, knowledge and bliss." Impersonal Brahman realization is the realization of His sat (being) feature. Paramätmä realization is the realization of the cit (eternal knowledge) feature. But realization of the Personality of Godhead, Kåñëa, is realization of all the transcendental features: sat, cit and änanda (being, knowledge, bliss) in complete vigraha (form).
People with less intelligence consider the Supreme Truth to be impersonal, but He is a transcendental person, and this is confirmed in all Vedic literatures. Nityo nityänäm cetanaç cetanänäm. As we are all individual living beings and have our individuality, the Supreme Absolute Truth is also, in the ultimate issue, a person, and realization of the Personality of Godhead is realization of all of the transcendental features. The complete whole is not formless. If He is formless, or if He is less than any other thing, then He cannot be the complete whole. The complete whole must have everything within our experience and beyond our experience, otherwise it cannot be complete. The complete whole, Personality of Godhead, has immense potencies.
How Kåñëa is acting in different potencies is also explained in Bhagavad-gétä. This phenomenal world or material world in which we are placed is also complete in itself because the twenty-four elements of which this material universe is a temporary manifestation, according to Säìkhya philosophy, are completely adjusted to produce complete resources which are necessary for the maintenance and subsistence of this universe. There is nothing extraneous; nor is there anything needed. This manifestation has its own time fixed by the energy of the supreme whole, and when its time is complete, these temporary manifestations will be annihilated by the complete arrangement of the complete. There is complete facility for the small complete units, namely the living entities, to realize the complete, and all sorts of incompleteness are experienced due to incomplete knowledge of the complete. So Bhagavad-gétä contains the complete knowledge of Vedic wisdom.
All Vedic knowledge is infallible, and Hindus accept Vedic knowledge to be complete and infallible. For example, cow dung is the stool of an animal, and according to småti or Vedic injunction, if one touches the stool of an animal he has to take a bath to purify himself. But in the Vedic scriptures cow dung is considered to be a purifying agent. One might consider this to be contradictory, but it is accepted because it is Vedic injunction, and indeed by accepting this, one will not commit a mistake; subsequently it has been proved by modern science that cow dung contains all antiseptic properties. So Vedic knowledge is complete because it is above all doubts and mistakes, and Bhagavad-gétä is the essence of all Vedic knowledge.
Vedic knowledge is not a question of research. Our research work is imperfect because we are researching things with imperfect senses. We have to accept perfect knowledge which comes down, as is stated in Bhagavad-gétä, by the paramparä disciplic succession. We have to receive knowledge from the proper source in disciplic succession beginning with the supreme spiritual master, the Lord Himself, and handed down to a succession of spiritual masters. Arjuna, the student who took lessons from Lord Çré Kåñëa, accepts everything that He says without contradicting Him. One is not allowed to accept one portion of Bhagavad-gétä and not another. No. We must accept Bhagavad-gétä without interpretation, without deletion and without our own whimsical participation in the matter. The Gétä should he taken as the most perfect presentation of Vedic knowledge. Vedic knowledge is received from transcendental sources, and the first words were spoken by the Lord Himself. The words spoken by the Lord are different from words spoken by a person of the mundane world who is infected with four defects. A mundaner 1) is sure to commit mistakes, 2) is invariably illusioned, 3) has the tendency to cheat others and 4) is limited by imperfect senses. With these four imperfections, one cannot deliver perfect information of all-pervading knowledge.
Vedic knowledge is not imparted by such defective living entities. It was imparted unto the heart of Brahmä, the first created living being, and Brahmä in his turn disseminated this knowledge to his sons and disciples, as he originally received it from the Lord. The Lord is pürëam, all-perfect, and there is no possibility of His becoming subjected to the laws of material nature. One should therefore be intelligent enough to know that the Lord is the only proprietor of everything in the universe and that He is the original creator, the creator of Brahmä. In the Eleventh Chapter the Lord is addressed as prapitämaha because Brahmä is addressed as pitämaha, the grandfather, and He is the creator of the grandfather. So no one should claim to be the proprietor of anything; one should accept only things which are set aside for him by the Lord as his quota for his maintenance.
There are many examples given of how we are to utilize those things which are set aside for us by the Lord. This is also explained in Bhagavad-gétä. In the beginning, Arjuna decided that he should not fight in the Battle of Kurukñetra. This was his own decision. Arjuna told the Lord that it was not possible for him to enjoy the kingdom after killing his own kinsmen. This decision was based on the body because he was thinking that the body was himself and that his bodily relations or expansions were his brothers, nephews, brothers-in-law, grandfathers and so on. He was thinking in this way to satisfy his bodily demands. Bhagavad-gétä was spoken by the Lord just to change this view, and at the end Arjuna decides to fight under the directions of the Lord when he says, "kariñye vacanaà tava." "I shall act according to Thy word."
In this world man is not meant to toil like hogs. He must be intelligent to realize the importance of human life and refuse to act like an ordinary animal. A human being should realize the aim of his life, and this direction is given in all Vedic literatures, and the essence is given in Bhagavad-gétä. Vedic literature is meant for human beings, not for animals. Animals can kill other living animals, and there is no question of sin on their part, but if a man kills an animal for the satisfaction of his uncontrolled taste, he must be responsible for breaking the laws of nature. In the Bhagavad-gétä it is clearly explained that there are three kinds of activities according to the different modes of nature: the activities of goodness, of passion and of ignorance. Similarly, there are three kinds of eatables also: eatables in goodness, passion and ignorance. All of this is clearly described, and if we properly utilize the instructions of Bhagavad-gétä, then our whole life will become purified, and ultimately we will be able to reach the destination which is beyond this material sky.
That destination is called the sanätana sky, the eternal spiritual sky. In this material world we find that everything is temporary. It comes into being, stays for some time, produces some by-products, dwindles and then vanishes. That is the law of the material world, whether we use as an example this body, or a piece of fruit or anything. But beyond this temporary world there is another world of which we have information. This world consists of another nature which is sanätana, eternal. Jéva is also described as sanätana, eternal, and the Lord is also described as sanätana in the Eleventh Chapter. We have an intimate relationship with the Lord, and because we are all qualitatively one—the sanätana-dhäma, or sky, the sanätana Supreme Personality and the sanätana living entities—the whole purpose of Bhagavad-gétä is to revive our sanätana occupation, or sanätana-dharma, which is the eternal occupation of the living entity. We are temporarily engaged in different activities, but all of these activities can be purified when we give up all these temporary activities and take up the activities which are prescribed by the Supreme Lord. That is called our pure life.
The Supreme Lord and His transcendental abode are both sanätana, as are the living entities, and the combined association of the Supreme Lord and the living entities in the sanätana abode is the perfection of human life. The Lord is very kind to the living entities because they are His sons. Lord Kåñëa declares in Bhagavad-gétä, "sarva-yoniñu...ahaà béja-pradaù pitä." "I am the father of all." Of course there are all types of living entities according to their various karmas, but here the Lord claims that He is the father of all of them. Therefore the Lord descends to reclaim all of these fallen, conditioned souls to call them back to the sanätana eternal sky so that the sanätana living entities may regain their eternal sanätana positions in eternal association with the Lord. The Lord comes Himself in different incarnations, or He sends His confidential servants as sons or His associates or äcäryas to reclaim the conditioned souls.
Therefore, sanätana-dharma does not refer to any sectarian process of religion. It is the eternal function of the eternal living entities in relationship with the eternal Supreme Lord. Sanätana-dharma refers, as stated previously, to the eternal occupation of the living entity. Rämänujäcärya has explained the word sanätana as "that which has neither beginning nor end," so when we speak of sanätana-dharma, we must take it for granted on the authority of Çré Rämänujäcärya that it has neither beginning nor end.
The English word "religion" is a little different from sanätana-dharma. Religion conveys the idea of faith, and faith may change. One may have faith in a particular process, and he may change this faith and adopt another, but sanätana-dharma refers to that activity which cannot be changed. For instance, liquidity cannot be taken from water, nor can heat be taken from fire. Similarly, the eternal function of the eternal living entity cannot be taken from the living entity. Sanätana-dharma is eternally integral with the living entity. When we speak of sanätana-dharma, therefore, we must take it for granted on the authority of Çré Rämänujäcärya that it has neither beginning nor end. That which has neither end nor beginning must not be sectarian, for it cannot be limited by any boundaries. Yet those belonging to some sectarian faith will wrongly consider that sanätana-dharma is also sectarian, but if we go deeply into the matter and consider it in the light of modern science, it is possible for us to see that sanätana-dharma is the business of all the people of the world—nay, of all the living entities of the universe.
Non-sanätana religious faith may have some beginning in the annals of human history, but there is no beginning to the history of sanätana-dharma because it remains eternally with the living entities. Insofar as the living entities are concerned, the authoritative çästras state that the living entity has neither birth nor death. In the Gétä it is stated that the living entity is never born, and he never dies. He is eternal and indestructible, and he continues to live after the destruction of his temporary material body. In reference to the concept of sanätana-dharma, we must try to understand the concept of religion from the Sanskrit root meaning of the word. Dharma refers to that which is constantly existing with the particular object. We conclude that there is heat and light along with the fire; without heat and light, there is no meaning to the word fire. Similarly, we must discover the essential part of the living being, that part which is his constant companion. That constant companion is his eternal quality, and that eternal quality is his eternal religion.
When Sanätana Gosvämé asked Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu about the svarüpa of every living being, the Lord replied that the svarüpa or constitutional position of the living being is the rendering of service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If we analyze this statement of Lord Caitanya, we can easily see that every living being is constantly engaged in rendering service to another living being. A living being serves other living beings in two capacities. By doing so, the living entity enjoys life. The lower animals serve human beings as servants serve their master. A serves B master, B serves C master and C serves D master and so on. Under these circumstances, we can see that one friend serves another friend, the mother serves the son, the wife serves the husband, the husband serves the wife and so on. If we go on searching in this spirit, it will be seen that there is no exception in the society of living beings to the activity of service. The politician presents his manifesto for the public to convince them of his capacity for service. The voters therefore give the politician their valuable votes, thinking that he will render valuable service to society. The shopkeeper serves the customer, and the artisan serves the capitalist. The capitalist serves the family, and the family serves the state in the terms of the eternal capacity of the eternal living being. In this way we can see that no living being is exempt from rendering service to other living beings, and therefore we can safely conclude that service is the constant companion of the living being and that the rendering of service is the eternal religion of the living being.
Yet man professes to belong to a particular type of faith with reference to particular time and circumstance and thus claims to be a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or any other sect. Such designations are non-sanätana-dharma. A Hindu may change his faith to become a Muslim, or a Muslim may change his faith to become a Hindu, or a Christian may change his faith and so on. But in all circumstances the change of religious faith does not effect the eternal occupation of rendering service to others. The Hindu, Muslim or Christian in all circumstances is servant of someone. Thus, to profess a particular type of sect is not to profess one's sanätana-dharma. The rendering of service is sanätana-dharma.
Factually we are related to the Supreme Lord in service. The Supreme Lord is the supreme enjoyer, and we living entities are His servitors. We are created for His enjoyment, and if we participate in that eternal enjoyment with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we become happy. We cannot become happy otherwise. It is not possible to be happy independantly, just as no one part of the body can be happy without cooperating with the stomach. It is not possible for the living entity to be happy without rendering transcendental loving service unto the Supreme Lord.
In the Bhagavad-gétä, worship of different demigods or rendering service to them is not approved. It is stated in the Seventh Chapter, twentieth verse:
kämais tais tair håta-jïänäù prapadyante 'nya-devatäù
taà taà niyamam ästhäya prakåtyä niyatäù svayä
"Those whose minds are distorted by material desires surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures." (Bg. 7.20
) Here it is plainly said that those who are directed by lust worship the demigods and not the Supreme Lord Kåñëa. When we mention the name Kåñëa, we do not refer to any sectarian name. Kåñëa means the highest pleasure, and it is confirmed that the Supreme Lord is the reservoir or storehouse of all pleasure. We are all hankering after pleasure. Änandamayo 'bhyäsät.
(Vs. 1.1.12) The living entities, like the Lord, are full of consciousness, and they are after happiness. The Lord is perpetually happy, and if the living entities associate with the Lord, cooperate with Him and take part in His association, then they also become happy.
The Lord descends to this mortal world to show His pastimes in Våndävana, which are full of happiness. When Lord Çré Kåñëa was in Våndävana, His activities with His cowherd boy friends, with His damsel friends, with the inhabitants of Våndävana and with the cows were all full of happiness. The total population of Våndävana knew nothing but Kåñëa. But Lord Kåñëa even discouraged His father Nanda Mahäräja from worshiping the demigod Indra because He wanted to establish the fact that people need not worship any demigod. They need only worship the Supreme Lord because their ultimate goal is to return to His abode.
The abode of Lord Çré Kåñëa is described in the Bhagavad-gétä, Fifteenth Chapter, sixth verse:
na tad bhäsayate süryo na çaçäìko na pävakaù
yad gatvä na nivartante tad dhäma paramaà mama
"That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. And anyone who reaches it never comes back to this material world." (Bg. 15.6
This verse gives a description of that eternal sky. Of course we have a material conception of the sky, and we think of it in relationship to the sun, moon, stars and so on, but in this verse the Lord states that in the eternal sky there is no need for the sun nor for the moon nor fire of any kind because the spiritual sky is already illuminated by the brahmajyoti, the rays emanating from the Supreme Lord. We are trying with difficulty to reach other planets, but it is not difficult to understand the abode of the Supreme Lord. This abode is referred to as Goloka. In the Brahma-saàhitä it is beautifully described: Goloka eva nivasaty akhilätma-bhütaù. The Lord resides eternally in His abode Goloka, yet He can be approached from this world, and to this end the Lord comes to manifest His real form, sac-cid-änanda-vigraha. When He manifests this form, there is no need for our imagining what He looks like. To discourage such imaginative speculation, He descends and exhibits Himself as He is, as Çyämasundara. Unfortunately, the less intelligent deride Him because He comes as one of us and plays with us as a human being. But because of this we should not consider that the Lord is one of us. It is by His potency that He presents Himself in His real form before us and displays His pastimes, which are prototypes of those pastimes found in His abode.
In the effulgent rays of the spiritual sky there are innumerable planets floating. The brahmajyoti emanates from the supreme abode, Kåñëaloka, and the änandamaya-cinmaya planets, which are not material, float in those rays. The Lord says, na tad bhäsayate süryo na çaçäìko na pävakaù yad gatvä na nivartante tad dhäma paramaà mama. One who can approach that spiritual sky is not required to descend again to the material sky. In the material sky, even if we approach the highest planet (Brahmaloka), what to speak of the moon, we will find the same conditions of life, namely birth, death, disease and old age. No planet in the material universe is free from these four principles of material existence. Therefore the Lord says in Bhagavad-gétä, äbrahma-bhuvanäl lokäù punar ävartino 'rjuna. The living entities are traveling from one planet to another, not by mechanical arrangement but by a spiritual process. This is also mentioned: yänti deva-vratä devän pitèn yänti pitå-vratäù. No mechanical arrangement is necessary if we want interplanetary travel. The Gétä instructs: yänti deva-vratä devän. The moon, the sun and higher planets are called svargaloka. There are three different statuses of planets: higher, middle and lower planetary systems. The earth belongs to the middle planetary system. Bhagavad-gétä informs us how to travel to the higher planetary systems (devaloka) with a very simple formula: yänti deva-vratä devän. One need only worship the particular demigod of that particular planet and in that way go to the moon, the sun or any of the higher planetary systems.
Yet Bhagavad-gétä does not advise us to go to any of the planets in this material world because even if we go to Brahmaloka, the highest planet, through some sort of mechanical contrivance by maybe traveling for forty thousand years (and who would live that long?), we will still find the material inconveniences of birth, death, disease and old age. But one who wants to approach the supreme planet, Kåñëaloka, or any of the other planets within the spiritual sky, will not meet with these material inconveniences. Amongst all of the planets in the spiritual sky there is one supreme planet called Goloka Våndävana, which is the original planet in the abode of the original Personality of Godhead Çré Kåñëa. All of this information is given in Bhagavad-gétä, and we are given through its instruction information how to leave the material world and begin a truly blissful life in the spiritual sky.
In the Fifteenth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gétä, the real picture of the material world is given. It is said there:
ürdhva-mülam adhaù-çäkham açvatthaà prähur avyayam
chandäàsi yasya parëäni yas taà veda sa veda-vit
"The Supreme Lord said: There is a banyan tree which has its roots upward and its branches down, and the Vedic hymns are its leaves. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas
." (Bg. 15.1
) Here the material world is described as a tree whose roots are upwards and branches are below. We have experience of a tree whose roots are upward: if one stands on the bank of a river or any reservoir of water, he can see that the trees reflected in the water are upside down. The branches go downward and the roots upward. Similarly, this material world is a reflection of the spiritual world. The material world is but a shadow of reality. In the shadow there is no reality or substantiality, but from the shadow we can understand that there is substance and reality. In the desert there is no water, but the mirage suggests that there is such a thing as water. In the material world there is no water, there is no happiness, but the real water of actual happiness is there in the spiritual world.
The Lord suggests that we attain the spiritual world in the following manner:
dvandvair vimuktäù sukha-duùkha-saàjïair
gacchanty amüòhäù padam avyayaà tat.
That padam avyayam or eternal kingdom can be reached by one who is nirmäna-moha. What does this mean? We are after designations. Someone wants to become a son, someone wants to become Lord, someone wants to become the president or a rich man or a king or something else. As long as we are attached to these designations, we are attached to the body because designations belong to the body. But we are not these bodies, and realizing this is the first stage in spiritual realization. We are associated with the three modes of material nature, but we must become detached through devotional service to the Lord. If we are not attached to devotional service to the Lord, then we cannot become detached from the modes of material nature. Designations and attachments are due to our lust and desire, our wanting to lord it over the material nature. As long as we do not give up this propensity of lording it over material nature, there is no possibility of returning to the kingdom of the Supreme, the sanätana-dhäma. That eternal kingdom, which is never destroyed, can be approached by one who is not bewildered by the attractions of false material enjoyments, who is situated in the service of the Supreme Lord. One so situated can easily approach that supreme abode.
Elsewhere in the Gétä it is stated:
avyakto 'kñara ity uktas tam ähuù paramäà gatim
yaà präpya na nivartante tad dhäma paramaà mama.
Avyakta means unmanifested. Not even all of the material world is manifested before us. Our senses are so imperfect that we cannot even see all of the stars within this material universe. In Vedic literature we can receive much information about all the planets, and we can believe it or not believe it. All of the important planets are described in Vedic literatures, especially Çrémad-Bhägavatam, and the spiritual world, which is beyond this material sky, is described as avyakta, unmanifested. One should desire and hanker after that supreme kingdom, for when one attains that kingdom, he does not have to return to this material world.
Next, one may raise the question of how one goes about approaching that abode of the Supreme Lord. Information of this is given in the Eighth Chapter. It is said there:
anta-käle ca mäm eva smaran muktvä kalevaram
yaù prayäti sa mad-bhävam yäti nästy atra saàçayaù
"Anyone who quits his body, at the end of life, remembering Me, attains immediately to My nature; and there is no doubt of this." (Bg. 8.5
) One who thinks of Kåñëa at the time of his death goes to Kåñëa. One must remember the form of Kåñëa; if he quits his body thinking of this form, he approaches the spiritual kingdom. Mad-bhävaà
refers to the supreme nature of the Supreme Being. The Supreme Being is sac-cid-änanda-vigraha
—eternal, full of knowledge and bliss. Our present body is not sac-cid-änanda.
It is asat,
It is not eternal; it is perishable. It is not cit,
full of knowledge, but it is full of ignorance. We have no knowledge of the spiritual kingdom, nor do we even have perfect knowledge of this material world where there are so many things unknown to us. The body is also niränanda;
instead of being full of bliss it is full of misery. All of the miseries we experience in the material world arise from the body, but one who leaves this body thinking of the Supreme Personality of Godhead at once attains a sac-cid-änanda
body, as is promised in this fifth verse of the Eighth Chapter where Lord Kåñëa says, "He attains My nature."
The process of quitting this body and getting another body in the material world is also organized. A man dies after it has been decided what form of body he will have in the next life. Higher authorities, not the living entity himself, make this decision. According to our activities in this life, we either rise or sink. This life is a preparation for the next life. If we can prepare, therefore, in this life to get promotion to the kingdom of God, then surely, after quitting this material body, we will attain a spiritual body just like the Lord.
As explained before, there are different kinds of transcendentalists, the brahmavädi, paramätmävädi and the devotee, and, as mentioned, in the brahmajyoti (spiritual sky) there are innumerable spiritual planets. The number of these planets is far, far greater than all of the planets of this material world. This material world has been approximated as only one quarter of the creation. In this material segment there are millions and billions of universes with trillions of planets and suns, stars and moons. But this whole material creation is only a fragment of the total creation. Most of the creation is in the spiritual sky. One who desires to merge into the existence of the Supreme Brahman is at once transferred to the brahmajyoti of the Supreme Lord and thus attains the spiritual sky. The devotee, who wants to enjoy the association of the Lord, enters into the Vaikuëöha planets, which are innumerable, and the Supreme Lord by His plenary expansions as Näräyaëa with four hands and with different names like Pradyumna, Aniruddha, Govinda, etc., associates with him there. Therefore at the end of life the transcendentalists either think of the brahmajyoti, the Paramätmä or the Supreme Personality of Godhead Çré Kåñëa. In all cases they enter into the spiritual sky, but only the devotee, or he who is in personal touch with the Supreme Lord, enters into the Vaikuëöha planets. The Lord further adds that of this "there is no doubt." This must be believed firmly. We should not reject that which does not tally with our imagination; our attitude should be that of Arjuna: "I believe everything that You have said." Therefore when the Lord says that at the time of death whoever thinks of Him as Brahman or Paramätmä or as the Personality of Godhead certainly enters into the spiritual sky, there is no doubt about it. There is no question of disbelieving it.
The information on how to think of the Supreme Being at the time of death is also given in the Gétä:
yaà yaà väpi smaran bhävaà tyajaty ante kalevaram
taà tam evaiti kaunteya sadä tad-bhäva-bhävitaù
"In whatever condition one quits his present body, in his next life he will attain to that state of being without fail." (Bg. 8.6
) Material nature is a display of one of the energies of the Supreme Lord. In the Viñëu Puräëa
the total energies of the Supreme Lord as Viñëu-çaktiù parä proktä,
etc., are delineated. The Supreme Lord has diverse and innumerable energies which are beyond our conception; however, great learned sages or liberated souls have studied these energies and have analyzed them into three parts. All of the energies are of Viñëu-çakti,
that is to say they are different potencies of Lord Viñëu. That energy is parä,
transcendental. Living entities also belong to the superior energy, as has already been explained. The other energies, or material energies, are in the mode of ignorance. At the time of death we can either remain in the inferior energy of this material world, or we can transfer to the energy of the spiritual world.
In life we are accustomed to thinking either of the material or the spiritual energy. There are so many literatures which fill our thoughts with the material energy—newspapers, novels, etc. Our thinking, which is now absorbed in these literatures, must be transferred to the Vedic literatures. The great sages, therefore, have written so many Vedic literatures such as the Puräëas, etc. The Puräëas are not imaginative; they are historical records. In the Caitanya-caritämåta there is the following verse:
mäyä mugdha jéver nähi svataù kåñëa-jïäna
jévera kåpäya kailä kåñëa veda-puräëa
(Cc. Madhya 20.122
The forgetful living entities or conditioned souls have forgotten their relationship with the Supreme Lord, and they are engrossed in thinking of material activities. Just to transfer their thinking power to the spiritual sky, Kåñëa has given a great number of Vedic literatures. First He divided the Vedas
into four, then He explained them in the Puräëas,
and for less capable people He wrote the Mahäbhärata.
In the Mahäbhärata
there is given the Bhagavad-gétä.
Then all Vedic literature is summarized in the Vedänta-sütra,
and for future guidance He gave a natural commentation on the Vedänta-sutra,
We must always engage our minds in reading these Vedic literatures. Just as materialists engage their minds in reading newspapers, magazines and so many materialistic literatures, we must transfer our reading to these literatures which are given to us by Vyäsadeva; in that way it will be possible for us to remember the Supreme Lord at the time of death. That is the only way suggested by the Lord, and He guarantees the result: "There is no doubt." (Bg. 8.7
tasmät sarveñu käleñu mäm anusmara yudhya ca
mayy arpita-mano-buddhir mäm evaiñyasy asaàçayaù
"Therefore, Arjuna, you should always think of Me, and at the same time you should continue your prescribed duty and fight. With your mind and activities always fixed on Me, and everything engaged in Me, you will attain to Me without any doubt."
He does not advise Arjuna to simply remember Him and give up his occupation. No, the Lord never suggests anything impractical. In this material world, in order to maintain the body one has to work. Human society is divided, according to work, into four divisions of social order—brähmaëa, kñatriya, vaiçya, çüdra. The brähmaëa class or intelligent class is working in one way, the kñatriya or administrative class is working in another way, and the mercantile class and the laborers are all tending to their specific duties. In the human society, whether one is a laborer, merchant, warrior, administrator, or farmer, or even if one belongs to the highest class and is a literary man, a scientist or a theologian, he has to work in order to maintain his existence. The Lord therefore tells Arjuna that he need not give up his occupation, but while he is engaged in his occupation he should remember Kåñëa. If he doesn't practice remembering Kåñëa while he is struggling for existence, then it will not be possible for him to remember Kåñëa at the time of death. Lord Caitanya also advises this. He says that one should practice remembering the Lord by chanting the names of the Lord always. The names of the Lord and the Lord are nondifferent. So Lord Kåñëa's instruction to Arjuna to "remember Me" and Lord Caitanya's injunction to always "chant the names of Lord Kåñëa" are the same instruction. There is no difference, because Kåñëa and Kåñëa's name are nondifferent. In the absolute status there is no difference between reference and referent. Therefore we have to practice remembering the Lord always, twenty-four hours a day, by chanting His names and molding our life's activities in such a way that we can remember Him always.
How is this possible? The äcäryas give the following example. If a married woman is attached to another man, or if a man has an attachment for a woman other than his wife, then the attachment is to be considered very strong. One with such an attachment is always thinking of the loved one. The wife who is thinking of her lover is always thinking of meeting him, even while she is carrying out her household chores. In fact, she carries out her household work even more carefully so her husband will not suspect her attachment. Similarly, we should always remember the supreme lover, Çré Kåñëa, and at the same time perform our material duties very nicely. A strong sense of love is required here. If we have a strong sense of love for the Supreme Lord, then we can discharge our duty and at the same time remember Him. But we have to develop that sense of love. Arjuna, for instance, was always thinking of Kåñëa; he was the constant companion of Kåñëa, and at the same time he was a warrior. Kåñëa did not advise him to give up fighting and go to the forest to meditate. When Lord Kåñëa delineates the yoga system to Arjuna, Arjuna says that the practice of this system is not possible for him.
yo 'yaà yogas tvayä proktaù sämyena madhusüdana
etasyähaà na paçyämi caïcalatvät sthitià sthiräm
"Arjuna said, O Madhusüdana, the system of yoga
which you have summarized appears impractical and unendurable to me, for the mind is restless and unsteady." (Bg. 6.33
But the Lord says:
yoginäm api sarveñäà mad-gatenäntarätmanä
çraddhävän bhajate yo mäà sa me yuktatamo mataù
"Of all yogés,
he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is most intimately united with Me in yoga,
and is the highest of all." (Bg. 6.47
) So one who thinks of the Supreme Lord always is the greatest yogé,
the supermost jïäné,
and the greatest devotee at the same time. The Lord further tells Arjuna that as a kñatriya
he cannot give up his fighting, but if Arjuna fights remembering Kåñëa, then he will be able to remember Him at the time of death. But one must be completely surrendered in the transcendental loving service of the Lord.
We work not with our body, actually, but with our mind and intelligence. So if the intelligence and the mind are always engaged in the thought of the Supreme Lord, then naturally the senses are also engaged in His service. Superficially, at least, the activities of the senses remain the same, but the consciousness is changed. The Bhagavad-gétä teaches one how to absorb the mind and intelligence in the thought of the Lord. Such absorption will enable one to transfer himself to the kingdom of the Lord. If the mind is engaged in Kåñëa's service, then the senses are automatically engaged in His service. This is the art, and this is also the secret of Bhagavad-gétä: total absorption in the thought of Çré Kåñëa.
Modern man has struggled very hard to reach the moon, but he has not tried very hard to elevate himself spiritually. If one has fifty years of life ahead of him, he should engage that brief time in cultivating this practice of remembering the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This practice is the devotional process of:
çravaëaà kértanaà viñëoù smaraëaà päda-sevanam
arcanaà vandanaà däsyaà sakhyam ätma-nivedanam
These nine processes, of which the easiest is çravaëaà, hearing Bhagavad-gétä from the realized person, will turn one to the thought of the Supreme Being. This will lead to niçcala, remembering the Supreme Lord, and will enable one, upon leaving the body, to attain a spiritual body which is just fit for association with the Supreme Lord.
The Lord further says:
abhyäsa-yoga-yuktena cetasä nänya-gäminä
paramaà puruñaà divyaà yäti pärthänucintayan
"By practicing this remembering, without being deviated, thinking ever of the Supreme Godhead, one is sure to achieve the planet of the Divine, the Supreme Personality, O son of Kunté." (Bg. 8.8
This is not a very difficult process. However, one must learn it from an experienced person, from one who is already in the practice. The mind is always flying to this and that, but one must always practice concentrating the mind on the form of the Supreme Lord Çré Kåñëa or on the sound of His name. The mind is naturally restless, going hither and thither, but it can rest in the sound vibration of Kåñëa. One must thus meditate on paramaà puruñaà, the Supreme Person; and thus attain Him. The ways and the means for ultimate realization, ultimate attainment, are stated in the Bhagavad-gétä, and the doors of this knowledge are open for everyone. No one is barred out. All classes of men can approach the Lord by thinking of Him, for hearing and thinking of Him is possible for everyone.
The Lord further says:
mäà hi pärtha vyapäçritya ye 'pi syuù päpa-yonayaù
striyo vaiçyäs tathä çüdräs te 'pi yänti paräà gatim
kià punar brähmaëäù puëyä bhaktä räjarñayas tathä
anityam asukhaà lokam imaà präpya bhajasva mäm
"O son of Påthä, anyone who will take shelter in Me, whether a woman, or a merchant, or one born in a low family, can yet approach the supreme destination. How much greater then are the brähmaëas,
the righteous, the devotees, and saintly kings! In this miserable world, these are fixed in devotional service to the Lord." (Bg. 9.32
Human beings even in the lower statuses of life (a merchant, a woman or a laborer) can attain the Supreme. One does not need highly developed intelligence. The point is that anyone who accepts the principle of bhakti-yoga and accepts the Supreme Lord as the summum bonum of life, as the highest target, the ultimate goal, can approach the Lord in the spiritual sky. If one adopts the principles enunciated in Bhagavad-gétä, he can make his life perfect and make a perfect solution to all the problems of life which arise out of the transient nature of material existence. This is the sum and substance of the entire Bhagavad-gétä.
In conclusion, Bhagavad-géta is a transcendental literature which one should read very carefully. It is capable of saving one from all fear.
nehäbhikrama-näço 'sti pratyaväyo na vidyate
svalpam apy asya dharmasya träyate mahato bhayät
"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." (Bg. 2.40
) If one reads Bhagavad-gétä
sincerely and seriously, then all of the reactions of his past misdeeds will not react upon him. In the last portion of Bhagavad-gétä,
Lord Çré Kåñëa proclaims:
sarva-dharmän parityajya mäm ekaà çaraëaà vraja
ahaà tväà sarva-päpebhyo mokñayiñyämi mä çucaù
"Give up all varieties of religiousness, and just surrender unto Me; and in return I shall protect you from all sinful reactions. Therefore, you have nothing to fear." (Bg. 18.66
) Thus the Lord takes all responsibility for one who surrenders unto Him, and He indemnifies all the reactions of sin.
One cleanses himself daily by taking a bath in water, but one who takes his bath only once in the sacred Ganges water of the Bhagavad-gétä cleanses away all the dirt of material life. Because Bhagavad-gétä is spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one need not read any other Vedic literature. One need only attentively and regularly hear and read Bhagavad-gétä. In the present age, mankind is so absorbed with mundane activities that it is not possible to read all of the Vedic literatures. But this is not necessary. This one book, Bhagavad-gétä, will suffice because it is the essence of all Vedic literatures and because it is spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is said that one who drinks the water of the Ganges certainly gets salvation, but what to speak of one who drinks the waters of Bhagavad-gétä? Gétä is the very nectar of the Mahäbhärata spoken by Viñëu Himself, for Lord Kåñëa is the original Viñëu. It is nectar emanating from the mouth of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the Ganges is said to be emanating from the lotus feet of the Lord. Of course there is no difference between the mouth and the feet of the Supreme Lord, but in our position we can appreciate that the Bhagavad-gétä is even more important than the Ganges.
The Bhagavad-gétä is just like a cow, and Lord Kåñëa, who is a cowherd boy, is milking this cow. The milk is the essence of the Vedas, and Arjuna is just like a calf. The wise men, the great sages and pure devotees, are to drink the nectarean milk of Bhagavad-gétä.
In this present day, man is very eager to have one scripture, one God, one religion, and one occupation. So let there be one common scripture for the whole world—Bhagavad-gétä. And let there be one God only for the whole world—Çré Kåñëa. And one mantra only—Hare Kåñëa, Hare Kåñëa, Kåñëa Kåñëa, Hare Hare/ Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare. And let there be one work only—the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
THE DISCIPLIC SUCCESSION
Evaà paramparä-präptam imaà räjarñayo viduù.
) This Bhagavad-gétä As It Is
is received through this disciplic succession:
1) Kåñëa, 2) Brahmä, 3) Närada; 4) Vyäsa, 5) Madhva, 6) Padmanäbha, 7) Nåhari, 8) Mädhava, 9) Akñobhya, 10) Jayatértha, 11) Jïänasindhu, 12) Dayänidhi, 13) Vidyänidhi, 14) Räjendra, 15) Jayadharma, 16) Puruñottama, 17) Brahmaëyatértha, 18) Vyäsatértha, 19) Lakñmépati, 20) Mädhavendra Puré, 21) Éçvara Puré, (Nityänanda, Advaita), 22) Lord Caitanya, 23) Rüpa (Svarüpa, Sanätana), 24) Raghunätha, Jéva, 25) Kåñëadäsa, 26) Narottama, 27) Viçvanätha, 28) (Baladeva) Jagannätha, 29) Bhaktivinode, 30) Gaurakiçora, 31) Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté, 32) His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupäda.