|Canto 4: Creation of the Fourth Order||Chapter 24: Chanting the Song Sung by Lord Śiva|
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 4.24.53
etad rūpam anudhyeyam
etat — this; rūpam — form; anudhyeyam — must be meditated upon; ātma — self; śuddhim — purification; abhīpsatām — of those who are desiring so; yat — that which; bhakti-yogaḥ — the devotional service; abhaya-daḥ — factual fearlessness; sva-dharmam — one's own occupational duties; anutiṣṭhatām — executing.
My dear Lord, those who desire to purify their existence must always engage in meditation upon Your lotus feet, as described above. Those who are serious about executing their occupational duties and who want freedom from fear must take to this process of bhakti-yoga.
It is said that the transcendental name, form, pastimes and entourage of the Lord cannot be appreciated by the blunt material senses; therefore one has to engage himself in devotional service so that the senses may be purified and one can see the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Here, however, it is indicated that those who are constantly engaged in meditating on the lotus feet of the Lord are certainly purified of the material contamination of the senses and are thus able to see the Supreme Lord face to face. The word "meditation" is very popular in this age amongst the common people, but they do not know the actual meaning of meditation. However, from Vedic literature we learn that the yogīs are always absorbed in meditation upon the lotus feet of the Lord. Dhyānāvasthita-tad-gatena manasā paśyanti yaḿ yoginaḥ (Bhāg. 12.13.1). This is the real business of the yogīs: to think of the lotus feet of the Lord. Lord Śiva therefore advises that one who is actually serious about purification must engage himself in this type of meditation or in the mystic yoga system, which will help him not only to see the Lord within constantly but to see Him face to face and become His associate in Vaikuṇṭhaloka or Goloka Vṛndāvana.
The word sva-dharmam (as in sva-dharmam anutiṣṭhatām) indicates that the system of varṇāśrama — which indicates the occupational duties of the brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra and which is the perfect institution for humanity — must be supported by bhakti-yoga if one at all wants security in life. Generally people think that simply by executing the occupational duties of a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra or the duty of a brahmacārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha or sannyāsī one becomes fearless or securely attains liberation, but factually unless all these occupational duties are accompanied by bhakti-yoga, one cannot become fearless. In Bhagavad-gītā there are descriptions of karma-yoga, jñāna-yoga, bhakti-yoga, dhyāna-yoga, etc., but unless one comes to the point of bhakti-yoga, these other yogas cannot help one attain the highest perfection of life. In other words, bhakti-yoga is the only means for liberation. We find this conclusion also in Caitanya-caritāmṛta in a discussion between Lord Caitanya and Rāmānanda Rāya regarding a human being's liberation from this material world. In that discussion Rāmānanda Rāya referred to the execution of varṇāśrama-dharma, and Lord Caitanya indicated that the varṇāśrama-dharma was simply external (eho bāhya). Lord Caitanya wanted to impress upon Rāmānanda Rāya that simply by executing the duties of varṇāśrama-dharma one is not guaranteed liberation. Finally Rāmānanda Rāya referred to the process of bhakti-yoga: sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāḿ tanu-vāń-manobhiḥ (Bhāg. 10.14.3). Regardless of one's condition of life, if he practices bhakti-yoga, which begins with hearing (śruti-gatām) the transcendental messages of the Lord through the mouths of devotees, he gradually conquers the unconquerable God.
God is known to be unconquerable, but one who submissively hears the words of a self-realized soul conquers the unconquerable. The conclusion is that if one is serious about liberation, he not only should execute the occupational duties of varṇāśrama-dharma but should also engage in bhakti-yoga by beginning hearing from a realized soul. This process will help the devotee conquer the unconquerable Supreme Personality of Godhead and become His associate after giving up the material body.
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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness