|Chapter 5: How to Approach God|
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Teachings of Lord Caitanya
na sankhyam dharma uddhava
na svadhyayas tapas tyago
yatha bhaktir mamorjita
"My dear Uddhava, neither philosophical speculation, nor meditational yoga, nor penances can give Me such pleasure as devotional service practiced by the living entities." (Bhag. 11.14.20) Krsna is dear only to the devotees, and He can only be achieved by devotional service. If a lowly born person is a devotee, he automatically becomes free from all contamination. Devotional service is the only path by which one can achieve the Supreme Person. This is the only perfection accepted by all Vedic literature. Just as a poor man becomes happy upon receiving some treasure, when one attains to devotional service, his material pains are automatically vanquished. As one advances in devotional service, he attains love of Godhead, and as he advances in this love, he becomes free from all material bondage. One should not think, however, that the disappearance of poverty and liberation from bondage are the end results of love of Krsna. It is in relishing the reciprocation of loving service that love of Krsna exists. In all Vedic literatures we find that the attainment of this loving relationship between the Supreme Lord and the living entities is the function of devotional service. Our actual function is devotional service, and our ultimate goal is love of Godhead. In all Vedic literatures it can be found that Krsna is the ultimate center, for through knowledge of Krsna all problems of life are solved.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu pointed out that although (according to Padma Purana) there are different scriptures for worshiping different types of demigods, such instructions only bewilder people into thinking that the demigods are supreme. Yet if one carefully scrutinizes and studies the Puranas, he will find that Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the only object of worship. For instance, in the Markandeya Purana there is mention of Devi worship, or worship of the goddess Durga or Kali, but in this same candika it is also stated that all the demigods -- even in the shape of Durga or Kali -- are but different energies of the Supreme Visnu. Thus study of the Puranas reveals Visnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, to be the only object of worship. The conclusion is that directly or indirectly, all types of worship are more or less directed to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. In Bhagavad-gita it is confirmed that one who worships the demigods is in fact only worshiping Krsna because the demigods are but different parts of the body of Visnu, or Krsna. That such worship of demigods is irregular is also stated in Bhagavad-gita (Bg. 7.20-23 9.23) Srimad-Bhagavatam confirms this irregularity by asking the question: "What is the object of worshiping the different types of demigods?" In Vedic literature there are various divisions of ritualistic activities; one is karma-kanda, or purely ritualistic activities, and another is jnana-kanda, or speculation on the Supreme Absolute Truth. What then is the purpose of the ritualistic sections of Vedic literatures, and what is the purpose of different mantras or hymns that indicate worship of various demigods? And what is the purpose of philosophical speculation on the subject of the Absolute Truth? Srimad-Bhagavatam replies that in actuality all of these methods defined in the Vedas indicate the worship of the Supreme Lord Visnu. In other words, they are all indirect ways of worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sacrifices contained in the ritualistic portions of these literatures are meant for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord Visnu. Indeed, because yajna, sacrifice, is specifically meant to satisfy Visnu, another name for Visnu is Yajnesvara, or Lord of sacrifices.
Since neophytes are not all on the same transcendental level, they are advised to worship different types of demigods according to their situation in the different modes of material nature. The idea is that gradually such neophytes may rise to the transcendental plane and engage in the service of Visnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. For instance, some neophytes who are attached to flesh eating are advised by the puranas to eat flesh after offering it to the deity Kali.
The philosophical sections of the Vedic hymns are intended to enable one to distinguish the Supreme Lord from maya. After one understands the position of maya, he can approach the Supreme Lord in pure devotional service. That is the actual purpose of philosophical speculation, and this is confirmed in Bhagavad-gita:
bahunam janmanam ante
jnanavan mam prapadyate
vasudevah sarvam iti
sa mahatma sudurlabhah
"After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare." (Bg. 7.19)
It can thus be seen that all Vedic rituals and different types of worship and philosophical speculation ultimately aim at Krsna.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu then told Sanatana Gosvami about Krsna's multiforms and His unlimited opulence. He also described the nature of the spiritual manifestation, the material manifestation, and the manifestation of the living entity. He also informed Sanatana Gosvami that the planets in the spiritual sky, known as Vaikunthas, and the universes of the material manifestation are actually different types of manifestations, for they are the created manifestations of two different types of energy -- the material and the spiritual energy. As far as Krsna Himself is concerned, He is directly situated in His spiritual energy, or specifically in His internal potency. To help us understand the difference between the spiritual and material energies, there is a clear analysis of the two in the Second Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Sridhara Svami also gives a clear analytical study in his commentary on the first verse of the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Sridhara Svami was accepted by Lord Caitanya as an authorized commentator on Srimad-Bhagavatam, and Caitanya Mahaprabhu quoted his writings and explained that in the Tenth Canto of Bhagavatam the life and activities of Krsna are described because Krsna is the shelter of all manifestations. Knowing this, Sridhara Svami worshiped and offered his obeisances unto Krsna as the shelter of everything.
In this world there are two principles operating: One principle is the origin or shelter of everything, and the other principle is deduced from this original principle. The Supreme Truth is the shelter of all manifestations and is called asraya. All other principles, which remain under the control of the asraya-tattva, or the Absolute Truth, are called asrita, or subordinate corollaries and reactions. The purpose of the material manifestation is to give the conditioned soul a chance to attain liberation and return to the asraya-tattva, or the Absolute Truth. Since everything in the cosmic creation is dependent on the asraya-tattva -- the creative manifestation or Visnu manifestation -- the various demigods an? manifestations of energy, the living entities and all material elements are dependent on Krsna, for Krsna is the Supreme Truth. Thus Srimad-Bhagavatam indicates that everything is sheltered by Krsna directly and indirectly. Consequently perfect knowledge can be had only by an analytical study of Krsna, as confirmed by Bhagavad-gita.
Lord Caitanya then described the different features of Krsna and requested that Sanatana Gosvami listen attentively. He then informed him that Krsna, the son of Nanda Maharaja, is the Absolute Supreme Truth, the cause of all causes and the origin of all emanations and incarnations. Yet in Vraja, or Goloka Vrndavana, He is just like a young boy and is the son of Nanda Maharaja. His form, however, is eternal, full of bliss, and full of knowledge absolute. He is both the shelter of everything and the proprietor as well.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu also gives evidence from Brahma-samhita of the transcendental properties of Lord Krsna's body:
isvarah paramah krsnah
anadir adir govindah
"Krsna, who is known as Govinda, is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal, blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin, and He is the prime cause of all causes." (Brahma-samhita 5.1). In this way, Caitanya Mahaprabhu gives evidence that Krsna is the original Personality of Godhead, full in all six opulences. It is Sri Krsna whose abode, known as Goloka Vrndavana, is the highest planetary system in the spiritual sky.
In addition, Lord Caitanya also quotes a verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhag. 1.3.28):
ete camsa-kalah pumsah
krsnas tu bhagavan svayam
mrdayanti yuge yuge
All incarnations are either direct expansions of Krsna or, indirectly, expansions of the expansions of Krsna. However, the name of Krsna indicates the original Personality of Godhead. It is He who appears on this earth, in this universe or in any other universe, when there is a disturbance created by the demons, who are always trying to disrupt the administration of the demigods.
There are three different processes by which Krsna can be understood: the empiric process of philosophical speculation, the process of meditation according to the mystic yoga system, and the process of Krsna consciousness, or devotional service. By the method of philosophical speculation, the impersonal Brahman feature of Krsna is understood. By the process of meditation or mystic yoga, the feature of the Supersoul, the all-pervading expansion of Krsna, is understood. And by devotional service in full Krsna consciousness, the original Personality of Godhead is realized. Lord Caitanya also quotes this verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhag. 1.2.11):
vadanti tat tattva-vidas
tattvam yaj jnanam advayam
bhaga van iti sabdyate
"Those who are knowers of the Absolute Truth describe the Absolute Truth in three features as impersonal Brahman, localized all-pervading Supersoul, and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna." In other words, Brahman, the impersonal manifestation, Paramatma, the localized manifestation, and Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, are one and the same. However, according to the process adopted, He is realized as Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan.
By realizing the impersonal Brahman, one simply realizes the effulgence emanating from the transcendental body of Krsna. This effulgence is compared to the sunshine. There is the sun-god, the sun itself and the sunshine which is the shining effulgence of that original sun-god. Similarly, the spiritual effulgence (brahmajyoti), impersonal Brahman, is nothing but the personal effulgence of Krsna. To support this analysis, Lord Caitanya quotes one important verse from Brahma-samhita in which Lord Brahma says:
yasya prabha prabhavato jagadanda-koti-
tad-brahma niskalam anantam asesa-bhutam
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
"I worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by whose personal effulgence the unlimited brahmajyoti is manifested. In that brahmajyoti there are innumerable universes, and each is filled with innumerable planets." (Brahma-samhita 5.40)
Lord Caitanya further points out that the Paramatma, the all-pervading feature situated in everyone's body, is but a partial manifestation or expansion of Krsna, but because Krsna is the soul of all souls, He is called Paramatma, the Supreme Self. In this regard, Caitanya quoted another verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam concerning the talks between Maharaja Pariksit and Sukadeva Gosvami. While hearing of the transcendental pastimes of Krsna in Vrndavana, Maharaja Pariksit inquired from his spiritual master, Sukadeva Gosvami, as to why the inhabitants of Vrndavana were so much attached to Krsna. To this question Sukadeva Gosvami answered:
krsnam enam avehi tvam
jagaddhitaya so 'py atra
"Krsna should be known as the soul of all souls, for He is the soul of all individual souls and the soul of the localized Paramatma as well. At Vrndavana He was acting just like a human being to attract people and to show that He is not formless." (Bhag. 10.14.55)
The Supreme Lord is as much an individual as other living beings, but He is different in that He is the Supreme and all other living beings are subordinate to Him. All other living beings can also enjoy spiritual bliss, eternal life and full knowledge in His association. Lord Caitanya quotes a verse from Bhagavad-gita in which Krsna, telling Arjuna of His different opulences, points out that He Himself enters this universe by one of His plenary portions, Garbhodakasayi Visnu, and also enters into each universe as the Ksirodakasayi Visnu, and then expands Himself as the Supersoul in everyone's heart. Lord Krsna Himself indicates that if anyone wants to understand the Supreme Absolute Truth in perfection, he must take to the process of devotional service in full Krsna consciousness. Then it will be possible for him to understand the last word of the Absolute Truth.
Copyright (c) The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness