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By Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur

Bimala Prasada Dutta (Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati)

Published in The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani)


One will not attain salvation, if one studies Vedanta for very many crores of years. No good will be forthcoming out of squeezing the nose (for yoga practice) even for eternity and acquiring thereby the power of rising into the sky to a height of ten or twenty cubits. True well-being will be available to all the people of the world if they listen to the discourse of the Shrimad Bhagavatam from one who is oneself a Bhagavata leading the practical life of a true devotee without maintaining slightest attachment for the life of a karmi or a monistic jnani. There will be no harm, even though all the books of the world are burnt away, if only there is left one treatise, viz., the Shrimad Bhagavatam. There will be no inconvenience felt even though thousands of learning-centres were abolished if only the reading and teaching of the Shrimad Bhagavatam continues. But what a wonder! What an irony. This book of books has been converted to a commodity for trafficking! The course which the world is taking is just the opposite of the teaching which Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave.

There is no other book in the world like the Shrimad Bhagavatam. This is not mere tittle-tattle nor an exaggerated homage. If one reflects on it as a truly impartial judge, one will realise that there has not been any book like the Bhagavatam, nor will there by any. In this book has been presented a consideration of gradual evolution, from better to better of sceptic, atheistic, attributeless, neuter, masculine, couple, consort by marriage, lastly that of paramount love of Gopis - such different conceptions. Shri Krishna's Sports are described in the tenth canto; but what was the necessity of composing the preceding nine cantos? In them have been shown the deliberation of these conceptions to prepare the ground for introducing the main subject, viz., the description of Krishna's transcendental sportive dalliances with Gopis out of wed-lock, in the Gopi-Gita, etc., of the tenth canto. There had been many who had read the Shrimad Bhagavatam before Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came into this world, but only those have been able to comprehend the real import and the actual object of the Shrimad Bhagavatam, that have read it after reading the Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita written by Shri Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami, one of His chief followers in the line of Shri Rupa Goswami; they have read the Shrimad Bhagavatam inside the Charitamrita. The unrefined ease-loving people pretending to be Vaishnavas may read the Shrimad Bhagavatam, the mercenary discoursers may explain it; but they only misconstrue and cover the true reading according to the Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita. Their elucidation may please the mind of their readers; but with that they may only make the way to hell easier of access for themselves and their admirers.

The Shrimad Bhagavatam, as defined in its third Shloka, is the succulent fruit of the Kalpataru or desire-yielding tree, viz., the Veda. The non-devotees crave for dharma, artha, kaama and moksha. The desire of mental determination of those whose desires for enjoyment or emancipation have been set at rest and who have passed beyond the realm of mental speculation is not after such insipid or unsavoury things. Enjoyment-hunters and ritualists for worldly well-being are after deteriorated unsavoury tastes, and monists of non-distinct conception aspire after insipid tasteless realisation. The Bhagavatam does not produce fruits of such bad taste or tasteless ones. It can be fully traced in the Bhagavatam how the distinction between the inner thoughts of 'vishaya' and 'aashraya' i.e., the recipient and the giver of service has shown a gradual development through the various evolutionary stages of being contracted, slightly blossoming, blooming, thriven, matured and ripened. Only those are competent to taste this fruit of the Nigama (Veda) Kalpataru i.e., Bhagavata, who having fully surpassed the stage of worldly perceptions have reached the stage of transcendental excellence when their hearts have been brightened up with vishuddha-sattwa (supra-naturally good quality), fit to receive the sweet mellowness of love which is ultra-mundane. And they are permanently possessed of the purest ecstatic mood. This fruit too is succulent, having nothing solid in it like the skin, stone, fibres and other parts fit to be abandoned. There is much rejectable element in the books on enjoyment-hunting, karma, jnaana, yoga or devotion mixed with these. In the Shrimad Bhagavatam there are no such despicable elements. Its sweet succulent mellowness is to be tasted all along, even after emancipation. And the really emancipated souls are permanent relishers of the Shrimad Bhagavatam.

Those who, instead of listening to Bhagavata discourses of liberated Paramahamsa Vaishnavas, make a fuss of listening Bhagavata to the professional or other discourses who are full of tendencies harmful to the culture of true well-being, do so for sensuous gratifications through poetic, literary, grammatical and such other kinds of false appreciations. They are debarred from tasting the pure juicy sweetness of the Bhagavatam, but are deluded to think the bad taste or indifferent taste as the true taste of the Bhagavatam. When persons sure of the transitoriness of human life like Parikshit listen to the Bhagavatam discourse from liberated Paramahamsa Vaishnavas like Shri Shukadeva, they become eternal tasters of the Bhagavata-rasa, absolved from all worldly attachment.

Pure jnaana (sentience), pure vairaagya (abstinence) and devotion are convergent, meaning the same thing. Everything therein culminates in nais-karma (freedom from karma) instead of the gratifications of the senses. Weal and woe are two different things. If you roam about for your welfare or happiness, woe is your due. Likewise it is not proper to hope for tasty fruit (pleasure). The karmas as laid down in the scriptures are not to be performed by those who have been liberated. The fruit of karma is sometimes pleasurable, at others it is bad and painful. The Shrimad Bhagavatam does not inculcate the teaching of karma. The Bhagavatam speaks about the Super-Soul (God), so that the jivas may achieve the highest good. In it are described naish-karma and the character of a Paramahamsa (the absolutely self-less devotee of God). The Bhagavatam is to be listened to, to be read well and to be understood with deep deliberation [1]. We should compare and contrast what the Bhagavatam teaches with what is said in other treatises.

If you read other books than the Bhagavatam you come under the influence of the processes of karma and jnaana, pleasure and pain, birth and death. You may get dharma (punya), artha (wealth) and kaama (fulfilment of desire). One, desirous of emancipation (moksha), may renounce the worldly life, but one such does not serve God. It is only the devotees that do it. God is not served even by the practice of astaanga-yoga which gives you siddhis or vidbhutis like animaa power to be infinitesimal), laghimaa (power to be as light as hydrogen), etc. not to speak of the salvationist who may want to get rid of the weal and woe of the worldly life and to be the recipient of enjoyment in the negative form.

The Bhagavatam speaks of him who has adopted the way of karma, jnaana or yoga as having adopted the wrong course. Liberation is easily accessible to one who adopts Bhakti. The true well-being may not be available, when you are the gainer of what is pleasing. But true well-being consists in giving pleasure to God. A devotee says, "I must do service to God; He may accept it or reject it"; this is true Bhakti.

Karmis want to be enjoyers in this life as well as in the next, whereas Bhakti is the eternal function of pure souls. If we regain our real position, then we have the chance of dissociating ourselves from the world. Bhakti is the function of the pure or uncovered soul. If we are able to regain our real health, then we shall be easily able to dissociate ourselves from the binding of this world.

No worldly matter should engage my thought. God is pure Truth in His essential characteristic. That eternal really pure Truth should be the only object of our concern. It is our neutral character (susceptible of this course or that, i.e., our service of God or our own enjoyment) which is responsible for our birth, stay and decay under the influence of maya.

God has no hands, feet, mouth, eyes, ears, nose like me. My senses and organs are different from one another. But there is no difference between God Himself and His Body. In this case the Proprietor and the properties are identical. His Name, Appearance, Activities are all One. The name of a thing in worldly nature is different from it; the appearances and attributes are different from the owners there; the word 'blanket' and the thing blanket are not the same. In the world one's appearance is changeable; but God is independent of any thing else. He does not require any other help. He may come down into the vision of anybody and everybody as He pleases. He is Absolute, Self-Willed and Self-Luminous. The Svetas-vatara Upanishad has said: [2] "Without hands and feet, He walks fast and takes things; He sees, though without eyes and hears, though without ears. He knows everything that is knowable, whereas, on the other hand, no one knows Him. Those who have got true intuitive knowledge speak about Him as the Foremost and Greatest of all." His Eyes, Ears, etc., are not material, but all these are fully sentient (chit). A jiva deluded with the Election Theory cannot make any conception thereof. The Election Theory and Theism are not the same.

God Narayana revealed the pure truth at the heart of the original poet Brahma. Even the most learned commit mistakes in the conception of the Absolute Truth. Human deliberations are erroneous, but the Absolute Truth is errorless. The adage 'satyam param dhimahi' (we contemplate on the Absolute Truth) occurs in the first Shloka of the Shrimad Bhagavatam. The Bhagavatam cannot be correctly known with empiricism or worldly experience, which is worthless, how-so-ever vast it may look; it is incumbently necessary to take shelter at the feet of the real Guru.

An article has been seen in a journal, the writer of which has said that without the culture of jnana, righteousness cannot find nutrition for it and cannot protect itself against the dirt of the prejudices, that when Santipura (place of Shri Advaita Acharya) was about to be inundated and Nadia (birth-place of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, viz., Shri Navadvipa-Mayapura) had already been over-flooded by the strong current of the over-flow of love, jnana was considered neither important, nor necessary in the field of religion, and that if the then promulgators of the love had occasion now to return and see what a miserable condition has been reached by that love of theirs for want of jnana, they would have themselves confessed that it was a very vicious act committed by them in ignoring jnana.

The writer is evidently an admirer of the path of jnana and he seems not to feel any relish in anything but jnana. He does not feel satisfied unless he adulterates even pure love with the grit and gravel of jnana. One's vitiated taste is such a thing that makes one take pains to bring down love attainable by only the true highest jnana about God to the level of jnana as commonly understood.

The highest jnana is that about the relation between the Possessor of Potency and His Potency; some other jnana than this is known as common jnana. In other words, it is to know the God and the jivas in respect to their true characters that constitutes true jnana. There is no other function of jnana than to have this knowledge. Here is the ultimate goal of jnana. The professors of jnana have no competence to go further. A jiva becomes maddened after getting even an iota of the Love, as soon as he gets his eternal nature awakened. Having received only a jot of the potency of the Sentient Entity, the possessor of endless potencies, and going to handle only one of those unlimited potencies, viz., the exoteric one, the professors of jnana have climbed the highest peak of the hill of their pride. Such a jiva regards the jnana about Brahman as the dim glow of a fire-fly before the sun. Even under this circumstance a professor jnana who advocates taking the help of jnana, having considered himself as equal to Para-Brahman, must be known as a most unfortunate man. The professor of jnana is confined within the jnana of relativity. He is not inspired with the purpose of attaining the true object of one's pursuit.

The entrance examination of true religion is the deliverance from the strong binding chain of jnana. So long as a man remains fallen in the pit of karma his desires for enjoyment keeps strong. When he feels tired in the wheel of karma, cessation from karma seems good for him. Then according to his constituent ingredient (i.e., atomic sentience), his culture of jnana grows and goes on increasing. When redeemed out of the covering of karma, a man with jnana in his constitution is tied to the wheel of jnana, for without the culture of jnana, there is no way out of the redoubtable wheel of karma. The ultimate effect of jnana is the destruction of karma. Riddance from karma is a subsidiary object of attainment for jnana. Culture of jnana ultimately ceases after reaching the jnana of relativity. Jnana loses its power of moving further. Besides, Jnana is not an object of attainment; with its help the object is attained. It cannot be said that the final good has been reached, because jnana has been attained; but only the way has been found for its attainment. The essential nature of jivas is sentience; so jnana is known as the main thing; but even if such, it is not the object attainable, which is Bhakti or Prema (Love). This Bhakti or Prema is both means for the attainment and also the attainable Object. When the attainable object is attained with the help of jnana which is the means, the jnani (possessor) of jnana) will no more culture jnana, for it is needless for him. When it is said I have a lac of rupees, it is not necessary to separately say that I have two cowries (shells) or four cowries; but the entire property of the professor of jnana consists only of one cowrie and he has not learnt to count more than that and, as such, being unable to estimate the property of the owner of a lac of rupees, he only utters meaningless words off and on like an infant in the cradle. When the culture of jnana matures, accomplished jnana is attained and this attainment by a jnani is the culture of Prema (Love).

Just as an infant considers its glass-made boy more valuable than a philosopher's stone so a professor of jnana does not hesitate to think of his jnana as better than Prema (Love). The experienced devotees have known that the appetite of a hungry man is appeased only by eating good food. But if a professor of jnana, not an adept in the matter of the cessation of hunger, comes forward to say that it is proper to deliberate what hunger is and that the purpose will be served only by such a deliberation without tasting food, what is it then but want of jnana going by the name of jnana? So long as the deliberation falls short of the function of eating, the professor of jnana takes a fancy for such topics like jnana of Brahman, of relativity, etc. If only the culture of jnana is his religion, and if his purpose is served only by it, then the objects of pursuit for the professors of jnana and the devotees are totally different. The aim of the architect is the construction of buildings whereas that of the rich employers is residence in them; the motive of the confectioner is the preparation of sweets, whereas that of the purchaser is to taste or eat them. If the objects of the professors of jnana and the devotees be thus mutually different, then we request the culturists of jnana to refrain from an attempt of equating themselves with the devotees.

The devotee is hungry i.e., anxious to enjoy the gratification of the senses of Shri Krishna; he has certainly, somehow or other, acquired an adequate knowledge about his desirable food. While sitting for his meal, he does not accept it as a part of the function of the eating to discuss whether the ancestors of the confectioner who has supplied the sweets were not originally barbers and converted by the Grace of Shri Gauranga Deva to the caste of confectioners. Before the eating he has got the assurance that the well-established devotees before him got their desired satisfaction from such food as was supplied to him. They did not commit suicide by taking the poison of Mayavada (absolute monism). By them were not accepted the poisoned sweet-meat-balls, very pleasant to children, of the knowledge of absolute Brahman that of non-distinctiveness, that of nature in Kapila's Samkhya, etc. The knowledge of the soul, the perception of the soul, the potency-possessing Entity, of relativity, of potency, etc., contribute to the excellence of the tastable objects for the culturist of love. They have got sufficient experience to distinguish between nectared and poisonous foods. There are many among the Gaudiya Vaishnavas (followers of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu), who are able to give advice as to how the poisonous sweetmeat-balls are prepared and how one's self-destruction is caused by tasting them. But they do not boast of their greater knowledge than that of the professors of jnana, not being maddened with self-conceit, like them. It is good for the professors of jnana to study what Shrimad Rupa Gosvami, the top-most Acharya, has written in his treatise, the Bhakti-Rasamrita-Sindhu, for them, and to accept the teachings thereof with humility. What benefit is there in the religion in which the distressing pangs of appetite, viz., the attempts of the jnani for acquiring jnana, are ignored?

From the teachings of Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu we learn that the Bhakti performed with conduciveness towards Krishna, if divested of other desires than for Krishna's Love, uncovered by the Jnana or knowledge of absolute monism leading, as it is claimed, to oneness with Brahman, freed from nitya-naimittika karma (daily and casual ritualistic performances) offering worldly enjoyments as the fruit, and devoid of laxity or negligent dilatoriness, is called the pure motiveless best Bhakti. [3] This Bhakti is the only means, unaided by any other process, for the attainment of the highest achievable blessedness, viz., Love of Krishna, which is the supremest or fifth purushartha or object of pursuit for jivas, the other inferior four being dharma, artha, kaama and maksha, called chaturvarga. This Bhakti has three stages, viz., Saadhanaa (practice), Bhaava (ecstatic inspiration) and Prema (Love of Krishna). In the earlier part of the stage of Saadhanaa the evils originating in apathy towards Krishna prevent jivas from acquiring steadiness in Bhakti. These evils have been classified as the veil of the other desires, the veil of karma productive in worldly fruits, the veil of the jnana based on the renunciation of those fruits, and the veil of laxity producing indifference towards the service of God Krishna. Under the influence of these evils, jivas like persons attacked with some frenzied disease, invent imaginary antidotes for the cure of their disease which, far from being cured, gradually increases. For the cure of these evils, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has prescribed the culture of Krishna in the company of Sadhus who are entirely free from worldly attachments, having given up all self-conceit. The attractive influence of the persons other than Sadhus cannot overcome the jivas who always keep in the company of Sadhus. The evils are removed by the influence of the company of Sadhus. Jivas are not able to remain silent and lonesome as long as the roots of these evils are hidden within, blocking up their way. Such misleading ways of keeping silent and lonesome artificially have not been recognised in the path of Bhakti. Silence and lonesomeness are chimerical, existing only in the imagination like flowers of fancy high up in the air or the fabled horns of a rabbit. When Krishna-bhakti is generated in some jivas, their association with worldly men and the influence of the worldly advisers or teachers are got rid of, and then being devotees free from the evil company of such people, they become versed in talks and discourses about Krishna in the association of Hari's devotees. True devotees know the lonesomeness or reticence as understood by people in general as antagonistic to devotion. These two worldly virtues, viz., lonesomeness and reticence, can never be favourable for devotion, because these are non-eternal. Association with saintly devotees is regarded as preferable to want of association. It is through association with Sadhus that the loathsomeness of evil company and the foolishness of its contention are avoided.

All the accomplishment will be under your thumb, if you can take Shri Harinama, being free from spiritual offences. The people sunk in worldly affairs will not, then, be able to do you any mischief. Vulgar talk will ever continue in the mouths of people. Keep inattentive towards them. If you have a stern determination to go along the path of your duty, no obstacles can retard your progress. Pay respect even to people who appear apathetic towards devotion to God but do not learn to appreciate their habits and deportments; at heart always keep away from them.

If assemblies, committees, meetings, etc., have any effectiveness in the world, then they should be utilised only for the purpose of propagation and glorification of Hari-bhakti (devotion to God). If they are not held for the said purpose, then there is no need of having anything to do with them. There are some karmis of the old school desirous of fruit who think assemblies, etc., to be useless, as they were not prevalent in ancient times. We request the readers of the Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita to note that in the book there are mentions of ista-gosthis (meeting of devotees to talk about devotional topics), and also that the readers of the Shrimad Bhagavatam are expected to know about the assemblies in which large audiences listened to the discourses on the Bhagavatam. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the followers of the teachings of the Shrimad Bhagavatam have ever advised the people of the world that Shravana (audition or listening) and Kirtana (recapitulation or chanting) are the surest means for the attainment of the highest blessedness.

No truly wise man says that only the inert and mute persons can acquire Bhakti. Lonesomeness and silence are both worldly virtues, whereas Bhakti is a thing beyond the world, and celestial; it is transcendental. As such, both the abandonment and acceptance of worldly noise or sound are against Bhakti; both the association with worldly people and its avoidance are antagonistic to Bhakti. So Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu advises us: 'Chant Transcendental Krishna-Nama as loudly as ever, and become reticent in respect of worldly topics which are meant for your enjoyment in the conceit that you are a wise discriminator which is a suppressed taamasic pressure of garrulity.' He has commanded us [4] : 'Give instructions about Krishna and liberate this country with the performance of the function of a Guru in obedience to My order. In this matter, the vice of worldliness will not affect you.' In his 'Krama-sandarbha' commentary on Bh. VII.5.23-24, Shri Jiva Goswami-pada has written thus against silent deliberations and in favour of Kirtana (recapitulation of instructions as heard from true devotees): "The chanting of God's Names should be loud. Shri Narada has said about himself to Shri Vyasadeva 'I began to roam about in the worlds loudly uttering the Names of Hari avoiding all shyness, and remembering His Glorious activities [5] '. Also Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu for the deliverance of the people of the Kali-yuga has given the famous instruction 'to constantly chant the Names, etc., of Hari, being humbler even than the blade of grass, with greater forbearance even than a tree, claiming no honour for self, but giving it to others.' Though the other items of Bhakti have got to be performed in the Kali-yuga, that should be done in accompaniment with Kirtana.

It is only in a place where Hari-Kirtana is a scarcity, and where there is no propagation of Hari-Katha, that the worldly talk about artificial meditation, etc., is prevalent. Where ever there is no association with truly holy men there are assemblies, meetings, etc. in which there is association with Jivas confined within the clutches of maya. There is no yukta-vairaagya (proper abnegation) of transcendental nature where there is no Shravana-Kirtana (listening or audition followed by chanting or recapitulation of Hari-katha), but where discourses on phalgu-vairaagya (false asceticism) have been held to mislead the deceived society. The latter asceticism is a worldly matter and, as such, it cannot bring the jivas any good. How will they understand, unless they are fortunate enough to come in contact with Sadhus, that one who under the influence of false asceticism, thinks of the culture about Shri Krishna as a worldly affair, commits a spiritual offence, and that one, who sees worldly affairs and Shri Krishna as equal, accepts the most venomous Mayavada? Will a culturist of devotion be saved from the aspiration after worldly honour and celebrity, if he thinks himself lonesome and reticent away from association with Sadhus, and conceiving, unholy ideas of fancied deliberations? Is it not the ultimate limit of the abominable nature of fame and celebrity to cherish the evil desire of uprooting the fame and celebrity of Bhakti through the propagation of maya or Mayavada? If a jiva, under the influence of conceits against the soul, thinks himself as an emancipationist or an elevationist or a cynic, and being anxious to establish his own worldly fame and celebrity commits the grand mistake of cherishing in his heart antagonistic ideas against the culture of Bhakti with transcendental audition and recapitulation [sic] and that of cherishing the wrong idea that the devotees, too, may have the ordure of hankering after worldly fame, -- then, knowing him to be a self-destroyer, the devotees will keep silently away from his company.

The Names and the Nami (their Possessor) are non-distinct or the same. This will be particularly realised when our unfortunately evil predicament is over. As soon as Krishna-Nama is uttered, being rid of spiritual offences, you will yourself feel that it is from Nama alone that all accomplishment is available. When a person utters Nama, gradually the distinction between the gross and the subtle body in his egoism vanishes and his own accomplished nature reveals itself. When one's own accomplished nature appears, along with the utterance of Krishna's Name, His Form is visible in the transcendental manner. It is Shri Nama that uncovers the jiva's true nature and drags him to Krishna's Rupa (Form) Guna (Attributes) and Lila (Sportive activities).

'Men gradually reach the shore of the ocean of the world' - this adage should guide us. We can have our well-being by means of firm confidence in our success, impatient anxiety at its delay, service of Shri Krishna and His devotees, and the chanting of His Names. If we can have all our exertions directed towards the service of Shri Krishna, the different forms of enticement held out by maya cannot overpower us. Keep always engaged in the audition (listening) and vocalisation (reproducing) of His Glories, discourses about Hari with the devotees that may be available for association. Then with the gradual improvement of your Bhajan, you will feel your own humility and lowliness. You should know that 'the highest soul knows himself to be the lowest'.


[1] Vide. XII.13.18.

[2] Vide III.19.

[3] B.R.S. 1.1.11.

[4] C.C. M.7-128-129.

[5] Bh. 1.15.27.