By Shri Ramesh Bābājī Mahārāja
vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvaṁ yaj jñānam advayam
brahmeti paramātmeti bhagavān iti śabdyate
Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramātmā or Bhagavān.
In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Uddhavaji asks Lord Krsna, “If God is one, then why are there different passages, so many different descriptions of Him? The scholars have said one thing and the Brahmavadis say differently. Why? Which way is more perfect, one approach or are there many?” Uddhava has asked these questions in the Srimad Bhagavatam 11.14.1:
vadanti kṛṣṇa śreyāṁsi bahūni brahma-vādinaḥ
teṣāṁ vikalpa-prādhānyam utāho eka-mukhyatā
Śrī Uddhava said: My dear Kṛṣṇa, the learned sages who explain Vedic literature recommend various processes for perfecting one’s life. Considering these varieties of viewpoint, my Lord, please tell me whether all these processes are equally important, or whether one of them is supreme.
Uddhavaji asks, “Why are there so many different approaches?” The meaning of word ‘śreyaḥ,’ is benefit. “The people who meditate on Brahman have presented so many other descriptions. Which is the proper way, the many or one? Some say ‘bhakti-yoga’ is the real approach.” In bhakti-yoga Kṛṣṇa has said that detachment and austerity is not essential. Whether one be a grhastha, vairāgī, brāhmaṇa, or śūdra, it does not matter.
In SB 11.14.2, Uddhavaji continues, “O Lord in devotion, bhakti, there is no need of knowledge and detachment:”
bhavatodāhṛtaḥ svāmin bhakti-yogo ’napekṣitaḥ
nirasya sarvataḥ saṅgaṁ yena tvayy āviśen manaḥ
My dear Lord, You have clearly explained the process of unalloyed devotional service, by which a devotee removes all material association from his life, enabling him to fix his mind on You.
In Rāmāyaṇa it is said; “Bhakti is free and it is the ocean of all pleasure.” Being free, it does not dependent on knowledge and detachment, in fact true knowledge and detachment are dependent on bhakti. Bhakti does not need jñāna and vairāgya, the only requirement is that materialistic attachment, from all sides, should be destroyed, meaning all the relations, from the world of parents, bodily attachments to children, mother, and wife.
We become sādhu and still we want respect, day and night we endeavor for this respect.
Kṛṣṇa states that an authentic knower of bhakti will never become distracted by the materialistic supplements, if someone does, then he is not a genuine scholar. For the common man, to give up materialistic attachment is like drinking poison.
Kṛṣṇa says this in Bg 18.37;
yat tad agre viṣam iva pariṇāme ‘mṛtopamam
tat sukhaḿ sāttvikaḿ proktam ātma-buddhi-prasāda-jam
That which in the beginning may be just like poison but at the end is just like nectar and which awakens one to self-realization is said to be happiness in the mode of goodness.
To give up material addiction is a sattvic measure. In giving up attachment there maybe discomfort in such detoxification. One may be able to come to the point of detachment from one’s parents, but it is very difficult to give up one’s wife. To give up one’s wife is like drinking poison. Therefore Kṛṣṇa has spoken this in the gita that it is like poison.
If I say “give up your mobile”, people will also feel pain.
Caitanya Mahāprabhu was sitting in Kāśi, and finally Sanātana Goswami came there. He arrived after great difficulty, having to give so much money as a bribe. He was the chief minister in Bengal. He decided to give up the materialistic world. He spent so much time contending with the Muslims and Hindus, then he offered a bribe, because the jailer said he would not be able to set him free otherwise.
Rūpa Gosvāmī had sent so much money to Sanātana Goswami, to free him from the Muslim king. The jailer said that “If the King knew this, he would kill me.” Then Sanātana said You should just say; “When he went to take bath in the Ganga, he drowned in the Ganga.”
With the greed for money, the jailer set Sanātana Goswami free. When the King came, then he said “That he was fastened with shackles, he went to take bath in Ganga, and drowned.”
Sanātana Goswami then ran from there, passing through various forests, till finally arriving in Kāśi, where he saw Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Along the way he had a met with the husband of his sister, and being wintertime, gave Sanātana a very precious blanket.
Then Sanātana Goswami came to house where before Caitanya Mahaprabhu resided. Sri Caitanya was sitting inside and Sanātana Goswami sat on the outside. Mahāprabhu said to a devotee that a Vaiṣṇava has come, you should call him, that devotee said, “There is no Vaiṣṇava here, and there is only a Muslim.”
Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, “He is a Vaiṣṇava, you should call him.”
When he came inside, he wept and he bowed down before the Lord and was crying. Mahāprabhu noticed his expensive blanket, a Kasmiri shawl, worth many rupees, and looked at it repeatedly.
Then Sanātana Goswami understood, that if there is the slightest attachment, devotion will not be possible. There is no need of tapasya, austerity, but the main thing is to give up materialistic amelioration.
Then he approached a beggar who had a very torn cloth. Sanātana said; “Please show mercy upon me.” The beggar replied; “What?” “Please give me your torn cloth and take this blanket from me in exchange.”
The beggar thought, “Oh who is there in this world who would take this torn cloth from me in exchange for a costly blanket?” He thought that Sanātana was making fun of him, imploring him again and again, but eventually understood that Sanātana was serious.
Then with the torn chaddar, Sanātana Goswami went back to Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
So it is said here in 11.14.2, nirasya sarvataḥ saṅgaṁ bhakti-yogo ’napekṣitaḥ, in devotion, all attachments should be given up. A person who holds onto material possessions is not truly realized in spiritual life.
In SB 11.14.3 it is stated;
kālena naṣṭā pralaye vāṇīyaṁ veda-saṁjñitā
mayādau brahmaṇe proktā dharmo yasyāṁ mad-ātmakaḥ
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: By the influence of time, the transcendental sound of Vedic knowledge was lost at the time of annihilation. Therefore, when the subsequent creation took place, I spoke the Vedic knowledge to Brahmā because I Myself am the religious principles enunciated in the Vedas,
When the universe is devastated, everything is destroyed, even the Vedic verses. Then I spoke to Brahmā on bhakti-yoga and in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.14.4, it is stated that Brahma then imparted this science, knowledge on bhakti-yoga to his sons. After that, the seven great ṛṣis received the knowledge of bhakti-yoga, then the tradition followed. From there, demigods and demons, humans, Gandharvas, all living entities were given access that spiritual knowledge.
Now here is the answer explaining why there are so many passages;
yābhir bhūtāni bhidyante bhūtānāṁ patayas tathā
yathā-prakṛti sarveṣāṁ citrā vācaḥ sravanti hi
All of the many universal species, along with their respective leaders, appeared with different natures and desires generated from the three modes of material nature. Therefore, because of the different characteristics of the living entities within the universe, there are a great many Vedic rituals, mantras and rewards.
Because of the different forms of living entities with different minds, there are many kinds of instructions. When you sit for eating, someone says, “I like sweets”.
Someone else says, “I like salty things.” This is because; the mind that perceives the taste is different, although the tongue is the same.
Similarly, although everyone’s ear is the same, people’s minds have different discrimination in hearing, resulting in a variety of sound pleasures.
For example, in one house there were six family members having six televisions. Amongst different persons, various natures manifest their activities, while eating, drinking, sleeping, and listening.
SB 11.14.8 further explains
evaṁ prakṛti-vaicitryād bhidyante matayo nṛṇām
pāramparyeṇa keṣāñcit pāṣaṇḍa-matayo ’pare
Thus, due to the great variety of desires and natures among human beings, there are many different theistic philosophies of life, which are handed down through tradition, custom and disciplic succession. There are other teachers who directly support atheistic viewpoints.
Everyone’s mind is fascinated by maya, dissimilarity in awareness, meaning distinctive habits. There are six persons in one family and all their minds are different. You can see how there is marriage and divorce. Why is there divorce? This is because their minds are not one. In the beginning they promise to live together for millions of lives, what to speak of one life, where the husband and wife cannot live jointly because their minds are at conflict.
dharmam eke yaśaś cānye kāmaṁ satyaṁ damaṁ śamam
anye vadanti svārthaṁ vā aiśvaryaṁ tyāga-bhojanam
kecid yajñaṁ tapo dānaṁ vratāni niyamān yamān
mayy arpitātmecchati mad vinānyat
Some say that people will be happy by performing pious religious activities. Others say that happiness is attained through fame, sense gratification, truthfulness, self-control, peace, self-interest, political influence, opulence, renunciation, consumption, sacrifice, penance, charity, vows, regulated duties or strict disciplinary regulation. Each process has its proponents.
Some say, karma is greater, others vote for dharma, mercy, truth, or austerity; this is all due to different interests. But these are all paths to sorrow. Therefore, we should not follow these sādhanas. This main path of bhakti, people find it hard to follow.
Kṛṣṇa tells us what is bhakti. When someone becomes desireless, he does not collect anything. We accumulate money in the bank for ourselves because there is attachment for money. Where there is attachment, there is no devotion.
There is a sloka in SB 3.25.15
cetaḥ khalv asya bandhāya muktaye cātmano matam
guṇeṣu saktaḿ bandhāya rataḿ vā puḿsi muktaye
The stage in which the consciousness of the living entity is attracted by the three modes of material nature is called conditional life. But when that same consciousness is attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one is situated in the consciousness of liberation.
Everything is told in this sloka; the mind can be the cause of bondage or the cause of freedom. Why is this? guṇeṣu saktaḿ bandhāya; When there is materialistic attachment in husband, wife, parents, and body; these are just the gunas, the modes of material nature. Whether one becomes a sādhu, spiritual master or ācārya, Caitanya Mahāprabhu said even the attachment to an insignificant blanket is also bondage. And we keep a watch or mobile and say it is my mobile; all kinds of accumulations. If you tell someone to get rid of these attachments, you become his enemy. If someone likes something and you say give it up, he will die rather than renounce, I see this every day.
Then how will they give up all these things? guṇeṣu saktaḿ bandhāya rataḿ vā puḿsi muktaye; if one is attached to the Lord, he gets liberation.
Everywhere in this world there is so much attachment; to mother, brother uncle, family relatives, body, money; they are the cause of bondage. Lord Rāma says, we don’t have to do any big sacrifice or austerity; we just have to perform bhakti-yoga.
So here in the 11th Canto, Sri Kṛṣṇa tells what is bhakti yoga; it means to be desireless, free from material attachment. When our senses are controlled, then our mind is peaceful and we no longer hanker to satisfy our tongue with delicious things; “O it is winter, there should be hot pakoras.” If mind is peaceful then these hankerings will not come.
In SB 11.14.14 Krsna says that His devotee does not even hanker to be Indra, the King of the heaven, to want to acquire yogic siddhis.
na pārameṣṭhyaṁ na mahendra-dhiṣṇyaṁ
na sārvabhaumaṁ na rasādhipatyam
na yoga-siddhīr apunar-bhavaṁ vā
mayy arpitātmecchati mad vinānyat
One who has fixed his consciousness on Me desires neither the position or abode of Lord Brahmā or Lord Indra, nor an empire on the earth, nor sovereignty in the lower planetary systems, nor the eightfold perfection of yoga, nor liberation from birth and death. Such a person desires Me alone.
And in SB 11.14.16 He says;
nirapekṣaṁ muniṁ śāntaṁ nirvairaṁ sama-darśanam
anuvrajāmy ahaṁ nityaṁ pūyeyety aṅghri-reṇubhiḥ
With the dust of My devotees’ lotus feet I desire to purify the material worlds, which are situated within Me. Thus, I always follow the footsteps of My pure devotees, who are free from all personal desire, rapt in thought of My pastimes, peaceful, without any feelings of enmity, and of equal disposition everywhere.
The devotee becomes so elevated, that the Lord wanders after him. He seeks the dust from the lotus feet of His devotee for purification.
In SB 1.17.24 it is stated;
tapaḥ śaucaḿ dayā satyam
iti pādāḥ kṛte kṛtāḥ
There are four pillars of religion, austerity, purity, kindness and truthfulness.
And there are four pillars of irreligion;
adharmāḿśais trayo bhagnāḥ
Arrogance; by arrogance, the leg of dharma is broken, or bhajan is destroyed,
Materialistic attachment destroys the purity of heart. For instance people become so attached to their wives that they may give up parents, sister, and brother. So mental purity is destroyed by materialistic attachment. We can see this clearly. By attachment there is so much mental dirt; Mother becomes nothing, father becomes nothing, Guruvāṇī becomes nothing, Govinda becomes nothing for such an individual. He is forgetful of everything, from house to house, family to family, you can observe this.
My mother once related; how there was a very rich old man who had only one daughter. Out of attachment he gave all his property to her. But when the daughter was married, she took it all for herself, because he had given everything to her, she even took her mother as a maidservant, who in her old age became very sick. The daughter lived upstairs and she kept her mother down on the veranda. The mother was very cold and requested another blanket from her daughter. The daughter became very angry and started shouting at her; “You are disturbing me, can’t you be silent!”
The mother said, “O daughter you have already taken all the wealth from me, can’t you spare me just a blanket?”
The daughter became so angry that she took two buckets of cold water and threw them upon her mother.
My mother witnessed this with her own eyes. The daughter was shouting; “You gave me the property because it was my right. You had no son. I am giving you so many rotīs and food and you dare to say like this.”
The poor mother was trembling with cold. Then the husband of the daughter, her son in law, came and saw her trembling due to the cold and asked, “Why are you trembling Mother?”
She explained and he was shocked and asked his wife why she had thrown water on her. She said “Because she was shouting and complaining.” Then her husband said, “You have no shame. Your mother is going to die and you are throwing cold water on her.” Then he went and got a blanket and put it on his mother in law.
Now how could the daughter behave like this? This is because the daughter’s attachment was transferred from her mother to her sons and husband. She had lost her affection for her mother.
The husband and wife can become so much attached to each other that they say to each other, “I will live and die with you, we will live with each other for one hundred births.”
I have read in the Allahabad Economics University about the ‘degeneration law’ where everything naturally deteriorates in this world. When you eat, you may like it in the beginning but after a while one loses the taste for the same thing. Similarly, when a lady is newly married, she may at first love her husband, but then when she has children she may start to love her children more than her husband.
Everything changes, except God. Devotion also never changes. In
Rāmāyaṇa it is said, that devotion never dies. Krsna says in Bg
prāpya puṇya-kṛtāḿ lokān uṣitvā śāśvatīḥ samāḥ
śucīnāḿ śrīmatāḿ gehe yoga-bhraṣṭo ‘bhijāyate
The unsuccessful yogī, after many, many years of enjoyment on the
planets of the pious living entities, is born into a family of
righteous people, or into a family of rich aristocracy.
atha vā yoginām eva kule bhavati dhīmatām
etad dhi durlabhataraḿ loke janma yad īdṛśam
Or [if unsuccessful after long practice of yoga] he takes his birth in
a family of transcendentalists who are surely great in wisdom.
Certainly, such a birth is rare in this world.
Muralī’s mother was doing Braja Yatra parikrama when she was in her womb. So Muralī learned devotional service from the very beginning. To take birth is such a family is very rare. What happens then:
tatra taḿ buddhi-saḿyogaḿ labhate paurva-dehikam
yatate ca tato bhūyaḥ saḿsiddhau kuru-nandana
On taking such a birth, he revives the divine consciousness of his
previous life, and he again tries to make further progress in order to achieve complete success, O son of Kuru.
Because of one’s previous practice his mind is naturally attracted to devotion.
pūrvābhyāsena tenaiva hriyate hy avaśo ‘pi saḥ
jijñāsur api yogasya śabda-brahmātivartate
By virtue of the divine consciousness of his previous life, he automatically becomes attracted to the yogic principles—even without seeking them. Such an inquisitive transcendentalist stands always above the ritualistic principles of the scriptures.
Some people express concern that when I die, who will take care of all these children? They are getting such blessings that are unobtainable in millions of births; so rare is their position. If someone has curiosity about the Lord, eagerness to learn about Him, they should be encouraged in that way. This is immortal wealth; Even if one spends millions of years in the heavenly planets, his devotion will not be destroyed; He comes again into the family of yogis and continues his devotion. People, who do not understand, they ask; “From where will they get their rotīs?” But the Lord is giving food to everyone, from the ant to Lord Brahmā, now would He neglect His devotees?
Even to criminals who are kidnapping, robbing and murdering, he is supplying with food, why would He not accommodate His devotees? There are atheists, who think like this, and they even pose as devotees, but they have no actual faith in God.
Even in our bodies there are millions of bacteria. Who is giving food to them? The Lord Who is supplying all the living entities with food, would He provide sustenance to His devotees who are engaged in kīrtana and sevā?
Therefore because of the difference of natures there are so many passages in the scripture; SB 11.14.8. There are different ways, but the main recipe is bhakti-yoga, devotional service.
Jaya Sri Radhe!