Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Devotional Service Will Free You (Srila Prabhupada)

Lecture by Srila Prabhupada, New York, January 11, 1967
(Transcription, slightly edited)

"Real knowledge means to understand the last word of the Absolute Truth, the 
Supreme Personality of Godhead, and surrender unto Him, after knowledge." 

"Devotional service past knowledge is just like gold with flavor."


Srila Prabhupada:

kevala jnana 'mukti' dite nare bhakti vine
krsnonmukhe sei mukti haya jnana vina 

(Speculative knowledge alone, without devotional service, is not able to give liberation. On the other hand, even without knowledge one can obtain liberation if one engages in the Lord's devotional service)

Mukti, liberation... The impersonalists think that simply by cultivating knowledge that "I am not matter; I am spirit," or "I am one with the Supreme Spirit; Out of ignorance, I am now thinking different, but when I am fully elevated to the platform of knowledge, then I become liberated." But there is no answer that "Why you have become conditioned?" The impersonalists think that "I am one with the Supreme. Now, due to my ignorance, I have forgotten that I am the Supreme." Because they do not recognize the Supreme Personality of Godhead, so they think that impersonal conception of the spirit soul: "Out of ignorance, I am now thinking matter, but as soon as my ignorance is over, I shall become one with the Supreme." So this is the theory of the impersonalists. But they cannot give any answer that "Why you have become under the influence of ignorance? If you are the Supreme, then what is the cause that you have become conditioned? Then the Supreme will become conditioned under the material nature. Then how one can become the Supreme? Supreme cannot be conditioned." So there is no answer for this question from the impersonalists' school. But real fact is that the Supreme never falls down. The part and parcel of the Supreme, they fall down  some of them; not all. So therefore the living entities, they are different from the Supreme. They are one in quality with the Supreme, but not in quantity.

So Lord Caitanya says that "Simply by thinking that 'I am not this matter; I am spirit soul, aham brahmasmi. I am Brahman,' that will not help you to get liberation." The real fact is that the individual living entities, they are part and parcel of the Supreme, but somehow or other, they wanted separation from the Supreme and wanted to lord it over the material nature. Therefore they are entangled. That is the real fact. And as such, we find from the Bhagavad-gita, the Lord asked that

sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja 

[Bhagavad-gita. 18.66]:

(Abandon all varieties of duties, religion, and spirituality, and just surrender unto Me)

"Just surrender." So therefore, unless there is surrender of the individual soul to the Supreme, there is no question of liberation. There is no question of liberation. You can cultivate knowledge that "I am not this body; I am spirit soul," but that will not help for your liberation. Because real thing is that you have or we have rebelled against the supremacy of the Supreme Lord. That is the attitude, everywhere we can see actually. Everyone is: "Oh, what is God? What is God?", especially in this age. So this impersonalism is another type of atheism, and this impersonal theory of the Absolute Truth has converted practically the major portion of the world into atheism. So therefore Lord Caitanya says that simply by cultivation of knowledge that "I am not this matter. I am not this matter. I am spirit soul," that will not help.

Now He gives again evidence from scriptures. Every step, whatever He says, He gives some evidence from authoritative scripture. Mostly He gives evidence from Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, because for the Vaisnava school these two books are sufficient for acquiring knowledge. So far Vedanta-sutra is concerned, Bhagavatam is Vedanta-sutra itself. Bhagavatam is the natural commentary on the Vedanta-sutra. Therefore one who has sufficient knowledge in Bhagavatam, he has automatically sufficient knowledge in Vedanta-sutra. According to Vedic system, one must have sufficient knowledge in Vedanta-sutra. Then he'll be considered as learned in spiritual science. So Srimad-Bhagavatam, although the Vaisnavas, they have got their commentaries on Vedanta-sutra, but this Caitanya Mahaprabhu's sampradaya [disciplic succession], they did not make any commentary on the Vedanta-sutra because they belonged to the disciplic succession of Vyasadeva. So Vyasadeva is the spiritual master. So the later acaryas [teaching spiritual masters], they did not think it proper that whatever the... Because their spiritual master has had already made a commentary on the Vedanta-sutra, "Oh, that is sufficient. Why should we do again?" These are some of the etiquette. Anyway, the Vedanta-sutra... And Bhagavatam is natural commentary on Vedanta-sutra, and Lord Caitanya therefore gives evidence from the Bhagavatam generally, and Puranas also, and Mahabharata and every, I mean to say, Upanisad. They are all authorities. But especially He gives evidences from Srimad-Bhagavatam. Now, so far, in confirmation of this statement that knowledge, cultivation of knowledge, is not sufficient to give one liberation  one must take to devotional service. Devotional service past knowledge is just like gold with flavor. Yes. So, of course, those who are engaged in devotional service, their knowledge automatically comes. They are not fools. Those who are actually, seriously in devotional service, in Krsna consciousness, they will not lack in knowledge because you'll find in the Bhagavad-gita that the Lord says that:

tesam satata-yuktanam
bhajatam priti-purvakam
dadami buddhi-yogam tam
yena mam upayanti te

(To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me)

Those who are engaged in transcendental loving service of Krsna, for them knowledge automatically comes from within because Krsna is within us. So a sincere soul in Krsna consciousness will not lack in knowledge. And in the Vedic literature also it is confirmed:

yasya deve para bhaktir
yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthah
prakasante mahatmanah

(Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed)

The Vedic knowledge, revelation, to whom it is revealed? It is revealed to a person who has unflinching faith and love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead as well as to the spiritual master. Yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau. As much he has got faith in the Supreme, similarly he has faith in the spiritual master. Such a person gets revelation of the Vedic knowledge from within. So those who are actually serious in engaging themselves in Krsna consciousness, devotional service, for them knowledge is secondary. Knowledge automatically revealed to them. And those who do not take to the Krsna consciousness, devotional service, simply indulge in dry speculation, for them liberation is not possible. Not possible.

So Lord Caitanya gives one evidence from Srimad-Bhagavatam from Tenth Canto:

sreyah-srtim bhaktim udasya te vibho
klisyanti ye kevala-bodha-labdhaye
tesam asau klesala eva sisyate
nanyad yatha sthula-tusavaghatinam

(My dear Lord, devotional service unto You is the best path for self-realization. If someone gives up that path and engages in the cultivation of speculative knowledge, he will simply undergo a troublesome process and will not achieve his desired result. As a person who beats an empty husk of wheat cannot get grain, one who simply speculates cannot achieve self-realization. His only gain is trouble.)

Real knowledge means to understand the last word of the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and surrender unto Him, after knowledge. As it is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita,

bahunam janmanam ante:

[Bg. 7.19]

"After many, many births, one who is actually in knowledge, he surrenders." So Srimad-Bhagavatam practically confirms the same, that sreyah-srtim bhaktim udasya te vibho. Any person who does not take to the devotional service in Krsna consciousness, simply indulge in dry speculation, klisyanti, takes trouble... klisyanti means "takes trouble", ye, "persons", kevala-bodha-lab..., simply to understand that "This is not matter, this is not spirit, this is not...," like that, and that there is no separate Supersoul, only one soul is there, and this conception of individual soul is misunderstanding, ignorance – in this way, there are volumes of books of, by Sankaracarya especially, and later on, his disciples. They are very, very learned scholars, undoubtedly. By their scholastic jugglery they want to cover the Supreme Personality of God. They do not want to cover; they think that they are advanced. But Krsna covers Himself so that they may not understand Krsna. Krsna does not want. Krsna wants that one should surrender and take to devotional service. So Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita that

naham prakasah sarvasya yoga-maya-samavrtah:
[Bg. 7.25]

(I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent. For them I am covered by My internal potency, and therefore they do not know that I am unborn and infallible)

"I do not reveal Myself to everyone, one and all. No. I cover Myself." So these impersonalists, due to their, I mean to say, less intelligence, or misfortune, they cannot see Krsna. So therefore, for them this remark is here that sreyah-srtim, that "Actually what is auspicious, devotional service, if somebody gives that path away and takes to simply dry speculation, simply to understand..." Because jnana means to understand what is the difference between matter and spirit. So they, of course, indulge in that process of knowledge. But simply by that speculation the result is that tesam asau klesala eva sisyate. The trouble which they accept for discriminating matter from spirit... There is trouble. You have to see so many Vedic literatures, and you have to understand the instruction of Upanisads and logic, and so many things there are to, I mean to say, back your understanding. So tesam klesala eva... Their profit is that the trouble which they accept for studying so many Vedic literatures to prove that the Absolute Truth is not person, that trouble is their profit and nothing more. klesala eva, tesam asau klesala eva sisyate: "They do not get any other profit except that troublesome business." That's all. tesam klesala eva sisyate. How it is? The example is, nanyad yatha sthula-tusavaghatinam: "Just like husking the grain to take out the skin." Now, there are many grains which are skin over. So there is process of taking out the skin out of the grain. So if the grain is already taken out, only the skins are left. Then, if you husk on it and beat to get out the grains, so there is no possibility to get any grains from them because the grain is already taken out. So that is the trouble. Simply, I mean, beating the skin is no good. We must have some concrete result. That concrete result is one who is directly engaged in the transcendental service, loving service of the Supreme Lord. That is recommended.

daivi hy esa gunamayi
mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante
mayam etam taranti te:
[Bg. 7.14]

(This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it)

So the same thing is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita, Seventh Chapter, that the Lord says that "This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it". This is also another influence of maya, illusion. Just like under the spell of illusion we are thinking that "I am American," "I am Indian," "I am king," "I am big man," "I am poor man"  so many we have got  and this is all due to this body, bodily conception. It has no actual standing. They are all designations. Similarly, the last snare of maya is to, I mean to say, induce one to think that "I am God." Just like we are under the spell of illusion. We are thinking, "I am this and that, this and that." So after many, many years' cultivation of knowledge, if one comes to the conclusion that "I am God. There is no other second God. I am God," so that is also another spell of illusion. So the Bhagavad-gita says that daivi hy esa gunamayi mama maya duratyaya, "This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome". 

One is trying to get out of the clutches of the illusory energy, but it is very difficult. Up to the last point the maya, illusion, will offer you something so that she will baffle your endeavor to get out of her clutches. daivi hy esa gunamayi mama maya duratyaya. Then how to get out of her hands? Mam eva prapadyante mayam etam taranti... "Those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it". Only process is just you surrender to Krsna, and maya will not any more interfere with your business.

So therefore surrender is the only process by which you can get out of the clutches of maya.

'krsna-nitya-dasa'-jiva taha bhuli' gela
ei dose maya tara galaya bandhila:

(The living entity is bound around the neck by the chain of māyā because he has forgotten that he is eternally a servant of Krsna)

Just like sometimes we take a pet dog with shackles on the neck, similarly we are under the spell..., we are pet dogs of the illusory energy, with shackles. You see? So why? Now, 'krsna-nitya-dasa'-jiva taha bhuli' gela: "That the living entity is eternally servitor of the Supreme Lord, Krsna, that he has forgotten."

That he has forgotten. Therefore... [break] ...galaya bandhila. Just like the dog is shackled, we are in that way shackled.

tate krsna bhaje, kare gurura sevana
maya-jala chute, paya krsnera carana:

(If the conditioned soul engages in the service of the Lord and simultaneously carries out the orders of his spiritual master and serves him, he can get out of the clutches of māyā and become eligible for shelter at Krsna's lotus feet)

Therefore, if one agrees to serve Krsna under the direction of spiritual master, follows the instruction of spiritual master, and engages himself in the service of the Supreme Lord, maya-jala chute, paya krsnera carana, then he can get out of this network of illusory energy and paya krsnera carana, and he can get the shelter of the lotus feet of Lord Krsna.

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