A lecture by
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Realization of Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the final goal of all yoga practice. But only to His pure devotees, the bhakti-yogis, does the Lord reveal this most beautiful and attractive form.
“A person is said to be established in self-realization and is called a yogi [or mystic] when he is fully satisfied by virtue of acquired knowledge and realization. Such a person is situated in transcendence and is self-controlled. He sees everything—whether it be pebbles, stones, or gold—as the same.” [Bhagavad-gita 6.8]
Book knowledge without realization of the Supreme Truth is useless. In the Padma Purana this is stated as follows:
na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevonmukhe hi jihvadau
svayam eva sphuraty adah
“No one can understand the transcendental nature of the name, form, qualities, and pastimes of Sri Krsna through materially contaminated senses. Only when one becomes spiritually saturated by transcendental service to the Lord are the transcendental name, form, quality, and pastimes of the Lord revealed to him.”
This point is very important. Now, we accept Krsna as the Supreme Lord. And why do we accept Krsna as the Supreme Lord? Because it is stated in the Vedic literature. The Brahma-samhita, for example, says, isvarah paramah krsnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah: “The Supreme Controller is Krsna, who has an eternal, blissful, spiritual body.” Those who are in passion and ignorance, the lower modes of material nature, simply imagine the form of God. And when they are confused they say, “Oh, there is no personal God. The Absolute is impersonal or void.” This idea is a product of frustration. Actually, God has a form. Why not? The Vedanta-sutra says, janmady asya yatah. “The Supreme Absolute Truth is that from whom [or from which] everything emanates.” Now, we have forms. And not only we but all the different kinds of living entities have forms. Wherefrom have they come? Wherefrom have these forms originated? If God is not a person, then how have His sons become persons? If my father is not a person, how have I become a person? If my father has no form, wherefrom did I get my form? These are commonsense questions. Nonetheless, when people are frustrated, when they see that their bodily forms are troublesome, they develop an opposite conception of form and imagine that God must be formless. But the Brahma-samhita says no. God has a form, but His form is eternal, full of knowledge and bliss (isvarah paramah krsnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah). Sat means “eternal,” cit means “knowledge,” and ananda means “pleasure.” So God has a form, but His form is full of pleasure, full of knowledge, and eternal.
If we compare our body to God’s, we see that our body is neither eternal nor full of pleasure nor full of knowledge. So our form is clearly different from God’s. Unfortunately, as soon as we think of form, we usually think the form must be like ours. Therefore, we think that since God must be the opposite of us, lie must have no form. This is speculation, however, not knowledge. Again, the Padma Purana says, atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih: “One cannot understand the form, name, quality, or paraphernalia of God with one’s material senses.” Our senses are imperfect, so how can we speculate on the Supreme Perfect? It is not possible.
Then how is it possible to see Him? Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau. If we train our senses, if we purify our senses, those purified senses will help us see God. It is just as if we had cataracts on our eyes. When our eyes are suffering from cataracts, we cannot see. But this does not mean that there is nothing to be seen—only that we cannot see. Similarly, now we cannot conceive of the form of God, but if our “cataracts,” our ignorance, are removed we can see Him. The Brahma-samhita says, premanjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena/ santah sadaiva hrdayesu vilokayanti: “The devotees whose eyes are anointed with the love-of-God ointment see God, Krsna, within their hearts twenty-four hours a day.” So we need to purify our senses. Then we’ll be able to understand what the form of God is, what the name of God is, what the qualities of God are, and what the paraphernalia of God is. Then we’ll be able to see God in everything. The Vedic literature is full of references to God’s form. For example, it is said that God has no hands or legs but that He can accept anything you offer (apani-pado javano grahita). Also, it is said that God has no eyes or ears but that He can see everything and hear everything. These are apparent contradictions, because whenever we think of someone seeing, we think he must have eyes like ours. This is our material conception. Factually, however, God does have eyes, but His eyes are different from ours. He can see even in the darkness, but we cannot. God can hear, also. God is in His kingdom, which is millions and millions of miles away, but if we are whispering something in a conspiracy, He can hear it, because He is sitting within us.
So we cannot avoid God’s seeing or God’s hearing or God’s touching. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna says,
patram puspam phalam toyam
yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam
“If somebody offers Me flowers, fruits, vegetables, or milk with devotional love, I accept and eat it.” How is He eating? We cannot see Him eat, but He is eating. We experience this daily: when we offer Krsna food according to the Vedic ritualistic process, we see that the taste of the food changes immediately. This is practical.
Thus God eats, but because He is full in Himself, He does not eat like us. If someone offers me a plate of food and I eat it, the food is gone. But God is not hungry, so when He eats He leaves the things as they are. Purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavasisyate: God is so full that He can eat all the food that we offer but still it remains as it is. He can eat even with His eyes. This is stated in the Brahma-samhita. Angani yasya sakalendriya-vrttimanti: “Every limb of the body of God has all the potencies of the other limbs.” Although we can see with our eyes, we cannot eat with our eyes. But if God simply sees the food we have offered, that is His eating.
Of course, we cannot understand this at the present moment. Therefore the Padma Purana says that only when one becomes spiritually saturated by transcendental service to the Lord are the transcendental name, form, qualities, and pastimes of the Lord revealed. We cannot understand God by our own endeavor, but God can reveal Himself to us. Trying to see God by our own efforts is just like trying to see the sun when it is dark outside. If we say, “I have a very strong flashlight, and I shall search out the sun,” we will not be able to see it. But in the morning, when the sun rises by its own will, we can easily see it. Similarly, we cannot see God by our own endeavor, because our senses are all imperfect. We have to purify our senses and wait for the time when God will be pleased to reveal Himself before us. This is the process of Krsna consciousness. We cannot challenge, “My dear Lord, my dear Krsna, You must come before me so I can see You.” No, God is not our order supplier, our servant. When He is pleased with us, we’ll see Him. Therefore in our yoga process (bhakti-yoga),we try to please God so that He will be revealed to us. That is the real yoga process. Without this process, people are accepting so many nonsensical “Gods.” Because people cannot see God, anybody who says “I am God” is accepted. No one knows who God is. Somebody may say, “I am searching after the truth,” but he must know what the truth is. Otherwise, how will he search it out? Suppose I want to purchase gold. I must know what gold is, or at least have some experience of it. Otherwise people will cheat me. So people are being cheated—accepting so many rascals as God—because they do not know what God is. Anyone can come and say, “I am God,” and some rascal will accept him as God. The man who says, “I am God” is a rascal, and the man who accepts him as God is also a rascal. God cannot be known like this. One has to qualify himself to see God and to understand God. That is Krsna consciousness. Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah. If we engage ourselves in the service of the Lord, then we’ll become qualified to see God. Otherwise it is not possible.
Bhagavad-gita is a transcendental science—the science of Krsna consciousness. So no one can become Krsna conscious simply by mundane scholarship. Simply because one has some titles—M.A., B.A., Ph.D.—that does not mean he’ll understand Bhagavad-gita. This is a transcendental science, and one requires transcendental senses to understand it. Therefore one has to purify his senses by rendering service to the Lord. Otherwise, even if one is a great scholar he will make mistakes in trying to find out what Krsna is. He will not understand—it is not possible: This is why Krsna appears in the material world. Although He is unborn (ajo ‘pi sann avyayatma), He comes to let us know who God is. But since He is not personally present now, to know Him one must be fortunate enough to associate with a devotee who is in pure Krsna consciousness. By the grace of Krsna a devotee gets realized knowledge. So we have to acquire the grace of Krsna. Then we can understand Krsna, then we can see Krsna, then we can talk with Krsna—then we can do everything.
Krsna is a person. He is the supreme person. That is the Vedic injunction. Nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam: “We are all eternal persons, and God is the supreme eternal person.” Now, being encaged within this body, we are meeting birth and death. But actually we have no birth and death, because we are eternal spirit souls. According to our work, according to our desire, we are transmigrating from one kind of body to another, another, and another. But in reality we have no birth and death. As explained in Bhagavad-gita [2.20], na jayate mriyate va: “The living entity never takes birth and never dies.” Similarly, God is also eternal. Nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam: “God is the supreme living entity among all living entities, and He is the supreme eternal person among all eternal persons:” By practicing Krsna consciousness, by purifying our senses, we can reestablish our eternal relationship with the supreme, complete, eternal person. Then we will see God.
By realized, transcendental knowledge one becomes perfect and can remain steady in his convictions, but by mere academic knowledge one can be easily deluded and confused by apparent contradictions. It is the realized soul who is actually self-controlled, because he is surrendered to Krsna. And it is the realized soul who is transcendental, because he has nothing to do with mundane scholarship. For him, mundane scholarship and mental speculation, which may be as good as gold to others, are of no greater value than pebbles or stones.
Even if one is illiterate, even if he does not know the ABCs, he can realize God—provided he engages himself in submissive, transcendental loving service to God. On the other hand, a very learned scholar may not be able to realize God. God is not subject to any material condition, because He is the Supreme Spirit. Similarly, the process of realizing God is also not subject to any material condition. It is not true that because one is a poor man he cannot realize God or because one is a very rich man he shallrealize God. No. God is unconditional (apratihata). In the Srimad–Bhagavatam [1.2.6] it is said, sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yatobhaktir adhoksaje: “That religion is first-class which helps one advance his devotional service and love of God.” The Bhagavatam does not mention that the Hindu religion is first class or that the Christian religion is first class or that the Mohammedan religion is first class or that some other religion is first class. The Bhagavatam says, “That religion is first class which helps one advance his devotional service and love of God.” That’s all. This is the definition of a first-class religion. We do not arbitrarily designate one religion as first class and another religion as last class. Of course, there are three qualities in the material world (goodness, passion, and ignorance), and religious conceptions are created according to these qualities. But the purpose of religion is to understand God, and to learn how to love God. Any religious system, if it teaches one how to love God, is first class. Otherwise it is useless. One may prosecute his religious principles very rigidly and very nicely, but if his love of God is nil, if his love of matter is simply enhanced, then his religion is no religion.
In the same verse the Bhagavatam says that real religion must be ahaituki and apratihata: without selfish motivation and without any impediment. If we can practice such a system of religious principles, then we’ll find that we are happy in all respects. Otherwise there is no possibility of happiness. Sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje. One of God’s names is Adhoksaja. Adhoksaja means “one who conquers all materialistic attempts to be seen.” Aksaja means “direct perception by experimental knowledge,” and adhah means “unreachable.” So, we cannot understand God by experimental knowledge. No. We have to learn of Him in a different way—by submissive aural reception of transcendental sound, and by the rendering of transcendental loving service. Then we can understand God.
Therefore, a religious principle is perfect if it teaches us how to develop our love for God. But our love must be without selfish motive. If I say, “I love God because He supplies me very nice things for my sense gratification,” that is not love. Real love is without any selfish motive (ahaituki). We must simply think, “God is great; God is my father. It is my duty to love Him,” That’s all. No exchange—”God gives me my daily bread; therefore I love Him.” No. God gives daily bread even to the animals—the cats and dogs. God is the father of everyone, and He supplies food to everyone. So appreciating God because He gives me bread—that is not love. Love is without motive. I must think, “Even if God does not supply me my daily bread, I’ll love Him.” This is real love. As Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, aslisya va pada-ratam pinastu mam adarsanan marma-hatam karotu va: “O Lord, You may embrace me, or You may trample me down-with Your feet, or You may never come before me, so that I become brokenhearted because of not seeing You. Still, I love you.” This is pure love of God. When we come to this stage of loving God, then well find ourselves full of pleasure. Just as God is full of pleasure, we’ll also be full of pleasure. This is perfection.