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DWT 9 The Sure Way to Know God

His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

9. The Sure Way to Know God

tasmād ekena manasā
bhagavān sātvatāṁ patiḥ
śrotavyaḥ kīrtitavyaś ca
dhyeyaḥ pūjyaś ca nityadā

Therefore, with one-pointed attention one should constantly hear about, glorify, remember, and worship the Personality of Godhead, who is the protector of the devotees. - Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.2.14

If realization of the Absolute Truth is the ultimate aim of life, it must be carried out by all means. In any one of the above-mentioned castes and orders of life, the four processes, namely glorifying, hearing, remembering, and worshiping, are general occupations. Without these principles of life, no one can exist. Activities of the living being involve engagements in these four different principles of life. Especially in modern society, all activities are more or less dependent on hearing and glorifying. Any man from any social status becomes a well-known man in human society within a very short time if he is simply glorified truly or falsely in the daily newspapers. Sometimes political leaders of a particular party are also advertised by newspaper propaganda, and by such a method of glorification an insignificant man becomes an important man - within no time.

But such propaganda by false glorification of an unqualified person cannot bring about any good, either for the particular man or for the society. There may be some temporary reactions to such propaganda, but there are no permanent effects. Therefore such activities are a waste of time. The actual object of glorification is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has created everything manifested before us. We have broadly discussed this fact from the beginning of the janmādy asya (SB 1.1.1) verse of this Bhāgavatam. The tendency to glorify others or hear others must be turned to the real object of glorification - the Supreme Being. And that will bring happiness.

Real satisfaction comes when you satisfy the Supreme Lord. And how should that be done? First by fixing the mind on Him with one-pointed attention (ekena manasā). You should not divert your attention to so many things but simply fix your mind on the Supreme Lord, Bhagavān. Previously the Bhāgavatam taught that the Absolute Truth is known as Brahman (the Lord's impersonal effulgence), Paramātmā (the Supersoul), and Bhagavān (the Personality of Godhead). But when it comes to focusing one's attention on the Absolute, one must focus on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Kṛṣṇa. Otherwise, how can we focus our attention? It is very difficult to fix the mind on the impersonal feature or the Supersoul. The impersonal Absolute Truth can be understood by philosophical speculation and the Supersoul by meditation, but both these processes are very difficult. Fixing the mind on Bhagavān, however, is easy and practical.

We can easily fix the mind on Kṛṣṇa by seeing His form in the temple, reading His instructions in the Bhagavad-gītā, hearing and chanting His holy names, and in so many other ways. There is no difficulty. But if you try to absorb your mind in the impersonal Brahman or the Supersoul, it is very difficult. As Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā (12.5), kleśo 'dhikataras teṣām avyaktāsakta-cetasām: "For those who are attached to the impersonal feature of the Absolute Truth, advancement is very troublesome." For devotees of Kṛṣṇa, on the other hand, there is the joyful process of chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, dancing in ecstasy, and eating sumptuous kṛṣṇa-prasādam.

And even if you follow the very troublesome path of impersonal realization for many, many lifetimes, working so hard to separate spirit from matter by the speculative process of neti neti - "This is not Brahman. This is not Brahman" - you'll still have to surrender to Kṛṣṇa if you want to achieve success: bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate (BG 7.19).

Now, one may say, "There are so many Bhagavāns. I can fix my mind on any of them." Nowadays people have manufactured many "Bhagavāns." But here the Bhāgavatam says bhagavān sātvatāṁ patiḥ: "You have to fix your mind on that Bhagavān whom the devotees accept as their Lord." There may be many Bhagavāns, but only the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is accepted as the Lord by all the stalwart devotees, ācāryas, and teachers, such as Brahmā and Śiva. The public may accept an ordinary man as Bhagavān and declare, "Here is an incarnation of God," but that is foolishness. Kṛṣṇa is God, as He Himself declares in the Bhagavad-gītā (7.7, 10.8). Mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat: "There is nothing beyond Me." Ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavaḥ: "I am the origin of everything." Mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate: "Everything emanates from Me." Iti matvā bhajante māṁ budhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ: "Those who are actually learned know that I am the source of everything, and therefore they become My devotees."

The Brahma-saṁhitā (5.1) also states,

īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ
anādir ādir govindaḥ sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam

"The Supreme God is Kṛṣṇa, who has an eternal form of bliss and knowledge." There are many gods, or controllers, but Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme God. Nobody is above Him. Therefore He is anādi, without origin. We all have an origin, but He has none because He is the origin of all (ādiḥ). He is known as Govinda because He is the reservoir of all pleasure, and He is the cause of all causes (sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam (Bs. 5.1)).

Now one may ask, "How should I fix my mind on Bhagavān?"

The Bhāgavatam answers, śrotavyaḥ: "You have to hear about Him."

"From whom should I hear?"

The best person to hear from is Kṛṣṇa Himself, who kindly explains Himself in the Bhagavad-gītā. Suppose you want to know something about me. You can ask a friend, and he may say something or other about me. But when I explain myself to you, that is perfect. Similarly, if you want to know the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the best way is just to hear directly from Him. But if you reject this process and try to know God through speculation, you will fail because your senses and mind are imperfect.

Then the next process the Bhāgavatam recommends is chanting (kīrtitavyaś ca). If you simply hear about Kṛṣṇa but do not repeat what you have heard to others, you will not advance very quickly in your understanding of God. Whatever you hear or read you should explain to others. That is perfection. That is why we have established Back to Godhead magazine. Daily our students hear and read about Kṛṣṇa, and then they must be thoughtful and write something about the science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. And naturally when one writes or speaks of Kṛṣṇa one must think of Him (dheyaḥ). Finally, the Bhāgavatam recommends worship of the Lord (pūjyaḥ). Therefore we require to regularly visit temples and worship the Deities residing there.

So the Bhāgavatam says that with one-pointed attention we should hear about the Lord, chant about Him, think of Him, and worship Him. And all this should be done nityadā, regularly. This is the process of bhakti-yoga. Anyone who adopts this process can understand the Absolute Truth. That is the clear declaration of this verse of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.