TLC 22 (1968)
The Srimad Bhagwatam
After this incident of the conversion of the Mayavadi Sannyasis into the path of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, many many scholars and inquisitive persons used to visit Lord Chaitanya at Benares. All of them could not see Chaitanya Mahaprabhu at His residence, and therefore they used to stand in line to see Lord Chaitanya as He used to pass on His way to the temple of Viswanath and Bindumadhav. One day He visited the temple along with His associates Chandra Sekhar Acharya, Paramananda, Tapan Mishra, Sanatan Goswami, etc. He was singing,
- Hari haraye namah Krishna Yadavaya namah
- Gopala Govinda Rama Sri Madhusudana
—and while He was singing like that, chanting and dancing, thousands of people gathered around Him, and there was a roaring following the vibration of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. This vibration was so tumultuous that Prakasananda Saraswati, who was sitting nearby, came immediately along with his disciples, and as soon as he saw the beautiful Body of Lord Chaitanya and His nice dancing, along with His associates, he also joined and began to sing with Him:
- Hari! Hari!
All the inhabitants of Benares were struck with wonder by seeing the dancing of Lord Chaitanya in ecstasy. Lord Chaitanya, however, checked Himself in His continuous ecstasy, and stopped His dancing when He saw that the Mayavadi Sannyasis were also present. As soon as He stopped His chanting and dancing, Prakasananda Saraswati fell at the feet of Lord Chaitanya. Lord Chaitanya tried to stop him and said: "Oh, you are the Spiritual Master of the whole world, Jagat Guru, and I am not equal even to your disciple. You should not therefore worship an inferior like Me, Who is not even equal to the disciple of your disciple. You are exactly like Supreme Brahman, and if you fall down at My Feet it is a very great offense on My part. Although you have no vision of duality, still for the teachings of the people in general you should not do this."
Prakasananda Saraswati replied, "Previously I spoke ill of You many times. Therefore, in order to free myself from the result of my offense, I fall down at Your Feet." He quoted in this connection a verse of Vedic literature in which it is stated that when even a liberated soul commits offense to the Supreme Lord he becomes again a victim of the material contamination. He quoted another verse from Srimad Bhagwatam, from the Tenth Canto, Thirty-fourth Chapter, in connection with Nanda Maharaj and the attack of a serpent who was previously Vidyadhavarehita. This serpent, being touched by the Lotus Feet of Krishna, regained his previous body and thus he was freed from the reaction of his sinful activities.
Lord Chaitanya, after hearing the equation of himself with Krishna, mildly protested against such behavior. The fact is, He wanted to warn people in general not to compare the Supreme Lord with any living entity. Although He was the Supreme Lord Himself, still, to teach us, He protested against this comparison, and said that nobody should be compared with the Supreme Lord Krishna—that is the greatest offense. Lord Chaitanya always maintained that Vishnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is great and the living entities, however great they may be, are not the infinite, but are infinitesimal. He quoted, in this connection, a verse from Vaishnava Tantra, in the Padma Purana, where it is stated: "Any person who compares the Supreme Lord even with the greatest of demigods like Brahma and Shiva, must be considered a number one atheist."
Prakasananda replied, "I can understand that You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, but even though You present Youself as a devotee, still You are worshippable by me, because You are greater than all of us in education and in realization. Therefore, by blaspheming You, we committed the greatest offense and You should excuse us."
How a devotee becomes the greatest of all transcendentalists is stated in the Srimad Bhagwatam, Sixth Canto, Fourteenth Chapter: "There are many liberated souls, and there are many perfected souls; but out of all such liberated and perfected souls, one who is a devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the best. Such devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are always calm and quiet, and their perfection is very rarely to be seen even in millions of persons."
Prakasananda quoted another verse from the Tenth Canto, Fourth Chapter, in which it is stated that duration of life, prosperity, fame, religiousness, and the benediction of higher authorities—everything gained, becomes lost by transgressing the respect of a devotee. He quoted another verse from Srimad Bhagwatam, Seventh Canto, Fifth Chapter, in which it is stated that the touch of the Lotus Feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead causes the disappearance of all kinds of misgivings of the conditioned soul. But this facility of touching the Lotus Feet of the Supreme Lord is not possible unless one receives benediction by the dust of the Lotus Feet of a pure devotee of the Lord. In other words, nobody can become a pure devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead without being favored by another pure devotee of the Lord.
Prakasananda Saraswati spoke further: "Now I am taking shelter of Your Lotus Feet, for I want to be elevated to be a devotee of the Supreme Lord."
After talking in this way, both Prakasananda Saraswati and Lord Chaitanya sat together and Prakasananda Saraswati began to enquire from the Lord as follows: "Whatever You have said in pointing out discrepancies in the Mayavadi philosophy is known to us also, because we know that all the commentaries on Vedic Scriptures by Mayavadi philosophers are in error by interpretation—especially those by Sankaracharya, whose interpretation of Vedanta Sutra is all his own imagination. You have not explained the codes of Vedanta Sutra and Upanishad by Your imagination, but You have explained them as they are, and by hearing Your explanation, all of us are very pleased. Such explanations of the codes of Vedanta Sutra or Upanishads could not be given by anyone else except the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and You have all the potencies. Kindly explain further about the Vedanta Sutra, so that I may be benefitted."
Lord Chaitanya again protested against His being called the Supreme Lord, and He said, "My dear sir, I am an ordinary living entity. I cannot know the meaning of Vedanta Sutra, but Vyasadeva, Who is an incarnation of Narayan, knows the real meaning of the Vedanta Sutra. No ordinary living being can interpret the Vedanta Sutra with his mundane education. In order to curb commentary on Vedanta Sutra by unscrupulous persons, the author, Vyasadeva Himself, has already commented on the Vedanta Sutra by writing Srimad Bhagwatam." In other words, if the author himself explains the purport of his book, that is excellent. Nobody can understand the author's mind unless the author himself discloses the purport of his language. Therefore Vedanta Sutra should be understood by the commentary of the Author Himself, which is Srimad Bhagwatam.
Pranava or Omkara is the divine substance of all the Vedas. Omkara is explained further in the Gayatri Mantra, as exactly explained in the Srimad Bhagwatam. There are four verses in this connection. These verses are explained to Brahma, and Brahma explained them again to Narada, and Narada explained them to Vyasa. Therefore the purport of the verses in the Srimad Bhagwatam comes down in disciplic succession. It is not that anyone and everyone can make his own commentary on the Vedanta Sutra foolishly, and mislead the readers. Anyone who wants to understand Vedanta Sutra must read Srimad Bhagwatam carefully. Under the instruction of Narada Muni, Vyasadeva compiled Srimad Bhagwatam with the purpose of explaining the Vedanta Sutra codes. Vedanta Sutra was written before Bhagwatam. After hearing from Narada Muni, Vyasadeva commentated on the Vedanta Sutra. By writing Srimad Bhagwatam He collected all the essence of the Upanishads, the purpose of which was explained also in the Vedanta Sutra. Srimad Bhagwatam is therefore the essence of all Vedic knowledge. That which is stated in the Upanishads and stated in the Vedanta Sutra is explained very nicely in the Srimad Bhagwatam.
There is a passage from Isho Upanishad, similiar to one in the Srimad Bhagwatam, Eighth Canto, First Chapter, the purport of which is that whatever one sees in the cosmic manifestation, everywhere, is the Supreme Lord's energy, which is non-different from Him. Therefore, He is the Controller of all living entities, and the Friend and Maintainer of everyone. We should live by the mercy of God, and by the things allotted to our particular living condition. Thus one enjoys life, and nobody should encroach on any other's property.
In other words, the purpose of the Upanishad and Vedanta, and that of Srimad Bhagwatam, are one and the same. If anyone studies Srimad Bhagwatam carefully, he will find that all the Upanishads and Vedanta Sutra codes are nicely explained there. In Bhagwatam also the subject matter is divided into three: to establish the eternal relationship with the Supreme Lord, how to act in that relationship, and, lastly, how to achieve the highest benefit from it.
The four verses dealing with Ahameva asam agrey are the gist of the whole Bhagwatam, and this is very nicely explained as follows: "I am the Supreme Center of relationship of all living entities, and My knowledge is the Supreme Knowledge, and the process by which I can be achieved by the living entity is called Abhidheya. And, by the Abhidheya process, one attains to the highest perfection of life, love of Godhead. When one attains that stage of life, love of Godhead, then his life becomes perfect." The explanation of these four verses is given in the Srimad Bhagwatam.
In this connection Lord Chaitanya gave a short description of the principles of the four slokas of Srimad Bhagwatam as follows: Nobody can understand the consitutional position of the Supreme Lord—how He is situated, what are His transcendental qualities, what are His transcendental activities, how He is full with six kinds of opulences. These things cannot be understood by mental speculators or by one's academic education. These things are to be understood by the mercy of the Lord, as has been stated in the Bhagavad Gita: one who is fortunate enough to be favored by the Supreme Lord can understand all these explanations by the mercy of the Lord.
The Lord existed before the material Creation; therefore the material ingredients and Nature and the living entities all emanated from Him, and again after dissolution they rest in Him. When the Creation is correct it is maintained by Him; at the same time, whatever manifestation we see, that is only a transformation of the external energy. When the external energy is withdrawn by the Supreme Lord, then everything enters into Him. In the first verse of Ahameva, the word, Aham, I, is mentioned three times. That is to stress that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is full with all opulences. For anyone, therefore, who cannot understand or does not believe in the transcendental Nature and Form of the Supreme Lord, and who says He is without any Form—Aham is stated three times just to chastise him.
The Lord possesses His internal energy, besides His external, marginal and relative energies, as well as the manifestation of His cosmic world and the living entities. The external energy is manifested by the qualitative modes, or gunas, of material Nature. One who can understand the nature of the living entity in the Spiritual World can actually understand Vedyam, or perfect knowledge. One cannot understand the Supreme Lord simply by seeing the material energy and the conditioned soul. But when one is in perfect knowledge, then he is free from the influence of the external energy. Just as the Moon is the reflection of the Sun, and without the existence of the Sun the Moon cannot illuminate, so this material cosmic manifestation is something like the reflection of the Spiritual World.
When one is actually liberated from the spell of the external energy, he can understand the constitutional nature of the Supreme Lord. Devotional service to the Lord is the only means for attaining Him. And this devotional service of the Lord can be accepted by everyone and anyone, in any country, in any atmosphere, and under any circumstance. Devotional Service is above the four principles of religiousness, or above the understanding of liberation. Even the preliminary process of executing devotional service is transcendental to the highest subject matter of liberation in the ordinary course of religiousness.
One should, therefore, approach a bona fide Spiritual Master, irrespective of caste, creed, color, country and place, and he must hear from that bona fide Spiritual Master everything about devotional service. The real purpose of life is to revive our dormant love of God. That is our ultimate necessity. How that love of God can be achieved is explained in the Srimad Bhagwatam. There is theoretical knowledge and specific, or realized knowledge. The perfect, realized knowledge, is obtained in realization of the teaching received from the Spiritual Master.