A lecture by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada on Srila Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s appearance day, September 3, 1971, London.
So, today is a very auspicious day, Thakura Bhaktivinoda’s birthday. Here is the picture of Thakura Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda. He was one of the acharyas of this disciplic succession from Krishna. We have got a succession table from Krishna—a genealogical table. There are two kinds of genealogical tables, one by the semen—the father, his son, his son, like that. That is a material genealogical table. And there is a spiritual genealogical table—disciplic succession. Just like Krishna, the original father, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, spoke the Vedic knowledge to Brahma. Lord Brahma spoke to Narada, Narada spoke to Vyasa, and Vyasa spoke to Madhvacharya. So, in this disciplic succession, Lord Chaitanya—from Lord Chaitanya to the Six Gosvamis, and similarly, coming down, down, to Bhaktivinoda Thakura, then Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, then my spiritual master, and then we are the next generation, my disciples.
So there is a disciplic succession, and the acharyas are authorities. Our process of knowledge is very simple. We take it from authorities. We don’t speculate. Speculation will not help us to come to the real knowledge. Just like when we are in difficulty, in some legal implication, we go to some authority, a lawyer. When we are diseased we go to a physician, the authority. There is no use in speculation. Suppose I am in difficulty in some legal implication. If I simply speculate, “I shall be free in this way and that way,” that will not help. We have to go to a lawyer who knows things, and he will give us instruction, that “You do like this; then you’ll be free.” Similarly, when we are diseased, if we speculate at home, “My disease will be cured in this way and that way”—that is useless. You go to an authorized physician, and he will give you a nice prescription, and you’ll be cured. That is the process of knowledge. But in the modern age people think, “I am free, I am independent, and I can make my own solution.” That is rascaldom. That’s not good. Arjuna was talking with Krishna as a friend, but when he saw that there was no solution talking like this, he surrendered to Krishna. He said (Gita 2.7), sisyas te ’ham, aham: “Myself, I surrender unto You as Your disciple.” Sisyas te ’ham sadhi mam tvam prapannam. Prapannam means “surrendered.” So that is the Vedic injunction, that if you want to know transcendental knowledge or science . . . “Transcendental” means beyond the scope of your direct perception.
Spiritual knowledge is beyond the scope of your sense speculation. When a soul, only a spiritual spark, leaves this body, you cannot see it. Therefore, the atheistic class of men speculates, “There may be a soul; there may not be soul.” Or, “The bodily function was going like this; now it stopped. The blood corpuscles have ceased. It is no more red; it is white; therefore life . . .” These are speculation. This is not actual knowledge. Actual knowledge you get from the authority, Krishna. He says, tatha dehantara-praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati. Just like the soul is passing through different stages. Dehino ’smin yatha dehe. (Gita 2.13) Deha means this body. Asmin dehe, in this body there is dehi. Dehi means the owner of this body. That is the soul. That is passing through childhood, boyhood, babyhood, youth, old age. Everyone can perceive that you were a child—you were a baby, you were a boy, and now you are young man or old man. So you are there. And as you are passing through different types of bodies, similarly, when you give up this body you will accept another body. What is the difficulty? Tatha dehantara-praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati. (Gita 2.13) There is no question of becoming astonished, how transmigration of the self, the soul, takes place. The vivid example is there. Simply you require a little intelligence. That intelligence is developed through the instruction of the acharya. Therefore, the Vedic injunction is not to acquire knowledge by speculation. That is useless.
athapi te deva padambuja-dvaya-
prasada-lesanugrhita eva hi
janati tattvam bhagavan-mahimno
na canya eko ’pi ciram vicinvan
Ciram vicinvan. Ciram means for thousands of years you can speculate, but you cannot understand what is God. That is not possible. But if you receive knowledge from the devotee, he can deliver you. Therefore the Vedic injunction is tad-vijnana. Vijnana means science. If you want to know the transcendental science, then you must approach a guru. If you are at all interested to understand the spiritual science, tad-vijnartham sa gurum eva abhigacchet, you must approach a guru. (MU 1.2.12) Guru means this succession, as I have explained.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura was an ideal guru. He was not a sannyasi; he was a grihastha, a householder, living with family, wife, children. Still, he was guru. So anyone can become guru—not that only a sannyasi can become guru. A householder also can become guru, provided he knows the science. When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was talking with Ramananda Raya . . . Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a sannyasi, born in a very high brahman family, a very learned scholar. He was talking with Raya Ramananda, a grihastha, governor of Madras. And He was questioning, and Ramananda Raya was answering. That means Ramananda Raya was taking the part of guru, and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was taking the part of a disciple. So, Ramananda Raya was hesitating. He thought, “I am a grihastha, and not even a brahman. And besides, I am dealing in material affairs, politics. I am a governor. And Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is a sannyasi, born of a high-class brahman family. So it does not look well that I teach Him.” He was hesitating. And Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Oh, why you are hesitating?”
kiba vipra, kiba nyasi, sudra kene naya
yei krsna-tattva-vetta, sei ‘guru’ haya
(Cc Madhya 8.128)
He said, “Don’t hesitate. Either one may be a brahman or one may be a sudra (kiba vipra, kiba sudra). Vipra means brahman, and sudra is the fourth-grade human being. So, kiba vipra, kiba sudra: he may be a first-grade human being or the lowest-grade human being, or he may become a sannyasi or a grihastha. It does not matter. Anyone who knows the science of Krishna, he can become a guru.” This is the verdict. Because spiritual science does not belong to the bodily platform. It is on the spiritual platform. It is very nice. Just like when you go to a lawyer or an engineer or a physician, you do not inquire whether he’s a brahman or a sudra. Simply you have to know whether he’s a lawyer; that’s all—whether he’s a physician. If he knows the medical science, he may be a brahman, he may be a sudra, he may be a sannyasi, he may be a householder—it doesn’t matter. Your business is with a physician, with a lawyer. Similarly, our business is to understand Krishna. So anyone who knows Krishna perfectly, we have to go there. Tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet. The Vedic injunction is not that you have to approach a sannyasi or a grihastha or an Indian or American. No. Gurum. And guru means who knows the science of Krishna.
So, Bhaktivinoda Thakura was a grihastha, a very responsible officer, magistrate. And he was so exalted that he would come from his office generally at five o’clock, then take his supper, and immediately go to bed. Immediately. Say at seven o’clock in the evening he went to bed and he woke up at twelve o’clock—it is sufficient sleep, five hours. One should not sleep more than five to six hours. Minimize as far as possible. The Gosvamis used to sleep not more than one and a half or two hours. Sleeping is not a very important thing. Even big politicians, they used to sleep for two hours. Especially in the spiritual line, one should minimize as far as possible eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. Minimize. And gradually it will come to nil. Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was eating only a little piece of butter every alternate day, not even daily. So, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, regularly he was coming from his office, and after taking his supper immediately he would go to bed, and he would wake up at twelve o’clock, and write books. He left behind about one hundred books. And he excavated the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya, organized how to develop that birth site, Mayapur. He had so many businesses. He used to go to preach about Chaitanya’s philosophy. He used to sell books to foreign countries. In 1896 he attempted to sell Life and Precepts of Chaitanya in McGill University in Montreal. So he was busy, acharya. One has to adjust things. Not that “Because I am grihastha, householder, I cannot become a preacher; it is the business of the sannyasi or brahmachari.” No. It is the business of everyone. The whole world is suffering for want of knowledge. The present civilization is animal civilization. They do not know anything beyond eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. That’s all. This is animal civilization. An animal does not know beyond these four principles of life: eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. That’s all. No, human life is meant for something else: “What I am? What is God? What is my relation with God? What is this material world? Why I am here? Where I have to go next?” So many things one has to learn. Athato brahma jijnasa. This is human life. Not to eat and sleep and have sex life and die some day like cats and dogs. Therefore there is need of acharyas, teachers, for propagating spiritual knowledge, Krishna consciousness. Although Bhaktivinoda Thakura was a grihastha, householder, a government officer, magistrate, still he was acharya. So from his dealings, from his life, we should learn how one can become a preacher in any stage of life. It doesn’t matter what one is.
There was one incident, very interesting, when he was magistrate in Jagannatha Puri. Jagannatha temple is a very big establishment. In the temple fifty-six times daily bhoga is offered. And you’ll find in the temple always at least five hundred to one thousand people gathered. They come from outside, and prasada is ready. If you go and ask in the Jagannatha temple, “We are one hundred men come from outside. We want prasada,” yes, immediately ready. So it is a huge temple. This is one temple, but there are many other thousands of temples in India where prasada is distributed. Now it is minimized by our present government. They think that it is an unnecessary expenditure. They are minimizing. But it is not an unnecessary expenditure. They do not understand. Formerly in India there was no necessity of hotel. Anyone goes anywhere, even in a village, he goes to a temple—prasada is ready. There is no need of going to a hotel. You pay or don’t pay. If you say, “I want a little prasada,” “Yes, take it.” That is the system still. There is the Nathadvara temple in Rajasthan. You pay two annas only. Two annas means one cent. You get sumptuous prasada for two annas, all very nice prasada, still. So prasada distribution in the temple is a longstanding tradition. The Jagannatha temple is managed by a body, and it is the custom that the local magistrate of the district becomes the president, or manager. So Bhaktivinoda Thakura was manager in that sense, because he was magistrate. The managing committee was being presided over by him. So, there was a complaint. In Orissa—this Jagannatha temple is situated in Orissa. Utkala. This state originally belonged to Dhruva Maharaja. His son’s name was Utkala, Maharaja Utkala. So, in this Utkala there was a pseudo-yogi. Just like you’ll find nowadays also, there are so many rascals declaring, “I am incarnation of God.” And they know some mystic power, play some jugglery, and foolish people take them: “Oh, he’s God.” So there appeared one such pseudo-God, pseudo-Vishnu, in a village of Orissa. And he was dancing rasa dance, and foolish people were sending their daughters and wives to dance with him. You see? There were so many. People are so foolish, they do not know . . . They want to be cheated, and these cheaters come. He declared, “I am God. I am Visnu.” There were sane men also. They took objection: “What is this nonsense? This man is dancing with ladies and girls.” So they filed a complaint. At that time it was British rule. They complained to the governor or the commissioner, very high officer. The commissioner knew that Bhaktivinoda Thakura . . . His name was Kedaranath Datta, his household name. So the commissioner of the division, he knew that Kedaranath Datta was a religious man, and he was the magistrate in charge. So he handed over the case for inquiry: “What is this complaint? You please inquire and do the needful.” Bhaktivinoda Thakura was a pure devotee, and he understood: “This rascal is a bogus man, cheating people. I must inquire.” So he went to the village in plain dress with some police constables. They also were in plain dress. And as soon as he approached, that rascal yogi said, “Oh, you are Kedaranath Datta. Very nice. I shall make you king of India. Please don’t try to bother me.” Because he could understand, “He has come to inquire about my rasa-lila.” Bhaktivinoda Thakura first said, “Sir, you are such a great yogi. Why you are in the village? Why don’t you go to Jagannatha Puri? There is temple, and Lord Jagannatha is there. Better you go there and see the Lord and be happy. Why you are in this village?” “Oh, Jagannatha?” replied the pseudo-yogi, “That is made of wood. I am personally the Supreme Lord. That is made of wood.” Oh, then Bhaktivinoda Thakura—he was a devotee—he became fire. The yogi was insulting. Arcye sila-dhir gurusu nara-matih. According to shastra, if somebody thinks . . . Just like here is Deity. If somebody thinks, “Oh, it is made of stone . . .” It is stone to the eyes of the nondevotee, but to the devotees it is personally the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It requires the eyes to see. So, devotees see from a different angle of vision. Just like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, when He entered the Jagannatha temple, immediately He fainted: “Oh, here is My Lord.” And the nondevotee is seeing: “It is wood, a lump of wood.” Therefore, to the nondevotee, He remains always as wood, but to the devotee He speaks. That is the difference. Premanjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena. (Bs 5.38) If God is everything, why He cannot manifest through wood or stone? That’s a fact. God is omnipotent. He can express Himself even through wood and stone. That is God’s omnipotence. Not that God is unable to express Himself through wood or stone. Then how He’s omnipotent? Omnipotent means His potency can be expressed through anything. Because anything, everything, is the expansion of God’s energy. Parasya brahmanah saktis tathedam akhilam jagat. The whole world is a manifestation of different energies of God. Just like through the energy of electricity the electric powerhouse, although far, far away from this place, was expressing. There is electricity. Through this glass, through these wires, the power can be expressed. There is a process.
So Bhaktivinoda Thakura became hot with anger. Because a devotee cannot tolerate blasphemy of another devotee or of God. So as soon as the yogi said, “Why shall I go to Jagannatha Puri to see the wooden Jagannatha? I personally am Vishnu,” Bhaktivinoda Thakura ordered his constables, “Arrest him. Arrest this rascal.” So he was arrested. And when he was arrested—he had some yogic mystic power—all the constables, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and his family members became affected with high fever, 105-degree fever. So when Bhaktivinoda Thakura came back, his wife became very much disturbed: “You arrested Vishnu, and we are all going to die. Now we have got high fever.” Bhaktivinoda Thakura replied, “Yes, let us all die, but this rascal must be punished.” This is the view of a pure devotee. So the yogi was taken into custody, and a date was fixed for his trial. All these days, Bhaktivinoda Thakura and his family especially, they were suffering from high fever. Maybe that yogi was planning to kill the whole family, but it was going on as fever. So, on the trial day, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Kedaranath Datta, when he came to the bench and the man was presented, the so-called yogi had big, big hairs. So Bhaktivinoda Thakura ordered, “Bring one barber and cut his hair.” No barber dared. The barbers thought, “Oh, he’s Lord Vishnu. If I offend, as he’s suffering from fever, so I shall also die.” So Bhaktivinoda Thakura ordered, “Give me the scissors. I’ll cut.” So he cut his hairs and ordered him to be put in jail for six months, and in jail that Vishnu incarnation managed to take some poison, and he died.
This is one of the incidents. There are many incidents. He was a very strong man. He punished many pandas in the tirthas who exploited visitors. So, this is the position of a devotee. In spite of his becoming a responsible magistrate, a householder, still, Bhaktivinoda Thakura was acharya.
We have to follow the acharyas. If we are at all interested in spiritual science, we must follow the Vedic instruction tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet. We must approach. You cannot have spiritual knowledge simply by speculating. Impossible. Simply waste of time—srama eva hi kevalam. (SB 1.2.8) You must go to the authority. Therefore, the Bhagavad-gita (13.8) recommends, acaryopasanam. Acarya-upasana—worshiping not only the Lord, but also the acharya. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija. (Cc Madhya 19.151) Guru, acharya; and Krishna. One should seek the favor of both. Not that “I am now seeking the favor of Krishna. What is the use of guru or acharya?” No. You cannot overstep the acharya and go to Krishna. That is not possible. Krishna will not accept you. Just like if you want to see a big man you should go through his secretary, through his orderly, doorkeeper; similarly, our process is to go through the acharya (acaryopasanam). That is the injunction of the Vedas.
Tarko ’pratisthah: if you want to enter into the spiritual world, you cannot get through simply by arguments, because there is no limit to arguments. I place my argument in one way. Then another man, who is better in argument, places his argument in a different way. So if you simply go on arguing, it is not possible. Tarko ’pratisthah. Argument will never help you. And srutayo vibhinnah. If you think, “I shall read scriptures and understand God,” no, that also is not possible. Srutayo vibhinnah: scriptures are also different, because scriptures are made according to time, circumstance, and people. Just like the Bible. Lord Jesus Christ preached in the desert, Jerusalem—or wherever—to people who were not so advanced. Therefore his first instruction was “Thou shall not kill.” That means they were very much engaged in killing affairs; otherwise, why this instruction? And actually, it so happened that they killed Jesus Christ. So that society was not very enlightened. So, a scripture for a society that is not very enlightened and a scripture for a society that is very enlightened must be different. Just like the dictionary: For the schoolboy a pocket dictionary, and for a college student the big international dictionary. Both of them are dictionaries, but the small pocket dictionary is not equal to the big dictionary, because it is made different for different classes of men. So, scriptures are made according to different classes of men. There are three classes of men: first-class, second-class, and third-class. The third-class man cannot understand the philosophy and scriptural injunctions of the first-class man. That is not possible. Higher mathematics cannot be understood by the small schoolboys who are simply trying to understand “Two plus two equals four.” But “Two plus two equals four” is equally good for the higher mathematics student. But still, higher mathematics and lower math are different. Therefore it is said, srutayo vibhinnah: the scriptures are different. So if you try to understand what is God simply by reading scriptures, you cannot succeed. You must approach a guru. Just like a medical book may be available in the market. If you purchase one medical book and study and think you can become a doctor—that is not possible. You must hear the medical book from a medical man in the medical college. Then you will be qualified. And if you say, “Sir, I have read all the medical books; recognize me as a medical practitioner,” no, that will not do.
So, srutayo vibhinnah: scriptures are different. And argument also is not helpful. One man may argue better than me. And then philosophy. It is said, nasau munir yasya matam na bhinnam: One philosopher differs from another philosopher. Just today Syamasundara has purchased one book about different philosophers. By that also you cannot ascertain what the truth is. Therefore shastra says, dharmasya tattvam nihitam guhayam. The truth is very confidential. If you want to know that truth, mahajano yena gatah sa panthah: you have to follow the great acharyas (Mahabharata, Vana-parva 313.117, quoted as Cc Madhya 17.186). Then you will understand. Therefore acarya-upasana is essential. In all the Vedic shastras the injunction is that. Tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet, srotriyam brahma-nistham. (MU 1.2.12) Tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh sreya uttamam (SB 11.3.21): one who is inquisitive to understand higher truths must surrender to guru. Tasmad gurum prapadyeta, jijnasuh sreya uttamam—one who is inquisitive, who is now inquiring about transcendental subject matter. Tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya. (Gita 4.34) All the shastras say. In our Vaishnava shastra also, Rupa Gosvami says, adau gurv-asrayam: “First, in the beginning, you must take shelter of a bona fide guru.” (Brs 1.2.74)
We should adore, we should worship, Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s birthday, because in the modern age he reintroduced the disciplic succession from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Five hundred years ago, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught this philosophy, but within two hundred years . . . Because this material world is so made that whatever you introduce, in due course it will deteriorate. You make a nice house, but after one hundred years, two hundred years, or nowadays, after fifty years, it becomes dilapidated. That is nature’s law. Kala, time, will destroy everything. Now the British Empire, such a big, vast empire, is finished. Kala, time, will finish everything. Anything material, it has birth, it has growth, it has got some opulence, then dwindling, then finished. That is the way of material nature. So, we are interested in spiritual subject matter. Therefore the process is adau gurv-asrayam: one has to accept a bona fide spiritual master. That is our process. Without accepting a bona fide spiritual master, we cannot make any progress. It is impossible.
So, Bhaktivinoda Thakura is acharya, one of the acharyas. And he left behind many important books—Caitanya-siksamrta, Jaiva-dharma—in Bengali and Sanskrit. And many songs. He prepared many books of songs. The song Sri Nama (gay gora madhur svare) is Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s. We are trying to present Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s books also in English translation. Gradually you will get them. So our adoration, our worship to Bhaktivinoda Thakura today, is because he may bless us to peacefully progress in Krishna consciousness. Acarya-upasana—simply by the blessings of the acharyas we can make rapid progress. Vedesu durlabham adurlabham atma-bhaktau. (Bs 5.33) Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah. (Sri Gurvastaka) We sing every day, “By the mercy of the spiritual master, acharya, we immediately get the blessings of Lord.” Immediately. Yasya prasadat. Yasya means “whose”; prasadat, “benediction.” By the benediction of the spiritual master (yasya prasadad), bhagavat-prasadah: if spiritual master, acharya, is pleased, then you should know that Krishna is also pleased. You should know. This is not very difficult. Just like you are working in office, if your immediate officer, boss, is pleased, that means the proprietor of the firm is also pleased—although you do not see him. This is fact—if your immediate boss is pleased. Similarly, we, our business, this spiritual line, is guru-åç-krpa. We have to first receive the merciful benediction of the acharya, and then Krishna will be pleased and He’ll also give His blessings. There is a verse in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.19.21), mad-bhakta-pujabhyadhika. Krishna says, “If anyone worships Me directly and if anyone worships Me through the acharya, he’s a better devotee who is coming to Me through the acharya (mad-bhakta-pujabhyadhika).
This Vaishnava philosophy, process, is to go through the acharya—servant of the servant of the servant. We should try to become servant of the servant. Gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah. (Padyavali 74, quoted as Cc Madhya 13.80) We should not approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead directly. That is not good. In the Vedic injunction also it is said, yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau. (SU 6.23) If one has got unflinching faith in the Supreme Personality of Godhead (yatha deve), and similar faith in guru . . . Of course, we must accept a bona fide guru, in the disciplic succession. That is also not very difficult to select, who is bona fide guru. Bona fide guru means he presents himself as servant of God—he does not pose falsely that “I am God”—this is bona fide. It is not difficult to find out bona fide. But this is the test. If anyone says that “I am God,” then he cannot be guru. Because he has no knowledge. How he is God? He can cheat some people—that is a different thing. You can cheat all people for some time and some people for all time, but not all people for all time. That is not possible. So, any guru who poses that “I am God” is a false guru. The bona fide guru will say, “I am servant of the servant of the servant of Krishna, God.” That is the business of guru. He serves Krishna as Krishna desires; that is his business. That is also not very difficult. Krishna desires, Krishna says (Gita 18.66), sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: “You give up all other engagements and just surrender unto Me, and I’ll give you protection.” Krishna says. So guru’s business is that “You simply surrender to Krishna.” What is the difficulty? He simply repeats the same thing—not for himself, but for Krishna. He’s bona fide guru.
So, this Krishna consciousness movement is bona fide because we say the same thing as Krishna says. We don’t make any addition or alteration. Not like big scholars who say, “It is not to Krishna . . .” Krishna says (Gita 18.65), man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru, and the scholar interprets, “It is not to Krishna.” Just see the foolishness. Krishna says directly, “unto Me,” and the scholar says, “not to Krishna,” misleading. Such a misleading guru will not help you. Therefore, to find out a bona fide guru means to find one who does not change the words of Krishna. That is his position. He presents everything as it is, and he has understood the science thoroughly (jijnasuh sreya uttamam). What is the symptom of a guru? Tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh sreya uttamam. (SB 11.3.21). Those who are inquisitive to understand higher scientific knowledge (uttamam)—uttama means higher. There are three words: uttama, madhyama, adhama—first-class, second-class, third-class. Spiritual knowledge is uttamam. Anyone who is inquisitive to understand first-class knowledge, he requires a guru. Those who are interested in third-class knowledge, they do not require any guru. Third-class knowledge means animal knowledge: how to eat, how to sleep. How to make arrangement for eating, how to make arrangement for sleeping—that is third-class knowledge. Because the animals also try for this kind of knowledge, how to eat, how to sleep. Therefore this kind of knowledge is third-class knowledge. And second-class knowledge is “What I am?” Athato brahma jijnasa—the Vedanta. That is second-class knowledge. And first-class knowledge, when he actually understands what he is—he is eternal servant of Krishna—and engages himself in the service of the Lord, that is first-class knowledge. And therefore, as soon as he comes to the first-class knowledge platform, he becomes happy:
na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu
mad-bhaktim labhate param
After being liberated from the material concept of life by the blessings of Krishna and guru, one comes to the platform of first-class knowledge, where he engages himself directly in the service of the Lord. That is first-class knowledge. First-class knowledge is beyond liberation. Second-class knowledge is trying for liberation. And third-class knowledge means being in bondage, like animals. The animals are bound up by their particular types of body and have no possibility of becoming liberated. That is animal life. But human life is better than animal life because if he likes, a human can make himself liberated from this bondage of material body. That is the facility. He can understand himself, what he is. He can understand what is God. He can understand the relationship between God and himself. He can understand what is this material world. Because there are thousands of books of knowledge. Take Bhagavad-gita. Everything is there. And it is meant for human beings, not for cats and dogs. Cats and dogs cannot understand, but a human being can understand.
So, this Krishna consciousness movement is to enlighten people to utilize this very nice life, human form of life, properly. To utilize it properly means to revive one’s dormant Krishna consciousness. The Krishna consciousness, or God consciousness, is there already. It is developed in the human form of life, but it is now covered due to our background of association with this material world for unlimited years. We are coming through different species of life, over millions and millions of years. Suppose I was a tree sometimes; I was standing up for ten thousand years in one place. We have passed through. That’s a fact. That is evolution. Now we have the opportunity of light. If you don’t use this opportune moment and again go back to the cycle of evolutionary process, jalaja nava-laksani sthavara . . . So this is a great science. Unfortunately, there is no opportunity for the people to study this science in schools, colleges, or universities. They are simply teaching people, “You work hard and gratify your senses.” That’s all. Therefore a section, younger section, has been disgusted. They have refused to cooperate with this materialistic society on account of this disappointing education. And it will increase, because this sort of education cannot give peace or prosperity to people. Problems are increasing. Therefore, our request is that if you want to decrease or completely finish all the problems of life, take to Krishna consciousness through the process of disciplic succession and you’ll be all happy.
Thank you very much.
Syamasundara dasa: If anyone has any questions pertaining to the lecture, you can ask them at this time.
Devotee girl: Bhaktivinoda Thakura, he also took sannyasa in later years? Is this right?
Prabhupada: Yes. In very late years, in his retired life.
Devotee: Prabhupada, you say that an animal has no chance for liberation. What would happen if an animal came in contact with a pure devotee?
Prabhupada: Yes, there is a chance of deliverance. Yes, even an animal, because he’ll hear Hare Krishna from the pure devotee. That will not go in vain. The devotee will give prasada. The animal does not know, but the devotee, out of compassion, gives prasada and chants Hare Krishna. So the animal also gets the opportunity of hearing. So he’ll also be liberated. One dog, during Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s time, he also became liberated. There is a history. Sivananda Sena’s dog, he was liberated by the grace of Lord Chaitanya. So by the association of a pure devotee . . . Therefore Bhaktivinoda Thakura, in one song, prays to the Lord, kita-janma hau yatha tuya dasa. Kita means “insect.” “My Lord, if I have to take my birth again”—because a devotee does not pray to God for liberation; he simply prays, “Wherever I may take my birth, may I never forget You.” That’s all. That is a devotee’s prayer. A devotee does not say, “Elevate me to the heavenly planet or Vaikuntha planet.” No. “You can put me anywhere.” Just like Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, kita-janma hau: “My dear Lord, I have no objection if I have to take my next birth as an insect”—what to speak of human being or other thing—“as an insect, but I must be in the house of a devotee.” An insect, by eating the remnants of foodstuffs left by the devotee, will be delivered. Kita-janma hau yatha tuya dasa/ bahir-mukha brahma-janma nahi asa: “I don’t want my next birth as Lord Brahma if I forget You. I don’t want.” A devotee prays to the Lord that he be able to constantly remember the lotus feet of the Lord, never mind whether as insect or as king or as dog—never mind. That is pure devotee. That is wanted.
Indian man: If one has accepted a bona fide spiritual master and does not receive much knowledge from him, can he change his spiritual master later?
Prabhupada: A bona fide spiritual master, where is the necessity of changing?
Indian man: No, he has not got the knowledge from him, but can I change?
Prabhupada: No, no. Bona fide spiritual master means he must get knowledge. He must get knowledge. He must inquire from the . . . The student must inquire from the spiritual master. If he remains dumb, then what the bona fide spiritual master can do? Adau gurv-asrayam sad-dharma-prcchat—jijnasuh. He must be jijnasuh. We get so many letters daily, so many inquiries. The student must be very inquisitive. Otherwise, how will he make progress? If he remains dumb, then what can the bona fide spiritual master do? If you go to a very nice school but you do not study, if you do not inquire, then what is the use of going to the nice school? You must also be very alert to inquire, to understand, to make progress. Then it will be all right. If you do not utilize the benefit of having a bona fide spiritual master, then that is your fault. You must utilize the opportunity. We are publishing so many books, so many literatures, magazines. Why? Just to enlighten more and more. But if you don’t take advantage of this, then how can you make progress? Change of spiritual master is required when the spiritual master is not bona fide. Otherwise there is no necessity of changing.
Indian lady: How does one contact the spiritual master? Through a book can you contact the spiritual master?
Prabhupada: No, you have to associate.
Syamasundara: “Can you associate through a book?” she asked.
Prabhupada: Yes, through books, and also personal. Because when you accept a spiritual master you have got personal touch—not that in air you make a spiritual master. You make a spiritual master concrete. So as soon as you accept a spiritual master, you should be inquisitive.
English man: If the spiritual master, Prabhupada, worships God through a demigod, is he bona fide?
Prabhupada: No. He does not know how to worship. How he can be bona fide? Krishna says (Gita 18.66), sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam. Why he should go to the demigods? That means he has no knowledge. Krishna says, mam ekam. Why should you go to others? That means he’s insufficiently qualified. Why should you go to the demigods? What is the necessity? He’s not bona fide, because he has insufficient knowledge. Bona fide spiritual master must have sufficient knowledge. Krishna says, God says, mam ekam. Why he should go to demigods? That is proof that he’s not bona fide.
Devotee: If one accepts initiation from a bona fide spiritual master but continues to perform material activities, is he still bound by his karma?
Prabhupada: He has to do everything under the instruction of the spiritual master. That is his duty. Sisya. Sisya means one who voluntarily accepts disciplinary measures from the spiritual master. He’s ruled by the spiritual master.
Indian lady: Can the death of a spiritual master take us too? . . . Is that spiritual master still guiding after his death?
Prabhupada: Yes, yes. Just like Krishna is guiding us, similarly, the spiritual master will guide. We are being guided by Krishna, by the Bhagavad-gita, although Krishna is not physically present, so-called. Krishna is always present. But even if we say that Krishna is not physically present as He was present before Arjuna, still, His book Bhagavad-gita is there. And that Bhagavad-gita is nondifferent from Krishna. Krishna and Krishna’s teaching are the same, absolute. That is Absolute Truth. Krishna and Krishna’s . . . Here, the form [indicating the Deity], the same. It is not that we are making a show of offering Krishna some food. No, we are offering directly to Krishna and He’s eating. Krishna, being absolute, can act through anything, provided we are sincere and serious.