Action takes on its true purpose for a person with realized knowledge.

A lecture given in London on August 24, 1971

yah svanubhavam akhila-sruti-saram ekam
adhyatma-dipam atititirsatam tamo 'naham
samsarinam karunayaha purana-guhyam
tam vyasa-sunum upayami gurum muninam

"Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto him [Suka], the spiritual master of all sages, the son of Vyasadeva, who, out of his great compassion for those gross materialists who struggle to cross over the darkest regions of material existence, spoke this Purana, supplement to the Vedas, the cream of Vedic knowledge, after having personally assimilated it by experience." Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.3

Srila Prabhupada

THESE ARE THE qualifications of the spiritual master: svanubhavam, "must have assimilated personally," and sruti, "must have heard."

The Vedas are called sruti because absolute knowledge has to be learned by hearing, not by speculation. Here Suta Gosvami is offering respect to Sukadeva Gosvami because Sukadeva Gosvami has assimilated the whole Vedic knowledge, or sruti-sara. Sara means "essence." What is the ultimate goal of knowledge, the essence of knowledge? That is explained in Bhagavad-gita: vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah. The real purpose of Vedic knowledge is to search for Krsna.

Sukadeva Gosvami assimilated the Vedic knowledge, and he was searching after Krsna. Although a liberated soul, still he was after Krsna.

To become liberated is not the final stage. Liberation means to understand that one is not the material body. But that much knowledge is not sufficient; one must also act according to that knowledge. When one is cured of a fever, that is nice. But that is called the convalescent stage. In the convalescent stage, if we do not take care nicely the fever may relapse. Convalescence is a marginal stage. We must come either to the healthy state or to the feverish state.

So even if we are liberated, if we are not engaged in the activities of liberation then we are considered to be in the marginal stage. And the marginal stage means that we may fall into the material condition. Aruhya krcchrena param padam tatah patanty adho 'nadrta-yusmad-anghrayah. Krcchrena means "with great difficulty." Philosophers try with great difficulty to understand the Absolute Truth by mental speculation. But simply by mental speculation you cannot stay in that understanding. Or, in other words, by theoretical knowledge you cannot escape. Knowledge must be practiced.

In our Krsna consciousness movement we put the candidate into practice. Without practice, knowledge alone is no good. Simply to become foolishly puffed up thinking, "I am now liberated" is not liberation.

That point is explained elsewhere in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Ye 'nye 'ravindaksa vimukta-maninah. Vimukta-maninah refers to those who think they have become liberated, such as the Mayavada, or impersonalist, sannyasis. They address one another as "Narayana," implying that everyone has become Narayana, God.

The modern increase of incarnations of God means that the Mayavada philosophy is prevalent, because in the Mayavada philosophy everyone thinks that he is God, Narayana. "I have become Narayana." No. You cannot become Narayana. You can become Narayana's dasa, the servant of Narayana. That is your healthy state.

Activity After Liberation

Liberation means sufficient knowledge to understand that one is not the body. That is called liberation. After liberation there is activity. That the Mayavadis do not know. They think that after liberation there is no activity. Some of them use the example that when a water pot is full it makes no more sound. But our philosophy is that when one is liberated one's actual life begins.

What is that actual life? To be engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. Therefore in the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna says,

brahma-bhutah prasannatma
na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu
mad-bhaktim labhate param

"One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything. He is equally disposed toward every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me."

One must realize, assimilate, how he is Brahman, or spirit. Brahman means the Absolute Truth. We living entities, being part and parcel of the Supreme Brahman, Krsna, are certainly Brahman, absolute. There is no doubt about it. But if one stops the activities of Brahman realization, then he falls down.

The Brahman activities are those of devotional service. People may think, "These Krsna conscious people are also working, they are also eating, they are also sleeping, they are also earning money. We are earning money in this way; they are earning money in another way." So they may see the similarity of action. To fools, karma (fruitive work) and bhakti (devotional service) appear the same. But they are not the same. In bhakti is the realization that everything belongs to Krsna, whereas on the karma platform, the realization is "Everything belongs to me. It is my house, my money, my child, my country, my society, my property."

"My" and "I."

"I am the monarch of all I survey, and I am the proprietor of everything." This misconception is not there in bhakti. In the bhakti school everything belongs to Krsna. We don't take anything as our own. That is called Vaisnava philosophy.

Seeing God

It is stated here yah svanubhavam. Svanubhavam means "personally convinced." Anubhavam. God can be realized at the present stage by anubhava, appreciation. We cannot see God now, but there is no difference between seeing God and appreciating or understanding the nature of God, because God is Absolute. So our business at present is to feel the presence of the Lord in every action.

The presence of the Lord that is wanted. If you continue in Krsna consciousness, seeing the presence of the Lord in everything, then some day it will be possible for you to see Krsna face to face.

Now we are seeing the Deity of Krsna, so we are seeing Krsna. Here is Krsna. But because we are conditioned souls, sometimes we think, "This is not actually Krsna; this is a statue of Krsna." But that is not the fact. The fact is that Krsna is one. Krsna is absolute, advaya-jnana. He is identical to everything, because everything is a manifestation of His energy.

Energy is not different from the energetic. Sakti-saktimatayor abhedam. The heat and light of the sun appear different from the sun, but actually they are not, because they exist simultaneously with the sun. Wherever there is sun there is heat and light. Or wherever there is heat and light there is sun. In the morning when you see that there is no more darkness you understand that the sun has risen.

Svanubhava means to have no darkness in your heart. When you understand Krsna fully within your heart, your actual liberation is attained.

Giving Knowledge

After assimilating the whole Vedic literature, Sukadeva Gosvami distributed it. That is another instinct of one who has knowledge. If you really have learned the essence of Vedic knowledge, automatically you'll be inclined to preach it. Sravanam kirtanam. Sravanam means to hear, to receive the knowledge. And kirtanam means to distribute, to describe the knowledge.

Yah svanubhavam akhila-sruti-saram ekam adhyatma-dipam. Dipam means "lamp." Srimad-Bhagavatam is just like a lamp in the darkness to see Krsna, or God. And for whom is it meant? Srimad-Bhagavatam is not meant for those accustomed to reading nonsense literature. They want to waste their time. They have no engagement. They purchase some book of fiction and read it. But this book Srimad-Bhagavatam is different from those books. It is meant for persons desiring to get out of this world of ignorance (tamo 'naham).

Grham andha-kupam. Andha means "blind" or "darkness." Our materialistic way of life is described as grham andha-kupam. Family life is just like a dark well. We are already in darkness, and another darkness is to fall into a dark well. If one falls into a dark well, it is very difficult to get out, because one may cry very loudly and people may not hear.

We are in darkness in the universe. The universe is dark because it is covered. The covering is like a coconut shell. Within a coconut shell it is dark, and outside it is light. Similarly, the universe is just like a coconut, and we are within.

And as a coconut is half full of water, the universe is also half full of water. On that water Lord Garbhodakasayi Visnu is lying. And from His navel a lotus stem sprouts. Just imagine that within a coconut there is water and someone is lying there and a stem is coming from his navel. The universe is exactly like that.

Outside the universe there is light. Here, within the universe, because it is covered, light is required. Sunlight is required. Moonlight is required. Electricity is required. But in the spiritual world there is no necessity of light everything there is self-effulgent.

Tamasi ma jyotir gama: "Don't stay in the darkness. Come to the light." For those who are actually serious to go out of the darkness and go to the light, Srimad-Bhagavatam is the lamp.

Samsarinam karunaya. Saintly persons are very compassionate to materialistic men, samsarinam. Samsar" means that people are perpetually wandering within this darkness in different forms of life. Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, brahmanda bhramite: we are wandering throughout the universe. The modern educational system has no knowledge of this. Modern so-called education teaches, "Our one life is everything. Waste this life by sense gratification, because after death everything is void. Now you have this body, so enjoy your senses."

That is the materialistic way of life. People have no knowledge that there is life after death. But we should prepare ourselves. We should know what kind of body we shall have in the next life. But instead of understanding these things, people are being carried away by the waves of material nature.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura therefore sings,

(miche) mayar bose, jaccho bhese',
khaccho habudubu, bhai
(jiv) krsna-das, e biswas,
korle to' ar duhkho nai

Everyone is suffering. Under the influence of maya, the illusory energy, everyone is being carried away by the "waves" the three modes of material nature and everyone is suffering. Sometimes we are drowned, sometimes we come up; sometimes relief, sometimes distress. The only way to get out of this anxiety to stop perpetually being carried away is to take shelter of Krsna. Krsna says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: "You are suffering; simply surrender unto Me."

The Srimad-Bhagavatam says the same thing: surrender to Krsna. Srimad-Bhagavatam begins, satyam param dhimahi: "I offer my respect to the Supreme." Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya: "I offer my respectful obeisances to Lord Vasudeva." Vasudeva means Krsna.

The Confidential Purana

Samsarinam karunayaha purana-guhyam. The Srimad-Bhagavatam is also known as the Bhagavata Purana. The Mayavadis say that the Puranas are stories. No. They are not stories. Purana means "to fill, to supplement, to complete." The Puranas are not outside the Vedic literature. Ramayana, Mahabharata, Purana they all belong to the Vedic literature. The Srimad-Bhagavatam is called Maha-purana, "the greatPurana." Why? Purana-guhyam: because it is very confidential.

There are three kinds of puranas: sattvika-purana, for people in the mode of goodness; rajasika-purana, for people in the mode of passion; and tamasika-purana, for people in the mode of ignorance. The aim of each is to take the reader, according to his quality, to the platform of liberation.

In the tamasika-puranas are recommendations to worship goddess Kali. In the rajasika-puranas are recommendations to worship demigods in the heavenly planets, such as Indra and Candra. But in the sattvika-puranas only the worship of Lord Visnu is recommended.

The Srimad-Bhagavatam is called purana-guhyam because in this purana you won't find any recommendation for worshiping any demigod. Simply satyam param dhimahi only the ultimate Absolute Truth, Krsna. Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya.

Sukadeva Gosvami first of all spoke Srimad-Bhagavatam out of compassion for people suffering material pangs. Tam vyasa-sunum upayami gurum muninam. Suta Gosvami says, gurum muninam: "Sukadeva Gosvami is not only my guru but the guru of great sages and saintly persons."

Even Vyasadeva, the compiler of the Vedas, considered Sukadeva, his son, greater than himself. When Sukadeva Gosvami appeared in the assembly where many saintly persons were present at the time of Maharaja Pariksit, all the munis, saintly persons, stood up to receive him. Even Vyasadeva stood up. Therefore Sukadeva is gurum muninam, the spiritual master of all saintly persons.

[To disciple:] Read the purport.

Disciple [reading]: "In this prayer Srila Suta Gosvami practically summarizes the complete introduction of the Srimad-Bhagavatam. The Srimad-Bhagavatam is the natural supplementary commentary on theVedanta-sutras. The Vedanta-sutras, or the Brahma-sutras, were compiled by Vyasadeva with a view to presenting just the cream of Vedic knowledge."

Prabhupada: Yes. First of all there was only one Veda, the Atharva-veda. Then Vyasadeva divided it by subject into four Vedas: Sama, Yajur, Atharva, and Rg. Then he explained the Vedas through thePuranas.

Vyasadeva compiled the Mahabharata for the same purpose to help people understand the Vedic literature. The Srimad-Bhagavatam says,

trayi na sruti-gocara …
iti bharatam akhyanam
krpaya munina krtam

"Out of compassion, the great sage [Vyasadeva] … compiled the great historical narration called the Mahabharata for women, laborers, and friends of the twice-born."

Vyasadeva summarized the Vedic literature by writing the Vedanta-sutra. Still he was not happy, and under the direction of his spiritual master, Narada, he wrote the commentary on the Vedanta-sutra: Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Go on.

Disciple: "Srimad-Bhagavatam is the natural commentary on this cream. Srila Sukadeva Gosvami was a thoroughly realized master of the Vedanta-sutra, and consequently he also personally realized the commentary, the Srimad-Bhagavatam. And just to show his boundless mercy upon bewildered materialistic men who want to cross completely over nescience, he recited for the first time this confidential knowledge.

"There is no point in arguing that a materialistic man can be happy. No materialistic creature, be he the great Brahma or an insignificant ant, can be happy. Everyone tries to make a permanent plan for happiness, but everyone is baffled by the laws of material nature. Therefore the materialistic world is called the darkest region of God's creation. Yet the unhappy materialists can get out of it simply by desiring to get out. Unfortunately they are so foolish that they do not want to escape."

Prabhupada: People do not know that escape is possible. They think this life is all. That is their education. They have no knowledge. Although they are suffering at every step, they are making plans in their own way within the material world. Big organizations like UNESCO and others are trying to stop the suffering. Their attempts are described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam as carvita-carvananam: "chewing the chewed." Our present leaders can see that our previous leaders tried to stop suffering but were unsuccessful, but still they want to try in a different way. If you are really anxious to become free from conditional life, you have to take knowledge from spiritual sources.

Go on.

Disciple: "Therefore they are compared to the camel who relishes thorny twigs because he likes the taste of the twigs mixed with blood. He does not realize that it is his own blood and that his tongue is being cut by the thorns.

"Similarly, to the materialist his own blood is as sweet as honey. And although he is always harassed by his own material creations, he does not wish to escape. Such materialists are called karmis. Only a few may feel tired of material engagement and desire to get out of the labyrinth."

Prabhupada: Bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate. After many, many births, those who are intelligent will come to realize, "This material engagement is not the solution. I must take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead."

Thank you very much. Chant Hare Krsna.