Vrindavana, October 28, 1972
An explanation of the process of devotion the only mean to know God in full  

How To know God

Pradyumna: “Pure devotional service should be free from the desire for any material benefit or for sense gratification as these two desires are cultivated through fruitive activities and philosophical speculation.”

Prabhupada: Yes. The Caitanya-caritamrta says, bhuktimukti- siddhi-kami sakali asanta. Bhukti means karmis. They want sense enjoyment. As long as they live here in this body, they enjoy their senses to the topmost, and they make provisions for the next life, to be elevated to the heavenly planet to enjoy in the Nandana-kanana gardens with the demigods. The higher the standard of living, the more the enjoyment. That is the desire of the karmis. The jnanis say, brahma satyam jagan mithya: “This world is false. There is no enjoyment. Actual enjoyment is in merging into the existence of Brahman .” So that is also a subtle sense enjoyment leaving this world and entering into Brahman . Then you feel happy. Similarly, yogis also want material power the asta-siddhis. If you have some power, you can fly in the air, you can walk over the water, you can get anything you desire immediately. These are yogasiddhis. Obtaining them is also sense gratification. Except bhakti, everything is for sense gratification. That is unfavorable. Krishna does not want to satisfy anyone’s senses. That is not Krishna’s business. Krishna is the Supreme, and He wants everyone to serve Him. That is Krishna’s position. Therefore anyone who serves Krishna and preaches this philosophy is doing favorable bhakti. anukulyena Krishnanusilanam [Cc. Madhya 19.167].

Pradyumna: “Generally, people are engaged in different activities for some material profit, while most philosophers are engaged in proposing transcendental realization through volumes of word jugglery and speculation. Pure devotional service must always be free from such fruitive activities and philosophical speculations. One has to learn Krishna consciousness, or pure devotional service…”

Prabhupada: Yes. Jnanakarmady- anavrtam [Cc. Madhya 19.167]. Pure devotional service should be uncovered by the motive of nirbheda-brahmanusandhana (to become one with the Absolute Truth), the motive of karma, and the motive of jnana. That is pure devotional service. No motive.

anukulyena Krishnanu
silanam bhaktir uttama
[Brs. 1.1.11]

Doing things that Krishna wants is pure bhakti. Go on.

Pradyumna: “One has to learn Krishna consciousness or pure devotional service from the authorities by spontaneous loving service.”

Prabhupada: Spontaneous, not forced. Just like a father loves his son spontaneously. A young man loves a young girl spontaneously. So bhakti should be like that. As soon as one hears the name of Krishna, immediately, spontaneously, he should be ready to serve Him. That is pure devotion. Not forced. In the beginning, we have to force: “You rise early in the morning. You must perform mangala-arati.” But when this function is done spontaneously, “Oh, now is the time to offer mangala arati to my Lord…” That is preferred. Not that “Oh, it is a heavy burden to rise early in the morning and offer mangala-arati.” That is not spontaneous. But one has to act under the direction of spiritual master and shastra, which is called vaidhi-bhakti, r e g u l a t i v e d e v o t i o n a l service. Then he comes to the platform of spontaneous service.

For example, formerly there was child-marriage. Boys and girls were married at the age of ten or twelve. So, at that time, there was practically no love. But the guar-dians would induce the girl to offer her husband some eata-bles, some service. That was just like regulative service. But when they actually come to the plat-form of attraction for each other, there is no need of direction. So we need to serve Krishna spontaneously, without any obligation, without any force that is required. Spontaneous love, raga-marga.


Pradyumna: “This devotional service is a sort of civilization. It is not simply inaction for people who like to be inactive or devote their time to silent meditation. There are many different methods for people who want this, but civilization of Krishna consciousness is different. The particular word used by srila Rupa Goswami is this connection is anusilana, or cultivation by following the predecessor teachers, or acharyas. As soon as we say “cultivation,” we must refer to activity. Without activity, consciousness alone cannot help us.”

How To know God

Prabhupada: Yes. People say that inactivity or silence is perfection. No. In the cultivation of bhakti, there is no such thing as silence. There is always activity. Arjuna served not by silence but by being active, with spontaneous activity. “I have to do this. My Lord will be pleased.” But if I have no idea what the Lord is, what He wants, how He’s pleased, naturally there will be no activity. But one who knows the Lord, what He wants, what my relationship is with Him, then there is activity. That bhakti is not silence but activity.

Just like, until I was seventy years old, I was practically doing nothing. But at the age of seventy, by the grace of God, Krishna, there was inspiration. I didn’t travel to the western countries to sit down silently. So the path of bhakti is not inactivity. Actual activity begins when one is situated in devotional service. It is explained in the Bhagavad-gita, brahma-bhutah prasannatma na socati na kanksati [Bg. 18.54]. When one is brahmabhutah, self-realized, he’s prasannatma, joyful, anandamaya. He has no desire to fulfill nor does he lament. Here, in the material world, we hanker after things which we do not possess. “I want this. I want that.” And we cry when the thing is lost. Na socati. But a brahma-bhutah, when one is self-realized, when one knows that he’s not this body, he’s spirit soul, he’s part and parcel of Brahman, at that time, he becomes joyful. And he sees everyone on an equal footing because he is Brahman -realized. He knows one is not this body, but a spirit soul, part and parcel of Supreme Brahman . When one comes to this platform, brahma-bhutah stage, mad-bhaktim labhate param one obtains devotional service.

The nirvisesa, impersonalists, want to stop activity, but actually Bhagavan, Krishna, says that real activity begins when one is selfrealized, when one is situated in Brahman realization. Brahman realization does not mean to stop. Brahman realization means to act for Krishna, not for sense gratification. Mad-bhaktim labhate param [Bg. 18.54]. And in that bhakti stage, bhaktya mam abhijanati yavan yas casmi tattvatah [Bg. 18.55]. Actually, simply by executing devotional service, being freed from all material contamination, one can understand what is God. Bhaktya mam abhijanati. It is not said that by karma, “karmana mam abhijanati.” No. “Jnanena mam abhijanati.”Abhijanati, tattvatah, if one wants to know God in truth, then he must take to devotional service. And this devotional service, actual devotional service begins when one is Brahman realized.

So one may argue, “If all these bhaktas are uneducated, how are they Brahman realized?” That answer is given in the Bhagavad-gita (14.26):

mam ca yo ’vyabhicarena
bhakti-yogena sevate
sa gunan samatityaitan
brahma-bhuyaya kalpate

This very platform of serving Krishna, avyabhicharini, without any adulteration, means without any motive. Not that “I establish a Deity in the temple with a motive that people will come, will give money, and I shall make it a path of earning my livelihood.” That is not devotion. Devotion is without any motive. Anyabhilasita-sunyam [Brs. 1.1.11]. That is the liberated stage. According to Bhagavata, liberation, mukti, means to be situated in one’s constitutional position. Muktir hitva anyatha rupam svarupena vyavasthitih [SB 2.10.6]. Hitva anyatha rupa.

Now because we are designated, we have got this body, we are situated in different positions. Somebody works for his family, another for his community, another for his nation. But this is anyatha rupam, depending on the bodily designation: “I am American. I am Indian. Therefore I must sacrifice everything for my country, for my nation.” This is anyatha rupam. And when we work thinking, “I am Krishna’s part and parcel, Krishna is my master, I am His eternal servant, I must work for Krishna” that is mukti, liberation. So anyone working to spread Krishna consciousness has no other motive than to satisfy Krishna. He has no other motive than to satisfy the representative of Krishna. Therefore they are hitva anyatha rupam.


These European and American boys are working for Krishna. It is practical. They are not working for their community, country or nation. Nor Krishna is their God. According to the dictionary, Krishna is a Hindu God. But they are not working for a Hindu God. They are working for Krishna who says:

sarva-yonisu kaunteya
murtayah sambhavanti yah
tasam brahma mahad yonir
aham bija-pradah pita
[Bg. 14.4]

Translation: It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father.

They have understood the philosophy that Krishna is neither Indian nor Hindu; Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the father of everyone. Therefore they’re working for Krishna without any motive. This is everywhere, all over the world. Why? Because Krishna consciousness is there in everybody. Nitya-siddha Krishna bhakti. This devotional service of Krishna is dormant in everyone. It has to be awakened only. That’s all. sravanadi-suddha-citte karaye udaya.

How To Know God

Srnvatam sva-kathah Krishnah punya-sravana-kirtanam Translation: sri Krishna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma [Supersoul] in everyone’s heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who has developed the urge to hear His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted. [Bhag. 1.2.17]. As Caitanya Mahaprabhu directed, bhagavata paro diya bhagavata sthane: “One should hear about Bhagavata from the devotee.” There are two kinds of Bhagavata: the book Bhagavata and the person Bhagavata. So we have to relish the srimad-Bhagavatam from a devotee who is self-realized. Then it will be very nice. Satam prasangad mama virya-samvido bhavanti hrt-karnarasayanah kathah: When you hear about Krishna from a Krishna devotee, it becomes very pleasing to the ear and the heart. Therefore to become Krishna conscious, tadvijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet: “In order to reach the perfection of life or to understand the real constitutional position of the living entity, one must approach the spiritual master [Mundaka Upanisad 1.2.12]. Tad vidhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya: “Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The selfrealized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.”[Bg. 4.34]. This is the process. So this Bhakti-rasamrtasindhu is the science of devotional service.

When we speak of Krishna, it means all Vishnu forms. Ramadimurtisu kala-niyamena tisthan nanavataram akarod bhuvanesu kintu, Krishnah svayam samabhavad paramah puman yo [Bs. 5.39]. All incarnations are also Krishna, expansions of Krishna. But Krishna is the Supreme Person. isvarah paramah Krishnah [Bs. 5.1]. These things are explained in the Bhaktirasamrta- sindhu, as they are in the Bhagavad-gita and srimad- Bhagavatam. The summary, the juice of srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita, which is devotional service, is given in the Bhaktirasamrta- sindhu. We have translated this book as Nectar of Devotion. And you’ll be pleased to hear that in some universities in the US, this book has been recommended as a study book in religious education and is now being read by students regularly.

Thank you very much