ato vai kavayo nityam
bhaktim paramaya muda
vasudeve bhagavati
kurvanty atma-prasadanim

"Therefore all transcendentalists have been rendering loving service with great delight to Lord Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, from time immemorial because such devotional service is enlivening to the self. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.22)

Srila Prabhupada

Atma means self, mind, or body. We are living in three stages: the bodily concept of life, the mental concept of life, and the spiritual concept of life. Those who are grossly in ignorance think in terms of the bodily concept of life. Those who are a little more advanced think in terms of the mental or psychological concept of life. And those who are still more advanced think in terms of the spiritual concept of life.

The spiritual concept of life was described in a previous verse: vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvam. Tattvammeans truth. The truth is spirit, not matter. Matter is truth but subordinate to spirit. On the basis of spirit, matter grows, just as our body has grown on the basis of our spiritual existence.

So spiritual realization is the ultimate goal of our life. Jivasya tattva-jijnasa nartho yas ceha karmabhih.Inquiry about the truth is the main business of the living entity. But living entities lower than human beings animals, birds, beasts, trees, aquatics, insects have no privilege to inquire about the Absolute Truth. It is in the human form of life that one can inquire about the Absolute Truth.

When one is actually inquisitive about the Absolute Truth, he realizes three transcendental subjects: brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate the all-pervading Brahman, the localized Supersoul, and Bhagavan, the Personality of Godhead. Ultimately one has to reach the platform of Bhagavan, Vasudeva. Vasudeva sarvam iti sa mahatma sudurlabhah. One who reaches the point of understanding Vasudeva, Krsna, is the perfectmahatma.

Others may be transcendentalists (kovidah, "men of knowledge"), but one who has reached the point of understanding Vasudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is called mahatma. Mahatma is a very common word in India. Any saintly person is called a mahatma. But according to Vedic description, amahatma is one who has reached the point of understanding Vasudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

In another place it is stated: mahat-sevam dvaram ahur vimuktes tamo-dvaram yositam sangi-sangam.There are two ways of life. One way is liberation, and the other way is bondage. For example, when a reel of thread turns one way it draws in the thread, and when it turns the other way it releases the thread. Similarly, we can lead our life in two ways, either towards liberation or towards the darkness of bondage.

By gradual evolution we come to the human form of life. Now we can move in two ways, either towards liberation or towards bondage.

Modern education has no information about bondage and liberation. There is no education to enable students to understand God, themselves, and their relationship with God, Visnu. These things are unknown to the modern educationist.

The Vedic literature therefore says, andhah yathandhair upaniyamanas te 'pisa-tantryam uru-dhamni-baddhah. Uru means "very strong." Dhamni means "rope." If your hands and legs are tied strongly, it is very difficult for you to move. Similarly, by the laws of nature every living entity is bound up very strongly isa-tantrya, "by the laws of the Supreme Lord." We are bound up. We cannot deviate.

We cannot violate the laws of nature. Everyone can experience this. A little violation, a little deviation from the laws of nature, and we suffer. That is our daily experience. For example, the laws of nature dictate that you can eat only as much as you can digest. If you eat more, by the laws of nature you will suffer from indigestion. You cannot violate the law without suffering. Daivi hy esa guna-mayi mama maya duratyaya. Nobody can violate the laws of nature.

We have discussed how to get out of the laws of nature: mukta-sangasya jayate. Mukta-sanga means one who has become freed from the three modes of material nature. After being freed from those three modes, then one can talk of vasudeva-bhakti.

From another point of view, one can become free from this bondage of material nature simply by devotional service to Vasudeva. That is stressed in this chapter of Srimad-Bhagavatam from the very beginning:

vasudeve bhagavati 
bhakti-yogah prayojitah
janayaty asu vairagyam
jnanam ca yad ahaitukam

If one simply learns how to render devotional service to Vasudeva, Krsna, then very soon one becomes detached from material bondage. And one gets knowledge, real knowledge. Material knowledge is the cause of bondage. Bhaktivinoda Thakura has said that advancement of material knowledge means more and more bondage. And advancement of spiritual knowledge means more and more liberation. Our problem, therefore, is how to liberate ourselves from material bondage.

We are bound up. I am a spirit soul, you are a spirit soul, but we are put into material bondage. And because we are in material bondage we have no freedom. People do not understand this.

The spirit soul is described as sarva-ga. Sarva-ga means that the spirit soul can go anywhere he likes. But due to this material bondage because we have material bodies we are checked. We cannot even go to other planets.

Of course, the yogis by yogic processes become a little free from this material body. Therefore they can transfer from one place to another very quickly even yogis who are on the material platform. On this planet they travel very quickly. There are many yogis still in India who take bath in four places daily early in the morning. They take bath in Jagannatha Puri, Ramesvaram, Hardwar, and Dvaraka. We met some yogis, and they said how quickly they can go from one place to another.

From our own experience we can all understand how they can do this. Just consider the mind. The mind is so swift that in a second it can reach thousands of miles away. And the spirit soul is still more subtle. So the speed of the spirit soul is very, very great. In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, tayktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so 'rjuna: "Just after giving up this body, one can immediately come to Me in the spiritual world." These are the Vedic statements.

You can try to understand. Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti we accept another body immediately after death. When you are walking you take your second step when your first step is secure. Similarly as soon as the next body is arranged by superior arrangement, we give up the present body and enter into another gross body. This is the law.

So Krsna says, tyaktva deham punar janma naiti. If the living entity does not enter into another gross body, where does he go? Krsna says, mam eti: "He comes to Me." Now, imagine the speed of the spirit soul. Just after leaving the body at death he immediately goes to Goloka Vrndavana, or at least to where Krsna is, to join Krsna's nitya-lila, His eternal pastimes.

How Krsna's nitya-lila are going on has been described in the Caitanya-caritamrta. Krsna is always present in one of the universes in His bhauma-lila, His pastimes in the material world. Lord Caitanya has given the example of the movement of the sun. By the movement of the sun, we divide the day into twenty-four hours, into sixty minutes, into sixty seconds. Yet each time of the day is always existing. For example, our sunrise today was at six-thirty. This six-thirty passed here, but somewhere else it is now six-thirty. And when six-thirty passes there, somewhere else it will be six-thirty. Similarly, Krsna is passing from one universe to another, and when He's visible in this universe, we find Krsna's appearance.

Srila Sanatana Gosvami has informed us that a soul who has become competent to associate with Krsna goes first of all to Krsna within some universe where He is having His pastimes, bhauma-lila. Then, just as a person is trained as an apprentice and then given a post, so when a living entity eligible by Krsna consciousness gives up his body he is transferred at once to the universe where Krsna is. And after being trained up thoroughly, he's transferred to the original Krsnaloka, Goloka Vrndavana.

How swift the spirit soul is in a moment he goes either to Krsna or to one of the universes! There are millions and trillions of universes. We have information of our universe, but from Vedic literature we get information that there are millions and trillions of universes like this. We can see only one universe. But we get this information from Brahma-samhita: yasya prabha prabhavato jagad-anda-koti. The word jagad-andameans one universe. And koti means millions. So there are unlimited universes. And in each universe there are millions and trillions of planets, each different from the others. This is the creation.

So just imagine the vastness of God's creation, how He enters every universe continually, and how His lila is going on. As soon as Krsna's birth is finished in one universe, immediately in another universe His birth takes place. This is called nitya-lila. So the spirit soul has immense power, and the soul is only a fragment of Krsna. Now you can imagine the power of Krsna. The living entity has so many potencies. So what potency must Krsna have, who is full of spiritual potency?

Actually if we want to be happy, as part and parcel of Krsna, we must join Him. That is our value. This example I have given several times: a small screw from a machine has immense value when it is attached to the machine. But the same small screw when detached from the machine has no value. Not even a farthing. Similarly, we are part and parcel of Krsna, Vasudeva. Our value is in full when we join Krsna, when we dovetail our activities in Krsna consciousness. Then we are valuable. Otherwise, so-called progress is simply illusion.

Therefore if we actually want happiness, we must dovetail our activities with Krsna, Vasudeva. It is for your interest. It is not for Krsna's interest. Krsna can create millions of living entities like you. He doesn't require your service. He's complete. But if you want your satisfaction, you have to dovetail yourself in devotional service to Krsna. That is intelligence. Otherwise foolishness, ignorance, illusion. Thank you very much.