The Vedic literature is filled with injunctions, but one stands supreme.

A lecture given in New York, January 7, 1966

krsna-bhakti abhidheya, sarva-sastre kaya
ataeva muni-gana kariyache niscaya

"A human being's activities should be centered only on devotional service to Lord Krsna. That is the verdict of all Vedic literature, and all saintly people have ascertained this."

Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 22.5

WE HAVE JUST STUDIED the constitutional position of Krsna His original standing as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, His expansions and incarnations, and how He is situated as the supreme controller of the spiritual and material manifestations. As far as possible, we have learned about Krsna through the grace of Lord Caitanya.

Even Brahma, the primal living entity within the material world, cannot know everything about Krsna. Brahma is a living entity like us, but he is supremely powerful within the material universe. Just as President Johnson is the supreme power in this country even though he is a man like us, Brahma, although a living entity like us, is exalted as the supreme personality within the material world by his meritorious and devotional service to the Lord. But he is not the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is Krsna. Ekala isvara krsna, ara saba bhrtya: Only Krsna is the master, and everyone else, however great he may be, is Krsna's servant.

Even Krsna's expansion Visnu is subordinate to Krsna. The greatest manifestation of Visnu is Maha-Visnu, lying on the Causal Ocean of material creation. The material universes emanate from His breathing. This gigantic form of Visnu, with four hands, is mentioned in the Brahma-samhita:

yasyaika-nisvasita-kalam athavalambya
jivanti loma-vilaja jagad-anda-nathah
visnur mahan sa iha yasya kala viseso
govindam adi purusam tam aham bhajami

"I worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda. A portion of His plenary part is Maha-Visnu." And what is that Maha-Visnu? "With His breathing, all the universes come into existence and are annihilated." That is His breathing. With our breathing we take in and exhale many germs. Maha-Visnu exhales and inhales many universes. And Maha-Visnu is a plenary expansion of Krsna.

If we want to have a relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, how can that be achieved? That is now being explained by Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The process of executing service by which we can attain our relationship with Krsna is called abhidheya. Abhidheya means "execution of obligation." You may sometimes avoid duty and be excused, but you cannot avoid obligation. Obligation means something you have to do. Because you are meant for that thing, if you do not do it you will be in difficulty.

Our obligation as living entities is to serve the Supreme. We are part and parcel of the Supreme, just as the hand is part of the body. If I feel some itching, at once my hand comes, without my asking for it. The arrangement is so made that as soon as I feel some itching, the hand comes. That is obligation. Similarly, because we are part and parcel of the Supreme, we have an obligation to serve the Supreme, Krsna. If we are not doing that, our position is like that of a hand cut off from the body. My hand cut off from my body will not come to cure my itching. That means it is fallen. Its business is finished.

If the hand does not work under the obligation it has to serve the body then it is understood to be paralyzed, diseased, or infected. A doctor sometimes advises, "Cut it off. If you want to save the other parts of your body, then cut it off."

Similarly, conditioned souls are now cut off from their original relationship with Krsna. They are forgetful. Our duty is to serve God. There is no other duty. That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu's preaching: "You have no other duty. To think you have other duties is illusion. If you have selected any other duty than to serve Krsna in Krsna consciousness, then you are foolish. You are doing something wrong; it is not for your interest." This is the teaching of Lord Caitanya, and of the Srimad-Bhagavatam also.

Somebody may argue, "Oh, if I completely engage myself in the service of Krsna, then how shall I live in the material world? Who will take care of my maintenance?"

That is foolishness. If you serve an ordinary person here, you get your maintenance; you get your wages. Are you so foolish to think that if you serve Krsna He will not maintain you? Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita,yoga-ksemam vahamy aham: "I personally take charge of your maintenance." Why don't you believe it? If I serve some master here, he pays me wages "Take your wages" $25, $10, or whatever it may be. And I am going to serve the Supreme and there is no maintenance for me? Oh, what foolishness! That is called forgetfulness.

That is the spell of maya, illusion. Maya will dictate, "Oh, you are going to serve Krsna? How will you maintain yourself, you foolish person. Don't go there. Don't go to the Krsna consciousness society. It is cheating."

No, it is not cheating. It is factual. But if you want to gratify your senses, oh, there is no scope here for that. For that you can go to hell. But if you want to serve Krsna, there is every arrangement for you here.

If you want to cheat Krsna, then Krsna will also cheat you. Krsna says, dyutam chalayatam asmi: "Amongst all cheating processes, I am gambling." Where has cheating come from? Cheating is in Krsna because He is the origin of everything. Whatever there is, even cheating, thieving what is condemned in this world that is also in Krsna. But in Krsna it is without contamination. That is the difference. When He cheats, His cheating becomes worshipable.

Krsna wanted to cheat Dronacarya. That story is in the Mahabharata. Krsna asked Yudhisthira, "Just go and lie to Dronacarya. Tell him, 'Your son is dead.' " Don't you think Krsna was trying to cheat? So there is cheating in God. Everything is there, but in full. God is good; therefore His cheating is good. His thieving is good. Everything about Him is absolute. Unless you understand this point about the Absolute Truth, you cannot understand Krsna.

Lord Caitanya is now teaching how to make progress in the execution of devotional service, abhidheya. The next verse states:

srutir mata prsta disati bhavad-aradhana-vidhim
yatha matur vani smrtir api tatha vakti bhagini
puranadya ye va sahaja-nivahas te tad-anuga
atah satyam jnatam murahara bhavaneva saranam

There are two kinds of Vedic literature. One is called sruti, and the other is called smrti. Sruti means the original Vedic injunctions, which come through disciplic succession from Krsna down to this day. The Vedic injunctions are axiomatic truths. For example, it is a Vedic injunction that cow dung is pure. Now, your reason may cause you to say, "Oh, you say there is a Vedic injunction that if you touch the stool of any animal you have to take your bath to purify yourself. And another Vedic injunction says that cow dung is pure. This is contradictory."

No, not contradictory. These are Vedic injunctions. People who accept them without argument are benefited. How are these injunctions true? You may not have sufficient intelligence, but if you go deep into the matter you will find they are true. That is the nature of Vedic injunctions.

So you cannot argue about them. You have to accept them as they are. You cannot interpret them. What education, what intelligence do we have that we can interpret Vedic injunctions? They should be accepted as is. That is the meaning of sruti. You simply have to hear and act accordingly.

If you are a learned scholar in the Vedic injunctions, if you have heard from the bona fide souls, and if you are convinced, then you can write something that corroborates the Vedic injunctions. That writing is calledsmrti. You cannot write nonsense. You cannot manufacture anything. You should always remember, "I am a tiny brain here, so I have to receive knowledge from superior sources." Then if you can expand whatever knowledge you have received, your writing is called smrti.

This Caitanya-caritamrta, written by Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, a great devotee of Lord Caitanya, is smrti. Why? Everything written here corroborates the Vedic literature. There is no suggestion that "I am a philosopher. I am a speculator. I think this will be like this." Here you'll see in every step that Caitanya Mahaprabhu is quoting from the Vedas. This is the Vedic way.

Now, a great sage is giving his conclusion. Srutir mata prsta disati bhavad-aradhana-vidhim: "I have inquired from so many Vedic scriptures. Now I conclude that worshiping the Supreme Lord is the only injunction, nothing more."

That is confirmed by Bhagavad-gita also. In the Fifteenth Chapter Krsna says, vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah. What is the purpose of the Vedas? To understand Krsna. That's all. If you can understand Krsna to some extent, all your Vedic studies are finished. No more taking trouble.

Now, here the great sage says, "I have consulted all the Vedic processes, all the Vedic literature, and I see that bhavad-aradhana-vidhim the only injunction is to worship You, the Supreme Lord." And in the Bhagavad-gita the Lord confirms, vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah: "By Vedic study one has to understand Me. That's all."

If you try to understand Krsna as far as possible through reliable sources, through bona fide sources, then your Vedic study is going on in Krsna consciousness. The Srimad-Bhagavatam says, aho bata sva-paco 'to gariyan … There is classification of human society. Svapaca means "dog-eaters." There are many animal-eaters, and the dog-eaters are condemned in human society. But the Bhagavatam says, "If a dog-eater vibrates the transcendental sound of God's name, oh, he is glorified." Never mind that previously he was a dog-eater. That doesn't matter. The Bhagavatam confirms this. Aho bata sva-paco 'to gariyan: "Even the dog-eater becomes glorified." How? Yaj-jihvagre vartate nama tubhyam: "His tongue is chanting Hare Krsna." Never mind what he was. That chanting has purified him.

"Oh, how is that? Just a few days ago he was eating dogs. And because he is chanting Hare Krsna, he has become purified?"

At least in Hindu society, people are hesitant to accept this. The reply is, tepus tapas te: "In his previous life he has already undergone many severe penances prescribed in your Vedas." Sasnur arya: "Oh, he is not a dog-eater. He belongs to the arya, the advancing Aryan society." These are the injunctions.

Some way or other if one takes to Krsna consciousness he becomes purified at once. Never mind what he is. There may be classification in the social convention. He is big, he is small, he's a brahmana, he's a sudra[laborer]. Caitanya Mahaprabhu never says, "I am a brahmana, I am a ksatriya [soldier]." He says, naham vipro na ca nara-patih: "I am neither a brahmana nor a ksatriya nor a vaisya [merchant] nor any material designation." Then what are you? Gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah: "I am the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of Krsna."

That is our transcendental position. As soon as we take to that position, everything is all right. But we have to take it very seriously. That is the meaning of abhidheya.

Now, this devotee says, sruti mata. The Vedas are called mata, "mother." Why? Because the Vedas give the second birth. The first birth is given by the material father, and the second birth is by the spiritual master. The spiritual master is the father, and the Vedas are the mother. So a person is called dvija, "twice-born," when he goes to the spiritual master and takes lessons from the Vedas. The sacred thread ceremony is calledupanayanaUpanayana means "to bring nearer." Upa means "nearer," and nayana means "to bring." To take a fallen soul nearer to the Absolute Truth is called upanayana. When the spiritual master sees that the disciple is quite competent to come nearer to God, he recognizes him and gives him the sacred thread. Then the disciple is called a brahmana. The sacred thread is the symbol that one has approached an acarya, a spiritual master. How is one understood to know the spiritual science? Acaryavan puruso veda when one has a spiritual master.

I have explained that the Vedic literature is divided into two categories. The original knowledge coming in disciplic succession is the mother. Now the devotee explains in this verse that literature written with reference to the context of Vedic literature is the sister. Smrtir api tatha vakti bhagini. So one is the mother, and the other is the sister. Puranadya ye va sahaja-nivahas te tad-anuga. The Puranas are called smrti. The eighteen Puranas, the Mahabharata, the RamayanaVedanta-sutra they are called smrti.

Another devotee of Krsna has written a nice song. He says, srutim apare smrtim itare bharatam anye bhajantu bhava-bhitah. People take shelter of the Vedic literature because they are afraid of conditional life. What is the end of Vedic literature? To get oneself liberated from the material entanglement. So the devotees says, "Let people who are afraid of material entanglement worship sruti, the Vedas, or smrti, orMahabharata. Let them engage in that way. I am not going to do that."

"What you are going to do?"

Aham vande iha nandam yasyalinde param brahma: "I shall worship Nanda Maharaja, Krsna's father."

"Why? You have given up the Vedas and Puranas everything. Why are you going to worship Nanda Maharaja?" "Because he has captivated the Supreme Lord, who is playing as a crawling child in his courtyard. Nanda Maharaja is so great that God is obliged to come to him to play as a child and crawl in his courtyard. So I shall worship Nanda Maharaja."

So if you approach such a devotee who can bring God to crawl in his courtyard that is your perfection.

Thank you very much.