Life's basic problem. Humanity's essential question. And God's compassionate answer.
'sadhya'-'sadhana'-tattva puchite na jani
krpa kari' saba tattva kaha ta' apani
"Actually, I do not know how to inquire about the goal of life and the process for obtaining it. Being merciful upon me, please explain all these truths." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 20.103)
Human life is meant for understanding tattva, the Absolute Truth. That is the special advantage of human life. But if a human being is not trained to inquire about the Absolute Truth, he is at a great disadvantage.
In human life the chance is there to make a solution to the whole problem the struggle for existence, for the survival of the fittest. This struggle is going on life after life. But now, in human life, one can end that struggle by understanding the goal of life and being trained in how to achieve it. If that opportunity is refused to human society by the guardians, by the government, it is a great disservice.
Human beings should not be kept in the darkness of animal propensities. How many plants and creepers there are! How many animals! How many aquatics! We have come through all these species after many thousands and millions of years of evolution. And now we have a chance to escape from this painful process. Therefore the human being is advised to try to understand the goal of life: tamasi ma jyotir gamah. "Don't stay in darkness. Go to the light." That is the Vedic injunction.
So, from the very beginning of life, children should be trained to inquire about the goal of life. But if they are kept in darkness, simply taught to eat, drink, be merry, and enjoy that is not civilization. They must be given the opportunity to inquire more and more about the goal of life. What is the goal of life? To revive our intimate relationship with God.
As Caitanya Mahaprabhu explains, we are intimately related to God, but somehow we have fallen into this material world, and we are mistakenly accepting this body as our self. We are being trained only to see to our bodily interests, just like cats and dogs. The animals are interested in the body only. They have no other interest. But if a human being is kept in the same darkness, simply concerned with his body, that is a great disadvantage.
Sanatana Gosvami understood that, and therefore he asked Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu,
'ke ami', 'kene amaya jare tapa-traya'
iha nahi jani 'kemane hita haya'
"Who am I? Why should there be such a struggle for existence? Why not an easy life, a peaceful life? Why do some elements give us opposition? I want to be happy, but there is opposition. Why?"
Even with a fly we have to fight. I am sitting, not doing any harm to the fly, but it attacks me and bothers me. Or you may be walking on the street, committing no offense, but from a house a dog begins to bark, "Why are you coming here? Why are you coming here?" There is no cause for his barking, but because he is a dog his business is to bark, "Why are you coming? Why are you coming?"
Similarly, the immigration department restricts our freedom to go from one place to another. The immigration official barks, "Why are you coming? Why are you coming?" In many places we have been refused entry "No, you cannot enter. Go back." and I had to go back.
So, in this material world you cannot live peacefully. Not at all. There are so many impediments. The scripture says, padam padam yad vipadam: "At every step there is danger." Danger not only from the lower animals but also from human society. No,. our life is not very happy in this material world, Therefore we should be advanced in inquiring, Why are there so many impediments? How can I become happy? What is the goal of my life? Asking these questions is human life, and Sanatana Gosvami is representing us in asking these questions of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
By the mercy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, or by the mercy of His servants, one can be enlightened as to what is the goal of life, why there is a struggle for existence, why there is death, why there is birth. I do not want to die, I do not want to enter into a mother's womb and remain in a packedup condition for so many days, I do not want to become an old man but these things are forced upon me. Why? Our real business is to answer this question, not to arrange for economic development.
Whatever economic development we are destined to get, we shall get it. Whatever happiness or distress we are destined to get, we shall get it. We don't try for distress, but it comes; it is forced upon us. Similarly, although you don't try for it, the little happiness you are destined to obtain will also come. Therefore the scripture advises, "Instead of wasting your time bothering about so-called happiness and distress, better to engage your valuable time in understanding what is the goal of life, why there are so many problems, why you have to struggle for existence. This is your business."
In this Krsna consciousness movement we are giving people a chance to understand the problems of life and how to solve them. It is not a sectarian movement or a so-called religious movement. It is not a religion. It is an educational and cultural movement. Everyone has to understand the goal of life, why there is a struggle for existence, and whether there is any remedy, a process whereby we can live very peacefully, without any disturbances. These are the things to be learned in human life, and one should approach a bona fide spiritual master to learn them.
This is what Sanatana Gosvami did. He was a government minister, very educated and well placed, but he approached Caitanya Mahaprabhu and humbly surrendered. So we should also approach Lord Caitanya or His representative and surrender (tad viddhi pranipatena). One shouldn't challenge, "Can you show me God?" No, this is not the way to approach the spiritual master. God is everywhere, but now you do not have the eyes to see Him. So this challenging attitude will not help us. We must be submissive. As Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita, tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya: "To understand the transcendental science, approach a spiritual master and humbly surrender to him, inquire from him, and serve him." Sanatana Gosvami is a perfect example. He is submitting himself very humbly before Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
So, first of all surrender (pranipatena); then ask questions (pariprasnena). Don't waste your time questioning the spiritual master unless you are surrendered. You must be ready to accept the answers he gives. Then you may make an inquiry. If you think, "I have to test his answers because I am more learned and more advanced than he," then don't go to the spiritual master. First of all settle up in your mind that whatever answers the spiritual master gives, you'll accept. Then you can make an inquiry.
Sanatana Gosvami completely surrendered to Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Sanatana said, "Actually, I do not know how to inquire from You. So kindly tell me what the subject matter of inquiry should be and what the answers to such inquiry are. I am a completely blank slate; I am simply submitting myself to You." Sanatana was inquisitive about sadhya, the goal of life, and sadhana, the process by which one can attain the goal. But he said, "I do not know anything about these things, so I am simply depending on Your mercy." That is surrender.
In this way we can make advancement in our spiritual education. But we must also carry out the orders of the spiritual master. As Narottama dasa Thakura says, guru-mukha-padma-vakya, cittete koriya aikya: "Make the orders of the spiritual master your life and soul." And then, ara na koriho mane asa: "Do not think otherwise." Simply accept what he says.
Of course, first of all you must select who will be your spiritual master. You must know his qualifications. If you want to purchase gold, you must at least know where gold is available. If you are so foolish that you go to a butcher shop to buy diamonds or gold, then you'll be cheated. Similarly, if out of ignorance you approach the wrong person for spiritual guidance, you'll be cheated.
So, finding a bona fide guru requires intelligence and sincerity. If you are serious about understanding the goal of life, spiritual knowledge, then Krsna will help you. He is situated in everyone's heart, and He understands when you are sincerely seeking the Absolute Truth. Then He gives direction: "Go to this person." Krsna is already giving direction in every respect. We want to do so many things, and Krsna is giving us the facility. As He says in the (Bhagavad-gita 18.61)
hrd-dese 'rjuna tisthati
As the Supersoul in the heart, Krsna is giving facilities to all living entities in their wanderings throughout the various species. But when one becomes very eager to understand Krsna, or God, He is glad to give instruction: "Go to such-and-such person and submissively inquire from him. You'll be enlightened." Guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija: By the mercy of the spiritual master and Krsna, one can make spiritual advancement. One must simply be sincere.
Thank you very much. Hare Krsna.