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SB 3.15: Description of the Kingdom of God
dadhāra varṣāṇi śataṁ
The great sage Śrī Maitreya was explaining to Vidura the activities of the demigods, including Lord Brahmā. When Diti heard from her husband that the sons she bore within her abdomen would be causes of disturbances to the demigods, she was not very happy. There are two classes of men — devotees and nondevotees. Nondevotees are called demons, and devotees are called demigods. No sane man or woman can tolerate the nondevotees’ giving trouble to devotees. Diti, therefore, was reluctant to give birth to her babies; she waited for one hundred years so that at least she could save the demigods from the disturbance for that period.
It appears from this verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that the sun is the source of light for all the planets in the universe. The modern scientific theory which states that there are many suns in each universe is not supported by this verse. It is understood that in each universe there is only one sun, which supplies light to all the planets. In Bhagavad-gītā the moon is also stated to be one of the stars. There are many stars, and when we see them glittering at night we can understand that they are reflectors of light; just as moonlight is a reflection of sunlight, other planets also reflect sunlight, and there are many other planets which cannot be seen by our naked eyes. The demoniac influence of the sons in the womb of Diti expanded darkness throughout the universe.
saṁvignā yad vayaṁ bhṛśam
na hy avyaktaṁ bhagavataḥ
Brahmā is addressed herein as Vibhu and as the Personality of Godhead. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s incarnation of the mode of passion in the material world. He is nondifferent, in the representative sense, from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and therefore the influence of time cannot affect him. The influence of time, which manifests as past, present and future, cannot touch higher personalities like Brahmā and other demigods. Sometimes demigods and great sages who have attained such perfection are called tri-kāla jña.
pareṣām apareṣāṁ tvaṁ
bhūtānām asi bhāva-vit
Because Brahmā is almost on an equal footing with the Personality of Godhead, he is addressed here as the god of the demigods, and because he is the secondary creator of this universe, he is addressed as the sustainer of the universe. He is the head of all the demigods, and therefore he is addressed here as the head jewel of the demigods. It is not difficult for him to understand everything which is happening in both the spiritual and material worlds. He knows everyone’s heart and everyone’s intentions. Therefore he was requested to explain this incident. Why was the pregnancy of Diti causing such anxieties all over the universe?
namas te ’vyakta-yonaye
The Vedas are the original scientific knowledge for all departments of understanding, and this knowledge of the Vedas was first impregnated into the heart of Brahmā by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore Brahmā is the original source of all scientific knowledge. He is born directly from the transcendental body of Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, who is never seen by any creature of this material universe and therefore always remains unmanifested. Brahmā is stated here to be born of the unmanifested. He is the incarnation of the mode of passion in material nature, which is the separated, external energy of the Supreme Lord.
na kutaścit parābhavaḥ
The purpose of yogic performances is explained here. It is said that an experienced mystic attains full control of the senses and the mind by controlling the breathing process. Therefore, controlling the breathing process is not the ultimate aim of yoga. The real purpose of yogic performances is to control the mind and the senses. Anyone who has such control is to be understood to be an experienced, mature mystic yogī. It is indicated herein that a yogī who has control over the mind and senses has the actual benediction of the Lord, and he has no fear. In other words, one cannot attain the mercy and benediction of the Supreme Lord until one is able to control the mind and the senses. This is actually possible when one fully engages in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. A person whose senses and mind are always engaged in the transcendental service of the Lord has no possibility of engaging in material activities. The devotees of the Lord are not defeated anywhere in the universe. It is stated, nārāyaṇa-parāḥ sarve: one who is nārāyaṇa-para, or a devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is not afraid anywhere, whether he is sent to hell or promoted to heaven (Bhāg. 6.17.28).
gāvas tantyeva yantritāḥ
haranti balim āyattās
tasmai mukhyāya te namaḥ
The Vedic literatures are the laws of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One cannot violate the injunctions given in the Vedic literatures any more than one can violate the state laws. Any living creature who wants real benefit in life must act according to the direction of the Vedic literature. The conditioned souls who have come to this material world for material sense gratification are regulated by the injunctions of the Vedic literature. Sense gratification is just like salt. One cannot take too much or too little, but one must take some salt in order to make one’s foodstuff palatable. Those conditioned souls who have come to this material world should utilize their senses according to the direction of the Vedic literature; otherwise they will be put into a more miserable condition of life. No human being or demigod can enact laws like those of the Vedic literature because the Vedic regulations are prescribed by the Supreme Lord.
Because of complete darkness throughout the universe, the regular activities and engagements of all the different planets were suspended. In the North and South Poles of this planet there are sometimes no divisions of day and night; similarly, when the sunlight does not approach the different planets within the universe, there is no distinction between day and night.
ojaḥ kāśyapam arpitam
diśas timirayan sarvā
vardhate ’gnir ivaidhasi
The darkness throughout the universe is explained herewith as being caused by the embryo created in the womb of Diti by the semen of Kaśyapa.
prīṇan rucirayā girā
Brahmā could understand the misdeeds of Diti, and therefore he smiled at the whole situation. He replied to the demigods present there in words they could understand.
cerur vihāyasā lokāl
When we speak of desire we refer to desire for material sense gratification. Saintly persons like Sanaka, Sanātana, Sanandana and Sanat-kumāra have no material desire, but sometimes they travel all over the universe, out of their own accord, to preach devotional service.
The material world is full of cares and anxieties. In any one of the planets, beginning from the highest down to the lowest, Pātāla, every living creature must be full of cares and anxieties because in the material planets one cannot live eternally. The living entities, however, are actually eternal. They want an eternal home, an eternal residence, but because of accepting a temporal abode in the material world, they are naturally full of anxiety. In the spiritual sky the planets are called Vaikuṇṭha because the residents of these planets are free from all anxieties. For them there is no question of birth, death, old age and diseases, and therefore they are not anxious. On the other hand, the residents of the material planets are always afraid of birth, death, disease and old age, and therefore they are full of anxieties.
The residents and the form of living in Vaikuṇṭha are described in this verse. The residents are all like the Supreme Personality of Godhead Nārāyaṇa. In the Vaikuṇṭha planets Kṛṣṇa’s plenary feature as four-handed Nārāyaṇa is the predominating Deity, and the residents of Vaikuṇṭhaloka are also four-handed, just contrary to our conception here in the material world. Nowhere in the material world do we find a human being with four hands. In Vaikuṇṭhaloka there is no occupation but the service of the Lord, and this service is not rendered with a purpose. Although every service has a particular result, the devotees never aspire for the fulfillment of their own desires; their desires are fulfilled by rendering transcendental loving service to the Lord.
sattvaṁ viṣṭabhya virajaṁ
svānāṁ no mṛḍayan vṛṣaḥ
The kingdom of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the spiritual sky cannot be understood by any process other than hearing from the description of the Vedas. No one can go see it. In this material world also, one who is unable to pay to go to a far distant place by motorized conveyances can only understand about that place from authentic books. Similarly, the Vaikuṇṭha planets in the spiritual sky are beyond this material sky. The modern scientists who are trying to travel in space are having difficulty going even to the nearest planet, the moon, to say nothing of the highest planets within the universe. There is no possibility that they can go beyond the material sky, enter the spiritual sky and see for themselves the spiritual planets, Vaikuṇṭha. Therefore, the kingdom of God in the spiritual sky can be understood only through the authentic descriptions of the Vedas and Purāṇas.
In the material world there are three modes of material qualities — goodness, passion and ignorance — but in the spiritual world there is no trace of the modes of passion and ignorance; there is only the mode of goodness, which is uncontaminated by any tinge of ignorance or passion. In the material world, even if a person is completely in goodness, he is sometimes subject to be polluted by tinges of the modes of ignorance and passion. But in the Vaikuṇṭha world, the spiritual sky, only the mode of goodness in its pure form exists. The Lord and His devotees reside in the Vaikuṇṭha planets, and they are of the same transcendental quality, namely śuddha-sattva, the mode of pure goodness. The Vaikuṇṭha planets are very dear to the Vaiṣṇavas, and for the progressive march of the Vaiṣṇavas toward the kingdom of God, the Lord Himself helps His devotees.
vanaṁ kāma-dughair drumaiḥ
kaivalyam iva mūrtimat
In the Vaikuṇṭha planets the land, the trees, the fruits and flowers and the cows — everything — is completely spiritual and personal. The trees are desire trees. On this material planet the trees can produce fruits and flowers according to the order of material energy, but in the Vaikuṇṭha planets the trees, the land, the residents and the animals are all spiritual. There is no difference between the tree and the animal or the animal and the man. Here the word mūrtimat indicates that everything has a spiritual form. Formlessness, as conceived by the impersonalists, is refuted in this verse; in the Vaikuṇṭha planets, although everything is spiritual, everything has a particular form. The trees and the men have form, and because all of them, although differently formed, are spiritual, there is no difference between them.
gāyanti yatra śamala-kṣapaṇāni bhartuḥ
gandhena khaṇḍita-dhiyo ’py anilaṁ kṣipantaḥ
It appears from this verse that the Vaikuṇṭha planets are full of all opulences. There are airplanes in which the inhabitants travel in the spiritual sky with their sweethearts. There is a breeze carrying the fragrance of blossoming flowers, and this breeze is so nice that it also carries the honey of the flowers. The inhabitants of Vaikuṇṭha, however, are so interested in glorifying the Lord that they do not like the disturbance of such a nice breeze while they are chanting the Lord’s glories. In other words, they are pure devotees. They consider glorification of the Lord more important than their own sense gratification. In the Vaikuṇṭha planets there is no question of sense gratification. To smell the fragrance of a blossoming flower is certainly very nice, but it is simply for sense gratification. The inhabitants of Vaikuṇṭha give first preference to the service of the Lord, not their own sense gratification. Serving the Lord in transcendental love yields such transcendental pleasure that, in comparison, sense gratification is counted as insignificant.
kolāhalo viramate ’cira-mātram uccair
bhṛṅgādhipe hari-kathām iva gāyamāne
This verse reveals the absolute nature of Vaikuṇṭha. There is no difference between the birds there and the human residents. The situation in the spiritual sky is that everything is spiritual and variegated. Spiritual variegatedness means that everything is animate. There is nothing inanimate. Even the trees, the ground, the plants, the flowers, the birds and the beasts are all on the level of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The special feature of Vaikuṇṭhaloka is that there is no question of sense gratification, In the material world even an ass enjoys his sound vibration, but in the Vaikuṇṭhas such nice birds as the peacock, the cakravāka and the cuckoo prefer to hear the vibration of the glories of the Lord from the bees. The principles of devotional service, beginning with hearing and chanting, are very prominent in the Vaikuṇṭha world.
gandhe ’rcite tulasikābharaṇena tasyā
yasmiṁs tapaḥ sumanaso bahu mānayanti
The importance of tulasī leaves is very clearly mentioned here. Tulasī plants and their leaves are very important in devotional service. Devotees are recommended to water the tulasī tree every day and collect the leaves to worship the Lord. One time an atheistic svāmī remarked, “What is the use of watering the tulasī plant? It is better to water eggplant. By watering the eggplant one can get some fruits, but what is the use of watering the tulasī?” These foolish creatures, unacquainted with devotional service, sometimes play havoc with the education of people in general.
The most important thing about the spiritual world is that there is no envy among the devotees there. This is true even among the flowers, which are all conscious of the greatness of tulasī. In the Vaikuṇṭha world entered by the four Kumāras, even the birds and flowers are conscious of service to the Lord.
yeṣāṁ bṛhat-kaṭi-taṭāḥ smita-śobhi-mukhyaḥ
kṛṣṇātmanāṁ na raja ādadhur utsmayādyaiḥ
In the material world, opulences are achieved by materialistic persons by dint of their labor. One cannot enjoy material prosperity unless he works very hard to achieve it. But the devotees of the Lord who are residents of Vaikuṇṭha have the opportunity to enjoy a transcendental situation of jewels and emeralds. Ornaments made of gold bedecked with jewels are achieved not by working hard but by the benediction of the Lord. In other words, devotees in the Vaikuṇṭha world, or even in this material world, cannot be poverty-stricken, as is sometimes supposed. They have ample opulences for enjoyment, but they need not labor to achieve them. It is also stated that in the Vaikuṇṭha world the consorts of the residents are many, many times more beautiful than we can find in this material world, even in the higher planets. It is specifically mentioned here that a woman’s large hips are very attractive and they stimulate man’s passion, but the wonderful feature of Vaikuṇṭha is that although the women have large hips and beautiful faces and are decorated with ornaments of emeralds and jewels, the men are so absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness that the beautiful bodies of the women cannot attract them. In other words, there is enjoyment of the association of the opposite sex, but there is no sexual relationship. The residents of Vaikuṇṭha have a better standard of pleasure, so there is no need of sex pleasure.
līlāmbujena hari-sadmani mukta-doṣā
saṁlakṣyate sphaṭika-kuḍya upeta-hemni
sammārjatīva yad-anugrahaṇe ’nya-yatnaḥ
In the Brahma-saṁhitā it is stated that the Supreme Lord, Govinda, is always served in His abode by many, many millions of goddesses of fortune. Lakṣmī-sahasra-śata-sambhrama-sevyamānam. These millions and trillions of goddesses of fortune who reside in the Vaikuṇṭha planets are not exactly consorts of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but are the wives of the devotees of the Lord and also engage in the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is stated here that in the Vaikuṇṭha planets the houses are made of marble. Similarly, in the Brahma-saṁhitā it is stated that the ground on the Vaikuṇṭha planets is made of touchstone. Thus there is no need to sweep the stone in Vaikuṇṭha, for there is hardly any dust on it, but still, in order to satisfy the Lord, the ladies there always engage in dusting the marble walls. Why? The reason is that they are eager to achieve the grace of the Lord by doing so.
It is also stated here that in the Vaikuṇṭha planets the goddesses of fortune are faultless. Generally the goddess of fortune does not remain steadily in one place. Her name is Cañcalā, which means “one who is not steady.” We find, therefore, that a man who is very rich may become the poorest of the poor. Another example is Rāvaṇa. Rāvaṇa took away Lakṣmī, Sītājī, to his kingdom, and instead of being happy by the grace of Lakṣmī, his family and his kingdom were vanquished. Thus Lakṣmī in the house of Rāvaṇa is Cañcalā, or unsteady. Men of Rāvaṇa’s class want Lakṣmī only, without her husband, Nārāyaṇa; therefore they become unsteady due to Lakṣmījī. Materialistic persons find fault on the part of Lakṣmī, but in Vaikuṇṭha Lakṣmījī is fixed in the service of the Lord. In spite of her being the goddess of fortune, she cannot be happy without the grace of the Lord. Even the goddess of fortune needs the Lord’s grace in order to be happy, yet in the material world even Brahmā, the highest created being, seeks the favor of Lakṣmī for happiness.
preṣyānvitā nija-vane tulasībhir īśam
abhyarcatī svalakam unnasam īkṣya vaktram
uccheṣitaṁ bhagavatety amatāṅga yac-chrīḥ
Generally, when a woman is kissed by her husband, her face becomes more beautiful. In Vaikuṇṭha also, although the goddess of fortune is naturally as beautiful as can be imagined, she nevertheless awaits the kissing of the Lord to make her face more beautiful. The beautiful face of the goddess of fortune appears in ponds of transcendental crystal water when she worships the Lord with tulasī leaves in her garden.
chṛṇvanti ye ’nya-viṣayāḥ kukathā mati-ghnīḥ
yās tu śrutā hata-bhagair nṛbhir ātta-sārās
tāṁs tān kṣipanty aśaraṇeṣu tamaḥsu hanta
The most unfortunate persons are the impersonalists, who cannot understand the transcendental variegatedness of the spiritual world. They are afraid to talk about the beauty of the Vaikuṇṭha planets because they think that variegatedness must be material. Such impersonalists think that the spiritual world is completely void, or, in other words, that there is no variegatedness. This mentality is described here as ku-kathā mati-ghnīḥ, “intelligence bewildered by unworthy words.” The philosophies of voidness and of the impersonal situation of the spiritual world are condemned here because they bewilder one’s intelligence. How can the impersonalist and the void philosopher think of this material world, which is full of variegatedness, and then say that there is no variegatedness in the spiritual world? It is said that this material world is the perverted reflection of the spiritual world, so unless there is variegatedness in the spiritual world, how can there be temporary variegatedness in the material world? That one can transcend this material world does not imply that there is no transcendental variegatedness.
Here in the Bhāgavatam, in this verse particularly, it is stressed that people who try to discuss and understand the real spiritual nature of the spiritual sky and the Vaikuṇṭhas are fortunate. The variegatedness of the Vaikuṇṭha planets is described in relation to the transcendental pastimes of the Lord. But instead of trying to understand the spiritual abode and the spiritual activities of the Lord, people are more interested in politics and economic developments. They hold many conventions, meetings and discussions to solve the problems of this worldly situation, where they can remain for only a few years, but they are not interested in understanding the spiritual situation of the Vaikuṇṭha world. If they are at all fortunate, they become interested in going back home, back to Godhead, but unless they understand the spiritual world, they rot in this material darkness continuously.
jñānaṁ ca tattva-viṣayaṁ saha-dharmaṁ yatra
nārādhanaṁ bhagavato vitaranty amuṣya
sammohitā vitatayā bata māyayā te
Brahmājī condemns very vehemently the condition of the human being who does not take interest in the Personality of Godhead and His transcendental abode, Vaikuṇṭha. The human form of life is desired even by Brahmājī. Brahmā and other demigods have much better material bodies than human beings, yet the demigods, including Brahmā, nevertheless desire to attain the human form of life because it is specifically meant for the living entity who can attain transcendental knowledge and religious perfection. It is not possible to go back to Godhead in one life, but in the human form one should at least understand the goal of life and begin Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is said that the human form is a great boon because it is the most suitable boat for crossing over the nescience ocean. The spiritual master is considered to be the most able captain in that boat, and the information from the scriptures is the favorable wind for floating over the ocean of nescience. The human being who does not take advantage of all these facilities in this life is committing suicide. Therefore one who does not begin Kṛṣṇa consciousness in the human form of life loses his life to the influence of the illusory energy. Brahmā regrets the situation of such a human being.
dūre yamā hy upari naḥ spṛhaṇīya-śīlāḥ
bhartur mithaḥ suyaśasaḥ kathanānurāga-
It is clearly stated herein that the kingdom of God is above the material universes. Just as there are many hundreds of thousands of higher planets above this earth, so there are many millions and billions of spiritual planets belonging to the spiritual sky. Brahmājī states herein that the spiritual kingdom is above the kingdom of the demigods. One can enter the kingdom of the Supreme Lord only when one is highly developed in desirable qualities. All good qualities develop in the person of a devotee. It is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Fifth Canto, Eighteenth Chapter, verse 12, that anyone who is Kṛṣṇa conscious is endowed with all the good qualities of the demigods. In the material world the qualities of the demigods are highly appreciated, just as, even in our experience, the qualities of a gentleman are more highly appreciated than the qualities of a man in ignorance or in a lower condition of life. The qualities of the demigods in the higher planets are far superior to the qualities of the inhabitants of this earth.
Brahmājī confirms herewith that only persons who have developed the desirable qualities can enter into the kingdom of God. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, the devotee’s desirable qualities are described to be twenty-six in number. They are stated as follows: He is very kind; he does not quarrel with anyone; he accepts Kṛṣṇa consciousness as the highest goal of life; he is equal to everyone; no one can find fault in his character; he is magnanimous, mild and always clean, internally and externally; he does not profess to possess anything in this material world; he is a benefactor to all living entities; he is peaceful and is a soul completely surrendered to Kṛṣṇa; he has no material desire to fulfill; he is meek and humble, always steady, and has conquered the sensual activities; he does not eat more than required to maintain body and soul together; he is never mad after material identity; he is respectful to all others and does not demand respect for himself; he is very grave, very compassionate and very friendly; he is poetic; he is expert in all activities; and he is silent in nonsense. Similarly, in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Third Canto, Twenty-fifth Chapter, verse 21, the qualifications of a saintly person are mentioned. It is said there that a saintly person eligible to enter into the kingdom of God is very tolerant and very kind to all living entities. He is not partial; he is kind both to human beings and to animals. He is not such a fool that he will kill a goat Nārāyaṇa to feed a human Nārāyaṇa, or daridra-nārāyaṇa. He is very kind to all living entities; therefore he has no enemy. He is very peaceful. These are the qualities of persons who are eligible to enter into the kingdom of God. That such a person gradually becomes liberated and enters the kingdom of God is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Fifth Canto, Fifth Chapter, verse 2. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Second Canto, Third Chapter, verse 24, also states that if a person does not cry or exhibit bodily changes after chanting the holy name of God without offense, it is to be understood that he is hardhearted and that therefore his heart does not change even after he chants the holy name of God, Hare Kṛṣṇa. These bodily changes can take place due to ecstasy when we offenselessly chant the holy names of God: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.
It may be noted that there are ten offenses we should avoid. The first offense is to decry persons who try in their lives to broadcast the glories of the Lord. People must be educated in understanding the glories of the Supreme; therefore the devotees who engage in preaching the glories of the Lord are never to be decried. It is the greatest offense. Furthermore, the holy name of Viṣṇu is the most auspicious name, and His pastimes are also nondifferent from the holy name of the Lord. There are many foolish persons who say that one can chant Hare Kṛṣṇa or chant the name of Kālī or Durgā or Śiva because they are all the same. If one thinks that the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the names and activities of the demigods are on the same level, or if one accepts the holy name of Viṣṇu to be a material sound vibration, that is also an offense. The third offense is to think of the spiritual master who spreads the glories of the Lord as an ordinary human being. The fourth offense is to consider the Vedic literatures, such as the Purāṇas or other transcendentally revealed scriptures, to be ordinary books of knowledge. The fifth offense is to think that devotees have given artificial importance to the holy name of God. The actual fact is that the Lord is nondifferent from His name. The highest realization of spiritual value is to chant the holy name of God, as prescribed for the age — Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. The sixth offense is to give some interpretation on the holy name of God. The seventh offense is to act sinfully on the strength of chanting the holy name of God. It is understood that one can be freed from all sinful reaction simply by chanting the holy name of God, but if one thinks that he is therefore at liberty to commit all kinds of sinful acts, that is a symptom of offense. The eighth offense is to equate the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa with other spiritual activities, such as meditation, austerity, penance or sacrifice. They cannot be equated at any level. The ninth offense is to specifically glorify the importance of the holy name before persons who have no interest. The tenth offense is to be attached to the misconception of possessing something, or to accept the body as one’s self, while executing the process of spiritual cultivation.
When one is free from all ten of these offenses in chanting the holy name of God, he develops the ecstatic bodily features called pulakāśru. Pulaka means “symptoms of happiness,” and aśru means “tears in the eyes.” The symptoms of happiness and tears in the eyes must appear in a person who has chanted the holy name offenselessly. Here in this verse it is stated that those who have actually developed the symptoms of happiness and tears in the eyes by chanting the glories of the Lord are eligible to enter the kingdom of God. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta it is said that if one does not develop these symptoms while chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, it is to be understood that he is still offensive. Caitanya-caritāmṛta suggests a nice remedy in this connection. There it is said in verse 31, Chapter Eight, of Ādi-līlā, that if anyone takes shelter of Lord Caitanya and just chants the holy name of the Lord, Hare Kṛṣṇa, he becomes freed from all offenses.
āpuḥ parāṁ mudam apūrvam upetya yoga-
māyā-balena munayas tad atho vikuṇṭham
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is one without a second. He is above everyone. No one is equal to Him, nor is anyone greater than Him. Therefore He is described here as viśva-guru. He is the prime living entity of the entire material and spiritual creation and is bhuvanaika-vandyam, the only worshipable personality in the three worlds. The airplanes in the spiritual sky are self-illuminated and are piloted by great devotees of the Lord. In other words, in the Vaikuṇṭha planets there is no scarcity of the things which are available in the material world; they are available, but they are more valuable because they are spiritual and therefore eternal and blissful. The sages felt an unprecedented happiness because Vaikuṇṭha was not predominated by an ordinary man. The Vaikuṇṭha planets are predominated by expansions of Kṛṣṇa, who are differently named as Madhusūdana, Mādhava, Nārāyaṇa, Pradyumna, etc. These transcendental planets are worshipable because the Personality of Godhead personally rules them. It is said here that the sages reached the transcendental spiritual sky by dint of their mystic power. That is the perfection of the yoga system. The breathing exercises and disciplines to keep health in proper order are not the ultimate goals of yoga perfection. The yoga system as generally understood is aṣṭāṅga-yoga, or siddhi, eightfold perfection in yoga. By dint of perfection in yoga one can become lighter than the lightest and heavier than the heaviest; one can go wherever he likes and can achieve opulences as he likes. There are eight such perfections. The ṛṣis, the four Kumāras, reached Vaikuṇṭha by becoming lighter than the lightest and thus passing over the space of the material world. Modern mechanical space vehicles are unsuccessful because they cannot go to the highest region of this material creation, and they certainly cannot enter the spiritual sky. But by perfection of the yoga system one not only can travel through material space, but can surpass material space and enter the spiritual sky. We learn this fact also from an incident concerning Durvāsā Muni and Mahārāja Ambarīṣa. It is understood that in one year Durvāsā Muni traveled everywhere and went into the spiritual sky to meet the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa. By present standards, scientists calculate that if one could travel at the speed of light, it would take forty thousand years to reach the highest planet of this material world. But the yoga system can carry one without limitation or difficulty. The word yoga-māyā is used in this verse. Yoga-māyā-balena vikuṇṭham. The transcendental happiness exhibited in the spiritual world and all other spiritual manifestations there are made possible by the influence of yoga-māyā, the internal potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
kakṣāḥ samāna-vayasāv atha saptamāyām
devāv acakṣata gṛhīta-gadau parārdhya-
The sages were so eager to see the Lord within Vaikuṇṭha-purī that they did not care to see the transcendental decorations of the six gates which they passed by one after another. But at the seventh door they found two doormen of the same age. The significance of the doormen’s being of the same age is that in the Vaikuṇṭha planets there is no old age, so one cannot distinguish who is older than whom. The inhabitants of Vaikuṇṭha are decorated like the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa, with śaṅkha, cakra, gadā and padma (conch, wheel, club and lotus).
vaktraṁ bhruvā kuṭilayā sphuṭa-nirgamābhyāṁ
raktekṣaṇena ca manāg rabhasaṁ dadhānau
Their garlands attracted swarms of bees because they were garlands of fresh flowers. In the Vaikuṇṭha world everything is fresh, new and transcendental. The inhabitants of Vaikuṇṭha have bodies of bluish color and four hands like Nārāyaṇa.
pūrvā yathā puraṭa-vajra-kapāṭikā yāḥ
sarvatra te ’viṣamayā munayaḥ sva-dṛṣṭyā
ye sañcaranty avihatā vigatābhiśaṅkāḥ
The great sages — namely Sanaka, Sanātana, Sanandana and Sanat-kumāra — although very old in years, maintained themselves eternally as small children. They were not at all duplicitous, and they entered the doors exactly as little children enter places without any idea of what it is to trespass. That is a child’s nature. A child can enter any place, and no one checks him. Indeed, a child is generally welcome in his attempts to go places, but if it so happens that a child is checked from entering a door, he naturally becomes very sorry and angry. That is the nature of a child. In this case, the same thing happened. The childlike saintly personalities entered all the six doors of the palace, and no one checked them; therefore when they attempted to enter the seventh door and were forbidden by the doormen, who checked them with their sticks, they naturally became very angry and sorrowful. An ordinary child would cry, but because these were not ordinary children, they immediately made preparations to punish the doormen, for the doormen had committed a great offense. Even to this day a saintly person is never checked from entering anyone’s door in India.
vṛddhān daśārdha-vayaso viditātma-tattvān
vetreṇa cāskhalayatām atad-arhaṇāṁs tau
tejo vihasya bhagavat-pratikūla-śīlau
The four sages were the first-born sons of Brahmā. Therefore all other living entities, including Lord Śiva, are born later and are therefore younger than the four Kumāras. Although they looked like five-year-old boys and traveled naked, the Kumāras were older than all other living creatures and had realized the truth of the self. Such saints were not to be forbidden to enter the kingdom of Vaikuṇṭha, but by chance the doormen objected to their entrance. This was not fitting. The Lord is always anxious to serve sages like the Kumāras, but in spite of knowing this fact, the doormen, astonishingly and outrageously, prohibited them from entering.
svarhattamā hy api hareḥ pratihāra-pābhyām
ūcuḥ suhṛttama-didṛkṣita-bhaṅga īṣat
kāmānujena sahasā ta upaplutākṣāḥ
According to the Vedic system, a sannyāsī, a person in the renounced order of life, is dressed in saffron-colored garments. This saffron dress is practically a passport for the mendicant and sannyāsī to go anywhere. The sannyāsī’s duty is to enlighten people in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Those in the renounced order of life have no other business but preaching the glories and supremacy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore the Vedic sociological conception is that a sannyāsī should not be restricted; he is allowed to go anywhere and everywhere he wants, and he is not refused any gift he might demand from a householder. The four Kumāras came to see the Supreme Personality of Godhead Nārāyaṇa. The word suhṛttama, “best of all friends,” is important. As Lord Kṛṣṇa states in the Bhagavad-gītā, He is the best friend of all living entities. Suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānām. No one can be a greater well-wishing friend to any living entity than the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is so kindly disposed towards everyone that in spite of our completely forgetting our relationship with the Supreme Lord, He comes Himself — sometimes personally, as Lord Kṛṣṇa appeared on this earth, and sometimes as His devotee, as did Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu — and sometimes He sends His bona fide devotees to reclaim all the fallen souls. Therefore, He is the greatest well-wishing friend of everyone, and the Kumāras wanted to see Him. The doorkeepers should have known that the four sages had no other business, and therefore to restrict them from entering the palace was not apt.
In this verse it is figuratively stated that the younger brother of desire suddenly appeared in person when the sages were forbidden to see their most beloved Personality of Godhead. The younger brother of desire is anger. If one’s desire is not fulfilled, the younger brother, anger, follows. Here we can mark that even great saintly persons like the Kumāras were also angry, but they were not angry for their personal interests. They were angry because they were forbidden to enter the palace to see the Personality of Godhead. Therefore the theory that in the perfectional stage one should not have anger is not supported in this verse. Anger will continue even in the liberated stage. These four mendicant brothers, the Kumāras, were considered liberated persons, but still they were angry because they were restricted in their service to the Lord. The difference between the anger of an ordinary person and that of a liberated person is that an ordinary person becomes angry because his sense desires are not being fulfilled, whereas a liberated person like the Kumāras becomes angry when restricted in the discharge of duties for serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
In the previous verse it has been clearly mentioned that the Kumāras were liberated persons. Viditātma-tattva means “one who understands the truth of self-realization.” One who does not understand the truth of self-realization is called ignorant, but one who understands the self, the Superself, their interrelation, and activities in self-realization is called viditātma-tattva. Although the Kumāras were already liberated persons, they nevertheless became angry. This point is very important. Becoming liberated does not necessitate losing one’s sensual activities. Sense activities continue even in the liberated stage. The difference is, however, that sense activities in liberation are accepted only in connection with Kṛṣṇa consciousness, whereas sense activities in the conditioned stage are enacted for personal sense gratification.
tad-dharmiṇāṁ nivasatāṁ viṣamaḥ svabhāvaḥ
tasmin praśānta-puruṣe gata-vigrahe vāṁ
ko vātmavat kuhakayoḥ pariśaṅkanīyaḥ
The difference between the inhabitants of a Vaikuṇṭha planet and those of a material planet is that in Vaikuṇṭha all the residents engage in the service of the Lord Himself and are equipped with all His good qualities. It has been analyzed by great personalities that when a conditioned soul is liberated and becomes a devotee, about seventy-nine percent of all the good qualities of the Lord develop in his person. Therefore in the Vaikuṇṭha world there is no question of enmity between the Lord and the residents. Here in this material world the citizens may be inimical to the chief executives or heads of state, but in Vaikuṇṭha there is no such mentality. One is not allowed to enter Vaikuṇṭha unless he has completely developed the good qualities. The basic principle of goodness is to accept subordination to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The sages, therefore, were surprised to see that the two doormen who checked them from entering the palace were not exactly like the residents of Vaikuṇṭhaloka. It may be said that a doorman’s duty is to determine who should be allowed to enter the palace and who should not. But that is not relevant in this matter because no one is allowed to enter the Vaikuṇṭha planets unless he has developed one hundred percent his mentality of devotional service to the Supreme Lord. No enemy of the Lord can enter Vaikuṇṭhaloka. The Kumāras concluded that the only reason for the doormen’s checking them was that the doormen themselves were imposters.
ātmānam ātmani nabho nabhasīva dhīrāḥ
paśyanti yatra yuvayoḥ sura-liṅginoḥ kiṁ
vyutpāditaṁ hy udara-bhedi bhayaṁ yato ’sya
Just as there are different departments in each state in this material world — the civil department and the criminal department — so, in God’s creation, there are two departments of existence. As in the material world we find that the criminal department is far, far smaller than the civil department, so this material world, which is considered the criminal department, is one fourth of the entire creation of the Lord. All living entities who are residents of the material universes are considered to be more or less criminals because they do not wish to abide by the order of the Lord or they are against the harmonious activities of God’s will. The principle of creation is that the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead, is by nature joyful, and He becomes many in order to enhance His transcendental joy. The living entities like ourselves, being part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, are meant to satisfy the senses of the Lord. Thus, whenever there is a discrepancy in that harmony, immediately the living entity is entrapped by māyā, or illusion.
The external energy of the Lord is called the material world, and the kingdom of the internal energy of the Lord is called Vaikuṇṭha, or the kingdom of God. In the Vaikuṇṭha world there is no disharmony between the Lord and the residents. Therefore God’s creation in the Vaikuṇṭha world is perfect. There is no cause of fear. The entire kingdom of God is such a completely harmonious unit that there is no possibility of enmity. Everything there is absolute. Just as there are many physiological constructions within the body yet they work in one order for the satisfaction of the stomach, and just as in a machine there are hundreds and thousands of parts yet they run in harmony to fulfill the function of the machine, in the Vaikuṇṭha planets the Lord is perfect, and the inhabitants also perfectly engage in the service of the Lord.
The Māyāvādī philosophers, the impersonalists, interpret this verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam to mean that the small sky and the big sky are one, but this idea cannot stand. The example of the big sky and the small skies is also applicable within a person’s body. The big sky is the body itself, and the intestines and other parts of the body occupy the small sky. Each and every part of the body has individuality, even though occupying a small part of the total body. Similarly, the whole creation is the body of the Supreme Lord, and we created beings, or anything that is created, are but a small part of that body. The parts of the body are never equal to the whole. This is never possible. In Bhagavad-gītā it is said that the living entities, who are parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord, are eternally parts and parcels. According to the Māyāvādī philosophers, the living entity in illusion considers himself part and parcel although he is actually one and the same as the supreme whole. This theory is not valid. The oneness of the whole and the part is in their quality. The qualitative oneness of the small and large portions of the sky does not imply that the small sky becomes the big sky.
There is no cause for the politics of divide and rule in the Vaikuṇṭha planets; there is no fear, because of the united interests of the Lord and the residents. Māyā means disharmony between the living entities and the Supreme Lord, and Vaikuṇṭha means harmony between them. Actually all living entities are provided for and maintained by the Lord because He is the supreme living entity. But foolish creatures, although actually under the control of the supreme living entity, defy His existence, and that state is called māyā. Sometimes they deny that there is such a being as God. They say, “Everything is void.” And sometimes they deny Him in a different way: “There may be a God, but He has no form.” Both these conceptions arise from the rebellious condition of the living entity. As long as this rebellious condition prevails, the material world will continue in disharmony.
Harmony or disharmony is realized because of the law and order of a particular place. Religion is the law and order of the Supreme Lord. In the Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā we find that religion means devotional service, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Kṛṣṇa says, “Give up all other religious principles and simply become a soul surrendered unto Me.” This is religion. When one is fully conscious that Kṛṣṇa is the supreme enjoyer and Supreme Lord and one acts accordingly, that is real religion. Anything which goes against this principle is not religion. Therefore Kṛṣṇa says, “Just give up all other religious principles.” In the spiritual world this religious principle of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is maintained in harmony, and therefore that world is called Vaikuṇṭha. If the same principles can be adopted here, wholly or partially, then it is also Vaikuṇṭha. So it is with any society, such as the International Society for Krishna Consciousness: If the members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, putting faith in Kṛṣṇa as the center, live in harmony according to the order and principles of Bhagavad-gītā, then they are living in Vaikuṇṭha, not in this material world.
kartuṁ prakṛṣṭam iha dhīmahi manda-dhībhyām
lokān ito vrajatam antara-bhāva-dṛṣṭyā
pāpīyasas traya ime ripavo ’sya yatra
The reason why pure souls come into the existential circumstances of the material world, which is considered to be the criminal department of the Supreme Lord, is stated in Bhagavad-gītā, Seventh Chapter, verse 27. It is stated that as long as a living entity is pure, he is in complete harmony with the desires of the Supreme Lord, but as soon as he becomes impure he is in disharmony with the desires of the Lord. By contamination he is forced to transfer to this material world, where the living entities have three enemies, namely desire, anger and lust. These three enemies force the living entities to continue material existence, and when one is free from them he is eligible to enter the kingdom of God. One should not, therefore, be angry in the absence of an opportunity for sense gratification, and one should not be lusty to acquire more than necessary. In this verse it is clearly stated that the two doormen should be sent into the material world, where criminals are allowed to reside. Since the basic principles of criminality are sense gratification, anger and unnecessary lust, persons conducted by these three enemies of the living entity are never promoted to Vaikuṇṭhaloka. People should learn Bhagavad-gītā and accept the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, as the Lord of everything; they should practice satisfying the senses of the Supreme Lord instead of trying to satisfy their own senses. Training in Kṛṣṇa consciousness will help one be promoted to Vaikuṇṭha.
taṁ brahma-daṇḍam anivāraṇam astra-pūgaiḥ
sadyo harer anucarāv uru bibhyatas tat-
pāda-grahāv apatatām atikātareṇa
Although, by chance, the doormen committed a mistake by checking the brāhmaṇas from entering the gate of Vaikuṇṭha, they were at once aware of the gravity of the curse. There are many kinds of offenses, but the greatest offense is to offend a devotee of the Lord. Because the doormen were also devotees of the Lord, they were able to understand their mistake and were terrified when the four Kumāras were ready to curse them.
yo nau hareta sura-helanam apy aśeṣam
mā vo ’nutāpa-kalayā bhagavat-smṛti-ghno
moho bhaved iha tu nau vrajator adho ’dhaḥ
To a devotee, any heavy punishment is tolerable but the one which effects forgetfulness of the Supreme Lord. The doormen, who were also devotees, could understand the punishment meted out to them, for they were conscious of the great offense they had committed by not allowing the sages to enter Vaikuṇṭhaloka. In the lowest species of life, including the animal species, forgetfulness of the Lord is very prominent. The doormen were aware that they were going to the criminal department of the material world, and they expected that they might go to the lowest species and forget the Supreme Lord. They prayed, therefore, that this might not happen in the lives they were going to accept because of the curse. In Bhagavad-gītā, Sixteenth Chapter, verses 19 and 20, it is said that those who are envious of the Lord and His devotees are thrown into the species of abominable life; life after life such fools are unable to remember the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and therefore they continue going down and down.
svānāṁ vibudhya sad-atikramam ārya-hṛdyaḥ
tasmin yayau paramahaṁsa-mahā-munīnām
anveṣaṇīya-caraṇau calayan saha-śrīḥ
In Bhagavad-gītā the Lord declares that His devotees cannot be vanquished at any time. The Lord could understand that the quarrel between the doormen and the sages was taking a different turn, and therefore He instantly came out of His place and went to the spot to stop further aggravation so that His devotees, the doormen, might not be vanquished for good.
te ’cakṣatākṣa-viṣayaṁ sva-samādhi-bhāgyam
haṁsa-śriyor vyajanayoḥ śiva-vāyu-lolac-
In this verse we find the word acakṣatākṣa-viṣayam. The Supreme Lord cannot be seen by ordinary eyes, but He now became visible to the eyesight of the Kumāras. Another significant word is samādhi-bhāgyam. Meditators who are very fortunate can see the Viṣṇu form of the Lord within their hearts by following the yogic process. But to see Him face to face is a different matter. This is only possible for pure devotees. The Kumāras, therefore, upon seeing the Lord coming forward with His associates, who were holding an umbrella and a cāmara fan, were struck with wonder that they were seeing the Lord face to face. It is said in the Brahma-saṁhitā that devotees, being elevated in love of God, always see Śyāmasundara, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, within their hearts. But when they are mature, the same God is visible before them face to face. For ordinary persons the Lord is not visible; however, when one can understand the significance of His holy name and one engages himself in the devotional service of the Lord, beginning with the tongue, by chanting and tasting prasāda, then gradually the Lord reveals Himself. Thus the devotee constantly sees the Lord within his heart, and, in a more mature stage, one can see the same Lord directly, as we see everything else.
snehāvaloka-kalayā hṛdi saṁspṛśantam
śyāme pṛthāv urasi śobhitayā śriyā svaś-
cūḍāmaṇiṁ subhagayantam ivātma-dhiṣṇyam
When the Lord came, He was pleased with everyone; therefore it is stated here, kṛtsna-prasāda-sumukham. The Lord knew that even the offensive doormen were His pure devotees, although by chance they committed an offense at the feet of other devotees. To commit an offense against a devotee is very dangerous in devotional service. Lord Caitanya therefore said that an offense to a devotee is just like a mad elephant run loose; when a mad elephant enters a garden, it tramples all the plants. Similarly, an offense unto the feet of a pure devotee murders one’s position in devotional service. On the part of the Lord there was no offended mood because He does not accept any offense created by His sincere devotee. But a devotee should be very cautious of committing offenses at the feet of another devotee. The Lord, being equal to all, and being especially inclined to His devotee, looked as mercifully at the offenders as at the offended. This attitude of the Lord was due to His unlimited quantity of transcendental qualities. His cheerful attitude towards the devotees was so pleasing and heart-touching that His very smile was attractive for them. That attraction was glorious not only for all the higher planets of this material world, but beyond, for the spiritual world also. Generally a human being has no idea of what the constitutional position is in the higher material planets, which are far better constituted in regard to all paraphernalia, yet the Vaikuṇṭha planet is so pleasing and so celestial that it is compared to the middle jewel or locket in a necklace of jewels.
In this verse the words spṛhaṇīya-dhāma indicate that the Lord is the reservoir of all pleasure because He has all the transcendental qualities. Although only some of these are aspired for by persons who hanker after the pleasure of merging in the impersonal Brahman, there are other aspirants who want to associate with the Lord personally as His servants. The Lord is so kind that He gives shelter to everyone — both impersonalists and devotees. He gives shelter to the impersonalists in His impersonal Brahman effulgence, whereas He gives shelter to the devotees in His personal abodes known as the Vaikuṇṭhalokas. He is especially inclined to His devotee; He touches the core of the heart of the devotee simply by smiling and glancing over him. The Lord is always served in the Vaikuṇṭhaloka by many hundreds and thousands of goddesses of fortune, as stated by the Brahma-saṁhitā (lakṣmī-sahasra-śata-sambhrama-sevyamānam). In this material world, one is glorified if he is favored even a pinch by the goddess of fortune, so we can simply imagine how glorified is the kingdom of God in the spiritual world, where many hundreds and thousands of goddesses of fortune engage in the direct service of the Lord. Another feature of this verse is that it openly declares where the Vaikuṇṭhalokas are situated. They are situated as the summit of all the heavenly planets, which are above the sun globe, at the upper limit of the universe, and are known as Satyaloka, or Brahmaloka. The spiritual world is situated beyond the universe. Therefore it is stated here that the spiritual world, Vaikuṇṭhaloka, is the summit of all planetary systems.
kāñcyālibhir virutayā vana-mālayā ca
vinyasta-hastam itareṇa dhunānam abjam
Here is a full description of the Personality of Godhead as personally experienced by the sages. The Lord’s personal body was covered with yellow robes, and His waist was thin. In Vaikuṇṭha, whenever there is a flower garland on the chest of the Personality of Godhead or any one of His associates, it is described that the humming bees are there. All these features were very beautiful and attractive for the devotees. One of the Lord’s hands rested on His carrier, Garuḍa, and in another hand He twirled a lotus flower. These are personal characteristics of the Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa.
dor-daṇḍa-ṣaṇḍa-vivare haratā parārdhya-
hāreṇa kandhara-gatena ca kaustubhena
svānāṁ dhiyā viracitaṁ bahu-sauṣṭhavāḍhyam
mahyaṁ bhavasya bhavatāṁ ca bhajantam aṅgaṁ
nemur nirīkṣya na vitṛpta-dṛśo mudā kaiḥ
The beauty of the Lord was so enchanting that it could not be sufficiently described. The goddess of fortune is supposed to be the most beautiful sight within the spiritual and material creations of the Lord; she has a sense of being the most beautiful, yet her beauty was defeated when the Lord appeared. In other words, the beauty of the goddess of fortune is secondary in the presence of the Lord. In the words of Vaiṣṇava poets, it is said that the Lord’s beauty is so enchanting that it defeats hundreds of thousands of Cupids. He is therefore called Madana-mohana. It is also described that the Lord sometimes becomes mad after the beauty of Rādhārāṇī. Poets describe that under those circumstances, although Lord Kṛṣṇa is Madana-mohana, He becomes Madana-dāha, or enchanted by the beauty of Rādhārāṇī. Actually the Lord’s beauty is superexcellent, surpassing even the beauty of Lakṣmī in Vaikuṇṭha. The devotees of the Lord in the Vaikuṇṭha planets want to see the Lord as the most beautiful, but the devotees in Gokula or Kṛṣṇaloka want to see Rādhārāṇī as more beautiful than Kṛṣṇa. The adjustment is that the Lord, being bhakta-vatsala, or one who wants to please His devotees, assumes such features so that devotees like Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and other demigods may be pleased. Here also, for the devotee-sages, the Kumāras, the Lord appeared in His most beautiful feature, and they continued to see Him without satiation and wanted to continue seeing Him more and more.
antar-gataḥ sva-vivareṇa cakāra teṣāṁ
saṅkṣobham akṣara-juṣām api citta-tanvoḥ
It appears from this verse that the four Kumāras were impersonalists or protagonists of the philosophy of monism, becoming one with the Lord. But as soon as they saw the Lord’s features, their minds changed. In other words, the impersonalist who feels transcendental pleasure in striving to become one with the Lord is defeated when he sees the beautiful transcendental features of the Lord. Because of the fragrance of His lotus feet, carried by the air and mixed with the aroma of tulasī, their minds changed; instead of becoming one with the Supreme Lord, they thought it wise to be devotees. Becoming a servitor of the lotus feet of the Lord is better than becoming one with the Lord.
labdhāśiṣaḥ punar avekṣya tadīyam aṅghri-
dvandvaṁ nakhāruṇa-maṇi-śrayaṇaṁ nidadhyuḥ
dhyānāspadaṁ bahu-mataṁ nayanābhirāmam
pauṁsnaṁ vapur darśayānam ananya-siddhair
autpattikaiḥ samagṛṇan yutam aṣṭa-bhogaiḥ
The success of the yoga process is very nicely described here. It is specifically mentioned that the form of the Lord as four-handed Nārāyaṇa is the object of meditation for the followers of yoga-mārga. In the modern age there are so many so-called yogīs who do not target their meditation on the four-handed Nārāyaṇa form. Some of them try to meditate on something impersonal or void, but that is not approved by the great yogīs who follow the standard method. The real yoga-mārga process is to control the senses, sit in a solitary and sanctified place and meditate on the four-handed form of Nārāyaṇa, decorated as described in this chapter as He appeared before the four sages. This Nārāyaṇa form is Kṛṣṇa’s expansion; therefore the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement which is now spreading is the real, topmost process of yoga practice.
Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the highest yoga performance by trained devotional yogīs. Despite all the allurement of yoga practice, the eight kinds of yogic perfections are hardly achievable by the common man. But here it is described that the Lord, who appeared before the four sages, is Himself full of all eight of those perfections. The highest yoga-mārga process is to concentrate the mind twenty-four hours a day on Kṛṣṇa. This is called Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The yoga system, as described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Bhagavad-gītā or as recommended in the Patañjali yoga process, is different from the nowadays-practiced haṭha-yoga as it is generally understood in the Western countries. Real yoga practice is to control the senses and, after such control is established, to concentrate the mind on the Nārāyaṇa form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Lord Kṛṣṇa is the original Personality of Godhead, and all the other Viṣṇu forms — with four hands decorated with conch, lotus, club and wheel — are plenary expansions of Kṛṣṇa. In Bhagavad-gītā it is recommended that one meditate upon the form of the Lord. To practice concentration of the mind, one has to sit with the head and the back in a straight line, and one must practice in a secluded place, sanctified by a sacred atmosphere. The yogī should observe the rules and regulations of brahmacarya — to strictly live a life of self-restraint and celibacy. One cannot practice yoga in a congested city, living a life of extravagancy, including unrestricted sex indulgence and adultery of the tongue. Yoga practice necessitates controlling the senses, and the beginning of sense control is to control the tongue. One who can control the tongue can also have control over the other senses. One cannot allow the tongue to take all kinds of forbidden food and drink and at the same time advance in the practice of yoga. It is a very regrettable fact that many unauthorized so-called yogīs come to the Western countries and exploit people’s inclination towards yoga practice. Such unauthorized yogīs even dare to say publicly that one can indulge in the habit of drinking and at the same time practice meditation.
Five thousand years ago Lord Kṛṣṇa recommended yoga practice to Arjuna, but Arjuna frankly expressed his inability to follow the stringent rules and regulations of the yoga system. One should be very practical in every field of activities and should not waste his valuable time in practicing useless gymnastic feats in the name of yoga. Real yoga is to search out the four-handed Supersoul within one’s heart and see Him perpetually in meditation. Such continued meditation is called samādhi, and the object of this meditation is the four-handed Nārāyaṇa, with bodily decorations as described in this chapter of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. If, however, one wants to meditate upon something void or impersonal, it will take a very long time before he achieves success in yoga practice. We cannot concentrate our mind on something void or impersonal. Real yoga is to fix the mind on the form of the Lord, the four-handed Nārāyaṇa who is sitting in everyone’s heart.
By meditation one can understand that God is seated within one’s heart. Even if one does not know it, God is seated within the heart of everyone. Not only is He seated in the heart of the human being, but He is also within the hearts of cats and dogs. Bhagavad-gītā certifies this fact by the declaration of the Lord, īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe. The īśvara, the supreme controller of the world, is seated in the heart of everyone. Not only is He in everyone’s heart, but He is also present within the atom. No place is vacant or devoid of the presence of the Lord. That is the statement of Īśopaniṣad. God is present everywhere, and His right of proprietorship applies to everything. The feature of the Lord by which He is present everywhere is called Paramātmā. Ātmā means the individual soul, and Paramātmā means the individual Supersoul; both ātmā and Paramātmā are individual persons. The difference between ātmā and Paramātmā is that the ātmā, or the soul, is present only in a particular body, whereas the Paramātmā is present everywhere. In this connection, the example of the sun is very nice. An individual person may be situated in one place, but the sun, even though a similar individual entity, is present on the head of every individual person. In Bhagavad-gītā this is explained. Therefore even though the qualities of all entities, including the Lord, are equal, the Supersoul is different from the individual soul by quantitative power of expansion. The Lord, or the Supersoul, can expand Himself into millions of different forms, whereas the individual soul cannot do so.
The Supersoul, being seated in everyone’s heart, can witness everyone’s activities — past, present and future. In the Upaniṣads the Supersoul is described as being seated with the individual soul as friend and witness. As a friend, the Lord is always anxious to get back His friend, the individual soul, and bring him back home, back to Godhead. As a witness He is the bestower of all benedictions, and He endows each individual with the result of his actions. The Supersoul gives the individual soul all facilities to achieve whatever he desires to enjoy in this material world. Suffering is a reaction to the living entity’s propensity to try to lord it over the material world. But the Lord instructs His friend, the individual soul, who is also His son, to give up all other engagements and simply surrender unto Him for perpetual bliss and an eternal life full of knowledge. This is the last instruction of Bhagavad-gītā, the most authorized and widely read book on all varieties of yoga. Thus the last word of Bhagavad-gītā is the last word in the perfection of yoga.
It is stated in Bhagavad-gītā that a person who is always absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the topmost yogī. What is Kṛṣṇa consciousness? As the individual soul is present by his consciousness throughout his entire body, so the Supersoul, or Paramātmā, is present throughout the whole creation by superconsciousness. This superconscious energy is imitated by the individual soul, who has limited consciousness. I can understand what is going on within my limited body, but I cannot feel what is going on in another’s body. I am present throughout my body by my consciousness, but my consciousness is not present in another’s body. The Supersoul, or Paramātmā, however, being present everywhere and within everyone, is also conscious of everyone’s existence. The theory that the soul and the Supersoul are one is not acceptable because it is not confirmed by authoritative Vedic literature. The individual soul’s consciousness cannot act in superconsciousness. This superconsciousness can be achieved, however, by dovetailing individual consciousness with the consciousness of the Supreme. This dovetailing process is called surrender, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness. From the teachings of Bhagavad-gītā we learn very clearly that Arjuna, in the beginning, did not want to fight with his brothers and relatives, but after understanding Bhagavad-gītā he dovetailed his consciousness with the superconsciousness of Kṛṣṇa. He was then in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
A person in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness acts by the dictation of Kṛṣṇa. In the beginning of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, dictation is received through the transparent medium of the spiritual master. When one is sufficiently trained and acts in submissive faith and love for Kṛṣṇa under the direction of the bona fide spiritual master, the dovetailing process becomes more firm and accurate. This stage of devotional service by the devotee in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the most perfect stage of the yoga system. At this stage, Kṛṣṇa, or the Supersoul, dictates from within, while from without the devotee is helped by the spiritual master, who is the bona fide representative of Kṛṣṇa. From within He helps the devotee as caitya, for He is seated within the heart of everyone. Understanding that God is seated within everyone’s heart is not, however, sufficient. One has to be acquainted with God from both within and without, and one must take dictation from within and without to act in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This is the highest perfectional stage of the human form of life and the topmost perfection of all yoga.
For a perfect yogī, there are eight kinds of superachievements: one can become lighter than air, one can become smaller than the atom, one can become bigger than a mountain, one can achieve whatever he desires, one can control like the Lord, and so on. But when one rises to the perfectional stage of receiving dictation from the Lord, that is greater than any stage of material achievements above mentioned. The breathing exercise of the yoga system which is generally practiced is just the beginning. Meditation on the Supersoul is just another step forward. But to obtain direct contact with the Supersoul and take dictation from Him is the highest perfectional stage. The breathing exercises of meditation practice were very difficult even five thousand years ago; otherwise Arjuna would not have rejected the proposal of Kṛṣṇa that he adopt this system. This Age of Kali is called the fallen age. In this age, people in general are short-living and very slow to understand self-realization or spiritual life; they are mostly unfortunate, and therefore if someone is a little bit interested in self-realization he is likely to be misguided by so many frauds. The only way to realize the perfect stage of yoga is to follow the principles of Bhagavad-gītā as practiced by Lord Caitanya. This is the simplest and highest perfection of yoga practice. Lord Caitanya demonstrated this Kṛṣṇa consciousness yoga system in a practical manner simply by chanting the holy name of Kṛṣṇa, as prescribed in the Vedānta, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā and many important Purāṇas.
The largest number of Indians follow this yoga process, and in the United States it is gradually spreading in many cities. It is very easy and practical for this age, especially for those who are serious about success in yoga. No other process of yoga can be successful in this age. The meditation process was possible in the golden age, Satya-yuga, because people in that age used to live for hundreds of thousands of years. If one wants success in practical yoga practice, it is advised that he take to the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, and he will actually feel himself making progress. In Bhagavad-gītā this practice of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is prescribed as rāja-vidyā, or the king of all erudition.
Those who have taken to this most sublime bhakti-yoga system, who practice devotional service in transcendental love of Kṛṣṇa, can testify to its happy and easy execution. The four sages Sanaka, Sanātana, Sanandana and Sanat-kumāra also became attracted by the features of the Lord and the transcendental aroma of the dust of His lotus feet, as already described in verse 43.
Yoga necessitates controlling the senses, and bhakti-yoga, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, is the process of purifying the senses. When the senses are purified, they are automatically controlled. One cannot stop the activities of the senses by artificial means, but if one purifies the senses by engaging in the service of the Lord, the senses not only can be controlled from rubbish engagement, but can be engaged in the Lord’s transcendental service, as aspired to by the four sages Sanaka, Sanātana, Sanandana and Sanat-kumāra. Kṛṣṇa consciousness is not, therefore, a manufactured concoction of the speculative mind. It is the process enjoined in Bhagavad-gītā (9.34): man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru.
so ’dyaiva no nayana-mūlam ananta rāddhaḥ
yarhy eva karṇa-vivareṇa guhāṁ gato naḥ
The so-called yogīs who concentrate their mind or meditate upon the impersonal or void are described here. This verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam describes persons who are expected to be very expert yogīs engaged in meditation but who do not find the Supreme Personality of Godhead seated within the heart. These persons are described here as durātmā, which means a person who has a very crooked heart, or a less intelligent person, just opposite to a mahātmā, which means one who has a broad heart. Those so-called yogīs who, although engaged in meditation, are not broad-hearted cannot find the four-handed Nārāyaṇa form, even though He is seated within their heart. Although the first realization of the Supreme Absolute Truth is impersonal Brahman, one should not remain satisfied with experiencing the impersonal effulgence of the Supreme Lord. In the Īśopaniṣad also, the devotee prays that the glaring effulgence of Brahman may be removed from his eyes so that he can see the real, personal feature of the Lord and thus satisfy himself fully. Similarly, although the Lord is not visible in the beginning because of His glaring bodily effulgence, if a devotee sincerely wants to see Him, the Lord is revealed to him. It is said in Bhagavad-gītā that the Lord cannot be seen by our imperfect eyes, He cannot be heard by our imperfect ears, and He cannot be experienced by our imperfect senses, but that if one engages in devotional service with faith and devotion, then God reveals Himself.
Here the four sages Sanat-kumāra, Sanātana, Sanandana and Sanaka are described as actually sincere devotees. Although they had heard from their father, Brahmā, about the personal feature of the Lord, only the impersonal feature, Brahman, was revealed to them. But because they were sincerely searching for the Lord, they finally saw His personal feature directly, which corresponded with the description given by their father. They thus became fully satisfied. Here they express their gratitude because although they were foolish impersonalists in the beginning, by the grace of the Lord they could now have the good fortune to see His personal feature. Another significant aspect of this verse is that the sages describe their experience of hearing from their father, Brahmā, who was born of the Lord directly. In other words, the disciplic succession from the Lord to Brahmā and from Brahmā to Nārada and from Nārada to Vyāsa, and so on, is accepted here. Because the Kumāras were sons of Brahmā, they had the opportunity to learn Vedic knowledge from the disciplic succession of Brahmā, and therefore, in spite of their impersonalist beginnings, they became, in the end, direct seers of the personal feature of the Lord.
sattvena samprati ratiṁ racayantam eṣām
yat te ’nutāpa-viditair dṛḍha-bhakti-yogair
udgranthayo hṛdi vidur munayo virāgāḥ
The Absolute Truth can be understood in three features — impersonal Brahman, localized Paramātmā, and Bhagavān, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Here it is admitted that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the last word in understanding the Absolute Truth. Even though the four Kumāras were instructed by their great learned father, Brahmā, they could not actually understand the Absolute Truth. They could only understand the Supreme Absolute Truth when they personally saw the Personality of Godhead with their own eyes. In other words, if one sees or understands the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the other two features of the Absolute Truth, namely impersonal Brahman and localized Paramātmā, are also automatically understood. Therefore the Kumāras confirm: “You are the ultimate Absolute Truth.” The impersonalist may argue that since the Supreme Personality of Godhead was so nicely decorated, He was therefore not the Absolute Truth. But here it is confirmed that all the variegatedness of the absolute platform is constituted of śuddha-sattva, pure goodness. In the material world, any quality — goodness, passion or ignorance — is contaminated. Even the quality of goodness here in the material world is not free from tinges of passion and ignorance. But in the transcendental world, only pure goodness, without any tinge of passion or ignorance, exists; therefore the form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His variegated pastimes and paraphernalia are all pure sattva-guṇa. Such variegatedness in pure goodness is exhibited eternally by the Lord for the satisfaction of the devotee. The devotee does not want to see the Supreme Personality of Absolute Truth in voidness or impersonalism. In one sense, absolute transcendental variegatedness is meant only for the devotees, not for others, because this distinct feature of transcendental variegatedness can be understood only by the mercy of the Supreme Lord and not by mental speculation or the ascending process. It is said that one can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead when one is even slightly favored by Him; otherwise, without His mercy, a man may speculate for thousands of years and not understand what is actually the Absolute Truth. This mercy can be perceived by the devotee when he is completely freed from contamination. It is stated, therefore, that only when all contamination is rooted out and the devotee is completely detached from material attractions can he receive this mercy of the Lord.
kimv anyad arpita-bhayaṁ bhruva unnayais te
ye ’ṅga tvad-aṅghri-śaraṇā bhavataḥ kathāyāḥ
kīrtanya-tīrtha-yaśasaḥ kuśalā rasa-jñāḥ
The transcendental bliss enjoyed by the devotees of the Lord is completely different from the material happiness enjoyed by less intelligent persons. The less intelligent persons in the material world are engaged by the four principles of benediction called dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa. Generally they prefer to take to religious life to achieve some material benediction, the purpose of which is to satisfy the senses. When, by that process, they become confused or frustrated in fulfilling the maximum amount of sense enjoyment, they try to become one with the Supreme, which is, according to their conception, mukti, or liberation. There are five kinds of liberation, the least important of which is called sāyujya, to become one with the Supreme. Devotees don’t care for such liberation because they are actually intelligent. Nor are they inclined to accept any of the other four kinds of liberation, namely to live on the same planet as the Lord, to live with Him side by side as an associate, to have the same opulence, or to attain the same bodily features. They are concerned only with glorifying the Supreme Lord and His auspicious activities. Pure devotional service is śravaṇaṁ kīrtanam. Pure devotees, who take transcendental pleasure in hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord, do not care for any kind of liberation; even if they are offered the five liberations, they refuse to accept them, as stated in the Bhāgavatam in the Third Canto. Materialistic persons aspire for the sense enjoyment of heavenly pleasure in the heavenly kingdom, but devotees reject such material pleasure at once. The devotee does not even care for the post of Indra. A devotee knows that any pleasurable material position is subject to be annihilated at a certain point. Even if one reaches the post of Indra, Candra, or any other demigod, he must be dissolved at a certain stage. A devotee is never interested in such temporary pleasure. From Vedic scriptures it is understood that sometimes even Brahmā and Indra fall down, but a devotee in the transcendental abode of the Lord never falls. This transcendental stage of life, in which one feels transcendental pleasure in hearing the Lord’s pastimes, is also recommended by Lord Caitanya. When Lord Caitanya was talking with Rāmānanda Rāya, there were varieties of suggestions offered by Rāmānanda regarding spiritual realization, but Lord Caitanya rejected all but one — that one should hear the glories of the Lord in association with pure devotees. That is acceptable for everyone, especially in this age. One should engage himself in hearing from pure devotees about the activities of the Lord. That is considered the supreme benediction for mankind.
ceto ’livad yadi nu te padayo rameta
vācaś ca nas tulasivad yadi te ’ṅghri-śobhāḥ
pūryeta te guṇa-gaṇair yadi karṇa-randhraḥ
The four sages now offer their humility to the Personality of Godhead because of their having been haughty in cursing two other devotees of the Lord. Jaya and Vijaya, the two doorkeepers who checked them from entering the Vaikuṇṭha planet, were certainly offenders, but as Vaiṣṇavas, the four sages should not have cursed them in anger. After the incident, they became conscious that they had done wrong by cursing the devotees of the Lord, and they prayed to the Lord that even in the hellish condition of life their minds might not be distracted from the engagement of service to the lotus feet of Lord Nārāyaṇa. Those who are devotees of the Lord are not afraid of any condition of life, provided there is constant engagement in the service of the Lord. It is said of the nārāyaṇa-para, or those who are devotees of Nārāyaṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, na kutaścana bibhyati (Bhāg. 6.17.28). They are not afraid of entering a hellish condition, for since they are engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, heaven or hell is the same for them. In material life both heaven and hell are one and the same because they are material; in either place there is no engagement in the Lord’s service. Therefore those who are engaged in the service of the Lord see no distinction between heaven and hell; it is only the materialists who prefer one to the other.
These four devotees prayed to the Lord that although they might go to hell because they had cursed devotees, they might not forget the service of the Lord. The transcendental loving service of the Lord is performed in three ways — with the body, with the mind and with words. Here the sages pray that their words may always be engaged in glorifying the Supreme Lord. One may speak very nicely with ornamental language or one may be expert at controlled grammatical presentation, but if one’s words are not engaged in the service of the Lord, they have no flavor and no actual use. The example is given here of tulasī leaves. The tulasī leaf is very useful even from the medicinal or antiseptic point of view. It is considered sacred and is offered to the lotus feet of the Lord. The tulasī leaf has numerous good qualities, but if it were not offered to the lotus feet of the Lord, tulasī could not be of much value or importance. Similarly, one may speak very nicely from the rhetorical or grammatical point of view, which may be very much appreciated by a materialistic audience, but if one’s words are not offered to the service of the Lord, they are useless. The holes of the ears are very small and can be filled with any insignificant sound, so how can they receive as great a vibration as the glorification of the Lord? The answer is that the holes of the ears are like the sky. As the sky can never be filled up, the quality of the ear is such that one may go on pouring in vibrations of various kinds, yet it is capable of receiving more and more vibrations. A devotee is not afraid of going to hell if he has the opportunity to hear the glories of the Lord constantly. This is the advantage of chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. One may be put in any condition, but God gives him the prerogative to chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. In any condition of life, if one goes on chanting he will never be unhappy.
teneśa nirvṛtim avāpur alaṁ dṛśo naḥ
tasmā idaṁ bhagavate nama id vidhema
yo ’nātmanāṁ durudayo bhagavān pratītaḥ
The four sages were impersonalists in the beginning of their spiritual life, but afterwards, by the grace of their father and spiritual master, Brahmā, they understood the eternal, spiritual form of the Lord and felt completely satisfied. In other words, the transcendentalists who aspire to the impersonal Brahman or localized Paramātmā are not fully satisfied and still hanker for more. Even if they are satisfied in their minds, still, transcendentally, their eyes are not satisfied. But as soon as such persons come to realize the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they are satisfied in all respects. In other words, they become devotees and want to see the form of the Lord continually. It is confirmed in the Brahma-saṁhitā that one who has developed transcendental love of Kṛṣṇa by smearing his eyes with the ointment of love sees constantly the eternal form of the Lord. The particular word used in this connection, anātmanām, signifies those who have no control over the mind and senses and who therefore speculate and want to become one with the Lord. Such persons cannot have the pleasure of seeing the eternal form of the Lord. For the impersonalists and the so-called yogīs, the Lord is always hidden by the curtain of yoga-māyā. Bhagavad-gītā says that even when Lord Kṛṣṇa was seen by everyone while He was present on the surface of the earth, the impersonalists and the so-called yogīs could not see Him because they were devoid of devotional eyesight. The theory of the impersonalists and so-called yogīs is that the Supreme Lord assumes a particular form when He comes in touch with māyā, although actually He has no form. This very conception of the impersonalists and so-called yogīs checks them from seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead as He is. The Lord, therefore, is always beyond the sight of such nondevotees. The four sages felt so much obliged to the Lord that they offered their respectful obeisances unto Him again and again.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Third Canto, Fifteenth Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled “Description of the Kingdom of God.”