Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 4.34

Given in New York, August 14,1966

Dear Readers, dandavat pranams.
All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gouranga!

Here is another transcript of a wonderful early New York lecture from 1966 by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The verse(4.34) is one of the Bhagavad-gita's most essential verses. This transcript will be added to his page of historical lectures at the Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library site.

your servant,

Puru das, das anudas

                        Bhagavad-gita 4.34

                    New York, August 14, 1966

                      tad viddhi pranipatena
                       pariprasnena sevaya
                      upadeksyanti te jnanam
                     jnaninas tattva-darsinah

  Now, this verse we are discussing in our last meeting. Sri Krsna, Lord Sri Krsna, has concluded that all kinds of sacrifices that we can expected, we are expected to do, the best sacrifice is to acquire knowledge, acquire knowledge. Because whole, our this material conditioned life is due to ignorance. Therefore the purpose of sacrifice, penance, yoga, and philosophical discussion, everything--the ultimate aim is to acquire knowledge.

   And even in that knowledge field also... Of course, transcendental knowledge, as we have discussed already, they are viewed in different, three different angles of vision: the knowledge of Brahmavada, or impersonal, impersonal Absolute Truth, and the knowledge of Paramatma, the localized Supersoul, and the knowledge of Bhagavan, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There are different stages of development of knowledge. But the first beginning knowledge is that we must understand that "I am not this body. I am spirit soul, and my aim of life should be how to get out of this material entanglement." That is knowledge. That is the beginning of knowledge.

   And that knowledge, when developed gradually... The first, first stage of knowledge is impersonal Brahman realization, and the next stage is the Supersoul realization, and the last stage is realization of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam we have got this information, that the tattva, that the Absolute Truth is realized in three visions: brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate. Brahman means impersonal Absolute Truth, and Paramatma means Supersoul, and Bhagavan means the Supreme Personality of God. That Supreme Personality of Godhead is Krsna.

   You'll find in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, krsnas tu bhagavan svayam. There are description of different manifestation of Visnu or God because God expands Himself in various ways. We are also expansion of God. So similarly, there are degrees of expansion, and the central point, or the primal Lord, is Sri Krsna. We have got evidences from various Vedic literature that Sri Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Bhagavata confirms, ete camsa-kalah pumsah krsnas tu bhagavan svayam, that... There is a list of incarnation of Godhead. There are many thousands and thousands of incarnation, and there is a list. Especially in Caitanya-caritamrta there is a specific list. Now, after giving that list, the conclusion is made that ete camsa-kalah pumsah krsnas tu bhagavan svayam.

   Now, we have given the list, the author of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, but all these incarnation of Godhead, they are either plenary manifestation or manifestation of the plenary manifestation, like that. Ete camsa. Amsa means plenary manifestation, and kalah means manifestation of the plenary manifestation. So the conclusion in the Srimad-Bhagavatam is that "This name Krsna, which is given here..." Because Krsna also appeared, and He proclaimed Himself that yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata, tadatmanam srjamy aham. So He is accepted as the original Supreme Personality of God.

   Similarly, in the Brahma-samhita, another Vedic literature, that is also confirmed that

                      isvarah paramah krsnah
                       anadir adir govindah

There are many gods. Many gods means that in one sense we are also god. God means controller, that's all. God, the literary meaning of god, this word, is controller, isvara. So every one of us has some controlling capacity, everyone. Either we control the family, or control the office, we control the state, we control the municipality, or so on, so on, everyone is a controller. But nobody is the supreme controller.

   Similarly, if you go on, make your progress, then you come to the Brahma. Brahma is the controller of this whole universe. And there are many, innumerable universes and innumerable Brahmas also. And their controller is the Garbhodakasayi Visnu. And the Garbhodakasayi Visnu is controlled by Maha-Visnu, and Maha-Visnu is controlled by Sankarsana, and Sankarsana is controlled by Narayana. And Narayana is controlled by Vasudeva. And Vasudeva is controlled by Baladeva. And Baladeva is controlled by Krsna. Therefore you'll find in the Bhagavad-gita that Krsna says, mattah parataram nanyat asti kincid dhananjaya: "My dear Arjuna, there is no, nobody greater than Me." And Arjuna also accepted that "You are asamordhva: "Nobody is equal to You, and nobody is greater than You."

   And our Gosvamis in Vrndavana... There were six Gosvamis. They were very good scholars, especially Jiva Gosvami. They have analyzed the characteristics of the Absolute Truth, Personality of Godhead, and they have established that Krsna has got the all the transcendental qualities of Godhead in Krsna. And in Narayana there are ninety-four percent of the transcendental qualities of the Absolute Truth. Similarly, in Lord Siva there is eighty-four percent of all the transcendental qualities of the Absolute Truth. And in living being, as we are, we have got seventy-eight percent of the transcendental qualities. That is also in fraction, not in full.

   So there are some scholars, analytical study like this. Now, the point is that Krsna says that "All kinds of sacrifices, whatever sacrifice you can undertake..." There are different kinds of, mentioned, dravya-yajna, jnana-yajna, yoga-yajna, so many. There are different types of yajna. But here Krsna concludes, "All the different types of yajna," sarvam karmakhilam partha jnane parisamapyate, "whatever yajna you can perform, that's all right. But that is the different steps, different steps to come to the point of real knowledge."

   Just like you have got your Empire State Building here and a two-story building. So you go up, you go to the twenty-fifth floor, you can go to the fiftieth floor, you go to the seventieth, seventy-five, eighty--in this way, unless you reach that one-hundred-second story, that is not the perfect progress. That is also progress. Suppose if you have gone to the eighty-fifth story, that is also progress from the downwards. That's all right.

   But the highest, highest perfection of knowledge is, so far we study from the Bhagavad-gita, it is said, bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate. Bahunam janmanam ante. Bahunam means after many, many births of culturing knowledge, when he comes to the real knowledge, real, perfect knowledge. Bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan. Not the fools, but jnanavan. He especially mentions jnanavan. Jnanavan mam prapadyate. Jnanavan the sign is that jnanavan surrenders unto the Supreme Lord Krsna. That is the highest stage of knowledge.

   Either you take it, granted... Just like Arjuna was advised by Krsna, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: "You give up. Because you are My very confidential friend, therefore I say unto you that you don't bother with anything else. Just surrender unto Me." This is the most confidential. So in all points of view, if you make an analytical study of the Vedic literature, the ultimate summit knowledge is to surrender unto Krsna.

                      bahunam janmanam ante
                     jnanavan mam prapadyate
                       vasudevah sarvam iti
                      sa mahatma sudurlabhah

And what kind of surrender? The surrender means full knowledge. After scrutinizingly studying all the process of self-realization or transcendental realization, when one comes to the perfectional point, he understands that vasudevah sarvam iti: "Vasudeva, Krsna, is everything." As it is confirmed in the Brahma-samhita, that

                      isvarah paramah krsnah
                       anadir adir govindah

means the cause of all causes. Just like my existence. I have got this body. The cause was my father. And the father, his father was cause. You go on searching, father, father's father, his father, grandfather, great-grandfather... Go on searching, searching, searching. Don't think that because you cannot see just now your great grandfather, there was no father of the grandfather. Don't think like that. There was. Although he is... Don't think that "Anything which is out of my sight, because I cannot see, so there is no existence." No. This conclusion is not good.

   This is not very intelligent conclusion. Because I cannot see what is happening beyond this wall, oh, that does not mean there is nothing beyond this wall. So everyone wants to see God immediately. God you can see when you are perfectly qualified. When you are in perfect knowledge, you can see God eye to eye just like you are seeing me, I am seeing you. But that requires qualification. You have to wait. That qualification is Krsna consciousness. That qualification means Krsna consciousness.

   This Krsna consciousness begins with sravanam kirtanam. Sravanam, hearing. We have to hear about Krsna. Just like the Srimad-Bhagavad-gita is the preliminary study of understanding or hearing about Krsna. Hearing about Krsna.

   Just like suppose I came to your country, United States of America. Oh, in my childhood I heard of it in school when I was reading geometry or something like, history or geography. I heard first of all. I did not come first of all. So hearing, hearing, when I understood, "Oh, that's a very wonderful country, and it is far away, and if I go there..." Similarly, as you think also about going to India, so first of all hearing. Not immediately seeing what is America or what is India. First of all hearing. So similarly, if we want to see God, then we have to hear. That is the process. Krsna consciousness process is first with hearing. Sravanam. Sravanam means hearing.

   Then kirtanam. Kirtanam means to chant about the glories, about the holy name, about the form, about the quality. Then this is association with Krsna because Krsna, or God, is absolute. He is not different from His name, from His quality, from His form, from His pastimes. He is not different. So hearing and chanting of the qualities or form or name of the Supreme, of the Absolute, means our association with God. Association. Direct association, in transcendental quality. So as we go on making association, then Krsna helps us to understand Him.

   Srnvatam... It is in Srimad-Bhagavatam. There is a verse.

                    srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah
                   hrdy antah-stho hy abhadrani
                      vidhunoti suhrt satam

Suhrt satam. Krsna
is sitting within your heart. Krsna is the, is acting as your spiritual master, caitya-guru. Caitya-guru. Caitya-guru means the guru, or the spiritual master, who is sitting in my heart, citta. So srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah.

   When you begin to hear about Krsna, then the hearing of krsna-katha, the topics about Krsna, is punya-sravana-kirtanah. It is, even if you do not understand, it will increase your virtue. Punya-sravana-kirtanah hrdy antah-stho hy abhadrani. We have accumulated so much dust by our material contact. By so many years' association with the matter, we have accumulated so much dirty things within our heart. That becomes gradually cleansed. Srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah punya-sravana-kirtanah, hrdy antah-stho hy abhadrani. Hrdy antah-stho hy abhadrani vidhunoti suhrt satam.

   Sri Krsna is friend of everyone, but He's a special friend to the devotee. That you will find in Bhagavad-gita. Samo 'ham sarva-bhutesu na me dvesyo 'sti na priyah: "I am friend of everyone. Nobody is My enemy, and nobody is My friend. But I am equal to everyone." Sama, sama means equal.Ye tu bhajanti mam bhaktya tesu te mayi: "But a person who is devoted to Me and is engaged in devotional service with Me, I have got special attention for him."

   Therefore Krsna's another name is suhrt satam. Satam. Satam means those who are trying for having eternal life. Because in this material world we don't get anything eternal. All, everything, temporary. Therefore it is called asat. Asato ma sad gama. The Vedic injunction is "Don't try to remain in this temporary world." Sad gama: "Just try to go to the eternal world." Tamaso ma jyotir gama: "Don't try to remain in this darkness. You go to the kingdom of light." These are Vedic injunctions. So Krsna, He is within our heart. Hrdy antah-sthah. Therefore, as soon as we become a little inclined towards Krsna, then from within our heart He gives us favorable instruction so that we can gradually make progress, gradually.

   Krsna is the first spiritual master, and when we become more interested, then we have to go to a physical spiritual master. That is enjoined in the next verse.

                      tad viddhi pranipatena
                       pariprasnena sevaya
                      upadeksyanti te jnanam
                     jnaninas tattva-darsinah

Now, Krsna advises that "If you want to know that transcendental science, then you just try to approach somebody." Pranipatena. Pranipatena, pariprasnena and sevaya. What is pranipata? Pranipata means surrender. Surrender. You must select a person where you can surrender yourself because nobody likes to surrender to anyone.

   We have got... Everyone, we are puffed up with whatever knowledge we have got. Everyone is puffed up: "Oh, who can give me knowledge?" There is regular propaganda that "For spiritual realization there is no need of spiritual master." But so far Vedic literature is concerned, so far Bhagavad-gita is concerned, so far Bhagavata is concerned, so far the Upanisads and Vedic literatures are concerned, they do not say. They say that there is need of a spiritual master.

   Take for example the Upanisads, the Vedic Upanisads. In the Vedic Upanisads it is said, tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet, srotriyam brahma-nistham, this mantra, that "If you want to learn that transcendental subject, then..." First word is that if you are eager to learn that subject.

   In the material world also, suppose if I want to learn the art of music. Then I have to find out somebody who is a musician. Without having the association of a musician, nobody can learn the art of music. Or any art. Suppose if you want to become an engineer. So you have to enter yourself in an engineering college or technical college and learn there. Nobody can become a medical practitioner simply by purchasing book from the market and reading at home. That is not possible. You have to admit yourself in a medical college and undergo training and practical examination, so many things. Simply by purchasing book, it is not possible.

   Similarly, if you want to learn Bhagavad-gita or any transcendental subject matter, here is the instruction by Lord Krsna Himself. Lord Krsna Himself, because He is the speaker of this Bhagavad-gita, He says that tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya. You must go to a person where you can surrender yourself. That means you have to check, "Who is the real person who can give me instruction on Bhagavad-gita or any Vedic literature, or any scripture, right?" And not that, to search out a person as a, whimsically. No. You have to search out a person very serious that, who is actually in the knowledge of the thing. Otherwise why you shall surrender? No. There is no necessity of surrender. But here it is said clearly that "You have to surrender to a person." That means you have to find out such a person where you can voluntarily surrender. Without finding, your mission will not be fulfilled. Because very word, first thing, is...

   Just like Arjuna in the beginning. We have discussed that point. Arjuna was talking with Krsna in friendly terms just like friend. He was... Krsna was saying some discussed that point. Arjuna was talking withKrsna in friendly terms just like friend. He was... Krsna was saying something, "Oh, you cannot... You are a ksatriya. You are a military man. How can you give up the fighting?" Just like friendly talks. But when Arjuna saw it, that "Our friendly talk will not make a solution," so he surrendered unto Krsna that "I'll..." Sisyas te 'ham sadhi mam prapannam: "I just become surrendered disciple unto You. Please instruct me what is my duty." So this is the process.

   Here also, Krsna advises that "If you have to learn," say, for Bhagavad-gita, "then you have to go to a person where you can surrender." Not only surrender, not blindly surrender. You must be able to inquire. Pariprasna. The next qualification is pariprasna. Pariprasna means inquiry. Without inquiry, you cannot make advance. Just like a student in the school who inquires from the teacher, he's very intelligent. Even a boy, a child, if he inquires from the father, "Oh, father, what is this? What is this?" that child is very intelligent. Very intelligent. So inquiry is required, not only pranipata... "Oh, I have found out a very good spiritual master, very learned and very good, saw. All right. I have surrendered. Then all my business finished." No. That is not...

   You may have a very good spiritual master, but if you have no power to inquire, then you cannot make progress. Inquiries must be there. But inquiry, how inquiry? Not to challenge. Inquiry, not that "Oh, I shall see what kind of spiritual master he is. Let me challenge him and put some irrelevant questions and talk nonsensically, this way and that way." Oh, that will not make... Inquiry on the point. Pariprasna means inquiry on the point, and that inquiry should be seva.

    Sevameans service. Not that "Oh, I have inquired so many things from such and such person. Oh, I have not rendered any payment or any service, so I have gained." No. Without service, your inquiry will be futile. So three things here.Pranipata, pariprasna and seva. Pranipata. Pranipata means you must have the qualification to, at least to find out a person who is actually qualified to give you real instruction. That you have to do. That remains on you.

   Suppose you have to purchase some gold or jewelries, and if you do not know where to purchase, if you go to a grocer shop to purchase a jewel, oh, then you'll be cheated. If he says, go to a grocer shop and ask, "Oh, can you give me diamond?" he will understand that "Here is a fool. So let him [me] give him something. This is diamond." "Oh. What is the price?" He can charge anything and when you come home, your relatives say, "What you have brought?" "This is diamond. I went to the grocer shop." So that kind of finding spiritual master will not do. You have to become a little intelligent. Because without being intelligent nobody can make any spiritual progress.

   Athato brahma... In the Brahma-sutra, in the Vedanta-sutra, it is stated, athato brahma-jijnasa. Brahma-jijnasa. Brahma-jijnasa means to inquire, inquire about the supreme subject matter Brahman. That requires a qualification. Atha. Atha means those who have become experienced of this miserable life of this material world. They can inquire. Then can inquire what is Absolute Truth, what is spiritual life. Athato brahma-jijnasa. Similarly, in the Bhagavata also it is stated, tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh sreya uttamam.

    Sreya uttamam. Uttamam means the udgata-tamam. That is transcendental. Tama means darkness. Anything of this material world, that is in darkness because this material world is dark. You know that the whole world, whole universe, is dark. Therefore there is requisition of the sunlight, moonlight, electricity. It is dark. So uttamam means which is beyond this darkness, beyond this darkness. That means transcendental subject, spiritual subject. In the spiritual world there is no darkness. So if anyone is desirous of inquiring about the spiritual world, then he requires to find out a spiritual master. Otherwise there is no necessity. For a man who wants to remain in this darkness, for material benefit...

   Suppose I want some spiritual master or I want to study Bhagavad-gita orVedanta-sutra so that I may make some material improvement. Oh, that is not required. For material improvement you can work just so many people are working. They are making, trying industry or something like... That is prescribed. But if you are at all interested about the Brahman subject, the spiritual subject, then you require a spiritual master. That is clearly stated.Tasmad gurum prapadyeta. Tasmat means "Therefore one has to surrender unto the spiritual master."

   Who? Who is jijnasuh sreya uttamam: "who is very much eager to understand about the transcendental subject matter." So any Vedic literature the same instruction you'll find, as it is stated in theBhagavad-gita,

                      tad viddhi pranipatena
                       pariprasnena sevaya
                      upadeksyanti te jnanam
                     jnaninas tattva-darsinah

Jnaninah means jnani, or a man who is in perfect knowledge. Perfect knowledge means one who has perfect vision or the perfect, not theoretical, but actual vision of the spiritual subject matter. He is called jnani. Jnaninas tattva-darsinah.

    Tattva. Tattva means the Absolute Truth. Now, so far tattva is concerned, you'll find in the Bhagavad-gita that Krsna is the supreme tattva, Absolute Truth.

   Now, He explains that manusyanam sahasresu kascid yatati siddhaye: "Out of many, many thousands of people, a few people may try how to get spiritual salvation." Not all. Everyone is not expected to hanker after spiritual salvation. That requires also many, many years qualification. So manusyanam sahasresu. After many... Out of many, many thousands of people, one is very much anxious for spiritual realization. And then Lord Krsna says, yatatam api siddhanam. And out of many perfected spiritualists, some may know what is Krsna. Just try to understand. First of all out of many, many, many thousands of people, who wants to have perfection in spiritual life, then those persons who have attained such perfection, out of them, one or two may understand what is Krsna.

   So the subject matter of Krsna is not so easy. It is very difficult also. But one can understand very easily. That process is also prescribed in the Bhagavad-gita.

                      bhaktya mam abhijanati
                    yavan yas casmi tattvatah
                     tato mam tattvato jnatva
                       visate tad-anantaram

Bhakti, devotional service. That devotional service, if you accept, you can understand that difficult subject matter of Krsna very easily. Bhaktya mam abhijanati. Abhijanati means perfectly you can understand. Yavan yas casmi tattvatah. Tattvatah means the Absolute Truth as it is, you can understand. And tato mam tattvato jnatva, and after understanding theKrsna science very perfectly, he becomes eligible to enter into that spiritual kingdom. These things are stated.

   So here... We are discussing this point that

                      tad viddhi pranipatena
                       pariprasnena sevaya
                      upadeksyanti te jnanam
                     jnaninas tattva-darsinah

So if we actually want to reach that point of perfectional knowledge where we can fully surrender... Now, the intelligent person... According to my opinion... I have several times discussed this point, that if it is a point that after many, many births, when I am fully perfect in knowledge, I have to surrender toKrsna, then why not immediately surrender to Him? Why shall I wait for many, many births? That is very intelligent proposal. If that is the end of perfection, then why not accept the perfection immediately? But people are doubtful.

   Somebody asked me... That, I think, Mr. Moscowitz asked me this question. I answered this point. His inquiry was: "How long it will take to be perfect in Krsna consciousness?" So I replied that Krsna consciousness can be had in one second, and it cannot be had in thousands of births and deaths. So why? But if we understand this principle that after attainment of full knowledge, I have to ultimately surrender to vasudevah sarvam iti, I have to become the, I mean to say, sa mahatma, a great soul like that, why not immediately surrender to Krsna? Why not become immediately the supreme, I mean to say, great soul. Sa mahatma sudurlabhah. That is a process.

   But we are, some of us, or most of us, we are not prepared to accept immediately Krsna as the Supreme or we have got many doubts. Therefore, in order to drive away, dissipate all your doubtful ideas, the sastras, the scriptures, the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavata, are there, and if we make scrutinizingly study of these two books, we can understand the Krsna science very nicely, and our progress in the matter of Krsna consciousness will be definite. Thank you very much. If there is any question, you can ask. (end)

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