1 Sri Gopa-kumara said: Coming from Brahmaloka to earth, I saw that not even the slightest fragrance of what had been before still remained.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains the demigods, humans, and their abodes had all been destroyed by the influence of the time of cosmic annihilation.
2 Sri Mathura however, with its forests, hills, streams, and moving creatures, was splendidly manifest as before.
3 Remembering the Lord's instruction, I wandered in Vrndavana. Entering a forest grove, I saw my guru, who had fainted in the ecstasy of love.
4 Revived after many efforts, and seeing me as I bowed before him, he embraced me. Omniscient, he understood my desire.
5 After bathing, he taught me the rules of meditation and other rules of the mantra he had given me. Some things he directly said, and others he hinted.
6 He said: To you, who are very dear to me, I gave everything. By the power of what I gave, you will know everything and attain everything.
7 As with great happiness I fell at his feet, he suddenly left. I could not see where he had gone.
8 With a great effort calming my mind now tortured by separation from him, I began to chant my mantra in the way he had taught.
9 I saw that my body was no longer made of the five gross elements. Going through the circle of the sun, and then going higher, I saw that the different planets were filled with defects, decorated with false shadows of happiness, and filled with illusions, as desires seen in a dream.
11 Planets that before would take a long time to attain, one by one, now were all passed in a single moment, as if I were travelling at the speed of mind.
12 Then I reached the universe's coverings, which had happinesses and opulences millions of times greater than Brahmaloka.
13-4 I came to the coverings of gross material elements, and the subtle material elements, which are named linga, and which contain many great pleasures enjoyed by living entities free from the gross elements.
15-6 First I entered the covering of earth, where I saw the supremely opulent earth-goddess who, with offerings of things difficult to get in the material universes, was worshipping the Lord, who had the form of a great boar, the pores of His body the place from which the universes come.
17 I saw that the entire material universe, including its ingredients, were present in her, its subtle cause.
18 Putting aside the worship of the Lord, the earth-goddess welcomed me as a guest and asked me to stay for some days and enjoy the happiness there.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that this place is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.89.47.
19 Taking her permission, I quickly went through that covering, as if being somehow dragged through it, and I came to the other coverings.
20-1 In those coverings I saw, one after another, Lord Mastya, Lord Surya, Lord Pradyumna, Lord Aniruddha, Lord Sankarsana, and Lord Vasudeva, being worshipped by the great forms of the deities of water, fire, air, ether, false-ego, and mahat-tattva.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that the deity of water worshipped Lord Matsya, and the deity of fire worshipped Lord Surya. In this way each element-deity worshipped a specific form of the Lord.
22 Each gross material element, and then each subtle material element manifested greater and greater objects of worship, worshippers, enjoyment, beauty and glory.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that in each element-covering these things were greater than in the previous covering. The objects of worship were the Deities beginning with Lord Mastya, and the worshippers were the element-deities beginning with the element fire.
23 Passing through these coverings as before, I came to the very dark covering of material energy, its dark colour very pleasing to the eyes.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that this covering is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.89.47.
24 Seeing this dark colour, so like the colour of my worshipable Lord, I became very pleased, and did not wish to go any further.
25 The very beautiful material nature, concluding the worship of her Deity, the splendid form of Mohini-devi, at once approached me.
26 Placing anima and the other mystic powers as an offering before me, she begged me to stay, as had the earth-goddess and the other deities.
27 She affectionately said: If you wish impersonal liberation, then you must please me, for I guard the door to it.
28 If you wish devotional service to Lord Vishnu then you should worship me, for by His mercy I am His maidservant, sister, and potency.
29 Sri Gopa-kumara said: Thinking of her as Lord Vishnu's potency, I bowed before her and, ignoring everything, wandered about to gaze at the covering which had a very beautiful colour...
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that Gopa-kumara ignored everything she said and all the offerings she presented before him.
30 ...which was supremely glorious, which was enjoyed by many individual spirit souls manifesting forms of subtle material elements...
31 ...which had many forms, which was difficult to understand, which had opulences that charm the heart, which was worshipped by the gross and subtle material elements, and which consisted of the material universes.
32 Then, by the Lord's wish, I travelled a great distance through that great darkness and finally I saw a light so splendid it made me close my eyes.
33 With great devotion and care I looked ahead and saw, splendid as millions of suns, the Supreme Lord...
34 ...who delighted my eyes and heart, who was all-powerful, who was decorated with wonderful sweetnesses, who had all the characteristics of the Supreme Person, who was perfectly spiritual, who was very wonderful...
35 ...who was eternally beyond the modes of material nature, who had all spiritual qualities, who had no form, whose form charmed the hearts of the world, who was splendidly manifest as the creator of the material energy, who had no relationship with the material energy, and who was infallible.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami says the statement that the Lord had no form means He had no material form.
36 What should I do? Overcome with great fear, reverence, bliss, and love, I had no power to understand at all.
37 Although He is manifest only by His own wish, and although He is beyond the material senses, by the power of His mercy He is seen directly.
38 Was I seeing Him with my eyes, or my heart, or something beyond them both? I could not decide.
39 One moment seeing Him formless, I remembered the mercy of Lord Jagannatha. In the next moment seeing, as before, that the great splendour had form, I became happy.
40 One moment I began to merge into that light, but by the Lord's mercy I was saved by the touch of the splendour of His lotus toenail.
41 My heart became pleased when at one moment I saw the Lord, as the sun is surrounded by rays of light, surrounded by perfect devotees at once different and not different from Him.
42 My heart plunged in an ocean of bliss, I became like a self-satisfied sage, or like a person whose desires are all fulfilled.
43 Thinking a flood of thoughts worshipped by logic I concluded that this was the best place, the ultimate, the final fruit of all endeavours.
44 In my heart tossed by waves of bliss, awareness of everything else disappeared.
45 Because of the instruction of the great devotee, because of the power of my service to my mantra, and because of my yearning to see directly the lotus feet of my worshipable Lord, I never merged in impersonal liberation.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that the great devotee here is Gopa-kumara's guru, and the Lord here is Lord Madana-Gopala.
46 The sight of that Supreme Person increased my long-nourished yearning to see my worshipable Lord and carried it on the path of my memory.
47 Gazing at Him, as He was manifest before me, I was not pleased as before. I feared merging into Him.
48 I thought, "When I come to Vrajabhumi, I will attain my desire." Then I heard wonderful sounds of singing and instrumental music.
49 Happy, I looked at that direction and saw, coming from above, a person different from all the others, riding on a bull...
50 ...his body fair with camphor, having three eyes, his only clothing the four directions, crowned with a half-moon, graceful, holding a trident, his matted locks holding the Ganges' water, anointed with ashes, wearing a necklace of glorious bones...
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that the bones were glorious because they were the bones of great Vaishnavas.
51 ...pleased by goddess Gauri sitting on his lap, and served with very splendid paraphernalia by associates whose handsome forms and graceful actions were like his.
52 I became filled with joy and wonder. I thought: "Who is this that, surrounded by his associates, stands above impersonal liberation?
53 "His opulences seem unworldly and he seems better than all the liberated souls, but yet he looks like a great hedonist who does not care to act rightly."
54 When, my heart overcome with bliss by seeing him, I bowed before him and his associates, he mercifully glanced at me.
55 Joyfully approaching the leader of the associates, who was named Sriman Nandisvara, I asked about him.
56 He laughed and said: "O cowherd boy, O devotee worshipper of Lord Gopala, you don't know Lord Shiva, who is the Lord of the universes...
57 ...who gives both material pleasures and liberation, who increases devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is worshipped by the liberated souls, and who is dear to the Vaishnavas?
58-9 "Conquered by the devotion of his friend Kuvera, from his own abode, which is like himself, and which is attained by the devotion of they who see that Lord Shiva and Lord Krsna are not different, he is now going, along with his beloved Parvati and his many associates, to decorate Mount Kailasa."
60 Sri Gopa-kumara said: Hearing this, I became happy, and I desired to get the blissful mercy of Lord Shiva.
61 Understanding my heart, Lord Shiva gave a meaningful glance to Nandi. Nandi then explained to me the pure truth, which was at once manifested before me.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that the fact that Lord Krsna and Lord Shiva are not different was the truth manifested to Gopa-kumara.
62 The truth was that Lord Shiva, who increases one's love for Lord Krsna, is not different from Lord Madana-Gopala, my Lord, who is more dear to me than life.
63 I happily joined their company and all of Lord Shiva's associates treated me well. From Sri Nandi I heard of Lord Shiva's extraordinary glories.
64 Always in the same form, Lord Shiva stays in his own abode eternally. There he is always seen by his devotees, who have faith in him alone, and who are pleased to stay in his abode.
65 He is always filled with devotion for Lord Krsna, who is not different from him. With singing, dancing, and other pastimes he delights his associates.
66 Although he is the Lord of the universes, Lord Shiva always worships thousand-headed Lord Sesa with great love, as if he were His servant.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that this is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.17.16.
67 Even though I became very happy to hear of the supreme glories of Shivaloka, still I noticed that my heart felt empty.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that Gopa-kumara still yearned to see the lotus feet of Lord Madana-Gopala.
68 Thinking about the reason for this, by the power of my service to the mantra my guru gave, I suddenly understood.
69 The absence of the pastimes and glories of Lord Madana-Gopala's lotus feet gave me pain.
70 Then I told my mind that because he is the same as Lord Madana-Gopala, Lord Shiva himself has performed these wonderful pastimes, although in a different form.
71-2 Seeing it was still unhappy, I said to my mind: Although you have not yet seen in Lord Shiva the sweetness of Lord Madana-Gopala's form and other glories, still, your long-cherished desire to see them will certainly be fulfilled by Lord Shiva's mercy.
73 My mind somehow became satisfied. Then Lord Shiva became tired and stopped, and for a moment I stayed happily by his side.
74 Then, O lord, from far away came the very sweet sound of some great souls singing.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that the word "lord" here refers to the Mathura brahmana, who is very fortunate because he is a devotee of Lord Madana-Gopala.
75 Hearing this, Lord Shiva became plunged in an ocean of bliss and, overcome with ecstatic love, began to dance.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that he manifested the symptoms of ecstasy, such as perspiring, speaking with a choked voice, trembling, his bodily hairs standing up, and his eyes shedding tears.
76 The goddess, best of chaste ladies, along with Nandi and the others, encouraged the Lord by singing and playing musical instruments.
77 Then I suddenly many handsome four-armed men coming, filled with the glories of youth, handsomeness,, and sweetness...
78 ...the splendour of whose limbs decorated their ornaments and put Lord Shiva's followers in the shade, who were plunged in the nectar of the bliss of the great glories of their Lord...
79 ...who were beyond description, whose clothing and ornaments charmed the heart, and who were accompanied by the four sages headed by Sanaka that we had seen before.
80 The sight of them created a bliss that tugged at my heart. I did not know anything within or without more dear than the sight of them.
81 After a moment I composed myself. My heart filled with awe and shyness, I could not beg to serve them.
82 The desire to serve them overwhelmed weak me. By Lord Shiva's mercy would they speak even once to me?
83 From whence had they come? Who were they? I prayed they would mercifully glance at me. Tightly embracing them, Lord Shiva fainted in the ecstasy of love.
84 Encouraged by Goddess Uma, who faithfully followed Lord Shiva's heart, and who could understand my thoughts, Ganesa softly spoke.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that Ganesa spoke softly because he was to say something very confidential, and it was not right for Lord Shiva's followers hear it.
85 Sri Ganesa said: They are the personal associates of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, the master of Vaikuntha. They have forms like His. They have come from Vaikuntha.
86-7 Look, some of them are going to a four-headed Brahma's universe. Others, far way, are quickly going to an eight-headed Brahma's universe, which is twice the size. Still others are going to a sixteen-headed Brahma's universe, which is twice the size again.
88-9 Ganesa then showed me these many associates, who were decorated with appropriate ornaments, who charmed the eyes and heart, and who in their pastimes were entering the millions and millions of universes of millions and millions of great, lotus-faced Brahmas.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that these associates of the Lord are described in Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.14.11, 10.87.41 and 6.16.37.
90-1 (Ganesa said:) From all fears they protect devotees who, somehow even once get the slight reflection of the Lord's holy name on their tongue or the pathway to their ear. Fond only of devotional service, by their own wish they wander everywhere preaching of glorious devotional service.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami says these two verses explain why the liberated devotees of Vaikuntha come to the material universes.
92-3 These four, who are incarnations of the Lord in the forms of devotees, who are the best of celibate sages, and who appear to be the Lord's associates, wander about for the welfare of the worlds. They reside in Tapoloka, bringing auspiciousness to the sages who stay there bereft of Lord Narayana's company, feeling lost and without a master.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that the four sages here are the four Kumara's, headed by Sanaka, who are devotee-incarnations of the Lord of Vaikuntha. they bring auspiciousness to the residents of Tapoloka by glorifying the Supreme Lord's pastimes.
94-5 Having recently gone to Vaikuntha and seen the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is full of all attractive transcendental qualities, having drowned there in a flood of limitless bliss that mocks the happiness of impersonal liberation and in the company of devotees having drunk there the sweet nectar of devotional service to Lord Hari, they (the four Kumaras) have now come here.
96-7 How will I be able to describe Vaikunthaloka, which is filled with the limitless ultimate of all happiness and opulence, which is decorated with the pastimes of the lotus feet of Lord Narayana, the husband of the goddess of fortune, which the devotees full of love find easy to attain, and which they whose hearts are wounded by the desire for impersonal liberation and filled with the sinful desire to become one with the Lord, find very difficult to attain?
Srila Sanatana Gosvami quotes the following warnings from Vedic literature:
"The half-wake fool that proclaims, 'Everything is Brahman,' takes birth again in a terrible hell."
"A person who claims, 'I am the Supreme Brahman, who now enjoys pastimes of sense gratification,' burns in hell for billions of kalpas."
"A person who claims, 'I am the Supreme Brahman, who now enjoys pastimes of sense gratification in the worlds of repeated birth and death,' loses the merit of his spiritual deeds and becomes like an outcaste."
98 If my father is kind, then you may hear of the glories of that place and you may also go there and see them directly.
99 Sri Gopa-kumara said: O brahmana, filled with a great yearning to attain that place, I danced on the waves of a shoreless ocean of anxiety.
100 Thinking I would not be able to go there, I cried and by the power of my grief, I fainted from moment to moment.
101 Then Lord Shiva, who is very merciful and very dear to the Vaishnavas, and who cannot bear to see others suffer, picked me up, comforted me, and spoke to me.
102 Lord Shiva said: O Vaishnava, Parvati and I yearn to stay always in Vaikunthaloka, just as you do.
103 That realm is very difficult to attain. The liberated souls pray for it. Lord Brahma, his sons, and I myself strive for it.
104-6 A person who has great faith in the pure and desireless performance of one's own varnasrama duties attains the mercy of Lord Hari. If that mercy is multiplied a hundred times, one attains the post of Brahma. If that mercy is again multiplied a hundred times, one attains my post. If the mercy I receive from the Lord is multiplied a hundred times, one attains Vaikuntha.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that this is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.24.29. It is also described in Itihasa-samuccaya in these words:
"Saintly persons free of false-ego, material possessiveness, and material duality, who devotedly engage in the yoga of meditation, and who know that the pure, eternal, splendid Supreme Brahma effulgence is beyond the realm of the demigod Brahma, go to that effulgence."
"They who worship Lord Hari, who is known as Vishnu, Krsna, Jisnu, Sanatana, Narayana, Aja, Visvaksena, and Caturbhuja, and who meditate on Him, the transcendental divine Person, and who remember Him, the infallible Lord, attain His eternal abode. That is the conclusion of the eternal Sruti-sastra."
107 You are a Govardhana-gopa's son, a devotee of Lord Mathuresa, and a disciple of a brahmana attached to the Lord's service. You devotedly chant a mantra glorifying the Lord and You love the Lord. You should go to Vaikuntha.
108-11 Knowing that impersonal liberation, sayujya-mukti, which is one of the four kinds of liberation, and which is attained by sannyasi who imagine that they are not different from the Supreme, whose hearts are withered by the great flames of sufferings in the world of repeated birth and death, who cherish what is worthless and cannot distinguish the worthless and the valuable, and whom I, by the order of Lord Krsna, who wished to conceal the path of loving devotion to His lotus feet, cast into an ocean of illusions, is rejected by they who taste the bliss of devotional service to the Lord. You should also reject that liberation, which is a great obstacle.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that the impersonal Brahma effulgence is described in the Hari-vamsa, where Lord Krsna says to Arjuna:
"O best of the Bharatas, I am the divine Brahma effulgence that you see. It is My eternal splendour."
"It is My superior potency. Although it is sometimes manifest and sometimes not manifest, it is eternal. The greatest knowers of yoga enter it and become liberated."
"O son of Prtha, it is the goal of the sankhya philosophers, the yogis and the ascetics. It is My supreme Brahma effulgence, which pervades the entire world."
"O scion of Bharata, you should know that this great effulgence is Mine."
That impersonal liberation is worthless is explained in the prayers of Lord Brahma (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.14.4), where it is compared to the empty husks left remaining after rice is threshed.
That Lord Krsna ordered Lord Shiva to preach the theory of mayavada impersonalism is described in Padma Purana, Uttara-khand:
"The mayavada philosophy", Lord Shiva informed his wife Parvati, "is impious (asac-chastra). It is covered Buddhism. My dear Parvati, in the form of a brahmana in Kali-yuga I teach this imagined mayavada philosophy. In order to cheat the atheists, I describe the Supreme Personality of Godhead to be without form and without qualities. Similarly, in explaining Vedanta I described the same mayavada philosophy in order to mislead the entire population toward atheism by denying the personal form of the Lord."*
This is also described in the Brhat-sahasra-nama, where Lord Krsna orders Lord Shiva:
"In Kali-yuga, mislead the people in general by propounding imaginary meanings of the Vedas to bewilder them."*
112 A brahmana who lived in Dvaraka and prayed only for the nectar of devotional service, by his own mystic powers brought his sons from impersonal liberation to Dvaraka.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that the wonderful loving devotion of the residents of Dvaraka, who had forms of eternity, knowledge and bliss, felt for Lord Krsna's lotus feet completely eclipsed the happiness of impersonal liberation. The glories of devotional service are described in Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.47.37, 7.1.46, and 4.29.47.
113 By the mercy of your spiritual guru, even here you see the Supreme Lord. That sight makes you yearn to see Lord Krsna.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that the words "even here" mean "even in this realm, where the impersonal liberation is manifest."
114 Sri Gopa-kumara said: O brahmana, by Lord Shiva's mercy I was filled with bliss. Although wishing to say something, because of shyness I could not speak.
115 Hearing Lord Shiva's words, the Lord's humble associates respectfully bowed before him and with love said to him:
116 The Lord's associates said: O Lord, you are not different from the Lord of Vaikuntha, and Gauri is not different from Goddess Laksmi.
117 It is right that you and Your goddess stay in His realm (Vaikuntha). You are famous for being very dear to Him and for being His great incarnation.
118 What you have said about yourself is proper for one very dear to the Lord.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that the reference here is to Text 103, where Lord Shiva says about Vaikuntha: "That realm is very difficult to attain. The liberated souls pray for it. Lord Brahma, his sons, and I myself strive for it." Such a humble statement (that he prays to attain Vaikuntha) is proper for a person who is very dear to the Lord.
119 You enjoy pastimes in the nectar waves of devotional service. The Vaishnavas glorify you. You are the most glorious of all incarnations.
120 Sri Gopa-kumara said: Ashamed to hear himself praised, Lord Shiva remained silent. The very friendly associates of the Lord then embraced me and said:
121 The Lord's associates said: O you who worship our Lord's transcendental mantra, O you who are dear to Lord Shiva, O cowherd boy, we count on you among the devotees.
122 An exalted Mathura-brahmana named Jayanta was born on the Ganges' shore. He is an incarnation of Lord Krsna. He is your great guru. (* The Guru of Gopakumar, Sri Jayanta, is non-different from Sri Gaurasundara).
123 Know the truth. We have come here for your sake. Hear what you should do for your own welfare: If you desire Vaikuntha, then renounce everything and perform the nine kinds of loving devotional service.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that the word "here" means "in this realm of impersonal liberation". Renouncing everything here means renouncing even his mantra chanting. The nine kinds of devotional service begin with chanting and hearing the Lord's glories.
124 Worship Srimad-Bhagavatam and the other scriptures that teach devotional service. Regularly hear of the Lord's pastimes. When they lovingly enter the ear, the narrations of His pastimes have the power to give the Lord's feet at once.
125 Any one of these nine kinds of devotional service is the best of all ways to attain Vaikuntha, the highest goal.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that any one of the nine kinds of devotional service is better than pious work (karma), philosophical speculation (jnana) and other spiritual methods. Vaikuntha is better than sense gratification, impersonal liberation or any other goal. This is explained in the following verses of the Brahma Purana.
"Simply by being initiated, the devotees of Krsna attain liberation, what to speak of they who always worship Lord Acyuta with devotion."
They who with a vow always remember Lord Janardana, attain the blissful realm of Vaikuntha when they leave this body."
126 The glories (of Vaikuntha) make the great souls reject all material results as insignificant.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that the great souls here are the devotees, who relish devotional service and have the power to distinguish what is valuable and what is worthless.
127 To taste its sweetness, the devotees who know how to taste nectar engage in devotional service, which has nine ways...
128 When these kinds of devotional service are performed with faith, at a certain time pure love for Lord Krsna's lotus feet appears of its own accord.
129 Devotional service performed with love cures the heart-disease that is the desire for other attainments, a disease that prevents the attainment of Vaikuntha.
130 Wherever devotional service is performed, that place becomes Vaikuntha. There the Lord stays.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that this is confirmed by the Lord Himself in these words:
"I live neither in Vaikuntha, nor in the yogis' hearts. O Narada, I stay where My devotees chant My glories."
131 Although the Lord is always present in other places, He is not always seen there. The devotees yearn for Vaikuntha because He is always seen there.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that the Lord's wonderful handsomeness, virtues, pastimes, sweetness, and other features are not eternally visible in places other than Vaikuntha.
132 The faithful devotees cannot attain this kind of pure devotional service, eternal and without any obstacles, in any other place.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that the words "like this" mean "performed with pure love". Because in Vaikuntha there are no obstacles presented by material time or other material limitations, the pure devotees there, filled with pure love and manifesting forms of eternity, knowledge and bliss, engage in pure devotional service eternally. For this reason the devotees aspire to attain Vaikuntha.
133 Do not think devotional service is an activity of the material senses, mind or body. It is beyond the modes of material nature. It is eternal, spiritual, and full of bliss.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that in the activities of devotional service it is not the material ears and voice that hear and chant the Lord's glories, not the material mind that remembers the Lord, and not the material body that bows down before the Lord or serves Him in other ways.
134 To bring happiness to the devotees, devotional service is splendidly manifest by Lord Krsna's mercy in many ways to the souls beyond the modes of material nature, who have forms of eternity, knowledge and bliss.
135 When, by using proper discrimination, a pure soul goes to Lord Hari's spiritual abode, the many kinds of pure devotional service are splendidly manifest in him.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that proper discrimination is described in Bhagavad-gita 5.9.
136 For a soul who has reached the stage of jnana-sunya-bhakti, for someone who is not performing any material actions by his body or senses, there is no contact with anything other than devotional service.
137 How can a person who remains aloof from the activities of devotional service to the Lord, as if they were like other activities, go to Vaikuntha? He attains impersonal liberation.
138 It should not be thought that the activities of devotional service are like other activities. It should not be said, with external vision, that a devotee's body or possessions are like anything else.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that this is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.2.35.
139 Whether in Vaikuntha or in another place, the devotees have forms, limbs, and senses that are eternal and full of knowledge and bliss.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that by the potency of the Lord's mercy a devotee's material body becomes spiritualised.
140 We ourselves, the Lord's associates in Vaikuntha, who day and night serve Him in many ways and remain untouched by the modes of material natures, are the proof of this.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that this is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.1.34.
141 Devotional service lovingly appears before the new devotees because of the actions they perform with their senses.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that these are the actions of devotional service, which begin with glorifying the Lord. Devotional service appears before the new devotees to increase their faith.
142 The great souls do no think devotional service is independent of the Lord. They see devotional service is the Lord's great mercy.
143 If you wish to see beautiful Vaikuntha at once, then go to beautiful Vrajabhumi, the best of holy places that fulfill all desires.
144 To the Lord's beautiful lotus feet always render pure devotional service, which consists mainly of glorifying the holy name.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that glorifying the Lord's holy name quickly brings one to Vaikuntha. Pure devotional service is not mixed with fruitive work (karma), philosophical speculation (jnana), or anything else.
145 By this you will attain a great wealth of spiritual love and you will easily see Lord Krsna in Vaikuntha.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that this is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.15.25.
146 Some think that remembering the Lord, not glorifying Him, is the best, most confidential way to attain spiritual love because the devotional service of glorifying the Lord is easily manifested, is done without knowledge, and only appears on one sense: the voice.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that this is the opinion of Pippalayana Muni and the other sages in Tapoloka. According to them, because glorifying the Lord is done with one of the working senses (the voice) and not one of the knowledge-acquiring senses, it is done without knowledge. They also say that because glorifying the Lord quickly brings a result, that result, because it is quickly attained, must be inferior.
147 The devotional service of remembering the Lord, which appears when the fickle, horrible, childish mind, which is the king of all the senses, is brought under control and purified, is the best.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that this is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.23.45 and 11.23.47.
148 We think that because it engages the voice, ears and mind, and because it attracts others as it does oneself, glorifying the Lord is better than remembering the Lord with the fickle mind.
149-50 When the voice and the other restless internal and external senses are controlled, then the mind becomes steady in remembrance of the Lord. Remembrance of the Lord is the result of this endeavour. This is the opinion of they who are attached to meditating on the Lord. They who have faith in meditation employ only the mind in remembering the Lord.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that these and the following verses present the opinion of they who are attached to meditation. They think that remembering the Lord is the result obtained by glorifying the Lord. The external senses begin with the ears and the internal senses begin with the mind. The mind may be controlled either by observing a vow of silence or by actively glorifying the Lord.
151 By the power of meditation the activities of the senses, beginning with glorifying, touching, and seeing, rest within the mind. For this reason meditation is better than glorifying the Lord.
152 The kind of devotional service one loves and enjoys and finds sweet as nectar is the best kind for him. The saintly devotees say it is not the same for the result one obtains.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that the result has not the same nature as the means for it is not many, but is only one: spiritual love for the Lord.
153 With glorification of the Lord the happiness of meditating on the Lord increases. By meditating on the Lord the happiness of the sweetness of glorifying Him increases. We see that they increase each other. They are one.
154 As glorifying the Lord gives happiness, so does meditating on Him. They whose hearts are attached to one thing become peaceful when in their hearts they see the object of their desire.
155 As men stricken by fever break their thirst and become happy by drinking water cool as nectar so by glorifying or meditating on the Lord one becomes happy.
156 If they have the power to glorify the Lord, the devotees are ashamed to remain silent in a secluded place.
157 In solitude meditating on the Lord becomes perfected. Glorifying the Lord may be done either in solitude or surrounded by many people.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that if obstacles prevent one from glorifying the Lord in the presence of others, one may glorify Him in a secluded place.
158 Of the many ways to glorify Lord Krsna, chanting His holy name is the first. Because it has the power to give the great wealth of pure love for Him, it is considered the best.
159 Who can describe the peerless glory of Lord Krsna's holy name, which delights the heart and is waves of nectar always lovingly tasted by the tongue?
160 Although all the Lord's names are equally glorious, by chanting the names that are dear to the devotees one quickly and easily attains his desire.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that there are no gradations of higher and lower in the Lord's names. All are unlimitedly glorious. Some names, however, are especially dear to the devotees. This is described in these words:
"O beautiful-faced Parvati, the holy name of Lord Rama is equal to a thousand other names of the Lord.
161 The devotees attracted to various names of the Lord gradually become attracted to all His names. They all become dear to him.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that first one, then two, then three, and gradually all the Lord's names become dear to the devotee.
162 Appearing in one sense, the nectar of the holy name floods all the senses with sweetness.
163 The holy name's appearance on the voice-sense delights both oneself and others. For this reason glorifying the Lord's holy name is better than meditating on Him.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains the holy name delights both the chanter and they who hear him.
164 It is said that chanting the holy name is a great treasure of love for Lord Krsna. It is the best and most powerful spiritual practice. It is like the best mantra.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that the glories of chanting the holy name are described in Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.2.39-40.
165 They who know how to taste spiritual nectar know that spiritual love is the fruit of devotional service. In spiritual love one chants the holy name without stopping.
166 They who know how to taste nectar describe the spiritual qualities of intense love for Lord Krsna. When the chanter is in distress, the Lord's holy name is chanted with great love.
167 Know that, as the cataka birds lament when there is no rain cloud, and as the cakravaki birds lament when separated at night from their husbands, so the (devotees)), distressed (by separation from the Lord, make a lament of) chanting the holy names.
168 Only by the wonderful mercy of the Lord, who is a nectar ocean of wonderful pastimes, is the wonderful sweetness of chanting the holy name manifest. It is not manifest by one's own efforts.
169 The karmic reactions of they who worship (the holy name) are destroyed as much as they could wish. Others, however, must still experience their karma.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that this is described in the Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya, where the Lord says:
"Know that My devotees transcend the wheel of karma, which the demigods and demons cannot escape."
170 Afraid to reveal the secret treasure of devotional service, the holy name's exalted servants pretend that they themselves are also suffering because of their own fault.
171 Simply by chanting the holy name, all Lord Hari's devotees are free of sins and sufferings. However, some devotees who are merciful as the Lord is, teach the people of the world to act rightly.
172 As King Bharata and others showed the fault of bad association, as King Yudhisthira and others showed it is a mistake to gamble, and as King Nrga and others showed the fearful danger of stealing from a brahmana, by their own actions, these pure souls teach the people.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that King Bharata became degraded by becoming attached to a fawn.
173 By the power of devotional service, and by thoughtful understanding, you will surmount the greatest obstacles in this world. We will also help you in all circumstances.
174 Even the words of the sage in Tapoloka could not make you abandon your wish to see the Lord directly.
175 The Lord's form is real. It is eternal and full of knowledge and bliss. This form of eternity, knowledge, and bliss can be seen only with proper senses. Still, by the power of the Lord's mercy He can be seen even by eyes of matter. Thus, either by one's own power, or His mercy, the Lord may be seen.
176 The mind thinks: "Although He is seen only with eyes of knowledge, I am seeing Him with these material eyes." In this way the teacher that is the power of Lord Krsna's mercy acts to increase (the devotee's) happiness.
177 By the power of a flood of His mercy, or by the power of devotional service, the Lord may be seen. Even with limited, material eyes He may be seen perfectly and always, as He is seen by the mind.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that these words refute Pippalayana Muni, who said that with the naturally limited material eyes one may sometimes see the Lord, and sometimes not see Him, and only with the subtle mind is one able to see the Lord always and without impediment. The conclusion is that by the Lord's mercy, or by devotional service, one is able to see the Lord always and without impediment.
178 If (the power of the Lord's mercy or the power of devotional service) is not (present), then it is not possible to see the self-manifest Lord in one's heart. Only when He is worshipped does the intensely blissful Lord give bliss.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that the Lord is supremely independent. He appears only by His own wish. Therefore He is called self-manifest.
179 By seeing the Lord with one's eyes, one obtains the Lord's great mercy. This is seen everywhere. By hearing about the Lord and serving Him in other ways one can attain the supremely blissful goal (of seeing Him).
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that this and the following two verses declare that seeing the lord directly is better than seeing Him in meditation. Kardama Muni and Dhruva Maharaj are examples of devotees who by seeing the Lord obtained His mercy. Pippalayana Muni may say that Lord Brahma saw the Lord in a trance of meditation and obtained His mercy in that way. To this it is replied that Lord Brahma is an exception here. The other ways of serving the Lord mentioned here include glorifying the Lord and remembering Him. As one of the activities of devotional service, remembering the Lord in meditation also leads to the result of directly seeing Him.
180 Directly seeing (the Lord) is the best result of all kinds of spiritual practices. (By seeing Him) illusion perishes at its root and spiritual love (for Him) grows.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that this is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.21.
181 Although Prahlad and other devotees always saw the Lord in their hearts, they still yearned to see Him directly. The proof of this is that after directly seeing the Lord, their love for Him increased.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that this is proven by the Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya's description of Prahlad's attaining great love for the Lord by seeing Him on the ocean's shore.
182 (Someone may say that) sometimes the devotees close their eyes (in meditation) when they directly see the Lord. (To this it is answered) that this is not meditation, but it is like trembling or other symptoms of ecstatic love.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that someone may quote the description of the four Kumaras' closing their eyes when they saw Lord Narayana in Vaikuntha (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.15.44). However, they did not close their eyes in order to meditate on the Lord, but rather because they were overcome with ecstatic love.
183 Meditation is proper when the Lord cannot be seen, but not when He can be seen. Whether the Lord is seen or not, glorifying Him is always proper.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that glorifying the Lord when He is not present is described in the account of the rasa-dance in Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.33.7). It is also described in Vishnu Purana in these words:
"(Bereft of His company), the gopis sang Lord Krsna's name again and again."
"(Bereft of His company), the gopis called out: O Krsna! O Krsna!"
184 The Lord's beautiful name, which is more dear even than His beautiful Deity form, is auspicious for the world, is easily worshipped, and is full of nectar. Nothing is equal to it.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that this is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.14.15.
185 Therefore, obey Lord Shiva's order and quickly go to beautiful Mathura, to which we bow down to offer our respects, and which is most dear to Lord Krsna.
186 Sri Gopa-kumara said: Drinking this nectar for my ears, I became filled with bliss. I bowed down to them and to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and then I was suddenly in the land of Vraja. At this my intelligence was bewildered.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that the statement that Gopa-kumara was bewildered means that he was either surprised or full of joy.