Bg 4.34 — August 14, 1966, New York


tad viddhi praṇipātena
paripraśnena sevayā
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ
[Bg. 4.34]

Now, this verse we are discussing in our last meeting. Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, 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 Brahmavāda, or impersonal, impersonal Absolute Truth, and the knowledge of Paramātmā, the localized Supersoul, and the knowledge of Bhagavān, 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 Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam we have got this information, that the tattva, that the Absolute Truth is realized in three visions: brahmeti paramātmeti bhagavān iti śabdyate [SB 1.2.11]. Brahman means impersonal Absolute Truth, and Paramātmā means Supersoul, and Bhagavān means the Supreme Personality of God. That Supreme Personality of Godhead is Kṛṣṇa. 

You’ll find in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam. There are description of different manifestation of Viṣṇu 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 Śrī Kṛṣṇa. We have got evidences from various Vedic literature that Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Bhāgavata confirms, ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam [SB 1.3.28], 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-caritāmṛta there is a specific list. Now, after giving that list, the conclusion is made that ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam. 

Now, we have given the list, the author of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, but all these incarnation of Godhead, they are either plenary manifestation or manifestation of the plenary manifestation, like that. Ete cāṁśa. Aṁśa means plenary manifestation, and kalāḥ means manifestation of the plenary manifestation. So the conclusion in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is that “This name Kṛṣṇa, which is given here…” Because Kṛṣṇa also appeared, and He proclaimed Himself that yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati bhārata, tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham [Bg. 4.7]. So He is accepted as the original Supreme Personality of God. 

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

īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ
anādir ādir govindaḥ
[Bs. 5.1]

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, īśvara. 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 Brahmā. Brahmā is the controller of this whole universe. And there are many, innumerable universes and innumerable Brahmās also. And their controller is the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. And the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu is controlled by Mahā-Viṣṇu, and Mahā-Viṣṇu is controlled by Saṅkarṣaṇa, and Saṅkarṣaṇa is controlled by Nārāyaṇa. And Nārāyaṇa is controlled by Vāsudeva. And Vāsudeva is controlled by Baladeva. And Baladeva is controlled by Kṛṣṇa. Therefore you’ll find in the Bhagavad-gītā that Kṛṣṇa says, mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat asti kiñcid dhanañjaya: [Bg. 7.7] “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 Gosvāmīs in Vṛndāvana… There were Six Gosvāmīs. They were very good scholars, especially Jīva Gosvāmī. They have analyzed the characteristics of the Absolute Truth, Personality of Godhead, and they have established that Kṛṣṇa has got the all the transcendental qualities of Godhead in Kṛṣṇa. And in Nārāyaṇa there are ninety-four percent of the transcendental qualities of the Absolute Truth. Similarly, in Lord Śiva 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 Kṛṣṇa says that “All kinds of sacrifices, whatever sacrifice you can undertake…” There are different kinds of, mentioned, dravya-yajña, jñāna-yajña, yoga-yajña, so many. There are different types of yajña. But here Kṛṣṇa concludes, “All the different types of yajña,” sarvaṁ karmākhilaṁ pārtha jñāne parisamāpyate, “whatever yajña 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-gītā, it is said, bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate [Bg. 7.19]. Bahūnāṁ janmanām ante. Bahūnām means after many, many births of culturing knowledge, when he comes to the real knowledge, real, perfect knowledge. Bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān. Not the fools, but jñānavān. He especially mentions jñānavān. Jñānavān māṁ prapadyate. Jñānavān the sign is that jñānavān surrenders unto the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa. That is the highest stage of knowledge. 

Either you take it, granted… Just like Arjuna was advised by Kṛṣṇa, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja: [Bg. 18.66] “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 Kṛṣṇa. 

bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ
[Bg. 7.19]

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 vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti: [Bg. 7.19] “Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa, is everything.” As it is confirmed in the Brahma-saṁhitā, that 

īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ
anādir ādir govindaḥ
[Bs. 5.1]

Sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam 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 Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That qualification means Kṛṣṇa consciousness. 

This Kṛṣṇa consciousness begins with śravaṇaṁ kīrtanam [SB 7.5.23]. Śravaṇam, hearing. We have to hear about Kṛṣṇa. Just like the Śrīmad-Bhagavad-gītā is the preliminary study of understanding or hearing about Kṛṣṇa. Hearing about Kṛṣṇa. 

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. Kṛṣṇa consciousness process is first with hearing. Śravaṇam. Śravaṇam means hearing. 

Then kīrtanam. Kīrtanam means to chant about the glories, about the holy name, about the form, about the quality. Then this is association with Kṛṣṇa because Kṛṣṇa, 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 Kṛṣṇa helps us to understand Him. 

Śṛṇvatām… It is in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. There is a verse. 

śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ
hṛdy antaḥ-stho hy abhadrāṇi
vidhunoti suhṛt satām
[SB 1.2.17]

Suhṛt satām. Kṛṣṇa is sitting within your heart. Kṛṣṇa 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 śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ. 

When you begin to hear about Kṛṣṇa, then the hearing of kṛṣṇa-kathā, the topics about Kṛṣṇa, is puṇya-śravaṇa-kīrtanaḥ. It is, even if you do not understand, it will increase your virtue. Puṇya-śravaṇa-kīrtanaḥ hṛdy antaḥ-stho hy abhadrāṇi. 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. Śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ puṇya-śravaṇa-kīrtanaḥ, hṛdy antaḥ-stho hy abhadrāṇi. Hṛdy antaḥ-stho hy abhadrāṇi vidhunoti suhṛt satām. 

Śrī Kṛṣṇa is friend of everyone, but He’s a special friend to the devotee. That you will find in Bhagavad-gītā. Samo ‘haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu na me dveṣyo ‘sti na priyaḥ: [Bg. 9.29] “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 māṁ bhaktyā teṣu 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 Kṛṣṇa’s another name is suhṛt satām. Satām. Satām 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 mā 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 mā jyotir gama: “Don’t try to remain in this darkness. You go to the kingdom of light.” These are Vedic injunctions. So Kṛṣṇa, He is within our heart. Hṛdy antaḥ-sthaḥ. Therefore, as soon as we become a little inclined towards Kṛṣṇa, then from within our heart He gives us favorable instruction so that we can gradually make progress, gradually. 

Kṛṣṇa 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 praṇipātena
paripraśnena sevayā
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ
[Bg. 4.34]

Now, Kṛṣṇa advises that “If you want to know that transcendental science, then you just try to approach somebody.” Praṇipātena. Praṇipātena, paripraśnena and sevayā. What is praṇipāta? Praṇipāta 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-gītā is concerned, so far Bhāgavata is concerned, so far the Upaniṣads and Vedic literatures are concerned, they do not say. They say that there is need of a spiritual master. 

Take for example the Upaniṣads, the Vedic Upaniṣads. In the Vedic Upaniṣads it is said, tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet, śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham [MU 1.2.12], 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-gītā or any transcendental subject matter, here is the instruction by Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself. Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself, because He is the speaker of this Bhagavad-gītā, He says that tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā [Bg. 4.34]. 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-gītā 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 Kṛṣṇa in friendly terms just like friend. He was… Kṛṣṇa was saying some discussed that point. Arjuna was talking with Kṛṣṇa in friendly terms just like friend. He was… Kṛṣṇa was saying something, “Oh, you cannot… You are a kṣatriya. 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 Kṛṣṇa that “I’ll…” Śiṣyas te ‘haṁ śādhi māṁ prapannam: [Bg. 2.7] “I just become surrendered disciple unto You. Please instruct me what is my duty.” So this is the process. 

Here also, Kṛṣṇa advises that “If you have to learn,” say, for Bhagavad-gītā, “then you have to go to a person where you can surrender.” Not only surrender, not blindly surrender. You must be able to inquire. Paripraśna. The next qualification is paripraśna. Paripraśna 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 praṇipāta… “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. Paripraśna means inquiry on the point, and that inquiry should be sevā. 

Sevā means 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. Praṇipāta, paripraśna and sevā. Praṇipāta. Praṇipāta 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. 

Athāto brahma… In the Brahma-sūtra, in the Vedānta-sūtra, it is stated, athāto brahma jijñāsā. Brahma-jijñāsā. Brahma-jijñāsā 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. Athāto brahma jijñāsā. Similarly, in the Bhāgavata also it is stated, tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam [SB 11.3.21]. 

Śreya 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-gītā or Vedānta-sūtra 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. Tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta [SB 11.3.21]. Tasmāt means “Therefore one has to surrender unto the spiritual master.” 

Who? Who is jijñāsuḥ śreya 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 the Bhagavad-gītā, 

tad viddhi praṇipātena
paripraśnena sevayā
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ
[Bg. 4.34]

Jñāninaḥ means jñānī, 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 jñānī. Jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ. 

Tattva. Tattva means the Absolute Truth. Now, so far tattva is concerned, you’ll find in the Bhagavad-gītā that Kṛṣṇa is the supreme tattva, Absolute Truth. 

Now, He explains that manuṣyāṇāṁ sahasreṣu kaścid yatati siddhaye: [Bg. 7.3] “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 manuṣyāṇāṁ sahasreṣu. After many… Out of many, many thousands of people, one is very much anxious for spiritual realization. And then Lord Kṛṣṇa says, yatatām api siddhānām [Bg. 7.3]. And out of many perfected spiritualists, some may know what is Kṛṣṇa. 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 Kṛṣṇa. 

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

bhaktyā mām abhijānāti
yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ
tato māṁ tattvato jñātvā
viśate tad-anantaram
[Bg. 18.55]

Bhakti, devotional service. That devotional service, if you accept, you can understand that difficult subject matter of Kṛṣṇa very easily. Bhaktyā mām abhijānāti. Abhijānāti means perfectly you can understand. Yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ. Tattvataḥ means the Absolute Truth as it is, you can understand. And tato māṁ tattvato jñātvā, and after understanding the Kṛṣṇa 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 praṇipātena
paripraśnena sevayā
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ
[Bg. 4.34]

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 to Kṛṣṇa, 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 Kṛṣṇa consciousness?” So I replied that Kṛṣṇa 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 vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti [Bg. 7.19], I have to become the, I mean to say, sa mahātmā, a great soul like that, why not immediately surrender to Kṛṣṇa? Why not become immediately the supreme, I mean to say, great soul. Sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ. That is a process. 

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

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