Although the Supreme Personality of Godhead is nirguṇa, not to be found within this material world, the entire material world is pervaded by Him, as stated in Bhagavad-gītā (mayā tatam idaṁ sarvam). The material world is nothing but an expansion of the Lord’s material energy, and the entire cosmic manifestation rests upon Him (mat-sthāni sarva-bhūtāni). Nonetheless, the Supreme Lord cannot be found here (na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ). A devotee, however, can see the Supreme Personality of Godhead through the practice of bhakti-yoga. One ordinarily does not begin to practice bhakti-yoga unless he has practiced it in previous births. Moreover, one can begin bhakti-yoga only by the mercy of the spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa. Guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja . The seed of devotional service is obtainable by the mercy of guru, the spiritual master, and Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Only by the practice of bhakti-yoga can one achieve the favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and see Him face to face (premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti [Bs. 5.38]). One cannot see the Lord by other methods, such as karma, jñāna or yoga. Under the direction of the spiritual master, one must cultivate bhakti-yoga (śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam). Then, even within this material world, although the Lord is not visible, a devotee can see Him. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (bhaktyā mām abhijānāti yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ ) and in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (bhaktyāham ekayā grāhyaḥ). Thus by devotional service one can achieve the favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, although He is not visible or understandable to materialistic persons.
In this verse, the cultivation of bhakti-yoga is compared to many material activities. By friction one can get fire from wood, by digging the earth one can get food grains and water, and by agitating the milk bag of the cow one can get nectarean milk. Milk is compared to nectar, which one can drink to become immortal. Of course, simply drinking milk will not make one immortal, but it can increase the duration of one’s life. In modern civilization, men do not think milk to be important, and therefore they do not live very long. Although in this age men can live up to one hundred years, their duration of life is reduced because they do not drink large quantities of milk. This is a sign of Kali-yuga. In Kali-yuga, instead of drinking milk, people prefer to slaughter an animal and eat its flesh. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His instructions of Bhagavad-gītā, advises go-rakṣya, which means cow protection. The cow should be protected, milk should be drawn from the cows, and this milk should be prepared in various ways. One should take ample milk, and thus one can prolong one’s life, develop his brain, execute devotional service, and ultimately attain the favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As it is essential to get food grains and water by digging the earth, it is also essential to give protection to the cows and take nectarean milk from their milk bags.
The people of this age are inclined toward industrial enterprises for comfortable living, but they refuse to endeavor to execute devotional service, by which they can achieve the ultimate goal of life by returning home, back to Godhead. Unfortunately, as it is said, na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇuṁ durāśayā ye bahir-artha-māninaḥ. People without spiritual education do not know that the ultimate goal of life is to go back home, back to Godhead. Forgetting this aim of life, they are working very hard in disappointment and frustration (moghāśā mogha-karmāṇo mogha jñānā vicetasaḥ ). The so-called vaiśyas—the industrialists or businessmen—are involved in big, big industrial enterprises, but they are not interested in food grains and milk. However, as indicated here, by digging for water, even in the desert, we can produce food grains; when we produce food grains and vegetables, we can give protection to the cows; while giving protection to the cows, we can draw from them abundant quantities of milk; and by getting enough milk and combining it with food grains and vegetables, we can prepare hundreds of nectarean foods. We can happily eat this food and thus avoid industrial enterprises and joblessness.
Agriculture and cow protection are the way to become sinless and thus be attracted to devotional service. Those who are sinful cannot be attracted by devotional service. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā:
yeṣāṁ tv anta-gataṁ pāpaṁ
bhajante māṁ dṛḍha-vratāḥ
“Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life, whose sinful actions are completely eradicated and who are freed from the duality of delusion, engage themselves in My service with determination.” The majority of people in this age of Kali are sinful, short-living, unfortunate and disturbed (mandāḥ sumanda-matayo manda-bhāgyā hy upadrutāḥ). For them, Caitanya Mahāprabhu has advised:
harer nāma harer nāma
harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva
nāsty eva gatir anyathā
“In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only means of deliverance is chanting the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.”
Pañca-gavya, the five products received from the cow, namely milk, yogurt, ghee, cow dung and cow urine, are required in all ritualistic ceremonies performed according to the Vedic directions. Cow urine and cow dung are uncontaminated, and since even the urine and dung of a cow are important, we can just imagine how important this animal is for human civilization. Therefore the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, directly advocates go-rakṣya, the protection of cows. Civilized men who follow the system of varṇāśrama, especially those of the vaiśya class, who engage in agriculture and trade, must give protection to the cows. Unfortunately, because people in Kali-yuga are mandāḥ, all bad, and sumanda-matayaḥ, misled by false conceptions of life, they are killing cows in the thousands. Therefore they are unfortunate in spiritual consciousness, and nature disturbs them in so many ways, especially through incurable diseases like cancer and through frequent wars and among nations. As long as human society continues to allow cows to be regularly killed in slaughterhouses, there cannot be any question of peace and prosperity.
Jamadagni was more powerful than Kārtavīryārjuna because of performing the agnihotra-yajña with clarified butter received from the kāmadhenu. Not everyone can be expected to possess such a cow. Nonetheless, an ordinary man may possess an ordinary cow, give protection to this animal, take sufficient milk from it, and engage the milk to produce butter and clarified ghee, especially for performing the agnihotra-yajña. This is possible for everyone. Thus we find that in Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa advises go-rakṣya, the protection of cows. This is essential because if cows are cared for properly they will surely supply sufficient milk. We have practical experience in America that in our various ISKCON farms we are giving proper protection to the cows and receiving more than enough milk. In other farms the cows do not deliver as much milk as in our farms; because our cows know very well that we are not going to kill them, they are happy, and they give ample milk. Therefore this instruction given by Lord Kṛṣṇa—go-rakṣya—is extremely meaningful. The whole world must learn from Kṛṣṇa how to live happily without scarcity simply by producing food grains (annād bhavanti bhūtāni) and giving protection to the cows (go-rakṣya). Kṛṣi-go-rakṣya-vāṇijyaṁ vaiśya-karma svabhāvajam . Those who belong to the third level of human society, namely the mercantile people, must keep land for producing food grains and giving protection to cows. This is the injunction of Bhagavad-gītā. In the matter of protecting the cows, the meat-eaters will protest, but in answer to them we may say that since Kṛṣṇa gives stress to cow protection, those who are inclined to eat meat may eat the flesh of unimportant animals like hogs, dogs, goats and sheep, but they should not touch the life of the cows, for this is destructive to the spiritual advancement of human society.
Vasudeva and Nanda Mahārāja were so intimately connected that they lived like brothers. Furthermore, it is learned from the notes of Śrīpāda Madhvācārya that Vasudeva and Nanda Mahārāja were stepbrothers. Vasudeva’s father, Śūrasena, married a vaiśya girl, and from her Nanda Mahārāja was born. Later, Nanda Mahārāja himself married a vaiśya girl, Yaśodā. Therefore his family is celebrated as a vaiśya family, and Kṛṣṇa, identifying Himself as their son, took charge of vaiśya activities (kṛṣi-go-rakṣya-vāṇijyam). Balarāma represents plowing the land for agriculture and therefore always carries in His hand a plow, whereas Kṛṣṇa tends cows and therefore carries a flute in His hand. Thus the two brothers represent kṛṣi-rakṣya and go-rakṣya.