The Criteria For Receiving Transcendental Knowledge
Important Quotes From The Srimad Bhagavatam
Part 2: From The Second Canto
Purports By His Divine grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
SB 2.1.10 purport:
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is recognized Vedic wisdom, and the system of receiving Vedic knowledge is called avaroha-panthā, or the process of receiving transcendental knowledge through bona fide disciplic succession. For advancement of material knowledge there is a need for personal ability and researching aptitude, but in the case of spiritual knowledge, all progress depends more or less on the mercy of the spiritual master. The spiritual master must be satisfied with the disciple; only then is knowledge automatically manifest before the student of spiritual science. The process should not, however, be misunderstood to be something like magical feats whereby the spiritual master acts like a magician and injects spiritual knowledge into his disciple, as if surcharging him with an electrical current. The bona fide spiritual master reasonably explains everything to the disciple on the authorities of Vedic wisdom. The disciple can receive such teachings not exactly intellectually, but by submissive inquiries and a service attitude. The idea is that both the spiritual master and the disciple must be bona fide.
There are three classes of devotees, namely first, second, and third class. The third-class devotees, or the neophytes, who have no knowledge and are not detached from material association, but who are simply attracted by the preliminary process of worshiping the Deity in the temple, are called material devotees. Material devotees are more attached to material benefit than transcendental profit. Therefore, one has to make definite progress from the position of material devotional service to the second-class devotional position. In the second-class position, the devotee can see four principles in the devotional line, namely the Personality of Godhead, His devotees, the ignorant and the envious. One has to raise himself at least to the stage of a second-class devotee and thus become eligible to know the Absolute Truth.
A third-class devotee, therefore, has to receive the instructions of devotional service from the authoritative sources of Bhāgavata. The number one Bhāgavata is the established personality of devotee, and the other Bhāgavatam is the message of Godhead. The third-class devotee therefore has to go to the personality of devotee in order to learn the instructions of devotional service. Such a personality of devotee is not a professional man who earns his livelihood by the business of Bhāgavatam. Such a devotee must be a representative of Śukadeva Gosvāmī, like Sūta Gosvāmī, and must preach the cult of devotional service for the all-around benefit of all people. A neophyte devotee has very little taste for hearing from the authorities. Such a neophyte devotee makes a show of hearing from the professional man to satisfy his senses. This sort of hearing and chanting has spoiled the whole thing, so one should be very careful about the faulty process. The holy messages of Godhead, as inculcated in the Bhagavad-gītā or in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, are undoubtedly transcendental subjects, but even though they are so, such transcendental matters are not to be received from the professional man, who spoils them as the serpent spoils milk simply by the touch of his tongue.
SB 2.2.30 purport:
A sincere soul is helped by the Lord through meeting a bona fide spiritual master, the representative of the Lord. By the instruction of such a spiritual master, one gets the seed of bhakti-yoga. Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu recommends that the devotee sow the seed of bhakti-yoga in his heart and nurture it by the watering of hearing and chanting the holy name, fame, etc., of the Lord. The simple process of offenselessly chanting and hearing the holy name of the Lord will gradually promote one very soon to the stage of emancipation.
[…] The ripe fruits of love of God are relished only by the devotees constantly engaged in the watering process as described above. But the working devotee must always be mindful so that the creeper which has so grown will not be cut off. Therefore he should be mindful of the following considerations:
(1) Offense by one at the feet of a pure devotee may be likened to the mad elephant who devastates a very good garden if it enters.
(2) One must be very careful to guard himself against such offenses at the feet of pure devotees, just as one protects a creeper by all-around fencing.
(3) It so happens that by the watering process some weeds are also grown, and unless such weeds are uprooted, the nurturing of the main creeper, or the creeper of bhakti-yoga, may be hampered.
(4) Actually these weeds are material enjoyment, merging of the self in the Absolute without separate individuality, and many other desires in the field of religion, economic development, sense enjoyment and emancipation.
(5) There are many other weeds, like disobedience to the tenets of the revered scriptures, unnecessary engagements, killing animals, and hankering after material gain, prestige and adoration.
(6) If sufficient care is not taken, then the watering process may only help to breed the weeds, stunting the healthy growth of the main creeper and resulting in no fructification of the ultimate requirement: love of God.
(7) The devotee must therefore be very careful to uproot the different weeds in the very beginning. Only then will the healthy growth of the main creeper not be stunted.
(8) And by so doing, the devotee is able to relish the fruit of love of God and thus live practically with Lord Kṛṣṇa, even in this life, and be able to see the Lord in every step.
SB 2.4.22 purport:
No mundane scholar can translate or reveal the true import of the Vedic mantras (hymns). They cannot be understood unless one is inspired or initiated by the authorized spiritual master. The original spiritual master is the Lord Himself, and the succession comes down through the sources of paramparā, as clearly stated in the Fourth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gītā. So unless one receives the transcendental knowledge from the authorized paramparā, one should be considered useless (viphalā matāḥ), even though one may be greatly qualified in the mundane advancements of arts or science.
SB 2.8.1 purport:
Devarṣi Nārada was directly instructed by Brahmājī, who was also directly instructed by the Supreme Lord; therefore the instructions imparted by Nārada to his various disciples are as good as those of the Supreme Lord. That is the way of understanding Vedic knowledge. It comes down from the Lord by disciplic succession, and this transcendental knowledge is distributed to the world by this descending process. There is no chance, however, to receive the Vedic knowledge from mental speculators. Therefore, wherever Nārada Muni goes, he represents himself as authorized by the Lord, and his appearance is as good as that of the Supreme Lord. Similarly, the disciplic succession which strictly follows the transcendental instruction is the bona fide chain of disciplic succession, and the test for such bona fide spiritual masters is that there should be no difference between the instruction of the Lord originally imparted to His devotee and that which is imparted by the authority in the line of disciplic succession. How Nārada Muni distributed the transcendental knowledge of the Lord will be explained in later cantos.
SB 2.8.3 purport:
The hearing of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam performed by professional men is different from the transcendental hearing of Mahārāja Parīkṣit. Mahārāja Parīkṣit was a soul realized in the Absolute Truth, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead. The fruitive materialist is not a realized soul; he wants to derive some material benefit from his so-called hearing of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Undoubtedly such an audience, hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam from the professional men, can derive some material benefit as they desire, but that does not mean that such a pretense of hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam for a week is as good as the hearing of Mahārāja Parīkṣit.
It is the duty of the sane to hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam from a self-realized soul and not be duped by professional men. One should continue such hearing till the end of one’s life so that one can actually have the transcendental association of the Lord and thus be liberated simply by hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
SB 2.8.4 purport:
Cheap devotees or materialistic devotees of the Lord are very much desirous to see the Lord personally without meeting the requisite qualifications. Such third-grade devotees should know well that material attachment and seeing the Lord face to face cannot go together. It is not such a mechanical process that the professional Bhāgavatam reciters can do the job on behalf of the third-grade materialistic pseudo-devotee. The professional men are useless in this connection because they are neither self-realized nor interested in the liberation of the audience. They are simply interested in maintaining the material establishment of family attachment and earning some material benefits out of the profession. Mahārāja Parīkṣit had no more than seven days to live, but for others Mahārāja Parīkṣit personally recommends that one hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam regularly, nityam, always by one’s own effort and with serious devotion also. That will help one to see the Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa manifested in one’s heart within no time.
The pseudo-devotee, however, is very anxious to see the Lord according to his whims, not making any serious effort to hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam regularly and without detachment from material benefit. That is not the way recommended by an authority like Mahārāja Parīkṣit, who heard and benefited by hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
SB 2.8.24 purport:
The spiritual master is always prepared to impart knowledge to the disciple and specifically when the disciple is very inquisitive. inquisitiveness on the part of a disciple is greatly necessary for the progressive disciple. Mahārāja Parīkṣit is a typical disciple because he is perfectly inquisitive. If one is not very inquisitive about self-realization, one need not approach a spiritual master simply to make a show of discipleship. Not only is Mahārāja Parīkṣit inquisitive concerning all he has inquired about, but he is also anxious to know about what he has not been able to inquire. Factually it is not possible for a man to inquire about everything from the spiritual master, but the bona fide spiritual master is able to enlighten the disciple in every way for the disciple’s benefit.
SB 2.9.7 purport:
The Lord is within every living entity as the Supersoul, and He initiated Brahmā because Brahmā was willing to receive the initiation. The Lord can similarly initiate everyone who is inclined to have it.
As already stated, Brahmā is the original spiritual master for the universe, and since he was initiated by the Lord Himself, the message of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is coming down by disciplic succession, and in order to receive the real message of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam one should approach the current link, or spiritual master, in the chain of disciplic succession. After being initiated by the proper spiritual master in that chain of succession, one should engage himself in the discharge of tapasya in the execution of devotional service. One should not, however, think himself on the level of Brahmā to be initiated directly by the Lord from inside because in the present age no one can be accepted to be as pure as Brahmā. The post of Brahmā to officiate in the creation of the universe is offered to the most pure living being, and unless one is so qualified one cannot expect to be treated like Brahmājī directly. But one can have the same facility through unalloyed devotees of the Lord, through scriptural instructions (as revealed in the Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam especially), and also through the bona fide spiritual master available to the sincere soul. The Lord Himself appears as the spiritual master to a person who is sincere in heart about serving the Lord. Therefore the bona fide spiritual master who happens to meet the sincere devotee should be accepted as the most confidential and beloved representative of the Lord. If a person is posted under the guidance of such a bona fide spiritual master, it may be accepted without any doubt that the desiring person has achieved the grace of the Lord.
SB 2.9.8 purport:
Lord Brahmā heard the occult sound tapa, but he did not see the person who vibrated the sound. And still he accepted the instruction as beneficial for him, and therefore he engaged himself in meditation for one thousand celestial years. One celestial year is equal to 6 x 30 x 12 x 1000 of our years. His acceptance of the sound was due to his pure vision of the absolute nature of the Lord. And due to his correct vision, he made no distinction between the Lord and the Lord’s instruction. There is no difference between the Lord and sound vibration coming from Him, even though He is not personally present. The best way of understanding is to accept such divine instruction, and Brahmā, the prime spiritual master of everyone, is the living example of this process of receiving transcendental knowledge. The potency of transcendental sound is never minimized because the vibrator is apparently absent. Therefore Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam or Bhagavad-gītā or any revealed scripture in the world is never to be accepted as an ordinary mundane sound without transcendental potency.
One has to receive the transcendental sound from the right source, accept it as a reality and prosecute the direction without hesitation. The secret of success is to receive the sound from the right source of a bona fide spiritual master. Mundane manufactured sound has no potency, and as such, seemingly transcendental sound received from an unauthorized person also has no potency. One should be qualified enough to discern such transcendental potency, and either by discriminating or by fortunate chance if one is able to receive the transcendental sound from the bona fide spiritual master, his path of liberation is guaranteed. The disciple, however, must be ready to execute the order of the bona fide spiritual master as Lord Brahmā executed the instruction of his spiritual master, the Lord Himself. Following the order of the bona fide spiritual master is the only duty of the disciple, and this completely faithful execution of the order of the bona fide spiritual master is the secret of success.
Lord Brahmā controlled his two grades of senses by means of sense perception and sense organs because he had to engage such senses in the execution of the order of the Lord. Therefore controlling the senses means engaging them in the transcendental service of the Lord. The Lord’s order descends in disciplic succession through the bona fide spiritual master, and thus execution of the order of the bona fide spiritual master is factual control of the senses. Such execution of penance in full faith and sincerity made Brahmājī so powerful that he became the creator of the universe. And because he was able to attain such power, he is called the best amongst all the tapasvīs.
SB 2.9.43 purport:
The process of understanding spiritual or transcendental knowledge from the realized person is not exactly like asking an ordinary question from the schoolmaster. The schoolmasters in the modern days are paid agents for giving some information, but the spiritual master is not a paid agent. Nor can he impart instruction without being authorized. In the Bhagavad-gītā (4.34), the process of understanding transcendental knowledge is directed as follows:
tad viddhi praṇipātena
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
Arjuna was advised to receive transcendental knowledge from the realized person by surrender, questions and service. Receiving transcendental knowledge is not like exchanging dollars; such knowledge has to be received by service to the spiritual master. As Brahmājī received the knowledge directly from the Lord by satisfying Him fully, similarly one has to receive the transcendental knowledge from the spiritual master by satisfying him. The spiritual master’s satisfaction is the means of assimilating transcendental knowledge. One cannot understand transcendental knowledge simply by becoming a grammarian. The Vedas declare (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.23):
yasya deve parā bhaktir
yathā deve tathā gurau
tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ
“Only unto one who has unflinching devotion to the Lord and to the spiritual master does transcendental knowledge become automatically revealed.” Such relationship between the disciple and the spiritual master is eternal. One who is now the disciple is the next spiritual master. And one cannot be a bona fide and authorized spiritual master unless one has been strictly obedient to his spiritual master. Brahmājī, as a disciple of the Supreme Lord, received the real knowledge and imparted it to his dear disciple Nārada, and similarly Nārada, as spiritual master, handed over this knowledge to Vyāsa and so on. Therefore the so-called formal spiritual master and disciple are not facsimiles of Brahmā and Nārada or Nārada and Vyāsa. The relationship between Brahmā and Nārada is reality, while the so-called formality is the relation between the cheater and cheated. It is clearly mentioned herewith that Nārada is not only well behaved, meek and obedient, but also self-controlled. One who is not self-controlled, specifically in sex life, can become neither a disciple nor a spiritual master. One must have disciplinary training in controlling speaking, anger, the tongue, the mind, the belly and the genitals. One who has controlled the particular senses mentioned above is called a gosvāmī. Without becoming a gosvāmī one can become neither a disciple nor a spiritual master. The so-called spiritual master without sense control is certainly the cheater, and the disciple of such a so-called spiritual master is the cheated.
One should not think of Brahmājī as a dead great-grandfather, as we have experience on this planet. He is the oldest great-grandfather, and he is still living, and Nārada is also living. The age of the inhabitants of the Brahmaloka planet is mentioned in the Bhagavad-gītā. The inhabitants of this small planet earth can hardly calculate even the duration of one day of Brahmā.