ye me matam idam nityam
mucyante te pi karmabhih
Those persons who execute their duties according to My injunctions and who follow this teaching faithfully, without envy, become free from the bondage of fruitive actions.
PURPORT: The injunction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, is the essence of all Vedic wisdom and therefore is eternally true without exception. As the Vedas are eternal, so this truth of Krsna consciousness is also eternal. One should have firm faith in this injunction, without envying the Lord. There are many philosophers who write comments on the Bhagavad-gita but have no faith in Krsna. They will never be liberated from the bondage of fruitive action. But an ordinary man with firm faith in the eternal injunctions of the Lord, even though unable to execute such orders, becomes liberated from the bondage of the law of karma. In the beginning of Krsna consciousness, one may not fully discharge the injunctions of the Lord, but because one is not resentful of this principle and works sincerely without consideration of defeat and hopelessness, he will surely be promoted to the stage of pure Krsna consciousness.
sraddhaval labhate jnanam
jnanam labdhva param santim
A faithful man who is dedicated to transcendental knowledge and who subdues his senses is eligible to achieve such knowledge, and having achieved it he quickly attains the supreme spiritual peace.
PURPORT: Such knowledge in Krsna consciousness can be achieved by a faithful person who believes firmly in Krsna. One is called a faithful man who thinks that simply by acting in Krsna consciousness he can attain the highest perfection. This faith is attained by the discharge of devotional service, and by chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, which cleanses ones heart of all material dirt. Over and above this, one should control the senses. A person who is faithful to Krsna and who controls the senses can easily attain perfection in the knowledge of Krsna consciousness without delay.
kam gatim krsna gacchati
Arjuna said: O Krsna, what is the destination of the unsuccessful transcendentalist, who in the beginning takes to the process of self-realization with faith but who later desists due to worldly-mindedness and thus does not attain perfection in mysticism?
PURPORT: The path of self-realization or mysticism is described in the Bhagavad-gita. The basic principle of self-realization is knowledge that the living entity is not this material body but that he is different from it and that his happiness is in eternal life, bliss and knowledge. These are transcendental, beyond both body and mind. Self-realization is sought by the path of knowledge, by the practice of the eightfold system or by bhakti-yoga. In each of these processes one has to realize the constitutional position of the living entity, his relationship with God, and the activities whereby he can reestablish the lost link and achieve the highest perfectional stage of Krsna consciousness. Following any of the above-mentioned three methods, one is sure to reach the supreme goal sooner or later. This was asserted by the Lord in the Second Chapter: even a little endeavor on the transcendental path offers a great hope for deliverance. Out of these three methods, the path of bhakti-yoga is especially suitable for this age because it is the most direct method of God realization. To be doubly assured, Arjuna is asking Lord Krsna to confirm His former statement. One may sincerely accept the path of self-realization, but the process of cultivation of knowledge and the practice of the eightfold yoga system are generally very difficult for this age. Therefore, despite constant endeavor one may fail, for many reasons. First of all, one may not be sufficiently serious about following the process. To pursue the transcendental path is more or less to declare war on the illusory energy. Consequently, whenever a person tries to escape the clutches of the illusory energy, she tries to defeat the practitioner by various allurements. A conditioned soul is already allured by the modes of material energy, and there is every chance of being allured again, even while performing transcendental disciplines. This is called yogac calita-manasah: deviation from the transcendental path. Arjuna is inquisitive to know the results of deviation from the path of self-realization.
yoginam api sarvesam
sraddhavan bhajate yo mam
sa me yuktatamo matah
And of all yogis, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself, and renders transcendental loving service to Mehe is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion.
PURPORT: The word bhajate is significant here. Bhajate has its root in the verb bhaj, which is used when there is need of service. The English word worship cannot be used in the same sense as bhaj. Worship means to adore, or to show respect and honor to the worthy one. But service with love and faith is especially meant for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One can avoid worshiping a respectable man or a demigod and may be called discourteous, but one cannot avoid serving the Supreme Lord without being thoroughly condemned. Every living entity is part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and thus every living entity is intended to serve the Supreme Lord by his own constitution. Failing to do this, he falls down. The Bhagavatam (11.5.3) confirms this as follows:
ya esam purusam saksad
na bhajanty avajananti
sthanad bhrastah patanty adhah
Anyone who does not render service and neglects his duty unto the primeval Lord, who is the source of all living entities, will certainly fall down from his constitutional position.
In this verse also the word bhajanti is used. Therefore, bhajanti is applicable to the Supreme Lord only, whereas the word worship can be applied to demigods or to any other common living entity. The word avajananti, used in this verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam, is also found in the Bhagavad-gita. Avajananti mam mudhah: Only the fools and rascals deride the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krsna. Such fools take it upon themselves to write commentaries on the Bhagavad-gita without an attitude of service to the Lord. Consequently they cannot properly distinguish between the word bhajanti and the word worship.
The culmination of all kinds of yoga practices lies in bhaktiyoga. All other yogas are but means to come to the point of bhakti in bhakti-yoga. Yoga actually means bhakti-yoga; all other yogas are progressions toward the destination of bhakti-yoga. From the beginning of karma-yoga to the end of bhakti-yoga is a long way to self-realization. Karma-yoga, without fruitive results, is the beginning of this path. When karma-yoga increases in knowledge and renunciation, the stage is called jnana-yoga. When jnana-yoga increases in meditation on the Supersoul by different physical processes, and the mind is on Him, it is called astanga-yoga. And when one surpasses the astanga-yoga and comes to the point of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krsna, it is called bhakti yoga, the culmination. Factually, bhakti-yoga is the ultimate goal, but to analyze bhakti-yoga minutely one has to understand these other yogas. The yogi who is progressive is therefore on the true path of eternal good fortune. One who sticks to a particular point and does not make further progress is called by that particular name: karma-yogi, jnana-yogi or dhyana-yogi, raja-yogi, hatha-yogi, etc. If one is fortunate enough to come to the point of bhakti-yoga, it is to be understood that he has surpassed all other yogas. Therefore, to become Krsna conscious is the highest stage of yoga, just as, when we speak of Himalayan, we refer to the worlds highest mountains, of which the highest peak, Mount Everest, is considered to be the culmination.
It is by great fortune that one comes to Krsna consciousness on the path of bhakti-yoga to become well situated according to the Vedic direction. The ideal yogi concentrates his attention on Krsna, who is called Syamasundara, who is as beautifully colored as a cloud, whose lotuslike face is as effulgent as the sun, whose dress is brilliant with jewels and whose body is flower-garlanded. Illuminating all sides is His gorgeous luster, which is called the brahmajyoti. He incarnates in different forms such as Rama, Nrsimha, Varaha and Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He descends like a human being, as the son of mother Yasoda, and He is known as Krsna, Govinda and Vasudeva. He is the perfect child, husband, friend and master, and He is full with all opulences and transcendental qualities. If one remains fully conscious of these features of the Lord, he is called the highest yogi.
This stage of highest perfection in yoga can be attained only by bhakti-yoga, as is confirmed in all Vedic literature:
yasya deve para bhaktir
yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthah
Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed. [SU 6.23]
Bhaktir asya bhajanam tad ihamutropadhi-nairasyenamusmin manah-kalpanam, etad eva naiskarmyam. Bhakti means devotional service to the Lord which is free from desire for material profit, either in this life or in the next. Devoid of such inclinations, one should fully absorb the mind in the Supreme. That is the purpose of naiskarmya. (Gopala-tapani Upanisad 1.15)
These are some of the means for performance of bhakti, or Krsna consciousness, the highest perfectional stage of the yoga system.
yo yo yam yam tanum bhaktah
tasya tasyacalam sraddham
tam eva vidadhamy aham
I am in everyones heart as the Supersoul. As soon as one desires to worship some demigod, I make his faith steady so that he can devote himself to that particular deity.
PURPORT: God has given independence to everyone; therefore, if a person desires to have material enjoyment and wants very sincerely to have such facilities from the material demigods, the Supreme Lord, as Supersoul in everyones heart, understands and gives facilities to such persons. As the supreme father of all living entities, He does not interfere with their independence, but gives all facilities so that they can fulfill their material desires. Some may ask why the all-powerful God gives facilities to the living entities for enjoying this material world and so lets them fall into the trap of the illusory energy. The answer is that if the Supreme Lord as Supersoul does not give such facilities, then there is no meaning to independence. Therefore He gives everyone full independencewhatever one likesbut His ultimate instruction we find in the Bhagavad-gita: one should give up all other engagements and fully surrender unto Him. That will make man happy.
Both the living entity and the demigods are subordinate to the will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; therefore the living entity cannot worship the demigod by his own desire, nor can the demigod bestow any benediction without the supreme will. As it is said, not a blade of grass moves without the will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Generally, persons who are distressed in the material world go to the demigods, as they are advised in the Vedic literature. A person wanting some particular thing may worship such and such a demigod. For example, a diseased person is recommended to worship the sun-god; a person wanting education may worship the goddess of learning, Sarasvati; and a person wanting a beautiful wife may worship the goddess Uma, the wife of Lord Siva. In this way there are recommendations in the sastras (Vedic scriptures) for different modes of worship of different demigods. And because a particular living entity wants to enjoy a particular material facility, the Lord inspires him with a strong desire to achieve that benediction from that particular demigod, and so he successfully receives the benediction. The particular mode of the devotional attitude of the living entity toward a particular type of demigod is also arranged by the Supreme Lord. The demigods cannot infuse the living entities with such an affinity, but because He is the Supreme Lord, or the Supersoul who is present in the hearts of all living entities, Krsna gives impetus to man to worship certain demigods. The demigods are actually different parts of the universal body of the Supreme Lord; therefore they have no independence. In the Vedic literature it is stated: The Supreme Personality of Godhead as Supersoul is also present within the heart of the demigod; therefore He arranges through the demigod to fulfill the desire of the living entity. But both the demigod and the living entity are dependent on the supreme will. They are not independent.
sa taya sraddhaya yuktas
labhate ca tatah kaman
mayaiva vihitan hi tan
Endowed with such a faith, he endeavors to worship a particular demigod and obtains his desires. But in actuality these benefits are bestowed by Me alone.
PURPORT: The demigods cannot award benedictions to their devotees without the permission of the Supreme Lord. The living entity may forget that everything is the property of the Supreme Lord, but the demigods do not forget. So the worship of demigods and achievement of desired results are due not to the demigods but to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by arrangement. The less intelligent living entity does not know this, and therefore he foolishly goes to the demigods for some benefit. But the pure devotee, when in need of something, prays only to the Supreme Lord. Asking for material benefit, however, is not a sign of a pure devotee. A living entity goes to the demigods usually because he is mad to fulfill his lust. This happens when something undue is desired by the living entity and the Lord Himself does not fulfill the desire. In the Caitanya-caritamrta it is said that one who worships the Supreme Lord and at the same time desires material enjoyment is contradictory in his desires. Devotional service to the Supreme Lord and the worship of a demigod cannot be on the same platform, because worship of a demigod is material and devotional service to the Supreme Lord is completely spiritual.
For the living entity who desires to return to Godhead, material desires are impediments. A pure devotee of the Lord is therefore not awarded the material benefits desired by less intelligent living entities, who therefore prefer to worship demigods of the material world rather than engage in the devotional service of the Supreme Lord.
ye py anya-devata-bhakta
te pi mam eva kaunteya
Those who are devotees of other gods and who worship them with faith actually worship only Me, O son of Kunti, but they do so in a wrong way.
PURPORT: Persons who are engaged in the worship of demigods are not very intelligent, although such worship is offered to Me indirectly, Krsna says. For example, when a man pours water on the leaves and branches of a tree without pouring water on the root, he does so without sufficient knowledge or without observing regulative principles. Similarly, the process of rendering service to different parts of the body is to supply food to the stomach. The demigods are, so to speak, different officers and directors in the government of the Supreme Lord. One has to follow the laws made by the government, not by the officers or directors. Similarly, everyone is to offer his worship to the Supreme Lord only. That will automatically satisfy the different officers and directors of the Lord. The officers and directors are engaged as representatives of the government, and to offer some bribe to the officers and directors is illegal. This is stated here as avidhi-purvakam. In other words, Krsna does not approve the unnecessary worship of the demigods.
mayy avesya mano ye mam
te me yuktatama matah
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Those who fix their minds on My personal form and are always engaged in worshiping Me with great and transcendental faith are considered by Me to be most perfect.
PURPORT: In answer to Arjunas question, Krsna clearly says that he who concentrates upon His personal form and who worships Him with faith and devotion is to be considered most perfect in yoga. For one in such Krsna consciousness there are no material activities, because everything is done for Krsna. A pure devotee is constantly engaged. Sometimes he chants, sometimes he hears or reads books about Krsna, or sometimes he cooks prasadam or goes to the marketplace to purchase something for Krsna, or sometimes he washes the temple or the disheswhatever he does, he does not let a single moment pass without devoting his activities to Krsna. Such action is in full samadhi.
ye sastra-vidhim utsrjya
tesam nistha tu ka krsna
sattvam aho rajas tamah
Arjuna inquired: O Krsna, what is the situation of those who do not follow the principles of scripture but worship according to their own imagination? Are they in goodness, in passion or in ignorance?
PURPORT: In the Fourth Chapter, thirty-ninth verse, it is said that a person faithful to a particular type of worship gradually becomes elevated to the stage of knowledge and attains the highest perfectional stage of peace and prosperity. In the Sixteenth Chapter, it is concluded that one who does not follow the principles laid down in the scriptures is called an asura, demon, and one who follows the scriptural injunctions faithfully is called a deva, or demigod. Now, if one, with faith, follows some rules which are not mentioned in the scriptural injunctions, what is his position? This doubt of Arjunas is to be cleared by Krsna. Are those who create some sort of God by selecting a human being and placing their faith in him worshiping in goodness, passion or ignorance? Do such persons attain the perfectional stage of life? Is it possible for them to be situated in real knowledge and elevate themselves to the highest perfectional stage? Do those who do not follow the rules and regulations of the scriptures but who have faith in something and worship gods and demigods and men attain success in their effort? Arjuna is putting these questions to Krsna.
tri-vidha bhavati sraddha
dehinam sa svabhava-ja
sattviki rajasi caiva
tamasi ceti tam srnu
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: According to the modes of nature acquired by the embodied soul, ones faith can be of three kindsin goodness, in passion or in ignorance. Now hear about this.
PURPORT: Those who know the rules and regulations of the scriptures but out of laziness or indolence give up following these rules and regulations are governed by the modes of material nature. According to their previous activities in the mode of goodness, passion or ignorance, they acquire a nature which is of a specific quality. The association of the living entity with the different modes of nature has been going on perpetually; since the living entity is in contact with material nature, he acquires different types of mentality according to his association with the material modes. But this nature can be changed if one associates with a bona fide spiritual master and abides by his rules and the scriptures. Gradually, one can change his position from ignorance to goodness, or from passion to goodness. The conclusion is that blind faith in a particular mode of nature cannot help a person become elevated to the perfectional stage. One has to consider things carefully, with intelligence, in the association of a bona fide spiritual master. Thus one can change his position to a higher mode of nature.
sraddha bhavati bharata
sraddha-mayo yam puruso
yo yac-chraddhah sa eva sah
O son of Bharata, according to ones existence under the various modes of nature, one evolves a particular kind of faith. The living being is said to be of a particular faith according to the modes he has acquired.
PURPORT: Everyone has a particular type of faith, regardless of what he is. But his faith is considered good, passionate or ignorant according to the nature he has acquired. Thus, according to his particular type of faith, one associates with certain persons. Now the real fact is that every living being, as is stated in the Fifteenth Chapter, is originally a fragmental part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. Therefore one is originally transcendental to all the modes of material nature. But when one forgets his relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead and comes into contact with the material nature in conditional life, he generates his own position by association with the different varieties of material nature. The resultant artificial faith and existence are only material. Although one may be conducted by some impression, or some conception of life, originally he is nirguna, or transcendental. Therefore one has to become cleansed of the material contamination that he has acquired, in order to regain his relationship with the Supreme Lord. That is the only path back without fear: Krsna consciousness. If one is situated in Krsna consciousness, then that path is guaranteed for his elevation to the perfectional stage. If one does not take to this path of self-realization, then he is surely to be conducted by the influence of the modes of nature.
The word sraddha, or faith, is very significant in this verse. Sraddha, or faith, originally comes out of the mode of goodness. Ones faith may be in a demigod or some created God or some mental concoction. Ones strong faith is supposed to be productive of works of material goodness. But in material conditional life, no works are completely purified. They are mixed. They are not in pure goodness. Pure goodness is transcendental; in purified goodness one can understand the real nature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As long as ones faith is not completely in purified goodness, the faith is subject to contamination by any of the modes of material nature. The contaminated modes of material nature expand to the heart. Therefore according to the position of the heart in contact with a particular mode of material nature, ones faith is established. It should be understood that if ones heart is in the mode of goodness his faith is also in the mode of goodness. If his heart is in the mode of passion, his faith is also in the mode of passion. And if his heart is in the mode of darkness, illusion, his faith is also thus contaminated. Thus we find different types of faith in this world, and there are different types of religions due to different types of faith. The real principle of religious faith is situated in the mode of pure goodness, but because the heart is tainted we find different types of religious principles. Thus according to different types of faith, there are different kinds of worship.
Any sacrifice performed without regard for the directions of scripture, without distribution of prasadam [spiritual food], without chanting of Vedic hymns and remunerations to the priests, and without faith is considered to be in the mode of ignorance.
PURPORT: Faith in the mode of darkness or ignorance is actually faithlessness. Sometimes people worship some demigod just to make money and then spend the money for recreation, ignoring the scriptural injunctions. Such ceremonial shows of religiosity are not accepted as genuine. They are all in the mode of darkness; they produce a demoniac mentality and do not benefit human society.
sraddhaya paraya taptam
tapas tat tri-vidham naraih
This threefold austerity, performed with transcendental faith by men not expecting material benefits but engaged only for the sake of the Supreme, is called austerity in goodness.
sraddhavan anasuyas ca
srnuyad api yo narah
so pi muktah subhal lokan
And one who listens with faith and without envy becomes free from sinful reactions and attains to the auspicious planets where the pious dwell.