By His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada
Actually all the Vedic literature directs the human being toward the perfect stage of devotion. The path of fruitive activities, speculation, knowledge and meditation do not actually lead one to the perfectional stage, but the Lord actually becomes approachable by the process of devotional service; therefore one is recommended throughout all the Vedic literature to accept the process of devotional service. Lord Chaitanya quotes in this connection a verse from the Srimad Bhagavatam, 11th Canto, 14th Chapter, in which the Lord says, “My dear Uddhava, neither philosophical speculation no yoga achievements, nor penances can give Him such pleasure as can devotional service practiced by the living entities. He can be achieved alone by devotional service, and He is dear only to the devotees. If a person born in the lower or lowest family of humanity is a devotee, then he becomes freed from all contamination. Devotional service is the only path to achieve the Supreme Personality of God.”
This is also the only perfection accepted in all Vedic literature. As a poor man, upon receiving some treasure, becomes at once happy, similarly when one attains devotional service, automatically the pains of material existence are vanquished. As one advances in devotional service, one attains love of Godhead, and as he advances in the love for the Supreme he becomes free from all material bondage. Disappearance of poverty and liberation from bondage are not, however, the end results of love of Krishna. Actually, the love of Krishna or love of God exists in relishing the reciprocation of loving service. In all Vedic literature one will find that attainment of this loving relationship of the Supreme Lord by the living entities is the function of devotional service. Our actual functin is devotional service, and our ultimate goal of achievement is love of Godhead. Therefore in all Vedic literature Krishna is the ultimate center. By knowledge of Krishna, all problems of life are solved.
The Lord said that according to Padma Purana, there are different Puranas for worshipping different types of demigods, but such indications for worship only bewilder persons into thinking that the demigods are Supreme. And yet if the Puranas are scrutinized and studied it will be found that Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the only object of worship. For example, in the Markandeya Purana, there is mention of Devi worship, worship of the goddess Durga or Kali. But in that same Chandika it is also stated that all these demigds whether in the shape of Durga or Kali are different energies of Vishnu. Therefore, even the study of the Puranas will reveal Vishnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, to be the only object of worship. The conclusion is that directly or indirectly all types of worship are more or less indicating a worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. In the Bhagavad Gita it is confirmed that anyone who worships other demigods is in fact only worshipping Krishna because the demigods are different parts of the body of Vishnu or Krishna. That such worship of demigods is really irregular is clearly stated in the Bhagavad Gita: Abidhipurvakam. Srimad Bhagavatam confirms this also by the question: What is the object of worshipping different types of demigods?
In Vedic literature there are three divisions of ritualistic activities; one is called karma-kanda, or purely ritualistic activities; another is called upasana, or speculating on the Supreme Absolute Truth. What then is the purpose of the ritualistic sections of Vedic literature, and what is the purpose of different mantras or hymns indicating the worship of different types of demigods? And what is the purpose of philosophical speculation on the subject of the Absolute Truth? The Srimad Bhagavatam replies that all these different methods defined in Vedic literatures indicate the worship of the Supreme Lord, Vishnu. They are all indirect ways of worshipping the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sacrifices contained in the ritualistic portion of the literatures are to satisfy the Supreme Lord Vishnu because yajna is specifically meant to satisfy Vishnu. Vishnu’s Name is also Yogesvara, or Lord of the Yogis. The neophytes are not all on the transcendental level; therefore according to their situations in the different modes of material nature they are recommended to worship different types of demigods so that gradually they may rise to the transcendental plane and be engaged in devotional service of Vishnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. For example, it may be said that some of the neophytes are attached to flesh eating, and for them, the Puranas prescribe that they can eat flesh after offering it to the deity Kali.
The philosophical sections of the Vedic hymns are meant to enable one to distinguish the Supreme Personality of Godhead from Maya. After indicating the position of Maya, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is approached in pure devotional service. That is the purpose of philosophical speculation. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad Gita in the 7th Chapter, Bahunam janmanam ante… “The philosophical speculators and empiric philosophers, after speculating for many, many births, ultimately come unto the Supreme Lord Krishna, and accept that Vasudeva is everything.” Therefore all Vedic rituals and different types of worship or philosophical speculation are all ultimately aiming at Krishna.
The Lord then told Sanatana Goswami about Krishna’s multiforms and His unlimited opulence; he also described the nature of the spiritual manifestation, the material manifestation, and the manifestation of the living entity. He also informed Sanatana Goswami that the planets in the Spiritual Sky, known as Vaikunthas, and the universes of the material manifestation are to be known as different types of universes, for they are creative manifestations of the two different types of energies, namely the material energy and the spiritual energy. Therefore as Krishna Himself is concerned, He is directly situated in His spiritual energy, or specifically in His internal potency. To help us understand the difference between the manifestation of the spiritual energy and the material energy, there is a clear analysis in the Second Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam of the two manifestations. Also, Sukadeva Goswami, by commenting of verse one of the Tenth Canto, makes a clear analytical study as follows. Lord Chaitanya accepts Sukadeva Goswami as an authorized commentator on the Srimad Bhagavatam. Therefore He quotes his writing in this connection, and He explains that in the Tenth Canto of the Bhagavatam the life and activities of Krishna are described because Krishna is the shelter of all other manifestations. Therefore Sukadeva Goswami worshipped and offered his obeisance unto Krishna, the Shelter of everything.
This purport maintains that in this world there are two different principles; the one principle is the origin, or the shelter of everything, and the other principle is the deduction from the original principle. The principle on which everything rests, as it is confirmed in the Srimad Bhagavatam, begins Janmadyasya, and in the Vedanta Sutra the same aphorism appears, janmadyasya the Supreme Truth is the shelter of all manifestations. That Supreme Truth is called Asraya. All other principles which remain under the control of the Asraya-tattva, or the Absolute Truth, are called Asrita, or subordinate corollaries and reactions. The purpose of the material manifestation is to give the conditioned soul a chance to become liberated and return to the Asraya-tattva, or the Absolute Truth. So everything that is created in the cosmic creation is dependent on the Asrita-tattva, or the Supreme Absolute Truth. As such, in the creative manifestation or the Vishnu manifestation, and in different types of demigods and manifestations of energy, the living entities, the material elements everything, is dependent on Krishna, the Supreme Truth. In the Srimad Bhagavatam everything, directly and indirectly, is indicated to have Krishna as the Supreme Shelter. Therefore the analytical study of Krishna is the perfect knowledge, as it is confirmed in the Bhagavad Gita.
Lord Chaitanya described the different features of Lord Krishna in the following manner, and asked Sanatana Goswami to hear attentively: He said that Krishna originally is the Son of Nanda Maharaja and He is the Absolute Supreme Truth. He is the cause of all causes, Lord and He is the origin of all emanations and all incarnations, but there in the Vraja or Goloka Vrindavan He is just like a young boy. His form is eternal, full of bliss and full of knowledge Absolute. He is the shelter of everything, and He is the Proprietor or Master of everything. In this connection Lord Chaitanya gives evidence from Brahma Samhita, fifth chapter, first verse, which states that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His Body is full of knowledge, eternal and blissful. He is the original Person known as Govinda and He is the Cause of all causes. Therefore, Krishna is the Original Personality of Godhead; He is full of all six opulences and His abode is known as Goloka Vrindavan, the highest planetary system in the Spiritual Sky. Lord Chaitanya also quotes a verse from the Srimad Bhagavatam, the First Canto, third chapter, in which it is stated clearly that all the incarnations described in that particular verse are either direct expansions of Krishna or are indirectly expansions of the expansions of Krishna. But the Krishna Name mentioned there is the Original Personality of Godhead, and He appears on this earth, in this universe or in any other universe when there is a disturbance created by the demons, who are always trying to disrupt the administration by the demigods.
To understand Krishna, there are different processes: the process of empiric philosophical speculation, the process of meditation in the mystic yoga system, and the process of Krishna Consciousness, or devotional service. Accordingly, in these different process, 1) by empiric philosophical speculation, the feature of impersonal Brahma or Krishna is understood; 2)by the process of meditation of yogi mysticism, the feature of the Supersoul all-pervading expansion of Krishna is understood; and 3) by devotional service in full Krishna Consciousness, the Original Personality of Godhead, Krishna, is realized. In this connection Lord Chaitanya quotes first from the Srimad Bhagavatam, First Canto, 2nd chapter, which states that those who are knowers of the Absolute Truth describe the Absolute Truth in three features: some describe the Absolute as impersonal brahma, and some describe the Absolute Truth as the localized all-pervading Supersoul, and some know that the Absolute Truth is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. In other words, Brahma, the impersonal manifestation, and Paramatma, the localized manifestation, and the Supreme Personality of Godhead are One and the same, but according to the different processes adopted He is realized in different features known as Brahma, Paramatma and Bhagavan. Impersonal Brahma realization is simple realization of the effulgence emanating from the transcendental body of Krishna. We compare this effulgence of the transcendental body of Krishna to the sunshine just as the sun disc is there, the sun planet is there, and the sun god is there, and the sunshine is the shining effulgence of that original sun god, similarly, brahmajyoti, the spiritual effulgence or impersonal Brahma, is nothing but the personal effulgence of Krishna.
To support this version Lord Chaitanya quotes one important verse from Brahma-Samhita where Lord Brahma says, “I worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda, by Whose Personal effulgence there is the unlimited manifestation of the Brahmajyoti, and in that Brahmajyoti (the impersonal manifestation of Krishna’s Bodily effulgence) there are innumerable universes, each full of innumerable planets.” Lord Chaitanya further describes that the Paramatma all-pervading feature situated in everyone’s body is but a partial manifestation or expansion of Krishna, but because Krishna is the Soul of the soul, there He is called Paramatma, or the origin of Paramatma. In this connection Lord Chaitanya quotes one verse from Srimad Bhagavatamconcerning the talks of Maharaja Pariksit, while hearing about the transcendental Pastimes of Krishna in Vrindavan, inquired from his spiritual master Sukadeva Goswami as to why the inhabitants of Vrindavan were so much attached to Krishna. To this question Sukadeva Goswami answered that Krishna should be known as the Soul of all souls; he is the Soul of all individual souls and He is also the soul of the localized Paramatma. He was present in Vrindavan for the benefit of all human beings and therefore He was acting just like a human being to attract persons to Him and to show that He is not formless. He is also as good as other human beings, but He is the Supreme and other living beings are all subordinate to Him. All living beings therefore can enjoy spiritual bliss, eternal life and full knowledge in His association. Lord Chaitanya quotes also a verse from Bhagavad Gita in which the Supreme Lord speaks to Arjuna about His different kinds of opulences, saying that He Himself enters into this universe by one of His plenary portions, just like Garbohodaksayee Vishnu, and He also enters in each universe as the Ksirodaksayee Vishnu and then expands Himself as Supersoul in everyone’s heart. Therefore, He says, if anyone wants to understand the Supreme Absolute Truth in perfection, he must take to the process of devotional service in full Krishna Consciousness. Then it will be possible for him to understand the last word of the Absolute Truth.