Bhagavad-gītā 13.8–12 , Bombay , 1973-10-03
Prabhupāda: So Kṛṣṇa, the supreme authority, Supreme Personality of Godhead, He is speaking the process of acquiring knowledge, jñānam. So, the first beginning of knowledge is humility. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has taught,
taror api sahiṣṇunā
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
[Cc. Ādi 17.31]
Anyone... This humbleness and humility is taught everywhere. Without being gentle, humble, how one can be a man of knowledge? But at the present moment the humility is forgotten. Everyone is proud unnecessarily. Although he's nothing, he's proud, so much so that sometimes a rascal says that "I am God." This is the modern civilization. He's so puffed-up, so proud, that one claims to become God, what to speak of other things. No. The first thing is that one must be very humble.
This is the process of Vedic civilization. Vidyā-vinaya-sampanne brāhmaṇe [Bg. 5.18]. One has to become brāhmaṇa. Brāhmaṇa means vidyā-vinaya-sampanna. He must be learned and humble. That is brāhmaṇa. Vidyā-vinaya-sampanne brāhmaṇe gavi hastini [Bg. 5.18]. That is the first-class life. Vidya-vinaya-sampanne brāhmaṇa. Why brāhmaṇa is honored in the society? Because brāhmaṇa means vidyā-vinaya-sampanne, and very humble. Vidyā-vinaya-sampanne. Vidyā means.... Vidyā dadāti namratā. Vidyā means he must be very gentle, namra. That is vidyā. Education does not mean unnecessarily to become proud. Just like we hear that even a great scientist, Sir Isaac Newton, he used to say, "What knowledge I have got? I have simply collected a few grains' sand from the big beach." Yes. That is humbleness.
So Kṛṣṇa says that in the process of acquiring knowledge, one must be very humble and meek. This is the first qualification. This is sattva-guṇa. But those who are situated in the rajo-guṇa and tamo-guṇa, they cannot become humble. That is not possible. Passion and ignorance. So one has to... Knowledge means one has come to..., one has to come to the platform of goodness, sattva-guṇa, the brahminical qualification. Śamo damas titikṣa ārjavaṁ jñānaṁ vijñānam āstikyaṁ brahma-karma svabhāva-jam [Bg. 18.42]. Everything is there in the Bhagavad-gītā, the qualification = these are the qualification of brāhmaṇa; these are the qualification of kṣatriya; these are the qualification of vaiśyas; these are the qualification of śūdras. Śūdra has one qualification. What is that? Paricaryātmakaṁ śūdra-karma svabhāva-jam [Bg. 18.44]. A śūdra means he'll be satisfied if he gets one good master, that's all. No other qualification.
So at the present moment a person may be a great technologist, highly educated, but he does not get..., if he does not get a good master, good employer, he's nothing; he has no value. He has no independence. He has to accept some service. But a brāhmaṇa will never accept anyone's service. No. It is stated that in the śāstras that if there is bad time for a brāhmaṇa, he may accept the profession of a kṣatriya or even up to vaiśya, but never the profession of a śūdra, which is dog's business. These are the statement in the śāstras.
So this platform of knowledge, vidyā-vinaya-sampanne brāhmaṇe, one has to become brāhmaṇa. Then one becomes humble, meek, and other qualification follows. The material conception of life makes us very eager to receive honor from others. That is material education, rajas tama. Rajas tamo-guṇa. What are the symptoms of different modes of material nature, sattva-guṇa, rajo-guṇa, tamo-guṇa? Sattva-guṇa, goodness, one is satisfied and eager to advance in spiritual knowledge. That is sattva-guṇa, brāhmaṇa's quality. Sattva śamo damas titikṣa. Titikṣa. One has to learn titikṣa. Just like here the, even they are foreigners, how much tribulation they have to suffer on account of this temple. These foreigners, they have come here to become devotee, and the authorities are prepared to demolish their temple. So one has to tolerate. What can be done?
Even Prahlāda Mahārāja, he was the son of Hiraṇyakaśipu. The relationship was father and son, but because the son was a devotee, the father was prepared to kill him. This is the system all over the world. Jesus Christ, because he was preaching God consciousness, he was crucified. Although Jesus Christ preached, "Thou shall not kill," unfortunately he was preaching in such a society that he was killed. So these things are there always. The demons, they are always after the devotees how to harass him, how to give him trouble. Therefore one has to learn humility; otherwise one cannot make progress in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Therefore Caitanya Mahāprabhu has advised,
taror api sahiṣṇunā
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
[Cc. Ādi 17.31]
If you want to make progress in the matter of chanting the holy name of the Lord, then you have to learn also toleration. So many people will criticize. So many people will be prepared to unnecessarily put hindrances in your path. So one has to learn if one is serious to make progress in knowledge. Actual knowledge is to understand God. That is actual knowledge. Therefore it is called Vedānta. Vedānta. Veda means knowledge, and anta means the ultimate. The ultimate knowledge is to know Kṛṣṇa. Vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyaḥ [Bg. 15.15]. Everyone... There is a class of men, they say that "We only believe in the Vedas." "What you believe? Do you know Kṛṣṇa?" "No sir. We accept Kṛṣṇa as a big man, that's all, not as God." That means he does not understand what is Kṛṣṇa. So what is the use of Vedānta? There are so-called Vedāntists, they avoid Kṛṣṇa. They'll write comments on Bhagavad-gītā, avoid Kṛṣṇa. This is going on. This is going on.
But actual knowledge means to come to the point of knowledge one has to acquire these qualifications. But if one at once takes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, as it is stated, mam ca vyabhicāriṇī... What is that? Mayi ca ananya-yogena bhaktir avyabhicāriṇī. Bhakti-avyabhicāriṇī. Vyabhicāriṇī means mixed with other things. There is karma, jñāna, yoga and bhakti. So there are..., everything must be with bhakti; otherwise there is no success. Even if you are a karmī, you must add bhakti. Then you'll be successful. Yat karoṣi yat juhosi yad aśnāsi kuruṣva mad arpanam [Bg. 9.27]. This is bhakti-yoga, er, karma-yoga. You may be a businessman, you may be engineer, you may be whatever you may be; it doesn't matter. But bhakti must be arrayed there. Then you are successful. If you are devoid of bhakti, then it is useless, waste of time. That is the verdict of the śāstra.
Śāstra says, atha pumbhir dvija-śreṣṭha. This was spoken by Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī in the assembly of great brāhmaṇas and saintly person who were meeting big congress for one thousand years. Now we hold meeting for eight days, or utmost fifteen days, not more than that. But formerly they used to hold meetings, spiritual meeting, for one thousand years. Naimiṣāraṇya. That Naimiṣāraṇya is still existing near Lucknow. Most of you may know. So there was a meeting to be continued for one thousand years. And in that meeting Sūta Gosvāmī was presiding, and he said..., he addressed all the brāhmaṇas and... Because spiritual meetings were generally attended by highly educated brāhmaṇas and saintly persons. Some of the kṣatriyas also. The vaiśyas and śūdras, they were not interested. So therefore Sūta Gosvāmī especially addressed the learned brāhmaṇas, ataḥ pumbhir dvija-śreṣṭhāḥ [SB 1.2.13] = "O the best of the brāhmaṇas who are present here." Ataḥ pumbhir dvija-śreṣṭhāḥ varṇāśrama-vibhāgaśaḥ.
The society was in those days varṇa and āśrama. Varṇa means the four divisions of the society = brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra. Catur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ [Bg. 4.13]. Similarly, brahmacārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha and sannyāsa. This is Vedic culture. Varnāśrama-vibhāgaśaḥ. So Sūta Gosvāmī said that everyone has got his particular duty, varṇa and āśrama. Atha pumbhir dvija-śreṣṭhāḥ varṇāśrama-vibhāgaśaḥ svanuṣṭhitasya dharmasya. Everyone has got duty, but saṁsiddhir hari-toṣaṇam [SB 1.2.13]. Nobody is concerned, "Whether I am doing something, I am engaged in certain occupation, whether I am getting perfection." Because human life is meant for attaining perfection. And what is that perfection? That also we do not know. The perfection is to get out of this repetition of birth, death, old age and disease. That is perfection.
Nobody is serious. They are dying like cats and dogs, never mind. Nobody thinks that "My perfection of life... The cats and dogs are all dying, I'll also die." Why shall I die like cats and dogs? I must know why death is there. "I do not want death. Why death is?" That is humanity. Who wants to die? Nobody wants to die. And actually, in modern science they are trying to combat all the material obstacles. But here is the main obstacle = that nobody wants to die, but there is death. So where is the scientific solution of death? Who can say, where is the scientist who can say that no more there will be death, no more there will be disease, no more there will be old age? Janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi. That is stated here. This is knowledge.
Janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi-duḥkha-doṣānudarśanam [Bg. 13.9]. One should... Everyone is trying his best to mitigate distressed condition of life. Ātyantika duḥkha-nivṛtti. Everyone is trying. "I am in miserable condition. If I get so much money, my miserable condition will be mitigated." So everyone is after money. But that mitigation is temporary. Suppose if you get some money, you get a nice apartment, nice bank balance. Does it mean that you have ended your main problems of life, janma-mṛtyu, as it is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi-duḥkha-doṣānudarśanam?
So they have become so foolish, so degraded, that they do not know what is the meaning of life, what is the problem of life, how to make solution of the problem. Nobody is interested. Simply cats and dogs, that's all, as the cat and dog is working very hard simply for eating, sleeping and mating. That's all.
The human life is not meant for that purpose. This is the defect of modern civilization. Nāyaṁ deho deha-bhājāṁ nṛloke kaṣṭān kāmān arhate viḍ-bhujāṁ ye [SB 5.5.1]. Viḍ-bhujām, the hog, who eats stool, he's also struggling for the same thing. What is that? Eating, sleeping, mating and defending, that's all. So is that human life is also simply meant for this purpose? No. Human life is meant for tāpo divyaṁ yena śuddhyed sattvam [SB 5.5.1]. You have to purify your existence. My existence is now impure. In the Bhagavad-gītā we learn, na jāyate na mriyate [Bg. 2.20]. The living entity, the soul, never takes birth, never dies, but I am subject to birth and death. So this problem does not come. They are simply making adjustment a temporary problem. That is not human civilization. Vedic civilization means to solve the major problems of life. That is Vedic civilization. Janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi-duḥkha-doṣānudarśanam [Bg. 13.9]. They don't care for these troubles.
Formerly, people were very happy so far material conditions were concerned. They had no complaint. Everyone was happy, everyone was getting ample food. And why they shall not get? The birds, beasts, they are getting their ample food, even up to death. There is no complaint amongst the birds and beast, unless one is in the human society. Otherwise in the jungle there are major portion of the animals and birds.
They have no complaint. They do not come in the city, that "We have this complaint." They are happy. They are getting ample food; life is very happy. They have got their eating, they have got their sleeping, they have got their mates for sex life and they know how to defend. Everything is there. There is no problem. Only in the human society they have created problems, because they have no knowledge. The so-called knowledge is useless. Unless you cannot [sic] solve the problems, what is the meaning of this knowledge? Therefore Kṛṣṇa says knowledge means one must know this is my real, acute miserable condition of life, janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi-duḥkha-doṣānudarśanam [Bg. 13.9]. This is knowledge.
So to begin with knowledge, Kṛṣṇa recommends amānitvam, humility. Because the real disease of material life is that he is not humble. He is always proud, little possession. Svalpa-jala mātrena [indistinct]. Just like the big fish in the ocean. They are deep within the water, and if you find out a small lake, little water, you'll find small fishes, [makes sound] "parput-parput," they're doing there. So there is no depth of knowledge. Simply they're perplexed. Therefore this education should be given, how to become humble. Śiṣyas te 'haṁ śādhi māṁ prapannam [Bg. 2.7]. Tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā [Bg. 4.34]. Paripraśnena sevayā. One has to learn by service, by praṇipāta. Praṇipāta means surrender. There is no surrender. Nobody is prepared to surrender. "Oh, why shall I surrender? I know everything." Puffed-up unnecessarily.
So therefore Kṛṣṇa says the material disease is that rajas-tamo-bhāvāḥ. Tadā rajas-tamo-bhāvāḥ kāma-lobhādayaśca ye [SB 1.2.19]. Rajas-tamo-bhāvāḥ means rajo-guṇa---kāma and lobha. Ignorance. Everyone is thinking, "If I become greedy, I shall get more." That is not possible. You cannot get a farthing more than what you are destined. But it is ignorance. He's thinking, "By simply struggling hard, I'll get more." The śāstra says, "No, don't do it. So far your material condition is concerned, it is already destined with your body. You have got a certain type of body, and according to that body you'll get certain amount of pleasure and pains. That is already destined." This is called adṛṣṭa, adaiva. Your main business is if you want to make success your life, then save time for advancing in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is proper utilization of life. That does not depend on destiny. That you can do. That you can do.
So far other things are... Therefore śāstra says, tasyaiva hetoḥ prayeteta kovido na labhyate yad bhramatām upary adhaḥ [SB 1.5.18]. You have traveled, sometimes up, sometimes down. Up means upper planetary system; down means lower planetary system. Urdhvaṁ gacchanti sattva-sthāḥ [Bg. 14.18]. If you develop sattva-guṇa, then you are promoted to the higher planetary system. Madhye tiṣṭhanti rājasāḥ. If you remain in the passion modes of nature, then you may remain within this world or few others. And jaghanya-guṇa-vṛtti-sthā adho gacchanti tāmasāḥ. If you habituate jaghanya-guṇa-vṛtti... Just like nowadays people are being taught = "Drink wine, eat meat, and do whatever you like." Jaghanya-guṇa-vṛtti-sthāḥ [Bg. 14.18]. So they will go down, animal life.
So they have no knowledge. And the leaders, andhā yathāndhair upanīyamānāḥ [SB 7.5.31]. The leaders are blind and they are leading other blind men. So it is a very dangerous civilization. In spite of being born in India, in spite of having the privilege of studying Bhagavad-gītā, they are not taking advantage of it, and they are being misled like cats and dogs. Very regrettable condition. So the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is the only challenge to this devilish life of the human society. So I request everyone to study this philosophy very carefully and take advantage of it.
Thank you very much.
Devotees: Jaya Śrīla Prabhupāda. [end]