Srila Prabhupada explains that the only way to get perfect knowledge is to hear from the perfect person.
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, lecture given in San Francisco on February 17, 1967
Unlike us, when God speaks, His words are perfect.
prabhu kahe, vedanta-sutra ishvara-vachana
vyasa-rupe kaila yaha shri-narayana
bhrama, pramada, vipralipsa, karanapatava
ishvarera vakye nahi dosha ei saba
“The Lord [Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu] said, ‘Vedanta philosophy consists of words spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead Narayana in the form of Vyasadeva. The material defects of mistakes, illusions, cheating and sensory inefficiency do not exist in the words of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.’” – Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 7.106–107
We have been discussing this point – that there is no flaw in ishvara-vacana, that which is spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Because we ordinary persons are conditioned, we have got four kinds of flaws: we are subjected to commit mistakes, we are sometimes illusioned, sometimes we try to cheat, and always our senses are imperfect. So therefore, whatever knowledge we present will be imperfect.
You cannot expect perfect knowledge from an imperfect person. A medical man, a doctor, when he’s sick he puts himself under the care of another medical man. He does not take care of himself, because at that time he’s an imperfect physician. Because he’s diseased, he’s imperfect, although he’s a physician. In his diseased condition he does not take charge of himself. He puts himself in the charge of another medical man. This is the system.
When rascals and fools think of their imperfect stage as perfect, all the anomalies of this world begin. The rascals and fools do not think, “I am a rascal and a fool.”
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, although He is God, presented Himself before His spiritual master as an ordinary person. He later reported that His spiritual master told Him, “You are fool number one.”
We should be always prepared to admit our imperfection. But such imperfection is not present in the ishvara. Ishvara means “controller.” Suppose a man is in charge of such-and-such department, education department, if he’s a fool then what is the use of keeping such a man?
Therefore ishvaras, those who are controllers, have no such flaw. That is to be admitted first. They are flawless. And what to speak of the Parameshvara, the Supreme Controller. There are two kinds of ishvara. You are also an ishvara, but you are now in the imperfect stage. When you become perfect, you become an ishvara, a controller. For example, at the present conditioned stage, we are all controlled by the senses. So when you at least become the controller of the senses, then you become an ishvara. Then there will be fewer mistakes, less illusion, less cheating, and perfection.
God is free of all these imperfections. And what are the scriptures? The scriptures are the words of God. In every scripture we’ll find, “God said.” In the Bible it is said, “God said, ‘Let there be creation.’” Why God for creation? Because that will be perfect. If God said, “Let there be creation,” that creation will be perfect.
Water on Reserve
Don’t you see how this creation is perfect? We require water, and God has created this earth in such a way that three-fourths of the earth is covered with water. And the water is salty. Why? The water is reserved. Unless it is salty, it will decompose. And how is the water distributed? The sun evaporates the water, and that means the salt is removed. The pure water is evaporated in the sky and distributed all over the world. And it is kept on the summit of the mountain so that it can come down by gravitation throughout the year through the rivers and you can get water.
Now see – nature study – how it is perfectly made. Can you do that? No. It is not possible. When there is a scarcity of water, you have to look to the sky. You have no power. Your science cannot acquire water when there is a scarcity, when there is no rain. You cannot create rain. You have to wait. So therefore, everything made by the Lord is perfect. There is no question of imperfection.
In the Vedic language – om purnam – it is said that the Supreme Lord is full and perfect. Therefore whatever He creates is also perfect and full. Actually, there is no scarcity in this material world. We have created scarcity by our mismanagement.
The whole world, the whole earth planet, belongs to all the living entities there. It is meant for them. God has created vegetables for the animals, and for the human beings He has created fruits, flowers, and grains, and you take milk from the animals. All live peacefully. But we nonsense rascals have created all these distinctions: “Oh, this is an American,” “This is an Indian,” “This is a Chinese,” “This is a Russian,” “I am this,” “I am that,” “Oh, I am Christian,” “I am Hindu.” Why? All of you are God’s servants, dependent on God. The leader is God. Just think in that way, and the whole thing becomes perfect.
Everything is there, perfect. The arrangement, nature’s arrangement, is such that you can eat nicely. Whatever your body wants is there; there is sufficient supply. Take, eat nicely, live peacefully, and utilize the words of God. There is the Bible. There is the Koran. There are the Vedas. Try to understand God and make your life perfect and go back to Godhead. This is the whole policy.
There is no flaw in the arrangement of God. That is to be understood first of all.
The Last Word in Knowledge
Vedanta is compiled by God Himself. That we have explained yesterday. Lord Krishna says, vedanta-krid veda-vid eva caham: “I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.” (Gita 15.15) If God, Krishna, is not the knower of Vedanta, then how can He compile the Vedanta? Vedanta means “the last word in knowledge.” Everyone is seeking knowledge, and vedanta means the last word in knowledge.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu first of all establishes that in the Vedanta-sutra you cannot find any flaw; therefore you have no right to interpret it. You are a nonsense rascal, so how can you touch and comment on the sutras compiled by God, the Supreme Perfect? But we do not admit, “I am a rascal.” I think that I am very learned, I have no flaw, I am perfect. This is foolishness.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s point is this: why does the foolish person interpret and comment on Vedanta, which is perfect itself? Do you require a light to see the sun? How is that possible? The sun is itself illuminated so nicely that you don’t require any other light to see the sun. If I say, “My dear boy, please come with me and take this light. I’ll show you the sun in the sky,” oh, you’ll think, “Oh, Swamiji is a nonsense. What is the use of this light?” Similarly, what knowledge do you have that you want to comment on the Vedanta-sutra? It is already illuminated.
The Vedanta-sutra begins, athato brahma jijnasa: “Now one should inquire into the Absolute Truth.” Now you have this human form of life. Now you have got full consciousness. You are not like the animal. We are not like dogs and cats. Now try to understand what you are, what is spirit, or Brahman. Is it not your duty? Should you simply be satisfied like the animals – eating, drinking, mating, begetting children, and dying? Do you think that is your perfection of life? No. The Vedanta-sutra says, athato brahma jijnasa. This life is for spiritual realization. It is not meant for cats’ and dogs’ life, for sense gratification.
The hogs are doing sense gratification all day. They are eating, and as soon as there is a female, oh, there is sex. Do you think this is human life? No. Vedanta says no, it is not human life. Human life is to understand what is spirit, what is the background of this manifestation. So at once the Vedanta-sutra replies, janmady asya yatah: “Brahman, the Supreme Absolute Truth, is the background of all these manifestations.”
We are all living entities, and we are intelligent. We know how to do things very nicely. We have got intelligence. So do you think that He from whom we have emanated has no intelligence? He has no sense? He is impersonal? What is this nonsense?
I am born of my father. Suppose that I have not seen him, that just after my birth my father died. In my childhood or even when my mother was pregnant, my father died, so I did not see my father. There are so many cases. Does this mean that my father is impersonal? Any common man can understand, “I have got this body from my father, and I am so intelligent that I can do things nicely. So naturally my father is a person. How can he be impersonal?” I understand this even if I have never seen him.
Vedanta-sutra says “that from whom everything emanated” is not impersonal. The first verse of the Srimad-Bhagavatam begins with these same words: janmady asya yatah. The Supreme Person, God, is cognizant. He’s sentient, not impersonal, because He knows everything. Your father knows almost everything about you because he created you. This is a crude example. But God is perfect. We fathers are not perfect. But He’s perfect.
Therefore, because He’s perfect He knows everything in every nook and corner of this creation. He knows everything. And the Bhagavatam says, abhijnah. Abhijnah means that He knows. His knowing process is different from ours, but we simply apply our nonsense ideas to God. The Vedas say that the sun is the eye of God. So how can we can hide from the eyes of God? The sunshine is within your room. You are thinking, “I am alone in this room. Nobody can see me. Let us do nonsense.” Oh, the sunshine is there. How can you hide yourself?
Therefore God is perfect. And He is not looking only from the outside. He’s sitting within you. So how can you hide yourself? That is not possible. There is no flaw in His seeing, His working, His writing, His instructing – everything is perfect. First of all you have to understand this.
In Everything There Is God’s Law
And the Bhagavatam (6.3.19) says, dharmam tu sakshad bhagavat-pranitam. Dharma – any religion or religious principle – is compiled and made by the Supreme Lord. Therefore in every scripture you’ll find that the beginning is God.
The state laws are made by the state administrators. So how can you change them? You cannot. If the state law is that you must drive on the right, can you change that? “No, I shall go to the left.” Oh, at once you’ll be arrested. If you cannot change the laws of your state, how can you change the laws of God? That means the more you violate the laws of God, the more you become sinful. This is called sin. When you violate the laws of the state you become criminal; similarly, when you violate the laws of God you become sinful. This is the definition of sin and piety. If you follow the rules of God, then you are pious.
Now, in the Bhagavad-gita (7.11) Lord Krishna says, “I am sexual intercourse for begetting children.” That means it is a pious activity. But sexual intercourse for sense gratification is a sin. Now, fools may inquire, “Oh, what is the difference between married sex life and nonmarried sex life?” That is the fool’s question. But the rule is that if you require sex life, just become a gentleman and marry. Get yourself married and live peacefully. That is nice. That is righteous. So why should we not accept?
In everything there is God’s law, and that is perfect. And Krishna consciousness means to be always conscious in contact with God. That is called Krishna consciousness.
Krishna consciousness is not an artificial thing. We have not manufactured some ideas and advertised that we are Krishna conscious. No. Krishna consciousness means that just as an obedient citizen of the state is always conscious of the state’s supremacy, similarly a Krishna conscious person is always conscious of the supremacy of God, or Krishna. He is called Krishna conscious.
“Why should we become Krishna conscious?” If you do not become Krishna conscious, then you become criminal. You become sinful. You have to suffer. The laws of nature are so strong that they will not let you go without suffering. As the state laws are so stringent that if you commit some criminal thing – simply keeping marijuana and LSD – you are still immediately arrested. You see? So what so speak of using them. [Laughs.] You see?
This is to be known. This is Krishna consciousness – that we should not violate God’s laws.
Knowledge from the Right Person
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu wants to stress the point that nobody can interpret either the Bible or the Vedanta-sutra or the Koran. That is the principle. You cannot make any change. If you do not understand, then go to the right person to learn.
Who is the right person? One who is receiving the knowledge by the parampara system is the right person, not simply someone who’s very educated and world famous as a philosopher. He’s not the right person. The right person may be illiterate, but if he follows the guru-parampara, the disciplic succession, he’s the right person.
I have several times recited this narration. When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was traveling in South India, He saw that a brahmana was reading Bhagavad-gita and his neighbors knew that “This brahmana is illiterate. He does not know even what is A-B-C-D, and still he’s reading Bhagavad-gita.” They were joking, sometimes criticizing him. The brahmana, of course, was reading as far as possible.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu saw the fun and approached the brahmana.
“My dear brahmana, what are you reading?”
The brahmana understood that “Here is a sincere person. He’s not joking with me. He’s simply inquiring.”
So he replied, “My dear sir, I am illiterate. I do not know even the alphabets. But my Guru Maharaja asked me to read eighteen chapters of Bhagavad-gita every day. So what can I do? I have taken to reading this Bhagavad-gita in pursuance of the order of my spiritual master. So I am simply seeing the cover and trying to understand what is there.”
Now, he’s illiterate. By seeing the cover, he’s trying to understand Bhagavad-gita by the order of his spiritual master. This is called Krishna consciousness. “Because my spiritual master has ordered me to read Bhagavad-gita – I know I’m illiterate, I cannot read – oh, let me see what it is.”
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu asked him, “Well, you are illiterate, but I see that with feeling you are crying.”
“Yes, sir, I am crying.”
“Now, as soon as I take this book, the picture of Krishna and Arjuna comes before me. I see that Krishna is driving the chariot and Arjuna is hearing, and I simply appreciate, ‘Oh, Krishna is so kind that He has become the chariot driver of His devotee.’ Therefore I am crying. ‘Oh, He’s so kind.’”
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “You are reading Bhagavad-gita.”
At once He embraced him.
This is reading Bhagavad-gita. Commentary on Bhagavad-gita without Krishna is all rascaldom. Be careful of those who comment in that way. They are all rascals, because they have made Bhagavad-gita minus Krishna. They want to interpret in their own way.
Similarly, they interpret Vedanta minus God. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu warns you, “Don’t go to such rascals.” There is no mistake. Try to understand Bhagavad-gita or Vedanta-sutra or any scripture as it is. Don’t try to change it.
Thank you very much.