The Order of the Spiritual Master is Our Dharma
Srila Prabhupada Photo CT24-070
A devotee washes Srila Prabhupada's feet with milk, San Diego 1975. Photo by Višākhā dd. Image courtesy of © The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.

[Discussing Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 6.1.7]

HH Bhaktividyā Pūrṇa Svāmī Mahārāja: So this subject matter is a very interesting subject because the living entity, the conditioned living entity is always going to do something wrong. And when one does something wrong then that is not proper. The proper... Human life is meant to elevate oneself, is actually to become God conscious - that is the purpose of this human form. So now, if the human form can be engaged in the Lord's service, that is a proper perfection. But when we perform our activities, unless we have that inclination to serve the Lord, then according to conditioned nature we are going to work for our own pleasure, the own pleasure of the mind and senses. Therefore then if one has that mentality, one still has to do so according to God's direction. If one wants to do things, one has to follow God's direction, and that is the Dharma-śāstras. So they give what the Lord says is how a materialist should act, so that there will not be difficulty. And if they don't act according to that, then as described in the previous Canto, then they go to the hellish regions where they have so many difficulties. So then the idea is, is the human form is not meant for hellish life, it is not even meant for pious life, but it is meant for transcendental elevation. But the living entity, because of his conditioning, he does not want to engage himself properly in these transcendental activities. He wants to engage in sense gratification because of the false identity with the body and mind. So then the point comes up here, is how does one save oneself from all these hellish conditions?

So now what is happening, is Prabhupāda points out, is that Śukadeva Gosvāmī wants to test Parīkṣit Mahārāja to see how serious he is about actually understanding this point. Because it can be taken in two levels, it could be taken: 1) How do I save myself from hellish conditions? But I establish myself in very nice pious conditions and I enjoy it because of this. Or, 2) how to get out of the whole cycle of birth and death because whether pious or impious, it is still material, it still binds us to the material world. So which does he mean? When he is talking about becoming freed from these things and liberated, what liberation is he talking about? Simply being freed from material disturbances, or does he mean being freed from the actual material condition?

So he first will explain, he is starting to explain about the Dharma-śāstras, that if you follow them, they give, 'Okay, if you have done this material thing wrong, you do this material activity, it is pious, means you have done something wrong, it means it is sinful, impious. So the impious material activity is countered by a pious material activity, something that is beneficial.' Like that, some kind of something that corrects. Now, why is it done in this way? Because the materialist only knows the body and mind, so therefore, if they do something wrong with the body and mind, you can correct that by bringing in another element of the body and mind to deal with that. Then one can relate to this, and that's like the... One can understand this. Just like someone may not behave properly, so you will find, he can understand someone else who doesn't behave properly because they can relate to that, they can understand the mood and motivations and all that. So the Dharma-śāstras are meant for this purpose. We are engaged in material activities, but we don't know how to... We don't know anything beyond that. So we talk about something transcendental, there is no interest in it, so one won't be able to apply, one won't be able to relate to it, what has it got to do with this? You know, it's just like I have a gross object and there is a problem with it, I expect that there is a gross dealing with it to correct it.  I may not understand subtle dealings with it, right? I cannot understand that someone is behaving in a particular way and therefore I will deal with them also, they have done something rough, we will deal with them rough back. I can relate to that. But if I tell them, 'No, the person is behaving roughly because of, you know, some emotional disturbance and this and that, so if you deal with them in this subtle way, dealing with the  emotions and the mind, you can change that rough behavior.' But you'll find, most people will not appreciate that. You know, it's rough dealings deserves rough feelings, you know, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and all this kind-of stuff. You know, it works, it is very practical, right? And even better is  two eyes for one eye and two teeth for one teeth, that's even better. Like that, you know, teach them a lesson, set an example, right? Like that. But the subtle things are not even appreciated, even on the material platform, let alone when you say the solution is actually spiritual. So, therefore the Dharma-śāstras are there. They are there for the materialistic mentality.

So now, Kṛṣṇa doesn't say, 'Give up these performances of prescribed duties' in the  beginning stages of the Gītā, but He says ultimately that's what has to be done. And he will protect one, there will be no sinful reaction from giving up those duties, as long as you replace that with surrendering to Him. In other words, how much devotional service you establish, to that much the, of all the Dharma-śāstras don't need to be taken into consideration. Because Prabhupāda mentions at the end of the purport, is if you don't follow this then... He says, 'Actually it is a fact that one who does not take to devotional service must follow the decision of these scriptures by performing pious acts to counteract his impious...' They have to, it is not a question of 'I don't believe in it' or 'I don't want.' It's just the way it is. You know, fire will burn whether we believe it or not. So those who are not devotees, if they do not act according to the Dharma-śāstras, then they will go to hell, it is that easy, that clear. There is not another alternative, it's not that the alternative cultures, alternative societies can overcome that. You know, it just doesn't work, it can't. We may think what we like, but it doesn't.

So as we take up devotional service and get fixed in that, then that means these things start dropping off, and then we don't worry about this. Therefore he starts off with the point of atonement, because atonement is one of the first things we drop off. That's one of the first things we drop off. Because we understand that the reason someone has done something wrong is because of the material disease. So the solution is, you may have a system of atonement that may correct their mentality from sinful to pious, but it still is material. And according to the Gītā the modes of nature are always fighting with each other, so, therefore, you know, you are piously situated with the mode of goodness, but with time passion and ignorance will prevail. So it is no solution. It may be a temporary solution, it may be a good solution for today, but it is not a long-term solution. So, therefore, only devotional service can change that.

So if someone has a material problem, it can only be solved by spiritual understanding. That is the thing. We see, otherwise, if that wasn't the fact, then how is it that we all joined this movement so easily? We just walked in the door clean, you know, started following the regulative principles, chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, and that's it. What atonement did we do for all the different sinful activities that we performed? You know, you kill one cow, and for every hair on that cow's body you have to take birth and be killed, right? And generally we find that hamburgers by the nature of it is not made out of one cow, but many cows, right? So one can understand, you know, especially the modern Western culture, how sinful someone is! Everyone walked in the door clean. All Prabhupāda did was ask, 'You chant Hare Kṛṣṇa.' He didn't say, 'Well, now you have to become, go through some atonement.' So such sinful things can be counteracted by chanting, that means anything can be counteracted by chanting. So this is the first principle, is that atonement actually has no meaning, because all it does is correct the material, the conditioned nature, but it still leaves it conditioned. So unless that is connected to Kṛṣṇa, that there is a purification, in other words, you correct by devotional service, so unless it is a service, it doesn't really correct.

So that is the point that will be made as it progresses, that the materialists, they become very much impressed by these things, but it doesn't actually free one from hellish life. It may immediately, but it doesn't in the long run. So only by devotional service can actually one be freed because that frees us from the conditioned life. By instruction, that is what frees us: oṁ ajñāna-timirāndhasya jñānāñjana-śalākayā. Śalākayā is cutting, it is removing. So the material life is being removed by instruction. So by association of devotees and by devotional service, by hearing instruction and performing service for Krishna, in other words, jñāna and vairāgya, then one's devotion increases, one's realization of Kṛṣṇa increases. So this is, this is what was the actual platform. Therefore Kṛṣṇa makes this point: devotional service is so strong, if one fully surrenders to Kṛṣṇa and takes fully to His devotional service, the reactions of the sinful life immediately stop. Therefore Prabhupāda was establishing and pressing this full surrender, that you take up this surrender to Kṛṣṇa, because then if we do that, then all these reactions stop, and one's obligations to the Manu-saṁhitā are very small, very small. Means, you have a conditioned nature, you have to engage it in some activities, so then some of the aspects of just social interaction are maintained, and that's it. But more than that we don't bother. Means, you have to have some way to interact with others, to establish relationship, so then that is done by this following of the prescribed duties here. But more than that not. But if we don't take up fully, to that degree that we are not, to that degree then these things we are liable to.

So if we are following the order of the Spiritual Master very strictly, then that is our dharma, that is our Dharma-śāstra, you know, what was it? In that... That is our Dharma-śāstra, just like Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura saying that the instructions of Rūpa Mañjarī, these are his dharma, you know, and following these, these are his life. So one is following dharma, but now the dharma, the material dharma becomes replaced with the instruction of the Spiritual Master, the instruction of Kṛṣṇa.

But if we don't, then as Prabhupāda pointed out, then we must follow these other things because we are humans, so we are liable, so we must follow. Therefore Kṛṣṇa recommends this, this full surrender, or at least endeavor for full surrender because then one has less to follow. But if not then one has to follow, that is the difficulty. So Kṛṣṇa Himself personally recommends, and the Ācāryas all recommend that endeavor for full surrender and coming to that platform. Because otherwise, getting involved so much in the material, all the Dharma-śāstra, is very difficult, very difficult. Like that. And they will just give you a material result. Of course, if one wants a material result, then that's the place to look. If one is interested in dharma, artha, kāma, then that's the place to look. But if one is interested in pure devotional service, then he will follow the path of devotional service for Kṛṣṇa. Then that will bring one to the transcendental platform, the liberated platform, and then from there one is freed from all these sinful reactions, nothing is left.

Excerpt from a lecture on Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 6.1.7, given on the Day of Disappearance of Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrī Māyāpura. This passage starts at 7 min 40 s.
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