or Why Do We Study Shastra?
Devotion resides in perfect knowledge of the Supreme. In other words, that knowledge that you have of the Supreme, your devotion can be based on that. It is being cultivated by that, it’s being developed by that, it’s being practiced by that. So if you don’t have knowledge of the Supreme, it will be really hard to cultivate the devotion.
Means, if you, seeing the Deity or hearing about Krsna and that, spontaneously just have a natural attraction just for Him, then means other than giving us great moral support there is no real need for you to be here. Other than, means, unless you sat here and gave the class, that would then be very good.
But the point is if that hasn’t happened then the idea is, then through knowledge, then you are able to properly situate yourself in devotion because then you know who you are, who Krsna is and what is your relationship. So he is making this point* is that it is not just a heading. Devotion resides in perfect knowledge of the Supreme that this is the basis of the whole course. Because we are trying to get knowledge by which we can base our devotion on. So that is the whole idea. To be able to see through this vision, to understand. It is not a matter of memorizing a few things because devotion is not based on a few things you have memorized.
Your devotion is based on what you understand, what you practice, that is manana. Manana is you understand it, you practice it. By practicing it you try to understand it more, you contemplate it more. By that contemplation you are better able to perform your practice. By continuance of this process, then you come to the platform of realization. That is then what you are trying to get to.
You realize this knowledge. You realize your position as Krsna’s servant, then act in that devotional platform. So you still have to take up seriously the devotional process. But the point is, first you have knowledge, that is the basis of your devotional service. Then by practicing that, then you come to realization. Then it becomes spontaneous. It is natural then. It is natural that you are doing it and in your mind it becomes a natural part of what you do.
So the whole idea is to situate yourself in devotional service. Otherwise, why would we have it? Why should we have study of the sastras? Why should we have organized classes in which people then study this knowledge and get degrees? To get degrees, to increase our prestige, make outside people think that we are educated. But that is not the purpose. The purpose is to develop devotion. This whole movement is only for that, it is not for something else. There is not another idea about it.
Devotee (1): If someone doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to go through this?
HH BVPS Maharaja: Why wouldn’t they?
Devotee (1): I know devotees, for them it’s a little bit hard to learn.
HH BVPS Maharaja: It is hard to learn things, but that is to memorize things. We are talking about understanding something. Understanding is based on some form of learning, but it’s more is what is the principle it is working on, principles are very easy. Krsna is God, we are His servant and our natural relationship is through devotion and for the purpose of expressing our love for Him and developing that love. That you can teach to a three-year-old. But that is the complete concept of the philosophy. The process we use is chanting Hare Krsna. The goal is love of God. You can easily teach that to a three-, four-year-old. No problem. So what is it that can’t be learnt?
So that is the whole point, the Vedic system is so perfect that it starts with the highest part and then it descends. The modern is, you start on the bottom and you ascend. Therefore what they speak in the university, the nursery school kid could not understand. But the Vedic is you start with the highest principle which is universal, everybody can understand it. Then according to the individual’s capacity then you descend down into the detail.
Because if someone knows ‘I chant Hare Krsna, I please Krsna, I go back to Godhead,’ if they only know that, that is their inspiration to chant, and they chant, they’ll get perfection. While someone else can tell you all the technical details about the different kinds of names and their effects, namabhasa and chayanama and all these different things like that, that’s because they have that kind of intellect. So that’s what it takes to engage in.
Means, somebody eats two three chapattis, someone eats ten chapattis, we take chapattis over to the elephant house we got a problem. So it is a capacity. So, therefore, because there is more intellect you have to give more detail. But the knowledge about Krsna and the process – that everybody can understand. It is just within that how much detail we deal with.
One is, because we want to make sure there are no doubts on any side, therefore very elaborately or exhaustively we will deal with the point. But the principle of that point is very simple. It will have been stated basically in the beginning. So then if we go on for a three days pontificating on all kinds of technical points then it is still that, it is not that the person who didn’t understand any of that lost anything. Because the beginning, the main point and the conclusion of the pancanga-nyaya are the same. So may be all the examples and all the technicalities given in clearing doubts may not have made sense, something will have made sense.
So that’s why the discussions, what you will be tested on in this course is not what you have memorized but what you understand. That is different. We are not looking for what you have realized. We are looking for what you have understood. Because realization is going to come from practice. This knowledge then you take it, you build on it for the rest of your life. We know Krsna is God, so how He is God, so how you can see Him in His creation as God, how you can see Him in our devotional activities or in others’ lives that we can go on spending the rest of our life seeing.
So that means devotion resides in perfect knowledge of the Supreme, so that perfect knowledge means actually understanding who you are and who Krsna is. So that means, then your devotion is going to be based on that.
(From Lecture on Science of Inquiry, 28th Oct 2008, Bhaktivedanta Academy, Sridham Mayapur)
*HH Suhotra Maharaja in his introduction to Bhakti Shastri study courses of the Bhaktivedanta Academy [editor note]
Transcription by Uddhava Priya Prabhu. Used with permission, minor adjustments in the text made by website editors.