Notes from the Bhagavatam 13
Srimad Bhagavatam 7.5.32
Unless they smear upon their bodies the dust of the lotus feet of a Vaisnava completely freed from material contamination, persons very much inclined toward materialistic life cannot be attached to the lotus feet of the Lord, who is glorified for His uncommon activities. Only by becoming Krishna conscious and taking shelter at the lotus feet of the Lord in this way can one be freed from material contamination.
Becoming Krishna conscious brings about anartha-apagamah, the disappearance of all anarthas, the miserable conditions we have unnecessarily accepted. The material body is the basic principle of these unwanted miserable conditions. The entire Vedic civilization is meant to relieve one from these unwanted miseries, but persons bound by the laws of nature do not know the destination of life. As described in the previous verse, isa-tantryam uru-damni baddhah they are conditioned by the three strong modes of material nature. The education that keeps the conditioned soul bound life after life is called materialistic education. Srila Bhaktivinoda Ṭhakura has explained that materialistic education expands the influence of maya.[illusion] Such an education induces the conditioned soul to be increasingly attracted to materialistic life and to stray further and further away from liberation from unwanted miseries.
One may ask why highly educated persons do not take to Krishna consciousness. The reason is explained in this verse. Unless one takes shelter of a bona fide, fully Krishna conscious spiritual master, there is no chance of understanding Krishna. The educators, scholars and big political leaders worshiped by millions of people cannot understand the goal of life and take to Krishna consciousness, for they have not accepted a bona fide spiritual master and the Vedas. Therefore in the Mundaka Upanisad (3.2.3) it is said, nayam atma pravacanena labhyo na medhaya na bahuna srutena: one cannot become self-realized simply by having an academic education, by presenting lectures in an erudite way (pravacanena labhyah), or by being an intelligent scientist who discovers many wonderful things. One cannot understand Krishna unless one is graced by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Only one who has surrendered to a pure devotee of Krishna and taken the dust of his lotus feet can understand Krishna. First one must understand how to get out of the clutches of maya. The only means is to become Krishna conscious. And to become Krishna conscious very easily, one must take shelter of a realized soul—a mahat, or mahatma—whose only interest is to engage in the service of the Supreme Lord. As the Lord says in Bhagavad-gita (9.13):
mahatmanas tu mam partha
daivim prakrtim asritah
jnatva bhutadim avyayam
“O son of Prtha, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible.” Therefore, to end the unwanted miseries of life, one must become a devotee.
yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akincana
sarvair gunais tatra samasate sura
“One who has unflinching devotional faith in Krishna consistently manifests all the good qualities of Krishna and the demigods.” (Bhag. 5.18.12)
yasya deva para bhaktir
yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthah
“Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed.” (Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.23)
yam evaisa vrnute tena labhyas
tasyaisa atma vivrnute tanum svam
“The Lord is obtained only by one whom He Himself chooses. To such a person He manifests His own form.” (Mundaka Upanisad 3.2.3)
These are Vedic injunctions. One must take shelter of a self-realized spiritual master, not a materially educated scholar or politician. One must take shelter of a niskincana, a person engaged in devotional service and free from material contamination. That is the way to return home, back to Godhead.
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