When we become fed up, disgusted with the materialistic way of life, natural inquiry is then "What is next?"
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© 2004 - Hansadutta das
[Posted July 5, 2006]

Human Life is Meant for Inquiry

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Srila Prabhupada
Lecture, New York, April 13, 1969



tasmad gurum prapadye
tajijnasuh shreya uttamam
shabde pare cha nishna
tambrahmany upashamashrayam
[Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.3.21]

The whole Vedic instruction is just to deliver all suffering humanity from the threefold miseries of material existence. That is the aim and object of Vedic civilization. That means this human form of life is meant for finishing all kinds of troubles. That should be the effort of human being. Actually, they are doing so. Everyone is trying to minimize the miseries of life and get happiness of life. That is the impetus of all activities. But unfortunately, they do not know how to do it.

The first thing is that one should very nicely understand the position of material existence. Sanatana Gosvami, who approached Lord Chaitanya, he presented himself that "My dear Lord, people in general, they speak of me that I am very learned man," gramya vyavahare kaha pandita, "I am very learned man. But actually when I think of myself, what kind of learned man I am, I do not know what I am." So this type of advancement of knowledge, simply for material comforts, without knowing about oneself, "What I am?" they're simply useless labor. One should try to understand what he is. That is also the beginning of Vedanta-sutra. Athato brahma jijnasa: one should be inquisitive to understand about himself, Brahman, or the Supreme Brahman. That is the real necessity of this human form of life. The animals, they cannot inquire about himself or about the Supreme. But a human being can inquire, that "I want to become happy, but miseries are coming upon me one after another." At least, one should know what are the miseries. The miseries are three kinds of miseries. It is not the question of one religion or another religion. The miserable condition of life is for everyone, either he is Hindu or he is Muslim or Christian or Jew. It doesn't matter. Anyone who has accepted this material body has to undergo the miserable condition of material existence. That is a fact. And what are the miserable condition? There are three types: adhyatmika, adhibhautika, adhidaivika. Adhyatmika means pertaining to the body, mind. Everyone is experienced that "I'm not feeling today well due to some sickness of my body or some mental disturbance." This is called adhyatmika. And there are other miseries inflicted by other living entities, my enemies, some animal, some mosquito or some bug. There are so many living entities, they are also try to give me some trouble. This is called adhibhautika. And there is another type of misery, which is called adhidaivika. That is natural disturbance —severe cold, severe heat, some famine, some earthquake, some disaster, some hurricanes. There are so many things, natural disturbance. So in either of these three types of miserable condition we are. But those who are foolish, they do not see to it. Under illusion of maya they think, "Oh, we are very happy." This is called maya. One is not happy, but he's thinking, "I am happy." And they are trying to become happy in so many other ways.

But that is not the way of seeking happiness. If we actually want to be happy, then you have to inquire about your constitutional position, what I am. That is meditation, to know. You just think over yourself, "Whether I am this body?" If you think that... Suppose you think over your, meditate upon your finger. You'll come to the conclusion that "I am not this finger. It is my finger. I am not this finger." Because if the finger is cut off, that I am not dead, therefore I am not finger. It is very easy to understand. So you meditate on every part of your body. You'll come to the conclusion, if you are sane, that "I am not this body. The body is mine. I am not this dress. The dress is mine." That is the conclusion. Then what I am? At the present moment I am identifying with this body, with this dress. That is illusion. Yasyatma -buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke [SB 10.84.13]. Bhagavata says anyone who is identifying himself with this body, he's an ass. He's not even a human being. Actually it is so, because I am not this body. And the beginning of Bhagavad-gita is with this proposition, that you are not this body. Dehino 'smin yatha dehe kaumaram yauvanam jara [Bg. 2.13]. The body is growing because I am sitting within this body. A child grows so long the soul is there. If a child takes birth, dead body, it does not grow. That means the soul is not there. That is called dead. So this preliminary knowledge one has to learn. That is called brahma-jijnasa. The Bhagavad-gita begins from this point, that "I am not this body."

So this is... The function of human activity is to know oneself, what he is, and then begin his work. And if he works simply just like animal, eating, sleeping, mating and defending... These are animal activities. If you simply endeavor for eating whole day and night, and if you are satisfied whatever you like to eat, and you think that "My mission of life is finished, now my belly is full with foodstuff," that is not human civilization. But in this age people are degrading so much that at the end of the day, if he can have a full belly meal, he says, "Oh, I am now satisfied." Just like animal. Or "If I can sleep in a nice apartment, oh, I am very happy." Or "If I can mate with a beautiful opposite sex, oh, I am happy." These are animal happiness. Actual human happiness is not simply to meet the bodily demands. That is called brahma-jijnasa. Athato brahma jijnasa.

Now where to inquire about this Brahman, about oneself, that is the next question. Just like if you want to learn something about medical science you have to approach some medical man or you have to take admission in some medical school or college. Or if you want to learn about engineering you have to seek after somebody who knows engineering or technology. That is the way of education. So many universities and department of knowledge teaching different department of knowledge. Similarly, if you want to learn about yourself, Brahman, then you have to seek after some teacher who can teach you about your self. This is common knowledge. This is common knowledge. So all the Vedic literature says that in order to learn that transcendental science about yourself or about God, then tad vijnanartham sa gurum eva bhigacchet [Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.12]. In order to learn that science, don't manufacture, but scientific way, if you want to learn... Tad vijnanartham sa gurum eva..., gurum eva abhigacchet. Guru means spiritual master. Eva, eva means certainly. Not that... if somebody thinks, "Oh, I can learn about myself without approaching any spiritual master", that is wrong. Actually eva, eva means certainly. One must. And this verb gacchet is used where this sense is used, "must." Gacchet, "must go," "must approach." That is the injunction of the Vedas. Similarly, the injunction of Srimad-Bhagavatam is also tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh shreya uttamam [SB 11.3.21].

Now, in order to approach a bona fide spiritual master, one must be very much disgusted with this material way of life. That is very nice qualification. Unless one is disgusted with this materialistic way of life, that actually in this materialistic way of life there is no happiness... This proposition must be convinced by one, that he should know certainly that "In the material way of life I cannot become happy." This is the first condition. Tasmad. Tasmad means "therefore." Similarly, in Vedanta-sutra also, atha atah brahma-jijnasa. When we become fed up, disgusted with the materialistic way of life, natural inquiry is then "What is next?" That "next," in order to understand that "next," the Vedanta-sutra says, the Vedic knowledge says that tasmad gurum evabhigacchet. Tasmad gurum prapadyeta. Therefore one should seek after a bona fide spiritual master and learn there. That is the Vedic injunction. So one who is actually convinced that "The materialistic way of life cannot make me happy," his duty is to seek after a bona fide spiritual master to be enlightened in the transcendental science of understanding oneself and what is God. There are five elementary truths. The living entity... We are all living entities, cats and dogs or animals. There are 8,400,000's of different kinds of... According to different kinds of bodies... The living entity is one spirit soul, but according to his body he is claiming. Just like you have got American body, you are claiming that "I am American." I have got Indian body, I am claiming, "I am Indian." This is by bodily designation. Similarly, a cat has got a body of cat. He is thinking, "I am cat." A dog has got a dog's body; he's thinking that "I am dog." So there are 8,400,000 species of life. They are claiming "I am this and that." Actually, he is spirit soul. He is spirit soul and eternal servant of the Supreme Lord. That is his constitutional position, but he has forgotten. Some way or other, he does not know. And in order to invoke that original knowledge, which is called Krishna consciousness, one should approach a bona fide spiritual master. That is the way. Tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh shreya uttamam [SB 11.3.21]. Why one should approach a spiritual master unless one is inquisitive to understand if there is anything beyond this material world? Otherwise there is no need of seeking a spiritual master. A spiritual master should not be sought after to fulfill one's sense gratification. No. One should be very much eager to understand, to know the science of Brahman, which is beyond this material existence, and then he should very seriously seek after a spiritual master.

Tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh. Jijnasuh means inquisitive. What kind of inquisitiveness? Not that we are inquisitive about politics or economics or some football result or some... So many things we have got. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is said that there are many questions by the conditioned soul. There are many questions by the conditioned soul living within this material existence without any knowledge of the self-realization. There are many questions. So that sort of question is not required to be solved by the spiritual master. The spiritual master should be approached by a person who is inquisitive to understand shreya uttamam, what is the highest benefit, spiritual benefit, beyond this material existence. For that purpose. Shreya. Shreya means the benefit, highest benefit. Preya and shreya. Preya means immediately I want some benefit, and shreya means the ultimate benefit. One who is inquisitive about the ultimate benefit, he should be inquisitive or inquire from a bona fide spiritual master. Jijnasuh shreya uttamam.

Now, the next question is, "Who is spiritual master, where I have to go and inquire?" Otherwise I'll be misled. I may approach a person who is not actually bona fide spiritual master. That should also be known. And what is that? That is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, in the Vedas and Bhagavad-gita—everywhere the same thing is. Here also it is said that you should approach a bona fide spiritual master. Jijnasuh shreya uttamam, to whom? Shabde pare cha nishnatam: [SB 11.3.21] one who has actually taken full bath in the ocean of transcendental knowledge. Shabde pare cha nishnatam. Shabde means the transcendental sound. The Vedic words, hymns, are called transcendental sound, and the gist of all such sound is om, or Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. So one has to take bath in the ocean of this transcendental sound, then he is bona fide spiritual master. Shabde pare cha nishnatam. And what is the symptom? Everyone can say that "I have taken full bath in this transcendental sound," but the symptom is there. What is that symptom? Shabde pare cha nishnatam brahmany upashamashrayam. He has taken shelter of the Supreme Brahman, finishing all material activities. He has no more any material activities. He is simply after the Supreme Brahman or Krishna. This is the qualification.

So today we shall perform some initiation performances in this meeting, and we are happy that you have come to participate in this nice function. So see the procedure, how we are doing it. This is Vedic principle, simplified to suit according to the time and place; otherwise, there are many other paraphernalias.


Spiritual Master and the Disciple/ WORLD SANKIRTAN PARTY
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