|[Posted July 5, 2006]
Human Life is Meant
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
New York, April 13, 1969
tajijnasuh shreya uttamam
shabde pare cha nishna
tambrahmany upashamashrayam [Srimad-Bhagavatam
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
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
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
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.