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Uddhava Gita
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  1. The Perfection of Spiritual Knowledge
  2. Pure Devotional Service Surpasses Knowledge and Detachment

19. The Perfection of Spiritual Knowledge

The Lord said: A self-realized person who has cultivated scriptural knowledge up to the point of enlightenment and who is free from impersonal speculation, understanding the material universe to be simply illusion, should surrender unto me both that knowledge and the means by which he achieved it. (19.1)

For learned, self-realized philosophers I am the only object of worship, the desired goal of life, the means for achieving that goal, and the settled conclusion of all knowledge. Indeed, because I am the cause of their happiness and their freedom from unhappiness, such learned souls have no effective purpose or dear object in life except me. (19.2)

Those who have achieved complete perfection through philosophical and realized knowledge recognize my lotus feet to be the supreme transcendental object. Thus the learned transcendentalist is most dear to me, and by his perfect knowledge he maintains me in happiness. (19.3)

That perfection which is produced by a small fraction of spiritual knowledge cannot be duplicated by performing austerities, visiting holy places, chanting silent prayers, giving in charity or engaging in other pious activities. (19.4)

Therefore, dear Uddhava, through knowledge you should understand your actual self. Then, advancing by clear realization of Vedic knowledge, you should worship me in the mood of loving devotion. (19.5)

Formerly, great sages, through the sacrifice of Vedic knowledge and spiritual enlightenment, worshiped me within themselves, knowing me to be the Supreme Lord of all sacrifice and the Supersoul in everyone's heart. Thus coming to me, these sages achieved the supreme perfection. (19.6)

Dear Uddhava, the material body and mind, composed of the three modes of material nature, attach themselves to you, but they are actually illusion, since they appear only at the present, having no original or ultimate existence. How is it possible, therefore, that the various stages of the body, namely birth, growth, reproduction, maintenance, dwindling and death, can have any relation to your eternal self? These phases relate only to the material body, which previously did not exist and ultimately will not exist. The body exists merely at the present moment. (19.7)

Uddhava said: Lord of the universe! Form of the universe! Please explain to me that process of knowledge which automatically brings detachment and direct perception of the truth, which is transcendental, and which is traditional among great spiritual philosophers. This knowledge, sought by elevated personalities, describes loving devotional service unto you. (19.8)

Dear Lord, for one who is being tormented on the terrible path of birth and death and is constantly overwhelmed by the threefold miseries, I do not see any possible shelter other than your two lotus feet, which are just like a refreshing umbrella that pours down showers of delicious nectar. (19.9]

Almighty Lord, please be merciful and uplift this hopeless living entity who has fallen into the dark hole of material existence, where the snake of time has bitten him. In spite of such abominable conditions, this poor living entity has tremendous desire to relish the most insignificant material happiness. Please save me, my Lord, by pouring down the nectar of your instructions, which awaken one to spiritual freedom. (19.10)

The Lord said: Dear Uddhava, just as you are now inquiring from me, similarly, in the past King Yudhisthira, who considered no one his enemy, inquired from the greatest of the upholders of religious principles, Bhisma, while all of us were carefully listening. (19.11)

When the great Battle of Kuruksetra had ended, King Yudhisthira was overwhelmed by the death of many beloved well-wishers, and thus, after listening to instructions about many religious principles, he finally inquired about the path of liberation. (19.12)

I will now speak unto you those religious principles of Vedic knowledge, detachment, self- realization, faith and devotional service that were heard directly from the mouth of Bhismadeva. (19.13)

I personally approve of that knowledge by which one sees the combination of nine, eleven, five and three elements in all living entities, and ultimately one element within those twenty-eight. (19.14]

When one no longer sees the twenty-eight separated material elements, which arise from a single cause, but rather sees the cause itself, the Lord – at that time one's direct experience is called vijnana, or self-realization. (19.15)

Commencement, termination and maintenance are the stages of material causation. That which consistently accompanies all these material phases from one creation to another and remains alone when all material phases are annihilated is the one eternal. (19.16)

From the four types of evidence – Vedic knowledge, direct experience, traditional wisdom and logical induction – one can understand the temporary, insubstantial situation of the material world, by which one becomes detached from the duality of this world. (19.17)

An intelligent person should see that any material activity is subject to constant transformation and that even on the planet of Brahma there is thus simply unhappiness. Indeed, a wise man can understand that just as all that he has seen is temporary, similarly, all things within the universe have a beginning and an end. (19.18)

Sinless Uddhava, because you love me, I previously explained to you the process of devotional service. Now I will again explain the supreme process for achieving loving service unto me. (19.19]

Firm faith in the blissful narration of my pastimes, constant chanting of my glories, unwavering attachment to ceremonial worship of me, praising me through beautiful hymns, great respect for my devotional service, offering obeisances with the entire body, performing first-class worship of my devotees, consciousness of me in all living entities, offering of ordinary, bodily activities in my devotional service, use of words to describe my qualities, offering the mind to me, rejection of all material desires, giving up wealth for my devotional service, renouncing material sense gratification and happiness, and performing all desirable activities such as charity, sacrifice, chanting, vows and austerities with the purpose of achieving me – these constitute actual religious principles, by which those human beings who have actually surrendered themselves to me automatically develop love for me. What other purpose or goal could remain for my devotee? (19.20-24)

When one's peaceful consciousness, strengthened by the mode of goodness, is fixed on the Lord, one achieves religiosity, knowledge, detachment and opulence. (19.25)

When consciousness is fixed on the material body, home and other, similar objects of sense gratification, one spends one's life chasing after material objects with the help of the senses. Consciousness, thus powerfully affected by the mode of passion, becomes dedicated to impermanent things, and in this way irreligion, ignorance, attachment and wretchedness arise. (19.26)

Actual religious principles are stated to be those that lead one to my devotional service. Real knowledge is the awareness that reveals my all-pervading presence. Detachment is complete disinterest in the objects of material sense gratification, and opulence is the eight mystic perfection, such as anima-siddhi. (19.27)

Uddhava said: Dear Krishna, chastiser of the enemies, please tell me how many types of disciplinary regulations and regular daily duties there are. Also, my Lord, tell me what is mental equilibrium, what is self-control, and what is the actual meaning of tolerance and steadfastness. What are charity, austerity and heroism, and how are reality and truth to he described? What is renunciation, and what is wealth? What is desirable, what is sacrifice, and what is religious remuneration? Dear Kesava, most fortunate one, how am I to understand the strength, opulence and profit of a particular person? What is the best education, what is actual humility, and what is real beauty? What are happiness and unhappiness? Who is learned, and who is a fool? What are the true and the false paths in life, and what are heaven and hell? Who is indeed a true friend, and what is one's real home? Who is a rich man, and who is a poor man? Who is wretched, and who is an actual controller? Lord of the devotees, kindly explain these matters to me, along with their opposites. (19.28-32)

The Lord said: Nonviolence, truthfulness, not coveting or stealing the property of others, detachment, humility, freedom from possessiveness, trust in the principles of religion, celibacy, silence, steadiness, forgiveness and fearlessness are the twelve primary disciplinary principles. Internal cleanliness, external cleanliness, chanting the holy names of the Lord, austerity, sacrifice, faith, hospitality, worship of me, visiting holy places, acting and desiring only for the supreme interest, satisfaction, and service to the spiritual master are the twelve elements of regular prescribed duties. These twenty-four elements bestow all desired benedictions on those persons who devotedly cultivate them. (19.33-35)

Absorbing the intelligence in me constitutes mental equilibrium, and complete discipline of the senses is self-control. Tolerance means patiently enduring unhappiness, and steadfastness occurs when one conquers the tongue and genitals. The greatest charity is to give up all aggression toward others, and renunciation of lust is understood to be real austerity. Real heroism is to conquer one's natural tendency to enjoy material life, and reality is seeing the Lord everywhere. Truthfulness means to speak the truth in a pleasing way, as declared by great sages. Cleanliness is detachment in fruitive activities, whereas renunciation is the sannyasa order of life. The true desirable wealth for human beings is religiousness, and I, the Lord, am sacrifice. Religious remuneration is devotion to the acarya with the purpose of acquiring spiritual instruction, and the greatest strength is the pranayama system of breath control. (19.36-39)

Actual opulence is my own nature as the Lord, through which I exhibit the six unlimited opulences. The supreme gain in life is devotional service to me, and actual education is nullifying the false perception of duality within the soul. Real modesty is to be disgusted with improper activities, and beauty is to possess good qualities such as detachment. Real happiness is to transcend material happiness and unhappiness, and real misery is to be implicated in searching for sex pleasure. A wise man is one who knows the process of freedom from bondage, and a fool is one who identifies with his material body and mind. The real path in life is that which leads to me, and the wrong path is sense gratification, by which consciousness is bewildered. Actual heaven is the predominance of the mode of goodness, whereas hell is the predominance of ignorance. I am everyone's true friend, acting as the spiritual master of the entire universe, and one's home is the human body. Dear friend Uddhava, one who is enriched with good qualities is actually said to be rich, and one who is unsatisfied in life is actually poor. A wretched person is one who cannot control his senses, whereas one who is not attached to sense gratification is a real controller. One who attaches himself to sense gratification is the opposite, a slave. Thus, Uddhava, I have elucidated all of the matters about which you inquired. There is no need for a more elaborate description of these good and bad qualities, since to constantly see good and bad is itself a bad quality. The best quality is to transcend material good and evil. (19.40-45)


20. Pure Devotional Service Surpasses Knowledge and Detachment

Uddhava said: Dear lotus-eyed Krishna, you are the Supreme Lord, and thus the Vedic literatures, consisting of positive and negative injunctions, constitute your order. Such literatures focus on the good and bad qualities of work. (20.1)

According to Vedic literature, the superior and inferior varieties found in the human social system, varnasrama, are due to pious and sinful modes of family planning. Thus piety and sin are constant points of reference in the Vedic analysis of the components of a given situation – namely the material ingredients, place, age and time. Indeed, the Vedas reveal the existence of material heaven and hell, which are certainly based on piety and sin. (20.2)

Without seeing the difference between piety and sin, how can one understand your own instructions in the form of Vedic literatures, which order one to act piously and forbid one to act sinfully? Furthermore, without such authorized Vedic literatures, which ultimately award liberation, how can human beings achieve the perfection of life? (20.3)

Dear Lord, in order to understand those things beyond direct experience – such as spiritual liberation or attainment of heaven and other material enjoyments beyond our present capacity – and in general to understand the means and end of all things, the forefathers, gods and human beings must consult the Vedic literatures, which are your own laws, for these constitute the highest evidence and revelation. (20.4)

Dear Lord, the distinction observed between piety and sin comes from your own Vedic knowledge and does not arise by itself. If the same Vedic literature subsequently nullifies such distinction between piety and sin, there will certainly be confusion. (20.5)

The Lord said: Dear Uddhava, because I desire that human beings may achieve perfection, I have presented three paths of advancement – the path of knowledge, the path of work and the path of devotion. Besides these three there is absolutely no other means of elevation. (20.6)

Among these three paths, jnana-yoga, the path of philosophical speculation, is recommended for those who are disgusted with material life and are thus detached from ordinary, fruitive activities. Those who are not disgusted with material life, having many desires yet to fulfill, should seek perfection through the path of karma-yoga. (20.7)

If somehow or other by good fortune one develops faith in hearing and chanting my glories, such a person, being neither very disgusted with nor attached to material life, should achieve perfection through the path of loving devotion to me. (20.8)

As long as one is not satiated by fruitive activity and has not awakened his taste for devotional service by sravanam kirtanam visnoh [SB 7.5.23] one has to act according to the regulative principles of the Vedic injunctions. (20.9)

Dear Uddhava, a person who is situated in his prescribed duty, properly worshiping by Vedic sacrifices but not desiring the fruitive result of such worship, will not go to the heavenly planets; similarly, by not performing forbidden activities he will not go to hell. (20.10)

One who is situated in his prescribed duty, free from sinful activities and cleansed of material contamination, in this very life obtains transcendental knowledge or, by fortune, devotional service unto me. (20.11)

The residents of both heaven and hell desire human birth on the earth planet because human life facilitates the achievement of transcendental knowledge and love of Godhead, whereas neither heavenly nor hellish bodies efficiently provide such opportunities. (20.12)

A human being who is wise should never desire promotion to heavenly planets or residence in hell. Indeed, a human being should also never desire permanent residence on the earth, for by such absorption in the material body one becomes foolishly negligent of one's actual self-interest. (20.13)

A wise person, knowing that although the material body is subject to death it can still award the perfection of one's life, should not foolishly neglect to take advantage of this opportunity before death arrives. (20.14)

Without attachment, a bird gives up the tree in which his nest was constructed when that tree is cut down by cruel men who are like death personified, and thus the bird achieves happiness in another place. (20.15)

Knowing that one's duration of life is being similarly cut down by the passing of days and nights, one should be shaken by fear. In this way, giving up all material attachment and desire, one understands the Supreme Lord and achieves perfect peace. (20.16)

The human body, which can award all benefit in life, is automatically obtained by the laws of nature, although it is a very rare achievement. This human body can be compared to a perfectly constructed boat having the spiritual master as the captain and the instructions of the Lord as favourable winds impelling it on its course. Considering all these advantages, a human being who does not utilize his human life to cross the ocean of material existence must be considered the killer of his own soul. (20.17)

A transcendentalist, having become disgusted and hopeless in all endeavours for material happiness, completely controls the senses and develops detachment. By spiritual practice he should then fix the mind on the spiritual platform without deviation. (20.18)

Whenever the mind, being concentrated on the spiritual platform, is suddenly deviated from its spiritual position, one should carefully bring it under the control of the self by following the prescribed means. (20.19)

One should never lose sight of the actual goal of mental activities, but rather, conquering the life air and senses and utilizing intelligence strengthened by the mode of goodness, one should bring the mind under the control of the self. (20.20)

An expert horseman, desiring to tame a headstrong horse, first lets the horse have his way for a moment and then, pulling the reins, gradually places the horse on the desired path. Similarly, the supreme yoga process is that by which one carefully observes the movements and desires of the mind and gradually brings them under full control. (20.21)

Until one's mind is fixed in spiritual satisfaction, one should analytically study the temporary nature of all material objects, whether cosmic, earthly or atomic. One should constantly observe the process of creation through the natural progressive function and the process of annihilation through the regressive function. (20.22)

When a person is disgusted with the temporary, illusory nature of this world and is thus detached from it, his mind, guided by the instructions of his spiritual master, considers again and again the nature of this world and eventually gives up the false identification with matter. (20.23)

Through the various disciplinary regulations and the purificatory procedures of the yoga system, through logic and spiritual education or through worship and adoration of me, one should constantly engage his mind in remembering the Lord, the goal of yoga. No other means should be employed for this purpose. (20.24)

If, because of momentary inattention, a yogi accidentally commits an abominable activity, then by the very practice of yoga he should burn to ashes the sinful reaction, without at any time employing any other procedure. (20.25)

It is firmly declared that the steady adherence of transcendentalists to their respective spiritual positions constitutes real piety and that sin occurs when a transcendentalist neglects his prescribed duty. One who adopts this standard of piety and sin, sincerely desiring to give up all past association with sense gratification, is able to subdue materialistic activities, which are by nature impure. (20.26)

Having awakened faith in the narrations of my glories, being disgusted with all material activities, knowing that all sense gratification leads to misery, but still being unable to renounce all sense enjoyment, my devotee should remain happy and worship me with great faith and conviction. Even though he is sometimes engaged in sense enjoyment, my devotee knows that all sense gratification leads to a miserable result, and he sincerely repents such activities. (20.27-28)

When an intelligent person engages constantly in worshiping me through loving devotional service as described by me, his heart becomes firmly situated in me. Thus all material desires within the heart are destroyed. (20.29)

The knot in the heart is pierced, all misgivings are cut to pieces and the chain of fruitive actions is terminated when I am seen as the Lord. (20.30)

Therefore, for a devotee engaged in my loving service, with mind fixed on me, the cultivation of knowledge and renunciation is generally not the means of achieving the highest perfection within this world. (20.31)

Everything that can be achieved by fruitive activities, penance, knowledge, detachment, mystic yoga, charity, religious duties and all other means of perfecting life is easily achieved by my devotee through loving service unto me. If somehow or other my devotee desires promotion to heaven, liberation, or residence in my abode, he easily achieves such benedictions. (20.32-33)

Because my devotees possess saintly behaviour and deep intelligence, they completely dedicate themselves to me and do not desire anything besides me. Indeed, even if I offer them liberation from birth and death, they do not accept it. (20.34)

It is said that complete detachment is the highest stage of freedom. Therefore, one who has no personal desire and does not pursue personal rewards can achieve loving devotional service unto me. (20.35)

Material piety and sin, which arise from the good and evil of this world, cannot exist within my unalloyed devotees, who, being free from material hankering, maintain steady spiritual consciousness in all circumstances. Indeed, such devotees have achieved me, the Supreme Lord, who am beyond anything that can be conceived by material intelligence. (20.36)

Persons who seriously follow these methods of achieving me, which I have personally taught, attain freedom from illusion, and on reaching my personal abode they perfectly understand the Absolute Truth. (20.37)



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