Anyone who is a not a Vaiṣṇava, or an unalloyed devotee of the Supreme Lord, must be a materialist. A Vaiṣṇava living according to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s injunctions is certainly not on the materialistic platform. Caitanya means “spiritual force.” All of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s activities were carried out on the platform of spiritual understanding; therefore only those who are on the spiritual platform are able to understand the activities of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Materialistic persons cannot understand these activities and are generally known as karmīs or jñānīs. The jñānīs are mental speculators who simply try to understand what is spirit and what is matter. Their process is neti neti: “This is not spirit, this is not Brahman.” The jñānīs are a little more advanced than the dull-headed karmīs, who are simply interested in sense gratification. Before becoming a Vaiṣṇava, Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya was a mental speculator (jñānī), and being such, he always cut jokes with Vaiṣṇavas. A Vaiṣṇava never agrees with the speculative system of the jñānīs. Both the jñānīs and karmīs depend on direct sense perception for their imperfect knowledge. The karmīs never agree to accept anything not directly perceived, and the jñānīs put forth only hypotheses. However, the Vaiṣṇavas, the unalloyed devotees of the Lord, do not follow the process of acquiring knowledge by direct sense perception or mental speculation. Because they are servants of the Supreme Lord, devotees receive knowledge directly from the Supreme Personality of Godhead as He speaks it in the Bhagavad-gītā, or sometimes as He imparts it from within as the caittya-guru. As Lord Kṛṣṇa states in the Bhagavad-gītā (BG 10.10):
- teṣāṁ satata-yuktānāṁ bhajatāṁ prīti-pūrvakam
- dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ taṁ yena mām upayānti te
“To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.” The Vedas are considered to have been spoken by the Supreme Lord. They were first realized by Brahmā, who is the first created being within the universe (tene brahma hṛdā ya ādi-kavaye (SB 1.1.1)). Our process is to receive knowledge through the paramparā system, from Kṛṣṇa to Brahmā, to Nārada, Vyāsa, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and the six Gosvāmīs. By disciplic succession, Lord Brahmā was enlightened from within by the original person, Kṛṣṇa. Our knowledge is fully perfect due to being handed from master to disciple. A Vaiṣṇava is always engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, and thus neither karmīs nor jñānīs can understand the activities of a Vaiṣṇava. It is said, vaiṣṇavera kriyā-mudrā vijñeha nā bujhaya: (CC Madhya 23.39) even the most learned man depending on direct perception of knowledge cannot understand the activities of a Vaiṣṇava. After being initiated into Vaiṣṇavism by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya realized what a mistake he had made in trying to understand Rāmānanda Rāya, who was very learned and whose endeavors were all directed to rendering transcendental loving service to the Lord.