Perfection of pure devotional service is attained when all attention is diverted toward the transcendental loving service of the Lord. To cut off the tie of all other affections does not mean complete negation of the finer elements, like affection for someone else. This is not possible. A living being, whoever he may be, must have this feeling of affection for others because this is a symptom of life. The symptoms of life, such as desire, anger, hankerings, and feelings of attraction, cannot be annihilated. Only the objective has to be changed. Desire cannot be negated, but in devotional service the desire is changed only for the service of the Lord in place of desire for sense gratification. The so-called affection for family, society, country, etc., consists of different phases of sense gratification. When this desire is changed for the satisfaction of the Lord, it is called devotional service.
In the Bhagavad-gītā we can see that Arjuna desired not to fight with his brothers and relations just to satisfy his own personal desires. But when he heard the message of the Lord, Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, he changed his decision and served the Lord. And for his doing so, he became a famous devotee of the Lord, for it is declared in all the scriptures that Arjuna attained spiritual perfection by devotional service to the Lord in friendship. The fighting was there, the friendship was there, Arjuna was there, and Kṛṣṇa was there, but Arjuna became a different person by devotional service. Therefore, the prayers of Kuntī also indicate the same categorical changes in activities. Śrīmatī Kuntī wanted to serve the Lord without diversion, and that was her prayer. This unalloyed devotion is the ultimate goal of life. Our attention is usually diverted to the service of something which is nongodly or not in the program of the Lord. When the program is changed into the service of the Lord, that is to say when the senses are purified in relation with the service of the Lord, it is called pure, unalloyed devotional service. Śrīmatī Kuntīdevī wanted that perfection and prayed for it from the Lord.
Her affection for the Pāṇḍavas and the Vṛṣṇis is not out of the range of devotional service, because the service of the Lord and the service of the devotees are identical. Sometimes service to the devotee is more valuable than service to the Lord. But here the affection of Kuntīdevī for the Pāṇḍavas and the Vṛṣṇis was due to family relation. This tie of affection in terms of material relation is the relation of māyā, because the relations of the body or the mind are due to the influence of the external energy. Relations of the soul, established in relation with the Supreme Soul, are factual relations. When Kuntīdevī wanted to cut off the family relation, she meant to cut off the relation of the skin. The skin relation is the cause of material bondage, but the relation of the soul is the cause of freedom. This relation of the soul to the soul can be established by the via medium of the relation with the Supersoul. Seeing in the darkness is not seeing. But seeing by the light of the sun means seeing the sun and everything else which was unseen in the darkness. That is the way of devotional service.
In the previous verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam Queen Kuntī prayed that the Lord kindly cut off her attraction for her kinsmen, the Pāṇḍava and Vṛṣṇi families. However, giving up one's attraction for material things is not sufficient. The Māyāvādī philosophers say, brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā: "This world is false, and Brahman (spirit) is truth." We admit this, but qualify it. As living entities, we want enjoyment. Enjoyment means variety. It is not possible to enjoy anything without variety. Why has God created so many colors and so many forms? In order to create enjoyment out of variety, for variety is the mother of enjoyment.
Māyāvādī philosophers, impersonalists, want to negate this variety, but what is the result? Because they do not engage in devotional service, they simply undertake the hard labor of austerities and penances without achieving any permanent result. This is explained by a prayer in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.2.32):
- ye 'nye 'ravindākṣa vimukta-māninas
- tvayy asta-bhāvād aviśuddha-buddhayaḥ
- āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ
- patanty adho 'nādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅghrayaḥ
"O lotus-eyed Lord, those who think they are liberated in this life but do not render devotional service to You must be of impure intelligence. Although they accept severe austerities and penances and rise to the spiritual position, to impersonal Brahman realization, they fall down again because they neglect to worship Your lotus feet."
The human form of life is meant for reestablishing our relationship with God and acting according to that relationship. Even in ordinary dealings, one businessman who intends to do business with another must first establish some relationship with him, and then transactions can take place. Similarly, a husband and wife establish a relationship by marriage, and then they live together. In a similar way, human life is meant for reestablishing our relationship with God. The material world means forgetfulness of this relationship. There is no Kṛṣṇa consciousness in this material world, for as soon as there is Kṛṣṇa consciousness, as soon as there is action on the basis of Kṛṣṇa, it is no longer the material world but the spiritual world.
As a woman, Kuntīdevī had a relationship with two families. That was her attachment. Therefore she prayed to Kṛṣṇa to cut off these relationships and free her. But after becoming free, what should she do? That is the question. One may be employed in some business and, feeling inconvenience, resign. That resignation may be all right, but if by resigning one becomes unemployed and has no engagement, then what is the value of resigning?
Those who are frustrated and confused want to negate this material world. They know what they don't want, but they do not know what they do want. People are always saying, "I don't want this." But what do they want? That they do not know.
What one should actually want is explained by Kuntīdevī. She says, "Let my family relationships cease, but let my relationship with You be confirmed." In other words, she does not want to be attracted to anything but Kṛṣṇa. This is perfection, and this is actually wanted.
The word ananya-viṣayā means ananya-bhakti, undeviating devotional service. We must simply be attached to Kṛṣṇa twenty-four hours a day without deviation. In this way our renunciation can be perfect. If we think we can be attached to Kṛṣṇa and material things at the same time, we are mistaken. We cannot ignite a fire and at the same time pour water on it. If we do, the fire will not act.
The Māyāvādī sannyāsīs renounce this world (brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā). It is very good to preach renunciation of the world, but side by side we must have attraction for something, otherwise our renunciation will not remain. We see many Māyāvādī sannyāsīs who say brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā, but after they take sannyāsa they return to the material world to open hospitals and do philanthropic work. Why? If they have left this world, considering it mithyā, false, why do they return to take up politics, philanthropy, and sociology? Actually this is bound to happen, for we are living entities and are active. If out of frustration we try to become inactive, we shall fail in our attempt. We must engage in activities.
The supreme activity, the Brahman (spiritual) activity, is devotional service. Unfortunately the Māyāvādīs do not know this. They think that the spiritual world is void. However, the spiritual world is exactly like the material world in that it has varieties. In the spiritual world there are also houses, trees, roads, chariots - everything is there, but without the material inebrieties. As described in Brahma-saṁhitā (5.29):
- cintāmaṇi-prakara-sadmasu kalpa-vṛkṣa-
- lakṣāvṛteṣu surabhīr abhipālayantam
- govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
"I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, the first progenitor, who is tending the cows, yielding all desires, in abodes built with spiritual gems, surrounded by millions of purpose trees, and always served with great reverence and affection by hundreds of thousands of goddesses of fortune, or gopīs."
In the spiritual world there are kalpa-vṛkṣa trees, which yield whatever type of fruit we desire. In the material world a mango tree cannot supply grapes, nor can a grapevine supply mangoes. In the spiritual world, however, if we take a mango from a tree and at the same time desire grapes, the tree will supply them. This is called a "desire tree." These are some of the actualities of the spiritual world.
In this material world we require sunlight and moonlight, but in the spiritual world there is no need of sunlight and moonlight because everything and everyone is effulgent. In kṛṣṇa-līlā, Kṛṣṇa stole butter, and the neighborhood friends of Mother Yaśodā complained. Actually they were not complaining, but were just enjoying the bodily features and the fun of Kṛṣṇa. They told Mother Yaśodā, "Your son comes to our house and steals butter. We try to conceal it in the dark so that He cannot see it, but somehow He still finds it out. You had better take away all His ornaments because we think that the light of His jewels helps Him find the butterpot." Mother Yaśodā replied, "Yes, I will take off all His ornaments." But the neighbors would reply, "No, no. It is useless. Somehow this boy has an effulgence that comes out of Himself. He can find the butter even without the ornaments." Thus the transcendental body is effulgent.
It is because of the effulgence of Kṛṣṇa's transcendental body that there is light. Whatever light we see is simply borrowed light from Kṛṣṇa's effulgence. As stated in the Brahma-saṁhitā (5.40):
- yasya prabhā prabhavato jagad-aṇḍa-koṭi-
- koṭiṣv aśeṣa-vasudhādi-vibhūti-bhinnam
- tad brahma niṣkalam anantam aśeṣa-bhūtaṁ
- govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
"In the millions and millions of universes there are innumerable planets, and each of them is different from the others by its cosmic constitution. All of these planets are situated within the spiritual effulgence called the brahma-jyoti. This brahma-jyoti is the bodily effulgence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whom I worship."
The bodily effulgence of Kṛṣṇa generates millions of universes. In this solar system the sun produces many planets, and because of sunshine the planets are warm and the seasons change. Because of the sun there are trees, green foliage, fruits, and flowers. Similarly, whatever we see in creation is all due to Kṛṣṇa's bodily effulgence.
The Māyāvādīs simply see the effulgence, which is impersonal. They cannot see anything more. We may see an airplane rise in the sky, but after a while it passes out of our sight due to the dazzling sunshine. The airplane is there, but we cannot see it. Similarly, if we simply try to see the effulgent brahma-jyoti, we are unable to see within it. One of the mantras in the Īśopaniṣad therefore petitions the Lord to wind up His effulgence so that He can be seen properly.
The Māyāvādī philosophers cannot see the personal activities of Kṛṣṇa nor the planet where Kṛṣṇa is personally active. The Bhāgavatam says, āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ patanty adho 'nādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅghrayaḥ: (SB 10.2.32) because they do not see the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, they have to return to this material world, despite all their serious penances and austerities. Thus renunciation in itself will not help us. We may artificially renounce, but again we shall become so-called enjoyers. Such renunciation and enjoyment is like a pendulum that goes this way and that. On one side we become false renunciants, and on the other we become false enjoyers. The remedy, however, is here. If we really want to become detached from this material world, we must increase our attachment for Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Renunciation alone will not help us. Therefore Kuntīdevī prays, tvayi me 'nanya-viṣayā (SB 1.8.42). She prays that her attraction be constantly drawn unto Kṛṣṇa without being diverted to anything else. This is bhakti, pure devotional service, for as mentioned by Rūpa Gosvāmī, devotional service should be unalloyed (anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam (Brs. 1.1.11)).
In this material world there are jñānīs and karmīs. The karmīs are fools who unnecessarily work very hard, and the jñānīs are those who, when a little elevated, think, "Why work so hard? So many things are not required. Why accumulate so much money and food and so much false prestige?" The jñānī thinks in this way. The bhakta, however, is beyond the karmī and the jñānī. The karmī has many desires, and the jñānī tries to get rid of all desires, but desirelessness can be possible only when we desire to serve Kṛṣṇa. Otherwise it is not possible to get rid of desires. Jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam (CC Madhya 19.167). As bhaktas, we should have no desires for jñāna and karma. We should be without attachment for material things, but we must have attachment for Kṛṣṇa. In this way our detachment will be fixed.
We must cultivate Kṛṣṇa consciousness favorably (ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānuśīlanam). This means thinking of how Kṛṣṇa will be satisfied. We must always think of Kṛṣṇa, just like the gopīs. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness of the gopīs was perfect because they had no desire other than to try to please Kṛṣṇa. That is perfection. Therefore Caitanya Mahāprabhu recommends, ramyā kācid upāsanā vraja-vadhū-vargeṇa yā kalpitā: there is no better process by which to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead than that method adopted by the gopīs.
The gopīs had no desire other than to satisfy Kṛṣṇa. All the gopīs tried to satisfy Him, including the elder gopīs, Yaśodā and her friends, and so also did the elderly gopas like Nanda Mahārāja and his friends. The boys and girls of Vṛndāvana who were of the same age as Kṛṣṇa also tried to satisfy Him. Everyone tried to satisfy Kṛṣṇa-even the cows, the flowers, the fruits, and the water of Vṛndāvana. This is because everything in Vṛndāvana is spiritual; nothing is material.
We should understand the difference between spiritual and material. That which is material has no living symptoms, and that which is spiritual has all living symptoms. Both the trees in the spiritual world and those in the material world are living entities, but in trees here the living symptoms are absent. A human being is a living entity, and the devotees in the spiritual world are also living entities, but in the human beings who are not Kṛṣṇa conscious the real symptoms of life are absent.
Actually there is no other consciousness but Kṛṣṇa consciousness. And that consciousness is spiritual. Thus even while in this material world, if we simply increase our Kṛṣṇa consciousness we shall live in the spiritual world. If we live in the temple, we live in the spiritual world because in the temple there is no business other than Kṛṣṇa consciousness. There are so many engagements carried out for Kṛṣṇa. Those who strictly follow the regulations of Kṛṣṇa consciousness actually live in the spiritual world, not the material world. We may think we are living in New York, Los Angeles, or elsewhere, but we are actually living in Vaikuṇṭha.
It is a question of consciousness. A bug may sit on the same seat with the spiritual master, but because the spiritual master has developed consciousness and the bug does not, they are different. They may be sitting in the same place, but the bug remains a bug, and the spiritual master remains the spiritual master. The position in space may remain the same, just as we remain in the material world or the spiritual world, but if our Kṛṣṇa consciousness is strong, we are not in the material world.
Thus renunciation by itself, the simple giving up of worldly things, is not sufficient. Renunciation may be a helpful process, but it will not help absolutely. When we increase our attachment for Kṛṣṇa, our renunciation will be perfect. As we increase attachment for Kṛṣṇa, attachment for this material world will automatically diminish. Attachment for Kṛṣṇa and the material world cannot go hand in hand. If a woman is attached to two men - her husband and her paramour - she cannot maintain her attachment for both. Her attachment will increase for her paramour. Although she may work at her husband's home very nicely, her mind will be attached to her paramour, and she will think, "When shall I meet him tonight?" In the same way, if we increase our attachment for Kṛṣṇa, detachment or renunciation of this material world will automatically come (bhaktiḥ pareśānubhavo viraktir anyatra ca, SB 11.2.42).
Thus Kuntīdevī prays to Kṛṣṇa that He may grant her His mercy by which she can become attached to Him. We cannot increase our attachment for Kṛṣṇa without Kṛṣṇa's mercy. We cannot become devotees without Kṛṣṇa's mercy; therefore we simply have to serve Kṛṣṇa, for by service Kṛṣṇa is satisfied.
Kṛṣṇa does not require anyone's service, for He is perfect in Himself. However, if we give Him service wholeheartedly and sincerely, then, by His mercy, we shall make advancement. Sevonmukhe hi jihvādau svayam eva sphurat adaḥ (Brs. 1.2.234). God will reveal Himself to us. We cannot see God with our blunt eyes. How then can we see Him? Premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena, santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti (Bs. 5.38). We have to smear our eyes with the ointment of love; then Kṛṣṇa will reveal Himself. Kṛṣṇa will actually come in front of us.
When Dhruva Mahārāja was undergoing penance and meditating upon the form of Viṣṇu within his heart, the Viṣṇu form suddenly disappeared, and his meditation broke. Upon opening his eyes, Dhruva Mahārāja immediately saw Viṣṇu before him. Like Dhruva Mahārāja, we should always think of Kṛṣṇa, and when we attain perfection we shall see Kṛṣṇa before us. This is the process. We should not be too hasty. We should wait for the mature time. Of course, it is good to be eager to see Kṛṣṇa, but we should not become discouraged if we do not see Him immediately. If a woman gets married and wants a child immediately, she will be disappointed. It is not possible to have a child immediately. She must wait. Similarly, we cannot expect that just because we engage ourselves in Kṛṣṇa consciousness we can see Kṛṣṇa immediately. But we must have faith that we will see Him. We must have firm faith that because we are engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness we shall be able to see Kṛṣṇa face to face. We should not be disappointed. We should simply go on with our Kṛṣṇa conscious activities, and the time will come when we will see Kṛṣṇa, just as Kuntīdevī sees Him face to face. There is no doubt about this.
In the Bhagavad-gītā it is stated that even if one is sometimes found to be somewhat misbehaved, he is to be considered saintly if he engages steadily in the service of Kṛṣṇa. Sometimes American or European devotees may be criticized because they make mistakes and fall short of the system for worshiping the Deity as practiced in India, but still, according to Bhagavad-gītā, they must be considered saintly. We must fix our minds upon serving Kṛṣṇa sincerely and seriously, and then, even if there is some mistake, Kṛṣṇa will excuse it. Rūpa Gosvāmī says, tasmāt kenāpy upāyena manaḥ kṛṣṇe niveśayet: (SB 7.1.32) we should first fix our minds upon Kṛṣṇa, and then the ability to follow the other rules and regulations will automatically follow. In the beginning we should try our best to fix our minds upon the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, and then everything else will automatically become correct.
Kuntīdevī addresses Kṛṣṇa as Madhupati. Kṛṣṇa has thousands of names, and the name Madhupati indicates that He killed the demon Madhu. Kṛṣṇa consciousness is likened to a river, but not an ordinary river. It is like the River Ganges, which is very pure and directly connected to Kṛṣṇa. Kuntīdevī prays that just as the River Ganges flows toward the sea, her attraction will flow incessantly toward Kṛṣṇa's lotus feet. This is called ananya-bhakti, unalloyed devotion. Thus Kuntīdevī prays that her attraction for Kṛṣṇa will flow without hindrance.