The Brahma-saṁhitā said that if one starts on the chariot of air and makes progress on the speed of mind, still one cannot understand what is God. Vedeṣu durlabham adurlabham ātma-bhaktau (Bs. 5.33). He cannot be understood simply by studying Vedas. Traiguṇya viṣayā vedaḥ nistraiguṇyo bhavārjuna. One has to transcend the position of Vedas also. Then one can understand what is God or what is Kṛṣṇa.
So that process is explained in the Bhagavad-gītā, that bhaktyā mām abhijānāti yāvan yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ (BG 18.55). So this bhakti, devotional service of Kṛṣṇa, is so nice. And under that bhakti category, this Janmāṣṭamī... Of course, this Janmāṣṭamī ceremony is observed by all Hindus. Irrespective of becoming Vaiṣṇava or not, this ceremony is observed in India every home. Just like in your Western countries the Christmas is observed in every home, similarly Janmāṣṭamī is observed in every home. Today is a great ceremonial day. So our program is, at twelve o'clock night the Lord will take birth and we shall receive Him. And just now it is ten o'clock. For two hours our program will continue in kīrtana. Kīrtana means sometimes chanting with music, and sometimes speaking. Both of them are kīrtana. Kīrtayati iti kīrtanam. Whenever we glorify the Lord, that is called kīrtana. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam reading is also kīrtana. Abhavad vaiyāsakī kīrtane. Vaiyāsakī, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, he achieved the highest perfection, liberation, simply by reciting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Śrī-viṣṇu-śravane parīkṣit. Parīkṣit Mahārāja, he simply heard. There are nine processes of devotional service. Śravanaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam. Chanting, hearing. First hearing, then chanting. Without hearing, nobody can chant. Śravanaṁ kīrtanam. And what sort of śravanaṁ kīrtanam? Viṣṇoḥ, of Viṣṇu. Not anything else.
- śravanaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ
- smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam
- arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ
- sakhyam ātmā-nivedanam
- (SB 7.5.23)
These are nine processes of devotional service, of which śravanam, hearing, is most important. Without hearing, nobody can understand the science of God. Therefore the Vedic mantras are called śruti. Śruti means it is to be heard. It is not to be experimented in the laboratory. It is simply to be heard. Therefore it is called śruti. So śravanaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam, arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyam. Vandanam, offering prayer. We also offer prayer. The other religious sect, just like the Christians, they offer prayer; the Muhammadans, they offer prayer. So prayer, offering prayer is also one of the items of bhakti. Chanting, hearing, meditating, offering prayers, arcanam, worshiping the Deity in the temple, all of them are together devotional service. So out of the nine... If you can execute all the nine, it is very good. But it is not possible. So even if you can execute one item, you become perfect. It is so nice. Śrī viṣṇu śravane parīkṣit. Just like Mahārāja Parīkṣit, he simply executed the function of hearing, he got perfection. Similarly, abhavad vaiyāsakī kīrtane. Vaiyāsakī means Śukadeva Gosvāmī, he simply glorified the Lord. Prahlādaḥ smarane. Prahlāda Mahārāja, he was simply meditating. There are many examples. Simply by following one principle of this devotional service, they got the highest perfectional life, liberation, back to home, back to Godhead.