Knowledge of the Absolute Truth is not very easily understood by ordinary, less intelligent men; but if the spiritual master is kind enough to the disciple, however unintelligent he may be, then by the divine grace of the spiritual master everything is revealed. Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura therefore says, yasya prasādād, by the mercy of the spiritual master, the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, bhagavat-prasādaḥ, is revealed. Devahūti requested her great son to be merciful toward her because she was a less intelligent woman and also His mother. By the grace of Kapiladeva it was quite possible for her to understand the Absolute Truth, even though the subject matter is very difficult for ordinary persons, especially women.
In this verse Devahūti shows us the process for understanding transcendental subject matters. It is not by challenge but by submission. The entire bhakti process is a process of submission. That is also Caitanya Mahāprabhu's teaching (CC Adi 17.31):
- tṛṇād api sunīcena
- taror api sahiṣṇunā
- amāninā mānadena
- kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
If one is interested in advancing in chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Caitanya Mahāprabhu advises that one be humbler than the grass and more tolerant than the trees. One should not be very proud of his intelligence but should give all respect to others. In this way, one can chant Hare Kṛṣṇa offenselessly. Although Devahūti was the mother of Kapiladeva, she presented herself as a humble woman. It was not that she considered herself superior because she was His mother.
We have to please the spiritual master by service, and the entire bhakti process depends on the attitude of service. The transcendental nature of Kṛṣṇa is not possible to understand with our blunt material senses. Kṛṣṇa's name, form, qualities and pastimes are all divya, divine. Our present material senses have to be purified by engagement in the Lord's service, and our first engagement begins with the tongue. It is with the tongue that we can chant the transcendental names of the Lord. This is not very difficult, and this path is open to everyone - even women, vaiśyas and śūdras. After describing all the faults of Kali-yuga, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (12.3.51) states:
- kaler doṣa-nidhe rājann
- asti hy eko mahān guṇaḥ
- kīrtanād eva kṛṣṇasya
- mukta-saṅgaḥ paraṁ vrajet
"There is one special advantage about this age of Kali-yuga, and that is that people can attain liberation and return home, back to Godhead, simply by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra." Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said:
- harer nāma harer nāma
- harer nāmaiva kevalam
- kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva
- nāsty eva gatir anyathā
"Chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. There is no other way, no other way at all in Kali-yuga (CC Adi 17.21).'
We should try to avoid the ten offenses in chanting the holy name, but anyone who chants Hare Kṛṣṇa sincerely is purified. Ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanaṁ bhava-mahā-dāvāgni-nirvāpaṇam (CC Antya 20.12, Śikṣāṣṭaka 1). This is the easiest process by which the mirror of the mind can be cleansed. If Kṛṣṇa sees that someone is sincerely chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, He will help. He is within everyone, and He can understand whether one is sincere or not. Kṛṣṇa helps a sincere devotee internally and externally. Internally He helps as paramātmā by giving intelligence from within. Dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ tam. Externally He helps as His representative, the spiritual master. Therefore Caitanya Mahāprabhu says: guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja. "By the grace of Kṛṣṇa, one gets a bona fide guru, and by the grace of the guru, one gets Kṛṣṇa." (CC Madhya 19.151) Thus the śāstras have given us a very easy way to appreciate our transcendental life. That is the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.
Devahūti has submissively accepted her son as her guru. She wants to understand Kṛṣṇa perfectly, by the grace of Kapiladeva. It is very important to receive the causeless mercy of Kṛṣṇa and the spiritual master. By Kṛṣṇa's mercy, we receive a spiritual master, and by the spiritual master's mercy, we receive Kṛṣṇa.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has greatly stressed the mercy of the guru, and it is an actual fact that if we satisfy the guru by our service, he will give us his blessings. This is a very great opportunity, for the guru is the confidential servant of Kṛṣṇa. The guru never claims that he is Kṛṣṇa, although he is worshiped as Kṛṣṇa: sākṣād dharitvena samasta-śāstrair uktas tathā bhāvyata eva sadbhiḥ.
All the śāstras describe the guru as being on an equal basis with Kṛṣṇa, for he is the representative of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore he is worshiped as Kṛṣṇa. Being the most confidential servant of Kṛṣṇa, the guru is very dear to Kṛṣṇa; therefore if he recommends someone to Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa accepts the person. The guru is the confidential servant of Kṛṣṇa because he canvasses from door to door, saying, "Please become Kṛṣṇa conscious and surrender unto Kṛṣṇa." Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna that such a person is very dear to Him. The bona fide guru tells people to surrender not unto him but unto Kṛṣṇa. Thus one has to surrender unto Kṛṣṇa through the via media of the guru, not directly. This is the process. The guru does not accept respect from his disciple for his personal self but conveys this respect to Kṛṣṇa. If we cannot receive the mercy of the guru, Kṛṣṇa is very difficult to approach directly.
It is stated in Bhagavad-gītā that knowledge of Kṛṣṇa is received through the paramparā, the disciplic succession. Evaṁ paramparā-prāptam (BG 4.2). The guru offers the same respects to his guru, and his guru offers respects to his, and so it goes all the way to Kṛṣṇa. Thus the mercy of Kṛṣṇa comes down through the paramparā system, and the respect offered to Kṛṣṇa is offered up through the paramparā system. One has to learn to approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead in this way. Thus if we want to approach God, we have to take shelter of the guru in the beginning. Devahūti is begging the mercy of Kapiladeva in order to understand the way to approach Kṛṣṇa. She approaches Him very humbly saying, "My dear Kapila, You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but I am a woman, and my intelligence is not very sharp. Nonetheless, I want to understand these sublime transcendental subjects from You. It is possible by Your mercy."
The process of approaching and understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead was also discussed between Rāmānanda Rāya and Caitanya Mahāprabhu. First, Rāmānanda Rāya explained the process in terms of varṇāśrama-dharma. He said first of all that human life is meant for approaching Lord Viṣṇu through the rules and regulations governing varṇāśrama-dharma. Caitanya Mahāprabhu replied that it is very difficult in this age to execute the rules and regulations of varṇāśrama-dharma. It is very difficult to be a brāhmaṇa in this age, and it is practically impossible to revive the old varṇāśrama-dharma culture. Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore said that this method is not very practical. Caitanya Mahāprabhu has been called by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī "the most munificent avatāra" because He distributes love of Kṛṣṇa free of charge. First of all, we cannot even understand Kṛṣṇa; therefore there is no question of loving Him. If we do not understand someone, how can we love him? The love is very far away, but Caitanya Mahāprabhu is so kind that He distributes kṛṣṇa-premā, love of Kṛṣṇa, to whomever will take it. In His life, Caitanya Mahāprabhu cried for Kṛṣṇa and showed how one should be mad after Him.
- yugāyitaṁ nimeṣeṇa
- cakṣuṣā prāvṛṣāyitam
- śūnyāyitaṁ jagat sarvaṁ
- govinda-viraheṇa me
"O Govinda! Feeling Your separation, I am considering a moment to be like twelve years or more. Tears are flowing from my eyes like torrents of rain, and I am feeling all vacant in the world in Your absence." (CC Antya 20.39, Śikṣāṣṭaka 7)
Without Kṛṣṇa, one should see everything as vacant. This is Rādhārāṇī's frame of mind, but this is not possible for an ordinary living being. It was possible for Caitanya Mahāprabhu and a few devotees, His immediate disciples like the Six Gosvāmīs, who were following in His footsteps. They worshiped Kṛṣṇa in separation and sought Kṛṣṇa everywhere.
- he rādhe vraja-devike ca lalite he nanda-sūno kutaḥ
- śrī-govardhana-kalpa-pādapa-tale kālindī-vane kutaḥ
- ghoṣantāv iti sarvato vraja-pure khedair mahā-vihvalau
- vande rūpa-sanātanau raghu-yugau śrī jīva-gopālakau
"I offer my respectful obeisances to the Six Gosvāmīs, namely Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī, Śrī Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī and Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, who were chanting very loudly everywhere in Vṛndāvana, shouting, 'Queen of Vṛndāvana, Rādhārāṇī! O Lalitā! O son of Nanda Mahārāja! Where are you all now? Are you just on the hill of Govardhana, or are you under the trees on the bank of the Yamunā? Where are you?' These were their moods in executing Kṛṣṇa consciousness." (Ṣaḍ-gosvāmy-aṣṭaka 8)
The Gosvāmīs never said, "We have seen Kṛṣṇa." This is the recommended process - worship in separation. We should awaken our lost Kṛṣṇa consciousness in this way and become mad after Kṛṣṇa in our separation from Him. This is called kṛṣṇa-premā, and this love was distributed by Caitanya Mahāprabhu. We should not try to understand Kṛṣṇa by our small knowledge. Since we are imperfect, how can we speculate on Kṛṣṇa? There are many people like jñānīs and theosophists who try to understand the Absolute Truth by speculation, but this is not possible.
- athāpi te deva padāmbuja-dvaya-
- prasāda-leśānugṛhīta eva hi
- jānāti tattvaṁ bhagavan-mahimno
- na cānya eko 'pi ciraṁ vicinvan
"My Lord, if one is favored by even a slight trace of the mercy of Your lotus feet, he can understand the greatness of Your personality. But those who speculate in order to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead are unable to know You, even though they continue to study the Vedas for many years." (SB 10.14.29) Even if one speculates for many years, he cannot understand Kṛṣṇa. One has to receive the mercy of Kṛṣṇa through the spiritual master, and this is the path recommended by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Sthāne-sthitāḥ śruti-gatāḥ tanu-vāṅ-manobhiḥ (SB 10.14.3). Another name for Kṛṣṇa is Ajita. No one can conquer Kṛṣṇa, but Kṛṣṇa can be conquered by His devotee. One should be submissive and say, "Kṛṣṇa, I am very poor. I have no means to understand You. Please be merciful upon me. Please allow me to understand You and surrender." This is wanted. Kṛṣṇa is very merciful, and when He sees that someone has surrendered, He will help from within.