In the Bhagavad-gītā it is clearly stated that the purpose of Vedic knowledge is to understand Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa is understood by devotional service, beginning with the process of surrender. As stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, one has to think of Kṛṣṇa always, one has to render loving service to Kṛṣṇa always, and one always has to worship and bow down before Kṛṣṇa. By this process only can one enter into the kingdom of God, without any doubt.
One who is enlightened in the mode of goodness by the process of devotional service is freed from the modes of ignorance and passion. In answering King Parīkṣit’s question, Śukadeva Gosvāmī used the word ātmane, which indicates the stage of brahminical qualification in which one is allowed to study the Vedic scriptures known as the Upaniṣads. The Upaniṣads describe in different ways the transcendental qualities of the Supreme Lord. The Absolute Truth, the Supreme Lord, is called nirguṇa. That does not mean He has no qualities. It is only because He has qualities that the conditioned living entities can have qualities. The purpose of studying the Upaniṣads is to understand the transcendental qualities of the Absolute Truth, as opposed to the material qualities of ignorance, passion and goodness. That is the way of Vedic understanding. Great sages like the four Kumāras, headed by Sanaka, followed these principles of Vedic knowledge and came gradually from impersonal understanding to the platform of personal worship of the Supreme Lord. It is therefore recommended that we must follow the great personalities. Śukadeva Gosvāmī is also one of the great personalities, and his answer to the inquiry of Mahārāja Parīkṣit is authorized. One who follows in the footsteps of such great personalities surely walks very easily on the path of liberation and ultimately goes back home, back to Godhead. That is the way of perfecting this human form of life.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued to speak to Parīkṣit Mahārāja. “My dear King,” he said, “in this regard I shall narrate a nice story. This story is important because it is in connection with Nārāyaṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This narration is a conversation between Nārāyaṇa Ṛṣi and the great sage Nārada.” Nārāyaṇa Ṛṣi still resides in Badarīkāśrama and is accepted as an incarnation of Nārāyaṇa. Badarīkāśrama is situated in the northernmost part of the Himalayan Mountains and is always covered with snow. Religious Indians still go to visit this place during the summer season, when the snowfall is not very severe.
Once when Nārada, the great devotee and ascetic amongst the demigods, was traveling among different planets, he desired to meet the ascetic Nārāyaṇa personally in Badarīkāśrama and offer Him respects. This great sage incarnation of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa Ṛṣi, has been undergoing great penances and austerities from the very beginning of the creation to teach the inhabitants of Bhārata-varṣa how to attain the highest perfectional stage of going back to Godhead. His austerities and penances are exemplary practices for the human being. The incarnation of God Nārāyaṇa Ṛṣi was sitting amongst many devotees in the village known as Kalāpa-grāma. Of course, these were not ordinary sages sitting with Him, and the great sage Nārada also appeared there. After offering his respects to Nārāyaṇa Ṛṣi, Nārada asked Him exactly the same question King Parīkṣit asked Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Then the Ṛṣi answered by following in the footsteps of His predecessors. He narrated a story of how the same question had been discussed on the planet known as Janaloka, which is above the Svargaloka planets, such as the moon and Venus. On this planet, great sages and saintly persons live, and they once discussed the same point regarding the understanding of Brahman and His real identity.
The great sage Nārāyaṇa began to speak. “My dear Nārada,” He said, “I shall tell you a story which took place long, long ago. There was a great meeting of the denizens of the heavenly planets, and almost all the important brahmacārīs, such as the four Kumāras—Sanandana, Sanaka, Sanātana and Sanat-kumāra—attended. Their discussion was on the subject matter of understanding the Absolute Truth, Brahman. You were not present at that meeting because you had gone to see My expansion Aniruddha, who lives on the island of Śvetadvīpa. In this meeting, all the great sages and brahmacārīs very elaborately discussed the point about which you have asked Me, and their discussion was very interesting. It was so delicate that even the Vedas were unable to answer the intricate questions raised.”