Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 2.1.2

September 13


…apaśyatām ātma-tattvaṁ
gṛheṣu gṛha-medhinām
[SB 2.1.2]

Now here is one significant factor. The Suta Gosvāmī, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, he is addressing a king, rājendra. Formerly, that was the system. The saintly persons, learned brāhmaṇas and sages, they would give instruction to the kings because the king was in charge of the public affairs. So they would take instruction from the learned and by their direction, they would rule over the citizens. This is the division of four orders of life: brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra. The brāhmaṇa means the most intelligent class of men in the society. Kṣatriya means the administrators, the politicians, the rulers of the society. Vaiśya means the productive class, traders, industrialists, those who are producing money or food, vaiśya. And śūdra means ordinary workers. That is the Vedic social system. And in the Bhagavad-gītā it is said, cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ [Bg. 4.13], “The social order, the brāhmaṇa, the kṣatriya, the vaiśya, and the śūdra, they are created by Me.” So anything created by God is present everywhere within the universe. So point is that don’t think that the brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra, these divisions of society are in India only, no. Everywhere. Everywhere there are men who are very intelligent. They are supposed to be brāhmaṇa class. Then less, the politicians, the rulers, kṣatriya class. Then less, the traders, industrialists, they are vaiśyas. And the ordinary workers, they are śūdras.

So formerly, instructions were given to the administrators so that their brain may be adjusted how to rule over the people. Rājendra Mahārāja Parīkṣit-rājendra means the emperor of the world—he was taking instruction at the point of his death. This subject matter we discussed in the last meeting last night that Mahārāja Parīkṣit, King Parīkṣit, was just awaiting his death within seven days. Therefore, he was consulting learned sages what to do. So the Śukadeva Gosvāmī advised that “You hear about Kṛṣṇa. This is the most important subject matter.” Therefore, he is discussing, śrotavyādīni rājendra [SB 2.1.2], “My dear King, rājendra,śrotavyādīni, subject matter for hearing. Nṛṇāṁ santi sahasraśaḥ, the human society has got many thousands varieties of subject matter to hear. Just like newspapers in every country, they are being published not only once, twice, thrice, four times in a day and they are giving news of the city and the subject matters are very important, say, for two minutes or five minutes, then the newspaper is thrown away, nobody cares for it. But people have got the tendency to hear. That is a fact.

Now, what subject matter you are interested to hear, that depends on your quality. Because the whole world is running on under three qualitative divisions. And under these three qualitative divisions, some of them are very intelligent class of men, some of them are administrator class of men, some of them are trader class of men, some of them simply worker. So this subject matter is also divided into three groups according to the quality of the readers or hearers. Here Śukadeva Gosvāmī says, “For ordinary general people, there are many thousands varieties of subject matter for hearing.” Just like you have got, especially in your country, so many varieties of magazines. So some time ago I was seeing that there is a society, Diabetic Society. All the diabetic persons are members of the society and they have got magazine, and that is also distributed very widely. So that is nice division, different division. So that is the point not now, it was also in the past days.

So Śukadeva Gosvāmī says the subject matter for hearing for the people in general, there are varieties, varieties. Why varieties? Why not one? Why people are not interested in one subject matter? That is replied in the next line that ātmā… Śrotavyādīni rājendra nṛṇāṁ santi sahasraśaḥ, apaśyatām ātma-tattvam [SB 2.1.2]. Apaśyatām means those who are blind. Paśya means to see, a means negation. Those who are blind, those who cannot see, what is that? Ātma-tattvam. Apaśyatām ātma-tattvam [SB 2.1.2], those who are blind to the subject matter of self-realization. There is a subject matter of self-realization that just like we are body, mind, and soul. The soul is covered by the underwear, mind, intelligence, and ego, and the underwear is covered by the gross coat, this body. This is our position. So those who are blind to the subject matter of the soul, those who are thinking “I am this body,” they are very less intelligent class. They are almost animal. The animal cannot think beyond his body. A dog is thinking, “I am this body.” The cat is thinking, “I am this body.” Beyond this he has no power. He is so low-grade. Therefore, he is called animal. But a human being can understand that “I am not this body.” A human being can meditate, he can see his hands. Am I this hand? Am I this finger? No. The answer will come, “No, it is my hand. It is my finger.”

Similarly, you study—this is called meditation—you study yourself. So many things, so many subject matter. Take, for example, miseries of life. You can meditate upon that “I don’t want these kind of miseries, but they are enforced upon me.” This is subject matter for meditation. So a man dies. A man dies means his body is finished. But a person who is in different sense of knowledge, he wants to think over subject matter, what is that thing which is no longer existing so that the man is dead? These are the subject matters for one who is interested in self-realization, ātma-tattvam. This is called ātma-tattvam, to understand oneself, what I am. This is very important part of knowledge in human form of life. In the human form of life, if he does not come to this stage of inquiring what I am, am I this body, am I this mind, am I this intelligence, or I am something else? So apaśyatām ātma-tattvam [SB 2.1.2], those who are blind to see the self, for them there are so many subject matters. The newspaper will supply, the magazine will supply.

Just like, for example, our students in the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, they never read newspaper nor any other magazine. They simply read these Kṛṣṇa consciousness books. We have got so many books. Kṛṣṇa, Nectar of Devotion, Teachings of Lord…, big, big books, one of the Bhāgavatam in twelve parts. So we have got about twenty books already published, and our program is to publish at least sixty books like this. So our subject matter is very vast. We have no time to read newspapers, neither any magazines. Vyavasāyātmikā buddhiḥ. Just like a big scientist or a big medical practitioner, he reads scientific magazines, a scientist. A medical man, a doctor, physician, he reads medical journals. He does not waste his time in big, big capture[?] in the newspaper. He has no time. So those who are interested in self-realization, that is the only business for the human form of life. Human form of life means to make solution of all the problems of material life. Sukham ātyantikam. Every one of us, we are searching after happiness, that’s a fact. But we are misguided. Andhā yathāndhair upanīyamāna. I am asking somebody, “Will you give me any information how I can become happy?” He is also rascal. He gives you something wrong information. And you try it and you will fall down, there is no happiness. This is going on. The inquiry is there, where is happiness? What I can do? But unless one is fortunate to come in contact with a person who can give you information of Kṛṣṇa, you cannot have happiness. This is a fact.

So Vedic instruction is there that if you want happiness, if you want solution of the problems of life, then tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum eva abhigacchet [MU 1.2.12]. In order to learn that science where I can get happiness, one must approach a guru, a spiritual master. This is Vedic instruction. Not only Vedas, in all the śāstras. In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is said, tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam [SB 11.3.21]. Guru, who is to seek out that guru? Not ordinary person. Ordinary persons who are trying to know the news of the world, they do not require any guru. There is no necessity. Their subject matter is supplied by the newspaper, magazines, and so many other things. But guru is needed for whom? Jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam. One who is inquisitive to learn about the transcendental subject matter, uttama. Uttama means… Ut means transcendental, and tama means the darkness. This world is dark. Just like at night now because there is no more sunshine, it is dark. Actually it is dark. Simply by sunshine, moonshine, electricity, fire, in this way we keep it glittering. Otherwise, it is dark. This whole universe is dark. By God’s arrangement, there is sun, moon, like that, illumining. But there is another world where there is no need of sun and moon, and that is spiritual world. That is spiritual world, this information is there. So, therefore, uttamam, one who is inquisitive to learn about that spiritual world, not of this dark world… The world is dark, I have already explained. Against this there is another world who is full of light. Because unless there is light, there cannot be darkness. We cannot understand what is darkness unless there is light. Or we cannot understand light unless there is darkness. So because this world is dark, therefore, you can conclude by logical argument there must be another world which is full of light. That is not very difficult to understand. Just like here is light, the other wall is darkness. So because this world is dark, tama, there must be another world which is full of light. Not only your logical conclusion, but it is confirmed by the Vedic literature. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is said,

paras tasmāt tu bhavo ‘nyo
‘vyakto ‘vyaktāt sanātanaḥ
[yaḥ sa] sarveṣu[ bhūteṣu]
naśyatsu na tad vinaśyati
[Bg. 8.20]

It is information is there that there is another nature which is sanātana, eternal. This nature, this material nature, darkness, is not eternal, temporary. Just like your body, my body, everyone’s body is temporary. Similarly, this universe, this gigantic body, this is also temporary. It has got a date of creation, and it will be annihilated at a certain date, everything. Therefore, this dark world or nature is subject to birth, death, old age, and disease, whereas that nature which is full of light, that is eternal and even after annihilation of this material world, it remains. That is called sanātana, eternal.

So one who is not interested to know about the other nature of light, how that nature is, how there are planets, how living entities are living there, who is predominating, so many things we have to learn, that is called ātma-tattvam. But people are blind, they do not know. In the university, there is no such education. They are simply satisfied with the knowledge that they are going to moon planet, that’s all. [Sanskrit] What is this moon planet? There are living[?] within this material world, there are millions and trillions of other planets, how you can go there? Just try to understand how much limited we are, how much our freedom is [indistinct] in this material world. You are trying to go the nearest planet, Candra, moon planet, still you are unsuccessful. What to speak of other. There is sun planet. I think they cannot dream of going to the sun planet. It is not possible. But there is a planet in your front. If you are scientist, if you are advanced, go. But you can go actually. Actually you go. People formerly, they used to go. Just like in Bhagavad-gītā you will see this is described. Kṛṣṇa says, imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ proktavān aham avyayam [Bg. 4.1], “I first of all instructed this system of bhakti-yoga, Bhagavad-gītā, to the sun-god.” That means Kṛṣṇa went there. Otherwise, how He could instruct the sun-god? Not only that, He says, vivasvān manave prāha manur ikṣvākave ‘bravīt. So the sun-god said to his son, Manu, and Manu is the original person of the man, human being, manuṣya, man. Man, the word comes from the Manu. So Manu is the son of sun-god, so he came from the sun planet. And he begot sons here in this planet, Ikṣvāku. These are all stated by the Vedic śāstras., imaṁ vivasvate… So there was connection. In India, there are two kinds of kṣatriya family, administrator, royal family. The one royal family is coming from the sun-god, and the other royal family is coming from the moon-god. So it was not difficult to go to the sun planet if you can. Just like you are trying to go to the moon planet.

Similarly, you can go to the sun planet, you can go to other planet, there is different process. There is one planet which is called Siddhaloka. In that planet, the residents are so expert, more expert. Therefore, without any airplane or sputnik, they can travel interplanetary system, they can travel. These are wonderful things there are. So these are the material information. And this material informations, they are only one-fourth of the whole creation. That is also stated in the Bhagavad-gītā.

atha vā bahunaitena
kiṁ jñātena tavārjuna
viṣṭabhyāham idaṁ kṛtsnam
ekāṁśena sthito jagat
[Bg. 10.42]

Sthito jagat. Jagat means this material world. This material world means this universe which you can simply see a big sky, and within that sky there are millions and trillions of planets. This is one universe. Similarly, there are millions and trillions of universes. And all together, that is called material world. All together. Ekāṁśena sthito jagat. And that is God’s one-fourth creation. And three-fourth creation is the spiritual world.

So just imagine what is the value of our so-called knowledge. We cannot understand even things within this planet or within this universe, so many planets. So how to understand the other nature where there is spiritual planets, where there are spiritual living entities, they are also working, their center is God. So there are so many information, these are called ātma-tattvam. So apaśyatām ātma-tattvam [SB 2.1.2], those who are blind or rascals, have no complete knowledge, their subject matter of understanding is this newspaper, that’s all. Their subject matter is newspaper. Because they have no other information.

So when it was proposed that I am going to translate this sixty volumes of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam for describing God, so some of the friends, they inquired, “What is the description sixty volumes of books of God?” So our reply was that this universe is a fragment of the whole material creation, and within this universe there are millions and trillions of planets. Out of those millions and trillions of planet, this planet is most insignificant. And within this planet, there are so many cities. London, New York, Calcutta, Bombay, so many. And from each city there are hundreds of newspapers. And each newspaper they are publishing four times. So if for this teeny place there are so many information, just imagine how much information you can have from the spiritual world. Just imagine. So sixty volumes of description of the spiritual world is nothing, it is simply sample. If sixty millions of volumes would have been written, it still was insufficient. There are so many information.

So here it is said apaśyatām ātma-tattvam [SB 2.1.2]. One who has no information of the spiritual world, they are interested in these newspaper and magazines. Apaśyatām ātma-tattvaṁ gṛheṣu gṛha-medhinām. Gṛheṣu means they have an impact of understanding. This is my body. Or this is my society. Or this is my community. Or this is my nation. Or this is my humanitarian. They can expand. But what is the… Even if you take the whole human society, what is the value? If you take all living entities, there are so many other living entities. Not only human beings, there are animals, thirty thousand species of animals. Not thirty thousand, thirty hundred thousand. Similarly, twenty hundred thousand species of living entities who are called the trees, plants. So where is the knowledge of all this? Suppose if one is naturalist, what knowledge he has got? He can study a thousand species of plants and trees, but there are two millions of plants and trees. Just try to understand how much meager a small quantity of knowledge you have got. It is practically not possible. But at least one must know that this material world, this material body is not myself. At least this self-realization should be there. Otherwise, we remain animals.

Apaśyatām ātma-tattvaṁ gṛheṣu gṛha-medhinām [SB 2.1.2]. Gṛheṣu means within the bound up impact of life. This bodily concept of life, the social concept of life, the national concept of life. No, there is unlimited field of activities, and you should try to know. But because we are not interested, we are not educated to become interested to understand the light[?] and field[?] of spiritual life, we are compact, gṛheṣu. Gṛheṣu means at home. Gṛheṣu, at home. Just like I remember when the Russians put sputnik for flying in the sky, the man, he was trying to see from that sputnik where is Russia, Moscow. So this is called gṛheṣu gṛha-medhinām. Our attachment is in this body or in the society or in this country. This is called gṛha-medhī. Gṛha-medhī means one who has made his center of activities only home or nation or community. He has no other aim. Gṛheṣu gṛha-medhinām. They are called gṛheṣu. A cultured man, he is also remaining in the house, but his field of activities is different. That is spiritual knowledge. But here, those who are gṛha-medhī, those who are compact within this body, society, and nation, their field of activities is very limited, gṛha-medhinām. Just like a cow. In your country, I do not know, I think you have, in Hawaii I have seen a cow is stuck up with a rope and it is roaming around that rope, and he is thinking this is the world, that’s all. This is the world.

So our knowledge is so poor, a little bound up rope and I am going round about it and we are thinking that we know everything. So therefore, Suta Gosvāmī says that these people have many subject matter or so-called subject matter of understanding but a person who is advanced in spiritual knowledge, his subject matter—that will be explained later on—his subject matter is God, Kṛṣṇa, that’s all. Try to understand Kṛṣṇa. Don’t think Kṛṣṇa is an ordinary person. He has got most extensive activities, and you cannot finish in one life what are the activities of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, in the next verse it is said,

nidrayā hriyate naktaṁ
vyavāyena ca vā vayaḥ
diva cārthehayā rājan
kuṭumba-bharaṇena vā
[SB 2.1.3]

Now these materialistic men, their activities are described here. Those who have no knowledge of the spiritual world or the spiritual self, simply bodily concept of life like animal, they are gṛha-medhī, compact in this idea. If one can decorate his apartment and decorate his children and wife, he thinks he is the most successful man. Or similarly, national, nation, if you can have nice road, nice car, nice skyscraper, and all facilities for material happiness, then we think that we are perfect nation. But the thing is, unless you know ātma-tattva, self-realization, you do not know what is your next life. The next life is there. The next life will depend on your work in this life. You may become very rich nation’s son, you may have very good asset, but you are not allowed to stay here. Suppose in America, you have got so many nice cities. But we sometimes come to see your cities and opulence but the fact is that in spite of your development of this national asset, you will not be allowed to stay here. That we forget. And after I leave this place, leave this body, I do not know what is going to happen to me, we are in ignorance. Apaśyatām ātma-tattvaṁ [SB 2.1.2], because we are blind.

Life is not finished by this body. It is a chance, it is a chance only. Just like you are going somewhere and you, on the way you find so many stations, some of them not very good and some of them very nice. Similarly, this human form of life is a station of our journey. We have begun our journey since we separated from the Supreme Personality of Godhead to become happy without God’s connection. Therefore, our journey has begun, we do not know when it has begun, but it is going on through different[?] species of life. Dehāntara-prāptiḥ [Bg. 2.13]. Dehāntara means one body after, one body after, one body after it is going. So here in this human form of body is a chance. Lower than this human form of life you cannot understand self, ātma-tattva, it is not possible. But you can understand in this human form of life what is ātma-tattva. If you miss this chance, if you do not work to understand what is ātma-tattva, what is self, what is Superself, what is the spiritual world, how things are going, so many things you have to know, if you don’t know, if you don’t try to know, then you are missing the point. And missing the point, we are busy. So how we are busy? That is described in the next verse. How? Nidrayā hriyate naktam. We are spoiling our life by sleeping. Nidrayā hryate naktaṁ vyavāyena ca vā vayaḥ, or by sex. At night we have got two business. One who has no facility for sex, he takes some pill and sleeps very soundly. [indistinct] Or one who has got sex facility, he enjoys sex. So that is stated here. Nidrayā hryate naktaṁ vyavāyena ca vā vayaḥ. Then at daytime, what is the business at day? Diva cārthehayā rājan. And during daytime, there is business, where is money, where is money, where is money? divā cārthehayā rājan kuṭumba-bharaṇena vā [SB 2.1.3]. And as soon as one gets money, then go to the storehouse, purchase things for my wife, for my children, for me, for this, that. So this is the activity of the materialistic person.

Just five thousand years ago these two lines are there in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and just see how it is happening, developing. This is called śastra. So what is the opportunity of understanding the self? The whole night is engaged either in sleeping or in sex life, and the whole day every day you have to get money in order to purchase things, that’s all. Finished, day and night. But after all, this human form of life, so important, I have to know myself but I do not get my time. They do not get time. If this meeting would have been a political leader’s meeting giving all kinds of false hope, millions of billions of people would have come. But because it is a meeting for understanding ātma-tattva, self-realization, nobody is here, interested. This is our position. So our this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is being pushed in unfavorable circumstance. Nobody is [indistinct] unless he is very, very intelligent man. We cannot get immediately members of the society like the political parties get or the [indistinct] parties they get. We have to canvass from door to door, “My dear sir, why you are forgetting yourself? Kindly try to understand. Here is a book, Bhagavad-gītā, try to understand. Here is book, Teachings of Lord Caitanya.” So our task is very strenuous. Sometimes they become angry, dissatisfied, “Why you are bothering me?” But we have to do it because we have dedicated our life to Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, we have to do it. Kṛṣṇa comes to do this business Himself.

yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham
[Bg. 4.7]

Because we are sons of Kṛṣṇa, God, we are misled, bewildered, the father is more anxious to see us go back to home, back to Godhead. Therefore, He comes personally. People misunderstand, “This Kṛṣṇa is a human being.” Therefore, He comes as a devotee, as Lord Caitanya. He leaves behind Him all books of knowledge, Bhagavad-gītā. So we are canvasser. So our request is that don’t take this movement as very sentimental or insignificant, it is the greatest science, greatest philosophy. Try to cooperate with us and you will be happy. Thank you very much. [applause, devotees pay obeisances]

Devotee (1): Are there any questions?

Devotee (2): What time is it? Do you have the time?

Devotee (1): 8:45.

Prabhupāda: Chant. [end]

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