1.2 Always Think of Me — The five levels of instructions in the Gita

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  • #2306 Reply


    The discussion on this thread is on pages 5 to 10 (in the fourth edition) of Nectar of Govinda-lila.

    Click here to read this section online.

    Or click here to download the pdf of the first chapter.

    #2455 Reply

    madhukar das

    In this section, Srila Gurudeva explains the five levels of Krsna’s instructions in the Gita, quoting verses corresponding to each level. Krsna gives instructions on topics such as brahma-jnana (to think “I am Brahman”) and paramatma-jnana (to meditate on the Supersoul in the heart). But isn’t the path of bhakti meant for all living entities? What is the purpose of giving these seemingly contradictory instructions, which may confuse and distract the living entities from following bhakti?

    #2471 Reply

    Jnana-sakti das

    JD ch.5:

    Lāhirī: Human beings have different natures and faiths according to their different levels of adhikāra. People who are impelled primarily by the mode of ignorance have natural faith in the tāmasika-śāstras. Those affected primarily by the mode of passion have natural faith in the rājasika-śāstras, and those in the mode of goodness naturally have faith in the sāttvika-śāstras. One’s belief in a particular conclusion of the śāstra is naturally in accordance with one’s faith.
    As one faithfully carries out the duties for which one has the adhikāra, he may come into contact with sādhus and develop a higher adhikāra through their association. As soon as a higher adhikāra is awakened, one’s nature is elevated, and one’s faith in a more elevated śāstra will follow accordingly. The authors of the śāstras were infallible in their wisdom and composed the śāstras in such a way that one will gradually develop higher adhikāra by carrying out the duties for which one is eligible and in which one naturally has faith. It is for this reason that different directives have been given in different śāstras. Faith in the śāstra is the root of all auspiciousness.
    Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā is the mīmāṁsā-śāstra of all the śāstras. This siddhānta is clearly stated there.

    Devīdāsa: I have studied many śāstras since my childhood, but today, by your grace, I have understood their purpose in an entirely new light.

    Lāhirī: It is written in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.8.10):
    aṇubhyaś ca mahadbhyaś ca
    śāstrebhyaḥ kuśalo naraḥ
    sarvataḥ sāram ādadyāt
    puṣpebhya iva ṣaṭpadaḥ
    An intelligent person will take the essence of all the śāstras, whether they are great or small, just as a bumblebee gathers honey from many different types of flowers.

    My dear son, I used to call you an atheist. Now I don’t criticize anyone, because faith depends on adhikāra. There is no question of criticism in this regard. Everyone is working according to their own adhikāra, and they will advance gradually when the time is appropriate. You are a scholar of the śāstras dealing with logic and fruitive action, and since your statements are in accordance with your adhikāra, there is no fault in them.

    #2495 Reply

    Vaijayanti mala

    Nice points, Jñāna-śakti Prabhu. Jaiva-dharma clarifies so much. This point, acting in accordance with one’s qualification, links with the Gita. If one has the qualification to performing karma (action, or prescribed duty), the Gita instructs us to do so in a way that is favourable for bhakti. For me, I think this translates as external service for now. By performing seva, I may please Gurudeva and one day, I may receive some mercy to do bhajana, or real bhakti. I hope that by continuing to perform what the beginnings of service, one day I will be able to do it for his pleasure and the pleasure of Bhagavan. Jnanis accumulate knowledge of Bhagavan and eventually take shelter of Him. It is this type of jnani to which the Gita refers. In this way, the instructions are not contradictory, but as Jnana-sakti Prabhu indicated by the quote he gave, they are given in accordance with one’s qualification. In that way, the Gita is truly universal. It applies to people on various levels.

    This is how I understand the point you raised, Madhukar Prabhu. Wonderful point. I am looking to clarify or expand upon my own understandings so if you or anyone can do so, I will be most appreciative.

    #2498 Reply

    Vaijayanti mala

    P.S. I can see I have not fully addressed the point Madhukar brought up regarding instructions on brahma-jnana and paramatma-jnana, but again, from my understanding, the Gita addresses these topics in light of their connection with devotional service, so in that way, they are not contradictory nor do they exclude anyone or cause confusion. As mentioned previously, people will gravitate to that which they have the qualification for, and if they are fortunate to read a bona fide translation of the Gita, it will direct them to bhakti, regardless of their current station. Moreover, we are lucky to have the Gitas of Srila Gurudeva and Srila Prabhupada, because the purports must be filled with rupanuga conceptions, even if not easily, or directly, identified as such.

    #2499 Reply

    Gita dasi

    I think that I’m repeating much of what was already said, but as this is a course, and there was a question, I will give my answer prior to reading the others. I’d say I fall into the catagory of “ordinary person”. I’m not even interested in the 2nd, 3rd or 4th levels, however I am interested in mad-bhakto. I think this is what’s referred to as karma misra bhakti or bhakti misra karma. I’ve never heard of yoga misra bhakti, but I observe it often nowadays.

    As for instructions which may confuse and distract the living entities from following pure bhakti, Bhagavad-gita is part of the Mahabharata(known for confusing people, sometimes parents or even not-so-high-gurus give names like Karna or Ekalavya!), and Srila Narada Muni chastised Vyasadeva for compiling so many Vedic supplementary scriptures including Mahabharata:

    SB 1.5.15, Purport: In histories like the Mahābhārata, of course, there are topics on transcendental subjects along with material topics. The Bhagavad-gītā is there in the Mahābhārata. The whole idea of the Mahābhārata culminates in the ultimate instructions of the Bhagavad-gītā, that one should relinquish all other engagements and should engage oneself solely and fully in surrendering unto the lotus feet of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. But men with materialistic tendencies are more attracted to the politics, economics and philanthropic activities mentioned in the Mahābhārata than to the principal topic, namely the Bhagavad-gītā. This compromising spirit of Vyāsadeva is directly condemned by Nārada, who advises him to directly proclaim that the prime necessity of human life is to realize one’s eternal relation with the Lord and thus surrender unto Him without delay.

    Then Narada told him to compose something directly describing pure bhakti, Srimad Bhagavatam.

    #2515 Reply

    madhukar das

    I think that is the main point, that Bhagavad-gita is universal and it attracts people of all inclinations and puts them on the path that ultimately leads to the highest instruction in the Gita, bhakti. Gita also explains how all these paths of karma, jnana and bhakti are not separate paths. The path of karma leads to jnana and the path of jnana leads to bhakti. Yes, we truly are fortunate to have Srila Gurudeva and Srila Prabhupada to clarify all these different stages and to show it all in light of the rupanuga conception.

    One other point comes to mind. We can more see the glory of bhakti when we see it’s supremacy in relation to those things below it. Like first we come to the basic understanding of the soul being of pure spiritual consciousness, then we learn how there spirituality everywhere and that everything is Brahman, then we learn that the Lord has a form and He is in our heart in the form of Paramatma, and then we learn of Bhagavan, who is the source of everything, and the process of devotion to Him and then ultimately we learn of devotion imbued with rasa. When we go up step-by-step until we reach the highest point, we can have a more full appreciation. Gurudeva so many times would speak from Brihad Bhagavatamrta on when Narada was traveling around searching for the topmost devotee. He didn’t just go straight to the gopis in the beginning. If he did so, we would not be able to truly understand their glories and we’d take their devotion cheaply. He first went to Hanuman, then the Pandavas, the Yadavas, Uddhava and then finally reached the glories of the topmost devotees, the gopis.

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