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Chapter 14 Love of God:The Culmination of Religion
The three aspects of the Absolute Truth - Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan -- were discussed in the previous chapters. The jnanis or impersonalists worship Brahman, the yogis worship the Paramatma situated in the heart of every living being and the bhaktas worship Bhagavan Sri Krishna.Although the jnanis may aspire to merge into the brahman, their position in the brahmajyoti is temporary; they fall back to the material world in want of some relationship. Their situation is exactly like a rocket, which falls back without any place to land in the space. Thus without coming to the point of realizing that Lord Vasudeva is all that is, the jnanis can never be peaceful.The perfection of yoga is to achieve the stage of samadhi, wherein one completely focuses on Lord Vishnu. But before achieving this stage the yogis may achieve various mystic powers like anima, laghima, prapti etc and become busy displaying these powers to become famous in the material world. Although they can achieve any planet they desire including Vaikuntha, the spiritual world, still the attraction for mystic powers may keep them bound in the material world and they can never be peaceful.
The bhaktas however aspire for nothing other than service to Krishna in love. Even the desire of the bhaktas to return to the spiritual world and serve the Lord is not a material desire or selfish desire. If the lost son of a millionaire wants to go back to his father's home and be with the father, would anyone consider it selfishness? Of course, some exalted devotees like Prahlad have prayed to the Lord that they would like to stay in the material world and do the missionary work of reclaiming all the suffering souls and despatching them to spiritual world. This shows the exalted nature and the compassion of a pure devotee. Such bhaktas are happily situated in the service of the Lord wherever He places them - in heaven, hell or spiritual world.
The ultimate purpose of religion is to bring one to the understanding that everything belongs to God and that every living entity is an eternal servant of God. When one realizes this, at that stage one voluntarily engages all one's possessions including one's body, mind and words in the Lord's service. Thus one becomes completely purified and situated in ecstatic loving devotional service to Lord Krishna. This is the ultimate dharma or occupation of every living being.Before one achieves that platform, one may perform various types of lower dharmas such as serving one's parents, family, society, nation, or serving the poor, the demigods and other living entities. These are all called as 'upadharma' meaning subreligious principles.
At the end of the Bhagavad-gita (18.66), Lord Krishna declared to Arjuna and, in turn, to every one of us:
sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah
"Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear."
Thus the Lord demands exclusive surrender to His lotus feet from every living entity. The Lord desires that we use our free will in the best way by surrendering to Him in love. This is for our own benefit. It is exactly like a father requesting his son to not cross a road with heavy traffic on his own but to take help from him (his father).
In fact, the Shrimad Bhagavatam (1.2.6) states that the ultimate goal of life is to achieve pure love of God:
sa vai pumsam paw dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje
ahaituky apratihata yayatma suprasidati
"The supreme occupation (dharma) for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self.'"
And any occupation that does not help one to revive this dormant love for God is considered a mere waste of time:
dharmah svanusthitah pumsam visvaksena-kathasu yah
notpadayed yadi ratim srama eva hi kevalam
"The occupational activities a man performs according to his own position are only so much useless labor if they do not provoke attraction for the message of the Personality of Godhead." [Shrimad Bhagavatam 1.2.8) Acting in pure love of God is called bhagavata dharma. Many great devotees in the past like Prahlad Maharaj, Dhruva Maharaj, Ambarish Maharaj, Yudhistir Maharaj, Arjuna, Jesus, Haridas Thakur and the great acharyas or spiritual masters in the disciplic succession have practically shown us through their personal example how should one follow bhagavata dharma.