All the verses
The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the Complete Whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the Complete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.
Iso 1: Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.
Iso 2: One may aspire to live for hundreds of years if he continuously goes on working in that way, for that sort of work will not bind him to the law of karma. There is no alternative to this way for man.
Iso 3: The killer of the soul, whoever he may be, must enter into the planets known as the worlds of the faithless, full of darkness and ignorance.
Iso 4: Although fixed in His abode, the Personality of Godhead is swifter than the mind and can overcome all others running. The powerful demigods cannot approach Him. Although in one place, He controls those who supply the air and rain. He surpasses all in excellence.
Iso 5: The Supreme Lord walks and does not walk. He is far away, but He is very near as well. He is within everything, and yet He is outside of everything.
Iso 6: He who sees everything in relation to the Supreme Lord, who sees all living entities as His parts and parcels, and who sees the Supreme Lord within everything never hates anything or any being.
Iso 7: One who always sees all living entities as spiritual sparks, in quality one with the Lord, becomes a true knower of things. What, then, can be illusion or anxiety for him?
Iso 8: Such a person must factually know the greatest of all, the Personality of Godhead, who is unembodied, omniscient, beyond reproach, without veins, pure and uncontaminated, the self-sufficient philosopher who has been fulfilling everyone’s desire since time immemorial.
Iso 9: Those who engage in the culture of nescient activities shall enter into the darkest region of ignorance. Worse still are those engaged in the culture of so-called knowledge.
Iso 10: The wise have explained that one result is derived from the culture of knowledge and that a different result is obtained from the culture of nescience.
Iso 11: Only one who can learn the process of nescience and that of transcendental knowledge side by side can transcend the influence of repeated birth and death and enjoy the full blessings of immortality.
Iso 12: Those who are engaged in the worship of demigods enter into the darkest region of ignorance, and still more so do the worshipers of the impersonal Absolute.
Iso 13: It is said that one result is obtained by worshiping the supreme cause of all causes and that another result is obtained by worshiping what is not supreme. All this is heard from the undisturbed authorities, who clearly explained it.
Iso 14: One should know perfectly the Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna and His transcendental name, form, qualities and pastimes, as well as the temporary material creation with its temporary demigods, men and animals. When one knows these, he surpasses death and the ephemeral cosmic manifestation with it, and in the eternal kingdom of God he enjoys his eternal life of bliss and knowledge.
Iso 15: O my Lord, sustainer of all that lives, Your real face is covered by Your dazzling effulgence. Kindly remove that covering and exhibit Yourself to Your pure devotee.
Iso 16: O my Lord, O primeval philosopher, maintainer of the universe, O regulating principle, destination of the pure devotees, well-wisher of the progenitors of mankind, please remove the effulgence of Your transcendental rays so that I can see Your form of bliss. You are the eternal Supreme Personality of Godhead, like unto the sun, as am I.
Iso 17: Let this temporary body be burnt to ashes, and let the air of life be merged with the totality of air. Now, O my Lord, please remember all my sacrifices, and because You are the ultimate beneficiary, please remember all that I have done for You.
Iso 18: O my Lord, as powerful as fire, O omnipotent one, now I offer You all obeisances, falling on the ground at Your feet. O my Lord, please lead me on the right path to reach You, and since You know all that I have done in the past, please free me from the reactions to my past sins so that there will be no hindrance to my progress.
Sri Isopanisad Introduction
“Teachings of the Vedas”[Delivered as a lecture by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada on October 6, 1969, at Conway Hall, London, England.]
Ladies and gentlemen, today’s subject matter is the teachings of the Vedas. What are the Vedas? The Sanskrit verbal root of veda can be interpreted variously, but the purport is finally one. Veda means knowledge. Any knowledge you accept is veda, for the teachings of the Vedas are the original knowledge. In the conditioned state, our knowledge is subjected to many deficiencies. The difference between a conditioned soul and a liberated soul is that the conditioned soul has four kinds of defects. The first defect is that he must commit mistakes. For example, in our country, Mahatma Gandhi was considered to be a very great personality, but he committed many mistakes. Even at the last stage of his life, his assistant warned, “Mahatma Gandhi, don’t go to the New Delhi meeting. I have some friends, and I have heard there is danger.” But he did not hear. He persisted in going and was killed. Even great personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, President Kennedy-there are so many of them-make mistakes. To err is human. This is one defect of the conditioned soul.
Another defect: to be illusioned. Illusion means to accept something which is not: maya. Maya means “what is not.” Everyone is accepting the body as the self. If I ask you what you are, you will say, “I am Mr. John; I am a rich man; I am this; I am that.” All these are bodily identifications. But you are not this body. This is illusion.
The third defect is the cheating propensity.
Everyone has the propensity to cheat others. Although a person is fool number one, he poses himself as very intelligent. Although it is already pointed out that he is in illusion and makes mistakes, he will theorize: “I think this is this, this is this.” But he does not even know his own position. He writes books of philosophy, although he is defective. That is his disease. That is cheating.
Lastly, our senses are imperfect. We are very proud of our eyes. Often, someone will challenge, “Can you show me God?” But do you have the eyes to see God? You will never see if you haven’t the eyes. If immediately the room becomes dark, you cannot even see your hands. So what power do you have to see? We cannot, therefore, expect knowledge (veda) with these imperfect senses. With all these deficiencies, in conditioned life we cannot give perfect knowledge to anyone. Nor are we ourselves perfect. Therefore we accept the Vedas as they are.
You may call the Vedas Hindu, but “Hindu” is a foreign name. We are not Hindus. Our real identification is varnasrama. Varnasrama denotes the followers of the Vedas, those who accept the human society in eight divisions of varna and asrama. There are four divisions of society and four divisions of spiritual life. This is called varnasrama. It is stated in the Bhagavad-gita (4.13), “These divisions are everywhere because they are created by God.” The divisions of society are brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra. Brahmana refers to the very intelligent class of men, those who know what is Brahman. Similarly, the ksatriyas, the administrator group, are the next intelligent class of men. Then the vaisyas, the mercantile group. These natural classifications are found everywhere. This is the Vedic principle, and we accept it. Vedic principles are accepted as axiomatic truth, for there cannot be any mistake. That is acceptance. For instance, in India cow dung is accepted as pure, and yet cow dung is the stool of an animal. In one place you’ll find the Vedic injunction that if you touch stool, you have to take a bath immediately. But in another place it is said that the stool of a cow is pure. If you smear cow dung in an impure place, that place becomes pure. With our ordinary sense we can argue, “This is contradictory.” Actually, it is contradictory from the ordinary point of view, but it is not false. It is fact. In Calcutta, a very prominent scientist and doctor analyzed cow dung and found that it contains all antiseptic properties.
In India if one person tells another, “You must do this,” the other party may say, “What do you mean? Is this a Vedic injunction, that I have to follow you without any argument?” Vedic injunctions cannot be interpreted. But ultimately, if you carefully study why these injunctions are there, you will find that they are all correct.
The Vedas are not compilations of human knowledge. Vedic knowledge comes from the spiritual world, from Lord Krsna. Another name for the Vedas is sruti. Sruti refers to that knowledge which is acquired by hearing. It is not experimental knowledge. Sruti is considered to be like a mother. We take so much knowledge from our mother. For example, if you want to know who your father is, who can answer you? Your mother. If the mother says, “Here is your father,” you have to accept it. It is not possible to experiment to find out whether he is your father. Similarly, if you want to know something beyond your experience, beyond your experimental knowledge, beyond the activities of the senses, then you have to accept the Vedas. There is no question of experimenting. It has already been experimented. It is already settled. The version of the mother, for instance, has to be accepted as truth. There is no other way.
The Vedas are considered to be the mother, and Brahma is called the grandfather, the forefather, because he was the first to be instructed in the Vedic knowledge. In the beginning the first living creature was Brahma. He received this Vedic knowledge and imparted it to Narada and other disciples and sons, and they also distributed it to their disciples. In this way, the Vedic knowledge comes down by disciplic succession. It is also confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita that Vedic knowledge is understood in this way. If you make experimental endeavor, you come to the same conclusion, but just to save time you should accept. If you want to know who your father is and if you accept your mother as the authority, then whatever she says can be accepted without argument. There are three kinds of evidence: pratyaksa, anumana and sabda. Pratyaksa means “direct evidence.” Direct evidence is not very good because our senses are not perfect. We are seeing the sun daily, and it appears to us just like a small disc, but it is actually far, far larger than many planets. Of what value is this seeing? Therefore we have to read books; then we can understand about the sun. So direct experience is not perfect. Then there is anumana, inductive knowledge: “It may be like this”-hypothesis. For instance, Darwin’s theory says it may be like this, it may be like that. But that is not science. That is a suggestion, and it is also not perfect. But if you receive the knowledge from the authoritative sources, that is perfect. If you receive a program guide from the radio station authorities, you accept it. You don’t deny it; you don’t have to make an experiment, because it is received from the authoritative sources.
Vedic knowledge is called sabda-pramana. Another name is sruti. Sruti means that this knowledge has to be received simply by aural reception. The Vedas instruct that in order to understand transcendental knowledge, we have to hear from the authority. Transcendental knowledge is knowledge from beyond this universe. Within this universe is material knowledge, and beyond this universe is transcendental knowledge. We cannot even go to the end of the universe, so how can we go to the spiritual world? Thus to acquire full knowledge is impossible.
There is a spiritual sky. There is another nature, which is beyond manifestation and nonmanifestation. But how will you know that there is a sky where the planets and inhabitants are eternal? All this knowledge is there, but how will you make experiments? It is not possible. Therefore you have to take the assistance of the Vedas. This is called Vedic knowledge. In our Krsna consciousness movement we are accepting knowledge from the highest authority, Krsna. Krsna is accepted as the highest authority by all classes of men. I am speaking first of the two classes of transcendentalists. One class of transcendentalists is called impersonalistic, Mayavadi. They are generally known as Vedantists, led by Sankaracarya. And there is another class of transcendentalists, called Vaisnavas, like Ramanujacarya, Madhvacarya, Visnu-svami. Both the Sankara-sampradaya and the Vaisnava-sampradaya have accepted Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sankaracarya is supposed to be an impersonalist who preached impersonalism, impersonal Brahman, but it is a fact that he is a covered personalist. In his commentary on the Bhagavad-gita he wrote, “Narayana, the Su-preme Personality of Godhead, is beyond this cosmic manifestation.” And then again he confirmed, “That Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana, is Krsna. He has come as the son of Devaki and Vasudeva.” He particularly mentioned the names of His father and mother. So Krsna is accepted as the Supreme Personality of Godhead by all transcendentalists. There is no doubt about it. Our source of knowledge in Krsna consciousness is the Bhagavad-gita, which comes directly from Krsna. We have published the Bhagavad-gita As It Is because we accept Krsna as He is speaking, without any interpretation. That is Vedic knowledge. Since the Vedic knowledge is pure, we accept it. Whatever Krsna says, we accept. This is Krsna consciousness. That saves much time. If you accept the right authority, or source of knowledge, then you save much time. For example, there are two systems of knowledge in the material world: inductive and deductive. From deductive, you accept that man is mortal. Your father says man is mortal, your sister says man is mortal, everyone says man is mortal-but you do not experiment. You accept it as a fact that man is mortal. If you want to research to find out whether man is mortal, you have to study each and every man, and you may come to think that there may be some man who is not dying but you have not seen him yet. So in this way your research will never be finished. In Sanskrit this process is called aroha, the ascending process. If you want to attain knowledge by any personal endeavor, by exercising your imperfect senses, you will never come to the right conclusions. That is not possible.
There is a statement in the Brahma-samhita: Just ride on the airplane which runs at the speed of mind. Our material airplanes can run two thousand miles per hour, but what is the speed of mind? You are sitting at home, you immediately think of India-say, ten thousand miles away-and at once it is in your home. Your mind has gone there. The mind-speed is so swift. Therefore it is stated, “If you travel at this speed for millions of years, you’ll find that the spiritual sky is unlimited.” It is not possible even to approach it. Therefore, the Vedic injunction is that one must approach-the word “compulsory” is used-a bona fide spiritual master, a guru. And what is the qualification of a spiritual master? He is one who has rightly heard the Vedic message from the right source. And he must practically be firmly established in Brahman. These are the two qualities he must have. Otherwise he is not bona fide.
This Krsna consciousness movement is completely authorized from Vedic principles. In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, “The actual aim of Vedic research is to find out Krsna.” In the Brahma-samhita it is also stated, “Krsna, Govinda, has innumerable forms, but they are all one.” They are not like our forms, which are fallible. His form is infallible. My form has a beginning, but His form has no beginning. It is ananta. And His form-so many multiforms-has no end. My form is sitting here and not in my apartment. You are sitting there and not in your apartment. But Krsna can be everywhere at one time. He can sit down in Goloka Vrndavana, and at the same time He is everywhere, all-pervading. He is original, the oldest, but whenever you look at a picture of Krsna you’ll find a young boy fifteen or twenty years old. You will never find an old man. You have seen pictures of Krsna as a charioteer from the Bhagavad-gita. At that time He was not less than one hundred years old. He had great-grandchildren, but He looked just like a boy. Krsna, God, never becomes old. That is His supreme power. And if you want to search out Krsna by studying the Vedic literature, then you will be baffled. It may be possible, but it is very difficult. But you can very easily learn about Him from His devotee. His devotee can deliver Him to you: “Here He is, take Him.” That is the potency of Krsna’s devotees.
Originally there was only one Veda, and there was no necessity of reading it. People were so intelligent and had such sharp memories that by once hearing from the lips of the spiritual master they would understand. They would immediately grasp the whole purport. But five thousand years ago Vyasadeva put the Vedas in writing for the people in this age, Kali-yuga. He knew that eventually the people would be short-lived, their memories would be very poor, and their intelligence would not be very sharp. “Therefore, let me teach this Vedic knowledge in writing.” He divided the Vedas into four: Rg, Sama, Atharva and Yajur. Then he gave the charge of these Vedas to his different disciples. He then thought of the less intelligent class of men-stri, sudra and dvija-bandhu. He considered the woman class and sudra class (worker class) and dvija-bandhu. Dvija-bandhu refers to those who are born in a high family but who are not properly qualified. A man who is born in the family of a brahmana but is not qualified as a brahmana is called dvija-bandhu. For these persons he compiled the Mahabharata, called the history of India, and the eighteen Puranas. These are all part of the Vedic literature: the Puranas, the Mahabharata, the four Vedas and the Upanisads. The Upanisads are part of the Vedas. Then Vyasadeva summarized all Vedic knowledge for scholars and philosophers in what is called the Vedanta-sutra. This is the last word of the Vedas.
Vyasadeva personally wrote the Vedanta-sutra under the instructions of Narada, his Guru Maharaja (spiritual master), but still he was not satisfied. That is a long story, described in Srimad-Bhagavatam. Vedavyasa was not very satisfied even after compiling many Puranas and Upanisads, and even after writing the Vedanta-sutra. Then his spiritual master, Narada, instructed him, “You explain the Vedanta-sutra.” Vedanta means “ultimate knowledge,” and the ultimate knowledge is Krsna. Krsna says that throughout all the Vedas one has to understand Him: vedanta-krd veda-vid eva caham. Krsna says, “I am the compiler of the Vedanta-sutra, and I am the knower of the Vedas.” Therefore the ultimate objective is Krsna. That is explained in all the Vaisnava commentaries on Vedanta philosophy. We Gaudiya Vaisnavas have our commentary on Vedanta philosophy, called Govinda-bhasya, by Baladeva Vidyabhusana. Similarly, Ramanujacarya has a commentary, and Madhvacarya has one. The version of Sankaracarya is not the only commentary. There are many Vedanta commentaries, but because the Vaisnavas did not present the first Vedanta commentary, people are under the wrong impression that Sankaracarya’s is the only Vedanta commentary. Besides that, Vyasadeva himself wrote the perfect Vedanta commentary, Srimad-Bhagavatam. Srimad-Bhagavatam begins with the first words of the Vedanta-sutra: janmady asya yatah [SB 1.1.1]. And that janmady asya yatah is fully explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam. The Vedanta-sutra simply hints at what is Brahman, the Absolute Truth: “The Absolute Truth is that from whom everything emanates.” This is a summary, but it is explained in detail in Srimad-Bhagavatam. If everything is emanating from the Absolute Truth, then what is the nature of the Absolute Truth? That is explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam. The Absolute Truth must be consciousness. He is self-effulgent (sva-rat). We develop our consciousness and knowledge by receiving knowledge from others, but for Him it is said that He is self-effulgent. The whole summary of Vedic knowledge is the Vedanta-sutra, and the Vedanta-sutra is explained by the writer himself in Srimad-Bhagavatam. We finally request those who are actually after Vedic knowledge to try to understand the explanation of all Vedic knowledge from Srimad-Bhagavatam and the Bhagavad-gita.
om purnam adah purnam idam
purnat purnam udacyate
purnasya purnam adaya
om — the Complete Whole; purnam — perfectly complete; adah — that; purnam — perfectly complete; idam — this phenomenal world; purnat — from the all-perfect; purnam — complete unit; udacyate — is produced; purnasya — of the Complete Whole; purnam — completely, all; adaya — having been taken away; purnam — the complete balance; eva — even; avasisyate — is remaining.
The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the Complete Whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the Complete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.
The Complete Whole, or the Supreme Absolute Truth, is the complete Personality of Godhead. Realization of impersonal Brahman or of Paramatma, the Supersoul, is incomplete realization of the Absolute Complete. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is sac-cid-ananda-vigraha [Bs. 5.1]. Realization of impersonal Brahman is realization of His sat feature, or His aspect of eternity, and Paramatma realization is realization of His sat and cit features, His aspects of eternity and knowledge. But realization of the Personality of Godhead is realization of all the transcendental features — sat, cit and ananda, bliss. When one realizes the Supreme Person, he realizes these aspects of the Absolute Truth in their completeness. Vigraha means “form.” Thus the Complete Whole is not formless. If He were formless, or if He were less than His creation in any other way, He could not be complete. The Complete Whole must contain everything both within and beyond our experience; otherwise He cannot be complete.
The Complete Whole, the Personality of Godhead, has immense potencies, all of which are as complete as He is. Thus this phenomenal world is also complete in itself. The twenty-four elements of which this material universe is a temporary manifestation are arranged to produce everything necessary for the maintenance and subsistence of this universe. No other unit in the universe need make an extraneous effort to try to maintain the universe. The universe functions on its own time scale, which is fixed by the energy of the Complete Whole, and when that schedule is completed, this temporary manifestation will be annihilated by the complete arrangement of the Complete Whole.
All facilities are given to the small complete units (namely the living beings) to enable them to realize the Complete Whole. All forms of incompleteness are experienced due to incomplete knowledge of the Complete Whole. The human form of life is a complete manifestation of the consciousness of the living being, and it is obtained after evolving through 8,400,000 species of life in the cycle of birth and death. If in this human life of full consciousness the living entity does not realize his completeness in relation to the Complete Whole, he loses the chance to realize his completeness and is again put into the evolutionary cycle by the law of material nature.
Because we do not know that there is a complete arrangement in nature for our maintenance, we make efforts to utilize the resources of nature to create a so-called complete life of sense enjoyment. Because the living entity cannot enjoy the life of the senses without being dovetailed with the Complete Whole, the misleading life of sense enjoyment is illusion. The hand of a body is a complete unit only as long as it is attached to the complete body. When the hand is severed from the body, it may appear like a hand, but it actually has none of the potencies of a hand. Similarly, living beings are part and parcel of the Complete Whole, and if they are severed from the Complete Whole, the illusory representation of completeness cannot fully satisfy them.
The completeness of human life can be realized only when one engages in the service of the Complete Whole. All services in this world — whether social, political, communal, international or even interplanetary — will remain incomplete until they are dovetailed with the Complete Whole. When everything is dovetailed with the Complete Whole, the attached parts and parcels also become complete in themselves.
isavasyam idam sarvam
yat kinca jagatyam jagat
tena tyaktena bhunjitha
ma grdhah kasya svid dhanam
isa — by the Lord; avasyam — controlled; idam — this; sarvam — all; yat kinca — whatever; jagatyam — within the universe; jagat — all that is animate or inanimate; tena — by Him; tyaktena — set-apart quota; bhunjithah — you should accept; ma — do not; grdhah — endeavor to gain; kasya svit — of anyone else; dhanam — the wealth.
Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.
Vedic knowledge is infallible because it comes down through the perfect disciplic succession of spiritual masters, beginning with the Lord Himself. Since He spoke the first word of Vedic knowledge, the source of this knowledge is transcendental. The words spoken by the Lord are called apauruseya, which indicates that they are not delivered by any mundane person. A living being who lives in the mundane world has four defects: (1) he is certain to commit mistakes; (2) he is subject to illusion; (3) he has a propensity to cheat others; and (4) his senses are imperfect. No one with these four imperfections can deliver perfect knowledge. The Vedas are not produced by such an imperfect creature. Vedic knowledge was originally imparted by the Lord into the heart of Brahma, the first created living being, and Brahma in his turn disseminated this knowledge to his sons and disciples, who have handed it down through history.
Since the Lord is purnam, all-perfect, there is no possibility of His being subjected to the laws of material nature, which He controls. However, both the living entities and inanimate objects are controlled by the laws of nature and ultimately by the Lord’s potency. This Isopanisad is part of the Yajur Veda, and consequently it contains information concerning the proprietorship of all things existing within the universe.
The Lord’s proprietorship over everything within the universe is confirmed in the Seventh Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita (7.4-5), where para and apara prakrti are discussed. The elements of nature — earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and ego — all belong to the Lord’s inferior, material energy (apara prakrti),whereas the living being, the organic energy, is His superior energy (para prakrti). Both of these prakrtis, or energies, are emanations from the Lord, and ultimately He is the controller of everything that exists. There is nothing in the universe that does not belong to either the para or the apara prakrti; therefore everything is the property of the Supreme Being.
Because the Supreme Being, the Absolute Personality of Godhead, is the complete person, He has complete and perfect intelligence to adjust everything by means of His different potencies. The Supreme Being is often compared to a fire, and everything organic and inorganic is compared to the heat and light of that fire. Just as fire distributes energy in the form of heat and light, the Lord displays His energy in different ways. He thus remains the ultimate controller, sustainer and dictator of everything. He is the possessor of all potencies, the knower of everything and the benefactor of everyone. He is full of inconceivable opulence, power, fame, beauty, knowledge and renunciation.
One should therefore be intelligent enough to know that except for the Lord no one is a proprietor of anything. One should accept only those things that are set aside by the Lord as his quota. The cow, for instance, gives milk, but she does not drink that milk: she eats grass and straw, and her milk is designated as food for human beings. Such is the arrangement of the Lord. Thus we should be satisfied with those things He has kindly set aside for us, and we should always consider to whom those things we possess actually belong.
Take, for example, our dwelling, which is made of earth, wood, stone, iron, cement and so many other material things. If we think in terms of Sri Isopanisad, we must know that we cannot produce any of these building materials ourselves. We can simply bring them together and transform them into different shapes by our labor. A laborer cannot claim to be a proprietor of a thing just because he has worked hard to manufacture it.
In modern society there is always a great quarrel between the laborers and the capitalists. This quarrel has taken an international shape, and the world is in danger. Men face one another in enmity and snarl just like cats and dogs. Sri Isopanisad cannot give advice to the cats and dogs, but it can deliver the message of Godhead to man through the bona fide acaryas (holy teachers). The human race should take the Vedic wisdom of Sri Isopanisad and not quarrel over material possessions. One must be satisfied with whatever privileges are given to him by the mercy of the Lord. There can be no peace if the communists or capitalists or any other party claims proprietorship over the resources of nature, which are entirely the property of the Lord. The capitalists cannot curb the communists simply by political maneuvering, nor can the communists defeat the capitalists simply by fighting for stolen bread. If they do not recognize the proprietorship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, all the property they claim to be their own is stolen. Consequently they will be liable to punishment by the laws of nature. Nuclear bombs are in the hands of both communists and capitalists, and if both do not recognize the proprietorship of the Supreme Lord, it is certain that these bombs will ultimately ruin both parties. Thus in order to save themselves and bring peace to the world, both parties must follow the instructions of Sri Isopanisad.
Human beings are not meant to quarrel like cats and dogs. They must be intelligent enough to realize the importance and aim of human life. The Vedic literature is meant for humanity and not for cats and dogs. Cats and dogs can kill other animals for food without incurring sin, but if a man kills an animal for the satisfaction of his uncontrolled taste buds, he is responsible for breaking the laws of nature. Consequently he must be punished.
The standard of life for human beings cannot be applied to animals. The tiger does not eat rice and wheat or drink cow’s milk, because he has been given food in the shape of animal flesh. Among the many animals and birds, some are vegetarian and others are carnivorous, but none of them transgress the laws of nature, which have been ordained by the will of the Lord. Animals, birds, reptiles and other lower life forms strictly adhere to the laws of nature; therefore there is no question of sin for them, nor are the Vedic instructions meant for them. Human life alone is a life of responsibility.
It is wrong, however, to think that simply by becoming a vegetarian one can avoid transgressing the laws of nature. Vegetables also have life, and while it is nature’s law that one living being is meant to feed on another, for human beings the point is to recognize the Supreme Lord. Thus one should not be proud of being a strict vegetarian. Animals do not have developed consciousness by which to recognize the Lord, but a human being is sufficiently intelligent to take lessons from the Vedic literature and thereby know how the laws of nature are working and derive profit out of such knowledge. If a man neglects the instructions of the Vedic literature, his life becomes very risky. A human being is therefore required to recognize the authority of the Supreme Lord and become His devotee. He must offer everything for the Lord’s service and partake only of the remnants of food offered to the Lord. This will enable him to discharge his duty properly. In the Bhagavad-gita (9.26) the Lord directly states that He accepts vegetarian food from the hands of a pure devotee. Therefore a human being should not only become a strict vegetarian but should also become a devotee of the Lord, offer the Lord all his food and then partake of such prasadam, or the mercy of God. Only those who act in this way can properly discharge the duties of human life. Those who do not offer their food to the Lord eat nothing but sin and subject themselves to various types of distress, which are the results of sin (Bg. 3.13).
The root of sin is deliberate disobedience of the laws of nature through disregarding the proprietorship of the Lord. Disobeying the laws of nature or the order of the Lord brings ruin to a human being. Conversely, one who is sober, who knows the laws of nature, and who is not influenced by unnecessary attachment or aversion is sure to be recognized by the Lord and thus become eligible to go back to Godhead, back to the eternal home.
kurvann eveha karmani
jijivisec chatam samah
evam tvayi nanyatheto ‘sti
na karma lipyate nare
kurvan — doing continuously; eva — thus; iha — during this span of life; karmani — work; jijiviset — one should desire to live; satam — one hundred; samah — years; evam — so living; tvayi — unto you; na — no; anyatha — alternative; itah — from this path; asti — there is; na — not; karma — work; lipyate — can be bound; nare — unto a man.
One may aspire to live for hundreds of years if he continuously goes on working in that way, for that sort of work will not bind him to the law of karma. There is no alternative to this way for man.
No one wants to die: everyone wants to live as long as he can drag on. This tendency is visible not only individually but also collectively in the community, society and nation. There is a hard struggle for life by all kinds of living entities, and the Vedas say that this is quite natural. The living being is eternal by nature, but due to his bondage in material existence he has to change his body over and over. This process is called transmigration of the soul or karma-bandhana, bondage by one’s work. The living entity has to work for his livelihood because that is the law of material nature, and if he does not act according to his prescribed duties, he transgresses the law of nature and binds himself more and more to the cycle of birth and death in the many species of life.
Other life forms are also subject to the cycle of birth and death, but when the living entity attains a human life, he gets a chance to get free from the chains of karma. Karma, akarma and vikarma are very clearly described in the Bhagavad-gita. Actions that are performed in terms of one’s prescribed duties, as mentioned in the revealed scriptures, are called karma. Actions that free one from the cycle of birth and death are called akarma. And actions that are performed through the misuse of one’s freedom and that direct one to the lower life forms are called vikarma. Of these three types of action, that which frees one from the bondage to karma is preferred by intelligent men. Ordinary men wish to perform good work in order to be recognized and achieve some higher status of life in this world or in heaven, but more advanced men want to be free altogether from the actions and reactions of work. Intelligent men well know that both good and bad work equally bind one to the material miseries. Consequently they seek that work which will free them from the reactions of both good and bad work. Such liberating work is described here in the pages of Sri Isopanisad.
The instructions of Sri Isopanisad are more elaborately explained in the Bhagavad-gita, sometimes called the Gitopanisad, the cream of all the Upanisads. In the Bhagavad-gita (3.9-16) the Personality of Godhead says that one cannot attain the state of naiskarmya, or akarma, without executing the prescribed duties mentioned in the Vedic literature. This literature can regulate the working energy of a human being in such a way that he can gradually realize the authority of the Supreme Being. When he realizes the authority of the Personality of Godhead — Vasudeva, or Krsna — it is to be understood that he has attained the stage of positive knowledge. In this purified stage the modes of nature — namely goodness, passion and ignorance — cannot act, and he is able to work on the basis of naiskarmya. Such work does not bind one to the cycle of birth and death.
Factually, no one has to do anything more than render devotional service to the Lord. However, in the lower stages of life one cannot immediately adopt the activities of devotional service, nor can one completely stop fruitive work. A conditioned soul is accustomed to working for sense gratification — for his own selfish interest, immediate or extended. An ordinary man works for his own sense enjoyment, and when this principle of sense enjoyment is extended to include his society, nation or humanity in general, it assumes various attractive names such as altruism, socialism, communism, nationalism and humanitarianism. These “isms” are certainly very attractive forms of karma-bandhana (karmic bondage), but the Vedic instruction of Sri Isopanisad is that if one actually wants to live for any of the above “isms,” he should make them God-centered. There is no harm in becoming a family man, or an altruist, a socialist, a communist, a nationalist or a humanitarian, provided that one executes his activities in relation with isavasya, the God-centered conception.
In the Bhagavad-gita (2.40) Lord Krsna states that God-centered activities are so valuable that just a few of them can save a person from the greatest danger. The greatest danger of life is the danger of gliding down again into the evolutionary cycle of birth and death among the 8,400,000 species. If somehow or other a man misses the spiritual opportunity afforded by his human form of life and falls down again into the evolutionary cycle, he must be considered most unfortunate. Due to his defective senses, a foolish man cannot see that this is happening. Consequently Sri Isopanisad advises us to exert our energy in the spirit of isavasya. Being so engaged, we may wish to live for many, many years; otherwise a long life in itself has no value. A tree lives for hundreds and hundreds of years, but there is no point in living a long time like trees, or breathing like bellows, or begetting children like hogs and dogs, or eating like camels. A humble God-centered life is more valuable than a colossal hoax of a life dedicated to godless altruism or socialism.
When altruistic activities are executed in the spirit of Sri Isopanisad, they become a form of karma-yoga. Such activities are recommended in the Bhagavad-gita (18.5-9), for they guarantee their executor protection from the danger of sliding down into the evolutionary process of birth and death. Even though such God-centered activities may be half-finished, they are still good for the executor because they will guarantee him a human form in his next birth. In this way one can have another chance to improve his position on the path of liberation.
How one can execute God-centered activities is elaborately explained in the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, by Srila Rupa Gosvami. We have rendered this book into English as The Nectar of Devotion. We recommend this valuable book to all who are interested in performing their activities in the spirit of Sri Isopanisad.
asurya nama te loka
tams te pretyabhigacchanti
ye ke catma-hano janah
asuryah — meant for the asuras; nama — famous by the name; te — those; lokah — planets; andhena — by ignorance; tamasa — by darkness; avrtah — covered; tan — those planets; te — they; pretya — after death; abhigacchanti — enter into; ye — anyone; ke — everyone; ca — and; atma-hanah — the killers of the soul; janah — persons.
The killer of the soul, whoever he may be, must enter into the planets known as the worlds of the faithless, full of darkness and ignorance.
Human life is distinguished from animal life due to its heavy responsibilities. Those who are cognizant of these responsibilities and who work in that spirit are called suras (godly persons), and those who are neglectful of these responsibilities or who have no information of them are called asuras (demons). Throughout the universe there are only these two types of human being. In the Rg Veda it is stated that the suras always aim at the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord Visnu and act accordingly. Their ways are as illuminated as the path of the sun.
Intelligent human beings must always remember that the soul obtains a human form after an evolution of many millions of years in the cycle of transmigration. The material world is sometimes compared to an ocean, and the human body is compared to a solid boat designed especially to cross this ocean. The Vedic scriptures and the acaryas, or saintly teachers, are compared to expert boatmen, and the facilities of the human body are compared to favorable breezes that help the boat ply smoothly to its desired destination. If, with all these facilities, a human being does not fully utilize his life for self-realization, he must be considered atma-ha, a killer of the soul. Sri Isopanisad warns in clear terms that the killer of the soul is destined to enter into the darkest region of ignorance to suffer perpetually.
There are swine, dogs, camels, asses, etc., whose economic necessities are just as important to them as ours are to us, but the economic problems of these animals are solved only under nasty and unpleasant conditions. The human being is given all facilities for a comfortable life by the laws of nature because the human form of life is more important and valuable than animal life. Why is man given a better life than that of the swine and other animals? Why is a highly placed government servant given better facilities than those of an ordinary clerk? The answer is that a highly placed officer has to discharge duties of a higher nature. Similarly, the duties human beings have to perform are higher than those of animals, who are always engaged in simply feeding their hungry stomachs. Yet the modern soul-killing civilization has only increased the problems of the hungry stomach. When we approach a polished animal in the form of a modern civilized man and ask him to take interest in self-realization, he will say that he simply wants to work to satisfy his stomach and that there is no need of self-realization for a hungry man. The laws of nature are so cruel, however, that despite his denunciation of the need for self-realization and his eagerness to work hard to fill his stomach, he is always threatened by unemployment.
We are given this human form of life not to work hard like asses, swine and dogs but to attain the highest perfection of life. If we do not care for self-realization, the laws of nature force us to work very hard, even though we may not want to do so. Human beings in this age have been forced to work hard like the asses and bullocks that pull carts. Some of the regions where the asuras are sent to work are revealed in this verse of Sri Isopanisad. If a man fails to discharge his duties as a human being, he is forced to transmigrate to the asurya planets and take birth in degraded species of life to work hard in ignorance and darkness.
In the Bhagavad-gita (6.41-43) it is stated that a man who enters upon the path of self-realization but does not complete the process, despite having sincerely tried to realize his relationship with God, is given a chance to appear in a family of suci or srimat. The word suci indicates a spiritually advanced brahmana, and srimat indicates a vaisya, a member of the mercantile community. So the person who fails to achieve self-realization is given a better chance in his next life due to his sincere efforts in this life. If even a fallen candidate is given a chance to take birth in a respectable and noble family, one can hardly imagine the status of one who has achieved success. By simply attempting to realize God, one is guaranteed birth in a wealthy or aristocratic family. But those who do not even make an attempt, who want to be covered by illusion, who are too materialistic and too attached to material enjoyment, must enter into the darkest regions of hell, as confirmed throughout the Vedic literature. Such materialistic asuras sometimes make a show of religion, but their ultimate aim is material prosperity. The Bhagavad-gita (16.17-18) rebukes such men by calling them atma-sambhavita, meaning that they are considered great only on the strength of deception and are empowered by the votes of the ignorant and by their own material wealth. Such asuras, devoid of self-realization and knowledge of isavasya, the Lord’s universal proprietorship, are certain to enter into the darkest regions.
The conclusion is that as human beings we are meant not simply for solving economic problems on a tottering platform but for solving all the problems of the material life into which we have been placed by the laws of nature.
anejad ekam manaso javiyo
nainad deva apnuvan purvam arsat
tad dhavato ‘nyan atyeti tisthat
tasminn apo matarisva dadhati
anejat — fixed; ekam — one; manasah — than the mind; javiyah — more swift; na — not; enat — this Supreme Lord; devah — the demigods like Indra, etc.; apnuvan — can approach; purvam — in front; arsat — moving quickly; tat — He; dhavatah — those who are running; anyan — others; atyeti — surpasses; tisthat — remaining in one place; tasmin — in Him; apah — rain; matarisva — the gods who control the wind and rain; dadhati — supply.
Although fixed in His abode, the Personality of Godhead is swifter than the mind and can overcome all others running. The powerful demigods cannot approach Him. Although in one place, He controls those who supply the air and rain. He surpasses all in excellence.
Through mental speculation, even the greatest philosopher cannot know the Supreme Lord, who is the Absolute Personality of Godhead. He can be known only by His devotees through His mercy. In the Brahma-samhita (5.34) it is stated that even if a nondevotee philosopher travels through space at the speed of the wind or the mind for hundreds of millions of years, he will still find that the Absolute Truth is far, far away from him. The Brahma-samhita (5.37) further describes that the Absolute Personality of Godhead has His transcendental abode, known as Goloka, where He remains and engages
in His pastimes, yet by His inconceivable potencies He can simultaneously reach every part of His creative energy. In the Visnu Purana His potencies are compared to the heat and light that emanate from a fire. Although situated in one place, a fire can dis-tribute its light and heat for some distance; similarly, the Absolute Personality of Godhead, although fixed in His transcendental abode, can diffuse His different energies everywhere.
Although His energies are innumerable, they can be divided into three principal categories: the internal potency, the marginal potency and the external potency. There are hundreds and millions of subheadings to each of these categories. The dominating demigods who are empowered to control and administer such natural phenomena as air, light and rain are all classified within the marginal potency of the Absolute Person. Lesser living beings, including humans, also belong to the Lord’s marginal potency. The material world is the creation of the Lord’s external potency. And the spiritual sky, where the kingdom of God is situated, is the manifestation of His internal potency.
Thus the different energies of the Lord are present everywhere. Although the Lord and His energies are nondifferent, one should not mistake these energies for the Supreme Truth. Nor should one wrongly consider that the Supreme Lord is distributed everywhere impersonally or that He loses His personal existence. Men are accustomed to reach conclusions according to their capacity for understanding, but the Supreme Lord is not subject to our limited capacity for understanding. It is for this reason that the Upanisads warn us that no one can approach the Lord by his own limited potency.
In the Bhagavad-gita (10.2) the Lord says that not even the great rsis and suras can know Him. And what to speak of the asuras, for whom there is no question of understanding the ways of the Lord? This fourth mantra of Sri Isopanisad very clearly suggests that the Absolute Truth is ultimately the Absolute Person; otherwise there would have been no need to mention so many details in support of His personal features.
Although the individual parts and parcels of the Lord’s potencies have all the symptoms of the Lord Himself, they have limited spheres of activity and are therefore all limited. The parts and parcels are never equal to the whole; therefore they cannot appreciate the Lord’s full potency. Under the influence of material nature, foolish and ignorant living beings who are but parts and parcels of the Lord try to conjecture about the Lord’s transcendental position. Sri Isopanisad warns of the futility of trying to establish the identity of the Lord through mental speculation. One should try to learn of the Transcendence from the Lord Himself, the supreme source of the Vedas, for the Lord alone has full knowledge of the Transcendence.
Every part and parcel of the Complete Whole is endowed with some particular energy to act according to the Lord’s will. When the part-and-parcel living entity forgets his particular activities under the Lord’s will, he is considered to be in maya, illusion. Thus from the very beginning Sri Isopanisad warns us to be very careful to play the part designated for us by the Lord. This does not mean that the individual soul has no initiative of his own. Because he is part and parcel of the Lord, he must partake of the initiative of the Lord as well. When a person properly utilizes his initiative, or active nature, with intelligence, understanding that everything is the Lord’s potency, he can revive his original consciousness, which was lost due to association with maya, the external energy.
All power is obtained from the Lord; therefore each particular power must be utilized to execute the will of the Lord and not otherwise. The Lord can be known by one who has adopted such a submissive service attitude. Perfect knowledge means knowing the Lord in all His features, knowing His potencies and knowing how these potencies work by His will. These matters are described by the Lord in the Bhagavad-gita, the essence of all the Upanisads.
tad ejati tan naijati
tad dure tad v antike
tad antar asya sarvasya
tad u sarvasyasya bahyatah
tat — this Supreme Lord; ejati — walks; tat — He; na — not; ejati — walks; tat — He; dure — far away; tat — He; u — also; antike — very near; tat — He; antah — within; asya — of this; sarvasya — of all; tat — He; u — also; sarvasya — of all; asya — of this; bahyatah — external to.
The Supreme Lord walks and does not walk. He is far away, but He is very near as well. He is within everything, and yet He is outside of everything.
Here is a description of some of the Supreme Lord’s transcendental activities, executed by His inconceivable potencies. The contradictions given here prove the inconceivable potencies of the Lord. “He walks, and He does not walk.” Ordinarily, if someone can walk, it is illogical to say he cannot walk. But in reference to God, such a contradiction simply serves to indicate His inconceivable power. With our limited fund of knowledge we cannot accommodate such contradictions, and therefore we conceive of the Lord in terms of our limited powers of understanding. For example, the impersonalist philosophers of the Mayavada school accept only the Lord’s impersonal activities and reject His personal feature. But the members of the Bhagavata school, adopting the perfect conception of the Lord, accept His inconceivable potencies and thus understand that He is both personal and impersonal. The bhagavatas know that without inconceivable potencies there can be no meaning to the words “Supreme Lord.”
We should not take it for granted that because we cannot see God with our eyes the Lord has no personal existence. Sri Isopanisad refutes this argument by declaring that the Lord is far away but very near also. The abode of the Lord is beyond the material sky, and we have no means to measure even this material sky. If the material sky extends so far, then what to speak of the spiritual sky, which is altogether beyond it? That the spiritual sky is situated far, far away from the material universe is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (15.6). But despite the Lord’s being so far away, He can at once, within less than a second, descend before us with a speed swifter than that of the mind or wind. He can also run so swiftly that no one can surpass Him. This has already been described in the previous verse.
Yet when the Personality of Godhead comes before us, we neglect Him. Such foolish negligence is condemned by the Lord in the Bhagavad-gita (9.11), where He says that the foolish deride Him, considering Him a mortal being. He is not a mortal being, nor does He come before us with a body produced of material nature. There are many so-called scholars who contend that the Lord descends in a body made of matter, just like an ordinary living being. Not knowing His inconceivable power, such foolish men place the Lord on an equal level with ordinary men.
Because He is full of inconceivable potencies, God can accept our service through any sort of medium, and He can convert His different potencies according to His own will. Nonbelievers argue either that the Lord cannot incarnate Himself at all, or that if He does He descends in a form of material energy. These arguments are nullified if we accept the existence of the Lord’s inconceivable potencies. Then we will understand that even if the Lord appears before us in the form of material energy, it is quite possible for Him to convert this energy into spiritual energy. Since the source of the energies is one and the same, the energies can be utilized according to the will of their source. For example, the Lord can appear in the form of the arca-vigraha, a Deity supposedly made of earth, stone or wood. Deity forms, although engraved from wood, stone or other matter, are not idols, as the iconoclasts contend.
In our present state of imperfect material existence, we cannot see the Supreme Lord due to imperfect vision. Yet those devotees who want to see Him by means of material vision are favored by the Lord, who appears in a so-called material form to accept His devotees’ service. One should not think that such devotees, who are in the lowest stage of devotional service, are worshiping an idol. They are factually worshiping the Lord, who has agreed to appear before them in an approachable way. Nor is the arca form fashioned according to the whims of the worshiper. This form is eternally existent with all paraphernalia. This can be actually felt by a sincere devotee, but not by an atheist.
In the Bhagavad-gita (4.11) the Lord says that how He treats His devotee depends on the devotee’s degree of surrender. The Lord reserves the right not to reveal Himself to anyone and everyone but to show Himself only to those souls who surrender unto Him. Thus for the surrendered soul He is always within reach, whereas for the unsurrendered soul He is far, far away and cannot be approached.
In this connection, two words the revealed scriptures often apply to the Lord — saguna (“with qualities”) and nirguna (“without qualities”) — are very important. The word saguna does not imply that when the Lord appears with perceivable qualities He must take on a material form and be subject to the laws of material nature. For Him there is no difference between the material and spiritual energies, because He is the source of all energies. As the controller of all energies, He cannot at any time be under their influence, as we are. The material energy works according to His direction; therefore He can use that energy for His purposes without ever being influenced by any of the qualities of that energy. (In this sense He is nirguna, “without qualities.”) Nor does the Lord become a formless entity at any time, for ultimately He is the eternal form, the primeval Lord. His impersonal aspect, or Brahman effulgence, is but the glow of His personal rays, just as the sun’s rays are the glow of the sun-god.
When the child saint Prahlada Maharaja was in the presence of his atheist father, his father asked him, “Where is your God?” When Prahlada replied that God resides everywhere, the father angrily asked whether his God was within one of the pillars of the palace, and the child said yes. At once the atheist king shattered the pillar in front of him to pieces, and the Lord instantly appeared as Nrsimha, the half-man, half-lion incarnation, and killed the atheist king. Thus the Lord is within everything, and He creates everything by His different energies. Through His inconceivable powers He can appear at any place in order to favor His sincere devotee. Lord Nrsimha appeared from within the pillar not by the order of the atheist king but by the wish of His devotee Prahlada. An atheist cannot order the Lord to appear, but the Lord will appear anywhere and everywhere to show mercy to His devotee. The Bhagavad-gita (4.8) similarly states that the Lord appears in order to vanquish nonbelievers and protect believers. Of course, the Lord has sufficient energies and agents who can vanquish atheists, but it pleases Him to personally favor a devotee. Therefore He descends as an incarnation. Actually, He descends only to favor His devotees and not for any other purpose.
In the Brahma-samhita (5.35) it is said that Govinda, the primeval Lord, enters everything by His plenary portion. He enters the universe as well as all the atoms of the universe. He is outside in His virat form, and He is within everything as antaryami. As antaryami He witnesses everything that is going on, and He awards us the results of our actions as karma-phala. We ourselves may forget what we have done in previous lives, but because the Lord witnesses our actions, the results of our actions are always there, and we have to undergo the reactions nonetheless.
The fact is that there is nothing but God within and without. Everything is a manifestation of His different energies, like the heat and light emanating from a fire, and in this way there is a oneness among His diverse energies. Although there is oneness, however, the Lord in His personal form still enjoys unlimitedly all the pleasures enjoyed minutely by the tiny part-and-parcel living entities.
yas tu sarvani bhutany
tato na vijugupsate
yah — he who; tu — but; sarvani — all; bhutani — living entities; atmani — in relation to the Supreme Lord; eva — only; anupasyati — observes in a systematic way; sarva-bhutesu — in every living being; ca — and; atmanam — the Supersoul; tatah — thereafter; na — not; vijugupsate — hates anyone.
He who sees everything in relation to the Supreme Lord, who sees all living entities as His parts and parcels, and who sees the Supreme Lord within everything never hates anything or any being.
This is a description of the maha-bhagavata, the great personality who sees everything in relation to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Supreme Lord’s presence is realized in three stages. The kanistha-adhikari is in the lowest stage of realization. He goes to a place of worship, such as a temple, church or mosque, according to his religious faith, and worships there according to scriptural injunctions. Devotees in this stage consider the Lord to be present at the place of worship and nowhere else. They cannot ascertain who is in what position in devotional service, nor can they tell who has realized the Supreme Lord. Such devotees follow the routine formulas and sometimes quarrel among themselves, considering one type of devotion better than another. These kanistha-adhikaris are actually materialistic devotees who are simply trying to transcend the material boundary to reach the spiritual plane.
Those who have attained the second stage of realization are called madhyama-adhikaris. These devotees observe the distinctions between four categories of being: (1) the Supreme Lord; (2) the devotees of the Lord; (3) the innocent, who have no knowledge of the Lord; and (4) the atheists, who have no faith in the Lord and hate those in devotional service. The madhyama-adhikari behaves differently toward these four classes of person. He adores the Lord, considering Him the object of love; he makes friends with those who are in devotional service; he tries to awaken the dormant love of God in the hearts of the innocent; and he avoids the atheists, who deride the very name of the Lord.
Above the madhyama-adhikari is the uttama-adhikari, who sees everything in relation to the Supreme Lord. Such a devotee does not discriminate between an atheist and a theist but sees everyone as part and parcel of God. He knows that there is no essential difference between a vastly learned brahmana and a dog in the street, because both of them are part and parcel of the Lord, although they are encaged in different bodies on account of the different qualities of their activities in their previous lives. He sees that the brahmana particle of the Supreme Lord has not misused his little independence given him by the Lord and that the dog particle has misused his independence and is therefore being punished by the laws of nature by being encaged in the form of a dog. Not considering the respective actions of the brahmana and the dog, the uttama-adhikari tries to do good to both. Such a learned devotee is not misled by material bodies but is attracted by the spiritual spark within them.
Those who imitate an uttama-adhikari by flaunting a sense of oneness or fellowship but who behave on the bodily platform are actually false philanthropists. The conception of universal brotherhood must be learned from an uttama-adhikari and not from a foolish person who does not properly understand the individual soul or the Supreme Lord’s Supersoul expansion, who dwells everywhere.
It is clearly mentioned in this sixth mantra that one should “observe,” or systematically see. This means that one must follow the previous acaryas, the perfected teachers. Anupasyati is the exact Sanskrit word used in this connection. Anu means “to follow,” and pasyati means “to observe.” Thus the word anupasyati means that one should not see things as he does with the naked eye but should follow the previous acaryas. Due to material defects, the naked eye cannot see anything properly. One cannot see properly unless one has heard from a superior source, and the highest source is the Vedic wisdom, which is spoken by the Lord Himself. Vedic truths are coming in disciplic succession from the Lord to Brahma, from Brahma to Narada, from Narada to Vyasa, and from Vyasa to many of his disciples. Formerly there was no need to record the messages of the Vedas, because people in earlier ages were more intelligent and had sharper memories. They could follow the instructions simply by hearing once from the mouth of a bona fide spiritual master.
At present there are many commentaries on the revealed scriptures, but most of them are not in the line of disciplic succession coming from Srila Vyasadeva, who originally compiled the Vedic wisdom. The final, most perfect and sublime work by Srila Vyasadeva is Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is the natural commentary on the Vedanta-sutra. There is also the Bhagavad-gita, which was spoken by the Lord Himself and recorded by Vyasadeva. These are the most important revealed scriptures, and any commentary that contradicts the principles of the Bhagavad-gita or Srimad-Bhagavatam is unauthorized. There is complete agreement among the Upanisads, Vedanta-sutra, Vedas, Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, and no one should try to reach any conclusion about the Vedas without receiving instructions from members of Vyasadeva’s disciplic succession, who believe in the Personality of Godhead and His diverse energies as they are explained in Sri Isopanisad.
According to the Bhagavad-gita (18.54), only one who is already on the liberated platform (brahma-bhuta) can become an uttama-adhikari devotee and see every living being as his own brother. This vision cannot be had by politicians, who are always after some material gain. One who imitates the symptoms of an uttama-adhikari may serve another’s outward body for the purpose of fame or material reward, but he does not serve the spirit soul. Such an imitator can have no information of the spiritual world. The uttama-adhikari sees the spirit soul within the material body and serves him as spirit. Thus the material aspect is automatically served.
# Sri Isopanisad
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