Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.23
by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Vrndavana, November 3, 1972

Pradyumna: (leads chanting, etc.)

sattvam rajas tama iti prakrter gunas tair yuktah parah purusa eka ihasya dhatte sthity-adaye hari-virinci-hareti samjnah sreyamsi tatra khalu sattva-tanor nrnam syuh

Translation: “The transcendental Lord is indirectly associated with the three modes of material nature, namely passion, goodness and ignorance, and just for the material world’s creation, maintenance and destruction He accepts the three qualitative forms of Brahma, Visnu and Siva. Of these three, all living beings can derive ultimate benefit from Visnu, the form of the quality of goodness.”


sattvam rajas tama iti prakrter gunas tair yuktah parah purusa eka ihasya dhatte sthity-adaye hari-virinci-hareti samjnah sreyamsi tatra khalu sattva-tanor nrnam syuh

The material creation, mahat-tattva… Sa iksata. As it is said in the Vedic literature, simply by glancing over the material nature and agitating the three modes of material nature, the whole creation comes out. This is an sum, sum and substance of material creation. Maha-Visnu is lying in the Causal Ocean, Karanarnava, and He is breathing, and from His breathing innumerable universes are coming out. And in each and every universe, Maha-Visnu, in His further expansion as Garbhodakasayi-Visnu, He enters. That Garbhodakasayi-Visnu, from His abdomen there is a lotus stem, and in that lotus flower Lord Brahma is born. In this way, creation is made.

So actually, Brahma, Visnu, Mahesvara, they are the principal directors of the three gunas. Therefore Brahma, Visnu, Mahesvara, they are called gunavatara. Lord Visnu is in charge of sattva-guna activities. Therefore brahmana, the symbol of sattva-guna, they are Vaisnavas. Formerly, in each and every home of a brahmana, there was Visnu worship. A brahmana cannot worship any other demigods except Visnu, because Visnu is in the charge of the sattva-guna and brahmana is also in the sattva-guna. So Visnu asya devata. For this reason brahmana’s another title is Vaisnava. Brahmana-vaisnava. Or brahmana-pandita.

So on account of the three gunas, there are three types of Vedic literatures. Not directly sruti, but smrti, the puranas, they are divided into three divisions: sattvika-purana, rajasika-purana and tamasika-purana. Siva Purana, Devi Purana, they are sattvika, rajasika. Brahmanda Purana, Visnu Purana, Srimad Bhagavata Purana, they are sattvika-puranas. The whole scheme is that everyone, every living entity within this material world, they are infected. That we have discussed. The most inferior infection is the rajas-tamas. And the superior rajas, uh, sattva-guna, that is also infection, but it is less harmful, whereas the infection of rajo-guna and tamo-guna is very much embarrassing.

Tada rajas-tamo-bhavah kama-lobhadayas ca ye [SB 1.2.19]. The whole material world is going on, impelled by rajo-guna and tamo-guna. Generally. Sattva-guna is very little. Especially in this age, practically there is no sattva-guna. Rajo-guna also, very little. Tamo-guna predominant. For this reason, sastra says in this age most people are sudras because there is scarcity of sattva-guna and rajo-guna. Brahmana-ksatriya. Brahmanas’ activities and ksatriya, practically nil. There is no protector. Ksatriya means one who protects people from being injured. Therefore the ksatriya class, they were royal families, and the brahmanas, they were meant for giving spiritual education. Brahma janati iti brahmana. And the vaisyas, they were meant for trading, agriculture and cow protection. As the ksatriyas were interested, entrusted for protecting the citizens, similarly the vaisyas were entrusted for protecting the cows. Krsi-go-raksya-vanijyam vaisya-karma svabhava-jam [Bg. 18.44]. So now vaisyas, they have got big, big factories, they can maintain big, big factories, but they cannot maintain a cow. That is the position. Similarly, Ksatriyas, they have taken different occupational duties. Brahmanas also, they have left their occupation. Only everyone has come to the platform of sudras. Therefore it is very difficult to convince them about spiritual life. Mostly people are sudras. Sudras, less intelligent. They cannot understand. Mudha. Less intelligent means mudha. The symbol of less intelligence is ass, mudha. The ass… Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has described the karmis as mudha because they work very hard. Although the necessity of life is very little, still they work very hard, day and night. The ass is the symbol because the ass eats only a morsel of grass, but for the washerman, he works so hard. So mudha. Because the people are mudhas, they cannot understand Krsna consciousness. Krsna says,

na mam duskrtino mudhah prapadyante naradhamah mayayapahrta-jnana asuram bhavam asritah [Bg. 7.15]

So the three gunas, sattva-guna, rajo-guna, tamo-guna, that is going on since the creation. So here it is said, sthity-adaye hari-virinci-hareti samjnah. This, the same Lord, Supreme Personality of Godhead, Visnu, has expanded Himself as Lord Siva and Lord Brahma. We are also expansions. Brahma is also jiva-tattva. He’s also like us, jiva-tattva. Lord Siva is between visnu-tattva and jiva-tattva. And Lord Visnu is visnu-tattva. Visnu-tattva, via media, and jiva-tattva. So they are all expansions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So for controlling these three gunas they have taken charge. Visnu is in charge of sattva-guna, and Brahma is in charge of rajo-guna and Lord Siva is in charge of tamo-guna. So Lord, Lord Brahma creates, Lord Visnu maintains and Lord Siva destroys. These three things are going on. Srsti-sthiti-pralaya. So sreyamsi tatra khalu sattva-tanor nrnam syuh.

Now, for our…, solving our problems… What is our problems? That we do not know. There is a great problem. The problem is repetition of birth, death, old age and disease. This is the problem. Janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-dosanudarsanam . Those who are intelligent, they will…, they will see that these are the real problems. But they do not care. Mrtyu, they think, “All right, it is coming naturally. Let us die.” But they do not know, after death, where he’s going? “Never mind. I shall forget.” People say like that. In Western countries, when I speak, these questions are raised and they are so callous, they say, “Never mind. Next time, if I become a dog, what is the harm? I’ll forget that I was a man.” Plainly they say. So many people have gone so much down that they cannot understand that low-grade life is not desirable. They do not make any distinction. In whatever life it may be, if there is sufficient arrangement for eating, sleeping, mating, then they are happy. Visayah khalu sarvatah syat. By God’s grace, nature has sufficiently given opportunity for enjoying these things: eating, sleeping, mating and defending. Just like these monkeys, they have got enough facilities for eating, sleeping, mating, especially mating, they have got very good facility. Beginning from the morning, they are going on in sex matters. And defending also, they have got nails and teeth.

So these things, sastra says, visayah khalu sarvatah syat. These necessities of life, they can be obtained in any form of life. There is no scarcity. But the human form of life, if it is wasted only for these facilities of life—eating, sleeping, mating and defending—then what is the credit of getting a human form of life? The sastra therefore says, tasyaiva hetoh prayateta kovidah. In human form of life one should try to achieve that perfection which was not obtained in previous lives after wandering heaven and hell and all species of life. Bhramatam upary adhah. Upari adhah means upwards and downwards. And we are wandering: sometimes downwards, sometimes outwards, sometimes poor, sometimes rich, sometimes man, sometimes dog, sometimes tree, sometimes demigod. In this way, we are wandering. Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore says, ei rupe brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva [Cc. Madhya 19.151] We are wandering in this way in different species of life, in different planets, but somehow or other, if one is fortunate, he comes in contact with a devotee by the grace of Krsna. Guru-krsna-krpaya paya bhakti-lata-bija [Cc. Madhya 19.151].

Here it is, also, it is said, sreyamsi tatra khalu sattva-tanor nrnam syuh. If want our ultimate goal, ultimate success, then we should accept the sattva-guna form of the Lord. The rajo-guna form and tamo-guna form are there, Lord Siva and Lord Brahma. But sreyamsi, if we want our real benefit of life, then it is better to take shelter of the form of sattva-guna. That will be explained in the next verse: parthivad daruno dhumas tasmad agnis trayimayah. Just like earth, from the earth the tree grows. So tree grows means wood. Now, if you ignite the wood, first of all there is smoke, then there is fire. So my necessity is fire, neither the wood, nor the earth, nor the smoke. Similarly, for getting out of these material clutches one has to take shelter of Visnu—not of Lord Brahma nor Lord Siva. It is explained in the Bhagavad-gita: kamais tais tair hrta-jnanah yajante anya-devatah [Bg. 7.20]. Anya-devatah means Lord Siva and Lord Brahma and others. There are many, thirty-three crores of different demigods. Indra, Candra, Varuna, so many. So the chief of them is Lord Brahma and Lord Siva. Lord Siva is therefore called Mahadeva. He is above all these demigods. And Lord Si… Brahma is called pitamaha. Pitamaha means he’s the father of all demigods. He’s the father of Lord Siva also.

So in this way, if we really want salvation, free, freedom from these clutches of maya… That is also explained in the Bhagavad-gita: daivi hy esa gunamayi mama maya duratyaya [Bg. 7.14]. This maya is very, very hard to pass over. Duratyaya. Only means is: mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti. This is the verse. Here it is also, the same thing confirmed: sreyamsi. If you want ultimate goal, ultimate goal means to get free from the conditional life, repetition of birth, death, old age—then you have to take shelter of Lord Visnu. But people do not know that. Na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum [SB 7.5.31] For temporary benefit they go to worship other demigods. But that is not their ultimate goal. Antavat tu phalam tesam tad bhavaty alpa-medhasam. Antavat tu phalam. If you take any benediction from other demigods, that is antavat. That will be finished. That is temporary. Antavat tu phalam…, tad bhavaty alpa-medhasam. Just like Lord Siva’s name is Asutosa. He’s very quickly becomes pleased to offer benediction; therefore generally people go to Asutosa, Lord Siva. He does not consider. If you can please him, you can take any kind of benediction from him. He’ll be ready: “All right. You take it.” Because he wants to avoid botheration. So when the devotees come, bother him, so to…, just to get him out, he says: “All right, whatever you like, you take and go away.” Therefore his name is Asutosa. And people take the shelter of Asutosa, Lord Siva, for quick result. But Lord Visnu is not like that. If you want something extraordinary from Lord Visnu, it is not possible. He’ll not give. Lord Brahma also.

So, so here it is indicated: sreyamsi. If you want your ultimate goal, then you take shelter of Visnu, the Lord of sattva-guna. Then you’ll be benefitted. Not by others. But we are generally influenced by the rajo-guna and tamo-guna, lust and greediness. Therefore kamais tais tair hrta-jnanah [Bg. 7.20]. We, we are lost of intelligence, influenced by lust and greediness, and therefore we take shelter of other demigods. Kamais tais tair hrta-jnanah yajante anya-devatah [Bg. 7.20]. Antavat tu phalam tesam tad bhavaty alpa-medhasam. Alpa-medhasam. Alpa-medhasam means people do not know. Suppose I take some material benefit, temporary benefit… Every material benefit is temporary. Whatever benefit we have in this life, as soon as this body’s finished, all our benefit finished. Then I’ll have to take another body which may not be even human form of body. Sometimes we are being too much attached to our present possession. We remain in the possession, but in a different form. In a different form. There are many, I mean, Puranic, Pauranic indences(?). That is long story, that by karma, we take birth in different forms of life, and if we have got too much attachment… Sometimes a person, the proprietor of the house, after death, remains in that house as serpent, sometimes as dog, sometimes as tree. Being too much attached to the possession, they cannot get better life. And sometimes we can get the body of a hog and monkey in Vrndavana also.

That is a great science one has to learn: how the transformation of the body takes place, how our attachment acts in that way. Yam yam vapi smaran loke. This is a great science. Unfortunately, there is no educational system. Neither do they know the process of transmigration of the soul. So everyone is in ignorance. Everyone is in ignorance. Neither they’re interested to take knowledge from the Vedic scripture. Everything is described there. Just like Srimad-Bhagavatam. It is the end of knowledge. Vidya-bhagavatavadhi. If one wants to be educated, he has to come to the limit of Srimad-Bhagavatam, and all the sublime informations are there.

Now if we take instruction of Srimad-Bhagavatam, as it is indicated, every one of us should take to Krsna consciousness. It is clearly said, sreyamsi tatra khalu sattva-tanoh, sattva-tanor nrnam syuh. Lord Visnu. And Visnu, the original Visnu, is Lord Krsna. So if we take to Krsna, Krsna’s shelter… Krsna also says: sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja [Bg. 18.66] So if we take shelter of Krsna, according to the injunction of the sastras and Vedas… Vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah [Bg. 15.15]. That is stated in Bhagavad-gita. The purpose of all Vedic Knowledge is to understand Krsna, and as soon as we understand Krsna, what He is, then tyaktva deham punar janma naiti [Bg. 4.9], then harim vina na mrtim taranti. If we want to stop this repetition of birth, death, old age and disease, then we must take shelter of Lord Visnu. And Krsna is the origin of all visnu-tattva. That means we must become Krsna conscious. That is our highest benefit of life.

Thank you very much. (end)