Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 7: knowledge of the absolute: Verse 28.
yeṣāṁ tv anta-gataṁ pāpaṁ
bhajante māṁ dṛḍha-vratāḥ
yeṣām — whose; tu — but; anta–gatam — completely eradicated; pāpam — sin; janānām — of the persons; puṇya — pious; karmaṇām — whose previous activities; te — they; dvandva — of duality; moha — delusion; nirmuktāḥ — free from; bhajante — engage in devotional service; mām — to Me; dṛḍha–vratāḥ — with determination.
Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life and whose sinful actions are completely eradicated are freed from the dualities of delusion, and they engage themselves in My service with determination.
In the 6th chapter of Bhagavad Gita, Krishna explains that the Neophyte Yogi engages in fruitive sitting postures while the Advanced yogi, the true “Sanyasi”, works without attachment. Lots of verse in the 6th chapter talks about Ashtanga yoga and the purpose of the Yoga. In the last verse of chapter 6, Krishna says that of all yogis, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself and renders transcendental loving service to Me – he is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion. So here Krishna says that -The Bhakti yoga is the topmost “ Sraddhavan bhajate yo mam sa me yuktatamo matah”. The word “yuktatamo” mean the topmost.
Now, in chapter, 7 the knowledge of the absolute Krishna is telling Arjun-how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of me, with mind attached to me, you can know me in full, free from doubt. Since Bhakti yoga is the topmost, Srila Prabhupad wants us to understand that the Vaishnav Acharya describes or translates Bhakti not just as devotion but devotional service, which is not just meditation but meditation as well as action. In this age of Kali, it is not possible for us to mediate like the people of Satya Yuga, where they meditate upon Krishna 1000 or years, without being distracted. So, meditation plus action is devotional service that is what we have to focus on.
Srila Prabupada says who are those eligible for elevation to the transcendental position. For those who are sinful, atheistic, foolish and deceitful it is very difficult to the transcend the duality of desire and hate. In this material world if we apply for anything there is some eligibility criteria. The material world is the perverted reflection of the spiritual world so the spiritual world also has an eligibility criterion. To be eligible to attain a transcendental position one has to eradicate some bad qualities like desire and hate. Only those who have passed their lives in practicing the regulative principles of religion, who have acted piously, and who have conquered sinful reactions can accept devotional service and gradually rise to the pure knowledge of the Supreme Personality of God head. Then gradually they can meditate in trance the Supreme Personality of God head. That is the process of being situated on the spiritual platform. This elevation is possible in Krishna Consciousness in the association of pure devotees for in the association of great devotees one can be delivered from delusion. There are three take away from these to become eligible to transcend in the service of the Lord which is: we have to give up desire, hate , deceitfulness, atheistic and then practice sincerely the path of devotional services because we have accumulated millions of sins in our past lives and even though we are in this journey we all are in the different level of spiritual progress. Sincerity and purification will take time and when that happens then we can meditate in trance on the Supreme Personality of God head.
How to get rid of sinful nature? It is only by association of sincere devotees. We get to tend and steer our life according to the people we associate with and what to say of spiritual life with all the distractions which we live with our lives
In Ramaya it is said nirmal man jan so mohi pavay mohi kapat chhal chhidr n bhavay.
Here the Lord is telling I like the people whose heart is pure. The sinful deceitful nature Lord does not like it at all. Only the virtuous-minded and pure souls attain me. Anyone indulging in fraudulent acts and deception can never win my favor. So, our religion or Dharma teaches us not to be deceitful and to be pure and sincere in our effort. Eradication of these bad qualities will take some time so it is best to associate to devotees to learn from and look up to Acharyas how they lived their lives and try to imbibe those qualities from them.
Srila Prabupada says, it is stated in Srimad Bhagavatam (5.5.2) that if one actually wants to be liberated, he must render service to the devotees ( mahat-sevam dvaram ahur vimukteh) but one who associates with material people is on the path leading to the darkest region of existence (tamo-dvaram yositam sangi-sangam). So, association with devotees and rendering service to devotee is important. All the devotees of the Lord traverse this earth just to recover the conditioned souls from their delusion. So, our Acharya are not in the same journey like us. They are taking the pain to come to this world just to recover conditioned souls by doing a great service to the Lord by helping us to cross that ocean of neisance and take us back to Krishna. So, we have to be very careful not to blaspheme any devotee, it is such a great sin and It will take you away from Krishna. The Acharyas and the pure devotees are not here for their own interest but here to help all of us. The impersonalists do not know that forgetting their constitutional position as subordinate to the Supreme Lord is the greatest violation of God’s law. Unless one is reinstated in his own constitutional position, it is not possible to understand the Supreme Personality or to be fully engaged in his transcendental loving service with determination. The impersonalist do not believe in the personnel form of lord . Our own constitutional position is that we are the servants of the servants of the servants of the Lord, the eternal servitor of the Lord and our position is not for us to enjoy our original position but to serve the Lord. So, when we can reinstate that constitutional position then we will be able to engage ourselves in the service of the Lord with determination.
In Srimad Bhagavatam 5.5 Lord Rsabhadeva’s teaching to his sons’ text 2.
mahat-sevāṁ dvāram āhur vimuktestamo-dvāraṁ yoṣitāṁ saṅgi-saṅgammahāntas te sama-cittāḥ praśāntāvimanyavaḥ suhṛdaḥ sādhavo ye
One can attain the path of liberation from material bondage only by rendering service to highly advanced spiritual personalities. These personalities are impersonalists and devotees. Whether one wants to merge into the Lord’s existence or wants to associate with the Personality of Godhead, one should render service to the mahātmās. For those who are not interested in such activities, who associate with people fond of women and sex, the path to hell is wide open. The mahātmās are equipoised. They do not see any difference between one living entity and another. They are very peaceful and are fully engaged in devotional service. They are devoid of anger, and they work for the benefit of everyone. They do not behave in any abominable way. Such people are known as mahātmās.
The mahatmas are Empathetic to every one including animals. The term Mahatma is not a designation given to everybody but to a special people who are living in this manner. By associating with them our spiritual progress will advance and by associating with materialistic people the gates to hell is widely open. This gives us an understanding how should we spend our day . There is a “knowing and doing gap” so we have to progress in that journey. We can analyze ourselves, are we thinking of Krishna while we are doing our daily activities like cooking, cleaning, before going to bed, are you listening to anything related to Krishna or reading something related to Krishna at least one verse a day. This is called micro iterations. The micro actions slowly add up. With every one drop of water you can fill your pot. The good thing is anything you leave behind this life time it is not going to waste. If you have made the pot half full in the next time you will start from where you left. This is the best investment and rest everything we have to leave behind we cannot take that.
CC Madhya Lile 22.87 also has a reference to this
asat-saṅga-tyāga, — ei vaiṣṇava-ācāra
‘strī-saṅgī’ — eka asādhu, ‘kṛṣṇābhakta’ āra
“A Vaiṣṇava should always avoid the association of ordinary people. Common people are very much materially attached, especially to women. Vaiṣṇavas should also avoid the company of those who are not devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Here it clearly says:
We should avoid the association of ordinary people who are materially attached especially to women because by associating with them we will also be like them.
To remain unattached to the modes of material nature, one should avoid associating with those who are asat, materialistic. There are two kinds of materialists. One is attached to women and sense gratification and the other is simply a non-devotee
So, On the positive side is association with mahatmas, and on the negative side is the avoidance of non-devotees and woman hunters.
In Sri Guruvastakam, it is said that
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam
The spiritual master is receiving benediction from the ocean of mercy. Just as a cloud pours water on a forest fire to extinguish it, so the spiritual master delivers the materially afflicted world by extinguishing the blazing fire of material existence. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master, who is an ocean of auspicious qualities.
So, what is our problem? The problem is that Samsara-davanala.
This material world is compared with davanala. Which means forest fire. Everyone has got some experience about the forest fire. The forest fire takes place. Nobody is interested to set fire in the forest, but it takes place automatically, by collision of bamboos. There is friction, and fire is produced and as soon as they touch some dry leaves, immediately there is fire. And as soon as there is fire all the animals in the forest, they become very much disturbed. We as the materialist people can be compared to dry leaves and as soon as there is some friction there is fire. To avoid that we should do:
Vande guroh sri-caranaravindam
So as the cloud is the collection of water from the sea- cloud means evaporation of water from the sea- similarly,” Gunarnavasya” means there is an ocean of mercy of Krishna, or God. If one is able to collect water or the dust, from the merciful ocean of Krishna and if we can pour over it the samsara-davanala then it is possible to extinguish this fire.
In other ways, just like forest fire cannot be extinguished without the water from the clouds, similarly, this samsara this davanala the blazing fire of all material existence, problems after problems, they cannot be extinguished unless there is a pouring of incessant merciful rain from krsna, and one who bestows, one who distributes this rain, he is called the Guru.
And all these particular bodies are awarded to the living entity, or the soul, according to his sinful activities. That is Vedic injunction. And therefore, in the Bhagavad Gita it is said that you cannot take to Krishna consciousness, or God consciousness unless you are completely freed from the resultant action of sinful life
In BG 7.28, Krishna says, Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life and whose sinful actions are completely eradicated are freed from the dualities of delusion, and they engage themselves in My service with determination.
Drdha-vratah means render devotional service with determination.
Anyone who has become freed completely, yesam tv anta-gatam papap, jajajam, persons who are engaged in pious activity. Activity means you should be pious, not pious. If we implicate ourselves in impious activities, then you will be more and more implicated in this material way of life, and from Brahman you can become a hog, or dog or an ant. In BG, chapter 15 also mentions about that. This is the law of nature. It is not that by evolutionary process if one has come to the human form of life that he is not going to be degraded. This is not what our shastras say . Our shastras say that there are 8.4 million species in this material world and once we fall from this human birth, we go through this 8. 4million species of lives to come to this human birth. So human birth is very valuable. If he does not believe in God consciousness, if he does not act nicely, then he is surely to degrade. This shows that our activity determines multiple things. One if we degrade from human form of life , our activities is such that we come back to human form of life and take another body with another set of senses and based on our actions we live our human life. And then there is a chance that we will transcend this cycle of birth and death.
So, whenever we set goals, we should set high goals, not low goals. Our goal should be to transcend and go back to Krishna. We don’t know if our next life will be human or degraded from human form and even if we get our next human life what is the guarantee that you will take up Krishna consciousness, our circumstances, where we are going to be born, what country, what family we don’t know any of these things. So best is focus on the present human form of life and engage all our actions in devotional service. There is no exam where you can do well without working towards it and this is the biggest exam of life. So, the Bhaktas position is that without waiting for bahu janma, or many births of struggling as Karmi, as Jnani or as Yogi, he immediately takes the opportunity of Lord Krishna’s instruction mentioned in BG chapter 7, 19th verse
bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ
After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.
Jnanavan, one who is actually mature and wise, he surrenders un to me. If that is point, if that is the aim of life, the bhaktas, the intelligent men or Bhaktas of the world take to this step immediately because they understand the Urgency. We are so fortunate we are in the association of devotees and understand the urgency so let’s not wait for many years . But some materialistic people have the attitude that devotional service should not be practiced young, that is not the age to practice the spiritual life, but it is the time to focus on your career ,kids etc. and spiritual life should be practiced later. If we see anything does not happen overnight. We can do little by little and everything incrementally add up and then we will be able to do more and more. If the wisdom does not take you to Krishna then that is not wisdom it is just material intellect. We are blessed to have good relationship in our life like a good family, neighbor’s, friends, books, association, or the people who brought us to Krishna consciousness. And it is our duty to take this instruction seriously.
As Krishna says in BG 18:66, Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.
So really Jnanavan, really wise man, he thinks that if after many, many births one has to come to this point of surrendering to Krishna, why not immediately? That is intelligence, that “ why I shall wait for many, many births, after being karmi or jnani or yogi. Let me immediately surrender”. Because this is the ultimate goal.
What we learned from BG: 7.28 is that:
1)Qualification of a devotee is to perform determined devotional service , acted piously in this and previous life- Thus ceasing to act according to desire and hate
2)Sinful actions and freedom from dualities of delusion are completely eradicated when practiced devotional service
3)We have to get freedom from dualities of delusion by cutting the reflection tree of this material world (BG chapter 15) with the axe of detachment and attachments should be channelized to Krishna then desire and hate will find no room in our heart
4)The verse explains the eligibility to elevate to transcendental position. Those who are sinful, atheistic, foolish and deceitful it is very difficult to transcend the duality of desire and hate
The process of being situated on the spiritual platform
1.Those who live practicing the regulative principles of religion, who have acted piously and who have conquered sinful reactions
2. Gradually they mediate and perform devotional service to the Lord
3. This elevation is possible in Krishna consciousness in the association of pure devotees.
Living entity can get liberation from bewilderment by devotional service or Krishna consciousness. This is possible by:
1. Association of great devotees (“mahat seva.”) and by the mercy of devotees ,door to liberation is open. devotees traverse the earth to recover the conditioned souls from their delusion. By association with materialistic people- will lead to the path to darkest region of existence.
Impersonalist lacks the following knowledge:
1. Forget one’s constitutional position as sub ordinate to Lord, eternal servitor, which is the greatest violation of God’s law
2. Only way to understand the Supreme personality of God head is – by reinstating one’s constitutional position and engaging in transcendental loving service with determination, consistency and purity will get us to that platform.
The devotees who know the truth about the Lord, can cross over Maya. Many subjects have been discussed in this chapter: the person in distress, the inquisitive one, the one in want of material necessities, knowledge of Brahman, knowledge of Paramatma, liberation from birth, death, old age and diseases, and worship of the Supreme Lord. However, he who is actually elevated in Krishna consciousness does not care for the different processes. He simply directly engages himself in activities of Krishna consciousness and thereby factually attains his constitutional position as an eternal servitor of lord Krishna. In such a situation he takes pleasure in hearing and glorifying the supreme lord in pure devotional service. He is convinced that by his doing so, all his objectives will be fulfilled. This determined faith is called drdha-vrata, and it is the beginning of Bhakti-yoga or transcendental loving service. If we focus on Krishna everything will fall in its place. That is the verdict of all scriptures and the seventh chapter of the Bhagavad gita is the substance of that conviction.