Srimad Bhagavatam 11.13.21 - Perfect Question Perfect Answer (download mp3)
by Nanda Dulal Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
ity aham munibhih prstas
yad avocam aham tebhyas
tad uddhava nibodha me
My dear Uddhava, the sages, being eager to understand the ultimate truth of the yoga system, thus inquired from Me. Now please hear as I explain that which I spoke unto the sages.
vastuno yady ananatva
atmanah prasna idrsah
katham ghateta vo vipra
vaktur va me ka asrayah
My dear brahmanas, if, when asking Me who I am, you believe that I am also a jiva soul and that there is no ultimate difference between us — since all souls are ultimately one without individuality — then how is your question possible or appropriate? Ultimately, what is the real situation or resting place both of yourselves and of Me?
Asraya means “the resting place” or “shelter.” Lord Krsna’s question “What is our actual resting place or shelter?” means “What is our ultimate nature or constitutional position?” This is because no one can come to rest or be satisfied unless one is in one’s natural position. The example is given that one may travel all over the world, but ultimately one becomes satisfied by returning to one’s own home. Similarly, a crying child is satisfied when embraced by its own mother. By inquiring about the shelter or resting place of Himself and the brahmanas, the Lord is indicating the eternal, constitutional position of every living entity.
If Lord Krsna were also in the jiva category, and if all living entities including Him were thus equal, there would be no deep purpose in one living entity inquiring and another answering. Only one who is in a superior position can meaningfully answer important questions. It may be argued that the bona fide spiritual master answers all the questions of the disciple, and yet the guru is in the jiva category. The answer is that the bona fide spiritual master speaks not on his own behalf but as a representative of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is in the Visnu category. A so-called guru speaking on his own behalf as a jiva soul is useless and is unable to meaningfully answer serious questions. Thus, the sages’ question ko bhavan (“Who are You?”) indicates that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is eternally an individual person. And because the sages headed by Lord Brahma offered obeisances and worshiped the Lord, it is understood that He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Brahma, as the first created being in this universe, could not accept any other living entity except the Lord as worshipable.
Lord Krsna’s actual purpose is to explain the ultimate perfection of yoga, which the sages were desiring to know. If one becomes fixed in transcendental knowledge, the mutual attraction between the material mind and the material sense objects automatically ceases. The spiritual mind is not attracted to material objects of gratification, and thus by spiritualizing the mind, material existence automatically slackens. By questioning the propriety of the sages’ question, the Lord is assuming the position of the spiritual master and preparing to give valuable instructions. One should never be envious of a bona fide spiritual master, especially if, as in the case of Lord Hamsa speaking to the sages headed by Brahma and Sanaka-kumara, the guru is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself.