Srimad Bhagavatam 11.19.04 - Sustainable Bhakti is Facilitated by Spiritual Knowledge (download mp3)
by Keshav Chandra Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
tapas tirtham japo danam
nalam kurvanti tam siddhim
ya jñana-kalaya krta
That perfection which is produced by a small fraction of spiritual knowledge cannot be duplicated by performing austerities, visiting holy places, chanting silent prayers, giving in charity or engaging in other pious activities.
Jñana here refers to a clear understanding of the Lord’s supreme dominion over all that be, and this realized knowledge is nondifferent from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That the Lord is supreme is confirmed in the previous verse by the words padam srestham vidur mama. One may perform penances or visit holy places with a proud mentality or material motivation; similarly, one may chant prayers to God, give charity or perform other externally pious activities with many bizarre, hypocritical or even demoniac motivations. Realized knowledge of the supremacy of Lord Krsna, however, is a solid connection with the spiritual world, and if one pursues this holy understanding one is gradually promoted to the highest level of conscious existence, called Vaikuntha, or the kingdom of God.