By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupadamanuśyānām sahasresu kaścid yatati siddhaye yatatām api siddhānām kaścin mām vetti tattvatah “Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.” [Bg. 7.3]
To understand Krishna is not a very easy thing. Krishna says that manusyānām sahasresu, “Out of many millions and millions, one person tries to become perfect.” Who is going to become perfect, especially in this age? Everyone is working like cats and dogs. That’s all. Whole day working for eating, sleeping, sex and
defense, that’s all. They are not manusyas (human beings). Āhāra-nidrā-bhaya-maithunam ca sāmānyam etat paśubhih narānām. I eat; the dog eats. So what is the difference between eating by the dog and me? He is eating according to his taste. I am eating also. The eating business is there in the dog also. Do not think that because you are eating on table, chair, plates, nice preparation, it is eating. People are thinking, “Because I am eating on table, chair and nice dish and nice preparation, therefore I am civilized.” The śāstra says that it may be a different style of taking the eatables, but it is eating. That is even in dog. It does not make any difference. You are not civilized. Similarly sleeping. The dog can sleep on the street without caring for anything. We cannot sleep without nice apartment. Similarly for sex intercourse. Dog has no shame. It can enjoy sex on the street, but we have got some restriction, but the sex is there. Similarly, defense also. Bhaya means to take care of fearfulness. That is there in the dog and in you also. It does not make any difference. Because you have discovered the atomic bomb for defense, it does not mean that you are better than a dog. This is śastric injunction. The dog has to defend himself according to his intelligence and you are defending yourself according to your intelligence.
So this business, four things – eating, sleeping, mating and defending – is common. Āhāra-nidrā-bhaya-maithunam sāmānyam etat. Then what is the special advantage of human life? The special advantage is athāto brahma jijñāsā. Jīvasya tattva-jijñāsā. You should be inquisitive to know the Absolute Truth. The dog cannot do it. That is the distinction between dog and human being. In the human form of life there should be inquiry about Brahman (self), Parabrahman (God). That is human life. So after inquiring what is Brahman, Parabrahman, janmādy asya yatah (the original source of everything) [SB 1.1.1], when you attain brahma-jñāna (knowledge of God), that is your perfection (brahma-bhūtah). Not that you compete with the dog in eating, sleeping, mating and defending. That is not civilization. That is not perfection of life. Na te viduh svārtha-gatim hi visnum [SB 7.5.31]. These foolish men, animalistic, dogs and cats, two-legged animals, they do not know what is the aim of life.
The aim of life is to understand Visnu, the Supreme Lord. Durāśayā ye bahir-artha-māninah: They are trying to become happy in the bahir-artha, in the external energy of God, material energy. And the so-called leaders, politicians, philosophers, scientists, they’re all blind. They do not know what the aim of life is. Still, they are leading the whole society.na te viduh svārtha-gatim hi visnum durāśayā ye bahir-artha-māninah andhā yathāndhair upanīyamānās te ‘pīśa-tantryām uru-dāmni baddhāh [SB 7.5.31]
Uru-dāmni baddhāh. Uru means very strong, and dāmni means rope. Just like if I tie you with very strong rope, it is very difficult to open it, and you are put into difficulty. Similarly, we are in this material world tied very tight with the laws of material nature. And still we are declaring, “I am free. I am independent; I can do whatever I like.” This is called imperfection. As long as we are in the bodily concept of life and think ourselves to be free to do anything, we are in ignorance or darkness. Tama means darkness.
So Vedic injunction is tamasi mā jyotir gama. “Do not remain in darkness.” This is darkness. Darkness means “I am this body, and to fulfill the necessities of my body is the highest perfection of my life.” Everyone is trying for that, competition. Everyone is trying to have a skyscraper building and three Rolls Royce cars and so on, so on. They think that this is the perfection of life, durāśayā ye bahir-artha-māninah [SB 7.5.31], this material energy’s production. But you do not pause to think that “How many years I shall enjoy this skyscraper building? And what is my main business? My main business is how to become perfect.” There are many animals within the skyscraper building. There are human beings, there are dogs, there are cats, and there are worms, rats, so many things. So the facility to live in the skyscraper building is there even to the worms, cats, rats, everyone. Then what is the difference between these animals and me? The difference is how to become perfect, siddhi, svarūpa-siddhi. “What I am? Am I this body?” This should be the question. Athāto brahma jijñāsā.
So Krishna says here that “Ultimate goal is to understand Me,” vetti mām tattvatah, to understand Krishna in fact, in truth, not superficially. That is required. vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyah [Bg. 15.15]. If you are a great scholar studying all kinds of literature, Vedas, then you must know Krishna. If you do not understand Krishna and simply you study Vedas, it is useless waste of time.dharmah svanusthitah pumsām visvaksena-kathāsu yah notpādayed yadi ratim śrama eva hi kevalam [SB 1.2.8]
You are executing your occupational duties very nicely honestly. That is all right. But after executing your duties very honestly and nicely, if you do not awaken your dormant Krishna consciousness, then śrama eva hi kevalam. You are simply wasting your time – useless. When you understand Krishna, then it is the highest perfection. Samsiddhim paramām gatāh. So nobody is interested. Therefore Krishna says, manusyānām sahasresu: [Bg. 7.3] “Out of many millions of persons, one may be interested.” Otherwise all are in darkness.
So what is that siddhi (perfection)? To understand one’s constitutional position, “Who am I?” I am trying to lord if over the material nature in so many ways. Is that my position? But I am failure. I am trying to lord it over the material nature as a big man, as the minister or as the zamindar, as the big business magnate, and when I am failure, then I want to become God. That is another ambition. So this is not self-realization. The self-realization is that “I am trying to lord it over the material nature in so many ways, but it is becoming baffled. Why? Why it is becoming baffled? And with great endeavor, by political movements, I become the head of the political institution of the state, but I do not wish to die. Death comes and it takes away everything – my political position, my wealth, my family and everything.” Mrtyuh sarva-haraś cāham [Bg. 10.34]. “Who is taking that? That is Krishna.”
So when we realize that, that “I am trying to accumulate so many things, but Krishna is taking away,” then why don’t you surrender to Krishna so that He may not take away your position? That is intelligence… That is siddhi – that “I am not independent. I am trying independently, but it is not possible. I am dependent. I am eternal servant of Krishna.” That is self-realization. That has been taught by Chaitanya Mahāprabhu. Jīvera svarūpa haya nitya-Krishna-dāsa [Cc. Madhya 20.108-109]. The Brahman realization aham brahmāsmi, that is liberation from material conception of life that “I am not this matter. I am not this body, but I am spirit soul.” Aham brahmāsmi: That is the first step of self-realization. But that is not final. The final realization is that “I am eternal servant of Krishna.” That is final realization. So long you do not come to this position, the final constitutional position, that “We are eternal servant of Krishna,” real knowledge is lacking; there is no perfection of knowledge.