By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Big, big sannyāsīs, they are discussing sāṅkhya-yoga, metaphysics. Or analyzing what is spirit, what is matter. Neti neti: “Not this.” This is called sāṅkhya-yoga. And sāṅkhya-yoga, original sāṅkhya-yoga means bhakti-yoga. Because the sāṅkhya-yoga system philosophy was spoken by Kapiladeva, the son of Devahūti. That is purely bhakti-yoga.
Later on, one atheist, he also assumed the name of Kapila and discussed sāṅkhya-yoga. That is materialistic analysis. The sāṅkhya-yoga system of philosophy is very much liked in Europe and Western countries because it is a system of metaphysics, analyzing the whole cosmic manifestation. There are twenty-four tattvas (elements). Just like these five tattvas, material elements: earth, water, air, fire, ether. Then ten senses: five senses for acquiring knowledge and five senses for enjoying. Then five principles of enjoyment. Anyway, there are twenty-four elements, and mind, intelligence, ego, and the principal, soul. In this way there are twenty-four elements. The sāṅkhya yogis, they very much analyze this study. They are of the opinion that besides these twenty-four elements, there is nothing more. No. There is. The twenty-four elements, one who is combining and annihilating, that is the Supreme Lord, pradhāna, Vishnu.
So sāṅkhya-yoga, either you take this Kapiladeva’s philosophical principle or that Kapiladeva, that’s all right. But after analyzing, if you do not find out Nārāyaṇa, the creator of this material atmosphere, material elements, then it is useless laboring – so much hard (labour), for analyzing. Just like the chemist or physicist, they are also analyzing the material elements within the laboratory. But that does not mean they are going to be liberated at the end of life. No. Or if you want to be liberated… Because after all, you are spirit soul. You are entangled with these twenty-four elements. So your real business is how to get out of it. That is wanted. Suppose if you are a diseased fellow, or you analyze the disease. Just like in pathology – The doctor examines your blood and he finds out, “This is infection, that is infection, this is this, this is this.” That’s all right. But simply by understanding the blood analysis, pathology, does not mean it is cured. The cure is different.
Similarly, these sāṅkhya-yogī philosophers, they may analyze very critically. Even they can count the atoms which is composing this whole material atmosphere. But that does not mean you have understood the original force which has created all these things. That is discussed here. Etāvān sāṅkhya-yogābhyām. So you become a very big scientist, very big physicist, chemist. That is all right. But you must know how to remember Nārāyaṇa at the time of your death.
An interesting story has been described by our Satsvarūpa Mahārāja in the Back to Godhead: The learned scholar and the boatman. In Bengal there are many rivers, and so people generally travel by boat service. So a learned scholar from Calcutta, say, was going home in the village on a boat, and he was very happy. So he was asking the boatman, “My dear boatman, do you know what are these stars, this astronomy, how they are working?” “No, sir, I do not know.” “Oh, your life is twenty-five percent lost. You do not know anything.” Then after some time, “You know the geology, how this earth, water, they are working?” “No, sir, I am poor man. What can I know?” “Oh, your fifty percent of your life is lost.” Then all of a sudden there was a cloud, black cloud on the sky, and there was storm. Then at that time the boatman asked, “Sir, do you know how to swim?” “No, I do not know.” “Then one hundred percent you have lost. (laughter) You are going to be drowned.” He jumped and he drowned.
So this is the point. So you are trying to understand the whole analytical study of the material world. That is very good. But if you do not know how to remember Nārāyaṇa at the time of death, then you are going to be cats and dogs. That’s all. Because you are very fond of dog. Especially in the Western countries, every gentleman, every lady has a dog. So what will you think at the time of death? Dog. So that is nature’s law. Yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ tyajaty ante kalevaram [Bg. 8.6]. You will find in the Bhagavad-gita. At the time of death, the mental condition which you have created, that will carry you to the next body. Therefore don’t create your mind doggish. Make it Krishna conscious. And that is very nice. Then at the time of death you remember Krishna and you will be transferred to the Krishnaloka. That is described: etāvān sāṅkhya-yogābhyām. Therefore it is advised, “Whatever you may be, it doesn’t matter. Practice Krishna consciousness. That will save you.
[An excerpt from a lecture delivered on the Srimad Bhagavatam 2.1.6 on June 14, 1974 in Paris]