|Canto 11: General History||Chapter 2: Mahārāja Nimi Meets the Nine Yogendras|
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.2.31
dharmān bhāgavatān brūta
yadi naḥ śrutaye kṣamam
yaiḥ prasannaḥ prapannāya
dāsyaty ātmānam apy ajaḥ
dharmān bhāgavatān — the science of devotional service; brūta — please speak; yadi — if; naḥ — of us; śrutaye — to hear properly; kṣamam — there is the capacity; yaiḥ — by which (devotional service); prasannaḥ — being satisfied; prapannāya — to one who has taken shelter; dāsyati — He will give; ātmānam — Himself; api — even; ajaḥ — the unborn Supreme Lord.
Please speak about how one engages in the devotional service of the Supreme Lord, if you consider me capable of properly hearing these topics. When a living entity offers loving service to the Supreme Lord, the Lord is immediately satisfied, and in return He will give even His own self to the surrendered soul.
Within the material world there are two classes of mundane philosophers who present their opinions about the Supreme Lord. Some so-called theologians claim that we are infinitely different from God, and therefore they tend to look upon the Lord as something far beyond our power to understand. Such extreme dualistic philosophers outwardly or officially claim to be pious and religious believers in God, but they consider God so much different from that which is within our experience that according to them there is little profit in even trying to discuss the personality or attributes of the Supreme Lord. Such outwardly faithful persons generally take to fruitive activities and gross materialistic sense gratification, being infatuated with the mundane relationships of the material world, which appear under the headings society, friendship and love.
The advaita-vādīs, or nondualistic philosophers, claim that there is no difference between God and the living entity and that the highest goal of life is to give up our personal existence, which is due to illusion, and merge into the impersonal Brahman effulgence, which is devoid of name, form, paraphernalia and personality. Thus neither class of speculative philosopher is able to understand the transcendental Personality of Godhead.
Caitanya Mahāprabhu, in His sublime teaching of acintya-bhedābhedha-tattva, or simultaneous oneness and difference, has clearly demonstrated that we are qualitatively one with God but quantitatively different. God is personal consciousness, and He has His personal form. Similarly we are also personal consciousness, and ultimately, when liberated, we also have eternal forms. The difference is that the eternal form and personality of the Supreme Lord contain unlimited potency and opulence whereas our potency and opulence are infinitesimal. We are conscious of our personal body, whereas Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Absolute Truth, is conscious of everyone's body, as stated in Bhagavad-gītā (kṣetra-jñaḿ cāpi māḿ viddhi sarva-kṣetreṣu bhārata). But although God is infinitely greater than the living entity, both God and the living entities are eternal personalities with form, activities and feelings.
The Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, expands Himself into innumerable living entities to enjoy rasas, or ecstatic relationships, with them. The living entities are part and parcel of Lord Kṛṣṇa, and they are meant to serve Him with love. Although the Supreme Lord is eternally the predominator and the living entity is eternally the predominated, when the living entity surrenders unto the Lord with a sincere loving attitude, desiring to serve the Lord eternally without the slightest expectation of personal reward for such service, the Lord immediately is pleased, as expressed here by the word prasannaḥ. Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is so unlimitedly merciful and magnanimous that in His gratitude to such a surrendered and loving servitor, He is immediately inclined to offer anything, even Himself, to His surrendered devotee.
There are numerous practical, historical examples of this loving propensity of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Because of the love of Mother Yaśodā, child Kṛṣṇa, in His form as Dāmodara, surrendered Himself to His loving mother and allowed Himself to be bound with ropes as a childhood punishment. Similarly, feeling indebted to the Pāṇḍavas for their intense love for Him, Kṛṣṇa in His form as Pārtha-sārathi happily agreed to drive the chariot of Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana is always thinking of ways to satisfy the gopīs, who are universally recognized as the most exalted loving devotees of the Lord.
Such intense loving feelings exchanged between the Lord and His pure devotees would not be possible were the living entities not qualitatively one with the Supreme Personality of Godhead and indeed inseparable parts and parcels of the Lord. On the other hand, because both the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the living entities are eternally individuals, each with his own eternal individual consciousness, such loving exchanges are a perpetual reality in the kingdom of God. In other words, absolute oneness with God and absolute difference from God are theoretical imaginations of different schools of speculative philosophy. The perfection of spiritual love, as described in this verse, is based on simultaneous oneness and difference, and this absolute reality was elaborately presented by Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself in His brahminical incarnation as Caitanya Mahāprabhu. The followers of Caitanya Mahāprabhu have expounded this perfect doctrine in innumerable books, culminating in the teachings of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, who has most perfectly presented this knowledge in a way that is understandable not only in India but to all the people of the world. Our present insignificant attempt is simply to complete his translation and commentary on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and we are constantly praying for his guidance so that this work can simply be completed exactly as he would have desired. If one can understand these teachings of Caitanya Mahāprabhu as they are being presented in Western languages, surely the Lord will be satisfied with such a sincere seeker of spiritual truth.
Copyright © The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
His Holiness Hrdayananda dasa Goswami
Gopiparanadhana dasa Adhikari
Dravida dasa Brahmacari