|Canto 5: The Creative Impetus||Chapter 5: Lord Ṛṣabhadeva's Teachings to His Sons|
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 5.5.2
mahat-sevāḿ dvāram āhur vimuktes
tamo-dvāraḿ yoṣitāḿ sańgi-sańgam
mahāntas te sama-cittāḥ praśāntā
vimanyavaḥ suhṛdaḥ sādhavo ye
mahat-sevām — service to the spiritually advanced persons called mahātmās; dvāram — the way; āhuḥ — they say; vimukteḥ — of liberation; tamaḥ-dvāram — the way to the dungeon of a dark, hellish condition of life; yoṣitām — of women; sańgi — of associates; sańgam — association; mahāntaḥ — highly advanced in spiritual understanding; te — they; sama-cittāḥ — persons who see everyone in a spiritual identity; praśāntāḥ — very peaceful, situated in Brahman or Bhagavān; vimanyavaḥ — without anger (one must distribute Kṛṣṇa consciousness to persons who are hostile without becoming angry at them); suhṛdaḥ — well-wishers of everyone; sādhavaḥ — qualified devotees, without abominable behavior; ye — they who.
One can attain the path of liberation from material bondage only by rendering service to highly advanced spiritual personalities. These personalities are impersonalists and devotees. Whether one wants to merge into the Lord's existence or wants to associate with the Personality of Godhead, one should render service to the mahātmās. For those who are not interested in such activities, who associate with people fond of women and sex, the path to hell is wide open. The mahātmās are equipoised. They do not see any difference between one living entity and another. They are very peaceful and are fully engaged in devotional service. They are devoid of anger, and they work for the benefit of everyone. They do not behave in any abominable way. Such people are known as mahātmās.
The human body is like a junction. One may either take the path of liberation or the path leading to a hellish condition. How one can take these paths is described herein. On the path of liberation, one associate; with mahātmās, and on the path of bondage one associates with those attached to sense gratification and women. There are two types of mahātmās — the impersonalist and the devotee. Although their ultimate goal is different, the process of emancipation is almost the same. Both want eternal happiness. One seeks happiness in impersonal Brahman, and the other seeks happiness in the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As described in the first verse: brahma-saukhyam. Brahman means spiritual or eternal; both the impersonalist and the devotee seek eternal blissful life. In any case, it is advised that one become perfect. In the words of Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 22.87):
asat-sańga-tyāga, — ei vaiṣṇava-ācāra
'strī-sańgī' — eka asādhu, 'kṛṣṇābhakta' āra
To remain unattached to the modes of material nature, one should avoid associating with those who are asat, materialistic. There are two kinds of materialists. One is attached to women and sense gratification, and the other is simply a nondevotee. On the positive side is association with mahātmās, and on the negative side is the avoidance of nondevotees and women-hunters.
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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness