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Continuing the explanation of the second chapter of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam with verses twenty-eight and twenty-nine:
“In the revealed scriptures, the ultimate object of knowledge is Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead. The purpose of performing sacrifice is to please Him. Yoga is for realizing Him. All fruitive activities are ultimately rewarded by Him only. He is supreme knowledge, and all severe austerities are performed to know Him. Religion [dharma] is rendering loving service unto Him. He is the supreme goal of life.”
The Vedas present various paths for spiritual advancement. These paths may seem to aim at different ends, like attainment of heaven, mystic powers, and impersonal liberation, so the Vedas may seem to lack a coherent purpose. Such imperfect understanding fails to recognize the true focus of all Vedic disciplines. The Vedas speak with a unified intelligence, working from all sides toward realization of the supremacy of Lord Vāsudeva and His devotional service. The word para repeated several times in these verses means “objective.” In all different Vedic processes, the objective is the same: to guide conditioned souls in acquiring education in the departments of sambandha, abhidheya, and prayojana. To reach this objective, candidates must establish their relationship with Lord Vāsudeva first in theory and then in practice. Having thus passed the courses of sambandha and abhidheya, they can then revive their lost loving relationship with Him.
Vedic yajñas are ostensibly offered to numerous demigods, but the demigods worshiped are only agents of the Lord of all sacrifice and receive offerings on His behalf. In exchange for the sacrifice, they give temporary rewards. These ritual yajñas are only a training ground for devotional worship to Lord Vāsudeva, who gives His devotees release from birth and death. The Mīmāṁsā theory of Jaimini correctly determines how to interpret the Vedas’ ritual injunctions, but by ruling that in the Vedas only these injunctions have real significance, it denies the importance of knowing the glories of the Supreme that the Upaniṣads teach.
Meditative yoga also is successful only when it reaches its goal of Vāsudeva realization. A yogī who dies without having become Kṛṣṇa conscious has to continue his endeavor in the next life. Yogīs and jñānīs may presume they are properly following Vedic instructions, but too often they neglect the difference between themselves and God, vainly attempting to become supreme themselves rather than assuming the correct role of servant of the Supreme. The Supreme kindly grants them repeated chances to overcome this misunderstanding, but it can take them any number of lifetimes.
Even though Vāsudeva is the name of God used here, the commentators on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in the line of Caitanya Mahāprabhu demonstrate clearly from many statements of the Bhāgavatam that the Vāsudeva Nārāyaṇa who rules in Vaikuṇṭha is a secondary expansion of the original Vāsudeva, the son of Vasudeva and Devakī.
Śrīla Prabhupāda in his purport discusses the two kinds of finite souls. He writes, “The living entities who are expanded by His internal potency are eternally liberated persons, whereas those who are expanded in terms of the material energies are eternally conditioned souls.” In this sentence, “expanded” should be understood as “influenced.” All jīvas are not material entities but pure living beings. Matter never produces life. Yet jīvas can be under the influence of either spirit or matter. Thus Śrīla Prabhupāda’s next sentence talks about “changing the quality of influence that is acting upon us.” Although fallen souls have been forgetful since time immemorial, their eternal conditioning can have an end when they faithfully follow the Vedic paths leading back to Kṛṣṇa.