"So if you want to understand Kṛṣṇa, then you have to take the life of devotion. And one who does not take to this life of devotion, he cannot understand Kṛṣṇa or Kṛṣṇa philosophy, Bhagavad-gītā. It is far, far away. My Guru Mahārāja used to say, 'It is just like licking the honey bottle.' One may come to the bottle filled with honey, but simply by licking the bottle, what taste he will get?
The honey must be opened. Then if you taste, you will know what is honey. Similarly, simply by taking Bhagavad-gītā and trying to understand it by so-called scholarship is licking up the honey bottle. That's all. There will be no taste. There will be no taste. You go on for many millions of years licking up that bottle, you'll never understand."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Ahmedabad, December 10, 1972)
"We have several times discussed this point that the so-called scholars, politicians and philosophers, they read Bhagavad-gītā and comment in a different way. This is their foolishness. They cannot understand Bhagavad-gītā. It is not possible. My Guru Mahārāja used to say, 'It is just like licking the bottle of honey.' Now you want honey. I give you one bottle, but you do not know how to taste it. You began to lick up the bottle. So what you will taste? If you think, 'Here is the bottle of honey. Let me lick,' you will not get any taste. It must be opened. But the opening key is with the devotee. You do not know how to open it. Therefore it is said, satāṁ prasaṅgān mama vīrya-saṁvido bhavanti hṛt-karṇa-rasāyanāḥ (SB 3.25.25). The devotees know how to open it, the bottle. And then they can taste."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Bombay, December 4, 1974)
"My Guru Mahārāja used to say that one who is licking up the bottle of honey. He is thinking that 'I am licking honey,' but that is impossible. Similarly, the so-called scholars when they comment on Bhagavad-gītā, they are licking up the bottle of honey. The taste of honey is different. That taste one can get when the bottle is opened. Then he can taste the Bhagavad-gītā. Otherwise licking up the bottle, that's all. If one is satisfied by licking up the bottle of honey, without tasting it. Then is he not a fool? (laughter)
The fools say 'I have got the honey!' but it is not opened.Therefore in Bhagavad-gītā it is said rahasyaṁ hy etad uttamam. Rahasyam, the transcendental secrecy of Bhagavad-gītā. That secret will not be opened to a so-called scholar or academic educated. It must be taken from the authorized person. Evaṁ paramparā prāptam (BG 4.2). By disciplic succession."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, New York, April 9, 1969)
"Kṛṣṇa says to Arjuna, I shall explain Bhagavad-gītā because you are my bhakta, bhakto 'si priyo 'si me (BG 4.3). So who can understand Bhagavad-gītā unless he is a bhakta of Kṛṣṇa? And therefore Kṛṣṇa selected Arjuna. Arjuna was not a Vedāntist, he was a householder, kṣatriya, fighter, soldier. A soldier is not expected to be Vedāntist. Neither very much well versed in all the Vedic literature. That is not the business of kṣatriya, that is the business of the brāhmaṇa. Brāhmaṇa is paṇḍita but kṣatriya is not supposed to become a paṇḍita. But still Kṛṣṇa selected him. 'Arjuna I shall speak to you the same old story which I spoke to... imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ proktavān aham avyayam, (BG 4.1) that is now lost. Therefore I shall revive it again, and I shall speak to you because you are my bhakta you are my friend.'
So this is the qualification of understanding of Bhagavad-gītā. First of all to become a devotee of Kṛṣṇa otherwise it is licking the bottle of honey. Here is honey, oh it is honey, and if you go on licking at the bottle what taste you will get? It must be opened then inside, rahasyaṁ hy etad uttamam, (BG 4.3) and who can open? The devotee can open. Otherwise lick up... go on by licking the bottle for many thousands of years you will never taste what is within."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Bombay, April 13, 1974)
"You cannot taste the sweetness of honey by licking up the bottle. It must be... There must be some expert who can open it, and then you can taste. So they are trying to taste the honey in the bottle by their own imagination and licking up the bottle. Where is the taste? Otherwise why Kṛṣṇa says,
tad viddhi praṇipātena
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
One who has seen, one who knows where is the honey... go there, and he'll open, and you'll understand."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Bombay, December 20, 1975)
"So when the ātmā, Paramātmā, reveals Himself to somebody, he can understand. And that revelation is possible when you are a bhakta. Otherwise, it is not... It clearly says, bhaktyā mām abhijānāti (BG 18.55). It never says, 'By brain one can understand.' Never says, 'By speculation one can understand.' No, this is not the process. Bhaktyā mām abhijānāti yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ. In the beginning, He said kaścin vetti māṁ tattvataḥ. Yatatām api siddhānām (BG 7.3). Those who are siddhas, already liberated, out of them, many, many, still, they are unable to understand, tattvataḥ, in truth. But here He says, bhaktyā mām abhijānāti yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ (BG 18.55). Only through bhakti one can understand in truth what is Kṛṣṇa. Otherwise it is not possible. Because one is scholar he can understand Kṛṣṇa, that is not the fact."
(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, Washington DC, July 6, 1976)
"Bhagavad-gītā is there. Kṛṣṇa is there. The instruction is there. If you take it, then it will immediately change the face of the whole world—immediately, without difficulty. But we are so stubborn, doggish, that we don't. We manufacture. This is going on. We are standing against the stubborn, doggish mentality. We have got no difficulty, at the same time, very, very difficult task. No difficulty—if you accept Bhagavad-gītā as it is, no difficulty. But you don't accept—there is great difficulty. In the foreign countries they are not stubborn, doggish. They accept what we say in the Bhagavad-gītā. Therefore these young men, they have very easily become devotees."
(Srila Prabhupada Evening Darsana, Hrisikesh, May 9, 1977)
"I may say that this practical devotion is the secret to understanding the Sastras. My Guru Maharaj used to say that for one who is not engaged in devotional service, reading all the books is simply like licking the outside of the honey jar. One who thinks the books is the thing is content in this way. But we should learn the secret to open the jar and taste the honey. In this way, if we can simply understand one book, or one sloka, the perfection is there. Lord Chaitanya warned about reading too many books, although I see in America this is very popular to get volumes and volumes of books and not understand one. Anyway by sincerely working by carefully executing the instructions of the Spiritual Master, you will be all successful by Krishna's Grace. I am always praying to Krishna for your advancement in Krishna Consciousness, all of you, sincere souls."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, February 17, 1968)