(Srila Prabhupada at the Kumbha-mela, Allahabad, January 1977)
Prabhupāda: So people do not understand that there is life after death. But Bhagavān says, "Yes, there is life after death." Tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ (BG 2.13). So dehāntara-prāpti, two kinds of dehāntara-prāpti: either towards the hell or towards heaven; towards liberation and towards bondage. So liberation means mahat-sevāṁ dvāram āhur vimukteḥ (SB 5.5.2). We want liberation. Then mahat-sevā: we have to take shelter of mahātmā. And, if you want to go to the darkest region of material existence, then yoṣitāṁ saṅgi-saṅgam (SB 5.5.2), sense enjoyment... Yoṣit means woman. So the last resort of sense enjoyment is sex life. So if we indulge in sex life, then yoṣitāṁ saṅgi-saṅgam. Not only directly we indulge in sex life, but even indirectly we associate with persons who are only interested in sex life... The whole world is interested in sex life. Puṁsaḥ striyā mithunī-bhāvam etat (SB 5.5.8). This material world is existing on this mithunī-bhāva. So tamo-dvāraṁ yoṣitāṁ saṅgi-saṅgam. Therefore you'll find in the Vedic way of life, sex indulgence is restricted. If we indulge in sex life (more) than it is absolutely required, then we are gliding towards hellish condition of life. And if we follow the path of mahātmās, mahat-sevā, that is dvāram āhur vimukteḥ. We are making progress towards liberation.
So this is a chance. This Kumbha-melā is a chance to get opportunity of mahat-sevā. Mahat-sevā dvāram āhur vimukteḥ. Many... Of course, it is Kali-yuga. There are so many so-called mahātmās in dress for earning livelihood. That kind of mahātmā is not required. Mahātmā is also described in the Bhagavad-gītā: sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ (BG 7.19). Actually we have to associate with such mahātmā who is su-durlabhaḥ, not very easily obtainable. And who is that su-durlabhaḥ mahātmā? That is also described:
bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ
So you'll get so many mahātmās who are declaring atheism: "There is no God. I am God. You are God. Where you are searching out God? The God is loitering in the street, the daridra-nārāyaṇa." If you associate with such mahātmā, so-called... They are not mahātmās. They are durātmās. (laughter) So be careful that you may not mistake who is mahātmā. Mahātmā, very simple thing: mahātmānas tu māṁ pārtha daivīṁ prakṛtim āśritāḥ (BG 9.13). Mahātmā has nothing to do with this material world. They are under the care of daivī-prakṛti, spiritual world. Mahātmānas tu māṁ pārtha daivī prakṛti..., bhajanty ananya-manaso. The symptom is that he's fully engaged in serving Kṛṣṇa. Mām. Kṛṣṇa is original, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So we have to catch up the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. Bahūnāṁ janmanām ante (BG 7.19). It is not very easy, but it can be done if we have got intelligence. Intelligence is... That Kṛṣṇa says. (banging sound) (aside:) Who is that making sound? Kṛṣṇa says, mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etāṁ taranti te (BG 7.14). If you take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, immediately—of course, we must take sincerely, not a show; everything is seriously—then immediately we become on the path of mahat-sevāṁ dvāram āhur vimukteḥ (SB 5.5.2).
So... And this line of devotional service is sevā, service. Ultimately we are all servants, but in the absence of being mahātmā, we are serving māyā. Service is there. We cannot become master. That is not possible. Jīvera svarūpa haya nitya kṛṣṇa dāsa (CC Madhya 20.108). So there are two things: Kṛṣṇa and māyā; light and shadow. If you don't serve Kṛṣṇa, then you have to serve māyā. And those who are serving māyā in the name of Kṛṣṇa, they are called Māyāvādī. Actually, they are serving māyā, but they say that they have become liberated. Vimukta-māninaḥ. They are described as vimukta-māninaḥ. Māninaḥ means one who is not actually the thing, but falsely one is thinking that "I am liberated. I have become equal with Nārāyaṇa." They are called vimukta-māninaḥ. Actually that is not the fact. So we shall be very careful to avoid these kind of mahātmās, who are thinking themselves as Nārāyaṇa, equal to Nārāyaṇa, or sometimes they claim greater than Nārāyaṇa. So we shall be very careful. This melā, there are so many so-called mahātmās. But the symptom of mahātmā is described in the Bhagavad-gītā: bhajanty ananya-manaso (BG 9.13). That is the qualification. And to become devotee of Kṛṣṇa, it is not at all difficulty. There is no difficulty. Anyone can become. Māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśritya ye 'pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ (BG 9.32). Even lowborn, they can also take shelter of Kṛṣṇa, and what to speak of... Kiṁ punar brāhmaṇāḥ puṇyā bhaktā rājarṣayas tathā (BG 9.33). If actually qualified brāhmaṇas, they take shelter, what to speak of... Their progress is very quick. Punyā. Without puṇyā background, sukṛti, nobody can take birth in the family or society of brāhmaṇas.
So brāhmaṇa... First of all, we have to become pure brāhmaṇa. Satya śamo dama titikṣa ārjava,
These are the brahminical qualification. Unfortunately, nobody is interested to become a brāhmaṇa, and what to speak of becoming a Vaiṣṇava. Vaiṣṇava is above the brāhmaṇas. Ṣaṭ-karma-nipuṇo vipro mantra-tantra-viśāradaḥ (Padma Purāṇa). Brāhmaṇa's business is sat-karma: paṭhan pāṭhan yajan yājan dāna pratigraha. So even a brāhmaṇa is very expert in this brāhmaṇa's business, paṭhan pāṭhan... He has studied Vedas very thoroughly, and he has many students whom he has taught the Vedic knowledge. This is paṭhan pāṭhan. Yajan yājan: he is expert in worshiping the Deity, and he teaches other disciples also. Śrī-vigrahārādhana-nitya-nānā-śṛṅgara-tan-mandira-mārj anādau. So there are brāhmaṇas who are not Vaiṣṇava, worshiper of demigods other than the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Such brāhmaṇa is not required. Such brāhmaṇas are condemned. Kāmais tais tair hṛta-jñānāḥ yajante anya-devatāḥ (BG 7.20). Anya-devatāḥ. The Viṣṇu is the original devatā, and then next devatā, Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, and then others. So they are all anya-devatāḥ.
Oṁ tad viṣṇoḥ paramaṁ padam (Ṛg Veda 1.22.20). So one has to worship Viṣṇu. That is Vaiṣṇava. Viṣṇur asya devatā iti vaiṣṇavaḥ. Vaiṣṇava means that he's not worshiper of any other demigods. There is no question of disrespect for any other demigods. But śaraṇaṁ śaraṇyam. But to take shelter of and to worship is recommended to the Supreme Lord—mām ekam—not everyone. We can show our respectful obeisances even to the ant, but worshipable Deity, or God, is Kṛṣṇa, or Viṣṇu, viṣṇu-tattva. There are many forms of Viṣṇu-tattva. Rāmādi-mūrtiṣu kalā-niyamena tiṣṭhan (Bs. 5.39). He's expanded in many forms: Rāma, Nṛsiṁha, Varāha... There are so many incarnation of viṣṇu-tattva. They're all one. Advaitam acyutam anādi ananta-rūpam (Bs. 5.33). So viṣṇu-tattva, worshipable, or kṛṣṇa-tattva, worshipable. And to pin our staunch faith in Viṣṇu, we should discuss about viṣṇu-tattva. And not viṣṇu-tattva... That is called siddhānta. Siddhānta boliyā citte nā kara alasa: "Don't be lazy to discuss about siddhānta." Ihā haite kṛṣṇe lāge sudṛḍha mānasa: "The more you discuss the thesis—not thesis; the factual presentation of viṣṇu-tattva, māyā, and jīva-tattva, śakti-tattva—then it will be clear what is Kṛṣṇa." Kṛṣṇa is the origin of everything. Ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate (BG 10.8). We should try to understand this fact, that Kṛṣṇa is the origin of everything. And if we take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness... Kṛṣṇe bhakti kaile sarva-karma kṛta haya (CC Madhya 22.62). If you become Kṛṣṇa conscious, then your all other duties automatically... The same example as we have given: if you pour water on the root of the tree, then all other duties are automatically done. There is no question of separate attempt—philanthropy, philosophy and nationalism, this "ism," that "ism." We have discovered so many things and diversion of the real duty. That we shall have to concentrate. That is siddhānta.
siddhānta boliyā citte nā kara alasa
iha haite kṛṣṇe lāge sudṛḍha mānasa
(CC Adi 2.117)
We become more and more faithful to Kṛṣṇa by understanding the siddhānta.
So māyāvādī-bhāṣya śunile haya sarva... (CC Madhya 6.169). For kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, to avoid this Māyāvādī philosophy, that "Everyone is God. I am God. You are God..." This is atheism. It is cheating atheism. One class of atheism is śūnyavādī: "There is no God." That we can understand, that he is atheist. "There is no God." He publicly declares, "We don't believe in God." But the Māyāvādīs are dangerous because they say that there is God, but without any form—no head, no leg. If you make "no, no, no," then where is the...? It becomes zero, ultimately. Go on making "no, no"—"No head, no tail, no hand, no..." So what remains? So this is another trick for saying there is no God. Therefore Caitanya Mahāprabhu has said that this class, who gives the negative definition of God—"Not this, not this, not this, not this"—the Māyāvādī, Māyā... They say, "Not this. This is māyā." So this Māyāvādī, they are greater atheist.
veda nā māniyā bauddha haya ta nāstika
vedāśraya nāstikya-vāda bauddhake adhika
(CC Madhya 6.168)
So it is very dangerous to associate with Māyāvādīs. Of course, those who are kaniṣṭha, they are..., who are fixed up in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, they can mix with anyone. Nobody can influence. They are protected. If one has become pure devotee, for preaching work he can go anywhere.
(Srila Prabhupada Morning Lecture, Allahabad, January 15, 1977)