“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.9)
जन्म कर्म च मे दिव्यम्
एवं यो वेत्ति तत्त्वतः
त्यक्त्वा देहं पुनर् जन्म
नैति माम् एति सो ऽर्जुन
janma karma ca me divyam
evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ
tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma
naiti mām eti so ‘rjuna
“I think one of the primary criticisms with other popular faiths around the world is the ease with which you can get salvation. This is not exclusive to the afterlife, but clemency for deeds committed in the past and the current while still alive.
“It is as though the savior has taken out a contract. ‘You do whatever you want and I will save you.’ It doesn’t make much sense. Sure, if I am accused of a crime and about to report to jail because of it, my friend can step in at the last moment and take the fall. Though they are innocent, they make this sacrifice for me.
“This does not mean I am free to commit crimes in the future. That is the flaw with the savior model, as I will refer to it. Vedic culture, on the other hand, is supposed to be rooted in intelligence. A philosophy that we can discuss, poke holes at, contemplate, really think about for an entire lifetime. The goal is to change consciousness; not necessarily to make a formal acknowledgment registered in an official book kept by an institution.
“Yet we have that one verse from Bhagavad-gita. Simply knowing the transcendental nature of Krishna’s appearance and activities guarantees liberation. Rebirth stops. No more appearance in the land of birth and death. Does that not seem a little too easy? Aren’t we bordering on faith exclusively, here?”
The key is to know in truth, tattva. I must really understand how Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is situated. This knowledge is based on a juxtaposition. If I know how Krishna’s janma is Divine, I will automatically know that other kinds of janma are not.
For instance, my appearance in this world is not Divine. You could say it was in the sense that all energies are ultimately under the direction of the Supreme Lord, but it was ordinary in the sense that I was forced to take birth, against my will.
I do not remember where I was previously. I do not recall asking to emerge from the specific womb, at the specific time, in that specific country. These factors were out of my control. The same applies to death. The rare few like Bhishmadeva and Hanuman can choose the time they will leave the world, but for most people it is unknown. The forces of nature decide.
As Krishna’s activities [karma] are also transcendental, I automatically know that mine are not. I am under the laws of ordinary karma. In the simplest way to explain, say that I am the victim of theft at some point. This means that I must have stolen from someone before. “What goes around, comes around.”
In the larger sense, karma means that I will suffer a consequence related to the development of a material body. A material body carries distinction; a difference between my true identity as individual spirit and the temporary abode consisting of various elements like earth, water, fire and wind.
We can go on with the explanation, which means that simply from knowing two things about Krishna we gain a clearer picture of an existence itself. If I know the all-attractive one in truth, I will understand the futility of the pursuit of temporary rewards such as beauty, wealth, strength and fame. Even longevity is not an indication of superiority, as the tree can stand in place for thousands of years, while other living entities come and go.
After knowing Shri Krishna in truth, I will not have to spin on the wheel of suffering anymore. Bhishmadeva contemplates Krishna at the time of death and merges into the transcendental body of Narayana. This is one kind of liberation, and the service that follows is everlasting and enduring, ensuring continued bliss in devotion: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Just from two things knowing,
Immediate to liberation going.
But not to blind faith the same,
Because first to knowledge came.
And understanding of world around,
That temporary not on solid ground.
Again and again to spin on wheel,
Truth of Krishna a better fate to seal.