Perfection in Worship

The word vedänta means the end result of knowledge. It is a reference to the Upanishads, the final books of the Vedic revelation or Çruti. These books contain the mystic insights of the rishis and are considered to be the basis for all spiritual knowledge in India. The Lords incarnation, Vedavyäsa, the compiler of the Vedic literature, also composed the Vedanta sutras, or Brahma sutras, in order to summarize the teachings of the Upanishads. The word sutra means aphorism, or code, a short, enigmatic statement meant to remind one of an entire aspect of the Upanishadic teaching.Thus, sutras are the texts which stand as the basis of all religious philosophy in India. Indeed, the founders of every school of Indian philosophy (Çaìkara, Rämänuja, Vallabha, Vishnusvämé, Mädhva and Nimbärka) have all written commentaries or bhäñyas on the sutras in order to explain their understanding of the supreme truth. The Gauòéya Vaishnava school founded by Chaitanya Mahäprabhu also has an authoritative commentary on this important scripture, the Govinda-bhäñya of Baladeva Vidyäbhüñaëa. For the Gauòéyas, however, the unblemished commentary on the Vedanta Sutra is the Çrémad Bhägavatam, also composed by Vyäsadeva, where the three aspects of spiritual knowledge, sambandha, abhidheya and prayojana, are clearly enunciated.The Vedanta Sutra is divided into four chapters or adhyäyas, and each is further subdivided into four pädas. The first and second chapters deal with sambandha-tattva, the third with abhidheya-tattva, and the fourth with prayojana. The first chapter of the Vedanta Sutra is called samanvaya, or synthesis, for it organizes all the ideas of the Vedas and the Upanishads into an orderly whole centered around the concept of Brahman, the Supreme Truth. The second chapter is called avirodha, which means consistency or harmony. According to Baladeva Vidyäbhüñaëa, in this chapter all apparently inconsistent scriptural statements are shown to point harmoniously to the one Brahman, or Supreme Lord1 (tad evam aviruddhänäà çruténäà samanvayaù sarveçvare siddhaù). The third chapter is named sädhana, or the means. It discusses devotion, which is the only means for attaining Brahman. The fourth chapter is known as phala, or the result. The term prayojana, or ultimate purpose, is also used to indicate the attainment of Brahman.Çré Chaitanya Mahäprabhu made the teachings of the Vedanta more explicit to His disciples and His explanations were mercifully recorded by Krishnadäsa Kaviräja Gosvämé in the Chaitanya Charitämåta:vedaçästra kahe sambandha abhidheya prayojanakåñëa präpya sambandha bhakti präptyera sädhanaabhidheyanäma bhakti prema prayojanapuruñärthaçiromaëi prema mahädhanaThe Vedic knowledge is subdivided into three parts known as sambandha (relations), abhidheya (procedure) and prayojana (the aim or end). The knowledge of Krishna as the goal of spiritual life is called sambandha. The knowledge that devotion is the means of attaining Him and acting accordingly is called abhidheya. The ultimate goal of life, or prayojana, is love of Krishna or prema. This prema is the greatest treasure of spiritual life and is foremost amongst all the objectives of human life. (Chaitanya Charitämåta 2.20.124-125) Elsewhere, Krishnadäsa repeats the same thing even more succinctly:

vedaçästre kahe sambandha abhidheya prayojanakåñëa kåñëabhakti prema tina mahädhana

The Vedic knowledge is subdivided into three parts known as sambandha (relations), abhidheya (procedure) and prayojana (the aim or end). These three great treasures are Krishna, devotion to Krishna, and love for Krishna.In the Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu(1.1.1) Krishna is stated to be the akhila-rasämåta-mürti or personification of all twelve aesthetic and relational experiences known as rasa. According to sambandha knowledge, Krishna is the Supreme Truth. The only means to attain Him is bhakti or devotion, and love for Him is the ultimate objective of spiritual practices.

By Srila Bhakti Pramod Puri Goswami Maharaj (Founding Acharya of Sri Gopinath Gaudiya Math)