Question : WHAT IS THE ULTIMATE RELIGIOUS PRINCIPLE ?
Answer : BY SRILA PRABHUPADA.
etavan eva loke ‘smin
pumsam dharmah parah smṛtah
Devotional service, beginning with the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, is the ultimate religious principle for the living entity in human society. (Srimad Bhagavatam).
As stated in the previous verse, dharmam bhagavatam, real religious principles, are bhagavata-dharma, the principles described in Śrīmad-Bhagavatam itself or in Bhagavad-gīta, the preliminary study of the Bhagavatam. What are these principles?
The Bhagavatam says, dharmah projjhita-kaitavo ‘tra: [SB 1.1.2] in Śrīmad-Bhagavatam there are no cheating religious systems. Everything in the Bhagavatam is directly connected with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Bhagavatam further says, sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhokṣaje: [SB 1.2.6] the supreme religion is that which teaches its followers how to love the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is beyond the reach of experimental knowledge.
Such a religious system begins with tan-nama-grahana, chanting of the holy name of the Lord (śravanam kīrtanam viṣnoh smaranam pada-sevanam [SB 7.5.23]). After chanting the holy name of the Lord and dancing in ecstasy, one gradually sees the form of the Lord, the pastimes of the Lord and the transcendental qualities of the Lord. This way one fully understands the situation of the Personality of Godhead.
One can come to this understanding of the Lord, how He descends into the material world, how He takes His births and what activities He performs, but one can know this only by executing devotional service. As stated in Bhagavad-gīta, bhaktya mam abhijanati: [Bg. 18.55] simply by devotional service one can understand everything about the Supreme Lord. If one fortunately understands the Supreme Lord in this way, the result istyaktva deham punar janma naiti: [Bg. 4.9] after giving up his material body, he no longer has to take birth in this material world. Instead, he returns home, back to Godhead. That is the ultimate perfection. Therefore Kṛṣna says in Bhagavad-gīta (8.15):
mam upetya punar janma
samsiddhim paramam gatah
After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogīs in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection. (Bhagavad-Gita As It Is).
Since this temporary material world is full of the miseries of birth, old age, disease and death, naturally he who achieves the highest perfection and attains the supreme planet, Kṛṣnaloka, Goloka Vṛndavana, does not wish to return.
The supreme planet is described in Vedic literature as avyakta and akṣara andparama gati; in other words, that planet is beyond our material vision, and it is inexplicable, but it is the highest goal, the destination for the mahatmas (great souls).
The mahatmas receive transcendental messages from the realized devotees and thus gradually develop devotional service in Kṛṣna consciousness and become so absorbed in transcendental service that they no longer desire elevation to any of the material planets, nor do they even want to be transferred to any spiritual planet. They only want Kṛṣna and Kṛṣna’s association, and nothing else. That is the highest perfection of life.
This verse specifically mentions the personalist devotees of the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣna. These devotees in Kṛṣna consciousness achieve the highest perfection of life. In other words, they are the supreme souls.