What is Religion?

Primarily, religion means to know God and to love Him. That is religion. Nowadays, because of a lack of training, nobody knows God, what to speak of loving Him.People are satisfied simply going to the places of worship  and praying, “O God, give us our daily bread.”

In the Srimad Bhagavatam, this is called cheating religion, because the aim is not to know and love God but to gain some personal profit.In other words, if I profess to follow some religion, but I do not know who God is or how to love Him, then I am practicing a cheating religion.Whoever teaches how to know God and how to love Him- he is a spiritual master. Sometimes bogus men mislead people. “I am God,” they claim, and people who do not know what God is, believe them.You must be a serious student  to understand who God is and how to love Him. Otherwise, you will simply waste your time.We are  presenting  the  science  of how  one  can  know  Krishna,  the  supreme  personality  of Godhead; by practicing the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam.They teach us that our only business is to love God. Our business is not to ask God for our necessities. God gives necessities to everyone - even to one who has no religion. For example, cats and dogs have no  religion,  yet Krishna  supplies  them  with  the  necessities  of life. So why should  we bother Krishna for our daily bread? He is already supplying it. Real religion means to learn how to love HimFirst class religion teaches one how to love God without  any motive. If I serve God for some profit, that is business- not love. Real love of God is ahaituki apratihata: it cannot be checked by any  material  cause.  It  is  unconditional.  If  one  actually  wants  to  love  God,  there  is  no impediment. One can love Him whether one is poor or rich, young or old, black or white.

There are four classes of men: the  karmis, the  jananis, the yogis and the  bhaktas - and  each achieves a different goal.The karmis work for some material profit. For example, in the city, many people work hard day and night, and their purpose is to get some money.A jnani is a person  who thinks,  “why am I working so hard? The birds, bees, elephants,  and other creatures have no profession, yet they are also eating. So why should I unnecessarily work so hard? Rather let me try to solve the problems of life-birth, death, old age and disease.” Jnanis try to become immortal.  They think  that  if they merge into  God’s existence,  then  they will become immune to birth, death, old age and disease.Yogis try to acquire some mystic power to exhibit a wonderful  show. For instance, a yogi can become very small if you put  him in a locked room and he can come out through  any little space. By showing this kind  of magic, the yogi is immediately  accepted  as a very wonderful man. Of course, modern  yogis simply show some gymnastics - they have no real power. But a real yogi has some power, which is not spiritual, but material.
But the bhakta or the devotee doesn’t want anything for himself. He simply wants to serve God out of love, just as a mother serves her child. There is no question of profit in a mother’s service to her child. Out of pure affection and love, she cares for him.When you come to this stage of loving God, that is perfection. Neither the karmi nor the jnani nor the yogi can know God- only the bhakta can know God. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad- gita: bhaktya mam abhijanati: “Only through  the process of bhakti  can one understand God.” Krishna never says one can understand Him by other processes. No. Only through  Bhakti can one understand Krishna. If you are interested  in knowing God and loving Him, then you must accept the devotional process. No other process will help you.

Source : Science of Self- realization ( His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada - Founder Acharya of ISKCON )

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