Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 10, Chapter 87, Text 24

SB 10.87.24

ka iha nu veda batavara-janma-layo ’gra-saram
 yata udagad rsir yam anu deva-gana ubhaye
tarhi na san na casad ubhayam na ca kala-javah
 kim api na tatra sastram avakrsya sayita yada
Everyone in this world has recently been born and will soon die. So how can anyone here know Him who existed prior to everything else and who gave rise to the first learned sage, Brahma, and all subsequent demigods, both lesser and greater? When He lies down and withdraws everything within Himself, nothing else remains — no gross or subtle matter or bodies composed of these, no force of time or revealed scripture.
Here the srutis express the difficulty of knowing the Supreme. Devotional service, or bhakti-yoga, as described in these prayers of the personified Vedas, is the surest and easiest path to knowledge of the Lord and to liberation. In comparison, the philosophic search for knowledge, known as jñana-yoga, is very difficult, favored though it is by those who are disgusted with material life but still unwilling to surrender to the Lord. As long as the finite soul remains envious of the Lord’s supremacy, the Lord does not reveal Himself. As He states in Bhagavad-gita (7.25):
naham prakasah sarvasya
mudho ’yam nabhijanati
 loko mam ajam avyayam
“I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent. For them I am covered by My internal potency, and therefore they do not know that I am unborn and infallible.” And in the words of Lord Brahma,
panthas tu koti-sata-vatsara-sampragamyo
 vayor athapi manaso muni-pungavanam
so ’py asti yat-prapada-simny avicintya-tattve
 govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
“I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, only the tip of the toe of whose lotus feet is approached by the yogis, who aspire after the transcendental and betake themselves to pranayama by drilling the respiration; or by the jñanis, who search out the undifferentiated Brahman by the process of elimination of the mundane, extending over thousands of millions of years.” (Brahma-samhita 5.34)
Brahma, the first-born living being in this universe, is also the foremost sage. He is born from Lord Narayana, and from him appear the hosts of demigods, including both the controllers of earthly activities and the rulers of heaven. All these powerful and intelligent beings are relatively recent productions of the Lord’s creative energy. As the first speaker of the Vedas, Lord Brahma should know their purport at least as well as any other authority, but even he knows the Personality of Godhead only to a limited extent. As Srimad-Bhagavatam states (1.3.35), veda-guhyani hrt-pateh: “The Lord of the heart hides Himself deep within the confidential recesses of the Vedic sound.” If Brahma and the demigods born from him cannot easily know the Supreme Lord, how then can mere mortals expect success in their independent pursuit of knowledge?
As long as this creation lasts, living beings face many obstacles on the path of knowledge. Because of identifying themselves with their material coverings, consisting of body, mind and ego, they acquire all sorts of prejudices and misconceptions. Even if they have the divine scripture to guide them and the opportunity to execute the prescribed methods of karma, jñana and yoga, the conditioned souls have but little power for gaining knowledge of the Absolute. And when the time of annihilation comes, the Vedic scriptures and their regulative injunctions become unmanifest, leaving the dormant jivas completely in darkness. Therefore we should abandon our futile endeavors for knowledge without devotion and simply surrender ourselves to the Supreme Lord’s mercy, heeding the advice of Lord Brahma:
jñane prayasam udapasya namanta eva
 jivanti san-mukharitam bhavadiya-vartam
sthane sthitah sruti-gatam tanu-van-manobhih
 ye prayaso jita jito ’py asi tais tri-lokyam
“Those who, even while remaining situated in their established social positions, throw away the process of speculative knowledge and with their body, words and mind offer all respects to descriptions of Your personality and activities, dedicating their lives to these narrations, which are vibrated by You personally and by Your pure devotees, certainly conquer Your Lordship, although You are otherwise unconquerable by anyone within the three worlds.” (Bhag. 10.14.3)
In this regard, the Taittiriya Upanisad (2.4.1) refers to the Supreme as yato vaco nivartante aprapya manasa saha, “where words cease, and where the mind cannot reach.” The Isopanisad (4) states:
anejad ekam manaso javiyo
 naitad deva apnuvan purvam arsat
tad dhavato ’nyan atyeti tisthat
 tasmin apo matarisva dadhati
“Although fixed in His abode, the Personality of Godhead is more swift than the mind and can overcome all others running. The powerful demigods cannot approach Him. Although in one place, He controls those who supply the air and rain. He surpasses all in excellence.” And in the Rg Veda (3.54.5) we find this mantra:
ko ’ddha veda ka iha pravocat
 kuta ayatah kuta iyam visrstih
arvag deva visarjanena-
 tha ko veda yata a babhuva
“Who in this world actually knows, and who can explain, whence this creation has come? The demigods, after all, are younger than the creation. Who, then, can tell whence this world has come into being?”
Srila Sridhara Svami thus prays:
kvaham buddhy-adi-samruddhah
 kva ca bhuman mahas tava
dina-bandho daya-sindho
 bhaktim me nr-hare disa
“What am I, a being entrapped by the material coverings of worldly intelligence and so on? And what are Your glories by comparison, O almighty one? O friend of the fallen, O ocean of mercy, Lord Nrhari, please bless me with Your devotional service.”
Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 10, Chapter 87, Text 23
Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 10, Chapter 87, Text 25