“In general warfare one must take help from his chariot and horses in order to conquer his enemy, and after conquering his enemies he may give up the chariot and its paraphernalia. Similarly, as long as one has a human body, one should fully use it to obtain the highest perfection of life, namely going back home, back to Godhead.”
This is from the Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.15.45
[This chapter of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, entitled “Instructions for Civilized Human Beings,” relates a conversation between the sage Narada and King Yudhisthira. Yudhisthira has asked Narada how a common man may achieve the perfection of life. Here, Narada offers some advice.]
As long as one has to accept a material body, with its different parts and paraphernalia, which are not fully under one’s control, one must have the lotus feet of his superiors, namely his spiritual master and the spiritual master’s predecessors. By their mercy, one can sharpen the sword of knowledge, and with the power of the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s mercy one must then conquer the enemies mentioned above. In this way, the devotee should be able to merge into his own transcendental bliss, and then he may give up his body and resume his spiritual identity.
A significant word here is acyuta-balah. The spiritual master is certainly very merciful to his disciples, and consequently by satisfying him a devotee gets strength from the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore says, guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija: one must first please the spiritual master, and then one automatically pleases Krishna and gets the strength with which to cross the ocean of nescience.
If one seriously desires to return home, back to Godhead, one must therefore become strong enough by pleasing the spiritual master, for thus one gets the weapon with which to conquer the enemy, and one also gets the grace of Krishna.
Simply getting the weapon of jñana [knowledge] is insufficient. One must sharpen the weapon by serving the spiritual master and adhering to his instructions. Then the candidate will get the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
In general warfare one must take help from his chariot and horses in order to conquer his enemy, and after conquering his enemies he may give up the chariot and its paraphernalia. Similarly, as long as one has a human body, one should fully use it to obtain the highest perfection of life, namely going back home, back to Godhead.