Chapter 6: Devahūti Desires Transcendental Knowledge
nirviṇṇā nitarāṁ bhūmann
prapannāndhaṁ tamaḥ prabho
Devahūti said: I am very sick of the disturbance caused by my material senses, for because of this sense disturbance, my Lord, I have fallen into the abyss of ignorance.
Here, at the beginning of Devahūti’s questionings, the word asad-indriya-tarṣaṇāt is signiﬁcant. Asat means “impermanent,” “temporary,” indriya means “senses,” and tarṣaṇāt refers to agitation. Thus asad-indriya-tarṣaṇāt means “from being agitated by the temporarily manifest senses of the material body.” We are evolving through different species of material bodily existence – sometimes in a human body, sometimes in an animal body – and therefore the engagements of our material senses are also changing. Anything which changes is called temporary, or asat. We should know that beyond these temporary senses are our permanent senses, which are now covered by the material body. The permanent senses, being contaminated by matter, are not acting properly. Devotional service, therefore, involves freeing the senses from this contamination. When the contamination is completely removed and the senses act in the purity of unalloyed Kṛṣṇa consciousness, we have then attained sad-indriya, or eternal sense activities. Eternal sensory activities are called devotional service, whereas temporary sensory activities are called sense gratiﬁcation. Unless one becomes tired of material sense gratiﬁcation, there is no opportunity to hear transcendental messages from a person like Kapila. Devahūti expressed that she was tired. Now that her husband had left home, she wanted to get relief by hearing the instructions of Lord Kapila.
The Vedic literatures describe this material world as darkness. Actually it is dark, and therefore we require sunlight, moonlight and electricity. If it were not by nature dark, why would we require so many arrangements for artiﬁcial light? The Vedas enjoin that we should not remain in darkness: tamasi mā jyotir gamaya. We are instructed to go to the light, and that light is the spiritual world, which is directly lighted by the effulgence, or bodily rays, of Kṛṣṇa. As stated in Brahma-saṁhitā (5.40):
yasya prabhā prabhavato jagad-aṇḍa-koṭi-
tad brahma niṣkalam anantam aśeṣa-bhūtaṁ
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
“I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is endowed with great power. The glowing effulgence of His transcendental form is the impersonal Brahman, which is absolute, complete and unlimited and which displays the varieties of countless planets, with their different opulences, in millions and millions of universes.”
Animals have no ability to know that they are in darkness, but human beings can know. Like Devahūti, an intelligent person should become disgusted with the darkness of ignorance. Na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (2.20), there is neither birth nor death for the soul. The soul is not destroyed when the body is annihilated. The soul puts bodies on and takes them off like clothes. This simple knowledge is instructed in the beginning of Bhagavad-gītā, yet there are many big scholars and leaders who still cannot understand that the body is different from the person. This is because they do not study Bhagavad-gītā in the proper way. Consequently no one is fully aware or convinced that the real person is not the body. This is called darkness, and when one is disgusted with this darkness, human life begins.
One who has become disgusted with material existence needs the instructions of a guru. Tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam. Being the wife of a great yogī, Devahūti understood her constitutional position; therefore she is placing her problem before her son, Kapiladeva, an incarnation of God. Although Kapiladeva is her son, Devahūti does not hesitate to take instructions from Him. She does not say, “Oh, He is my son. What can He tell me? I am His mother, and I shall instruct Him.” Instruction has to be taken from one who is in knowledge. It doesn’t matter what his position is, whether he is a son, a boy, a śūdra, brāhmaṇa, sannyāsī or gṛhastha. One should simply learn from one who knows. That is Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s instruction. Although Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself was a brāhmaṇa and a sannyāsī, He took instructions from Rāmānanda Rāya, who was a śūdra and gṛhastha but nonetheless, very exalted spiritually. When Caitanya Mahāprabhu saw that Rāmānanda Rāya was hesitant to give instructions, the Lord said, “Why are you hesitating? Although you are a gṛhastha and are born in a śūdra family, I am prepared to take lessons from you.”
kibā viprā, kibā nyāsī, śūdra kene naya
yei kṛṣṇa-tattva-vettā, sei ‘guru’ haya
(Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 8.128)
This is Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s teaching. Whoever is qualiﬁed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness can become a guru. His family or material identity does not matter. He simply must know the science. When we consult an engineer, a doctor or a lawyer, we do not ask whether he is a brāhmaṇa or a śūdra. If he is qualiﬁed, he can help with a particular subject. Similarly, if one knows the science of Kṛṣṇa, he can be a guru. Devahūti was taking lessons from her son because He knew the science of Kṛṣṇa. Even if gold is in a ﬁlthy place, we should take it. It is also stated in the Vedas that if a girl is highly qualiﬁed or beautiful, she can be accepted in marriage even though born in a lower family. Thus it is not birth that is important, but qualiﬁcation. Caitanya Mahāprabhu wanted everyone in India to know the science of Kṛṣṇa and preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This is very simple. We need only repeat what Kṛṣṇa has said or what has been said about Kṛṣṇa in the Vedic literatures.
Human society cannot be happy without Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Kṛṣṇa is the supreme enjoyer, and we are His servants. The master is enjoying, and the servants are helping the master enjoy. We living entities are eternal servants of God, and our duty is to help our master enjoy. Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is the topmost servant of Kṛṣṇa, and Her business is always to keep Kṛṣṇa pleased. Kṛṣṇa is very fond of Rādhārāṇī because She renders the best service. Her sixty-four qualiﬁcations are mentioned in the Vedic literatures. Unfortunately, in the material world we are busy trying to enjoy our material senses. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (3.42):
indriyāṇi parāṇy āhur
indriyebhyaḥ paraṁ manaḥ
manasas tu parā buddhir
yo buddheḥ paratas tu saḥ
“The working senses are superior to dull matter; mind is higher than the senses; intelligence is still higher than the mind; and he (the soul) is even higher than the intelligence.” The soul is on the spiritual platform. On the material platform, we are interested in gratifying our senses. In this way we become implicated in the laws of nature. As stated in the śāstras:
nūnaṁ pramattaḥ kurute vikarma
yad indriya-prītaya āpṛṇoti
na sādhu manye yata ātmano ’yam
asann api kleśada āsa dehaḥ
“When a person considers sense gratiﬁcation the aim of life, he certainly becomes mad after materialistic living and engages in all kinds of sinful activity. He does not know that due to his past misdeeds he has already received a body which, although temporary, is the cause of his misery. Actually the living entity should not have taken on a material body, but he has been awarded the material body for sense gratiﬁcation. Therefore I think it not beﬁtting an intelligent man to involve himself again in the activities of sense gratiﬁcation by which he perpetually gets material bodies one after another.” (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 5.5.4)
Living entities in this material world are very busy trying to gratify their senses. In the street we see many dogs assembled for sex. This may seem very crude, but human beings are engaged in the same business, perhaps in a more elaborate way. We should know that sense gratiﬁcation is meant for animals, and that sense control is for human beings. By tapasya, penance, we can purify ourselves and regain our eternal life.
Actually our material senses are not our real senses. They are covered, just as the body is covered by clothes. Our real body is within the material body. Dehino ’smin yathā dehe. The spiritual body is within the material body. The material body is changing, going through childhood, youth, then old age, and then it vanishes. Although this is not our real body, we are engaged in sense gratiﬁcation with it. However, for our own ultimate happiness, we should try to purify our senses. There is no question of destroying the senses or becoming desireless. Desire is a material activity, and becoming desireless is not possible. The senses must be puriﬁed in order for us to act through them transcendentally. Bhakti-yoga does not require us to destroy our senses, but to purify them. When the senses are puriﬁed, we can serve Kṛṣṇa:
sevanaṁ bhaktir ucyate
“Bhakti, or devotional service, means engaging all our senses in the service of the Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master of all the senses. When the spirit soul renders service unto the Supreme, there are two side effects. One is freed from all material designations, and, simply by being employed in the service of the Lord, one’s senses are puriﬁed.” (Nārada Pañcarātra)
We can serve Hṛṣīkeśa, the master of the senses, through the senses. We are part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, just as the hand is part and parcel of the body. Similarly, our senses are also part and parcel of the spiritual body of Kṛṣṇa. When we purify our senses, we can act in our original constitutional position and serve Kṛṣṇa. When we forget our position and try to satisfy ourselves, we become conditioned materially. When we forget that our duty is to serve Kṛṣṇa, we fall into the material world and become implicated in personal sense gratiﬁcation. As long as we continue trying to satisfy our own senses, we have to accept another body. Kṛṣṇa is so kind that if we want to become tigers, He will give us a tiger body. If we want to become devotees, He will give us the body of a devotee. This life is a preparation for the next, and if we want to enjoy our transcendental senses, we have to purify ourselves to return home, back to Godhead. For this purpose, Devahūti is submitting to her son just as a disciple submits to his master.
tasya tvaṁ tamaso ’ndhasya
sac-cakṣur janmanām ante
labdhaṁ me tvad-anugrahāt
Your Lordship is my only means of getting out of this darkest region of ignorance because You are my transcendental eye, which, by Your mercy only, I have attained after many, many births.
This verse is very instructive, since it indicates the relationship between the spiritual master and the disciple. The disciple or conditioned soul is put into this darkest region of ignorance and therefore is entangled in the material existence of sense gratiﬁcation. It is very difﬁcult to get out of this entanglement and attain freedom, but if one is fortunate enough to get the association of a spiritual master like Kapila Muni or His representative, then by his grace one can be delivered from the mire of ignorance. The spiritual master is therefore worshiped as one who delivers the disciple from the mire of ignorance with the light of the torch of knowledge. The word pāra-gam is very signiﬁcant. Pāra-gam refers to one who can take the disciple to the other side. This side is conditioned life; the other side is the life of freedom. The spiritual master takes the disciple to the other side by opening his eyes with knowledge. We are suffering simply because of ignorance. By the instruction of the spiritual master, the darkness of ignorance is removed, and thus the disciple is enabled to go to the side of freedom. It is stated in Bhagavad-gītā that after many, many births one surrenders to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Similarly, if, after many, many births, one is able to ﬁnd a bona ﬁde spiritual master and surrender to such a bona ﬁde representative of Kṛṣṇa, he can be taken to the side of light.
The bona ﬁde spiritual master is a true Vedāntist, for he actually knows Vedānta and the Vedas and understands the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa. The word veda means “knowledge,” and anta means “last phase.” There are different types of knowledge. We are interested in ordinary knowledge for economic beneﬁt, but that is not actual knowledge. That is the art of livelihood. One may study to be an electrician and earn his livelihood by repairing electric lines. This kind of knowledge is called śilpa-jñāna. Real knowledge, however, is Vedic knowledge, knowing oneself, what one is and what God is and understanding one’s relationship with God, and one’s duty.
One who is searching after knowledge is called jñānavān. Knowledge begins with the inquiry athāto brahma-jijñāsā: “What is Brahman?” Knowledge also begins by understanding the threefold miseries of the material world – ādhyātmika, ādhibhautika and ādhidaivika. We are suffering from miseries caused by other living entities and acts of nature as well as from miseries arising from the body and mind themselves. The soul is aloof from the body and mind, but he suffers due to material contamination. We have no control over these threefold miseries. They are controlled by Kṛṣṇa’s maidservant, goddess Durgā, who is material nature. She is not independent of Kṛṣṇa. However, she is so powerful that she can create and maintain. Prakṛti, nature, can be very unkind. Mother Durgā is often portrayed as chastising demons by piercing them with a trident.
Those who are learned and intelligent look to the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead for relief from the threefold miseries of material existence. Although this material world is nothing but darkness, people are very proud of their eyes. They are always saying, “Can you show me God?” The answer to that is: “Have you the eyes to see God?” Why is the emphasis placed on seeing? Certainly, God can be seen, as stated in Brahma-saṁhitā (5.38), premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena: “Govinda [Kṛṣṇa] is always seen by the devotee whose eyes are anointed by the pulp of love.”
If we are devotees, lovers of God, the ointment of love will clear our eyes. In order to see God, we have to cleanse our eyes by wiping away the cataracts of material contamination. Although we may be eager to see God, we cannot see Him with these material eyes. Not only can we not see Him, but we cannot understand Him, although His name is there. Understanding God means ﬁrst of all understanding His name. Therefore from the beginning we should chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. God is not different from His name. Kṛṣṇa’s name and Kṛṣṇa’s person are the same. “Absolute” means that Kṛṣṇa’s name, form, place, dress, pastimes and everything are nondifferent from Him. Kṛṣṇa is present in His name, but because we have no love for Him, we cannot see Him.
Sanātana Gosvāmī was a great learned scholar, and he was called a paṇḍita, which indicates that he was a learned brāhmaṇa. When Sanātana Gosvāmī approached Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, he said, “The people in my neighborhood are calling me a paṇḍita, and I am very unhappy because of this.” Caitanya Mahāprabhu asked, “Why are you dissatisﬁed?” Sanātana Gosvāmī replied, “I am such a poor paṇḍita that I do not even know the goal of life. I do not even know what is beneﬁcial for me. I am simply being carried away by sense gratiﬁcation.” In this way, Sanātana Gosvāmī approached Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He did not approach Him to get some gold or some medicine. He went to ﬁnd out his real self-interest. This is the real purpose for approaching a guru.
Devahūti approached Lord Kapiladeva in the same way. She said, “My dear Kapila, You have come as my son, but You are my guru because You can inform me how I can cross the ocean of nescience, which is the material world.” Thus one who feels the need to cross the dark ocean of nescience, which is material existence, requires a guru. It is not the guru’s task to supply gold and medicine. Now it has become a fashion to keep a guru as if he were a dog or a cat. This is of no use. We must inquire about that portion of God’s creation which is beyond this darkness. The Upaniṣads and Bhagavad-gītā describe another world, beyond this material nature. According to Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad-gītā (15.6):
na tad bhāsayate sūryo
na śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥ
yad gatvā na nivartante
tad dhāma paramaṁ mama
“That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.”
It is not possible for us to go to that para-vyoma by material means. It is impossible to penetrate the material universe unless one understands Kṛṣṇa. One can be enlightened by the mercy of God because Kṛṣṇa Himself comes to give us information. If He does not come personally, He sends His devotee, or He leaves behind Him Bhagavad-gītā. However, we are so foolish that we do not take advantage of them. We do not take advantage of His devotee, who hankers to give this knowledge, sacriﬁcing everything. Therefore Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said:
brahmāṇḍa bhramite kona bhāgyavān jīva
guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja
“The fallen, conditioned living entity, trapped by the external energy, loiters in the material world, but if by good fortune he meets a bona ﬁde representative of the Lord, and if he takes advantage of such a guru, he receives the seed of devotional service.” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 19.151)
The seed of devotional service is received by a most fortunate person. Those who are cultivating bhakti in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness are the most fortunate people in the world. By Kṛṣṇa’s mercy one can receive the bhakti-latā-bīja, the seed of devotional service. Unless one is free from the reactions of sin, one cannot understand bhakti or Bhagavān. Therefore we must act piously by giving up illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating and gambling. If we lead a pious life, we can understand God. This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is engaged in training people to this end so that their lives will be successful.
ya ādyo bhagavān puṁsām
īśvaro vai bhavān kila
cakṣuḥ sūrya ivoditaḥ
You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the origin and Supreme Lord of all living entities. You have arisen to disseminate the rays of the sun in order to dissipate the darkness of the ignorance of the universe.
Kapila Muni is accepted as an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa. Here the word ādya means “the origin of all living entities,” and puṁsām īśvaraḥ means “the Lord (īśvara) of the living entities” (īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ). Kapila Muni is the direct expansion of Kṛṣṇa, who is the sun of spiritual knowledge. The sun dissipates the darkness of the universe, and when the light of the Supreme Personality of Godhead comes down, it at once similarly dissipates the darkness of māyā. We have our eyes, but without the light of the sun, our eyes are of no value. Similarly, without the light of the Supreme Lord, or without the divine grace of the spiritual master, one cannot see things as they are.
In this verse, Devahūti also addresses her son as Bhagavān. Bhagavān is the Supreme Person. If we could just use a little common sense we could understand that an organization requires a leader. Without a leader, we cannot organize anything. Foolish philosophers say that the universe automatically came into being by nature. They say that in the beginning there was a chunk, and this cosmic manifestation came out of that chunk of matter. But where did this chunk come from? The fact is that there must be a brain, a leader, behind anything organized. We have information of this leader from the Vedas: nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām. The Supreme Lord is eternal, and we are also eternal. But the Supreme Lord is one, and we are many. The Supreme Lord is very great, and we are very small. He is all-pervading and inﬁnite, and we are ﬁnite and inﬁnitesimal. Even if we analyze the creation, we will ﬁnd that not everyone is on the same level. One person is more intelligent or opulent than another. If we analyze things in this way, we will come to the demigods, and among them we will ﬁnd that the most important demigod is Lord Brahmā. He is the original creature within this universe, yet he is not the most intelligent being. It is said that in the beginning, Brahmā received knowledge from the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Recently newspapers are reporting that faith in a personal God is diminishing. This means that people are becoming more and more foolish. This is natural in Kali-yuga, for as the age of Kali progresses, bodily strength, memory and mercy diminish. We actually see that the present generation is not as strong as the previous. People also have short memories. We also understand that sometimes people are killed while other people pass by, not caring. Thus mercy is also diminishing. Because everything is diminishing, God consciousness is diminishing also; therefore it is natural to receive news that faith in a personal God is diminishing. In Bhagavad-gītā (7.15), one who does not accept a personal God is described as a mūḍha, a fool.
na māṁ duṣkṛtino mūḍhāḥ
āsuraṁ bhāvam āśritāḥ
“Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons, do not surrender unto Me.”
Actually, people today do not even know the meaning of God, so there is no question of surrender. There are also those who are scholarly and well educated, but their knowledge is taken away by māyā, illusion. Although they may superﬁcially hold degrees, they have no real knowledge. They are also asuras, demons who simply defy God, saying, “I am God, you are God. Why are you searching for God? There are many Gods loitering in the street. Take care of them.” Therefore it is not surprising that newspapers report that faith in a personal God is decreasing. Nonetheless, God is a person. Ya ādyo bhagavān. Lord Brahmā also worships Kṛṣṇa by saying, govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi. He says, “I worship that original person, Govinda.” Ādi-puruṣam, Kṛṣṇa, has no one preceding Him; therefore He is called original. It is said that Kṛṣṇa was born of Vasudeva, but this simply means that Kṛṣṇa accepted Vasudeva as His father. Śrī Kṛṣṇa deals with His devotees in different relationships, or rasas – śānta, dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya and mādhurya.
We all have some relationship with Kṛṣṇa, but presently that is covered. Therefore we have to revive it. Simple appreciation of the Supreme is called śānta-rasa. When one appreciates the Supreme fully, he wishes to render some service, and that is called dāsya. When one becomes more intimate, he becomes a friend of Kṛṣṇa’s, and that is called sakhya. When one is more advanced, he wants to render service to Kṛṣṇa as a father or a mother, and this is vātsalya. Being a father or a mother means serving the son. The Christian conception of God as the Supreme Father is not very perfect because if we conceive of God as a father, our position will be to take things from Him. Everyone wants to take something from the father. One is always saying, “Father, give me this. Father, give me that.” However, accepting the Supreme Lord as one’s son means rendering service. Yaśodā-mayī got Kṛṣṇa as her son, and she was always anxious that He not be in danger. Thus she was always protecting Him. Actually Kṛṣṇa protects the entire universe, but Yaśodā was giving protection to Kṛṣṇa. This is Vaiṣṇava philosophy. Yaśodā became mad when she saw Kṛṣṇa taken away by the Tṛṇāvarta demon. However, Kṛṣṇa became so heavy that the demon could not ﬂy in the sky, and thus the demon fell to the earth and died. Yaśodā immediately said, “God has saved my Kṛṣṇa!” She then began to thank some other God, some devatā. She did not know that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If she had thought of Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the relationship between mother and son would have been destroyed. Therefore Kṛṣṇa was playing just like an ordinary child, and mother Yaśodā was treating Him as her son. Kṛṣṇa’s friends, the cowherd boys, did not consider Him the Supreme Lord either. The gopīs even used to chastise Kṛṣṇa. If a devotee can have such a relationship with Kṛṣṇa, why should he want to become one with God? It is better to be God’s father, God’s controller. This is bhakti-mārga, the path of devotional service. A devotee does not want to be equal to God or one with God. He simply wants to render service.
In order to understand the Absolute Truth, we have to understand the meaning of Bhagavān. Devahūti was not an ordinary woman. She was the wife of Kardama Muni, a great yogī. She had obviously learned something from her husband, for had she not been very exalted, how could Bhagavān Kapiladeva have become her son? Everyone should know what is Bhagavān and take lessons from Bhagavān. Lord Kapila is Bhagavān, and He personally instructed His mother in Sāṅkhya philosophy. By this knowledge we can develop or awaken our dormant love for God. Then we can see God when our eyes are anointed with love for Him. Indeed, we can see God everywhere and at all times. We will see God and nothing but God. We will see God not only within our hearts. If we go to the ocean, we will see God. If one is a little thoughtful, he will see that the great ocean stays in its place. The ocean has received its orders not to go beyond such and such a limit. Any intelligent man can see God while walking down the beach. However, this requires a little intelligence. People who are asses, mūḍhas, duṣkṛtīs, cannot see God, but those who are intelligent can see God everywhere because God is omnipresent. He is within the universe and within our heart, and He is even within the atom. Why are we saying that we cannot see Him? God says, “Try to see Me in this way, but if you are too dull, then try to see Me another way.”
What is the easy way? Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā, “I am the taste of water.” Is there anyone who has not tasted water? He also says, “I am the light of the sun.” Is there anyone who has not seen sunshine? Then why are people saying, “I have not seen God”? First of all we have to try to see God. It is as easy as ABCD. When we see God everywhere, we will see the personal God. Then we will understand.
Bhagavān puṁsām īśvaraḥ. Bhagavān is īśvara, the controller. We are not independent. No one can actually say, “I am independent.” We are bound tightly by the modes of material nature, and yet we are thinking that we are independent. This is simply foolishness. Therefore it is said that all the people in the material world are blinded by the darkness of ignorance. When people are blind, out of their ignorance they say, “There is no God. I cannot see God.” Then God comes as Kṛṣṇa or Kapiladeva and says, “Here I am. See My features. I am a person. I play the ﬂute and enjoy Myself in Vṛndāvana. Why can’t you see Me?” Thus God comes, explains Himself and leaves behind His instruction, Bhagavad-gītā. Still, people are so foolish that they claim not to understand God. If we try to see God through the instructions given to Devahūti by Lord Kapila, our lives will be successful.
atha me deva sammoham
apākraṣṭuṁ tvam arhasi
yo ’vagraho ’haṁ mametīty
etasmin yojitas tvayā
Now be pleased, my Lord, to dispel my great delusion. Due to my feeling of false ego, I have been engaged by Your māyā and have identiﬁed myself with the body and consequent bodily relations.
Māyā is the false ego of identifying one’s body with one’s self and of claiming things possessed in relationship with the body. In Bhagavad-gītā, ﬁfteenth chapter, the Lord says, “I am sitting in everyone’s heart, and from Me comes everyone’s remembrance and forgetfulness.” Devahūti has stated that false identiﬁcation of the body with the self and attachment for bodily possessions are also under the direction of the Lord. Does this mean that the Lord discriminates by engaging one in His devotional service and another in sense gratiﬁcation? If that were true, it would be an incongruity on the part of the Supreme Lord, but that is not the actual fact. As soon as the living entity forgets his real constitutional position of eternal servitorship to the Lord and wants instead to enjoy himself by sense gratiﬁcation, he is captured by māyā. This capture leads to the consciousness of false identiﬁcation with the body and attachment for the possessions of the body. These are the activities of māyā, and since māyā is also an agent of the Lord, it is indirectly the action of the Lord. The Lord is merciful; if anyone wants to forget Him and enjoy this material world, He gives him full facility, not directly but through the agency of His material potency. Therefore, since the material potency is the Lord’s energy, indirectly it is the Lord who gives the facility to forget Him. Devahūti therefore said, “My engagement in sense gratiﬁcation was also due to You. Now kindly get me free from this entanglement.”
By the grace of the Lord one is allowed to enjoy this material world, but when one is disgusted with material enjoyment and is frustrated, and when one sincerely surrenders unto the lotus feet of the Lord, then the Lord is so kind that He frees one from entanglement. Kṛṣṇa says, therefore, in Bhagavad-gītā, “First of all surrender, and then I will take charge of you and free you from all reactions of sinful activities.” Sinful activities are those activities performed in forgetfulness of our relationship with the Lord. In this material world, activities for material enjoyment that are considered pious are also sinful. For example, one sometimes gives money in charity to a needy person with a view to get back the money four times increased. Giving with the purpose of gaining something is called charity in the mode of passion. Everything done here is done in the modes of material nature, and therefore all activities but service to the Lord are sinful. Because of sinful activities we become attracted by the illusion of material attachment, and we think, “I am this body.” I think of the body as myself and of bodily possessions as “mine.” Devahūti requested Lord Kapila to free her from that entanglement of false identiﬁcation and false possession.
In asking this, Devahūti is accepting her son, Kapila, as her guru. He consequently tells her how to solve all material problems. Material life is nothing but sex attraction. Puṁsaḥ striyā mithunī-bhāvam etam (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 5.5.8). Material life means that men are after women and women are after men. We ﬁnd this not only in human society but in bird, dog, cat and demigod society. As soon as people join to satisfy their sex desire, the attraction becomes greater and greater. An apartment is needed for privacy, and then one has to earn a livelihood and acquire some land. Without children, married life is frustrated, and of course the children have to be educated. Thus one becomes entangled in material life by creating so many situations, but at the time of death Kṛṣṇa comes and takes away everything – house, land, wife, children, friends, reputation and whatever. Then we have to begin another life. It is not that we simply die and ﬁnish everything. We are living eternally; the body is ﬁnished, but we have to accept another body out of the 8,400,000 forms. In this way, our life is going on, but we are thinking in terms of wife, children, and so forth. This is all illusion.
In any case, we will not be allowed to stay here, and although we are attached to all this, everything will be taken away at death. Whatever post we are occupying – be it president or Lord Brahmā – we are occupying temporarily. We may be here ﬁve years, ten years, one hundred years or ﬁve million years. Whatever, our position is limited. Our position in the material world is not eternal, but we are eternal. Why, then, should we be illusioned by the noneternal? By nature we are part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa is sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha. In order to transcend the darkness of material life and go to the world of light, we need to approach a guru. It is for this reason that Devahūti is approaching Lord Kapiladeva.
In the morning, when the sun arises, the darkness of night immediately goes away. Similarly, when God or His incarnation comes, the darkness of material life is dissipated. When Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, came, Arjuna’s illusion was dispelled. He was thinking, “Why should I ﬁght with my relatives?” Actually the whole world is going on under this conception of “my” and “mine.” There are ﬁghts between nations, societies, communities and families. People are thinking, “Why are you interfering with my business?” Then there is a ﬁght. Because of illusion, we do not consider these situations temporary. On a train, people may argue and ﬁght over a seat, but one who knows that he will only be on the train for two or three hours thinks, “Why should I ﬁght? I shall only be here for a short while.” One person thinks in this way, and the other person is ready to ﬁght, thinking that his seat is permanent. No one will be allowed to stay within this material world; everyone will have to change his body and position, and as long as one remains here, he will have to ﬁght and struggle for existence. This is the way of material life. We may temporarily make some compromises, but ultimately the material world is full of misery.
We are very much attached to this material world, but according to the Vedic system, renunciation is compulsory, for when one reaches the age of ﬁfty, he renounces his family life. Nature gives warning, “You are now past ﬁfty. That’s all right. You have fought in this material world. Now stop this business.” Children play on the beach and make houses out of sand, but after a while the father comes and says, “Now, my dear children, time is up. Stop this business and come home.” This is the business of the guru – to teach his disciples detachment. The world is not our place; our place is Vaikuṇṭha-loka. Kṛṣṇa also comes to remind us of this. The dharma, or order, of the Supreme Person is to become His devotee and always think of Him. Kṛṣṇa says:
man-manā bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru
“Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me.” (Bhagavad-gītā 9.34)
In this way, Kṛṣṇa opens the door, but we unfortunately do not accept Him. Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna, “Because you are My friend, I am revealing to you the most conﬁdential dharma.” What is that? “Simply surrender unto Me.” This is the dharma taught by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and Kṛṣṇa’s incarnation and His devotee will teach the same dharma.
We are all after happiness, but we do not know how to enjoy happiness. We want to enjoy our senses, but it is not possible with these covered false senses. The senses must be opened, and that is the process of puriﬁcation. We are thinking of ourselves according to so many false material identiﬁcations, but we should take Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s advice: jīvera ‘svarūpa’ haya — kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa.’ We must come to understand, “I am the eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa.” After all, our senses are employed for the satisfaction of somebody – either for ourselves or for someone else. That is kāma, krodha, lobha and matsarya – illusion. If we are not serving our own lusty desires (kāma), we are serving anger (krodha). If I am the master of anger, I can control my anger, and if I am the master of my desires, I can control my desires. In any case, I am a servant, and my service should be transferred to Kṛṣṇa. That is the perfection of life.
If we are situated in the transcendental position (bhakti), we can understand Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa cannot be understood by mental speculation; otherwise He would have said that He could be understood by jñāna, karma or yoga. However, He clearly says, bhaktyā mām abhijānāti: “Only by devotional service can I be understood.” If we want to know Kṛṣṇa as He is, we have to accept the process of bhakti. It is this bhakti process that Kapiladeva will reveal to Devahūti.
taṁ tvā gatāhaṁ śaraṇaṁ śaraṇyaṁ
jijñāsayāhaṁ prakṛteḥ pūruṣasya
namāmi sad-dharma-vidāṁ variṣṭham
Devahūti continued: I have taken shelter of Your lotus feet because You are the only person of whom to take shelter. You are the ax which can cut the tree of material existence. I therefore offer my obeisances unto You, who are the greatest of all transcendentalists, and I inquire from You as to the relationship between man and woman and between spirit and matter.
Sāṅkhya philosophy, as is well known, deals with prakṛti and puruṣa. Puruṣa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead or anyone who imitates the Supreme Personality of Godhead as an enjoyer, and prakṛti is nature. In this material world, material nature is being exploited by the puruṣas, or the living entities. The intricacies in the material world of the relationship of the prakṛti and puruṣa, or the enjoyed and the enjoyer, give rise to saṁsāra, or material entanglement. Devahūti wanted to cut the tree of material entanglement, and she found the suitable weapon in Kapila Muni. The tree of material existence is explained in the ﬁfteenth chapter of Bhagavad-gītā as an aśvattha tree whose root is upward and whose branches are downward. It is recommended there that one has to cut the root of this material existential tree with the ax of detachment. What is the attachment? The attachment involves prakṛti and puruṣa. The living entities are trying to lord it over material nature. Since the conditioned soul takes material nature to be the object of his enjoyment, and he takes the position of the enjoyer, he is therefore called puruṣa.
Devahūti questioned Kapila Muni, for she knew that only He could cut her attachment to this material world. The living entities, in the guises of men and women, are trying to enjoy the material energy; therefore in one sense everyone is puruṣa because puruṣa means “enjoyer,” and prakṛti means “enjoyed.” In this material world both so-called men and women are imitating the real puruṣa; the Supreme Personality of Godhead is actually the enjoyer in the transcendental sense, whereas all others are prakṛti.
In Bhagavad-gītā, matter is analyzed as aparā, or inferior nature, whereas beyond this inferior nature there is another, superior nature – the living entities. Living entities are also prakṛti, or enjoyed, but under the spell of māyā, the living entities are falsely trying to take the position of enjoyers. That is the cause of saṁsāra-bandha, or conditional life. Devahūti wanted to get out of conditional life and place herself in full surrender. The Lord is śaraṇya, which means “the only worthy personality to whom one can fully surrender,” because He is full of all opulences. If anyone actually wants relief, the best course is to surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Lord is also described here as sad-dharma-vidāṁ variṣṭham. This indicates that of all transcendental occupations, the best is eternal loving service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Dharma is sometimes translated as “religion,” but that is not exactly the meaning. Dharma actually means “that which one cannot give up,” “that which is inseparable from oneself.” The warmth of ﬁre is inseparable from ﬁre; therefore warmth is called the dharma, or nature, of ﬁre. Similarly, sad-dharma means “eternal occupation.” That eternal occupation is engagement in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. The purpose of Kapiladeva’s Sāṅkhya philosophy is to propagate pure, uncontaminated devotional service, and therefore He is addressed here as the most important personality among those who know the transcendental occupation of the living entity.
As pointed out before, Bhagavān, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is everyone’s real shelter (śaraṇaṁ śaraṇyam). Everyone is seeking shelter because we are all constitutionally servants. Originally we are servants of God; therefore it is our nature to take His shelter. Some seek an occupation or the service of a great man; others seek the service of the government or whatever. In any case, the ultimate shelter is Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Being Kṛṣṇa’s incarnation, Kapiladeva is also a shelter. Kṛṣṇa has unlimited forms and unlimited incarnations. It is said in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that His incarnations are expanding continuously, like waves in the ocean. Indeed, we cannot even count them. In Brahma-saṁhitā it is said: Advaitam acyutam anādim ananta-rūpam. In India there are many thousands of temples, and within these temples there are arcā-vigrahas, Deities. All these Kṛṣṇas are nondifferent; they are one. Kṛṣṇa resides in Vaikuṇṭha and also in the temple. The Kṛṣṇas are not different, although they are ananta, unlimited. Kṛṣṇa is also the witness within everyone’s heart, and He is seeing all of our activities. We cannot hide anything from Him, and we receive the results of our karma because the witness is Kṛṣṇa Himself within the heart. How, then, can we avoid Him? Without Kṛṣṇa’s permission, we cannot do anything. Why does Kṛṣṇa give us permission to do something wrong? He does so because we persist. Actually He does not tell us to do anything other than surrender unto Him. We want to do something, and Kṛṣṇa may sanction it, but we go ahead and do it at our own risk. Kṛṣṇa is not responsible. However, we should know that without the sanction of Kṛṣṇa, we cannot do anything. That is a fact. Actually we are constitutionally servants of Kṛṣṇa. Even though we may declare ourselves independent, we are not. Rather, we are servants falsely declaring that we are independent. Self-realization is understanding that we are dependent on the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As Caitanya Mahāprabhu says:
ayi nanda-tanuja kiṅkaraṁ
patitaṁ māṁ viṣame bhavāmbudhau
kṛpayā tava pāda-paṅkaja-
“My dear Lord Kṛṣṇa, son of Mahārāja Nanda, I am Your eternal servant, but somehow or other I have fallen into this ocean of nescience. Please pick me up from this ocean of death and place me as one of the atoms at Your lotus feet.” (Śikṣāṣṭaka 5) Because we are under illusion, Devahūti says: sva-bhṛtya-saṁsāra-taroḥ kuṭhāram. In Bhagavad-gītā (15.1–4), material existence is likened unto a banyan tree with its roots upward and its branches below. The roots of this banyan tree are very strong, but they can be cut with an ax (kuṭhāram). By taking shelter of Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet, we can cut the strong root of material existence. Because we have given up Kṛṣṇa’s service, we have become servants of so many things. We are obliged to serve our parents, wife, children, country, and so forth. We are indebted to many people and to the demigods who give heat and light. Although we are not paying the bill, we are taking advantage of the sunlight and the sun’s heat. If we take advantage of electricity, we have to pay the bill, but we don’t pay the sun bill. This means that we are actually indebted to the sun-god, Vivasvān. Similarly, the king of heaven, Indra, is supplying water in the form of rain. Rascals say that all this comes about by nature, but they do not know that nature is controlled. If we don’t pay our debts by performing sacriﬁces, there will certainly be a scarcity. All of these things are coming from the Supreme Father, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but we are thinking that they are coming from nature, and we are utilizing them without caring whether we pay the bill or not. It is all right to use our father’s property, but at the present moment we are not acting as our Father’s sons; we are māyā’s sons. We do not care for our Father; however, nature is nonetheless working under His direction. If we do not care for Him, nature will reduce her supply, for nature will not allow demons to ﬂourish. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (16.19):
tān ahaṁ dviṣataḥ krūrān
kṣipāmy ajasram aśubhān
āsurīṣv eva yoniṣu
“Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men, are cast by Me into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life.”
Demons are always subject to be punished, and great demons like Rāvaṇa and Hiraṇyakaśipu are personally punished by the Lord. Otherwise, ordinary demons are punished by the laws of material nature. Kṛṣṇa does not need to come to punish the petty demons, but when there are great demons like Rāvaṇa, Hiraṇyakaśipu and Kaṁsa, the Lord comes as Lord Rāmacandra, Lord Nṛsiṁha-deva or Śrī Kṛṣṇa to punish them. If we do not want to be punished, we have to follow the rules and regulations (sad-dharma). Dharma means “the laws given by God.” Dharmaṁ tu sākṣād bhagavat-praṇītam. The laws are given by Bhagavān and are written in books like Manu-saṁhitā and other Vedic literatures. According to the law, we have to obey the government, and according to dharma, we have to obey Kṛṣṇa, God. We cannot manufacture our laws at home, and we cannot manufacture dharma. If one tries, he is simply cheating the public. Such false dharmas are kicked out of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.1.2): dharmaḥ projjhita-. The real dharma is set forth by Śrī Kṛṣṇa when He says: sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja (Bhagavad-gītā 18.66). All other dharmas are simply forms of cheating. We must accept the principles of Bhagavad-gītā, which constitute the ABCs of dharma. Actually, we only have to accept the principle of surrender unto Kṛṣṇa, but this acceptance comes after many, many births. It is not very easy, for only after many births of struggle does one come to his real perfection and surrender unto Kṛṣṇa. At this time he understands perfectly that Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa, is everything. This is the greatest lesson of Bhagavad-gītā. Everything is Kṛṣṇa’s energy, and whatever we see is but an exhibition of two types of energy. Everyone knows that the sun has two types of energy – heat and light. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa has an external energy and an internal energy, and He also has a marginal energy, which is a mixture of the other two. The external energy is this material world, the internal energy is the spiritual world, and the marginal energy is the living entity. The living entity is marginal because he can remain in the material world or the spiritual world. Bhagavad-gītā describes two types of living entities, kṣara and akṣara, those living in the material world and those in the spiritual world. Those who have fallen into the material world are attracted by the tree of saṁsāra, the banyan tree of material existence described in Bhagavad-gītā (ﬁfteenth chapter).
It is essential that we disassociate ourselves from this tree by detachment. Cutting down this tree is very difﬁcult, but it is possible with the weapon of detachment. There is a Bengali proverb that states: “I’ll catch the ﬁsh, but I will not touch the water.” That type of intelligence is required. In America we see many old men on the beach who have retired from their business to waste their time trying to catch ﬁsh. They are not very cautious, and they touch the water. However, we have to live in this material world in such a way that we do everything for Kṛṣṇa but do not touch the water of the material world. In this way, we will have no attachment to things of this material world. We may have many great temples, but we should not be attached to them. It is for Kṛṣṇa’s sake that we construct temples, but we must understand that the temples are Kṛṣṇa’s property. Our mission is to teach people that everything belongs to Kṛṣṇa. Only a thief will occupy something belonging to another and claim it to be his.
The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement preaches that everything belongs to Kṛṣṇa and that everything should be utilized for Kṛṣṇa’s beneﬁt. He is the beneﬁciary of everything, and it is to our beneﬁt that we come to this knowledge. Īśāvāsyam idaṁ sarvam. If one realizes that everything belongs to Kṛṣṇa, one becomes the greatest mahātmā. Being a mahātmā does not mean that one wears a big beard and a particular type of dress. No, this awareness must be there. Whatever we have should be offered to Kṛṣṇa. If we have ﬁrst-class food, we should offer it to Him. If we have nothing, we can offer Him a leaf, a ﬂower, a little water or fruit. This can be collected by anyone anywhere without having to pay money. As Śrī Kṛṣṇa states in Bhagavad-gītā (9.26):
patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a ﬂower, fruit or water, I will accept it.”
The point is that we should offer something to Kṛṣṇa with devotion. It is not that Kṛṣṇa is hungry and is asking for food. No, He is feeding everyone, supplying everyone with all the necessities: eko bahūnāṁ yo vidadhāti kāmān (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.2.13). What, then, is He requesting? He is asking for bhakti, devotion, because He wants us to love Him. We are suffering in this material world, entangled in the tree of material existence, moving from one branch to another, and because of this we are suffering. Kṛṣṇa does not want us to suffer, jumping like monkeys from branch to branch. We must come to Him and surrender to Him. When we come to this knowledge, we become perfect in knowledge. When we take shelter at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, we are no longer debtors to anyone. Na kiṅkaro nāyam ṛṇī (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.5.41). Kṛṣṇa assures us, ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi: “I’ll give you all relief.” (Bhagavad-gītā 18.66) This is what we actually want. Therefore Devahūti herein takes shelter of Kapiladeva and tells Him, “You are the ax capable of making me detached.” When our attachment to the material world is severed, we become free. Bhakti is the means by which we can develop this detachment. Vairāgya-vidyā-nija-bhakti-yoga-. Bhakti-yoga is the science of detachment. This verse was composed by Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya when he understood that Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya was a great logician, and he composed a hundred verses to Caitanya Mahāprabhu, wherein he tells the Lord:
śikṣārtham ekaḥ puruṣaḥ purāṇaḥ
kṛpāmbudhir yas tam ahaṁ prapadye
“Let me take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who has descended in the form of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu to teach us real knowledge, His devotional service, and detachment from whatever does not foster Kṛṣṇa consciousness. He has descended because He is an ocean of transcendental mercy. Let me surrender unto His lotus feet.” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 6.254)
When a person advances in bhakti-yoga, he will automatically become detached from material attractions. There are many American and European boys and girls in this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement who have been born in countries where they can enjoy a good deal of material afﬂuence, but they consider this material happiness and afﬂuence like garbage in the street. Because they are devotees of Vāsudeva, they are no longer attached to these material things. This is the result of bhakti-yoga, which enables one to be detached from material enjoyment. That detachment is the sign that one is advancing in bhakti-yoga. Bhaktiḥ pareśānubhavo viraktir anyatra ca (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.2.42). That is the test of advancing in bhakti. If we are advanced, we are no longer attached to material enjoyment. It is not that we think ourselves great devotees and then go ahead and enjoy material things. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (5.22):
ye hi saṁsparśa-jā bhogā
duḥkha-yonaya eva te
na teṣu ramate budhaḥ
“An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. O son of Kuntī, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them.” When one sees something superior, he immediately rejects that which is inferior. Actually we cannot bring all this about by our own endeavor; therefore we have to take shelter of Kṛṣṇa, and He will help. Since our only business is to take shelter of Kṛṣṇa, Devahūti says, “I am taking shelter of You so that You can cut my attachment to this material life. Why should You do this? Because I am Your eternal servant.”
Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura says, anādi karama-phale, paḍi’ bhavārṇava-jale, taribāre nā dekhi upāya. If we are thrown into the ocean, there is a great struggle, even if we may be very great swimmers. There is no peace in this material world, however expert we may be in dealing with it. There is nothing but struggle. We cannot live here peacefully. It is not possible. Even if we are nonviolent and hurt no one, there will be trouble. However, if somehow or other we manage to reach the shore, we will ﬁnd peace. There is peace even if we are an inch out of the water. Tava pāda-paṅkaja-sthita-dhūlī-sadṛśaṁ vicintaya (Śikṣāṣṭaka 5). If somehow or other we become one of the particles of dust at Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet, we will be liberated.
We may be a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian for ﬁfty or sixty years, or at the utmost one hundred, but again we have to take birth and be something else. We are thinking in terms of these religious designations, which are called asad-dharma, meaning that they may change at any moment. But what is our real dharma? Real dharma is sad-dharma, that which will not change, and this sad-dharma necessitates surrendering unto Kṛṣṇa. This dharma will continue eternally. There are many propounders of sad-dharma, but actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the best propounder because He knows the reality. It is therefore said of the Gosvāmīs: nānā-śāstra-vicāraṇaika-nipuṇau sad-dharma-saṁsthāpakau. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s direct disciples, the Gosvāmīs, tried to establish sad-dharma, and we are trying to follow in their footsteps by establishing real dharma throughout the world with this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.