SB 11.3: Liberation from the Illusory Energy
In answer to four questions spoken by Mahārāja Nimi, this chapter describes the nature and activities of the illusory potency (māyā), the method of becoming free from māyā’s insurmountable grip, the transcendental situation of the Supreme Lord Nārāyaṇa, and the process of karma-yoga, by which one becomes free from all material activities.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the original cause of all causes, created the five material elements, from which the material bodies of the conditioned souls are created so that the conditioned souls may cultivate either sense gratification or ultimate liberation. Appearing as the Supersoul, the Supreme Lord enters the material bodies of the created beings and activates the eleven senses of the conditioned souls. The conditioned soul misidentifies the created material body with his actual self and thus engages in various fruitive activities. Impelled by the reactions of his own activities, he repeatedly takes birth in various species of life and thus suffers greatly until the time of the cosmic annihilation. When the annihilation is imminent, the soul of the universal form withdraws the entire material creation within Himself, and then He Himself enters into the original cause of all causes. In this way the Lord empowers His illusory potency, consisting of the three modes of material nature, for the creation, maintenance and annihilation of the material universe.
Accepting the roles of male and female in this material world, the conditioned souls unite in sexual relationships. Although these souls constantly make material endeavors to eliminate their unhappiness and unlimitedly increase their pleasure, they inevitably achieve exactly the opposite result.
Permanent happiness cannot be found in this world — either on the earthly planets or on the heavenly planets, which one can attain in the next life after performing ritualistic ceremonies and sacrifices. Both on earth and in heaven the living entity is harassed by the envy and rivalry of others.
Therefore any person who seriously desires to find permanent relief from the sufferings of material existence should take shelter of the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master. The qualification of the bona fide guru is that he has realized the conclusions of the Vedic scriptures by deliberation and is able to convince others of these conclusions. Such great personalities, who have taken shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving aside all material considerations, should be understood to be bona fide spiritual masters.
Accepting the bona fide spiritual master as one’s life and soul, the submissive disciple should learn from him the process of pure devotional service, which satisfies the Supreme Lord. By thus following the path of devotional service, the disciple gradually develops all good qualities.
One should hear, glorify and meditate upon the wonderful transcendental activities, appearance, qualities and holy names of the Lord. Whatever one finds pleasing or enjoyable he should immediately offer to the Supreme Lord; even his wife, children, home and very life air should all be offered at the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One should serve others and also accept instructions from others. Especially, one should serve and learn from those who are pure devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
By chanting the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the association of devotees, one becomes satisfied and happy and develops a loving friendship with the devotees. In this way one becomes able to give up material sense gratification, which is the cause of all suffering. When a devotee attains the stage of pure love of Godhead, the hairs of his body stand on end, and he manifests various ecstatic symptoms; he personally meets the Supreme Lord and becomes full of transcendental bliss. By learning the science of devotional service and practically engaging in the devotional service of the Lord, the devotee comes to the stage of love of Godhead. When completely devoted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa, the devotee easily crosses over the illusory energy, māyā, which is extremely difficult to cross.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the cause of the creation, maintenance and destruction of the universe, yet He has no prior cause. Situated within the temporary and constantly changing material world, the Supreme Lord remains eternal and unchanging. He cannot be understood by the unaided mind or senses, and He is transcendental to the manifestation of the material world, which takes place as the subtle cause and material effect visible in the appearance of gross material objects. Although He is originally one, by expanding His illusory potency (māyā) He appears in many different forms. He is always free from birth, growth, decay and death, and He is the Supersoul, the all-pervading witness who perceives the mentalities of all living entities. He is the Supreme Brahman and is known as Nārāyaṇa.
When one seriously engages in devotional service to the lotus feet of Lord Nārāyaṇa, the impure desires lodged within one’s heart as a result of one’s previous work within the three modes of material nature are destroyed. When the heart is thus purified, one can directly perceive both the Supreme Lord and one’s self as transcendental entities.
Through authorized study of the transcendental Vedic literature, one can properly understand the meaning of prescribed duties, nonperformance of such duties, and forbidden activities. This difficult subject matter can never be understood by mundane speculation. Vedic injunctions indirectly lead one to the path of ultimate liberation by first prescribing fruitive religious activities, just as a father promises his child candy so that the child will take his medicine. If an ignorant person who has not conquered the material senses does not perform the Vedic injunctions, he will certainly engage in sinful and irreligious activities. Thus his reward will be repeated birth and death. On the other hand, if one executes the regulated activities prescribed in the Vedas, without attachment, and offers the result of such work to the Supreme Lord, one attains perfect freedom from the bondage of material work. The material fruitive results offered in the revealed scriptures are not the actual goal of Vedic knowledge, but are meant for stimulating the interest of the performer. If a conditioned soul worships the Supreme Lord Hari by following the regulations found in Vedic literatures such as the tantras, he will quickly become free from the bondage of false ego.
When a devotee obtains the mercy of his spiritual master, who reveals to him the injunctions of Vedic scriptures, he worships the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the particular personal form he finds most attractive. In this way the devotee quickly becomes liberated from all material bondage.