In this way, Kṛṣṇa is endowed with all opulences, transcendental qualities and mystic powers. No ordinary living being can compare to Him. Therefore, the Māyāvādīs' theory that the Supersoul and the individual soul are equal is only a misconception. The conclusion is, therefore, that Kṛṣṇa is worshipable and that all other living entities are simply His servants. This understanding is called self-realization. Any other realization of one's self beyond this relationship of eternal servitorship to Kṛṣṇa is impelled by māyā. It is said that the last snare of māyā is to dictate to the living entity to try to become equal to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Māyāvādī philosopher claims to be equal to God, but he cannot reply to the question of why he has fallen into material entanglement. If he is the Supreme God, then how is it that he has been overtaken by impious activities and thereby subjected to the tribulations of the law of karma? When the Māyāvādīs are asked about this, they cannot properly answer. The speculation that one is equal to the Supreme Personality of Godhead is another symptom of sinful life.
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The last snare of maya
- 1 Bhagavad-gita As It Is
- 2 Srimad-Bhagavatam
- 3 Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
- 4 Lectures
- 5 Correspondence
Bhagavad-gita As It Is
BG Chapters 1 - 6
The description in the Vedas indicates that the Lord glanced over the prakṛti, or nature, and impregnated it with atomic individual souls. All these individuals are working in the material world for sense gratification, and under the spell of material energy they are thinking of being enjoyers. This mentality is dragged to the last point of liberation when the living entity wants to become one with the Lord. This is the last snare of māyā, or sense gratificatory illusion, and it is only after many, many births of such sense gratificatory activities that a great soul surrenders unto Vāsudeva, Lord Kṛṣṇa, thereby fulfilling the search after the ultimate truth.
Knowledge is always highly esteemed. And what is that knowledge? Perfect knowledge is achieved when one surrenders unto Kṛṣṇa, as is said in the Seventh Chapter, 19th verse: bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate. After passing through many, many births, when one perfect in knowledge surrenders unto Kṛṣṇa, or when one attains Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then everything is revealed to him, as everything is revealed by the sun in the daytime. The living entity is bewildered in so many ways. For instance, when he unceremoniously thinks himself God, he actually falls into the last snare of nescience. If a living entity is God, then how can he become bewildered by nescience? Does God become bewildered by nescience? If so, then nescience, or Satan, is greater than God. Real knowledge can be obtained from a person who is in perfect Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Therefore, one has to seek out such a bona fide spiritual master and, under him, learn what Kṛṣṇa consciousness is, for Kṛṣṇa consciousness will certainly drive away all nescience, as the sun drives away darkness.
BG Chapters 13 - 18
The living entity's constitutional position is to be a servitor; he has to serve either the illusory māyā or the Supreme Lord. If he serves the Supreme Lord he is in his normal condition, but if he prefers to serve the illusory, external energy, then certainly he will be in bondage. In illusion the living entity is serving in this material world. He is bound by his lust and desires, yet he thinks of himself as the master of the world. This is called illusion. When a person is liberated, his illusion is over, and he voluntarily surrenders unto the Supreme to act according to His desires. The last illusion, the last snare of māyā to trap the living entity, is the proposition that he is God. The living entity thinks that he is no longer a conditioned soul, but God. He is so unintelligent that he does not think that if he were God, then how could he be in doubt? That he does not consider. So that is the last snare of illusion. Actually to become free from the illusory energy is to understand Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and agree to act according to His order.
SB Canto 2
Sometimes the Lord gives extraordinary powers to His devotee, but the devotee knows always that the power belongs to the Personality of Godhead and that the devotee is only an instrument. The pure devotee is never puffed up like the nondevotee class of men who falsely think that they are God. It is astonishing to see how a person who is being kicked by the laws of the Lord's illusory energy at every step can falsely think of becoming one with the Lord. Such thinking is the last snare of the illusory energy offered to the conditioned soul. The first illusion is that he wants to become Lord of the material world by accumulating wealth and power, but when he is frustrated in that attempt he wants to be one with the Lord. So both becoming the most powerful man in the material world and desiring to become one with the Lord are different illusory snares. And because the pure devotees of the Lord are surrendered souls, they are above the illusory snares of māyā.
The Lord's impersonal feature is existent in the material world because by material senses or material eyes the Lord cannot be seen or perceived. One has to spiritualize the senses before one can expect to see or perceive the Supreme Lord. But He is always engaged in His personal capacity, and He is eternally visible to the inhabitants of Vaikuṇṭhaloka, eye to eye. Therefore He is materially impersonal, just as the executive head of the state may be impersonal in the government offices, although he is not impersonal in the government house. Similarly, the Lord is not impersonal in His abode, which is always nirasta-kuhakam, as stated in the very beginning of the Bhāgavatam. Therefore both the impersonal and personal features of the Lord are acceptable, as mentioned in the revealed scriptures. This Personality of Godhead is very emphatically explained in the Bhagavad-gītā in connection with the verse brahmaṇo hi pratiṣṭhāham (BG 14.27). Therefore in all ways the confidential part of spiritual knowledge is realization of the Personality of Godhead, and not His impersonal Brahman feature. One should therefore have his ultimate aim of realization not in the impersonal feature but in the personal feature of the Absolute Truth. The example of the sky within the pot and the sky outside the pot may be helpful to the student for his realization of the all-pervading quality of the cosmic consciousness of the Absolute Truth. But that does not mean that the individual part and parcel of the Lord becomes the Supreme by a false claim. It means only that the conditioned soul is a victim of the illusory energy in her last snare. To claim to be one with the cosmic consciousness of the Lord is the last trap set by the illusory energy, or daivī māyā. Even in the impersonal existence of the Lord, as it is in the material creation, one should aspire for personal realization of the Lord, and that is the meaning of paścād ahaṁ yad etac ca yo 'vaśiṣyeta so 'smy aham.
The real source of light is the brahmajyoti, which diffuses light from the transcendental body of the Lord, and the same light is reflected in varieties of light: the light of the sun, the light of the moon, the light of fire, or the light of electricity. So the identity of the self as being unconnected with the Supreme Self, the Lord, is also illusion, and the false claim "I am the Supreme" is the last illusory snare of the same māyā, or the external energy of the Lord.
The jīvas, the living entities, are mentioned in the Bhagavad-gītā as the Lord's superior nature, or parā prakṛti, and so also it is mentioned in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa. Therefore the living entities are never the puruṣas, or the factual enjoyers. As such, the spirit of enjoyment by the living entity in the material world is false. In the spiritual world the living entities are pure in nature, and therefore they are associates in the enjoyment of the Supreme Lord. In the material world the spirit of enjoyment of the living entities by dint of their own actions (karma) gradually fades by the laws of nature, and thus the illusory energy dictates in the ears of the conditioned souls that they should become one with the Lord. This is the last snare of the illusory energy. When the last illusion is also cleared off by the mercy of the Lord, the living entity again becomes reinstated in his original position and thus becomes actually liberated. For this attainment of liberation from the material clutches, the Lord creates the material world, maintains it for some time (one thousand years of His measurement, as stated in the previous verse), and then again annihilates it by His will. The living entities are therefore completely dependent on the mercy of the Lord, and all their so-called enjoyments by scientific improvement are crushed into dust when the Lord desires.
SB Canto 3
The senses are certainly products of the mode of passion in false ego, and therefore philosophical speculative knowledge and fruitive activities are predominantly products of the mode of passion.
The chief function of the false ego is godlessness. When a person forgets his constitutional position as an eternally subordinate part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and wants to be happy independently, he functions mainly in two ways. He first attempts to act fruitively for personal gain or sense gratification, and after attempting such fruitive activities for a considerable time, when he is frustrated he becomes a philosophical speculator and thinks himself to be on the same level as God. This false idea of becoming one with the Lord is the last snare of the illusory energy, which traps a living entity into the bondage of forgetfulness under the spell of false ego.
It is clearly said here that the principle of service was generated from the legs of the Lord for the sake of perfecting the religious process, but this transcendental service is different from the idea of service in the material world. In the material world, no one wants to be a servant; everyone wants to become the master because false mastership is the basic disease of the conditioned soul. The conditioned soul in the material world wants to lord it over others. Illusioned by the external energy of the Lord, he is forced to become a servant of the material world. That is the real position of the conditioned soul. The last snare of the illusory, external energy is the conception of becoming one with the Lord, and due to this conception the illusioned soul remains in the bondage of material energy, falsely thinking himself a liberated soul and "as good as Nārāyaṇa."
O learned sage, your explanations are very good, as they should be. Disturbances to the conditioned soul have no other basis than the movement of the external energy of the Lord.
A living entity's unlawful desire to become one with the Lord in every respect is the root cause of the entire material manifestation, for otherwise the Lord has no need to create such a manifestation, even for His pastimes. The conditioned soul, under the spell of the external energy of the Lord, falsely suffers many unfortunate incidents in material life. The Lord is the predominator of the external energy, māyā, whereas the living entity is predominated by the same māyā under the material condition. The false attempt of the living entity to occupy the predominating post of the Lord is the cause of his material bondage, and the conditioned soul's attempt to become one with the Lord is the last snare of māyā.
When one engages in the transcendental devotional service of the Lord one becomes aware that his constitutional position, as an individual soul, is to be eternally a servitor of the Supreme Lord, Vāsudeva. Self-realization does not mean that because the Supreme Soul and the individual soul are both souls they are equal in every respect. The individual soul is prone to be conditioned, and the Supreme Soul is never conditioned. When the conditioned soul realizes that he is subordinate to the Supreme Soul, his position is called labdhātmā, self-realization, or mukta-bandhana, freedom from material contamination. Material contamination continues as long as one thinks that he is as good as the Supreme Lord or is equal with Him. This condition is the last snare of māyā. Māyā always influences the conditioned soul. Even after much meditation and speculation, if one continues to think himself one with the Supreme Lord, it is to be understood that he is still in the last snares of the spell of māyā.
Only in ignorance does a living entity think that he is lost. If by attainment of knowledge he comes to the real position of his eternal existence, he knows that he is not lost. An appropriate example is mentioned herein: naṣṭa-vitta ivāturaḥ. A person who has lost a great sum of money may think that he is lost, but actually he is not lost-only his money is lost. But due to his absorption in the money or identification with the money, he thinks that he is lost. Similarly, when we falsely identify with matter as our field of activities, we think that we are lost, although actually we are not. As soon as a person is awakened to the pure knowledge of understanding that he is an eternal servitor of the Lord, his own real position is revived. A living entity can never be lost. When one forgets his identity in deep sleep, he becomes absorbed in dreams, and he may think himself a different person or may think himself lost. But actually his identity is intact. This concept of being lost is due to false ego, and it continues as long as one is not awakened to the sense of his existence as an eternal servitor of the Lord. The Māyāvādī philosophers' concept of becoming one with the Supreme Lord is another symptom of being lost in false ego. One may falsely claim that he is the Supreme Lord, but actually he is not. This is the last snare of māyā's influence upon the living entity. To think oneself equal with the Supreme Lord or to think oneself to be the Supreme Lord Himself is also due to false ego.
Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead
Renunciation Through Wisdom
Genuine jñānīs know how everything is connected to Brahman, the Absolute Truth. They are humble, unassuming, clean, brahminical, and reverent toward the guru, and they possess many other good qualities. Most often they take to the renounced order (sannyāsa) and lead a pure and saintly life. Yet frequently these sannyāsīs develop one major fault: they consider themselves God. They misinterpret the meaning of the Vedic phrase ahaṁ brahmāsmi, "I am Brahman," and thus they cannot realize pure knowledge of Brahman. They end up deifying the process of negation, and that finally leads to absolute monism. In this way, many jñānīs who want to know the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Brahman, get somehow misled by the illusory potency, māyā. Māyā prepares her last fatal trap, liberation, by which she keeps the monists stranded in the ocean of material existence. She deludes them into thinking "I am that," "I am He," as if they were in a drunken daze.
Mukunda-mala-stotra (mantras 1 to 6 only)
One who engages in the transcendental loving service of the Supreme Being automatically attains detachment from material name, fame, and gain, which are aspired for only by those who do not understand that this name, fame, and gain are merely shadows of the real thing. Material name, fame, and gain are only perverted reflections of the substance—the name, fame, and opulences of the Lord. Therefore the pure devotee of Lord Vāsudeva, enlightened by the transcendental service attitude, has no attraction for such false things as religiosity, economic development, sense gratification, or salvation, the last snare of Māyā.
The purpose of performing real religion is to attain attachment for hearing and chanting the messages of the kingdom of God. Materialistic people are attached to ordinary newspapers on account of their lack of spiritual consciousness. Real religion develops this spiritual consciousness and also attachment for the messages of God, without which all labor in the performance of religious rites is only a waste of energy.
Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures
As this material world is prakṛti, similarly, there is another prakṛti, Kṛṣṇa gives information. Apareyam itas tu viddhi me prakṛtiṁ parām. But that is parā-prakṛti. So we are not puruṣa; we are prakṛtis. Although by materially dressed, we appear to be puruṣa, actually, we are not puruṣa. Just like if you dress one woman like a man, that does mean she has become man. She is woman. Similarly, we are puruṣa in the sense that we are trying to imitate the supreme puruṣa, Puruṣottama. Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme enjoyer. We are trying to become imitation Kṛṣṇa. Just like so many rascals, they declare that "God, I am God." That is the last snare, Māyāvāda. First of all we try to become enjoyer like the head of the family man or a minister or this and that, so many. Everyone is trying to become head, enjoyer. And at last, being baffled in every respect, he wants to become God. This is the last snare of māyā. Nobody can become God. He is Puruṣottama and we are prakṛtis. Artificially, how we can become enjoyer? Prakṛti means enjoyed. Enjoyer and... Predominator and the predominated.
That means those who are not voluntarily surrendering to Kṛṣṇa, they are put into the prison house. They are forced to surrender. Forced to surrender. They'll be forced. Just like you cannot become... You are not free, either outside the prison house or inside the prison house. But when you think that you have become free... Vimukta-māninaḥ. Vimukta-māninaḥ, falsely thinking that "I have now become liberated." Aviśuddha-buddhayaḥ (SB 10.2.32). But the intelligence is not very clear. This is last snare of māyā. When one thinks that "I am God. I have become God," that is the last snare of māyā. That is also māyā. How you can become God? What capacity you have got? God has created so many things. What you have created? God has shown so many things. What you have done? But still, falsely they are thinking, "I am God." This is māyā, last snare of māyā. Because the real disease as we have already explained, is to lord it over the material nature. Everyone is trying: "I am the lord of all I survey. I want to become lord of this universe. I want to become minister. I want to become president. I want to become business magnitude." And everything fails. Then he wants to become God. That is also māyā. That is not possible.
No, the trouble must be there because God has created this world for your enjoyment and for my enjoyment, there therefore must be struggle. Because I don't agree with you, you don't agree with me. So why there shall not be trouble? Because everyone, if everyone... Just like in office, if everyone wants to become the proprietor, will not there be confusion and chaos? Do you think the office will go on nicely? Similarly, here, God has given you chance to become master because you wanted, but everyone wants to be master. There is chaos. How there can be harmony when everyone wants to become God? Do you think it is all right? There must be chaos. Here is the position. Everyone in the material world, first of all, they want to become big man, big businessman, big, big this, big that, minister, president, and when everything is failure, then he wants to become God. That is the last snare of māyā. So this is going on. How you can expect peace and prosperity here? That is not possible. Duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam (BG 8.15). It is stated by Kṛṣṇa Himself that this is a place only for misery, but under the influence of māyā, we are accepting all miserable conditions of life as happiness. This is called māyā.
"I am the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of Kṛṣṇa." This should be my real identification. This is very good identification. In Kṛṣṇa consciousness we address our contemporaries as "prabhu." Prabhu means master. And the real idea is that "You are my master, I am your servant." Just the opposite number. Here, in the material world, everyone wants to place himself as the master. "I am your master, you are my servant." That is the mentality of material existence. And the spiritual existence means "I am the servant, you are the master." Just see. Just the opposite number.
The māyā's attraction, the last snare of māyā is in this material conception of life, that so many identification, "I am this," "I am that," "I am that," "I am big man," "I am rich man," "I am prime minister," then so on, so on. When we are frustrated in all these attempts, then we try to become God. I am God. This is the last snare of māyā. But this Kṛṣṇa consciousness philosophy is just the opposite. What to speak of God? He is to think himself as the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of God (CC Madhya 13.80).
So even those who are trying for that, because that original disease is there, therefore even one who has advanced spiritually, he also says, "I am God. I am God." The same spirit, to make competition with Kṛṣṇa. The māyā is there. "Why you are going to worship Kṛṣṇa? You are God." "Oh, yes, I am God." This is the last snare of māyā. Therefore they are Māyāvādīs. Nobody can become Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa says, mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañjaya (BG 7.7). Nobody can be equal to Kṛṣṇa; nobody can be greater than Kṛṣṇa. Then what is the meaning of God? If there are so many rascal Gods, then what is the specific personality of God? So this is the last snare of māyā, if one is trying to become God. That is not possible. That is asuric. Āsuraṁ bhāvam āśritāḥ. They never will...
Kṛṣṇa's desire is that you surrender. Sarva-dharmān... You have manufactured so many things within this material world to become happy. This is all foolishness. You will never be happy. Therefore Kṛṣṇa says, because Kṛṣṇa loves, that you sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja (BG 18.66). But māyā says, "No. Why? You become Kṛṣṇa. You become God." This is going on. This is asuric, āsuraṁ bhāvam. So it is very difficult to give up the āsuraṁ bhāvam.
So our, this chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa is also the same thing. This is also taught by Caitanya—Hare Means addressing the energy of the Lord and Kṛṣṇa, the Lord, Rāma, the Lord. Why? Please engage me in your service, that's all. That should be the demand. Please engage me in Your service. Because the whole disease is that we have forgotten to serve God. Because we are thinking, "I am God. What is any other God that I have to serve? I am myself God." That is the only disease. The last snare. First of all I try to become President, Minister, Rockefeller, Ford, this, that, when I fail, then I want to become God. That is another President, you see? So in the bhakti-yoga there is no such demand. Simply to serve. When all Presidentship fails, then I demand the highest Presidentship, to become God. You see? The demand is there, the disease is there. They cannot know that, that my disease is still there. I am demanding to be the highest. But bhakti-yoga is just the opposite. To become servant. Servant of the servant (CC Madhya 13.80). Just opposite. There is no question of demanding to become the Lord or the President or this. I want to serve, that's all. And that is the crucial test. Service is the original nature. Now in this material world also you are serving. If you want to become the President then I have to promise so many times to the voters that "I'll give you service." Without promise of service, there is no question of presidentship. So actually my position is to render service. Either I become President or Minister or this or that. That they cannot understand. In spite of my becoming the highest executive person, President—Oh, I have to give service to my people, otherwise immediately they dethrone me. Therefore my real position is service. But service here is so dangerous, if there is little discrepancy of service, the President is immediately fired.
Prakṛti means to remain dependent on the supreme husband or on the supreme father. You can accept Kṛṣṇa as father. You can love Kṛṣṇa as father, as husband, as master. Dependent. Remain dependent. And Kṛṣṇa has come to teach us that natural position of the living entities. Sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja (BG 18.66). Man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru (BG 18.65). This is our position, not to be puffed up, that "I am God, I am Kṛṣṇa, everyone is Kṛṣṇa." This is māyā, the last snare of māyā. Māyā dictates that "You become the biggest man of the world. You become the biggest, richest man of the world." And you are struggling. And there is struggle. Just like there is struggle is going on in Pakistan. The Bangladesh is trying that "We shall be leading Pakistan." And the Western Pakistan is trying that "We shall be leading." Nobody is leader. Actually, Kṛṣṇa is leader. Nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām, eko bahūnāṁ yo vidadhāti kāmān (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.2.13). This is the Vedic injunction. Kṛṣṇa also says clearly: bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ sarva-loka-maheśvaram (BG 5.29). Bhoktā aham.
So that day I have already explained puruṣa. Puruṣa means the enjoyer. And prakṛti means enjoyed. So puruṣaḥ prakṛti-sthaḥ. The living entity, although... Prakṛti-sthaḥ means this material world. The living entity, although part and parcel of God, spiritual entity, but he has come to this material world to enjoy. Anyone who is in this material world, his original cause of coming down from the spiritual platform to this material platform means he wanted to enjoy.
In the spiritual world the only enjoyer is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. All others are enjoyed. But here in this material world everyone is trying to become the Supreme, and others, to be enjoyed. Everyone is trying to become God, and the last snare of māyā is that one is claiming that "I am God." When he tries to become big businessman, big zamindar, big minister, big president, or in the society, big rich man, big, big always. And when he fails to become all kinds of "bigs," he wants to become one with God. By mixing, by merging into God, he will be the biggest. That is the philosophy. So basic principle is how to become big. Otherwise... Because unless I become very big, I cannot enjoy.
Actually, they are not liberated. Because aviśuddha-buddhayaḥ, their intelligence is not yet clear, therefore, even after severe austerities, penances, they come to the point of Brahman realization, because they have no realization of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, they fall down. Because there is no engagement. I do not wish to name the big, big sannyāsīs of India who fell down in this way. But you know that the Māyāvādī sampradāya, they take this world as mithyā. Brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā. If jagat is mithyā, then why you come down again for philanthropic activities, for political activities? That is called māyā. That is the last snare of māyā. Māyā dictates that "Now we have failed to become minister, to president, and so many other big, big posts. Now you become Brahman." You are already Brahman. Simply you have to realize. That's all. That is knowledge, that I am not the... Brahman realization means that "I am not this body." Because so long one identifies with this body, he is no better than animal. That is the first lesson. Kṛṣṇa says in the beginning of the Bhagavad-gītā, dehino 'smin yathā dehe kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā, tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ (BG 2.13). Deha and dehinaḥ. So that is preliminary knowledge of Brahman realization. But if you do not fix up in your Brahman realization... That is parā-bhakti.
So Kṛṣṇa is vibhu; we are aṇu. Never consider that we are equal to Kṛṣṇa. That is a great offense. That is called māyā. That is the last snare of māyā. Actually, we have come to this material world to become one with Kṛṣṇa. We thought that we shall become like Kṛṣṇa.
- kṛṣṇa-bahirmukha hañā bhoga vāñchā kare
- nikaṭa-stha māyā tāre jāpaṭiyā dhare
Because we wanted to become one with Kṛṣṇa, to compete with Kṛṣṇa, therefore we are put into this material world. Māyā tāre jāpaṭiyā dhare. And here, in this material world, it is going on. Everyone is trying to become Kṛṣṇa. That is māyā. Everyone. "First of all, let me become a big, big man; then let me become the minister, let me become the president." In this way, when everything fails, then "Let me merge into the existence of God." That means, "Let me become God." This is going on. This is material struggle for existence. Everyone is trying to become Kṛṣṇa.
As soon as we forget this, that is māyā. As soon as I think that "I am Kṛṣṇa," that is māyā. That māyā means this māyā, illusion, can be rejected by advancement of knowledge. That is jñānī. Jñānī means this is real knowledge, to understand his real position. This is not knowledge, that "I am equal to God. I am God." This is not knowledge. I am God, but I am sample of God. But the Supreme God is Kṛṣṇa. Īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ (Bs. 5.1). Arjuna accepted Kṛṣṇa like that: paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān (BG 10.12). Paraṁ brahma. We may become Brahman... We are Brahman. There is no question of becoming. Ahaṁ brahmāsmi. This is not very difficult to understand. Because I am spirit soul, so I am Brahman. That's all right. But I am not Paraṁ Brahman. That is ignorance. I am not Paraṁ Brahman. If one, anyone thinks that he is Paraṁ Brahman, then it must be understood that he's under the clutches of māyā. That is the last snare of māyā. Therefore Kṛṣṇa says that when one actually becomes knowledgeable, cognizant, he surrenders. Bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate (BG 7.19). That is real knowledge.
But if I simply try to become ahaṁ brahmāsmi without knowing the full philosophy, then I shall be fallen again, that "I am equal to God." Ahaṁ brahmāsmi means "I am the Supreme God," as the Māyāvādīs, they think that liberation means "I become one with God." No. That is not your position. You cannot become... That is another māyā. That is the last dictation of māyā: "Why you shall become the servant of gopī-bhartuḥ? You become God." That is māyā. That is the last snare of māyā. Therefore they fall down. Āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ patanty adho 'nādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅghrayaḥ (SB 10.2.32). Anādṛta. With great austerity, penances and vairāgya, they can go up to the paraṁ padam. Paraṁ padam means Brahman. Nirviśeṣa-brahman. Not in the material existence, but in the spiritual existence. Āruhya. They can rise up to that. Ahaṁ brahmāsmi: to understand that "I am not this matter, I am Brahman." But unless one takes shelter of the gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa, he'll fall down. Āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ patanty adhaḥ (SB 10.2.32). Why? Anādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅghrayaḥ. Because one does not know, as Caitanya Mahāprabhu teaches, that gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ (CC Madhya 13.80). He falls down. He has no shelter. Anādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅghrayaḥ.
Therefore here it is said, naikātmatāṁ me spṛhayanti kecit. No pure devotee will desire like that. It is foolish proposal. Aviśuddha-buddhayaḥ. They are called aviśuddha-buddhayaḥ, whose intelligence is not yet clear or purified. Ye 'nye 'ravindākṣa vimukta-māninaḥ. They are thinking, "Now we have become spiritually realized, vimukta, liberated from material bondage." Ye 'nye 'ravindākṣa vimukta-māninaḥ. Aviśuddha-buddhayaḥ. Āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ patanty adhaḥ (SB 10.2.32). Patanty adhaḥ. Now, they are thinking, "Now we are liberated. We have become Nārāyaṇa." Vimukta-māninaḥ. They are thinking like that. Actually, they are not liberated. That is another, the last snare of māyā, that "You are God." Māyā is still talking that to bewilder him. Māyā's business is to bewilder the living entity. So this is the last snare, that to become one with the Supreme. Ye 'nye 'ravindākṣa vimukta-mā...tvayy asta-bhāvāt. Because they have no information that they can go back to home, back to Godhead, and enjoy the company of the Supreme Lord, they think that to become one with the Supreme, that is the highest perfection.
Piśācī means ghost. When one man is ghostly haunted, he speaks so many nonsense. Similarly, when one is entangled by the illusory energy, māyā, he also speaks all nonsense. At last he speaks that "I am God." That is the last snare of māyā. So they are not, they cannot be liberated, because they are under the false impression still. Anyone who is under the false impression, or anyone who is attracted by false knowledge, he's under the clutches of māyā. When there is right knowledge, right conception of life, then one is liberated. That is called brahma-bhūta (SB 4.30.20). And Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā: brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā (BG 18.54). As soon as you get right knowledge, you become jolly. First jolliness is due to "Oh, I was in such false notion so long. Oh, how fool I was." Then you become happy that "Now I am no longer fool. I was thinking that I'm God. But now I can understand that I am God's eternal servant." That gives him liberation and he becomes prasannātmā, jolly.
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Lectures
And without becoming God, nobody can become servant of God. Without becoming fire, you cannot serve fire. That is the principle. But not that... Just like great fire and a small fire. The small spark fire is within the great fire. You cannot remain in the great fire, but the spark, even if it is very small, he can remain. So the fiery quality of the big fire and the small fire is the same, but there is distinction of dimension or energy.
Therefore here it is said, jīvera svarūpa haya (CC Madhya 20.108). We must... This is our constitutional position. Artificially we should not think that "Now I have become God." That is false. That is the last snare of māyā, because māyā... In this material world everyone is trying to become the chief man, everyone. Everyone is trying to become minister. Everyone is trying to become a Birla. Everyone is trying to become a big doctor or a big financier, everyone. This is the struggle for existence here. Everyone. At last, when failed in everything, then he thinks of him, "I am God." This is the disease, material disease. But Caitanya Mahāprabhu, in the very beginning He impresses that "You are not the master; you are the servant. If you don't serve Kṛṣṇa, then you'll serve māyā. That is your position." That is the position of everyone here in this material world. They are serving the māyā.
So the same thing is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā, Seventh Chapter, that the Lord says that... This is also another influence of māyā, illusion. Just like under the spell of illusion we are thinking that "I am American," "I am Indian," "I am king," "I am big man," "I am poor man"—so many we have got—and this is all due to this body, bodily conception. It has no actual standing. It is all..., they are all designations. Similarly, the last snare of māyā is to, I mean to say, induce one to think that "I am God." Just like we are under the spell of illusion. We are thinking, "I am this and that, this and that." So after many, many years' cultivation of knowledge, if one comes to the conclusion that "I am God. There is no other second God. I am God," so that is also another spell of illusion. So the Bhagavad-gītā says that daivī hy eṣā guṇamayī mama māyā duratyayā (BG 7.14). One is trying to get out of the clutches of the illusory energy, but it is very difficult. Up to the last point the māyā, illusion, will offer you something so that she will baffle your endeavor to get out of her clutches. Daivī hy eṣā guṇamayī mama māyā duratyayā.
Now, there are many speculators. After some philosophical speculation, they think, "Now I have realized that 'I am the same. I am same God. I am God.' " So this process is called jñāna system. So Lord Caitanya says that these jñānīs, they artificially think that "Now I have realized myself," but actually that is not self-realization. Self-realization is when you actually engage yourself in the service of the Lord. That is your self-realization. Because you are part and parcel, your duty is to serve the whole. If you think yourself, "I am whole," that is wrong conception. That is wrong conception. You are not whole. How you can be whole? So there are so many examples that think ourself that "I am the Supreme. I am the whole." Just the other day I was speaking to you: it is the last snare. We are not whole. We are part and parcel. Just..., just the hand in healthy condition, as part and parcel of the body, is very nice. When the hand is working in his position, that position is very nice. But when it is not working—it is in diseased condition—do you think it is very nice? No. Paralyzed hand, simply in the name it is hand, but it has no function. So that sort of understanding, without actually reinstated in the healthy state of our spiritual life, simply thinking that "I am now spiritually realized; I am the Supreme," this is not pure. So Lord Caitanya says, vastutaḥ buddhi 'śuddha' nahe: "That sort of conception is not purified intelligence. That is still contaminated intelligence."
Bhagavān means... Bhaga means fortune. So Bhagavān. Vān means possessing fortune. So these are the symptoms of becoming fortunate: wealthy, strong, wise, beautiful, reputed, and at the same time, renouncer, without any attachment. These things are to be tested. So don't accept cheap God, or don't try to imitate God, "I am God." This is a great, what is called, standard of ignorance. Anyone falsely claiming that "I am God," that is the last snare of māyā, that one is falsely claiming God.
So our students in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, wherever it is possible, try to preach this principle. God is not so cheap that any rascal can come and claim that "I am God," or anyone can claim as God. This is most foolish claim. Our Vedic literature gives hundreds and thousands of description how God is to be understood. In the Upaniṣad it is stated, eko bahūnāṁ vidadhāti kāmān. Nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.2.13). He is the chief amongst the living entities. He is the chief amongst the eternals. How He is chief? He is one. God is one. Eko bahūnāṁ vidadhāti kāmān. He is one living entity, supreme living entity, and He is supplying the necessities of all other living entities. That is God—whether He is supplying necessities of all other living entities.
So Caitanya Mahāprabhu begins where Kṛṣṇa ended. He said to Sanatāna Gosvāmī that jīvera 'svarūpa' haya-nitya-kṛṣṇa-dāsa (Cc. Madhya 20.108-109), the real identity of the living entity is that he is eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa or God. That is our real identity. But we are identifying in so many ways. Not only am I identifying that "I am Indian," "I am American," "I am brāhmaṇa," "I am Christian," "I am Mohammedan," "I am so on, so on," at last, "I am God." At last... That is the last snare of māyā. These are all māyā, this false identification. And the last false identification, when I falsely say that I am God. This is going on. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa said, "You give up all these nonsense theories. You simply surrender unto Me and I will give you protection. I will give you protection." Ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi (BG 18.66). Because anything done without Kṛṣṇa consciousness, that is sinful. That is explained in the Bhagavad-gītā, yajñārthāt karmaṇo 'nyatra loko 'yam-karma-bandhanaḥ (BG 3.9). So either you act piously or act sinfully, you become bound up by the reaction of such pious or impious activities. But if you act for Kṛṣṇa in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then there is no such bondage.
So actually we are still servant although we have rejected servitude of Kṛṣṇa. That is our rebellious condition. Every one of us, all living entities within this material world, they are more or less rebellious condition. We don't want to serve Kṛṣṇa. I want to become Kṛṣṇa. That is māyā. That is the last snare of māyā. First of all, in our karmī life we want to become master of the world. I want to lord it over the material nature. That is our struggle. Everyone is trying, "I shall become the master." Nobody wants to become servant. That is māyā. But actually he is serving. That is our position. Try to understand. We are serving our senses whimsically. I want to become this. I want to become that. First of all I want to become a big businessman, or I want to become a prime minister. I want to become the president. And when I am frustrated, then I want to become God. That want—"I want to become master"—is going on. So this is also māyā. How one can become God? Kṛṣṇa says, mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañjaya (BG 7.7). Nobody can become equal to God or greater than God. Asamaurdha. In the Bhagavad-gītā Kṛṣṇa is described as asama urdha. "Nobody is equal to God, and nobody is greater than God." Asama urdha.
Prabhupāda: When he is made minister, then he wants to be the president. And when he becomes a president, he wants to control all over the world, just like your Nixon. So this progressive ambition is there in the material world because any materialistic man is implanted with the idea that "I shall become like Kṛṣṇa." So when he fails everything, then he wants to merge into the Kṛṣṇa. Māyāvāda philosophy. Ahaṁ brahmāsmi. He does not know that... He is already Brahman, but he thinks that "I am the Supreme Brahman. I am moving the sun. I am moving the..." Meditating. He is moving the sun. He is moving... Just another imitate. That is the last snare of māyā. Māyā is giving him allurement that "You become a minister, you become secretary, you become a big merchant, you become a Birla. You..." "Become become become." (S)he is always dictating, and he is working under the dictation of māyā. The last dictation is, "Then you have failed all these things. Better you become God." (laughter) So he thinks, "I am God." And māyā is still kicking. As soon as God gets some toothache, he'll have to, another... So he goes... "After all, what kind of God you are? You come here for toothache cure." This is another man.
1947 to 1965 Correspondence
The thing is that the living being is the part and parcel of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna and some way or other he (the living being) has come in contact with the material energy with an enjoying spirit to lord it over the material nature which spirit is a perverted reflection of the Absolute Enjoyer the Lord. In other words the living being due to his desire of becoming an imitation Lord of the material nature, he is suffering the effects of material energy in the shape of threefold miseries as a matter of police action of the strong material nature. The foolish living being is trying to overcome the stringent laws of Nature by different plans which are being frustrated __ regular way. The last snare of Maya or the material __ is an offering of opportunity to become one with __ Absolute thereby misleading him (the __ perpetually to pull on the material bondage under different categories of life. He can only be saved from this turmoil by reviving his consciousness of surrender unto the Lord which only saves him from all effects of sin. That is the last instructions of the Bhagavad-gita.