Taking advantage of those instructions, Prahlāda Mahārāja, although a small baby within the womb, listened very carefully. The spirit soul is always apart from the material body. There is no change in the spiritual form of the living entity. Any person above the bodily conception of life is pure and can receive transcendental knowledge. This transcendental knowledge is devotional service, and Prahlāda Mahārāja, while living in the womb of his mother, received instructions in devotional service from Nārada Muni. Any person engaged in the service of the Lord through the instructions of a bona fide spiritual master is immediately liberated, and being free from the clutches of māyā, he is relieved of all ignorance and material desires. The duty of everyone is to take shelter of the Supreme Lord and thus become free from all material desires. Regardless of the material condition in which one is situated, one can achieve this perfection. Devotional service is not dependent on the material activities of austerity, penance, mystic yoga or piety. Even without such assets, one can achieve devotional service through the mercy of a pure devotee.
Bodily (SB cantos 7 - 12)
SB Canto 7
Śiśupāla and Dantavakra were formerly Jaya and Vijaya, the doorkeepers of Vaikuṇṭha. Merging into the body of Kṛṣṇa was not their final destination. For some time they remained merged, and later they received the liberations of sārūpya and sālokya, living on the same planet as the Lord in the same bodily form. The śāstras give evidence that if one blasphemes the Supreme Lord, his punishment is to remain in hellish life for many millions of years more than one suffers by killing many brāhmaṇas. Śiśupāla, however, instead of entering hellish life, immediately and very easily received sāyujya-mukti. That such a privilege had been offered to Śiśupāla was not merely a story. Everyone saw it happen; there was no scarcity of evidence. How did it happen? Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira was very much surprised.
"The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of material energy." A material body is manufactured by the external energy according to the direction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The conditioned soul, being seated on this machine, wanders throughout the universe, and because of his bodily conception of life he only suffers. Actually the suffering of being blasphemed and the enjoyment of being praised, the acceptance of a good welcome or of chastisement by harsh words, are felt in the material conception of life; but since the body of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is not material but sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha (Bs. 5.1), He is unaffected by insults or greetings, blasphemy or prayers. Being always unaffected and complete, He does not feel extra pleasure when offered nice prayers by the devotee, although the devotee benefits by offering prayers to the Lord. Indeed, the Lord is very kind to His so-called enemy because one who always thinks of the Personality of Godhead as an enemy also benefits, although he thinks of the Lord adversely. If a conditioned soul, thinking of the Lord as an enemy or a friend, somehow or other becomes attached to the Lord, he receives great benefit.
My dear King, the conditioned soul, being in the bodily conception of life, considers his body to be his self and considers everything in relationship with the body to be his. Because he has this wrong conception of life, he is subjected to dualities like praise and chastisement.
Only when a conditioned soul accepts the body as himself does he feel the effects of chastisement or praise. Then he determines one person to be his enemy and another his friend and wants to chastise the enemy and welcome the friend. This creation of friends and enemies is a result of one's bodily conception of life.
Because of the bodily conception of life, the conditioned soul thinks that when the body is annihilated the living being is annihilated. Lord Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the supreme controller, the Supersoul of all living entities. Because He has no material body, He has no false conception of "I and mine." It is therefore incorrect to think that He feels pleasure or pain when blasphemed or offered prayers. This is impossible for Him. Thus He has no enemy and no friend. When He chastises the demons it is for their good, and when He accepts the prayers of the devotees it is for their good. He is affected neither by prayers nor by blasphemy.
Because of being covered by material bodies, the conditioned souls, including even greatly learned scholars and falsely educated professors, all think that as soon as the body is finished, everything is finished. This is due to their bodily conception of life. Kṛṣṇa has no such bodily conception, nor is His body different from His self. Therefore, since Kṛṣṇa has no material conception of life, how can He be affected by material prayers and accusations? Kṛṣṇa's body is described herewith as kaivalya, nondifferent from Himself. Since everyone has a material bodily conception of life, if Kṛṣṇa had such a conception what would be the difference between Kṛṣṇa and the conditioned soul? Kṛṣṇa's instructions in Bhagavad-gītā are accepted as final because He does not possess a material body. As soon as one has a material body he has four deficiencies, but since Kṛṣṇa does not possess a material body, He has no deficiencies. He is always spiritually conscious and blissful. Īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ (Bs. 5.1): His form is eternal, blissful knowledge. Sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ, ānanda-cinmaya-rasa and kaivalya are the same.
Kṛṣṇa can expand Himself as Paramātmā in the core of everyone's heart. In Bhagavad-gītā (13.3) this is confirmed. Kṣetra-jñaṁ cāpi māṁ viddhi sama-kṣetreṣu bhārata: the Lord is the Paramātmā—the ātmā or Superself of all individual souls. Therefore it must naturally be concluded that He has no defective bodily conceptions. Although situated in everyone's body, He has no bodily conception of life. He is always free from such conceptions, and thus He cannot be affected by anything in relation to the material body of the jīva.
As usual, the demon is envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and inimical toward Him. These were Hiraṇyakaśipu's external bodily features as he considered how to kill Lord Viṣṇu and devastate His kingdom, Vaikuṇṭhaloka.
"A human being who identifies the body made of three elements as the self, who considers the by-products of the body to be his kinsmen, who considers the land of his birth worshipable, and who goes to a place of pilgrimage simply to bathe rather than to meet men of transcendental knowledge there, is to be considered like a cow or an ass." Although Hiraṇyakaśipu was a great demon, he was not as foolish as the population of the modern world. Hiraṇyakaśipu had clear knowledge of the spirit soul and the subtle and gross bodies, but now we are so degraded that everyone, including the exalted scientists, philosophers and other leaders, is under the bodily conception of life, which is condemned in the śāstras. Sa eva go-kharaḥ: (SB 10.84.13) such persons are nothing but cows and asses.
This substantiates the description of the śāstra that a foolish man in the bodily concept of life is like a cow. Not only do foolish men and women consider the body the self, but we have even seen that the dead body of a so-called yogī was kept for days by his disciples, who thought that their guru was in samādhi. When decomposition began and a bad smell unfortunately began to overwhelm the yogic power, the disciples allowed the dead body of the so-called yogī to be burned. Thus the bodily concept of life is extremely strong among foolish persons, who are compared to cows and asses. Nowadays, great scientists are trying to freeze dead bodies so that in the future these frozen bodies may again be brought to life. The incident narrated by Hiraṇyakaśipu from history must have taken place millions of years ago because Hiraṇyakaśipu lived millions of years ago and was even then quoting from history. Thus the incident occurred before Hiraṇyakaśipu's lifetime, but the same ignorance in the bodily concept of life is still prevalent, not only among laymen but even among scientists who think they will be able to revive frozen corpses.
The duty of all human beings, therefore, is to keep the mind always engaged at the lotus feet of the Lord (sa vai manaḥ kṛṣṇa-padāravindayoḥ (SB 9.4.18)). When the mind is engaged at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, the intelligence is purified, and then the intelligence gets inspiration from the Supersoul (dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ tam). Thus the living entity makes progress toward liberation from material bondage. The individual living soul is subject to the laws of fruitive activity, but the Supersoul, Paramātmā, is not affected by the fruitive activities of the individual soul. As confirmed in the Vedic Upaniṣad, the Paramātmā and the jīvātmā, who are likened to two birds, are sitting in the body. The jīvātmā is enjoying or suffering by eating the fruits of the bodily activities, but the Paramātmā, who is free from such bondage, witnesses and sanctions the activities of the individual soul as the individual soul desires.
Therefore none of you should be aggrieved for the loss of the body—whether your own or those of others. Only in ignorance does one make bodily distinctions, thinking "Who am I? Who are the others? What is mine? What is for others?"
In this material world, the conception of self-preservation is the first law of nature. According to this conception, one should be interested in his personal safety and should then consider society, friendship, love, nationality, community and so on, which have all developed because of the bodily conception of life and a lack of knowledge of the spirit soul. This is called ajñāna. As long as human society is in darkness and ignorance, men will continue to make huge arrangements in the bodily conception of life. This is described by Prahlāda Mahārāja as bharam. In the materialistic conception, modern civilization makes enormous arrangements for huge roads, houses, mills and factories, and this is man's conception of the advancement of civilization. People do not know, however, that at any time they themselves may be kicked out of the scene and forced to accept bodies that have nothing to do with these enormous houses, palaces, roads and automobiles. Therefore when Arjuna was thinking in terms of his bodily relationships with his kinsmen, Kṛṣṇa immediately chastised him, saying, kutas tvā kaśmalam idaṁ viṣame samupasthitam anārya juṣṭam: "This bodily conception of life is befitting the anāryas, the non-Āryans, who are not advanced in knowledge." An Āryan civilization is a civilization advanced in spiritual knowledge. Not merely by stamping oneself an Āryan does one become an Āryan. To keep oneself in the deepest darkness concerning spiritual knowledge and at the same time claim to be an Āryan is a non-Āryan position.
The purport is that as long as we are in this human form of body, our duty is to understand the soul within the body. The body is not the self; we are different from the body, and therefore there is no question of friends, enemies or responsibilities in terms of the bodily conception of life. One should not be very anxious about the body's changing from childhood to boyhood, from boyhood to old age and then to apparent annihilation. Rather, one should be very seriously concerned about the soul within the body and how to release the soul from the material clutches. The living entity within the body is never annihilated; therefore one should surely know that whether one has many friends or many enemies, his friends cannot help him, and his enemies cannot do him any harm. One should know that he is a spirit soul (ahaṁ brahmāsmi) and that the constitutional position of the soul is unaffected by the changes of the body. In all circumstances, everyone, as a spirit soul, must be a devotee of Lord Viṣṇu and should not be concerned with bodily relationships, whether with friends or with enemies. One should know that neither we ourselves nor our enemies in the bodily conception of life are ever killed.
It appears that human beings and asuras are subject to death, whereas demigods are not. The demigods who reside with Lord Brahmā in Satyaloka go to Vaikuṇṭhaloka in their present bodily constructions at the time of the dissolution. Therefore although Hiraṇyakaśipu had undergone severe austerities, Lord Brahmā predicted that he had to die; he could not become immortal or even gain equal status with the demigods. The great austerities and penances he had performed for so many years could not give him protection from death. This was foretold by Lord Brahmā.
As soon as he was sprinkled with the water from Lord Brahmā's waterpot, Hiraṇyakaśipu arose, endowed with a full body with limbs so strong that they could bear the striking of a thunderbolt. With physical strength and a bodily luster resembling molten gold, he emerged from the anthill a completely young man, just as fire springs from fuel wood.
Hiraṇyakaśipu was revitalized, so much so that his body was quite competent to tolerate the striking of thunderbolts. He was now a young man with a strong body and a very beautiful bodily luster resembling molten gold. This is the rejuvenation that took place because of his severe austerity and penance.
Prahlāda Mahārāja was always absorbed in thought of Kṛṣṇa. Thus, being always embraced by the Lord, he did not know how his bodily necessities, such as sitting, walking, eating, lying down, drinking and talking, were being automatically performed.
Because of his association with perfect, unalloyed devotees who had nothing to do with anything material, Prahlāda Mahārāja constantly engaged in the service of the Lord's lotus feet. By seeing his bodily features when he was in perfect ecstasy, persons very poor in spiritual understanding became purified. In other words, Prahlāda Mahārāja bestowed upon them transcendental bliss.
Apparently Prahlāda Mahārāja was placed in circumstances in which he was always tortured by his father. In such material conditions, one cannot have an undisturbed mind, but since bhakti is unconditional (ahaituky apratihatā), Prahlāda Mahārāja was never disturbed by the chastisements of Hiraṇyakaśipu. On the contrary, the bodily symptoms of his ecstatic love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead turned the minds of his friends, who had also been born in atheistic families. Instead of being disturbed by the torments of his father, Prahlāda influenced these friends and cleansed their minds. A devotee is never contaminated by material conditions, but persons subjected to material conditions can become spiritually advanced and blissful upon seeing the behavior of a pure devotee.
So-called educated philosophers and scientists who are simply on the mental platform cannot distinguish between what is actually sat, eternal, and what is asat, temporary. The Vedic injunction is asato mā jyotir gama: everyone should give up the platform of temporary existence and approach the eternal platform. The soul is eternal, and topics concerning the eternal soul are actually knowledge. Elsewhere it is said, apaśyatām ātma-tattvaṁ gṛheṣu gṛha-medhinām: (SB 2.1.2) those who are attached to the bodily conception of life and who thus stick to life as a gṛhastha, or householder, on the platform of material sense enjoyment, cannot see the welfare of the eternal soul. Prahlāda Mahārāja confirmed this by saying that if one wants success in life, he should immediately understand from the right sources what his self-interest is and how he should mold his life in spiritual consciousness. One should understand himself to be part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa and thus completely take shelter of His lotus feet for guaranteed spiritual success. Everyone in the material world is in the bodily conception, struggling hard for existence, life after life. Prahlāda Mahārāja therefore recommended that to stop this material condition of repeated birth and death, one should go to the forest (vana).
Going to the forest means accepting vānaprastha life, which is between gṛhastha life and sannyāsa. As confirmed in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa (3.8.9), varṇāśramācāravatā puruṣeṇa paraḥ pumān viṣṇur ārādhyate: (CC Madhya 8.58) by accepting the institution of varṇa and āśrama, one can very easily elevate himself to the platform of worshiping Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Otherwise, if one remains in the bodily conception, one must rot within this material world, and his life will be a failure. Society must have divisions of brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra, and for spiritual advancement one must gradually develop as a brahmacārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha and sannyāsī. Prahlāda Mahārāja recommended that his father accept vānaprastha life because as a gṛhastha he was becoming increasingly demoniac due to bodily attachment. Prahlāda recommended to his father that accepting vānaprastha life would be better than going deeper and deeper into gṛham andha-kūpam, the blind well of life as a gṛhastha. In our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement we therefore invite all the elderly persons of the world to come to Vṛndāvana and stay there in retired life, making advancement in spiritual consciousness, Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
The Gopāla-tāpanī Upaniṣad says that the word bhakti means engagement in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, not of anyone else. This Upaniṣad describes that bhakti is the offering of devotional service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. To perform devotional service, one should be relieved of the bodily conception of life and aspirations to be happy through elevation to the higher planetary systems. In other words, work performed simply for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord, without any desire for material benefits, is called bhakti. Bhakti is also called niṣkarma, or freedom from the results of fruitive activity. Bhakti and niṣkarma are on the same platform, although devotional service and fruitive activity appear almost the same.
A devotee can very peacefully chant the holy name of the Lord by behaving more humbly than the grass, being tolerant like a tree and offering respects to everyone, without expecting honor from anyone else. Such qualifications make it easier to chant the holy name of the Lord. The process of transcendental chanting can be easily performed by anyone. Even if one is physically unfit, classified lower than others, devoid of material qualifications or not at all elevated in terms of pious activities, the chanting of the holy name is beneficial. An aristocratic birth, an advanced education, beautiful bodily features, wealth and similar results of pious activities are all unnecessary for advancement in spiritual life, for one can very easily advance simply by chanting the holy name. It is understood from the authoritative source of Vedic literature that especially in this age, Kali-yuga, people are generally short-living, extremely bad in their habits, and inclined to accept methods of devotional service that are not bona fide. Moreover, they are always disturbed by material conditions, and they are mostly unfortunate.
The so-called politicians and scholars think of Kṛṣṇa as fictitious. The politician says that his Kṛṣṇa is different from the Kṛṣṇa depicted in Bhagavad-gītā. Even though he accepts Kṛṣṇa and Rāma as the Supreme he thinks of Rāma and Kṛṣṇa as impersonal because he has no idea of service to Kṛṣṇa. Thus his only business is punaḥ punaś carvita-carvaṇānām (SB 7.5.30)—chewing the chewed again and again. The aim of such politicians and academic scholars is to enjoy this material world with their bodily senses. Therefore it is clearly stated here that those who are gṛha-vrata, whose only aim is to live comfortably with the body in the material world, cannot understand Kṛṣṇa. The two expressions gṛha-vrata and carvita-carvaṇānām indicate that a materialistic person tries to enjoy sense gratification in different bodily forms, life after life, but is still unsatisfied. In the name of personalism, this ism or that ism, such persons always remain attached to the materialistic way of life.
Thinking in this way, the King of the Daityas, morose and bereft of bodily luster, remained silent with his face downward. Then Ṣaṇḍa and Amarka, the two sons of Śukrācārya, spoke to him in secret.
My dear King Yudhiṣṭhira, all the children were very much affectionate and respectful to Prahlāda Mahārāja, and because of their tender age they were not so polluted by the instructions and actions of their teachers, who were attached to condemned duality and bodily comfort. Thus the boys surrounded Prahlāda Mahārāja, giving up their playthings, and sat down to hear him. Their hearts and eyes being fixed upon him, they looked at him with great earnestness. Prahlāda Mahārāja, although born in a demon family, was an exalted devotee, and he desired their welfare. Thus he began instructing them about the futility of materialistic life.
We see materialistic persons busily engaged in economic development all day and all night, trying to increase their material opulence, but even if we suppose that they get some benefit from such endeavors, that does not solve the real problem of their lives. Nor do they know what the real problem of life is. This is due to a lack of spiritual education. Especially in the present age, every man is in darkness, in the bodily conception of life, not knowing anything of the spirit soul and its needs. Misguided by the blind leaders of society, people consider the body to be everything, and they are engaged in trying to keep the body materially comfortable. Such a civilization is condemned because it does not lead humanity toward knowing the real goal of life. People are simply wasting time and the valuable gift of the human form because a human being who does not cultivate spiritual life but dies like the cats and dogs is degraded in his next life. From human life, such a person is put into the cycle of continuous birth and death. Thus one loses the true benefit of human life, which is to become Kṛṣṇa conscious and solve life's problems.
Lord Brahmā, a human being and an ant all live for one hundred years, but their lifetimes of one hundred years are different from one another. This world is a relative world, and its relative moments of time are different. Thus the one hundred years of Brahmā are not the same as the one hundred years of a human being. From Bhagavad-gītā we understand that Brahma's daytime of twelve hours equals 4,300,000 times 1,000 years (sahasra-yuga-paryantam ahar yad brahmaṇo viduḥ (BG 8.17)). Thus the varṣa-śatam, or one hundred years, are relatively different according to time, person and circumstances. As far as human beings are concerned, the calculation given here is right for the general public. Although one has a maximum of one hundred years of life, by sleeping one loses fifty years. Eating, sleeping, sex life and fear are the four bodily necessities, but to utilize the full duration of life a person desiring to advance in spiritual consciousness must reduce these activities. That will give him an opportunity to fully use his lifetime.
There are two kinds of soul—the Supreme Soul (the Personality of Godhead) and the individual soul (the living entity). As various bodily changes take place in the individual soul, different millenniums of creation take place in the Supreme Soul. In this regard, Madhvācārya says:
- ṣaḍ vikārāḥ śarīrasya
- na viṣṇos tad-gatasya
- ca tad-adhīnaṁ śarīraṁ ca
- jñātvā tan mamatāṁ tyajet
Since the body is the external feature of the soul, the soul is not dependent on the body; rather, the body is dependent on the soul. One who understands this truth should not be very much anxious about the maintenance of his body. There is no possibility of maintaining the body permanently or eternally. Antavanta ime dehā nityasyoktāḥ śarīriṇaḥ. This is the statement of Bhagavad-gītā (2.18).
Similarly, we have knowledge that the living entities are smaller than atoms, being one ten-thousandth the size of the tip of a hair, yet the quality of being the supreme cause of all causes exists in the living entity as well as in the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Indeed, it is due to the presence of the living entity that the body exists and bodily changes take place. Similarly, it is because the Supreme Lord is within this universe that the changes dictated by the material laws occur.
The word ekaḥ, meaning "individual," is significant. As explained in Bhagavad-gītā (9.4), mat-sthāni sarva-bhūtāni na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ. Everything, material and spiritual, including earth, water, air, fire, sky and the living entities, exists on the platform of spirit soul. Although everything is an emanation from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one should not think that the Supreme Lord is dependent upon anything else.
Both God and the living entity are fully conscious. As living entities, we are conscious of our bodily existence. Similarly, the Lord is conscious of the gigantic cosmic manifestation. This is confirmed in the Vedas.
"As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change." (BG 2.13) Thus the first instruction is that one should understand that the soul is within the body and is transmigrating from one body to another. This is the beginning of spiritual knowledge. Any person who is not expert in understanding this science or is unwilling to understand it remains in the bodily conception of life, or the animalistic conception of life, as confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (yasyātma-buddhiḥ kuṇape tri-dhātuke. .. sa eva go-kharaḥ (SB 10.84.13)). Every member of human society should clearly understand the instructions of Bhagavad-gītā, for only in this way can one be spiritually elevated and automatically give up the false, illusory knowledge by which one thinks, "I am this body, and everything belonging to this body is mine (ahaṁ mameti SB 5.5.8)." This doggish conception should be rejected immediately. One should be prepared to understand the spirit soul and the supreme spirit, God, who are eternally related. Thus one may return home, back to Godhead, having solved all the problems of life.
Within the total material energy are the three material modes or qualities. These qualities—sattva-guṇa, rajo-guṇa and tamo-guṇa—belong not to the soul but to the material energy. It is because of the interaction of these three material modes of nature that the five knowledge-gathering senses, the five working senses and their controller, the mind, are manifested. Then, according to these modes, the living entity gets the opportunity to perform different types of karma with different types of knowledge, thinking, feeling and willing. Thus the bodily machine begins to work.
"As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change." (BG 2.13) The spirit soul possesses the body and is within the body. This is the real analysis. The soul never mixes with the bodily elements. Although the soul is within the body, it is separate and always pure. One must analyze and understand his self. This is self-realization. Neti neti is the analytical process of rejecting matter. By expertly conducting such an analysis, one can understand where the soul is. One who is not expert, however, cannot distinguish gold from earth, nor the soul from the body.
One's first duty is to accept a bona fide spiritual master. The student or disciple should be very inquisitive; he should be eager to know the complete truth about eternal religion (sanātana-dharma). The words guru-śuśrūṣayā mean that one should personally serve the spiritual master by giving him bodily comforts, helping him in bathing, dressing, sleeping, eating and so on. This is called guru-śuśrūṣaṇam. A disciple should serve the spiritual master as a menial servant, and whatever he has in his possession should be dedicated to the spiritual master. prāṇair arthair dhiyā vācā. Everyone has his life, his wealth, his intelligence and his words, and all of them should be offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead through the via medium of the spiritual master.
This verse describes how the advocates of economic development are frustrated by the laws of nature. As the previous verse asks, kiṁ viṣayopapādanaiḥ: what is the actual benefit of so-called economic development? The history of the world has factually proved that attempts to increase economic development for bodily comfort through the advancement of material civilization have done nothing to remedy the inevitability of birth, death, old age and disease. Everyone has knowledge of huge empires throughout the history of the world—the Roman Empire, the Moghul Empire, the British Empire and so on—but all the societies engaged in such economic development (sarve 'rtha-kāmāḥ) have been frustrated by the laws of nature through periodic wars, pestilence, famine and so on.
Being obsessed with anger, Hiraṇyakaśipu, who was very great in bodily strength, thus chastised his exalted devotee-son Prahlāda with harsh words. Cursing him again and again, Hiraṇyakaśipu took up his sword, got up from his royal throne, and with great anger struck his fist against the column.
Airplanes were thrown into outer space and the upper planetary system by the hair on Nṛsiṁha-deva's head. Because of the pressure of the Lord's lotus feet, the earth appeared to slip from its position, and all the hills and mountains sprang up due to His intolerable force. Because of the Lord's bodily effulgence, both the sky and all directions diminished in their natural illumination.
The inhabitants of Vidyādhara-loka prayed: Our acquired power to appear and disappear in various ways according to varieties of meditation was banned by that foolish Hiraṇyakaśipu because of his pride in his superior bodily strength and his ability to conquer others. Now the Supreme Personality of Godhead has killed him just as if the demon were an animal. Unto that supreme pastime form of Lord Nṛsiṁha-deva, we eternally offer our respectful obeisances.
The inhabitants of Gandharvaloka prayed: Your Lordship, we ever engage in Your service by dancing and singing in dramatic performances, but this Hiraṇyakaśipu, by the influence of his bodily strength and valor, brought us under his subjugation. Now he has been brought to this low condition by Your Lordship. What benefit can result from the activities of such an upstart as Hiraṇyakaśipu?
By being a very obedient servant of the Supreme Lord, one becomes extremely powerful in bodily strength, influence and effulgence, whereas the fate of demoniac upstarts is ultimately to fall down like Hiraṇyakaśipu. Hiraṇyakaśipu and persons like him may be very powerful for some time, but the obedient servants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead like the demigods remain powerful always. They are victorious over the influence of Hiraṇyakaśipu by the grace of the Supreme Lord.
The Lord has unlimited forms and bodily features (advaitam acyutam anādim ananta-rūpam (Bs. 5.33)). These are all situated in Vaikuṇṭha, yet Lakṣmīdevī, the goddess of fortune, being inspired by līlā-śakti, could not appreciate this unprecedented form of the Lord. In this regard, Śrīla Madhvācārya recites the following verses from the Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa:
- anyaiḥ sādhāraṇair janaiḥ
- nṛsiṁhaṁ śaṅkiteva śrīr
- loka-mohāyano yayau
- prahrāde caiva vātsalya-
- darśanāya harer api
- jñātvā manas tathā brahmā
- prahrādaṁ preṣayat tadā
- ekatraikasya vātsalyaṁ
- viśeṣād darśayed dhariḥ
- avarasyāpi mohāya
- krameṇaivāpi vatsalaḥ
On the strength of these verses from Bhagavad-gītā, it is evident that although Prahlāda Mahārāja was born in a demoniac family and although virtually demoniac blood flowed within his body, he was cleansed of all material bodily contamination because of his exalted position as a devotee. In other words, such impediments on the spiritual path could not stop him from progressing, for he was directly in touch with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Those who are physically and mentally contaminated by atheism cannot be situated on the transcendental platform, but as soon as one is freed from material contamination he is immediately fit to be situated in devotional service.
My Lord Nṛsiṁha-deva, O Supreme, because of a bodily conception of life, embodied souls neglected and not cared for by You cannot do anything for their betterment. Whatever remedies they accept, although perhaps temporarily beneficial, are certainly impermanent. For example, a father and mother cannot protect their child, a physician and medicine cannot relieve a suffering patient, and a boat on the ocean cannot protect a drowning man.
There is a song in the Bengali language which states, "I constructed this home for happiness, but unfortunately there was a fire, and everything has now been burnt to ashes." This illustrates the nature of material happiness. Everyone knows it, but nonetheless one plans to hear or think something very pleasing. Unfortunately, all of one's plans are annihilated in due course of time. There were many politicians who planned empires, supremacy and control of the world, but in due time all their plans and empires—and even the politicians themselves—were vanquished. Everyone should take lessons from Prahlāda Mahārāja about how we are engaged in so-called temporary happiness through bodily exercises for sense enjoyment. All of us repeatedly make plans, which are all repeatedly frustrated. Therefore one should stop such planmaking.
The mystery of yogic meditation is explained here. Real yogīs always meditate on the form of Viṣṇu within their hearts. Consequently, at the time of death they give up their bodies while thinking of the form of Viṣṇu and thus attain Viṣṇuloka, Vaikuṇṭhaloka, where they receive bodily features the same as those of the Lord. From the Sixth Canto we have already learned that when the Viṣṇudūtas came from Vaikuṇṭha to deliver Ajāmila, they looked exactly like Viṣṇu, with four hands and the same features as Viṣṇu. Therefore, we may conclude that if one practices thinking of Viṣṇu and is fully absorbed in thinking of Him at the time of death, one returns home, back to Godhead. Even enemies of Kṛṣṇa who thought of Kṛṣṇa in fear (bhaya), such as King Kaṁsa, received bodies in a spiritual identity similar to that of the Lord.
For example, if the total populace is untruthful, how can the state be happy? Therefore, without consideration of one's belonging to a sectarian religion, whether Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or any other sect, everyone should be taught to become truthful. Similarly, everyone should be taught to be merciful, and everyone should observe fasting on certain days of the month. Everyone should bathe twice a day, cleanse his teeth and body externally, and cleanse his mind internally by remembering the holy name of the Lord. The Lord is one, whether one is Hindu, Muslim or Christian. Therefore, one should chant the holy name of the Lord, regardless of differences in linguistic pronunciation. Also, everyone should be taught to be very careful not to discharge semen unnecessarily. This is very important for all human beings. If semen is not discharged unnecessarily, one becomes extremely strong in memory, determination, activity and the vitality of one's bodily energy.
To be influential in battle, unconquerable, patient, challenging and charitable, to control the bodily necessities, to be forgiving, to be attached to the brahminical nature and to be always jolly and truthful—these are the symptoms of the kṣatriya.
He should properly place the fire element in his own self and in this way give up bodily affinity, by which one thinks the body to be one's self or one's own. One should gradually merge the material body into the five elements (earth, water, fire, air and sky).
To be self-realized, one must understand the original sources of the various elements of the body. The body is a combination of skin, bone, muscle, blood, semen, urine, stool, heat, breath and so on, which all come from earth, water, fire, air and sky. One must be well conversant with the sources of all the bodily constituents. Then one becomes a self-realized person, or ātmavān, one who knows the self.
Śrī Nārada Muni has been describing the symptoms of various āśramas and varṇas. Now, in this chapter, he specifically describes the regulative principles to be followed by sannyāsīs. After retiring from family life, one should accept the status of vānaprastha, in which he must formally accept the body as his means of existence but gradually forget the bodily necessities of life. After vānaprastha life, having left home, one should travel to different places as a sannyāsī. Without bodily comforts and free from dependence on anyone with respect to bodily necessities, one should travel everywhere, wearing almost nothing or actually walking naked. Without association with ordinary human society, one should beg alms and always be satisfied in himself. One should be a friend to every living entity and be very peaceful in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. A sannyāsī should travel alone in this way, not caring for life or death, waiting for the time when he will leave his material body. He should not indulge in unnecessary books or adopt professions like astrology, nor should he try to become a great orator.
Neither by that saintly person's activities, by his bodily features, by his words nor by the symptoms of his varṇāśrama status could people understand whether he was the same person they had known.
Prahlāda Mahārāja studied the bodily features of the saintly person, and through the saint's physiognomy Prahlāda Mahārāja could understand that he was intelligent and expert, although he was lying down and not doing anything. Prahlāda was naturally inquisitive about why he was lying there inactive.
Because the materialist is in gross ignorance of how the laws of material nature act upon him as a result of his fruitive activity, he mistakenly plans to enjoy bodily comfort in the human form of life through so-called economic development, through pious activities for elevation to the higher planetary systems, and in many other ways, but factually he becomes a victim of the reactions of his fruitive activities. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is situated as the Supersoul within the cores of the hearts of all living entities.
"It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kuntī, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father." The Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, is the father of all living entities in different species and forms. One who is intelligent can see that all living entities in the 8,400,000 bodily forms are part of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and are His sons. Everything within the material and spiritual worlds is the property of the Supreme Lord (īśāvāsyam idaṁ sarvam (ISO 1)), and therefore everything has a relationship with Him.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead has created many residential places like the bodies of human beings, animals, birds, saints and demigods. In all of these innumerable bodily forms, the Lord resides with the living being as Paramātmā. Thus He is known as the puruṣāvatāra.
In Bhagavad-gītā (15.15) it is said, mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca: the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His localized aspect gives intelligence to the individual soul as far as he is able to grasp it. Therefore we find the individual soul in different high and low positions. A living entity with the body of a bird or beast cannot take instructions from the Supreme Soul as adequately as an advanced human being. Thus there are gradations of bodily forms. In human society, the perfect brāhmaṇa is supposed to be the most advanced in spiritual consciousness, and further advanced than the brāhmaṇa is the Vaiṣṇava. Therefore the best persons are the Vaiṣṇavas and Viṣṇu. When charity is to be given, one should take instruction from Bhagavad-gītā (17.20):
- dātavyam iti yad dānaṁ
- dīyate 'nupakāriṇe
- deśe kāle ca pātre ca
- tad dānaṁ sāttvikaṁ smṛtam
The strong bodily desires and needs of a person disturbed by hunger and thirst are certainly satisfied when he eats. Similarly, if one becomes very angry, that anger is satisfied by chastisement and its reaction. But as for greed, even if a greedy person has conquered all the directions of the world or has enjoyed everything in the world, still he will not be satisfied.
Just by treating the root cause of an ailment, one can conquer all bodily pains and sufferings. Similarly, if one is devoted and faithful to the spiritual master, he can conquer the influence of sattva-guṇa, rajo-guṇa and tamo-guṇa very easily. Yogīs and jñānīs practice in many ways to conquer the senses, but the bhakta immediately attains the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead through the mercy of the spiritual master. Yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo **. If the spiritual master is favorably inclined, one naturally receives the mercy of the Supreme Lord, and by the mercy of the Supreme Lord one immediately becomes transcendental, conquering all the influences of sattva-guṇa, rajo-guṇa and tamo-guṇa within this material world. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (sa guṇān samatītyaitān brahma-bhūyāya kalpate (BG 14.26)). If one is a pure devotee acting under the directions of the guru, one easily gets the mercy of the Supreme Lord and thus becomes immediately situated on the transcendental platform. This is explained in the next verse.
Always think of Me and become My devotee. Worship Me and offer your homage unto Me." (BG 18.65) If one practices devotional service by always keeping Kṛṣṇa within the core of his heart (man-manāḥ), he immediately becomes a first-class yogī. Furthermore, keeping Kṛṣṇa within the mind is not a difficult task for the devotee. For an ordinary man in the bodily concept of life, the practice of yoga may be helpful, but one who immediately takes to devotional service can immediately become a perfect yogī without difficulty.
Many other sannyāsīs stress the importance of the social position of the body as a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra. Such sannyāsīs are considered the greatest rascals (asattamāḥ). They are shameless because they have not yet understood the difference between the body and the soul and instead have accepted the body of a brāhmaṇa to be a brāhmaṇa. Brahmanism (brāhmaṇya) consists of the knowledge of Brahman. But actually the body of a brāhmaṇa is not Brahman. Similarly, the body is neither rich nor poor. If the body of a poor man were daridra-nārāyaṇa, this would mean that the body of a rich man, on the contrary, must be dhanī-nārāyaṇa. Therefore sannyāsīs who do not know the meaning of Nārāyaṇa, those who regard the body as Brahman or as Nārāyaṇa, are described here as asattamāḥ, the most abominable rascals. Following the bodily concept of life, such sannyāsīs make various programs to serve the body. They conduct farcical missions consisting of so-called religious activities meant to mislead all of human society. These sannyāsīs have been described herein as apatrapaḥ and asattamāḥ—shameless and fallen from spiritual life.
The ten kinds of air acting within the body are compared to the spokes of the chariot's wheels, and the top and bottom of the wheel itself are called religion and irreligion. The living entity in the bodily concept of life is the owner of the chariot. The Vedic mantra praṇava is the bow, the pure living entity himself is the arrow, and the target is the Supreme Being.
Thus religion and irreligion are said to be the upper and lower portions of the chariot's wheels. When the living entity decides to go back home, back to Godhead, his target is Lord Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the conditioned state of life, one does not understand that the goal of life is the Supreme Lord. Na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇuṁ durāśayā ye bahir-artha-māninaḥ (SB 7.5.31). The living entity tries to be happy within this material world, not understanding the target of his life. When he is purified, however, he gives up his bodily conception of life and his false identity as belonging to a certain community, a certain nation, a certain society, a certain family and so on (sarvopādhi-vinirmuktaṁ tat-paratvena nirmalam (CC Madhya 19.170)). Then he takes the arrow of his purified life, and with the help of the bow—the transcendental chanting of praṇava, or the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra—he throws himself toward the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
I had a beautiful face and a pleasing, attractive bodily structure. Decorated with flower garlands and sandalwood pulp, I was most pleasing to the women of my city. Thus I was bewildered, always feeling lusty desires.
SB Canto 8
One should learn from the Vedic literature that one's body is also not the property of the individual soul, but is given to the individual soul according to his karma. Karmaṇā daiva-netreṇa jantur dehopapattaye (SB 3.31.1). The 8,400,000 different bodily forms are machines given to the individual soul. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (18.61):
- īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ
- hṛd-deśe 'rjuna tiṣṭhati
- bhrāmayan sarva-bhūtāni
- yantrārūḍhāni māyayā
"The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy." The Lord, as the Supersoul, sits in everyone's heart and observes the various desires of the individual soul.
Even in the material world, there are many grades of living entities. The human beings on earth generally cover themselves with external fragrances to stop their bad bodily odors, but here we find that because of the bodily fragrance of the demigod damsels, the rivers, the lakes, the breeze and the entire atmosphere of Trikūṭa Mountain also become fragrant. Since the bodies of the damsels in the upper planetary systems are so beautiful, we can just imagine how beautifully formed are the bodies of the Vaikuṇṭha damsels or the damsels in Vṛndāvana, the gopīs.
In the fighting between the elephant and the crocodile, the difference was that although the elephant was extremely powerful, he was in a foreign place, in the water. During one thousand years of fighting, he could not get any food, and under the circumstances his bodily strength diminished, and because his bodily strength diminished, his mind also became weak and his senses less powerful. The crocodile, however, being an animal of the water, had no difficulties. He was getting food and was therefore getting mental strength and sensual encouragement. Thus while the elephant became reduced in strength, the crocodile became more and more powerful. Now, from this we may take the lesson that in our fight with māyā we should not be in a position in which our strength, enthusiasm and senses will be unable to fight vigorously.
That Supreme Personality of Godhead is competent to dissipate the darkness of the conditioned soul through His instructions in Bhagavad-gītā. He is the ocean of transcendental qualities and can be understood only by liberated persons freed from the bodily concept of life. By His causeless mercy, the Lord can rescue the conditioned soul from the material clutches and enable him to return home, back to Godhead, to become His personal associate. Nonetheless, a pure devotee does not aspire to go back to Godhead; he is simply satisfied with executing his service in this material world. A pure devotee does not ask anything from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. His only prayer is to be freed from the material conception of life and to be engaged in the Lord's transcendental loving service."
A similar understanding was expressed by Kuntīdevī. The Supreme Lord exists everywhere, within and without. He even exists within the heart. Sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo (BG 15.15). Īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe 'rjuna tiṣṭhati (BG 18.61). Thus it is indicated that one can find the Supreme Lord within one's heart. There are many, many yogīs trying to find Him. Dhyānāvasthita-tad-gatena manasā paśyanti yaṁ yoginaḥ (SB 12.13.1). Nonetheless, even great yogīs, demigods, saints and sages have been unable to understand the bodily features of that great artist, nor could they understand the meaning of His movements. What then is to be said of ordinary speculators like the so-called philosophers of this material world? For them He is impossible to understand. Therefore we must accept the statements given by the Supreme when He kindly incarnates to instruct us. We must simply accept the word of Lord Rāmacandra, Lord Kṛṣṇa and Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and follow in Their footsteps. Then it may be possible for us to know the purpose of Their incarnations.
In this material world, everyone is a paśu, an animal, because of the bodily conception of life.
- yasyātma-buddhiḥ kuṇape tri-dhātuke
- sva-dhīḥ kalatrādiṣu bhauma ijya-dhīḥ
- yat tīrtha-buddhiḥ salile na karhicij
- janeṣv abhijñeṣu sa eva go-kharaḥ
"A human being who identifies the body made of three elements as the self, who considers the by-products of the body to be his kinsmen, who considers the land of his birth to be worshipable, and who goes to a place of pilgrimage simply to bathe rather than to meet men of transcendental knowledge there is to be considered like a cow or an ass." (SB 10.84.13) Practically everyone, therefore, is a paśu, an animal, and everyone is attacked by the crocodile of material existence. Not only the King of the elephants but every one of us is being attacked by the crocodile and is suffering the consequences.
"I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is Śyāmasundara, Kṛṣṇa Himself, with inconceivable innumerable attributes, whom the pure devotees see in their heart of hearts with the eye of devotion tinged with the salve of love." The bhakti-yogī constantly sees Śyāmasundara—beautiful Lord Kṛṣṇa with His blackish bodily hue. Because the King of the elephants, Gajendra, thought himself an ordinary animal, he thought himself unfit to see the Lord. In his humility, he thought that he could not practice yoga. In other words, how can those who are like animals in the bodily concept of life, and who have no purity of consciousness, practice yoga? In the present day, people who have no control over their senses, who have no understanding of philosophy and who do not follow religious principles or rules and regulations are nonetheless pretending to be yogīs. This is the greatest anomaly in the practice of mystic yoga.
I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by whose illusory energy the jīva, who is part and parcel of God, forgets his real identity because of the bodily concept of life. I take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose glories are difficult to understand.
Because Gajendra, King of the elephants, had been touched directly by the hands of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he was immediately freed of all material ignorance and bondage. Thus he received the salvation of sārūpya-mukti, in which he achieved the same bodily features as the Lord, being dressed in yellow garments and possessing four hands.
An elephant is very strong, it has a very big body, and it can work very hard and eat a large quantity of food, but its intelligence is not at all commensurate with its size and strength. Thus in spite of so much bodily strength, the elephant works as a menial servant for a human being. Agastya Muni thought it wise to curse the King to become an elephant because the powerful King did not receive Agastya Muni as one is obliged to receive a brāhmaṇa. Yet although Agastya Muni cursed Mahārāja Indradyumna to become an elephant, the curse was indirectly a benediction, for by undergoing one life as an elephant, Indradyumna Mahārāja ended the reactions for all the sins of his previous life. Immediately after the expiry of the elephant's life, he was promoted to Vaikuṇṭhaloka to become a personal associate of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa, in a body exactly like that of the Lord. This is called sārūpya-mukti.
Even the big philosophers and scientists with whom we deal are practically all under the impression that they are their bodies. The other day we were discussing a prominent philosopher, Thomas Huxley, who was proud of being an Englishman. This means that he was in the bodily conception of life. Everywhere we find this same misunderstanding. As soon as one is in the bodily conception of life, one is nothing but an animal like a cat or a dog (sa eva go-kharaḥ (SB 10.84.13)). Thus the most dangerous of the dirty things within our hearts is this misidentification of the body as the self. Under the influence of this misunderstanding, one thinks, "I am this body. I am an Englishman. I am an Indian. I am an American. I am Hindu. I am Muslim." This misconception is the strongest impediment, and it must be removed. That is the instruction of Bhagavad-gītā and of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
Since our bodies are made of sattva-guṇa, we, the demigods, are internally and externally situated in goodness. All the great saints are also situated in that way. Therefore, if even we cannot understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, what is to be said of those who are most insignificant in their bodily constitutions, being situated in the modes of passion and ignorance? How can they understand the Lord? Let us offer our respectful obeisances unto Him.
All living entities, moving and nonmoving, receive their vital force, their bodily strength and their very lives from the air. All of us follow the air for our vital force, exactly as servants follow an emperor. The vital force of air is generated from the original vital force of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. May that Supreme Lord be pleased with us.
Mahendra, the King of Heaven, was generated from the prowess of the Lord, the demigods were generated from the mercy of the Lord, Lord Śiva was generated from the anger of the Lord, and Lord Brahmā from His sober intelligence. The Vedic mantras were generated from the bodily holes of the Lord, and the great saints and prajāpatis were generated from His genitals. May that supremely powerful Lord be pleased with us.
The brāhmaṇas and Vedic knowledge come from the mouth of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the kṣatriyas and bodily strength come from His arms, the vaiśyas and their expert knowledge in productivity and wealth come from His thighs, and the śūdras, who are outside of Vedic knowledge, come from His feet. May that Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is full in prowess, be pleased with us.
Greed is generated from His lower lip, affection from His upper lip, bodily luster from His nose, animalistic lusty desires from His sense of touch, Yamarāja from His eyebrows, and eternal time from His eyelashes. May that Supreme Lord be pleased with us.
Because of the prayers offered by the demigods in the previous chapter, Lord Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu was pleased with the demigods, and thus He appeared before them. The demigods were almost blinded by His transcendental bodily effulgence. At first, therefore, they could not even see any part of His body. After some time, however, when Brahmā could see the Lord, he, along with Lord Śiva, began to offer the Lord prayers.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: O King Parīkṣit, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, being thus worshiped with prayers by the demigods and Lord Brahmā, appeared before them. His bodily effulgence resembled the simultaneous rising of thousands of suns.
Because the demigods were also affected by the blazing breath of Vāsuki, their bodily lusters diminished, and their garments, garlands, weapons and faces were blackened by smoke. However, by the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, clouds appeared on the sea, pouring torrents of rain, and breezes blew, carrying particles of water from the sea waves, to give the demigods relief.
Because of her exquisite beauty, her bodily features, her youth, her complexion and her glories, everyone, including the demigods, the demons and the human beings, desired her. They were attracted because she is the source of all opulences.
The Personality of Godhead in His form of Mohinī was certainly not joking but talking seriously, with gravity. The demons, however, being captivated by Mohinī-mūrti's bodily features, took Her words as a joke and confidently delivered the container of nectar into Her hands. Thus Mohinī-mūrti resembles Lord Buddha, who appeared sammohāya sura-dviṣām (SB 1.3.24)—to cheat the asuras. The word sura-dviṣām refers to those who are envious of the demigods or devotees. Sometimes an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead cheats the atheists. Thus we see here that although Mohinī-mūrti was speaking factually to the asuras, the asuras took Her words to be facetious. Indeed, they were so confident of Mohinī-mūrti's honesty that they immediately delivered the container of nectar into Her hands, as if they would allow Her to do with the nectar whatever She liked, whether She distributed it, threw it away or drank it Herself without giving it to them.
"I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who resides in His own realm, Goloka, with Rādhā, who resembles His own spiritual figure and who embodies the ecstatic potency (hlādinī). Their companions are Her confidantes, who embody extensions of Her bodily form and who are imbued and permeated with ever-blissful spiritual rasa." (Bs. 5.37)
Although Govinda is always present in His abode (goloka eva nivasati), He is simultaneously present everywhere. Nothing is unknown to Him, and nothing can be hidden from Him. The example given here compares the Lord to the air, which is within the vast sky and within every body but still is different from everything.
Kaśyapa Muni continued: What is this material body, made of five elements? It is different from the spirit soul. Indeed, the spirit soul is completely different from the material elements from which the body is made. But because of bodily attachment, one is regarded as a husband or son. These illusory relationships are caused by misunderstanding.
The spirit soul (ātmā or jīva) is certainly different from the body, which is a combination of five material elements. This is a simple fact, but it is not understood unless one is spiritually educated. Kaśyapa Muni met his wife, Aditi, in the heavenly planets, but the same misconception extends throughout the entire universe and is also here on earth. There are different grades of living entities, but all of them are more or less under the impression of the bodily conception of life. In other words, all living entities in this material world are more or less devoid of spiritual education. The Vedic civilization, however, is based on spiritual education, and spiritual education is the special basis on which Bhagavad-gītā was spoken to Arjuna. In the beginning of Bhagavad-gītā, Kṛṣṇa instructed Arjuna to understand that the spirit soul is different from the body.
"As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change." (BG 2.13) Unfortunately, this spiritual education is completely absent from modern human civilization. No one understands his real self-interest, which lies with the spirit soul, not with the material body. Education means spiritual education. To work hard in the bodily conception of life, without spiritual education, is to live like an animal. Nāyaṁ deho deha-bhājāṁ nṛ-loke kaṣṭān kāmān arhate vid-bhujāṁ ye (SB 5.5.1). People are working so hard simply for bodily comforts, without education regarding the spirit soul. Thus they are living in a very risky civilization, for it is a fact that the spirit soul has to transmigrate from one body to another (tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ (BG 2.13)).
My Lord, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You, who are dressed in yellow garments, whose bodily hue resembles the marakata gem, and who have full control over the goddess of fortune. O my Lord Keśava, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You.
Lord Vāmanadeva appeared in this world from the womb of Aditi completely equipped with conchshell, disc, club and lotus. His bodily hue was blackish, and He was dressed in yellow garments. Lord Viṣṇu appeared at an auspicious moment on Śravaṇa-dvādaśī when the Abhijit star had arisen. At that time, in all the three worlds (including the higher planetary system, outer space and this earth), all the demigods, the cows, the brāhmaṇas and even the seasons were happy because of God's appearance.
Hiraṇyakaśipu's anger against Lord Viṣṇu persisted until his death. Other people in the bodily concept of life maintain anger only because of false ego and the great influence of ignorance.
Generally speaking, even though the conditioned soul is angry, his anger is not perpetual but temporary. It is due to the influence of ignorance. Hiraṇyakaśipu, however, maintained his enmity and his anger against Lord Viṣṇu until the point of death. He never forgot his vengeful attitude toward Viṣṇu for having killed his brother, Hiraṇyākṣa. Others in the bodily concept of life are angry at their enemies but not at Lord Viṣṇu. Hiraṇyakaśipu, however, was everlastingly angry. He was angry not only because of false prestige but also because of continuous enmity toward Viṣṇu.
The Vedas enjoin that the factual result of the tree of the body is the good fruits and flowers derived from it. But if the bodily tree does not exist, there is no possibility of factual fruits and flowers. Even if the body is based on untruth, there cannot be factual fruits and flowers without the help of the bodily tree.
Without the help of the body, one cannot follow a system of religion, nor can one speculate on philosophical perfection. Therefore, the flower and fruit (puṣpa-phalam) have to be obtained as a result of the body. Without the help of the body, that fruit cannot be gained. The Vaiṣṇava philosophy therefore recommends yukta-vairāgya. It is not that all attention should be diverted for the maintenance of the body, but at the same time one's bodily maintenance should not be neglected. As long as the body exists one can thoroughly study the Vedic instructions, and thus at the end of life one can achieve perfection. This is explained in Bhagavad-gītā (BG 8.6): yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ tyajaty ante kalevaram. Everything is examined at the time of death. Therefore, although the body is temporary, not eternal, one can take from it the best service and make one's life perfect.
O King, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vāmanadeva, then spoke to Bali Mahārāja, the most liberal and celebrated personality whom He had arrested with the ropes of Varuṇa. Bali Mahārāja had lost all bodily luster, but he was nonetheless fixed in his determination.
When one is bereft of all his possessions, he is certainly reduced in bodily luster. But although Bali Mahārāja had lost everything, he was fixed in his determination to satisfy Vāmanadeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In Bhagavad-gītā, such a person is called sthita-prajña. A pure devotee is never deviated from the service of the Lord, despite all difficulties and impediments offered by the illusory energy. Generally men who have wealth and opulence are famous, but Bali Mahārāja became famous for all time by being deprived of all his possessions. This is the special mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead toward His devotees. The Lord says, yasyāham anugṛhṇāmi hariṣye tad-dhanaṁ śanaiḥ (SB 10.88.8). As the first installment of His special favor, the Lord takes away all the possessions of His devotee. A devotee, however, is never disturbed by such a loss. He continues his service, and the Lord amply rewards him, beyond the expectations of any common man.
Until Bali Mahārāja achieves the position of King of heaven, he shall live on the planet Sutala, which was made by Viśvakarmā according to My order. Because it is especially protected by Me, it is free from mental and bodily miseries, fatigue, dizziness, defeat and all other disturbances. Bali Mahārāja, you may now go live there peacefully.
Viśvakarmā is the engineer or architect for the palatial buildings in the heavenly planets. Therefore, since he was engaged to construct the residential quarters of Bali Mahārāja, the buildings and palaces on the planet Sutala must at least equal those on the heavenly planets. A further advantage of this place designed for Bali Mahārāja was that he would not be disturbed by any outward calamity. Moreover, he would not be disturbed by mental or bodily miseries. These are all extraordinary features of the planet Sutala, where Bali Mahārāja would live.
O my Lord, possessing eyes like the petals of a lotus, the worship of the demigods, who are in the bodily concept of life, is fruitless in all respects. But because You are the supreme friend and dearmost Supersoul of everyone, worship of Your lotus feet is never useless. You have therefore manifested Your form as a fish.
SB Canto 9
Thereafter, three men with very beautiful bodily features emerged from the lake. They were nicely dressed and decorated with earrings and garlands of lotuses. All of them were of the same standard of beauty.
When Lord Rāmacandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was the King of this world, all bodily and mental suffering, disease, old age, bereavement, lamentation, distress, fear and fatigue were completely absent. There was even no death for those who did not want it.
They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed." Those who are liberated, being on the transcendental platform of rendering service to the Lord, do not care about so-called happiness and distress. They know that these are like changing seasons, which are perceivable by contact with the material body. Happiness and distress come and go. Therefore a paṇḍita, a learned man, is not concerned with them. As it is said, gatāsūn agatāsūṁś ca nānuśocanti paṇḍitāḥ (BG 2.11). The body is dead from the very beginning because it is a lump of matter. It has no feelings of happiness and distress. Because the soul within the body is in the bodily concept of life, he suffers happiness and distress, but these come and go. It is understood herewith that the kings born in the dynasty of Mithila were all liberated persons, unaffected by the so-called happiness and distress of this world.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: By Bṛhaspati's order, Tārā, who was very much ashamed, immediately gave birth to the child, who was very beautiful, with a golden bodily hue. Both Bṛhaspati and the moon-god, Soma, desired the beautiful child.
It appears from the words of Urvaśī that the standard of living, eating, behavior and speech are all different on the heavenly planets from the standards on this planet earth. The inhabitants of the heavenly planets do not eat such abominable things as meat and eggs; everything they eat is prepared in clarified butter. Nor do they like to see either men or women naked, except at the time of sexual intercourse. To live naked or almost naked is uncivilized, but on this planet earth it has now become fashionable to dress half naked, and sometimes those like hippies live completely naked. Indeed, there are many clubs and societies for this purpose. Such conduct is not allowed, however, on the heavenly planets. The inhabitants of the heavenly planets, aside from being very beautiful, both in complexion and bodily features, are well behaved and long-living, and they eat first-class food in goodness. These are some of the distinctions between the inhabitants of the heavenly planets and the inhabitants of earth.
When the she-goat, who had very nice hips, got out of the well and saw the very handsome he-goat, she desired to accept him as her husband. When she did so, many other she-goats also desired him as their husband because he had a very beautiful bodily structure and a nice mustache and beard and was expert in discharging semen and in the art of sexual intercourse. Therefore, just as a person haunted by a ghost exhibits madness, the best of the he-goats, attracted by the many she-goats, engaged in erotic activities and naturally forgot his real business of self-realization.
Human life is meant for realization of the self, the spiritual soul within the body (dehino 'smin yathā dehe (BG 2.13)). A materialistic rascal does not know that he is not the body but a spiritual soul within the body. However, one should understand his real position and cultivate knowledge by which to get free from bodily entanglement. Like an unfortunate person who acts madly, haunted by ghosts, a materialist haunted by the ghost of lust forgets his real business so that he can enjoy so-called happiness in the bodily concept of life.
Mahārāja Rantideva's words were like amṛta, or nectar, and therefore, aside from rendering bodily service to an aggrieved person, by his words alone the King could save the life of anyone who might hear him.
For eighty-five thousand years, Kārtavīryārjuna continuously enjoyed material opulences with full bodily strength and unimpaired memory. In other words, he enjoyed inexhaustible material opulences with his six senses.
SB Canto 10.1 to 10.13
To distinguish persons who are bereft of these transcendental pleasures, Parīkṣit Mahārāja has used the words virajyeta pumān. The word pumān refers to any person, whether man, woman or in-between. Because of the bodily conception of life, we are subject to lamentation, but one who has no such bodily conceptions can take pleasure in transcendental hearing and chanting. Therefore a person fully absorbed in the bodily concept of life is surely killing himself by not making spiritual progress. Such a person is called paśu-ghna. Especially excluded from spiritual life are the animal hunters, who are not interested in hearing and chanting the holy name of the Lord. Such hunters are always unhappy, both in this life and in the next. It is therefore said that a hunter should neither die nor live because for such persons both living and dying are troublesome. Animal hunters are completely different from ordinary karmīs, and thus they have been excluded from the process of hearing and chanting. Vinā paśu-ghnāt. They cannot enter into the transcendental pleasure of chanting and hearing the holy name of the Lord.
For kṛṣṇa-kathā, topics about Kṛṣṇa consciousness, there must be a speaker and a hearer, both of whom can be interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness if they are no longer interested in material topics. One can actually see how this attitude automatically develops in persons who are Kṛṣṇa conscious. Although the devotees of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement are quite young men, they no longer read materialistic newspapers, magazines and so on, for they are no longer interested in such topics (nivṛtta-tarṣaiḥ). They completely give up the bodily understanding of life. For topics concerning Uttamaśloka, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the spiritual master speaks, and the disciple hears with attention. Unless both of them are free from material desires, they cannot be interested in topics of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The spiritual master and disciple do not need to understand anything more than Kṛṣṇa because simply by understanding Kṛṣṇa and talking about Kṛṣṇa, one becomes a perfectly learned person (yasmin vijñāte sarvam evaṁ vijñātaṁ bhavati, Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.3).
In many places the Supreme Personality of Godhead is described as sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha (Bs. 5.1), possessing a spiritual, blissful body. His bodily feature is narākṛti, that is, exactly like that of a human being. Here the same idea is repeated in the words mānuṣam āśritya, which indicate that He accepts a body exactly like that of a man. Everywhere it is confirmed that Kṛṣṇa is never nirākāra, or formless. He has His form, exactly like that of a human being. There is no doubt about this.
The Lord's potency acts in both the spiritual and material worlds. In the spiritual world the Lord's potency works as yogamāyā, and in the material world the same potency works as mahāmāyā, exactly as electricity works in both a heater and a cooler. In the material world, this potency, working as mahāmāyā, acts upon the conditioned souls to deprive them more and more of devotional service. It is said, yayā sammohito jīva ātmānaṁ tri-guṇātmakam (SB 1.7.5). In the material world the conditioned soul thinks of himself as a product of tri-guṇa, the three modes of material nature. This is the bodily conception of life. Because of associating with the three guṇas of the material potency, everyone identifies himself with his body. Someone is thinking he is a brāhmaṇa, someone a kṣatriya, and someone a vaiśya or śūdra. Actually, however, one is neither a brāhmaṇa, a kṣatriya, a vaiśya nor a śūdra; one is part and parcel of the Supreme Lord (mamaivāṁśaḥ), but because of being covered by the material energy, mahāmāyā, one identifies himself in these different ways. When the conditioned soul becomes liberated, however, he thinks himself an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa. Jīvera 'svarūpa' haya-kṛṣṇera 'nitya-dāsa.' (CC Madhya 20.108). When he comes to that position, the same potency, acting as yogamāyā, increasingly helps him become purified and devote his energy to the service of the Lord.
The same Vedic knowledge is confirmed here. The living being, the soul, is constantly changing bodies one after another. Even in the present life, the body changes from childhood to boyhood, from boyhood to youth, and from youth to old age; similarly, when the body is too old to continue, the living being gives up this body and, by the laws of nature, automatically gets another body according to his fruitive activities, desires and ambitions. The laws of nature control this sequence, and therefore as long as the living entity is under the control of the external, material energy, the process of bodily change takes place automatically, according to one's fruitive activities. Vasudeva therefore wanted to impress upon Kaṁsa that if he committed this sinful act of killing a woman, in his next life he would certainly get a material body still more conditioned to the sufferings of material existence. Thus Vasudeva advised Kaṁsa not to commit sinful activities.
As long as he has intelligence and bodily strength, an intelligent person must try to avoid death. This is the duty of every embodied person. But if death cannot be avoided in spite of one's endeavors, a person facing death commits no offense.
A person who is very cruel is regarded as dead even while living, for while he is living or after his death, everyone condemns him. And after the death of a person in the bodily concept of life, he is undoubtedly transferred to the hell known as Andhatama.
In this verse the words gantā tamo 'ndhaṁ tanu-mānino dhruvam are very important and require extensive understanding. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, in his Vaiṣṇava-toṣaṇī-ṭīkā, says: tatra tanu-māninaḥ pāpina iti dehātma-buddhyaiva pāpābhiniveśo bhavati. One who lives in the bodily concept, thinking, "I am this body," involves himself, by the very nature of this conception, in a life of sinful activities. Anyone living in such a conception is to be considered a candidate for hell.
- adānta-gobhir viśatāṁ tamisraṁ
- punaḥ punaś carvita-carvaṇānām
- (SB 7.5.30)
One who is in a bodily concept of life has no control over sense gratification. Such a person can do anything sinful to eat, drink, be merry and enjoy a life of sense gratification, not knowing of the soul's transmigration from one body to another. Such a person does whatever he likes, whatever he imagines, and therefore, being subject to the laws of nature, he suffers miserably again and again in different material bodies.
In the bodily concept of life, a person is karmānubandha, or conditioned by karma, and as long as the mind is absorbed in karma, one must accept a material body. Śarīra-bandha, bondage to the material body, is a source of misery (kleśa-da).
- na sādhu manye yata ātmano 'yam
- asann api kleśada āsa dehaḥ
- (SB 5.5.4)
Although the body is temporary, it always gives one trouble in many ways, but human civilization is now unfortunately based on tanu-mānī, the bodily concept of life, by which one thinks, "I belong to this nation," "I belong to this group," "I belong to that group," and so on. Each of us has his own ideas, and we are becoming increasingly involved, individually, socially, communally and nationally, in the complexities of karmānubandha, sinful activities. For the maintenance of the body, men are killing so many other bodies and becoming implicated in karmānubandha. Therefore Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī says that tanu-mānī, those in the bodily concept of life, are pāpī, sinful persons.
"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. Attaining repeated birth among the species of demoniac life, such persons can never approach Me. Gradually they sink down to the most abominable type of existence." A human being is meant to understand the value of human life, which is a boon obtained after many, many births. Therefore one must free oneself from tanu-mānī, the bodily concept of life, and realize the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The body (the total body and the individual body are of the same composition) may figuratively be called "the original tree." From this tree, which fully depends on the ground of material nature, come two kinds of fruit—the enjoyment of happiness and the suffering of distress. The cause of the tree, forming its three roots, is association with the three modes of material nature—goodness, passion and ignorance. The fruits of bodily happiness have four tastes—religiosity, economic development, sense gratification and liberation—which are experienced through five senses for acquiring knowledge in the midst of six circumstances: lamentation, illusion, old age, death, hunger and thirst. The seven layers of bark covering the tree are skin, blood, muscle, fat, bone, marrow and semen, and the eight branches of the tree are the five gross and three subtle elements—earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego. The tree of the body has nine hollows—the eyes, the ears, the nostrils, the mouth, the rectum and the genitals—and ten leaves, the ten airs passing through the body. In this tree of the body there are two birds: one is the individual soul, and the other is the Supersoul.
Material scientists cannot give such a thorough analysis of the material structure of the body. The analysis of the material scientists concerns itself only with inanimate matter, but this is inadequate because the living entity is completely separate from the material bodily structure. In Bhagavad-gītā (7.5) the Lord says:
- apareyam itas tv anyāṁ
- prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parām
- jīva-bhūtāṁ mahā-bāho
- yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat
"Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which consists of all the living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe." Although the material elements emanate from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, they are separated elements and are sustained by the living elements.
As indicated by the word dvi-khagaḥ, the living elements within the body resemble two birds in a tree. Kha means "sky," and ga means "one who flies." Thus the word dvi-khagaḥ refers to birds. In the tree of the body there are two birds, or two living elements, and they are always different. In Bhagavad-gītā (13.3), the Lord says, kṣetra-jñaṁ cāpi māṁ viddhi sarva-kṣetreṣu bhārata: "O scion of Bharata, you should understand that I am also the knower in all bodies." The kṣetra jña, the owner of the body, is also called the khaga, the living entity. Within the body there are two such kṣetra jñas—the individual soul and the Supersoul. The individual soul is the owner of his individual body, but the Supersoul is present within the bodies of all living entities. Such a thorough analysis and understanding of the bodily structure cannot be obtained anywhere but in the Vedic literature.
The modern activities of human society are described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam as the activities of go-khara, cows and asses (sa eva go-kharaḥ (SB 10.84.13)). Everyone is acting in a bodily concept of life involving society, friendship and love for the improvement of economic and political conditions, and thus all activities are enacted in ignorance. The Supreme Personality therefore comes to teach us how to act according to the Vedic principles. In this age of Kali, the Supreme Personality of Godhead appeared as Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and preached that in this age the Vedic activities cannot be systematically performed because people are so fallen.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead appears in order to teach us Vedic principles intended for understanding Him (vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyaḥ (BG 15.15)). We should always know that when Kṛṣṇa and Lord Caitanya appeared, They appeared in śuddha-sattva bodies. One should not mistake the body of Kṛṣṇa or Caitanya Mahāprabhu to be a material body like ours, for Kṛṣṇa and Caitanya Mahāprabhu appeared as needed for the benefit of the entire human society. Out of causeless mercy, the Lord appears in different ages in His original śuddha-sattva transcendental body to elevate human society to the spiritual platform upon which they can truly benefit. Unfortunately, modern politicians and other leaders stress the bodily comforts of life (yasyātma-buddhiḥ kuṇape tri-dhātuke (SB 10.84.13)) and concentrate on the activities of this ism and that ism, which they describe in different kinds of flowery language. Essentially such activities are the activities of animals (sa eva go-kharaḥ (SB 10.84.13)). We should learn how to act from Bhagavad-gītā, which explains everything for human understanding. Thus we can become happy even in this age of Kali.
"I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who plays on His transcendental flute. His eyes are like lotus flowers, He is decorated with peacock plumes, and His bodily color resembles the color of a fresh black cloud, although His bodily features are more beautiful than millions of Cupids." This beauty of the Supreme Lord can be seen by devotees who are in love with Him, devotees whose eyes are anointed with love of Godhead (premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena (Bs. 5.38)).
All the birds within the forests began to sing with sweet voices, and the peacocks began to dance with their consorts. The wind blew very pleasantly, carrying the aroma of different flowers, and the sensation of bodily touch was very pleasing. At home, the brāhmaṇas, who were accustomed to offer sacrifices in the fire, found their homes very pleasant for offerings. Because of disturbances created by the demoniac kings, the sacrificial fire had been almost stopped in the houses of brāhmaṇas, but now they could find the opportunity to start the fire peacefully. Being forbidden to offer sacrifices, the brāhmaṇas were very distressed in mind, intelligence and activities. But just on the point of Kṛṣṇa's appearance, automatically their minds became full of joy because they could hear loud vibrations in the sky of transcendental sounds proclaiming the appearance of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Although Kaṁsa is described as a demon, he had good knowledge of the affairs of ātma-tattva, the truth of the self. Five thousand years ago, there were kings like Kaṁsa, who is described as an asura, but he was better than modern politicians and diplomats, who have no knowledge about ātma-tattva. As stated in the Vedas, asaṅgo hy ayaṁ puruṣaḥ: the spirit soul has no connection with the changes of the material body. The body undergoes six changes—birth, growth, sustenance, by-products, dwindling and then annihilation—but the soul undergoes no such changes. Even after the annihilation of a particular bodily form, the original source of the bodily elements does not change. The living entity enjoys the material body, which appears and disappears, but the five elements earth, water, fire, air and ether remain the same. The example given here is that pots and dolls are produced from the earth, and when broken or destroyed they mingle with their original ingredients. In any case, the source of supply remains the same.
One who does not understand the constitutional position of the body and the soul (ātmā) becomes too attached to the bodily concept of life. Consequently, because of attachment to the body and its by-products, he feels affected by union with and separation from his family, society and nation. As long as this continues, one continues his material life. (Otherwise, one is liberated.)
The word dharma means "engagement." One who is engaged in the service of the Lord (yato bhaktir adhokṣaje), without impediment and without cessation, is understood to be situated in his original, spiritual status. When one is promoted to this status, one is always happy in transcendental bliss. Otherwise, as long as one is in the bodily concept of life, one must suffer material conditions. Janma-mṛtyu jarā-vyādhi-duḥkha-doṣānudarśanam (BG 13.9). The body is subject to its own principles of birth, death, old age and disease, but one who is situated in spiritual life (yato bhaktir adhokṣaje) has no birth, no death, no old age and no disease. One may argue that we may see a person who is spiritually engaged twenty-four hours a day but is still suffering from disease. In fact, however, he is neither suffering nor diseased; otherwise he could not be engaged twenty-four hours a day in spiritual activities.
In the bodily conception of life, one remains in darkness, without self-realization, thinking, "I am being killed" or "I have killed my enemies." As long as a foolish person thus considers the self to be the killer of the killed, he continues to be responsible for material obligations, and consequently he suffers the reactions of happiness and distress.
By the grace of the Lord, Kaṁsa felt sincere regret for having unnecessarily persecuted such Vaiṣṇavas as Devakī and Vasudeva, and thus he came to the transcendental stage of knowledge. "Because I am situated on the platform of knowledge," Kaṁsa said, "understanding that I am not at all the killer of your sons, I have no responsibility for their death. As long as I thought that I would be killed by your son, I was in ignorance, but now I am free from this ignorance, which was due to a bodily conception of life." As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (18.17):
- yasya nāhaṅkṛto bhāvo
- buddhir yasya na lipyate
- hatvāpi sa imāḻ lokān
- na hanti na nibadhyate
"One who is not motivated by false ego, whose intelligence is not entangled, though he kills men in this world, is not the slayer. Nor is he bound by his actions." According to this axiomatic truth, Kaṁsa pleaded that he was not responsible for having killed the sons of Devakī and Vasudeva. "Please try to excuse me for such false, external activities," he said, "and be pacified with this same knowledge."
O great personality Kaṁsa, only by the influence of ignorance does one accept the material body and bodily ego. What you have said about this philosophy is correct. Persons in the bodily concept of life, lacking self-realization, differentiate in terms of "This is mine" and "This belongs to another."
Here is the Supreme Personality of Godhead—Kṛṣṇa. Although the Rākṣasī Pūtanā could increase or decrease her bodily size by her mystic abilities and thus gain proportionate power, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is equally powerful in any transcendental form. Kṛṣṇa is the real Personality of Godhead because whether as a child or as a grown-up young man, He is the same person. He does not need to become powerful by meditation or any other external endeavor. Therefore when the greatly powerful Pūtanā expanded her body, Kṛṣṇa remained the same small child and fearlessly played on the upper portion of her breast. Ṣaḍaiśvarya-pūrṇa. Bhagavān, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is always full in all potencies, regardless of whether He is present in this form or that. His potencies are always full. Parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate (Cc. Madhya 13.65, purport). He can display all potencies under any circumstances.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has commented on this verse as follows. When Lord Kṛṣṇa was of a very tender age, His hands and legs resembled soft new leaves, yet simply by touching the handcart with His legs, He made the cart fall to pieces. It was quite possible for Him to act in this way and yet not exert Himself very much. The Lord in His Vāmana avatāra had to extend His foot to the greatest height to penetrate the covering of the universe, and when the Lord killed the gigantic demon Hiraṇyakaśipu, He had to assume the special bodily feature of Nṛsiṁha-deva. But in His Kṛṣṇa avatāra, the Lord did not need to exert such energy. Therefore, kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam: (SB 1.3.28) Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. In other incarnations, the Lord had to exert some energy according to the time and circumstances, but in this form He exhibited unlimited potency. Thus the handcart collapsed, its joints broken, and all the metal pots and utensils scattered.
Gargamuni said: This child, the son of Rohiṇī, will give all happiness to His relatives and friends by His transcendental qualities. Therefore He will be known as Rāma. And because He will manifest extraordinary bodily strength, He will also be known as Bala. Moreover, because He unites two families—Vasudeva's family and the family of Nanda Mahārāja—He will be known as Saṅkarṣaṇa.
Anyone who desires to be Kṛṣṇa conscious in motherly affection or parental affection should contemplate the bodily features of mother Yaśodā. It is not that one should desire to become like Yaśodā, for this is Māyāvāda. Either in parental affection or conjugal love, friendship or servitorship—in any way—we must follow in the footsteps of the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana, not try to become like them. Therefore this description is provided here. Advanced devotees must cherish this description, always thinking of mother Yaśodā's features—how she was dressed, how she was working and perspiring, how beautifully the flowers were arranged in her hair, and so on. One should take advantage of the full description provided here by thinking of mother Yaśodā in maternal affection for Kṛṣṇa.
From these dealings between mother Yaśodā and Kṛṣṇa, we can understand the exalted position of a pure devotee in loving service to the Lord. Yogīs, jñānīs, karmīs and Vedāntists cannot even approach Kṛṣṇa; they must remain very, very far away from Him and try to enter His bodily effulgence, although this also they are unable to do. Great demigods like Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva always worship the Lord by meditation and by service. Even the most powerful Yamarāja fears Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, as we find in the history of Ajāmila, Yamarāja instructed his followers not even to approach the devotees, what to speak of capturing them. In other words, Yamarāja also fears Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa's devotees.
Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the son of mother Yaśodā, is very easily available to devotees, but not to tapasvīs, yogīs, jñānīs and others who have a bodily concept of life. Although they may sometimes be called śānta-bhaktas, real bhakti begins with dāsya-rasa. Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (4.11):
- ye yathā māṁ prapadyante
- tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham
- mama vartmānuvartante
- manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ
"As living entities surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pṛthā." Everyone is seeking Kṛṣṇa, for He is the Supersoul of all individual souls. Everyone loves his body and wants to protect it because he is within the body as the soul, and everyone loves the soul because the soul is part and parcel of the Supersoul.
The vṛndāvana-vāsīs—mother Yaśodā, Kṛṣṇa's friends and Kṛṣṇa's conjugal lovers, the younger gopīs with whom He dances—have very intimate relationships with Kṛṣṇa, and if one follows in the footsteps of these devotees, Kṛṣṇa is available. Although the nitya-siddha expansions of Kṛṣṇa always remain with Kṛṣṇa, if those engaged in sādhana-siddhi follow in the footsteps of Kṛṣṇa's nitya-siddha associates, such sādhana-siddhas also can easily attain Kṛṣṇa without difficulty. But there are those who are attached to bodily concepts of life. Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, for example, have very prestigious positions, and thus they have the sense of being very exalted īśvaras. In other words, because Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva are guṇa-avatāras and have exalted positions, they have some small sense of being like Kṛṣṇa. But the pure devotees who inhabit Vṛndāvana do not possess any bodily conception. They are fully dedicated to the service of the Lord in sublime affection, premā. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has therefore recommended, premā pum-artho mahān: the highest perfection of life is premā, pure love in relationship with Kṛṣṇa. And mother Yaśodā appears to be the topmost of devotees who have attained this perfection.
Nārada Muni said: Among all the attractions of material enjoyment, the attraction of riches bewilders one's intelligence more than having beautiful bodily features, taking birth in an aristocratic family, and being learned. When one is uneducated but falsely puffed up by wealth, the result is that one engages his wealth in enjoying wine, women and gambling.
According to this verse of Bhagavad-gītā (7.3), there are so many siddhas or yogīs who cannot understand Kṛṣṇa; instead, they misunderstand Him. But if one takes shelter of a devotee descending from the paramparā system of Nārada (svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhuḥ (SB 6.3.20)), one can then understand who is an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In this age, many pseudo incarnations are advertised simply for having exhibited some magical performances, but except for persons who are servants of Nārada and other servants of Kṛṣṇa, no one can understand who is God and who is not. This is confirmed by Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura. Chāḍiyā vaiṣṇava-sevā nistāra pāyeche kebā: no one is delivered from the material conception of life unless favored by a Vaiṣṇava. Others can never understand, neither by speculation nor by any other bodily or mental gymnastics.
Apparently the serpent named Aghāsura, because of having received association with Kṛṣṇa, attained mukti by entering Kṛṣṇa's body. Entering the body of Kṛṣṇa is called sāyujya-mukti, but later verses prove that Aghāsura, like Dantavakra and others, received sārūpya-mukti. This has been broadly described by Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura with references from the Vaiṣṇava-toṣaṇī of Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī. Aghāsura attained sārūpya-mukti, being promoted to the Vaikuṇṭha planets to live with the same four-armed bodily features as Viṣṇu. The explanation of how this is so may be summarized as follows.
By His Vāsudeva feature, Kṛṣṇa simultaneously expanded Himself into the exact number of missing cowherd boys and calves, with their exact bodily features, their particular types of hands, legs and other limbs, their sticks, bugles and flutes, their lunch bags, their particular types of dress and ornaments placed in various ways, their names, ages and forms, and their special activities and characteristics. By expanding Himself in this way, beautiful Kṛṣṇa proved the statement samagra-jagad viṣṇumayam: "Lord Viṣṇu is all-pervading."
SB Cantos 10.14 to 12 (Translations Only)
The trees had grown thin and dry, but after they drank the newly fallen rainwater through their feet, their various bodily features blossomed. Similarly, one whose body has grown thin and weak from austerity again exhibits his healthy bodily features upon enjoying the material objects gained through that austerity.
For you to remain in My bodily association would certainly not please people in this world, nor would it be the best way for you to increase your love for Me. Rather, you should fix your minds on Me, and very soon you will achieve Me.
Dear Kṛṣṇa, what woman in all the three worlds wouldn't deviate from religious behavior when bewildered by the sweet, drawn-out melody of Your flute? Your beauty makes all three worlds auspicious. Indeed, even the cows, birds, trees and deer manifest the ecstatic symptom of bodily hair standing on end when they see Your beautiful form.
O mother earth, what austerity did you perform to attain the touch of Lord Keśava's lotus feet, which has brought you such great joy that your bodily hairs are standing on end? You appear very beautiful in this condition. Was it during the Lord's current appearance that you acquired this ecstatic symptom, or was it perhaps much earlier, when He stepped upon you in His form of the dwarf Vāmanadeva, or even earlier, when He embraced you in His form of the boar Varāhadeva?
One gopī took the Lord through the aperture of her eyes and placed Him within her heart. Then, with her eyes closed and her bodily hairs standing on end, she continuously embraced Him within. Thus immersed in transcendental ecstasy, she resembled a yogī meditating upon the Lord.
Upon the shoulder of one gopī Kṛṣṇa placed His arm, whose natural blue-lotus fragrance was mixed with that of the sandalwood pulp anointing it. As the gopī relished that fragrance, her bodily hair stood on end in jubilation, and she kissed His arm.
Increasingly agitated by ecstasy at seeing the Lord's footprints, his bodily hairs standing on end because of his pure love, and his eyes filled with tears, Akrūra jumped down from his chariot and began rolling about among those footprints, exclaiming, "Ah, this is the dust from my master's feet!"
As the great devotee Akrūra beheld all this, he became extremely pleased and felt enthused with transcendental devotion. His intense ecstasy caused His bodily hairs to stand on end and tears to flow from his eyes, drenching his entire body. Somehow managing to steady himself, Akrūra bowed his head to the ground. Then he joined his palms in supplication and, in a voice choked with emotion, very slowly and attentively began to pray.
The ladies of Mathurā had repeatedly heard about Kṛṣṇa, and thus as soon as they saw Him their hearts melted. They felt honored that He was sprinkling upon them the nectar of His glances and broad smiles. Taking Him into their hearts through their eyes, they embraced Him, the embodiment of all ecstasy, and as their bodily hairs stood on end, O subduer of enemies, they forgot the unlimited distress caused by His absence.
By your great fortune you have left your sons, husbands, bodily comforts, relatives and homes in favor of the supreme male, who is known as Kṛṣṇa.
When Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa was dancing with the gopīs in the rāsa-līlā, the gopīs were embraced by the arms of the Lord. This transcendental favor was never bestowed upon the goddess of fortune or other consorts in the spiritual world. Indeed, never was such a thing even imagined by the most beautiful girls in the heavenly planets, whose bodily luster and aroma resemble the lotus flower. And what to speak of worldly women who are very beautiful according to material estimation?
Since it has never been demonstrated that You are covered by material, bodily designations, it must be concluded that for You there is neither birth in a literal sense nor any duality. Therefore You never undergo bondage or liberation, and if You appear to, it is only because of Your desire that we see You in that way, or simply because of our lack of discrimination.
Lord Kṛṣṇa knew that Rukmiṇī possessed intelligence, auspicious bodily markings, beauty, proper behavior and all other good qualities. Concluding that she would be an ideal wife for Him, He made up His mind to marry her.
Śrī Rukmiṇī said (in her letter, as read by the brāhmaṇa): O beauty of the worlds, having heard of Your qualities, which enter the ears of those who hear and remove their bodily distress, and having also heard of Your beauty, which fulfills all the visual desires of those who see, I have fixed my shameless mind upon You, O Kṛṣṇa.
Left with only his life air, cast out by his enemies and deprived of his strength and bodily radiance, Rukmī could not forget how he had been disfigured. In frustration he constructed for his residence a large city, which he called Bhojakaṭa.
But how is it that this young man so much resembles my own Lord, Kṛṣṇa, the wielder of Śārṅga, in His bodily form and His limbs, in His gait and the tone of His voice, and in His smiling glance?
(Jāmbavān said:) I know now that You are the life air and the sensory, mental and bodily strength of all living beings. You are Lord Viṣṇu, the original person, the supreme, all-powerful controller.
Fortunately, O mistress of the house, you have always rendered Me faithful devotional service, which liberates one from material existence. This service is very difficult for the envious to perform, especially for a woman whose intentions are wicked, who lives only to gratify her bodily demands, and who indulges in duplicity.
If the Vṛṣṇis come here when they learn that their son has been captured, we will break their pride. Thus they'll become subdued, like bodily senses brought under strict control.
By virtue of self-realization fortified by service rendered to His feet, devotees of the Lord dispel the bodily concept of life, which has bewildered the soul since time immemorial. Thus they attain eternal glory in His personal association. How, then, can that Supreme Truth, the destination of all genuine saints, be subject to illusion?
(Lord Kṛṣṇa's relatives said:) O master, how can misfortune arise for those who have even once freely drunk the nectar coming from Your lotus feet? This intoxicating liquor pours into the drinking cups of their ears, having flowed from the minds of great devotees through their mouths. It destroys the embodied souls' forgetfulness of the creator of their bodily existence.
My Lord, You are water, and also its taste and and its capacities to quench thirst and sustain life. You exhibit Your potencies through the manifestations of the air as bodily warmth, vitality, mental power, physical strength, endeavor and movement.
You are false ego in the mode of ignorance, which is the source of the physical elements; false ego in the mode of passion, which is the source of the bodily senses; false ego in the mode of goodness, which is the source of the demigods; and the unmanifest, total material energy, which underlies everything.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is the reservoir of all beauty. All beautiful things emanate from Him, and His personal form is so attractive that it steals the eyes away from all other objects, which then seem devoid of beauty in comparison to Him. When Lord Kṛṣṇa was on the earth, He attracted the eyes of all people. When Kṛṣṇa spoke, His words attracted the minds of all who remembered them. By seeing the footsteps of Lord Kṛṣṇa, people became attracted to Him, and thus they wanted to offer their bodily activities to the Lord as His followers. In this way Kṛṣṇa very easily spread His glories, which are sung throughout the world by the most sublime and essential Vedic verses. Lord Kṛṣṇa considered that simply by hearing and chanting those glories, conditioned souls born in the future would cross beyond the darkness of ignorance. Being satisfied with this arrangement, He left for His desired destination.
One should have firm faith that he will achieve all success in life by following those scriptures that describe the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavān. At the same time, one should avoid blaspheming other scriptures. One should rigidly control his mind, speech and bodily activities, always speak the truth, and bring the mind and senses under full control.
The devotees of the Lord constantly discuss the glories of the Personality of Godhead among themselves. Thus they constantly remember the Lord and remind one another of His qualities and pastimes. In this way, by their devotion to the principles of bhakti-yoga, the devotees please the Personality of Godhead, who takes away from them everything inauspicious. Being purified of all impediments, the devotees awaken to pure love of Godhead, and thus, even within this world, their spiritualized bodies exhibit symptoms of transcendental ecstasy, such as standing of the bodily hairs on end.
One should worship the Deity along with each of the limbs of His transcendental body, His weapons such as the Sudarśana cakra, His other bodily features and His personal associates. One should worship each of these transcendental aspects of the Lord by its own mantra and with offerings of water to wash the feet, scented water, water to wash the mouth, water for bathing, fine clothing and ornaments, fragrant oils, valuable necklaces, unbroken barleycorns, flower garlands, incense and lamps. Having thus completed the worship in all its aspects in accordance with the prescribed regulations, one should then honor the Deity of Lord Hari with prayers and offer obeisances to Him by bowing down.
Within His body are elaborately arranged the three planetary systems of this universe. His transcendental senses generate the knowledge-acquiring and active senses of all embodied beings. His consciousness generates conditioned knowledge, and His powerful breathing produces the bodily strength, sensory power and conditioned activities of the embodied souls. He is the prime mover, through the agency of the material modes of goodness, passion and ignorance. And thus the universe is created, maintained and annihilated.
The materialistic followers of Vedic rituals, giving up the worship of the Lord, instead practically worship their wives, and thus their homes become dedicated to sex life. Such materialistic householders encourage one another in such whimsical behavior. Understanding ritualistic sacrifice as a necessary item for bodily maintenance, they perform unauthorized ceremonies in which there is no distribution of foodstuffs or charity to the brāhmaṇas and other respectable persons. Instead, they cruelly slaughter animals such as goats without any understanding of the dark consequences of their activities.
Inimical kings like Śiśupāla, Pauṇḍraka and Śālva were always thinking about Lord Kṛṣṇa. Even while they were lying down, sitting or engaging in other activities, they enviously meditated upon the bodily movements of the Lord, His sporting pastimes, His loving glances upon His devotees, and other attractive features displayed by the Lord. Being thus always absorbed in Kṛṣṇa, they achieved spiritual liberation in the Lord's own abode. What then can be said of the benedictions offered to those who constantly fix their minds on Lord Kṛṣṇa in a favorable, loving mood?
O my Lord, I myself am most foolish because my consciousness is merged in the material body and bodily relations, which are all manufactured by Your illusory energy. Thus I am thinking, "I am this body, and all of these relatives are mine." Therefore, my Lord, please instruct Your poor servant. Please tell me how I can very easily carry out Your instructions.
My dear Lord, You are the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and You reveal Yourself to Your devotees. Besides Your Lordship, I do not see anyone who can actually explain perfect knowledge to me. Such a perfect teacher is not to be found even among the demigods in heaven. Indeed, all of the demigods, headed by Lord Brahmā, are bewildered by Your illusory potency. They are conditioned souls who accept their own material bodies and bodily expansions to be the highest truth.
The two pigeons were very much devoted to their household duties. Their hearts being tied together by sentimental affection, they were each attracted by the other's glances, bodily features and states of mind. Thus, they completely bound each other in affection.
A saintly person should never touch a young girl. In fact, he should not even let his foot touch a wooden doll in the shape of a woman. By bodily contact with a woman he will surely be captured by illusion, just as the elephant is captured by the she-elephant due to his desire to touch her body.
If out of love, hate or fear an embodied soul fixes his mind with intelligence and complete concentration upon a particular bodily form, he will certainly attain the form that he is meditating upon.
Just as fire may appear differently as dormant, manifest, weak, brilliant and so on, according to the condition of the fuel, similarly, the spirit soul enters a material body and accepts particular bodily characteristics.
An enlightened person who is free from the contamination of material desire does not consider himself to be the performer of bodily activities; rather, he knows that in all such activities it is only the senses, born of the modes of nature, that are contacting sense objects born of the same modes of nature.
An enlightened person fixed in detachment engages his body in lying down, sitting, walking, bathing, seeing, touching, smelling, eating, hearing and so on, but is never entangled by such activities. Indeed, remaining as a witness to all bodily functions, he merely engages his bodily senses with their objects and does not become entangled like an unintelligent person.
The ten secondary mystic perfections arising from the modes of nature are the powers of freeing oneself from hunger and thirst and other bodily disturbances, hearing and seeing things far away, moving the body at the speed of the mind, assuming any form one desires, entering the bodies of others, dying when one desires, witnessing the pastimes between the demigods and the celestial girls called Apsarās, completely executing one's determination and giving orders whose fulfillment is unimpeded.
One who places his consciousness on Viṣṇu, the Supersoul, the prime mover and Supreme Lord of the external energy consisting of three modes, obtains the mystic perfection of controlling other conditioned souls, their material bodies and their bodily designations.
Of the powerful I am bodily and mental strength, and I am the devotional activities of My devotees. My devotees worship Me in nine different forms, among which I am the original and primary Vāsudeva.
Dynamic power, bodily strength, determination, heroism, tolerance, generosity, great endeavor, steadiness, devotion to the brāhmaṇas and leadership are the natural qualities of the kṣatriyas.
The vānaprastha should personally collect whatever he requires for his bodily maintenance, carefully considering the time, place and his own capacity. He should never collect provisions for the future.
Firm faith in the blissful narration of My pastimes, constant chanting of My glories, unwavering attachment to ceremonial worship of Me, praising Me through beautiful hymns, great respect for My devotional service, offering obeisances with the entire body, performing first-class worship of My devotees, consciousness of Me in all living entities, offering of ordinary, bodily activities in My devotional service, use of words to describe My qualities, offering the mind to Me, rejection of all material desires, giving up wealth for My devotional service, renouncing material sense gratification and happiness, and performing all desirable activities such as charity, sacrifice, chanting, vows and austerities with the purpose of achieving Me—these constitute actual religious principles, by which those human beings who have actually surrendered themselves to Me automatically develop love for Me. What other purpose or goal could remain for My devotee?
Simply by material birth, human beings become attached within their minds to personal sense gratification, long duration of life, sense activities, bodily strength, sexual potency and friends and family. Their minds are thus absorbed in that which defeats their actual self-interest.
Although the material body is different from the self, because of the ignorance due to material association one falsely identifies oneself with the superior and inferior bodily conditions. Sometimes a fortunate person is able to give up such mental concoction.
If you say that the demigods who rule the bodily senses cause suffering, still, how can such suffering apply to the spirit soul? This acting and being acted upon are merely interactions of the changeable senses and their presiding deities. When one limb of the body attacks another, with whom can the person in that body be angry?
Although the false ego has no factual basis, it is perceived in many forms—as the functions of the mind, speech, life air and bodily faculties. But with the sword of transcendental knowledge, sharpened by worship of a bona fide spiritual master, a sober sage will cut off this false identification and live in this world free from all material attachment.
The wise man, whose consciousness is fixed in the self, does not even notice his own bodily activities. While standing, sitting, walking, lying down, urinating, eating or performing other bodily functions, he understands that the body is acting according to its own nature.
This mystic bodily perfection is not valued very highly by those expert in transcendental knowledge. Indeed, they consider endeavor for such perfection useless, since the soul, like a tree, is permanent, but the body, like a tree's fruit, is subject to destruction.
Disregarding the ridicule of one's companions, one should give up the bodily conception and its accompanying embarrassment. One should offer obeisances before all—even the dogs, outcastes, cows and asses—falling flat upon the ground like a rod.
Indeed, I consider this process—using one's mind, words and bodily functions for realizing Me within all living beings—to be the best possible method of spiritual enlightenment.
The soul within the body is self-luminous and is separate from the visible gross body and invisible subtle body. It remains as the fixed basis of changing bodily existence, just as the ethereal sky is the unchanging background of material transformation. Therefore the soul is endless and without material comparison.
My dear Lord, the Vedic literatures alone reveal confidential knowledge of Your supreme personality, and thus even such great scholars as Lord Brahmā himself are bewildered in their attempt to understand You through empirical methods. Each philosopher understands You according to his particular speculative conclusions. I worship that Supreme Person, knowledge of whom is hidden by the bodily designations covering the conditioned soul's spiritual identity.
This is the representation of the Supreme Lord as the universal person, in which the earth is His feet, the sky His navel, the sun His eyes, the wind His nostrils, the demigod of procreation His genitals, death His anus and the moon His mind. The heavenly planets are His head, the directions His ears, and the demigods protecting the various planets His many arms. The god of death is His eyebrows, shame His lower lip, greed His upper lip, delusion His smile, and moonshine His teeth, while the trees are the almighty Puruṣa's bodily hairs, and the clouds the hair on His head.