Sāṅkhya philosophy, as is well known, deals with prakṛti and puruṣa. Puruṣa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead or anyone who imitates the Supreme Personality of Godhead as an enjoyer, and prakṛti is nature. In this material world, material nature is being exploited by the puruṣas, or the living entities. The intricacies in the material world of the relationship of the prakṛti and puruṣa, or the enjoyed and the enjoyer, give rise to saṁsāra, or material entanglement. Devahūti wanted to cut the tree of material entanglement, and she found the suitable weapon in Kapila Muni. The tree of material existence is explained in the Fifteenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gītā as an aśvattha tree whose root is upward and whose branches are downward. It is recommended there that one has to cut the root of this material existential tree with the ax of detachment. What is the attachment? The attachment involves prakṛti and puruṣa. The living entities are trying to lord it over material nature. Since the conditioned soul takes material nature to be the object of his enjoyment, and he takes the position of the enjoyer, he is therefore called puruṣa.
Devahūti questioned Kapila Muni, for she knew that only He could cut her attachment to this material world. The living entities, in the guises of men and women, are trying to enjoy the material energy; therefore in one sense everyone is puruṣa because puruṣa means "enjoyer," and prakṛti means "enjoyed." In this material world both so-called men and women are imitating the real puruṣa; the Supreme Personality of Godhead is actually the enjoyer in the transcendental sense, whereas all others are prakṛti.
In Bhagavad-gītā, matter is analyzed as aparā, or inferior nature, whereas beyond this inferior nature there is another, superior nature - the living entities. Living entities are also prakṛti, or enjoyed, but under the spell of māyā, the living entities are falsely trying to take the position of enjoyers. That is the cause of saṁsāra-bandha, or conditional life. Devahūti wanted to get out of conditional life and place herself in full surrender. The Lord is śaraṇya, which means "the only worthy personality to whom one can fully surrender," because He is full of all opulences. If anyone actually wants relief, the best course is to surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Lord is also described here as sad-dharma-vidāṁ variṣṭham. This indicates that of all transcendental occupations, the best is eternal loving service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Dharma is sometimes translated as "religion," but that is not exactly the meaning. Dharma actually means "that which one cannot give up," "that which is inseparable from oneself." The warmth of fire is inseparable from fire; therefore warmth is called the dharma, or nature, of fire. Similarly, sad-dharma means "eternal occupation." That eternal occupation is engagement in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. The purpose of Kapiladeva's Sāṅkhya philosophy is to propagate pure, uncontaminated devotional service, and therefore He is addressed here as the most important personality among those who know the transcendental occupation of the living entity.
As pointed out before, Bhagavān, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is everyone's real shelter (śaraṇaṁ śaraṇyam). Everyone is seeking shelter because we are all constitutionally servants. Originally we are servants of God; therefore it is our nature to take His shelter. Some seek an occupation or the service of a great man; others seek the service of the government or whatever. In any case, the ultimate shelter is Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Being Kṛṣṇa's incarnation, Kapiladeva is also a shelter. Kṛṣṇa has unlimited forms and unlimited incarnations. It is said in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that His incarnations are expanding continuously, like waves in the ocean. Indeed, we cannot even count them. In Brahma-saṁhitā it is said: Advaitam acyutam anādim ananta-rūpam (Bs. 5.33). In India there are many thousands of temples, and within these temples there are arcā-vigrahas, Deities. All these Kṛṣṇas are nondifferent; they are one. Kṛṣṇa resides in Vaikuṇṭha and also in the temple. The Kṛṣṇas are not different, although they are ananta, unlimited. Kṛṣṇa is also the witness within everyone's heart, and He is seeing all of our activities. We cannot hide anything from Him, and we receive the results of our karma because the witness is Kṛṣṇa Himself within the heart. How, then, can we avoid Him? Without Kṛṣṇa's permission, we cannot do anything. Why does Kṛṣṇa give us permission to do something wrong? He does so because we persist. Actually He does not tell us to do anything other than surrender unto Him. We want to do something, and Kṛṣṇa may sanction it, but we go ahead and do it at our own risk. Kṛṣṇa is not responsible. However, we should know that without the sanction of Kṛṣṇa, we cannot do anything. That is a fact. Actually we are constitutionally servants of Kṛṣṇa. Even though we may declare ourselves independent, we are not. Rather, we are servants falsely declaring that we are independent. Self-realization is understanding that we are dependent on the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As Caitanya Mahāprabhu says:
- ayi nanda-tanuja kiṅkaraṁ
- patitaṁ māṁ viṣame bhavāmbudhau
- kṛpayā tava pāda-paṅkaja-
- sthita-dhūlī-sadṛśaṁ vicintaya
"My dear Lord Kṛṣṇa, son of Mahārāja Nanda, I am Your eternal servant, but somehow or other I have fallen into this ocean of nescience. Please pick Me up from this ocean of death and place Me as one of the atoms at Your lotus feet." (CC Antya 20.32, Śikṣāṣṭaka 5). Because we are under illusion, Devahūti says: sva-bhṛtya-saṁsāra-taroḥ kuṭhāram. In Bhagavad-gītā (15.1-4), material existence is likened unto a banyan tree with its roots upward and its branches below. The roots of this banyan tree are very strong, but they can be cut with an ax (kuṭhāram). By taking shelter of Kṛṣṇa's lotus feet, we can cut the strong root of material existence. Because we have given up Kṛṣṇa's service, we have become servants of so many things. We are obliged to serve our parents, wife, children, country and so forth. We are indebted to many people and to the demigods who give heat and light. Although we are not paying the bill, we are taking advantage of the sunlight and the sun's heat. If we take advantage of electricity, we have to pay the bill, but we don't pay the sun bill. This means that we are actually indebted to the sun-god, Vivasvān. Similarly, the King of heaven, Indra, is supplying water in the form of rain. Rascals say that all this comes about by nature, but they do not know that nature is controlled. If we don't pay our debts by performing sacrifices, there will certainly be a scarcity. All of these things are coming from the Supreme Father, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but we are thinking that they are coming from nature, and we are utilizing them without caring whether we pay the bill or not. It is all right to use our father's property, but at the present moment we are not acting as our Father's sons; we are māyā's sons. We do not care for our Father; however, nature is nonetheless working under His direction. If we do not care for Him, nature will reduce her supply, for nature will not allow demons to flourish. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (16.19):
- tān ahaṁ dviṣataḥ krūrān
- saṁsāreṣu narādhamān
- kṣipāmy ajasram aśubhān
- āsurīṣv eva yoniṣu
"Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men, are cast by Me into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life."
Demons are always subject to be punished, and great demons like Rāvaṇa and Hiraṇyakaśipu are personally punished by the Lord. Otherwise, ordinary demons are punished by the laws of material nature. Kṛṣṇa does not need to come to punish the petty demons, but when there are great demons like Rāvaṇa, Hiraṇyakaśipu and Kaṁsa, the Lord comes as Lord Rāmacandra, Lord Nṛsiṁha-deva or Śrī Kṛṣṇa to punish them. If we do not want to be punished, we have to follow the rules and regulations (sad-dharma). Dharma means "the laws given by God." Dharmaṁ tu sākṣād bhagavat-praṇītam (SB 6.3.19). The laws are given by Bhagavān and are written in books like Manu-saṁhitā and other Vedic literatures. According to the law, we have to obey the government, and according to dharma, we have to obey Kṛṣṇa, God. We cannot manufacture our laws at home, and we cannot manufacture dharma. If one tries, he is simply cheating the public. Such false dharmas are kicked out of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.1.2): dharmaḥ projjhita. The real dharma is set forth by Śrī Kṛṣṇa when He says: sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja (BG 18.66). All other dharmas are simply forms of cheating. We must accept the principles of Bhagavad-gītā, which constitute the ABC'S of dharma. Actually, we only have to accept the principle of surrender unto Kṛṣṇa, but this acceptance comes after many, many births. It is not very easy, for only after many births of struggle does one come to his real perfection and surrender unto Kṛṣṇa. At this time he understands perfectly that Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa, is everything. This is the greatest lesson of Bhagavad-gītā, Everything is Kṛṣṇa's energy, and whatever we see is but an exhibition of two types of energy. Everyone knows that the sun has two types of energy - heat and light. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa has an external energy and an internal energy, and He also has a marginal energy, which is a mixture of the other two. The external energy is this material world, the internal energy is the spiritual world, and the marginal energy is the living entity. The living entity is marginal because he can remain in the material world or the spiritual world. Bhagavad-gītā describes two types of living entities, kṣara and akṣara, those living in the material world and those in the spiritual world. Those who have fallen into the material world are attracted by the tree of saṁsāra, the banyan tree of material existence described in Bhagavad-gītā (Fifteenth Chapter).
It is essential that we disassociate ourselves from this tree by detachment. Cutting down this tree is very difficult, but it is possible with the weapon of detachment. There is a Bengali proverb that states: "I'll catch the fish, but I will not touch the water." That type of intelligence is required. In America we see many old men on the beach who have retired from their business to waste their time trying to catch fish. They are not very cautious, and they touch the water. However, we have to live in this material world in such a way that we do everything for Kṛṣṇa but do not touch the water of the material world. In this way, we will have no attachment to things of this material world. We may have many great temples, but we should not be attached to them. It is for Kṛṣṇa's sake that we construct temples, but we must understand that the temples are Kṛṣṇa's property. Our mission is to teach people that everything belongs to Kṛṣṇa. Only a thief will occupy something belonging to another and claim it to be his.
The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement preaches that everything belongs to Kṛṣṇa and that everything should be utilized for Kṛṣṇa's benefit. He is the beneficiary of everything, and it is to our benefit that we come to this knowledge. Īśāvāsyam idaṁ sarvam (ISO 1). If one realizes that everything belongs to Kṛṣṇa, one becomes the greatest mahātmā. Being a mahātmā does not mean that one wears a big beard and a particular type of dress. No, this awareness must be there. Whatever we have should be offered to Kṛṣṇa. If we have first-class food, we should offer it to Him. If we have nothing, we can offer Him a leaf, a flower, a little water or fruit. This can he collected by anyone anywhere without having to pay money. As Śrī Kṛṣṇa states in Bhagavad-gītā (9.26):
- patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
- yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
- tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
- aśnāmi prayatātmanaḥ
"If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it."
The point is that we should offer something to Kṛṣṇa with devotion. It is not that Kṛṣṇa is hungry and is asking for food. No, He is feeding everyone, supplying everyone with all the necessities: eko bahūnāṁ yo vidadhāti kāmān (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.2.13). What, then, is He requesting? He is asking for bhakti, devotion, because He wants us to love Him. We are suffering in this material world, entangled in the tree of material existence, moving from one branch to another, and because of this we are suffering. Kṛṣṇa does not want us to suffer, jumping like monkeys from branch to branch. We must come to Him and surrender to Him. When we come to this knowledge, we become perfect in knowledge. When we take shelter at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, we are no longer debtors to anyone. Na kiṅkaro nāyam ṛṇī (SB 11.5.41). Kṛṣṇa assures us, 'ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi: "I'll give you all relief." (BG 18.66) This is what we actually want. Therefore Devahūti herein takes shelter of Kapiladeva and tells Him, "You are the ax capable of making me detached." When our attachment to the material world is severed, we become free. Bhakti is the means by which we can develop this detachment. Vairāgya-vidyā-nija-bhakti-yoga (CC Madhya 6.254). Bhakti-yoga is the science of detachment. This verse was composed by Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya when he understood that Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya was a great logician, and he composed a hundred verses to Caitanya Mahāprabhu, wherein he tells the Lord:
- śikṣārtham ekaḥ puruṣaḥ purāṇaḥ
- kṛpāmbudhir yas tam ahaṁ prapadye
"Let me take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who has descended in the form of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu to teach us real knowledge, His devotional service, and detachment from whatever does not foster Kṛṣṇa consciousness. He has descended because He is an ocean of transcendental mercy. Let me surrender unto His lotus feet." (CC Madhya 6.254)
When a person advances in bhakti-yoga, he will automatically become detached from material attractions. There are many American and European boys and girls in this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement who have been born in countries where they can enjoy a good deal of material affluence, but they consider this material happiness and affluence like garbage in the street. Because they are devotees of Vāsudeva, they are no longer attached to these material things. This is the result of bhakti-yoga, which enables one to be detached from material enjoyment. That detachment is the sign that one is advancing in bhakti-yoga. Bhaktiḥ pareśānubhavo viraktir anyatra ca (SB 11.2.42). That is the test of advancing in bhakti. If we are advanced, we are no longer attached to material enjoyment. It is not that we think ourselves great devotees and then go ahead and enjoy material things. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (5.22):
- ye hi saṁsparśa-jā bhogā
- duḥkha-yonaya eva te
- ādy-antavantaḥ kaunteya
- na teṣu ramate budhaḥ
"An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. O son of Kuntī, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them." When one sees something superior, he immediately rejects that which is inferior. Actually we cannot bring all this about by our own endeavor; therefore we have to take shelter of Kṛṣṇa, and He will help. Since our only business is to take shelter of Kṛṣṇa, Devahūti says, "I am taking shelter of You so that You can cut my attachment to this material life. Why should You do this? Because I am Your eternal servant."
Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura says, anādi karama-phale, paḍi 'bhavārṇava-jale, taribāre nā dekhi upāya. If we are thrown into the ocean, there is a great struggle, even if we may be very great swimmers. There is no peace in this material world, however expert we may be in dealing with it. There is nothing but struggle. We cannot live here peacefully. It is not possible. Even if we are nonviolent and hurt no one, there will be trouble. However, if somehow or other we manage to reach the shore, we will find peace. There is peace even if we are an inch out of the water. Tava pāda-paṅkaja-sthita-dhūlī sadṛśaṁ vicintaya (Śikṣāṣṭaka 5). If somehow or other we become one of the particles of dust at Kṛṣṇa's lotus feet, we will be liberated.
We may be a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian for fifty or sixty years, or at the utmost one hundred, but again we have to take birth and be something else. We are thinking in terms of these religious designations, which are called asad-dharma, meaning that they may change at any moment. But what is our real dharma? Real dharma is sad-dharma, that which will not change, and this sad-dharma necessitates surrendering unto Kṛṣṇa. This dharma will continue eternally. There are many propounders of sad-dharma, but actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the best propounder because He knows the reality. It is therefore said of the Gosvāmīs: nānā-śāstra-vicāraṇaika-nipuṇau sad-dharma-saṁsthāpakau. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's direct disciples, the Gosvāmīs, tried to establish sad-dharma, and we are trying to follow in their footsteps by establishing real dharma throughout the world with this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.