An analogy will help us understand the distincion between ourselves and God. From the ground we may see only clouds in the sky, but if we fly above the clouds we can see the sun shining. From the sky, skyscrapers and cities seem very tiny; similarly, from God's position this entire material creation is insignificant. The tendency of the living entity is to come down from the heights, where everything can be seen in perspective. God, however, does not have this tendency. The Supreme Lord is not subject to falling down into illusion (māyā) any more than the sun is subject to falling beneath the clouds. Impersonalist philosophers (Māyāvādīs) maintain that both the living entity and God Himself are under the control of māyā when they come into this material world. This is the fallacy of their philosophy.
CC Preface and Introduction
Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu should therefore not be considered one of us. He is Kṛṣṇa Himself, the supreme living entity, and as such He never comes under the cloud of māyā. Kṛṣṇa, His expansions and even His higher devotees never fall into the clutches of illusion. Lord Caitanya came to earth simply to preach kṛṣṇa-bhakti, love of Kṛṣṇa. In other words, He is Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself teaching the living entities the proper way to approach Kṛṣṇa.
In the Bhagavad-gītā (18.66) Lord Kṛṣṇa says, "Give up all your nonsense and surrender to Me. I will protect you."
We say, "Oh, surrender? But I have so many responsibilities."
And māyā, illusion, says to us, “Don’t do it, or you’ll be out of my clutches. Just stay in my clutches, and I’ll kick you.”
It is a fact that we are constantly being kicked by māyā, just as the male ass is kicked in the face by the she-ass when he comes for sex. Similarly, cats and dogs are always fighting and whining when they have sex. Even an elephant in the jungle is caught by the use of a trained she-elephant who leads him into a pit. We should learn by observing these tricks of nature.
We are all actually Kṛṣṇa's servants. But in conditioned life we are shackled by iron chains in the form of beautiful women. Thus every male is bound by sex, and therefore one who wishes to gain liberation from the material clutches must first learn to control the sex urge. Unrestricted sex puts one fully in the clutches of illusion. Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu officially renounced this illusion at the age of twenty-four, although His wife was sixteen and His mother seventy and He was the only male in the family. Although He was a brāhmaṇa and was not rich, He took sannyāsa, the renounced order of life, and thus extricated Himself from family entanglement.
If we wish to become fully Kṛṣṇa conscious, we have to give up the shackles of māyā. Or, if we remain with māyā, we should live in such a way that we will not be subject to illusion, as did the many householders among Lord Caitanya's closest devotees. With His followers in the renounced order, however, Lord Caitanya was very strict.
God is also infallible, and thus in the Bhagavad-gītā He is addressed as Acyuta, which means "He who never falls down." This name is appropriate because in the Bhagavad-gītā Arjuna falls into illusion but Kṛṣṇa does not. Kṛṣṇa Himself reveals His infallibility when he says to Arjuna, "When I appear in this world, I do so by My own internal potency." (BG 4.6)
The subject matter of the Caitanya-caritāmṛta deals primarily with what is beyond this material creation. The cosmic material expansion is called māyā, illusion, because it has no eternal existence. Because it is sometimes manifested and sometimes not, it is regarded as illusory.
That which is relative, temporary and far away from the Absolute Truth is called māyā, or ignorance. This illusion is exhibited in two ways, as explained in the Bhagavad-gītā. The inferior illusion is inert matter, and the superior illusion is the living entity. The living entities are called illusory in this context only because they are implicated in the illusory structures and activities of the material world.
"My dear Kṛṣṇa, O infallible one, my illusion is now gone. I have regained my memory by Your mercy. I am now firm and free from doubt and am prepared to act according to Your instructions." (BG 18.73) It is the constitutional position of the living entity to be situated in this pure consciousness. Any so-called religious process that interferes with this unadulterated spiritual position of the living being must therefore be considered a pretentious process of religiosity.
"We offer our respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of the Lord, upon whom one should always meditate. He left His householder life, leaving aside His eternal consort, whom even the denizens of heaven adore. He went into the forest to deliver the fallen souls, who are put into illusion by material energy."
“Although these three features of the Lord deal directly with the material energy, none of Them are touched by it. They are all beyond illusion.
“Mistakes, illusions, cheating and defective perception do not occur in the sayings of the authoritative sages.
Had Kṛṣṇa been a plenary expansion of Nārāyaṇa, the original verse would have been differently composed; indeed, its order would have been reversed. But there cannot be mistakes, illusion, cheating or imperfect perception in the words of liberated sages. Therefore there is no mistake in this statement that Lord Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
There are innumerable living entities throughout the material and spiritual universes, but still Lord Kṛṣṇa is full in Himself. To think that God has lost His personality because His many parts and parcels are distributed all over the universe is an illusion. That is a material calculation. Such calculations are possible only under the influence of the material energy, māyā. In the spiritual world the material energy is conspicuous only by its absence.
Even according to historical references, Kṛṣṇa's activities are most uncommon. Kṛṣṇa has affirmed, "I am God," and He has acted accordingly. Māyāvādīs think that everyone can claim to be God, but that is their illusion, for no one else can perform such extraordinary activities as Kṛṣṇa. When He was a child on the lap of His mother, He killed the demon Pūtanā. Then He killed the demons Tṛṇāvarta, Vatsāsura and Baka. When He was a little more grown up, He killed the demons Aghāsura and Ṛṣabhāsura. Therefore God is God from the very beginning. The idea that someone can become God by meditation is ridiculous. By hard endeavor one may realize his godly nature, but he will never become God. The asuras, or demons, who think that anyone can become God, are condemned.
The cognition of the living beings has three divisions: direct knowledge, indirect knowledge and perverted knowledge. Sense perception of material objects by the mundane senses, such as the eye, ear, nose and hand, always produces definitely perverted knowledge. This illusion is a presentation of the material energy, which is influenced by the samvit-śakti in a perverted manner.
Foolish persons engrossed in their material assets are unnecessarily proud of being leaders of the people, but they ignore the spiritual value of man. Such illusioned leaders make plans covering any number of years, but they can hardly make humanity happy in a state conditioned by the threefold miseries inflicted by material nature. One cannot control the laws of nature by any amount of struggling. One must at last be subject to death, nature's ultimate law. Death, birth, old age and illness are symptoms of the diseased condition of the living being. The highest aim of human life should therefore be to get free from these miseries and go back home, back to Godhead.
Material nature appears to be just the opposite of the spiritual energy. The fact is that the material energy can work only when in contact with the spiritual energy. Originally the energy of Kṛṣṇa is spiritual, but it works in diverse ways, like electrical energy, which can exhibit the functions of refrigerating or heating through its manifestations in different ways. The material energy is spiritual energy covered by a cloud of illusion, or māyā. Therefore, the material energy is not self-sufficient in working. Kṛṣṇa invests His spiritual energy into material energy, and then it can act, just as iron can act like fire after being heated by fire. The material energy can act only when empowered by the spiritual energy.
Material scientists and philosophers conditioned by the spell of material nature suppose that material energy acts automatically, and therefore they are frustrated, like an illusioned person who tries to get milk from the nipplelike bunches of skin on the neck of a goat. As there is no possibility of getting milk from these bunches of skin, there is similarly no possibility that anyone will be successful in understanding the original cause of creation by putting forward theories produced by the material energy. Such an attempt is a manifestation of ignorance.
The material energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is called māyā, or illusion, because in two capacities (by supplying the material elements and by causing the material manifestation) it makes the conditioned soul unable to understand the real truth of creation. However, when a living entity is liberated from the conditioned life of matter, he can understand the two different activities of material nature, namely covering and bewildering.
Deluded by material energy, the conditioned soul, enamored by these eighty-one varieties of manifestations, wants to lord it over material energy, just as a moth wants to enjoy a fire. This illusion is the net result of the conditioned soul's forgetfulness of his eternal relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When conditioned, the soul is impelled by the material energy to engage in sense gratification, whereas one enlightened by the spiritual energy engages himself in the service of the Supreme Lord in his eternal relationship.
"My dear Uddhava, you may know that My transcendental form of Viṣṇu in Śvetadvīpa is identical with Me in divinity. Anyone who places this Lord of Śvetadvīpa within his heart can surpass the pangs of the six material tribulations: hunger, thirst, birth, death, lamentation and illusion. Thus one can attain his original, transcendental form."
The qualities of material nature can associate in three different stages, namely as the cause of happiness, the cause of distress and the cause of illusion. The quality of goodness is the cause of material happiness, the quality of passion is the cause of material distress, and the quality of ignorance is the cause of illusion. Our material experience lies within the boundaries of these three manifestations of happiness, distress and illusion. For example, a beautiful woman is certainly a cause of material happiness for one who possesses her as a wife, but the same beautiful woman is a cause of distress to a man whom she rejects or who is the cause of her anger, and if she leaves a man she becomes the cause of illusion.
Sāṅkhya philosophy, after describing the nature of prakṛti (material nature) and puruṣa (the enjoyer), asserts that the creation is only a product of their unification or proximity to one another. With such unification the living symptoms are visible in material nature, but one can guess that in the person of the enjoyer, the puruṣa, there are powers of control and enjoyment. When the puruṣa is illusioned for want of sufficient knowledge, He feels Himself to be the enjoyer, and when He is in full knowledge He is liberated. In the Sāṅkhya philosophy the puruṣa is described to be always indifferent to the activities of prakṛti.
A person in the conditioned stage of material existence is in an atmosphere of helplessness, but the conditioned soul, under the illusion of māyā, or the external energy, thinks that he is completely protected by his country, society, friendship and love, not knowing that at the time of death none of these can save him. The laws of material nature are so strong that none of our material possessions can save us from the cruel hands of death.
Like Māyāvādī philosophers in the past such as Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī of Benares, modern impersonalists are not interested in Lord Caitanya's Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. They do not know the value of this material world; they consider it false and cannot understand how the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement can utilize it. They are so absorbed in impersonal thought that they take it for granted that all spiritual variety is material. Because they do not know anything beyond their misconception of the brahma-jyotir, they cannot understand that Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is spiritual and therefore beyond the conception of material illusion. Whenever Kṛṣṇa incarnates personally or as a devotee, these Māyāvādī philosophers accept Him as an ordinary human being.
In describing the Kāśīra Māyāvādīs, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has explained that persons who are bewildered by empiric knowledge or direct sensual perception, and who thus consider that even this limited material world can be gauged by their material estimations, conclude that anything that one can discern by direct sense perception is but māyā, or illusion. They maintain that although the Absolute Truth is beyond the range of sense perception, it includes no spiritual variety or enjoyment. According to the Kāśīra Māyāvādīs, the spiritual world is simply void. They do not believe in the Personality of the Absolute Truth or in His varieties of activities in the spiritual world. Although they have their own arguments, which are not very strong, they have no conception of the variegated activities of the Absolute Truth. These impersonalists, who are followers of Śaṅkarācārya, are generally known as Kāśīra Māyāvādīs (impersonalists residing in Vārāṇasī).
Near Vārāṇasī there is another group of impersonalists, who are known as Saranātha Māyāvādīs. Outside the city of Vārāṇasī is a place known as Saranātha, where there is a big Buddhist stūpa. Many followers of Buddhist philosophy live there, and they are known as Saranātha Māyāvādīs. The impersonalists of Saranātha differ from those of Vārāṇasī, for the Vārāṇasī impersonalists propagate the idea that the impersonal Brahman is truth whereas material varieties are false, but the Saranātha impersonalists do not even believe that the Absolute Truth, or Brahman, can be understood as the opposite of māyā, or illusion. According to their vision, materialism is the only manifestation of the Absolute Truth.
"Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender unto Me." The Māyāvādī sannyāsīs are āsuraṁ bhāvam āśritāḥ, which means that they have taken the path of the asuras (demons), who do not believe in the existence of the form of the Lord. The Māyāvādīs say that the ultimate source of everything is impersonal, and in this way they deny the existence of God. Saying that there is no God is direct denial of God, and saying that God exists but has no head, legs or hands and cannot speak, hear or eat is a negative way of denying His existence.
“The material defects of mistakes, illusions, cheating and sensory inefficiency do not exist in the words of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
A mistake is the acceptance of an object to be different from what it is or the acceptance of false knowledge. For example, one may see a rope in the dark and think it to be a serpent, or one may see a glittering oyster shell and think it to be gold. These are mistakes. Similarly, an illusion is a misunderstanding that arises from inattention while hearing, and cheating is the transmission of such defective knowledge to others.
The purpose of the discussions in the Upaniṣads and Vedānta-sūtra is to philosophically establish the personal feature of the Absolute Truth. The impersonalists, however, in order to establish their philosophy, accept these discussions in terms of lakṣaṇā-vṛtti, or indirect meanings. Thus instead of being tattva-vāda, or in search of the Absolute Truth, they become Māyāvāda, or illusioned by the material energy. When Śrī Viṣṇu Svāmī, one of the four ācāryas of the Vaiṣṇava cult, presented his thesis on the subject matter of śuddhādvaita-vāda, immediately the Māyāvādīs took advantage of this philosophy and tried to establish their advaita-vāda or kevalādvaita-vāda.
To misconceive Lord Viṣṇu to have a material body or to equate Him with the demigods is the most offensive blasphemy against Lord Viṣṇu, and offenders against the lotus feet of Lord Viṣṇu cannot advance in spiritual knowledge. They are called māyayāpahṛta-jñāna, or those whose knowledge has been stolen by the influence of illusion.
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura explains, "In the Vedanta-sūtra of Śrīla Vyāsadeva it is definitely stated that all cosmic manifestations result from transformations of various energies of the Lord. Śaṅkarācārya, however, not accepting the energy of the Lord, thinks that it is the Lord who is transformed. He has taken many clear statements from the Vedic literature and twisted them to try to prove that if the Lord, or the Absolute Truth, were transformed, His oneness would be disturbed. Thus he has accused Śrīla Vyāsadeva of being mistaken. In developing his philosophy of monism, therefore, he has established vivarta-vāda, or the Māyāvāda theory of illusion."
Not believing in the fact that the energy of the Absolute Truth is transformed, Śaṅkarācārya has propounded his theory of illusion. This theory states that although the Absolute Truth is never transformed, we think that it is transformed, which is an illusion. Śaṅkarācārya does not believe in the transformation of the energy of the Absolute Truth, for he claims that everything is one and that the living entity is therefore also one with the Supreme. This is the Māyāvāda theory.
In this verse it is indicated that Brahman, the Absolute Truth, is the original cause and that the living entities (jīvas) and the cosmic manifestation are effects of this cause. The cause being a fact, the effects are also factual. They are not illusion. Śaṅkarācārya has inconsistently tried to prove that it is an illusion to accept the material world and the jīvas as by-products of the Supreme Lord because (in his conception) the existence of the material world and the jīvas is different and separate from that of the Absolute Truth. With this jugglery of understanding, Māyāvādī philosophers have propagated the slogan brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā, which declares that the Absolute Truth is fact but the cosmic manifestation and the living entities are simply illusions, or that all of them are in fact the Absolute Truth and that the material world and living entities do not separately exist.
“According to Śaṅkarācārya, by accepting the theory of the transformation of the energy of the Lord, one creates an illusion by indirectly accepting that the Absolute Truth is transformed.
The example of misunderstanding a rope to be a snake is mentioned in the Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad, but it is meant to explain the error of identifying the body with the soul. Since the soul is actually a spiritual particle, as confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā (mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke), it is due to illusion (vivarta-vāda) that a human being, like an animal, identifies the body with the self. This is a proper example of vivarta, or illusion. The verse atattvato ’nyathā-buddhir vivarta ity udāhṛtaḥ describes such an illusion. To not know actual facts and thus to mistake one thing for another (as, for example, to accept the body as oneself) is called vivarta-vāda. Every conditioned living entity who considers the body to be the soul is deluded by this vivarta-vāda. One can be attacked by this vivarta-vāda philosophy when he forgets the inconceivable power of the omnipotent Personality of Godhead.
“Transformation of energy is a proven fact. It is the false bodily conception of the self that is an illusion.
The jīva, or living entity, is a spiritual spark who is part of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Unfortunately, he thinks the body to be the self, and that misunderstanding is called vivarta, or acceptance of untruth to be truth. The body is not the self, but animals and foolish people think that it is. Vivarta (illusion) does not, however, denote a change in the identity of the spirit soul; it is the misconception that the body is the self that is an illusion. Similarly, the Supreme Personality of Godhead does not change when His external energy, consisting of the eight gross and subtle material elements listed in the Bhagavad-gītā (bhūmir āpo ’nalo vāyuḥ, etc. (BG 7.4)), acts and reacts in different phases.
"Completely rejecting all religions which are materially motivated, the Bhāgavata Purāṇa propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those devotees who are pure in heart. The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all. Such truth uproots the threefold miseries."
To write about the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is not an ordinary endeavor. Unless one is empowered by the higher authorities, or advanced devotees, one cannot write transcendental literature, for all such literature must be above suspicion, or, in other words, it must have none of the defects of conditioned souls, namely mistakes, illusions, cheating and imperfect sense perceptions. The words of Kṛṣṇa and of the disciplic succession that carries the orders of Kṛṣṇa are actually authoritative. To be empowered to write transcendental literature is a privilege in which a writer can take great pride. As a humble Vaiṣṇava, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, being thus empowered, felt very much ashamed that it was he who was to narrate the pastimes of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
The saṅkīrtana movement has been introduced by Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu just to dispel the illusion of māyā, by which everyone in this material world thinks himself to be a product of matter and therefore to have many duties pertaining to the body. Actually, the living entity is not his material body: he is a spirit soul. He has a spiritual need to be eternally blissful and full of knowledge, but unfortunately he identifies himself with the body, sometimes as a human being, sometimes as an animal, sometimes a tree, sometimes an aquatic, sometimes a demigod, and so on. Thus with each change of body he develops a different type of consciousness with different types of activities and thus becomes increasingly entangled in material existence, transmigrating perpetually from one body to another. Under the spell of māyā, or illusion, he does not consider the past or future but is simply satisfied with the short life span that he has gotten for the present. To eradicate this illusion, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has brought the saṅkīrtana movement, and He requests everyone to accept and distribute it.
They are accustomed to flattering or worshiping many demigods, human beings, or even cats and dogs, but when requested to worship the Supreme Lord, they refuse. This is called illusion. Factually, if one worships the Supreme Lord there is no need to worship anyone else.
"There are many mistakes and illusions in your scriptures. Their compilers, not knowing the essence of knowledge, gave orders that were against reason and argument."
Harṣa is described in the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu. Harṣa is experienced when one finally attains the desired goal of life and consequently becomes very glad. When harṣa is present, the body shivers, and one's bodily hairs stand on end. There are perspiration, tears and an outburst of passion and madness. The mouth becomes swollen, and one experiences inertia and illusion. When a person attains his desired object and feels very fortunate, the luster of his body increases. Because of his own qualities and feelings of greatness, he does not care for anyone else, and this is called garva, or pride. In this condition one utters prayers and does not reply to others' inquiries. Looking at one's own body, concealing one's desires and not heeding the words of others are symptoms visible in the ecstasy of garva.
The paramahaṁsa is therefore called vijita-ṣaḍ-guṇa. He must conquer the six material qualities—kāma, krodha, lobha, moha, matsarya and kṣudhā-tṛṣṇā (lust, anger, greed, illusion, enviousness and hunger and thirst).
"Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender unto Me." (BG 7.15)
In the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, jāḍya is explained as loss of memory brought about by severe shock due to separation from the beloved. In that state of mind, one loses all concern for loss and gain, hearing and seeing, as well as all other considerations. This marks the preliminary appearance of illusion.
There are four points of instruction one should consider in the story of Sākṣi-gopāla. First, the Deity (arcā-vigraha) of Śrī Gopāla is eternally sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha (Bs. 5.1), the transcendental form of the Lord. Second, the Deity surpasses material regulative principles and extends the reality of transcendental principles. Third, one can be situated in a transcendental position after becoming a brāhmaṇa, but as a brāhmaṇa, one has to follow the regulative principles very strictly. Lastly, brahmaṇya-deva indicates Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself, who is worshiped thus: namo brahmaṇya-devāya go-brāhmaṇa-hitāya ca/ jagad-dhitāya kṛṣṇāya govindāya namo namaḥ. This indicates that a devotee who is under the protection of Kṛṣṇa is automatically situated as a brāhmaṇa, and such a brāhmaṇa is not illusioned. This is factual.
“Despite directly perceiving the symptoms of the Supreme Lord in the body of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, you cannot understand Him. This is commonly called illusion.
These uncommon symptoms of ecstatic love indicated the Supreme Person, but despite having seen all these symptoms, the Bhaṭṭācārya could not understand the Lord's transcendental nature. He was considering the Lord's pastimes to be mundane. This was certainly due to illusion.
In his book Sarva-saṁvādinī, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī has noted that although there are ten kinds of evidence—direct perception, the Vedic version, historical reference, hypothesis and so on—and although they are all generally accepted as evidence, the person presenting a hypothesis, reading the Vedic version, perceiving or interpreting by his experience is certain to be imperfect in four ways. That is, he is subject to committing mistakes, to becoming illusioned, to cheating and to having imperfect senses. Although the evidence may be correct, the person himself is in danger of being misled due to his material defects. Apart from the direct presentation, there is a chance that an interpretation may not be perfect. Therefore the conclusion is that only a direct presentation can be considered evidence. An interpretation cannot be accepted as evidence, but may be considered proof of evidence.
A common brain in the conditioned state cannot conceive of how these inconceivable energies abide in the Supreme Personality of Godhead, how He exists in His innumerable forms as the master of both spiritual and material energies, how He is the master of both manifest and potential powers, and how contradictory potencies can abide in Him. As long as the living entity is within this material world, in the condition of illusion, he cannot understand the activities of the inconceivable energies of the Lord. Thus the Lord's energies, though factual, are simply beyond the power of the common brain to understand.
By such imperfect knowledge, the Māyāvādī philosophers conclude that the cosmic manifestation is a transformation of the Supreme. Thus they must necessarily also accept the theory of the illusion of the Supreme (vivarta-vāda). However, if we accept the inconceivable potencies of the Lord, we can understand how the Supreme Personality of Godhead can appear within this material world without being touched or contaminated by the three modes of material nature.
“Śaṅkarācārya's theory states that the Absolute Truth is transformed. By accepting this theory, the Māyāvādī philosophers denigrate Śrīla Vyāsadeva by accusing him of error. They thus find fault in the Vedānta-sūtra and interpret it to try to establish the theory of illusion.
Similarly, in the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad (1.1.7) it is stated, yathorṇa-nābhiḥ sṛjate gṛhṇate ca: "(The Lord creates and destroys the cosmic manifestation) as a spider creates a web and draws it back within itself." All of these Vedic statements indicate the transformation of the Lord's energy, not of the Lord Himself. Transformation of the Lord's energy is called pariṇāma-vāda. However, being very anxious to protect Śrīla Vyāsadeva from criticism, Śaṅkarācārya became a pseudo gentleman and put forward his theory of illusion (vivarta-vāda). Śaṅkarācārya concocted this meaning of pariṇāma-vāda, and by word jugglery he endeavored very hard to establish pariṇāma-vāda as vivarta-vāda.
“The theory of illusion can be applied only when the living entity identifies himself with the body. As far as the cosmic manifestation is concerned, it cannot be called false, although it is certainly temporary.
The living entity is the eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa. Being part and parcel of the Lord, he is constitutionally pure, but due to his contact with material energy, he identifies himself with either the gross or the subtle material body. Such identification is certainly false and constitutes the genuine platform of the theory of illusion. The living entity is eternal: he can never be subjected to the limits of time, as are his gross and subtle bodies. The cosmic manifestation is never false, but it is subject to change by the influence of the time factor. For a living entity to accept this cosmic manifestation as the field for his sense enjoyment is certainly illusory. This material world is the manifestation of the material energy of the Lord.
The material world is the inferior energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but it is not a fact that the Supreme Lord has been transformed into this material world. The Māyāvādī philosophers, devoid of true understanding, have confused the theory of illusion and the theory of the cosmic manifestation by word jugglery. The theory of illusion can be applied to a person who identifies himself with the body. The living entity is the superior energy of the Supreme Lord, and the material world is the inferior energy. Both, however, are prakṛti (energy). Although the energies are simultaneously one with the Lord and different from Him, the Lord never loses His personal form due to the transformation of His different energies.
"Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Bhāgavata Purāṇa propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those devotees who are pure in heart. The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all. Such truth uproots the threefold miseries. This beautiful Bhāgavatam, compiled by the great sage Śrī Vyāsadeva, is sufficient in itself for God realization. As soon as one attentively and submissively hears the message of Bhāgavatam, he becomes attached to the Supreme Lord."
""O my Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, son of Vasudeva, O all-pervading Personality of Godhead, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You. I meditate upon Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa because He is the Absolute Truth and the primeval cause of all causes of the creation, sustenance and destruction of the manifested universes. He is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestations, and He is independent because there is no other cause beyond Him. It is He only who first imparted the Vedic knowledge unto the heart of Brahmājī, the original living being. By Him even the great sages and demigods are placed into illusion, as one is bewildered by the illusory representations of water seen in fire, or land seen on water. Only because of Him do the material universes, temporarily manifested by the reactions of the three modes of nature, appear factual, although they are unreal. I therefore meditate upon Him, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is eternally existent in the transcendental abode, which is forever free from the illusory representations of the material world. I meditate upon Him, for He is the Absolute Truth.""
Actually the disciplic succession of Madhvācārya is known as the Brahmā Vaiṣṇava sect; that is the sect coming down from Lord Brahmā. Consequently the Tattvavādīs, or followers of Madhvācārya, do not accept the incident of Lord Brahmā’s illusion, which is recorded in the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Śrīla Madhvācārya has purposefully avoided commenting on that portion of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in which brahma-mohana, the illusion of Lord Brahmā, is mentioned.
"Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Bhāgavata Purāṇa propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those devotees who are fully pure in heart. The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all. Such truth uproots the threefold miseries. This beautiful Bhāgavatam, compiled by the great sage Śrī Vyāsadeva, is sufficient in itself for God realization. What is the need of any other scripture? As soon as one attentively and submissively hears the message of Bhāgavatam, by this culture of knowledge the Supreme Lord is established within his heart." This verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam rejects as cheating processes all religious activities that aim at achieving materialistic goals, including dharma, artha, kāma and even mokṣa, or liberation.
Both Māyāvādīs and those who imagine forms of God are misguided. According to them, worship of the Deity or any other form of the Lord is a result of the conditioned soul's illusion. However, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu confirms the conclusion of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam on the strength of His philosophy of acintya-bhedābheda-tattva. That philosophy holds that the Supreme Lord is simultaneously one with and different from His creation. That is to say, there is unity in diversity. In this way Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu proved the impotence of fruitive workers, speculative empiric philosophers and mystic yogīs. The realization of such men is simply a waste of time and energy.
Even though a woman be made of wood or stone, she becomes attractive when decorated. One becomes sexually agitated even by touching the form. Therefore one should not trust his mind, which is so fickle that it can give way to enemies at any moment. The mind is always accompanied by six enemies—namely, kāma, krodha, mada, moha, mātsarya and bhaya—that is, lust, anger, intoxication, illusion, envy and fear. Although the mind may be merged in spiritual consciousness, one should always be very careful in dealing with it, just as one is careful in dealing with a snake. One should never think that his mind is trained and that he can do whatever he likes. One interested in spiritual life should always engage his mind in the service of the Lord so that the enemies of the mind, who always accompany the mind, will be subdued. If the mind is not engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness at every moment, there is a chance that it will give way to its enemies. In this way we become victims of the mind.
"O people! Why are you being captivated by the waves of the ocean of nescience? If you would immediately accept Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa as your eternal master, there would be no chance of being carried away by the waves of illusion. Then all your sufferings would stop." Kṛṣṇa conducts the material world under the three modes of material nature, and consequently there are three platforms of life—higher, middle and lower. On whatever platform one may be situated, one is tossed by the waves of material nature. Someone may be rich, someone may be middle class, and someone may be a poor beggar—it doesn’t matter. As long as one is under the spell of the three modes of material nature, he must continue to experience these divisions.
"One who always sees all living entities as spiritual sparks, in quality one with the Lord, becomes a true knower of things. What, then, can be illusion or anxiety for him?"
Śrīla Vāsudeva Datta knew very well that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was the original Personality of Godhead, Transcendence itself, above the material conception of illusion and māyā. Lord Jesus Christ certainly finished the sinful reactions of his followers by his mercy, but that does not mean he completely delivered them from the pangs of material existence. A person may be relieved from sins once, but it is a practice among Christians to confess sins and yet commit them again. By getting freed from sins and again engaging in them, one cannot attain freedom from the pangs of material existence.
Vāsudeva Datta's example is unique not only within this world but within the universe. It is beyond the conception of fruitive actors or the speculation of mundane philosophers. Due to being illusioned by the external energy and due to a poor fund of knowledge, people tend to envy one another. Because of this they are entangled in fruitive activity, and they try to escape this fruitive activity by mental speculation.
“Whoever sees Him accepts Him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Since He has some mystic power by which He hypnotizes people, everyone who sees Him becomes illusioned.
Sometimes physicians, psychiatrists and social workers try to mitigate bodily pain, distress and fear, but they have no knowledge of spiritual identity and are bereft of a relationship with God. Yet they are considered mahājanas by the illusioned. Self-deceived persons sometimes accept leaders or spiritual masters from a priestly order that has been officially appointed by the codes of material life. In this way, they are deceived by official priests.
A man covered by illusion cannot understand the proper way; therefore Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu says, dharma-sthāpana-hetu sādhura vyavahāra: "The behavior of a devotee is the criterion for all other behavior." Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself followed the devotional principles and taught others to follow them. Purī-gosāñira ye ācaraṇa, sei dharma sāra. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu personally followed the behavior of Mādhavendra Purī and advised others to follow his principles. Unfortunately, people have been attracted to the material body since time immemorial.
“"Originally, Kṛṣṇa"s energy is spiritual, and the energy known as the living entity is also spiritual. However, there is another energy, called illusion, which consists of fruitive activity. That is the Lord's third potency.’
“"There are many types of Vedic literatures and supplementary Purāṇas. In each of them there are particular demigods who are spoken of as the chief demigods. This is just to create an illusion for moving and nonmoving living entities. Let them perpetually engage in such imaginations. However, when one analytically studies all these Vedic literatures collectively, he comes to the conclusion that Lord Viṣṇu is the one and only Supreme Personality of Godhead."
“"O my Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, son of Vasudeva, O all-pervading Personality of Godhead, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You. I meditate upon Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa because He is the Absolute Truth and the primeval cause of all causes of the creation, sustenance and destruction of the manifested universes. He is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestations, and He is independent because there is no other cause beyond Him. It is He only who first imparted the Vedic knowledge unto the heart of Brahmājī, the original living being. By Him even the great sages and demigods are placed into illusion, as one is bewildered by the illusory representations of water seen in fire, or land seen on water. Only because of Him do the material universes, temporarily manifested by the reactions of the three modes of nature, appear factual, although they are unreal. I therefore meditate upon Him, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is eternally existent in the transcendental abode, which is forever free from the illusory representations of the material world. I meditate upon Him, for He is the Absolute Truth."
Although the living entities are Kṛṣṇa's parts and parcels, they are prakṛti, not puruṣa. Sometimes prakṛti (a living entity) attempts to imitate the activities of the puruṣa. Due to a poor fund of knowledge, living entities conditioned in this material world claim to be God. They are thus illusioned. A living entity cannot be on the level of a viṣṇu-tattva, or the Personality of Godhead, at any stage; therefore it is ludicrous for a living entity to claim to be God.
It is a fact that every living entity is eternally a servant of Kṛṣṇa. This is forgotten due to the influence of māyā, which induces one to believe in material happiness. Being illusioned by māyā, one thinks that material happiness is the only desirable object. This material consciousness is like a chain around the neck of the conditioned soul. As long as he is bound to that conception, he cannot get out of māyā’s clutches. However, if by Kṛṣṇa's mercy he gets in touch with a bona fide spiritual master, abides by his order and serves him, engaging other conditioned souls in the Lord's service, he then attains liberation and Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa's shelter.
“Kṛṣṇa is compared to sunshine, and māyā is compared to darkness. Wherever there is sunshine, there cannot be darkness. As soon as one takes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the darkness of illusion (the influence of the external energy) will immediately vanish.
“"By association with worldly people, one becomes devoid of truthfulness, cleanliness, mercy, gravity, spiritual intelligence, shyness, austerity, fame, forgiveness, control of the mind, control of the senses, fortune and all opportunities. One should not at any time associate with a coarse fool who is bereft of the knowledge of self-realization and who is no more than a toy animal in the hands of a woman. The illusion and bondage that accrue to a man from attachment to any other object are not as complete as that resulting from association with a woman or with men too much attached to women."
It is here mentioned that every living entity is ātmārāma. Temporarily covered by the influence of māyā, the living entity serves his senses, which are represented as kāma-krodha-lobha-moha-mada-mātsarya—lust, anger, greed, illusion, madness and envy. In the material condition, all living entities are engaged in sense gratification, but when they associate with devotees who follow the regulative principles, they become purified and awakened to their original consciousness. They then attempt to satisfy the senses of Lord Kṛṣṇa and engage in His devotional service.
The disciple must have the following qualifications. He must give up interest in the material bodily conception. He must give up material lust, anger, greed, illusion, madness and envy. He should be interested only in understanding the science of God, and he should be ready to consider all points in this matter. He should no longer think, "I am this body," or, "This thing belongs to me." One must love the spiritual master with unflinching faith, and one must be very steady and fixed. The bona fide disciple should be inquisitive to understand transcendental subject matter. He must not search out faults among good qualities, and he should no longer be interested in material topics. His only interest should be Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
“Not accepting the transformation of energy, Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya has tried to establish the theory of illusion under the plea that Vyāsadeva has made a mistake.
(4) Māyāvādī philosophers say that everything is an illusion. Headed by philosophers like Aṣṭāvakra, they stress the impersonal Brahman effulgence as the cause of everything.
“‘O my Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, son of Vasudeva, O all-pervading Personality of Godhead, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You. I meditate upon Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa because He is the Absolute Truth and the primeval cause of all causes of the creation, sustenance and destruction of the manifested universes. He is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestations, and He is independent because there is no other cause beyond Him. It is He only who first imparted the Vedic knowledge unto the heart of Brahmājī, the original living being. By Him even the great sages and demigods are placed into illusion, as one is bewildered by the illusory representations of water seen in fire, or land seen on water. Only because of Him do the material universes, temporarily manifested by the reactions of the three modes of nature, appear factual, although they are unreal. I therefore meditate upon Him, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is eternally existent in the transcendental abode, which is forever free from the illusory representations of the material world. I meditate upon Him, for He is the Absolute Truth.
“"Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Bhāgavata Purāṇa propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those devotees who are fully pure in heart. The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all. Such truth uproots the threefold miseries. This beautiful Bhāgavatam, compiled by the great sage Vyāsadeva (in his maturity), is sufficient in itself for God realization. What is the need of any other scripture? As soon as one attentively and submissively hears the message of Bhāgavatam, by this culture of knowledge the Supreme Lord is established within his heart."
“‘In the condition of external separation, you were again under illusion, thinking that you had not offered the food to Lord Viṣṇu.
Beginning from Lord Brahmā down to the insignificant ant, everyone, without exception, is attracted by the illusory energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The demigods, human beings, animals, birds, beasts, trees and plants are all attracted by sexual desire. That is the illusion of māyā. Everyone, whether man or woman, thinks that he is the enjoyer of the illusory energy. In this way, everyone is captivated and engaged in material activities.
“"Anything not conceived in relationship to Kṛṣṇa should be understood to be illusion (māyā). None of the illusions uttered by words or conceived in the mind are factual. Because illusion is not factual, there is no distinction between what we think is good and what we think is bad. When we speak of the Absolute Truth, such speculations do not apply."
“You are in complete illusion, for you have distinguished between the body and the soul of His Lordship (Lord Jagannātha or Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu). That is a great offense.
Catching the lotus feet of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Haridāsa Ṭhākura said, “My Lord, do not create an illusion! Although I am so fallen, You must certainly show me this mercy!
"The ten bodily transformations resulting from separation from Kṛṣṇa are anxiety, wakefulness, mental agitation, thinness, uncleanliness, talking like a madman, disease, madness, illusion and death."
Moha, illusion, is explained as follows:
- nirundhe dainyābdhiṁ harati guru-cintā paribhavaṁ
- vilumpaty unmādaṁ sthagayati balād bāṣpa-laharīm
- idānīṁ kaṁsāre kuvalaya-dṛśaḥ kevalam idaṁ
- vidhatte sācivyaṁ tava viraha-mūrcchā-sahacarī
Lalitā wrote Kṛṣṇa the following letter on Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s behalf: "My dear Kṛṣṇa, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī has fallen unconscious on the ground, Her mind greatly agitated by Her separation from You. O enemy of Kaṁsa, You have now become a first-class politician, and therefore You can supposedly give relief to everyone. Therefore please consider the plight of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, or very soon You will hear of Her death. Maybe at that time You will lament, although now You are jubilant."