Thus millennia ago the Bhagavad-gītā comprehensively discussed the same topic the editor of Amrita Bazar Patrika writes about in a despondent mood: "If one kind of trouble goes, another quickly follows." In the Gītā (7.14) Lord Kṛṣṇa says, "This divine energy of mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome." The Sanskrit words daivī māyā used here can be translated into modern terms as "nature's law." This natural law is so stringent that it is impossible to overcome it, in spite of our prolific articles in the newspapers or our big conferences tabling motions that run into volumes. Our advanced technological and scientific efforts aimed at protecting us from the clutches of nature's law are futile because they are all controlled by the very same nature's law, or daivī māyā. Therefore trying to utilize mundane science to overpower nature's law is like creating a Frankenstein. Efforts to extirpate human suffering through advanced technology and bring about lasting happiness have brought us to the Atomic Age. Western thinkers have become gravely concerned about the extent of destruction an atomic explosion can cause. Some leaders are trying to calm the alarm with platitudes about how atomic energy is to be used solely for peaceful purposes, but this is another form of deception caused by daivī māyā, or nature's law.
- 1 Bhagavad-gita As It Is
- 2 Srimad-Bhagavatam
- 3 Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
- 4 Conversations and Morning Walks
Bhagavad-gita As It Is
BG Chapters 1 - 6
If economic development and material comforts could drive away one's lamentations for family, social, national or international inebrieties, then Arjuna would not have said that even an unrivaled kingdom on earth or supremacy like that of the demigods in the heavenly planets would be unable to drive away his lamentations. He sought, therefore, refuge in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and that is the right path for peace and harmony. Economic development or supremacy over the world can be finished at any moment by the cataclysms of material nature. Even elevation into a higher planetary situation, as men are now seeking on the moon planet, can also be finished at one stroke. The Bhagavad-gītā confirms this: kṣīṇe puṇye martya-lokaṁ viśanti. "When the results of pious activities are finished, one falls down again from the peak of happiness to the lowest status of life." Many politicians of the world have fallen down in that way. Such downfalls only constitute more causes for lamentation.
Therefore, if we want to curb lamentation for good, then we have to take shelter of Kṛṣṇa, as Arjuna is seeking to do. So Arjuna asked Kṛṣṇa to solve his problem definitely, and that is the way of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
But a sthita-dhīr muni, as mentioned herein by the Lord, is different from an ordinary muni. The sthita-dhīr muni is always in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, for he has exhausted all his business of creative speculation. He is called praśānta-niḥśeṣa-mano-rathāntara (Stotra-ratna 43), or one who has surpassed the stage of mental speculations and has come to the conclusion that Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, or Vāsudeva, is everything (vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ). He is called a muni fixed in mind. Such a fully Kṛṣṇa conscious person is not at all disturbed by the onslaughts of the threefold miseries, for he accepts all miseries as the mercy of the Lord, thinking himself only worthy of more trouble due to his past misdeeds; and he sees that his miseries, by the grace of the Lord, are minimized to the lowest. Similarly, when he is happy he gives credit to the Lord, thinking himself unworthy of the happiness; he realizes that it is due only to the Lord's grace that he is in such a comfortable condition and able to render better service to the Lord. And, for the service of the Lord, he is always daring and active and is not influenced by attachment or aversion. Attachment means accepting things for one's own sense gratification, and detachment is the absence of such sensual attachment. But one fixed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness has neither attachment nor detachment because his life is dedicated in the service of the Lord. Consequently he is not at all angry even when his attempts are unsuccessful. Success or no success, a Kṛṣṇa conscious person is always steady in his determination.
One who is not connected with the Supreme (in Kṛṣṇa consciousness) can have neither transcendental intelligence nor a steady mind, without which there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?
As there are constitutional laws in the material world stating that the king can do no wrong, or that the king is not subject to the state laws, similarly the Lord, although He is the creator of this material world, is not affected by the activities of the material world. He creates and remains aloof from the creation, whereas the living entities are entangled in the fruitive results of material activities because of their propensity for lording it over material resources. The proprietor of an establishment is not responsible for the right and wrong activities of the workers, but the workers are themselves responsible. The living entities are engaged in their respective activities of sense gratification, and these activities are not ordained by the Lord. For advancement of sense gratification, the living entities are engaged in the work of this world, and they aspire to heavenly happiness after death. The Lord, being full in Himself, has no attraction for so-called heavenly happiness. The heavenly demigods are only His engaged servants. The proprietor never desires the low-grade happiness such as the workers may desire. He is aloof from the material actions and reactions.
Whatever form of material existence one is in, one is invariably ignorant of his real situation. In other words, existence in the material world is due to the multiple reactions to our sinful lives. Ignorance is the cause of sinful life, and sinful life is the cause of one's dragging on in material existence. The human form of life is the only loophole by which one may get out of this entanglement. The Vedas, therefore, give us a chance for escape by pointing out the paths of religion, economic comfort, regulated sense gratification and, at last, the means to get out of the miserable condition entirely. The path of religion, or the different kinds of sacrifice recommended above, automatically solves our economic problems. By performance of yajña we can have enough food, enough milk, etc.—even if there is a so-called increase of population. When the body is fully supplied, naturally the next stage is to satisfy the senses. The Vedas prescribe, therefore, sacred marriage for regulated sense gratification. Thereby one is gradually elevated to the platform of release from material bondage, and the highest perfection of liberated life is to associate with the Supreme Lord. Perfection is achieved by performance of yajña (sacrifice), as described above. Now, if a person is not inclined to perform yajña according to the Vedas, how can he expect a happy life even in this body, and what to speak of another body on another planet? There are different grades of material comforts in different heavenly planets, and in all cases there is immense happiness for persons engaged in different kinds of yajña. But the highest kind of happiness that a man can achieve is to be promoted to the spiritual planets by practice of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. A life of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is therefore the solution to all the problems of material existence.
One whose happiness is within, who is active and rejoices within, and whose aim is inward is actually the perfect mystic. He is liberated in the Supreme, and ultimately he attains the Supreme.
Unless one is able to relish happiness from within, how can one retire from the external engagements meant for deriving superficial happiness? A liberated person enjoys happiness by factual experience. He can, therefore, sit silently at any place and enjoy the activities of life from within. Such a liberated person no longer desires external material happiness. This state is called brahma-bhūta (SB 4.30.20), attaining which one is assured of going back to Godhead, back to home.
In the yoga system, as described in this chapter, there are two kinds of samādhi, called samprajñāta-samādhi and asamprajñāta-samādhi. When one becomes situated in the transcendental position by various philosophical researches, he is said to have achieved samprajñāta-samādhi. In the asamprajñāta-samādhi there is no longer any connection with mundane pleasure, for one is then transcendental to all sorts of happiness derived from the senses. When the yogī is once situated in that transcendental position, he is never shaken from it. Unless the yogī is able to reach this position, he is unsuccessful. Today's so-called yoga practice, which involves various sense pleasures, is contradictory. A yogī indulging in sex and intoxication is a mockery. Even those yogīs who are attracted by the siddhis (perfections) in the process of yoga are not perfectly situated. If yogīs are attracted by the by-products of yoga, then they cannot attain the stage of perfection, as is stated in this verse. Persons, therefore, indulging in the make-show practice of gymnastic feats or siddhis should know that the aim of yoga is lost in that way.
BG Chapters 13 - 18
O sinless one, the mode of goodness, being purer than the others, is illuminating, and it frees one from all sinful reactions. Those situated in that mode become conditioned by a sense of happiness and knowledge.
O son of Bharata, the mode of goodness conditions one to happiness; passion conditions one to fruitive action; and ignorance, covering one's knowledge, binds one to madness.
The result of pious activities in the mode of goodness is pure. Therefore the sages, who are free from all illusion, are situated in happiness. But activities in the mode of passion are simply miserable. Any activity for material happiness is bound to be defeated. If, for example, one wants to have a skyscraper, so much human misery has to be undergone before a big skyscraper can be built. The financier has to take much trouble to earn a mass of wealth, and those who are slaving to construct the building have to render physical toil. The miseries are there. Thus Bhagavad-gītā says that in any activity performed under the spell of the mode of passion, there is definitely great misery. There may be a little so-called mental happiness—"I have this house or this money"—but this is not actual happiness.
How one can stay in the transcendental position, even in this body, in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness, is explained in this verse. The Sanskrit word dehī means "embodied." Although one is within this material body, by his advancement in spiritual knowledge he can be free from the influence of the modes of nature. He can enjoy the happiness of spiritual life even in this body because, after leaving this body, he is certainly going to the spiritual sky. But even in this body he can enjoy spiritual happiness. In other words, devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the sign of liberation from material entanglement, and this will be explained in the Eighteenth Chapter. When one is freed from the influence of the modes of material nature, he enters into devotional service.
One who cannot elevate himself beyond the impersonal conception of Brahman runs the risk of falling down. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is stated that although a person may rise to the stage of impersonal Brahman, without going further, with no information of the Supreme Person, his intelligence is not perfectly clear. Therefore, in spite of being raised to the Brahman platform, there is the chance of falling down if one is not engaged in the devotional service of the Lord. In the Vedic language it is also said, raso vai saḥ, rasaṁ hy evāyaṁ labdhvānandī bhavati: "When one understands the Personality of Godhead, the reservoir of pleasure, Kṛṣṇa, he actually becomes transcendentally blissful." (Taittirīya Upaniṣad 2.7.1) The Supreme Lord is full in six opulences, and when a devotee approaches Him there is an exchange of these six opulences. The servant of the king enjoys on an almost equal level with the king. And so eternal happiness, imperishable happiness, and eternal life accompany devotional service. Therefore, realization of Brahman, or eternity, or imperishability, is included in devotional service. This is already possessed by a person who is engaged in devotional service.
SB Canto 1
Every living being is searching after happiness, but no one knows where eternal and unlimited happiness is obtainable. Foolish men seek after material sense pleasure as a substitute for real happiness, but such foolish men forget that temporary so-called happiness derived from sense pleasures is also enjoyed by the dogs and hogs. No animal, bird or beast is bereft of this sense pleasure. In every species of life, including the human form of life, such happiness is immensely obtainable. The human form of life, however, is not meant for such cheap happiness. The human life is meant for attaining eternal and unlimited happiness by spiritual realization. This spiritual realization is obtained by tapasya, or undergoing voluntarily the path of penance and abstinence from material pleasure.
Those who are devoted to the cause of the Personality of Godhead live only for the welfare, development and happiness of others. They do not live for any selfish interest. So even though the Emperor (Parīkṣit) was free from all attachment to worldly possessions, how could he give up his mortal body, which was shelter for others?
Śrī Nārada Muni plays on his instrument to glorify the transcendental activities of the Lord and to give relief to all miserable living entities of the universe. No one is happy here within the universe, and what is felt as happiness is māyā's illusion. The illusory energy of the Lord is so strong that even the hog who lives on filthy stool feels happy. No one can be truly happy within the material world. Śrīla Nārada Muni, in order to enlighten the miserable inhabitants, wanders everywhere. His mission is to get them back home, back to Godhead. That is the mission of all genuine devotees of the Lord following the footsteps of that great sage.
Conditioned souls seek after perpetual happiness in all places—not only on this earth but also on other planets throughout the universe—because constitutionally a spiritual spark, as he is, can travel to any part of God's creation. But being conditioned by the material modes, he tries to travel in space by spacecraft and so fails to reach his destination. The law of gravitation is binding upon him like the shackles of a prisoner. By other processes he can reach anywhere, but even if he reaches the highest planet, he cannot attain that perpetual happiness for which he is searching life after life. When he comes to his senses, however, he seeks after Brahman happiness, knowing it for certain that unlimited happiness, which he is seeking, is never attainable in the material world. As such, the Supreme Being, Parabrahman, certainly does not seek His happiness anywhere in the material world. Nor can His paraphernalia of happiness be found in the material world.
As we have discussed previously, Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira was fixed in the service of the Lord Mukunda (the Lord, who can award salvation), and therefore he had no attraction even for such comforts of life as are available in the kingdom of heaven, because even the happiness obtained on the planet Brahmaloka is also temporary and illusory. Because the living being is eternal, he can be happy only in the eternal abode of the kingdom of God (paravyoma), from which no one returns to this region of repeated birth and death, disease and old age. Therefore, any comfort of life or any material happiness which does not warrant an eternal life is but illusion for the eternal living being. One who understands this factually is learned, and such a learned person can sacrifice any amount of material happiness to achieve the desired goal known as brahma-sukham, or absolute happiness. Real transcendentalists are hungry for this happiness, and as a hungry man cannot be made happy by all comforts of life minus foodstuff, so the man hungry for eternal absolute happiness cannot be satisfied by any amount of material happiness. Therefore, the instruction described in this verse cannot be applied to Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira or his brothers and mother. It was meant for persons like Dhṛtarāṣṭra, for whom Vidura came especially to impart lessons.
SB Canto 2
Out of the total manifestations of the sandhinī energy of the Lord, one fourth is displayed in the material world, and three fourths are displayed in the spiritual world. The Lord's energy is divided into three component parts, namely sandhinī, saṁvit and hlādinī; in other words, He is the full manifestation of existence, knowledge and bliss. In the material world such a sense of existence, knowledge and pleasure is meagerly exhibited, and all living entities, who are minute parts and parcels of the Lord, are eligible to relish such consciousness of existence, knowledge and bliss very minutely in the liberated stage, whereas in the conditioned stage of material existence they can hardly appreciate what is the factual, existential, cognizable and pure happiness of life. The liberated souls, who exist in far greater numerical strength than those souls in the material world, can factually experience the potency of the above-mentioned sandhinī, saṁvit and hlādinī energies of the Lord in the matter of deathlessness, fearlessness and freedom from old age and disease.
In order to award the highest benefit of human life, the varṇāśrama system trains the follower to adopt the vow of celibacy beginning from the order of brahmacārī. The brahmacārī life is for students who are educated to follow strictly the vow of celibacy. Youngsters who have had no taste of sex life can easily follow the vow of celibacy, and once fixed in the principle of such a life, one can very easily continue to the highest perfectional stage, attaining the kingdom of the three-fourths energy of the Lord. It is already explained that in the cosmos of three-fourths energy of the Lord there is neither death nor fear, and one is full of the blissful life of happiness and knowledge. A householder attached to family life can easily give up such a life of sex indulgence if he has been trained in the principles of the life of a brahmacārī. A householder is recommended to quit home at the end of fifty years (pañcaśordhvaṁ vanaṁ vrajet) and live a life in the forest; then, being fully detached from family affection, he may accept the order of renunciation as a sannyāsī fully engaged in the service of the Lord. Any form of religious principles in which the followers are trained to pursue the vow of celibacy is good for the human being because only those who are trained in that way can end the miserable life of material existence.
SB Canto 3
When there was a separate manifestation of skin, the controlling deities of sensations and their different parts entered into it, and thus the living entities feel itching and happiness due to touch.
SB Canto 4
Actually, pure happiness cannot be had within this material world. If we wish to enjoy something, we must suffer for something else. On the whole, suffering is the nature of this material world, and whatever enjoyment we are trying to achieve is simply illusion. After all, we have to suffer the miseries of birth, old age, disease and death. We may discover many fine medicines, but it is not possible to stop the sufferings of disease or death. Actually, medicine is not the counteracting agent for either disease or death. On the whole there is no happiness in this material world, but an illusioned person works very hard for so-called happiness. Indeed, this process of working hard is actually taken for happiness. This is called illusion.
SB Canto 7
In reference to the low-grade happiness of sex life, Yāmunācārya says in this connection:
- yad-avadhi mama cetaḥ kṛṣṇa-pādāravinde
- nava-nava-rasa-dhāmany udyataṁ rantum āsīt
- tad-avadhi bata nārī-saṅgame smaryamāne
- bhavati mukha-vikāraḥ suṣṭhu niṣṭhīvanaṁ ca
"Since I have been engaged in the transcendental loving service of Kṛṣṇa, realizing ever-new pleasure in Him, whenever I think of sex pleasure, I spit at the thought, and my lips curl with distaste." Yāmunācārya had formerly been a great king who enjoyed sexual happiness in various ways, but since he later engaged himself in the service of the Lord, he enjoyed spiritual bliss and hated to think of sex life. If sexual thoughts came to him, he would spit with disgust.
SB Cantos 10.14 to 12 (Translations Only)
Therefore this entire universe, which like a dream is by nature unreal, nevertheless appears real, and thus it covers one's consciousness and assails one with repeated miseries. This universe appears real because it is manifested by the potency of illusion emanating from You, whose unlimited transcendental forms are full of eternal happiness and knowledge.
Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Renunciation Through Wisdom
Mukunda-mala-stotra (mantras 1 to 6 only)
The world in which we live is a miserable place. It is, so to speak, a prison house for the spirit soul. Just as a prisoner cannot move or enjoy life fully, so the living entities who have been conditioned by the laws of material nature cannot experience their actual ever-joyful nature. They cannot have any freedom, because they must suffer four principal miseries—birth, old age, disease, and death. The laws of material nature impose this punishment upon the living entities who have forgotten the Lord and who are busy making plans for lasting happiness in this desert of distress.
Conversations and Morning Walks
1973 Conversations and Morning Walks
Prabhupāda: In the yoga system, as described in this chapter, there are two kinds of samādhi, called samprajñāta-samādhi and asamprajñāta-samādhi. When one becomes situated in the transcendental position by various philosophical researches, it is called samprajñāta-samādhi. In the asamprajñāta-samādhi there is no longer any connection with mundane pleasure, for one is then transcendental to all sorts of happiness derived from the senses. When the yogī is once situated in that transcendental position, he is never shaken from it. Unless the yogī is able to reach this position, he is unsuccessful. Today's so-called yoga practice, which involves various sense pleasures, is contradictory. A yogī indulging in sex and intoxication is a mockery. Even those yogīs who are attracted by the siddhis (perfections) in the process of yoga are not perfectly situated. If the yogīs are attracted by the by-products of yoga, then they cannot attain the stage of perfection, as is stated in this verse. Persons, therefore, indulging in the make-show practice of gymnastic feats or siddhis should know that the aim of yoga is lost in that way.