This material world is like a great forest in which one becomes entangled due to association with material life
SB Canto 1
SB Canto 3
SB Canto 4
These three verses explain how the material body of the living entity is under the control of the three qualities of the external energy. The body itself is the chariot, and the living entity is the owner of the body, as explained in Bhagavad-gītā (2.13): dehino 'smin yathā dehe. The owner of the body is called the dehī, and he is situated within this body, specifically within the heart. The living entity is driven by one chariot driver. The chariot itself is made of three guṇas, three qualities of material nature, as confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (18.61): yantrārūḍhāni māyayā. The word yantra means "carriage." The body is given by material nature, and the driver of that body is Paramātmā, the Supersoul. The living entity is seated within the chariot. This is the actual position.
The living entity is always being influenced by the three qualities-sattva (goodness), rajas (passion) and tamas (ignorance). This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (7.13). Tribhir guṇamayair bhāvaiḥ: the living entity is bewildered by the three qualities of material nature. These three qualities are described in this verse as three flags. By a flag, one can come to know who the owner of the chariot is; similarly, by the influence of the three qualities of material nature, one can easily know the direction in which the chariot is moving. In other words, one who has eyes to see can understand how the body is being driven, influenced by the particular type of quality of material nature. In these three verses the activity of the living entity is described to prove how the body becomes influenced by the quality of ignorance, even when a person wants to be religious. Nārada Muni wanted to prove to King Prācīnabarhiṣat that the King was being influenced by the tamo-guṇa, the quality of ignorance, even though the King was supposed to be very religious.
According to karma-kāṇḍīya, the process of fruitive activities, a person performs various sacrifices directed by the Vedas, and in all those sacrifices animal-killing, or experimenting on the life of animals to test the power of Vedic mantras, is enjoined. Animal-killing is certainly conducted under the influence of the mode of ignorance. Even though one may be religiously inclined, animal sacrifice is recommended in the śāstras, not only in the Vedas but even in the modern scriptures of other sects. These animal sacrifices are recommended in the name of religion, but actually animal sacrifice is meant for persons in the mode of ignorance. When such people kill animals, they can at least do so in the name of religion. However, when the religious system is transcendental, like the Vaiṣṇava religion, there is no place for animal sacrifice. Such a transcendental religious system is recommended by Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad-gītā (18.66):
- sarva-dharmān parityajya
- mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
- ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
- mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ
"Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear." Because King Prācīnabarhiṣat was engaged in performing various sacrifices in which animals were killed, Nārada Muni pointed out that such sacrifices are influenced by the mode of ignorance. From the very beginning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.1.2) it is said: projjhita-kaitavo 'tra. All kinds of religious systems that are involved in cheating are completely kicked out of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. In the bhagavad-dharma, the religion dealing with one's relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, animal sacrifice is not recommended. In the performance of saṅkīrtana-yajña—Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare—there is no recommendation for animal sacrifices.
In these three verses, King Purañjana's going to the forest to kill animals is symbolic of the living entity's being driven by the mode of ignorance and thus engaging in different activities for sense gratification. The material body itself indicates that the living entity is already influenced by the three modes of material nature and that he is driven to enjoy material resources. When the body is influenced by the mode of ignorance, its infection becomes very acute. When it is influenced by the mode of passion, the infection is at the symptomatic stage. However, when the body is influenced by the mode of goodness, the materialistic infection becomes purified. The ritualistic ceremonies recommended in religious systems are certainly on the platform of goodness, but because within this material world even the mode of goodness is sometimes polluted by the other qualities (namely passion and ignorance), a man in goodness is sometimes driven by the influence of ignorance.
It is herein described that King Purañjana once went to the forest to kill animals. This means that he, the living entity, came under the influence of the mode of ignorance. The forest in which King Purañjana engaged in hunting was named Pañca-prastha. The word pañca means "five," and this indicates the objects of the five senses. The body has five working senses, namely the hands, the legs, the tongue, the rectum and the genitals. By taking full advantage of these working senses, the body enjoys material life. The chariot is driven by five horses, which represent the five sense organs—namely the eyes, ears, nose, skin and tongue. These sense organs are very easily attracted by the sense objects. Consequently, the horses are described as moving swiftly. On the chariot King Purañjana kept two explosive weapons, which may be compared to ahaṅkāra, or false ego. This false ego is typified by two attitudes: "I am this body" (ahantā), and "Everything in my bodily relationships belongs to me" (mamatā).
The two wheels of the chariot may be compared to the two moving facilities—namely sinful life and religious life. The chariot is decorated with three flags, which represent the three modes of material nature. The five kinds of obstacles, or uneven roads, represent the five kinds of air passing within the body. These are prāṇa, apāna, udāna, samāna and vyāna. The body itself is covered by seven coverings, namely skin, muscle, fat, blood, marrow, bone and semen. The living entity is covered by three subtle material elements and five gross material elements. These are actually obstacles placed before the living entity on the path of liberation from material bondage. The word raśmi ("rope") in this verse indicates the mind. The word nīḍa is also significant, for nīḍa indicates the nest where a bird takes rest. In this case nīḍa is the heart, where the living entity is situated. The living entity sits in one place only. The causes of his bondage are two: namely lamentation and illusion. In material existence the living entity simply hankers to get something he can never get. Therefore he is in illusion. As a result of being in this illusory situation, the living entity is always lamenting. Thus lamentation and illusion are described herein as dvi-kūbara, the two posts of bondage.The living entity carries out various desires through five different processes, which indicate the working of the five working senses. The golden ornaments and dress indicate that the living entity is influenced by the quality of rajo-guṇa, passion. One who has a good deal of money or riches is especially driven by the mode of passion. Being influenced by the mode of passion, one desires so many things for enjoyment in this material world. The eleven commanders represent the ten senses and the mind. The mind is always making plans with the ten commanders to enjoy the material world. The forest named Pañca-prastha, where the King went to hunt, is the forest of the five sense objects: form, taste, sound, smell and touch. Thus in these three verses Nārada Muni describes the position of the material body and the encagement of the living entity within it.
SB Canto 5
While undergoing severe penances in the forest, Āgnīdhra was captivated by the movements of Pūrvacitti, the girl sent by Lord Brahmā. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, kāmais tais tair hṛta jñānāḥ: [Bg. 7.20] when one becomes lusty, he loses his intelligence. Therefore Āgnīdhra, having lost his intelligence, could not distinguish whether Pūrvacitti was male or female. He mistook her for a muni-putra, the son of a saintly person in the forest, and addressed her as muni-varya. Because of her personal beauty, however, he could not believe her to be a boy. He therefore began studying her features. First he saw her two eyebrows, which were so expressive that he wondered whether he or she might be the māyā of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The words used in this connection are bhagavat-para-devatāyāḥ. Devatāḥ, the demigods, all belong to this material world, whereas Bhagavān, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is always beyond this material world and is therefore known as para-devatā. The material world is certainly created by māyā, but it is created under the direction of para-devatā, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (mayādhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ sūyate sa-carācaram [Bg. 9.10]), māyā is not the ultimate authority for the creation of this material world. Māyā acts on behalf of Kṛṣṇa.
Pūrvacitti's eyebrows were so beautiful that Āgnīdhra compared them to bows without strings. He therefore asked her whether they were to be used for her own purposes or for the sake of someone else. Her eyebrows were like bows meant to kill animals in the forest. This material world is like a great forest, and its inhabitants are like forest animals such as deer and tigers meant to be killed. The killers are the eyebrows of beautiful women. Captivated by the beauty of the fair sex, all the men of the world are killed by bows without strings, but cannot see how they are killed by māyā. It is a fact, however, that they are being killed (bhūtvā bhūtvā pralīyate)[Bg. 8.19]. By dint of his tapasya, Āgnīdhra could understand how māyā acts under the direction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The word pramattān is also significant. pramatta refers to one who cannot control his senses. The entire material world is being exploited by people who are pramatta, or vimūḍha. Prahlāda Mahārāja therefore said:
- śoce tato vimukha-cetasa indriyārtha-
- māyā-sukhāya bharam udvahato vimūḍhān
The ambitious conditioned soul wants to be very happy in this material world with his family, but he is compared to a traveler in the forest who desires to climb a hill full of thorns and small stones. As stated in the previous verse, the happiness derived from society, friendship and love is like a drop of water in the scorching heat of the desert. One may want to become very great and powerful in society, but this is like attempting to climb a hill full of thorns. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura compares one's family to high mountains. Becoming happy in their association is like a hungry man's endeavoring to climb a mountain full of thorns. Almost 99.9 percent of the population is unhappy in family life, despite all the attempts being made to satisfy the family members. In the Western countries, due to the dissatisfaction of the family members, there is actually no family life. There are many cases of divorce, and out of dissatisfaction, the children leave the protection of their parents. Especially in this age of Kali, family life is being reduced. Everyone is becoming self-centered because that is the law of nature. Even if one has sufficient money to maintain a family, the situation is such that no one is happy in family life. Consequently according to the varṇāśrama institution, one has to retire from family life in middle age: pañcāśordhvaṁ vanaṁ vrajet. One should voluntarily retire from family life at the age of fifty and go to Vṛndāvana or a forest. This is recommended by Śrīla Prahlāda Mahārāja (SB 7.5.5):
- tat sādhu manye 'sura-varya dehināṁ
- sadā samudvigna-dhiyām asad-grahāt
- hitvātma-pātaṁ gṛham andha-kūpaṁ
- vanaṁ gato yad dharim āśrayeta
When one becomes unconscious due to being bitten by a snake, one cannot understand what is taking place outside the body. This unconscious condition is the condition of deep sleep. Similarly, the conditioned soul is actually sleeping on the lap of the illusory energy. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has sung, kota nidrā yāo māyā-piśācīra kole: "O living entity, how long will you sleep in this condition on the lap of the illusory energy?" People do not understand that they are actually sleeping in this material world, being devoid of knowledge of spiritual life. Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore says:
- enechi auṣadhi māyā nāśibāra lāgi'
- hari-nāma-mahā-mantra lao tumi māgi'
The most important information in this verse is hari-guru-caraṇa-aravinda-madhukara-anupadavīm. In this material world the conditioned souls are baffled by their activities, and sometimes they are relieved after great difficulty. On the whole the conditioned soul is never happy. He simply struggles for existence. Actually his only business is to accept the spiritual master, the guru, and through him he must accept the lotus feet or the Lord. This is explained by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu: guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja [Cc. Madhya 19.151]. people struggling for existence in the forests or cities of the material world are not actually enjoying life. They are simply suffering different pains and pleasures, generally pains that are always inauspicious. They try to gain release from these pains, but they cannot due to ignorance. For them it is stated in the Vedas: tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet [MU 1.2.12]. When the living entity is lost in the forest of the material world, in the struggle for existence, his first business is to find a bona fide guru who is always engaged at the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu. After all, if he is at all eager to be relieved of the struggle for existence, he must find a bona fide guru and take instructions at his lotus feet. In this way he can get out of the struggle.Since the material world is compared herein to a forest, it may be argued that in Kali-yuga modern civilization is mainly situated in the cities. A great city, however, is like a great forest. Actually city life is more dangerous than life in the forest. If one enters an unknown city without friend or shelter, living in that city is more difficult than living in a forest. There are many big cities all over the surface of the globe, and wherever one looks he sees the struggle for existence going on twenty-four hours a day, people rush about in cars going seventy and eighty miles an hour, constantly coming and going, and this sets the scene of the great struggle for existence. One has to rise early in the morning and travel in that car at breakneck speed. There is always the danger of an accident, and one has to take great care. In his automobile, the living entity is full of anxieties, and his struggle is not at all auspicious. Apart from human beings, other species like cats and dogs are also struggling very hard day and night for existence. Thus the struggle for existence continues, and the conditioned soul changes from one position to another. For a while, he is a child, but he has to become a boy. From a boy, he has to change into a youth, and from youth to manhood and old age. Finally, when the body is no longer workable, he has to accept a new body in a different species. Giving up the body is called death, and accepting another body is called birth. The human form is an opportunity to take shelter of the bona fide spiritual master and, through him, the Supreme Lord. This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement has been started to give an opportunity to all the members of human society, who are misled by foolish leaders. No one can get out of this struggle for existence, which is full of miseries, without accepting a pure devotee of the Lord. The material attempt changes from one position to another, and no one actually gains relief from the struggle for existence. The only resort is the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master, and, through him, the lotus feet of the Lord.
As originally mentioned, a poor man belonging to the mercantile community goes to the forest to get some cheap goods to bring back to the city to sell at a profit. He is so absorbed in the thought of maintaining body and soul together that he forgets his original relationship with Kṛṣṇa and seeks only the bodily comforts. Thus material activities are the conditioned soul's only engagement. Not knowing the aim of life, the materialist perpetually wanders in material existence, struggling to get the necessities of life. Not understanding the aim of life, even though he acquires sufficient necessities, he manufactures artificial necessities and thus becomes more and more entangled. He creates a mental situation whereby he needs greater and greater comforts. The materialist does not know the secret of nature's ways. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (3.27):
- prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni
- guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ
- kartāham iti manyate
In the Gurv-aṣṭaka, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has sung:
- trāṇāya kāruṇya-ghanāghanatvam **
Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures
Conversations and Morning Walks
1974 Conversations and Morning Walks
|Compiled by||Sahadeva +|
|Completed sections||ALL +|
|Date of first entry||April 12, 0009 JL +|
|Date of last entry||April 13, 0009 JL +|
|Total quotes||20 +|
|Total quotes by section||BG: 0 +, SB: 17 +, CC: 0 +, OB: 0 +, Lec: 2 +, Conv: 1 + and Let: 0 +|