This material world is like a great forest in which one becomes entangled due to association with material life

From Vaniquotes
Jump to: navigation, search

Expressions researched:
"material world" |"forest" |"material life"

Notes from the compiler: "material world" forest

Srimad-Bhagavatam

SB Canto 1

This world is compared to a forest fire caused by the cohesion of bamboo bushes. Such a forest fire takes place automatically, for bamboo cohesion occurs without external cause.
SB 1.10.2, Translation and Purport: Sūta Gosvāmī said: Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the maintainer of the world, became pleased after reestablishing Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira in his own kingdom and after restoring the Kuru dynasty, which had been exhausted by the bamboo fire of anger. This world is compared to a forest fire caused by the cohesion of bamboo bushes. Such a forest fire takes place automatically, for bamboo cohesion occurs without external cause. Similarly, in the material world the wrath of those who want to lord it over material nature interacts, and the fire of war takes place, exhausting the unwanted population. Such fires or wars take place, and the Lord has nothing to do with them. But because He wants to maintain the creation, He desires the mass of people to follow the right path of self-realization, which enables the living beings to enter into the kingdom of God. The Lord wants the suffering human beings to come back home, back to Him, and cease to suffer the threefold material pangs. The whole plan of creation is made in that way, and one who does not come to his senses suffers in the material world by pangs inflicted by the illusory energy of the Lord. The Lord therefore wants His bona fide representative to rule the world. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa descended to establish this sort of regime and to kill the unwanted persons who have nothing to do with His plan. The Battle of Kurukṣetra was fought according to the plan of the Lord so that undesirable persons could get out of the world and a peaceful kingdom under His devotee could be established. The Lord was therefore fully satisfied when King Yudhiṣṭhira was on the throne and the seedling of the dynasty of Kuru, in the person of Mahārāja Parīkṣit, was saved.

SB Canto 3

When there is too much heat from the forest fire of this material world, the demigods, including Brahmā himself, being harassed, approach the Supreme Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and appeal to Him to alleviate the condition.
SB 3.24.27, Translation and Purport: Kardama Muni said: Oh, after a long time the demigods of this universe have become pleased with the suffering souls who are in material entanglement because of their own misdeeds. This material world is a place for suffering, which is due to the misdeeds of the inhabitants, the conditioned souls themselves. The sufferings are not extraneously imposed upon them; rather, the conditioned souls create their own suffering by their own acts. In the forest, fire takes place automatically. It is not that someone has to go there and set a fire; because of friction among various trees, fire occurs automatically. When there is too much heat from the forest fire of this material world, the demigods, including Brahmā himself, being harassed, approach the Supreme Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and appeal to Him to alleviate the condition. Then the Supreme Personality of Godhead descends. In other words, when the demigods become distressed by the sufferings of the conditioned souls, they approach the Lord to remedy the suffering, and the Personality of Godhead descends. When the Lord descends, all the demigods become enlivened. Therefore Kardama Muni said, "After many, many years of human suffering, all the demigods are now satisfied because Kapiladeva, the incarnation of Godhead, has appeared."

SB Canto 4

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 4.26.1-3, Translation and Purport: The great sage Nārada continued: My dear King, once upon a time King Purañjana took up his great bow, and equipped with golden armor and a quiver of unlimited arrows and accompanied by eleven commanders, he sat on his chariot driven by five swift horses and went to the forest named Pañca-prastha. He took with him in that chariot two explosive arrows. The chariot itself was situated on two wheels and one revolving axle. On the chariot were three flags, one rein, one chariot driver, one sitting place, two poles to which the harness was fixed, five weapons and seven coverings. The chariot moved in five different styles, and five obstacles lay before it. All the decorations of the chariot were made of gold.

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.
A living entity is similarly engaged in the material world in sinful activities. These sinful activities may be compared to King Purañjana's hunting in the forest.
SB 4.27.1, Translation and Purport: The great sage Nārada continued: My dear King, after bewildering her husband in different ways and bringing him under her control, the wife of King Purañjana gave him all satisfaction and enjoyed sex life with him. After hunting in the forest, King Purañjana returned home, and after refreshing himself by taking a bath and eating nice food, he searched for his wife. When he saw her lying down on the ground without a bed, as if neglected, and devoid of any proper dress, he became very much aggrieved. He then became attracted to her and began to enjoy her company. A living entity is similarly engaged in the material world in sinful activities. These sinful activities may be compared to King Purañjana's hunting in the forest.

SB Canto 5

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.
SB 5.2.7, Translation and Purport: The Prince mistakenly addressed the Apsarā: O best of saintly persons, who are you? Why are you on this hill, and what do you want to do? Are you one of the illusory potencies of the Supreme Personality of Godhead? You seem to be carrying two bows without strings, What is the reason you carry these bows? Is it for some purpose of your own or for the sake of a friend? Perhaps you carry them to kill the mad animals in this forest.

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
"They are rotting in material activities for transient material pleasure and spoiling their lives toiling all day and night simply for sense gratification, with no attachment for love of Godhead. I am simply lamenting for them and devising various plans to deliver them from the clutches of māyā." (SB 7.9.43) Karmīs who act very seriously for sense gratification are always referred to in the śāstras by such terms as pramatta, vimukha and vimūḍha. They are killed by māyā. However, one who is apramatta, a sane, sober person, a dhīra, knows very well that a human being's primary duty is to render service to the Supreme Person. Māyā is always ready to kill those who are pramatta with her invisible bows and arrows. Āgnīdhra questioned Pūrvacitti about this.
This material world is like a great forest in which one becomes entangled due to association with material life. In this forest there are plunderers (the six senses) as well as carnivorous animals like jackals, wolves and lions (wife, children and other relatives) who are always anxious to suck the blood from the head of the family.
SB 5.13 Summary: The brāhmaṇa Jaḍa Bharata became very kind to King Rahūgaṇa, and to disassociate him from the material world, he spoke figuratively of the forest of the material world. He explained that this material world is like a great forest in which one becomes entangled due to association with material life. In this forest there are plunderers (the six senses) as well as carnivorous animals like jackals, wolves and lions (wife, children and other relatives) who are always anxious to suck the blood from the head of the family. The forest plunderers and the carnivorous blood-sucking animals combine to exploit the energy of a man within this material world. In this forest there is also a black hole, covered by grass, into which one may fall. Coming into the forest and being captivated by so many material attractions, one identifies himself with this material world, society, friendship, love and family. Having lost the path and not knowing where to go, being harassed by animals and birds, one is also victimized by many desires. Thus one works very hard within the forest and wanders here and there. He becomes captivated by temporary happiness and becomes aggrieved by so-called distress. Actually one simply suffers in the forest from so-called happiness and distress. Sometimes he is attacked by a snake (deep sleep), and due to the snakebite he loses consciousness and becomes puzzled and bewildered about discharging his duties. Sometimes he is attracted by women other than his wife, and thus be thinks he enjoys extramarital love with another woman. He is attacked by various diseases, by lamentation and by summer and winter. Thus one within the forest of the material world suffers the pains of material existence. Expecting to become happy, the living entity changes his position from one place to another, but actually a materialistic person within the material world is never happy. Being constantly engaged in materialistic activities, he is always disturbed. He forgets that one day he has to die. Although he suffers severely, being illusioned by the material energy, he still hankers after material happiness. In this way he completely forgets his relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By hearing this from Jaḍa Bharata, Mahārāja Rahūgaṇa revived his Kṛṣṇa consciousness and thus benefited from Jaḍa Bharata's association. He could understand that his illusion was over, and he begged pardon from Jaḍa Bharata for his misbehavior. All this was told to Mahārāja Parīkṣit by Śukadeva Gosvāmī.
In the forest there are many plunderers, dacoits, jackals and tigers. The jackals are compared to one's wife and children.
SB 5.13.2, Translation and Purport: O King Rahūgaṇa, in this forest of material existence there are six very powerful plunderers. When the conditioned soul enters the forest to acquire some material gain, the six plunderers misguide him. Thus the conditioned merchant does not know how to spend his money, and it is taken away by these plunderers. Like tigers, jackals and other ferocious animals in a forest that are ready to take away a lamb from the custody of its protector, the wife and children enter the heart of the merchant and plunder him in so many ways. In the forest there are many plunderers, dacoits, jackals and tigers. The jackals are compared to one's wife and children. In the dead of night, jackals cry very loudly, and similarly one's wife and children in this material world also cry like jackals. The children say, "Father, this is wanted; give me this. I am your dear son." Or the wife says, "I am your dear wife. Please give me this. This is now needed." In this way one is plundered by the thieves in the forest. Not knowing the aim of human life, one is constantly being misguided. The aim of life is Viṣṇu (na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇum [SB 7.5.31]). Everyone works very hard to earn money, but no one knows that his real self-interest is in serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Instead of spending money for advancing the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, one spends his hard-earned money on clubs, brothels, liquor, slaughterhouses and so forth. Due to sinful activities, one becomes implicated in the process of transmigration and thus has to accept one body after another. Being thus absorbed in a distressed condition, one never attains happiness.
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.
SB 5.13.8, Translation and Purport: Sometimes the merchant in the forest wants to climb the hills and mountains, but due to insufficient footwear, his feet are pricked by small stone fragments and by thorns on the mountain. Being pricked by them, he becomes very aggrieved. Sometimes a person who is very attached to his family becomes overwhelmed with hunger, and due to his miserable condition he becomes furious with his family members.

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
There is no benefit in transferring from one forest to another. One must go to the Vṛndāvana forest and take shelter of Govinda. That will make one happy. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness is therefore constructing a Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma temple to invite its members as well as outsiders to come and live peacefully in a spiritual atmosphere. That will help one become elevated to the transcendental world and return home, back to Godhead. Another sentence in this verse is very significant: kauṭumbikaḥ krudhyati vai janāya. When one's mind is disturbed in so many ways, he satisfies himself by becoming angry with his poor wife and children. The wife and children are naturally dependent on the father, but the father, being unable to maintain the family properly, becomes mentally distressed and therefore chastises the family members unnecessarily. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (12.2.9): ācchinna-dāra-draviṇā yāsyanti giri-kānanam. Being disgusted with family life, one separates from the family by divorce or some other means. If one has to separate, why not separate willingly? Systematic separation is better than forced separation. Forced separation cannot make anyone happy, but by mutual consent or by the Vedic arrangement one must separate from his family affairs at a certain age and fully depend on Kṛṣṇa. This makes one's life successful.
The conditioned soul in the material forest is sometimes swallowed by a python or crushed. At such a time he is left lying in the forest like a dead person, devoid of consciousness and knowledge.
SB 5.13.9, Translation and Purport: The conditioned soul in the material forest is sometimes swallowed by a python or crushed. At such a time he is left lying in the forest like a dead person, devoid of consciousness and knowledge. Sometimes other poisonous snakes bite him. Being blind to his consciousness, he falls down into a dark well of hellish life with no hope of being rescued.

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'
"I have brought medicine to awaken every living being from perpetual sleep. Please receive the holy name of the Lord, the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, and awaken." The Kaṭha Upaniṣad (1.3.14) also says, uttiṣṭha jāgrata prāpya varān nibodhata: "O living entity, you are sleeping in this material world. Please get up and take advantage of your human form of life." The sleeping condition means loss of all knowledge. In Bhagavad-gītā (2.69) it is also said, yā niśā sarva-bhūtānāṁ tasyāṁ jāgarti saṁyamī: "What is night for all beings is the time of awakening for the self-controlled." Even in the higher planets, everyone is under the spell of the illusory energy. No one is really interested in the real values of life. The sleeping condition, called kāla-sarpa (the time factor), keeps the conditioned soul in a state of ignorance, and therefore pure consciousness is lost. In the forest there are many blind wells, and if one falls down in one there is no chance of being rescued. In a state of sleep, one remains perpetually bitten by some animals, especially snakes.
In a great forest, honeycombs are very important. People often go there to collect honey from the combs, and sometimes the bees attack and punish them. In human society, those who are not Kṛṣṇa conscious remain in the forest of material life simply for the honey of sex life.
SB 5.13.10, Translation and Purport: Sometimes, in order to have a little insignificant sex enjoyment, one searches after debauched women. In this attempt, one is insulted and chastised by the women's kinsmen. This is like going to take honey from a beehive and being attacked by the bees. Sometimes, after spending lots of money, one may acquire another woman for some extra sense enjoyment. Unfortunately, the object of sense enjoyment, the woman, is taken away or kidnapped by another debauchee. In a great forest, honeycombs are very important. People often go there to collect honey from the combs, and sometimes the bees attack and punish them. In human society, those who are not Kṛṣṇa conscious remain in the forest of material life simply for the honey of sex life. Such debauchees are not at all satisfied with one wife. They want many women. Day after day, with great difficulty, they try to secure such women, and sometimes, while trying to taste this kind of honey, one is attacked by a woman's kinsmen and chastised very heavily. By bribing others, one may secure another woman for enjoyment, yet another debauchee may kidnap her or offer her something better. This woman hunting is going on in the forest of the material world, sometimes legally, and sometimes illegally. Consequently in this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement the devotees are forbidden to have illicit sex. Thus they avoid so many difficulties. One should remain satisfied with one woman, being duly married. One can satisfy one's lusty desires with his wife without creating disturbances in society and being punished for doing so.
In the forest of the material world, the living entity first of all wants to be very happy by taking shelter of the creeperlike arms of his wife and hearing her sweet voice. Later, he sometimes takes shelter of so-called gurus and sādhus who are like crane, herons and vultures. Thus he is cheated both ways by not taking shelter of the Supreme Lord.
SB 5.13.16, Translation and Purport: Sometimes the living entity in the forest of material existence takes shelter of creepers and desires to hear the chirping of the birds in those creepers. Being afraid of roaring lions in the forest, he makes friends with cranes, herons and vultures. In the forest of the material world there are many animals and birds, trees and creepers. Sometimes the living entity wants to take shelter of the creepers; in other words, he wants to be happy by being embraced by the creeperlike arms of his wife. Within the creepers there are many chirping birds; this indicates that he wants to satisfy himself by hearing the sweet voice of his wife. In old age, however, he sometimes becomes afraid of imminent death, which is compared to a roaring lion. To save himself from the lion's attack, he takes shelter of some bogus svāmīs, yogīs, incarnations, pretenders and cheaters. Being misled by the illusory energy in this way, he spoils his life. It is said, hariṁ vinā mṛtiṁ na taranti: no one can be saved from the imminent danger of death without taking shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The word hari indicates the lion as well as the Supreme Lord. To be saved from the hands of Hari, the lion of death, one must take shelter of the supreme Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. People with a poor fund of knowledge take shelter of nondevotee cheaters and pretenders in order to be saved from the clutches of death. In the forest of the material world, the living entity first of all wants to be very happy by taking shelter of the creeperlike arms of his wife and hearing her sweet voice. Later, he sometimes takes shelter of so-called gurus and sādhus who are like crane, herons and vultures. Thus he is cheated both ways by not taking shelter of the Supreme Lord.
Being cheated by them, the living entity in the forest of the material world tries to give up the association of these so-called yogīs, svāmīs and incarnations and come to the association of real devotees, but due to misfortune he cannot follow the instructions of the spiritual master or advanced devotees; therefore he gives up their company and again returns to the association of monkeys who are simply interested in sense gratification and women.
SB 5.13.17, Translation and Purport: Being cheated by them, the living entity in the forest of the material world tries to give up the association of these so-called yogīs, svāmīs and incarnations and come to the association of real devotees, but due to misfortune he cannot follow the instructions of the spiritual master or advanced devotees; therefore he gives up their company and again returns to the association of monkeys who are simply interested in sense gratification and women. He derives satisfaction by associating with sense gratifiers and enjoying sex and intoxication. In this way he spoils his life simply by indulging in sex and intoxication. Looking into the faces of other sense gratifiers, he becomes forgetful and thus approaches death. Sometimes a foolish person becomes disgusted with bad association and comes to the association of devotees and brāhmaṇas and takes initiation from a spiritual master. As advised by the spiritual master, he tries to follow the regulative principles, but due to misfortune he cannot follow the instructions of the spiritual master. He therefore gives up the company of devotees and goes to associate with simian people who are simply interested in sex and intoxication. Those who are so-called spiritualists are compared to monkeys. Outwardly, monkeys sometimes resemble sādhus because they live naked in the forest and pick fruits, but their only desire is to keep many female monkeys and enjoy sex life. Sometimes so-called spiritualists seeking a spiritual life come to associate with Kṛṣṇa conscious devotees, but they cannot execute the regulative principles or follow the path of spiritual life. Consequently they leave the association of devotees and go to associate with sense gratifiers, who are compared to monkeys. Again they revive their sex and intoxication, and looking at one another's faces, they are thus satisfied. In this way they pass their lives up to the point of death.
In the forest of material life, everyone is envious like mosquitoes, and rats and mice are always creating disturbances. Everyone in this material world is placed in many awkward positions and surrounded by envious people and disturbing animals.
SB 5.14 Summary: The direct meaning of the forest of material existence is given in this chapter. Merchants sometimes enter the forest to collect many rare things and sell them at a good profit in the city, but the forest path is always bedecked with dangers. When the pure soul wants to give up the Lord's service to enjoy the material world, Kṛṣṇa certainly gives him a chance to enter the material world. As stated in the Prema-vivarta: kṛṣṇa-bahirmukha hañā bhoga vāñchā kare. This is the reason the pure spirit soul falls down to the material world. Due to his activities under the influence of the three modes of material nature, the living entity takes different positions in different species. Sometimes he is a demigod in the heavenly planets and sometimes a most insignificant creature in the lower planetary systems. In this regard, Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura says, nānā yoni sadā phire: the living entity passes through various species. Kardarya bhakṣaṇa kare: he is obliged to eat and enjoy abominable things. Tāra janma adhaḥ-pāte yāya: in this way his whole life is spoiled. Without the protection of an all-merciful Vaiṣṇava. the conditioned soul cannot get out of the clutches of māyā. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (manaḥ ṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi prakṛti-sthāni karṣati [Bg. 15.7]), the living entity begins material life with his mind and the five knowledge-acquiring senses, and with these he struggles for existence within the material world. These senses are compared to rogues and thieves within the forest. They take away a man's knowledge and place him in a network of nescience. Thus the senses are like rogues and thieves that plunder his spiritual knowledge. Over and above this, there are family members, wife and children. who are exactly like ferocious animals in the forest. The business of such ferocious animals is to eat a man's flesh. The living entity allows himself to be attacked by jackals and foxes (wife and children), and thus his real spiritual life is finished. In the forest of material life, everyone is envious like mosquitoes, and rats and mice are always creating disturbances. Everyone in this material world is placed in many awkward positions and surrounded by envious people and disturbing animals. The result is that the living entity in the material world is always plundered and bitten by many living entities. Nonetheless, despite these disturbances, he does not want to give up his family life, and he continues his fruitive activities in an attempt to become happy in the future. He thus becomes more and more entangled in the results of karma, and thus he is forced to act impiously. His witnesses are the sun during the day and the moon during the night. The demigods also witness, but the conditioned soul thinks that his attempts at sense gratification are not being witnessed by anyone. Sometimes, when he is detected, he temporarily renounces everything, but due to his great attachment for the body, his renunciation is given up before he can attain perfection.
Sometimes he enters the forest to acquire some cheap commodities like wood and earth and sell them in the city at good prices. Similarly, the conditioned soul, being greedy, enters this material world for some material profit. Gradually he enters the deepest part of the forest, not really knowing how to get out.
SB 5.14.1, Translation and Purport: When King Parīkṣit asked Śukadeva Gosvāmī about the direct meaning of the material forest, Śukadeva Gosvāmī replied as follows: My dear King, a man belonging to the mercantile community [vaṇik] is always interested in earning money. Sometimes he enters the forest to acquire some cheap commodities like wood and earth and sell them in the city at good prices. Similarly, the conditioned soul, being greedy, enters this material world for some material profit. Gradually he enters the deepest part of the forest, not really knowing how to get out. Having entered the material world, the pure soul becomes conditioned by the material atmosphere, which is created by the external energy under the control of Lord Viṣṇu. Thus the living entity comes under the control of the external energy, daivī māyā. Living independently and bewildered in the forest, he does not attain the association of devotees who are always engaged in the service of the Lord. Once in the bodily conception, he gets different types of bodies one after the other under the influence of material energy and impelled by the modes of material nature [sattva-guṇa, rajo-guṇa and tamo-guṇa]. In this way the conditioned soul goes sometimes to the heavenly planets, sometimes to the earthly planets and sometimes to the lower planets and lower species. Thus he suffers continuously due to different types of bodies. These sufferings and pains are sometimes mixed. Sometimes they are very severe, and sometimes they are not. These bodily conditions are acquired due to the conditioned soul's mental speculation. He uses his mind and five senses to acquire knowledge, and these bring about the different bodies and different conditions. Using the senses under the control of the external energy, māyā, the living entity suffers the miserable conditions of material existence. He is actually searching for relief, but he is generally baffled, although sometimes he is relieved after great difficulty. Struggling for existence in this way, he cannot get the shelter of pure devotees, who are like bumblebees engaged in loving service at the lotus feet of Lord Viṣṇu.

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.
Absorbed in acquiring a variety of necessities, he forgets everything and perpetually runs around the forest of material existence.
SB 5.14.8, Translation and Purport: Sometimes the conditioned soul is absorbed in finding residential quarters or apartments and getting a supply of water and riches to maintain his body. Absorbed in acquiring a variety of necessities, he forgets everything and perpetually runs around the forest of material existence.

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
ahaṅkāra-vimūḍhātmā
kartāham iti manyate
"The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities which are in actuality carried out by nature." Due to lusty desire, the living entity creates a certain mental situation whereby he wants to enjoy this material world. He thus becomes entangled, enters different bodies and suffers in them.
A life in this material world is exactly like a blazing forest fire. No one goes to set fire to the forest, yet the fire takes place. Similarly, everyone wants to be happy in the material world, but the miserable conditions of material life simply increase.
SB 5.14.15, Translation and Purport: In this world, family life is exactly like a blazing fire in the forest. There is not the least happiness, and gradually one becomes more and more implicated in unhappiness. In household life, there is nothing favorable for perpetual happiness. Being implicated in home life, the conditioned soul is burned by the fire of lamentation. Sometimes he condemns himself as being very unfortunate, and sometimes he claims that he suffers because he performed no pious activities in his previous life.

In the Gurv-aṣṭaka, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has sung:

saṁsāra-dāvānala-līḍha-loka-
trāṇāya kāruṇya-ghanāghanatvam **
A life in this material world is exactly like a blazing forest fire. No one goes to set fire to the forest, yet the fire takes place. Similarly, everyone wants to be happy in the material world, but the miserable conditions of material life simply increase. Sometimes a person caught in the blazing fire of material existence condemns himself, but due to his bodily conception he cannot get out of the entanglement, and thus he suffers more and more.
In the forest of the material world, the conditioned soul is sometimes bitten by envious enemies, which are compared to serpents and other creatures.
SB 5.14.21, Translation: In the forest of the material world, the conditioned soul is sometimes bitten by envious enemies, which are compared to serpents and other creatures. Through the tricks of the enemy, the conditioned soul falls from his prestigious position. Being anxious, he cannot even sleep properly. He thus becomes more and more unhappy, and he gradually loses his intelligence and consciousness. In that state he becomes almost perpetually like a blind man who has fallen into a dark well of ignorance.

Lectures

Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

This material world is forest fire. But they are so ignorant, they cannot understand that "We are burning in the blazing fire of this material existence. Our attempt should be how to get out of it.
Lecture on BG 1.32-35 -- London, July 25, 1973: You are suffering in this material world, dāvāgni, now, forest fire. This material world is forest fire. But they are so ignorant, they cannot understand that "We are burning in the blazing fire of this material existence. Our attempt should be how to get out of it." But there is no such knowledge. Just like animals. The animals are suffering. They are being taken to the slaughterhouse. There is no, I mean, strength of protesting. They are being slaughtered. So we are being also being slaughtered by the laws of nature. We are also being slaughtered. So we do not know how to make progress. That is slaughtering.
The miserable condition of material life is compared to the blazing fire in the forest. As it is very difficult to extinguish the forest fire, similarly, the problems of material life cannot be extinguished simply by material benefits.
Lecture on BG 4.10 Public Meeting -- Rome, May 25, 1974: The process of advancement in chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is said in the Vedic literature, ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]. The first installment of benefit by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is that your consciousness becomes cleansed. And as soon as your consciousness becomes cleansed, the tribulations or the miserable condition of material life becomes extinguished. The miserable condition of material life is compared to the blazing fire in the forest. As it is very difficult to extinguish the forest fire, similarly, the problems of material life cannot be extinguished simply by material benefits. As the blazing fire in the forest cannot be extinguished by the help of fire brigade or bucketful of water, similarly, by material adjustment, the problems of material miseries cannot be solved.

Conversations and Morning Walks

1974 Conversations and Morning Walks

This material world is just like a blazing fire in the forest. Everyone is confused. Now how the blazing fire in the forest can be extinguished? You cannot take there your man-made fire brigade. That is not possible. Neither bucketful of water. So in this confused state of the human society you cannot manufacture the solution.
Room Conversation with Irish Poet, Desmond O'Grady -- May 23, 1974, Rome: This whole world is confusion, just like a blazing fire in the forest. When there is forest fire, all the animals become confused, "Where to go? How to save life?" It is very good example. When there is fire in the forest, all the animals become confused. Similarly, this material world is just like a blazing fire in the forest. Everyone is confused. Now how the blazing fire in the forest can be extinguished? You cannot take there your man-made fire brigade. That is not possible. Neither bucketful of water. So in this confused state of the human society you cannot manufacture the solution. The only solution is that when there is rain from the cloud on the forest fire, then it is extinguished. That is not in your hand; that is mercy of God. So spiritual master means who has received the mercy of God and he can deliver to the confused man. Then the solution is there.