When a man in the material world takes more interest in the materialistic way of life than in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he is considered to be in a diseased condition. The normal condition is to remain an eternal servant of the Lord (jīvera 'svarūpa' haya-kṛṣṇera 'nitya-dāsa' (CC Madhya 20.108). This healthy condition is lost when the living entity forgets Kṛṣṇa due to being attracted by the external features of Kṛṣṇa's māyā energy. This world of māyā is called durāśraya, which means "false or bad shelter." One who puts his faith in durāśraya becomes a candidate for hoping against hope. In the material world everyone is trying to become happy, and although their material attempts are baffled in every way, due to their nescience they cannot understand their mistakes. People try to rectify one mistake by making another mistake. This is the way of the struggle for existence in the material world. If one in this condition is advised to take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness and be happy, he does not accept such instructions.
This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is being spread all over the world just to remedy this gross ignorance. People in general are misled by blind leaders. The leaders of human society—the politicians, philosophers and scientists—are blind because they are not Kṛṣṇa conscious. According to Bhagavad-gītā, because they are bereft of all factual knowledge due to their atheistic way of life, they are actually sinful rascals and are the lowest among men.
- na māṁ duṣkṛtino mūḍhāḥ
- prapadyante narādhamāḥ
- māyayāpahṛta jñānā-
- āsuraṁ bhāvam āśritāḥ
"Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, 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)
Such people never surrender to Kṛṣṇa, and they oppose the endeavor of those who wish to take Kṛṣṇa's shelter. When such atheists become leaders of society, the entire atmosphere is surcharged with nescience. In such a condition, people do not become very enthusiastic to receive this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, just as a diseased person suffering from jaundice does not relish the taste of sugar candy. However, one must know that for jaundice, sugar candy is the only specific medicine. Similarly, in the present confused state of humanity, Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the chanting of the holy name of the Lord—Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare—is the only remedy for setting the world aright. Although Kṛṣṇa consciousness may not be very palatable for a diseased person, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī nonetheless advises that if one wants to be cured of the material disease, he must take to it with great care and attention. One begins his treatment by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra because by chanting this holy name of the Lord a person in the material condition will be relieved from all misconceptions (ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam (CC Antya 20.12). Avidyā, a misconception about one's spiritual identity, provides the foundation for ahaṅkāra, or false ego within the heart.The real disease is in the heart. If the mind is cleansed, however, if consciousness is cleansed, a person cannot be harmed by the material disease. To cleanse the mind and heart from all misconceptions, one should take to this chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. This is both easy and beneficial. By chanting the holy name of the Lord, one is immediately freed from the blazing fire of material existence.
There are three stages in chanting the holy name of the Lord—the offensive stage, the stage of lessening offenses, and the pure stage. When a neophyte takes to the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, he generally commits many offenses. There are ten basic offenses, and if the devotee avoids these, he can glimpse the next stage, which is situated between offensive chanting and pure chanting. When one attains the pure stage, he is immediately liberated. This is called bhava-mahā-dāvāgni-nirvāpanam. As soon as one is liberated from the blazing fire of material existence, he can relish the taste of transcendental life.