Those interested in silently worshiping the Lord in solitary places may be eligible for liberation themselves, but a pure devotee is always aggrieved to see others suffering. Therefore, not caring for his own liberation, he always engages in preaching by glorifying the Lord. Prahlāda Mahārāja, therefore, had tried to deliver his class friends by preaching and had never remained silent. Although being silent, observing austerities and penances, learning the Vedic literature, undergoing ritualistic ceremonies, living in a solitary place and performing japa and transcendental meditation are approved means of liberation, they are meant for nondevotees or for cheaters who want to live at the expense of others. A pure devotee, however, being freed from all such deceptive activities, is able to see the Lord face to face.
Undergo (SB cantos 7 - 12)
"undergo" |"undergoes" |"undergoing" |"undergone"
SB Canto 7
Lord Brahmā said: O son of Kaśyapa Muni, please get up, please get up. All good fortune unto you. You are now perfect in the performance of your austerities, and therefore I may give you a benediction. You may now ask from me whatever you desire, and I shall try to fulfill your wish.
Śrīla Madhvācārya quotes from the Skanda Purāṇa, which says that Hiraṇyakaśipu, having become a devotee of Lord Brahmā, who is known as Hiraṇyagarbha, and having undergone a severe austerity to please him, is also known as Hiraṇyaka. Rākṣasas and demons worship various demigods, such as Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, just to take the post of these demigods. This we have already explained in previous verses.
It appears that human beings and asuras are subject to death, whereas demigods are not. The demigods who reside with Lord Brahmā in Satyaloka go to Vaikuṇṭhaloka in their present bodily constructions at the time of the dissolution. Therefore although Hiraṇyakaśipu had undergone severe austerities, Lord Brahmā predicted that he had to die; he could not become immortal or even gain equal status with the demigods. The great austerities and penances he had performed for so many years could not give him protection from death. This was foretold by Lord Brahmā.
One may ask, "One is certainly very attached to family life, but if one gives up family life to be attached to the service of the Lord, one must undergo the same endeavor and trouble. Therefore, what is the benefit of taking the trouble to engage in the service of the Lord?" This is not a valid objection. The Lord asserts in Bhagavad-gītā (14.4):
- sarva-yoniṣu kaunteya
- mūrtayaḥ sambhavanti yāḥ
- tāsāṁ brahma mahad yonir
- ahaṁ bīja-pradaḥ pitā
"It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kuntī, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father." The Supreme Lord, Nārāyaṇa, is the seed-giving father of all living entities because the living entities are parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord (mamaivāṁśo ...jīva-bhūtaḥ (15.7)). As there is no difficulty in establishing the intimate relationship between a father and son, there is no difficulty in reestablishing the natural, intimate relationship between Nārāyaṇa and the living entities.
Just as the fruits and flowers of a tree in due course of time undergo six changes—birth, existence, growth, transformation, dwindling and then death—the material body, which is obtained by the spirit soul under different circumstances, undergoes similar changes. However, there are no such changes for the spirit soul.
"For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain." The spirit soul is eternal, being freed from waste and change, which take place because of the material body. The example of a tree and its fruits and flowers is very simple and clear. A tree stands for many, many years, but with the seasonal changes its fruits and flowers undergo six transformations. The foolish theory of modern chemists that life can be produced by chemical interactions cannot be accepted as truth. The birth of a human being's material body takes place due to a mixture of the ovum and semen, but the history of birth is that although the ovum and semen mix together after sex, there is not always pregnancy. Unless the soul enters the mixture, there is no possibility of pregnancy, but when the soul takes shelter of the mixture the body takes birth, exists, grows, transforms and dwindles, and ultimately it is vanquished. The fruits and flowers of a tree seasonally come and go, but the tree continues to stand. Similarly, the transmigrating soul accepts various bodies, which undergo six transformations, but the soul remains permanently the same (ajo nityaḥ śāśvato 'yaṁ purāṇo na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre (BG 2.20)). The soul is eternal and ever existing, but the bodies accepted by the soul are changing.
Sober and expert persons should search for the spirit soul with minds purified through analytical study in terms of the soul's connection with and distinction from all things that undergo creation, maintenance and destruction.
How can a gross man fully engaged in materialistic activities understand the soul, which is a small particle of spirit one ten-thousandth the size of the tip of a hair? Such a person foolishly thinks that the material body has grown from a combination of chemicals, although he cannot find them. The Vedas inform us, however, that chemical combinations do not constitute the living force; the living force is the ātmā and Paramātmā, and the body grows on the basis of that living force. The fruit of a tree grows and undergoes six kinds of change because of the presence of the tree. If there were no tree, there could be no question of the growth and maturity of fruit. Therefore, beyond the existence of the body are the Paramātmā and ātmā within the body. This is the first understanding of spiritual knowledge explained in Bhagavad-gītā. Dehino 'smin yathā dehe (BG 2.13). The body exists because of the presence of the Supreme Lord and the jīva, which is part of the Lord.
The unwanted condition of temporary life is called ignorance. One can very easily understand that the material body is temporary, for it is generated at a certain date and ends at a certain date, after undergoing the six kinds of change, namely birth, death, growth, maintenance, transformation and dwindling. This condition of the eternal soul is due to his ignorance, and although it is temporary, it is unwanted. Because of ignorance one is put into temporary bodies one after another. The spirit soul, however, does not need to enter such temporary bodies. He does so only due to his ignorance or his forgetfulness of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore in the human form of life, when one's intelligence is developed, one should change his consciousness by trying to understand Kṛṣṇa. Then one can be liberated.
As advised by Mahārāja Ṛṣabhadeva, na sādhu manye yata ātmano 'yam asann api kleśada āsa dehaḥ (SB 5.5.4). One must be intelligent enough to understand that although one's body is temporary and will not endure for long, as long as one has a body he must undergo the pangs of material existence. Therefore, if by good association, by the instructions of a bona fide spiritual master, one takes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, his conditional life of material existence is vanquished, and his original consciousness, known as Kṛṣṇa consciousness, is revived. When one is Kṛṣṇa conscious, he can realize that material existence, whether one is awake or dreaming, is nothing but a dream and has no factual value. This realization is possible by the grace of the Supreme Lord. This grace is also present in the form of the instructions of Bhagavad-gītā. Therefore Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's mission is for everyone to engage in welfare activities to awaken the foolish living entity, especially in human society, so that he may come to the platform of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and benefit by liberation from conditional life.
Lord Brahmā, who is celebrated as ātma-yoni, having been born without a mother, was struck with wonder. Thus he took shelter of the lotus flower, and when he had been purified after undergoing severe austerities for many hundreds of years, he could see that the cause of all causes, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was spread throughout his own body and senses, just as aroma, although very subtle, is perceived in the earth.
O Supreme Personality of Godhead, there are ten prescribed methods on the path to liberation—to remain silent, not to speak to anyone, to observe vows, to amass all kinds of Vedic knowledge, to undergo austerities, to study the Vedas and other Vedic literatures, to execute the duties of varṇāśrama-dharma, to explain the śāstras, to stay in a solitary place, to chant mantras silently, and to be absorbed in trance. These different methods for liberation are generally only a professional practice and means of livelihood for those who have not conquered their senses. Because such persons are falsely proud, these procedures may not be successful.
"Of all yogīs, he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all." The actual purpose of mystic yoga is to concentrate one's attention fully on the Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, and always think of Him (mad-gatenāntarātmanā). To attain such perfection, one must undergo a certain process—haṭha-yoga—and through this yoga system the practitioner achieves some uncommon mystic power. The asuras, however, instead of becoming devotees of Kṛṣṇa, utilize this mystic power for their personal sense gratification. Maya Dānava, for example, is mentioned here as mahā-yogī, a great mystic, but his business was to help the asuras. Nowadays we are actually seeing that there are some yogīs who cater to the senses of materialists, and there are imposters who advertise themselves as God. Maya Dānava was such a person, a god among the demons, and he could perform some wonderful feats, one of which is described here: he made a well filled with nectar and dipped the asuras into that nectarean well. This nectar was known as mṛta-sanjīvayitari, for it could bring a dead body to life. Mṛta-sanjīvayitari is also an Āyur-vedic preparation. It is a kind of liquor that invigorates even a person on the verge of death.
The saintly person met by Prahlāda Mahārāja was undergoing ājagara-vṛtti, the living conditions of a python, which does not go anywhere but sits in one place for years and eats whatever is automatically available. Prahlāda Mahārāja, along with his associates, met this great saint and spoke to him as follows.
Seeing the saintly person to be quite fat, Prahlāda Mahārāja said: My dear sir, you undergo no endeavor to earn your livelihood, but you have a stout body, exactly like that of a materialistic enjoyer. I know that if one is very rich and has nothing to do, he becomes extremely fat by eating and sleeping and performing no work.
All living entities within this material world are undergoing the cycle of birth and death according to the laws of nature. This struggle of birth and death in different species may be called the evolutionary process, but in the Western world it has been wrongly explained. Darwin's theory of evolution from animal to man is incomplete because the theory does not present the reverse condition, namely evolution from man to animal. In this verse, however, evolution has been very well explained on the strength of Vedic authority. Human life, which is obtained in the course of the evolutionary process, is a chance for elevation (svargāpavarga) or for degradation (tiraścām punar asya ca). If one uses this human form of life properly, he can elevate himself to the higher planetary systems, where material happiness is many thousands of times better than on this planet, or one may cultivate knowledge by which to become free from the evolutionary process and be reinstated in one's original spiritual life. This is called apavarga, or liberation.
As for the maintenance of his family, a gṛhastha, while earning what he requires for his living, must be very conscientious and must not undergo extraordinary endeavor simply to accumulate money and unnecessarily increase in material comforts. Although a gṛhastha should externally be very active in earning his livelihood, he should internally be situated as a fully self-realized person, without attachment for material gains. His dealings with family members or friends should be performed simply to fulfill their purpose; one should not be extravagantly engaged in this way. Instructions from family members and society should be accepted superficially, but in essence the gṛhastha should be engaged in occupational duties advised by the spiritual master and śāstra. Specifically a gṛhastha should engage in agricultural activities to earn money.
Nārada Muni, therefore, first described brahmacarya, vānaprastha and sannyāsa because he wanted to stress that sex is not at all necessary, although one who absolutely requires it is allowed to enter gṛhastha life, or household life, which is also regulated by the śāstras and guru. Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja could understand all this. Therefore, as a gṛhastha, he presented himself as gṛha-mūḍha-dhīḥ, one who is completely ignorant of the goal of life. A person who remains a householder in family life is certainly ignorant of life's goal; he is not very much advanced in intelligence. As soon as possible, one should give up his so-called comfortable life at home and prepare to undergo austerity, or tapasya. Tapo divyaṁ putrakā (SB 5.5.1). According to the instructions given by Ṛṣabhadeva to His sons, we should not create a so-called comfortable situation, but must prepare to undergo austerity. This is how a human being should actually live to fulfill life's ultimate goal.
This is the proper utilization of the human form of life. When one misuses the gift of the human form by unnecessarily indulging in the animal propensities of eating, sleeping, mating and defending and does not try to get out of the clutches of māyā, which subjects one to repeated birth, death, old age and disease, one is again punished by being forced to descend to the lower species and undergo evolution according to the laws of nature. prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ (BG 3.27). Being completely under the grip of material nature, the living entity must evolve again from the lower species to the higher species until he at last returns to human life and gets the chance to be freed from the material clutches. A wise man, however, learns from the śāstras and guru that we living entities are all eternal but are put into troublesome conditions because of associating with different modes under the laws of material nature.
SB Canto 8
An elephant is very strong, it has a very big body, and it can work very hard and eat a large quantity of food, but its intelligence is not at all commensurate with its size and strength. Thus in spite of so much bodily strength, the elephant works as a menial servant for a human being. Agastya Muni thought it wise to curse the King to become an elephant because the powerful King did not receive Agastya Muni as one is obliged to receive a brāhmaṇa. Yet although Agastya Muni cursed Mahārāja Indradyumna to become an elephant, the curse was indirectly a benediction, for by undergoing one life as an elephant, Indradyumna Mahārāja ended the reactions for all the sins of his previous life. Immediately after the expiry of the elephant's life, he was promoted to Vaikuṇṭhaloka to become a personal associate of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa, in a body exactly like that of the Lord. This is called sārūpya-mukti.
The goddess of fortune, examining the assembly, thought in this way: Someone who has undergone great austerity has not yet conquered anger. Someone possesses knowledge, but he has not conquered material desires. Someone is a very great personality, but he cannot conquer lusty desires. Even a great personality depends on something else. How, then, can he be the supreme controller?
Here is an attempt to find the supreme controller, or īśvara. Everyone may be accepted as an īśvara, or controller, but still such controllers are controlled by others. For example, one may have undergone severe austerities but still be under the control of anger. By a scrutinizing analysis, we find that everyone is controlled by something else. No one, therefore, can be the true controller but the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa. This is supported by the śāstras. Īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ: (Bs. 5.1) the supreme controller is Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is never controlled by anyone, for He is the controller of everyone (sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam).
Vṛtrāsura was the essence of the austerities undergone by Tvaṣṭā, yet the thunderbolt killed him. Indeed, not only he but also many other stalwart heroes, whose very skin could not be injured even by all kinds of weapons, were killed by the same thunderbolt.
Nothing can be done independently, yet You act independently of the service rendered by Your servants. The living entities depend on Your mercy for liberation, but when You want to give them liberation, You do not depend on anyone else. Indeed, by Your causeless mercy, You can give liberation to anyone. Those who receive Your mercy are called kṛpā-siddha. To reach the platform of perfection takes many, many lives (bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate (BG 7.19)). Nonetheless, even without undergoing severe austerities, one can attain perfection by Your mercy. Devotional service should be unmotivated and free from impediments (ahaituky apratihatā yayātmā suprasīdati). This is the position of nirāśiṣaḥ, or freedom from expectations for results. A pure devotee continuously offers transcendental loving service to You, but You may nonetheless offer mercy to anyone, without depending on his service."
Performing prescribed worship in such temples of Viṣṇu and thus worshiping the Lord is as good as performing the payo-vrata ceremony recommended here. The payo-vrata ceremony is performed from the first to the thirteenth day of the bright fortnight of the moon, but in our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement Lord Viṣṇu is worshiped in every temple according to a schedule of twenty-four hours of engagement in performing kīrtana, chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, offering palatable food to Lord Viṣṇu and distributing this food to Vaiṣṇavas and others. These are authorized activities, and if the members of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement stick to these principles, they will achieve the same result one gains by observing the payo-vrata ceremony. Thus the essence of all auspicious activities, such as performing yajña, giving in charity, observing vratas, and undergoing austerities, is included in the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. The members of this movement should immediately and sincerely follow the processes already recommended. Of course, sacrifice is meant to please Lord Viṣṇu. Yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtana-prāyair yajanti hi sumedhasaḥ: (SB 11.5.32) in Kali-yuga, those who are intelligent perform the saṅkīrtana-yajña. One should follow this process conscientiously.
Bali Mahārāja had already been blessed by his grandfather Prahlāda Mahārāja. Therefore, he was a pure devotee, although born in a family of demons. There are two kinds of highly elevated devotees, called sādhana-siddha and kṛpā-siddha. Sādhana-siddha refers to one who has become a devotee by regular execution of the regulative principles mentioned in the śāstras, as ordered and directed by the spiritual master. If one regularly executes such devotional service, he will certainly attain perfection in due course of time. But there are other devotees, who may not have undergone all the required details of devotional service but who, by the special mercy of guru and Kṛṣṇa—the spiritual master and the Supreme Personality of Godhead—have immediately attained the perfection of pure devotional service. Examples of such devotees are the yajña-patnīs, Mahārāja Bali and Śukadeva Gosvāmī.
In human life one is meant to undergo austerity to purify one's existence. Tapo divyaṁ putrakā yena sattvaṁ śuddhyet (SB 5.5.1). Because of contamination by the modes of material nature, one continues in the cycle of birth and death (kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo 'sya sad-asad-yoni janmasu (BG 13.22)). Therefore the purpose of human life is to purify oneself of this contamination so that one can regain his spiritual form and not undergo this cycle of birth and death. The recommended process of decontamination is devotional service to the Lord. There are various processes for self-realization, such as karma, jñāna and yoga, but none of them is equal to the process of devotional service. As gold and silver can be freed from all dirty contamination by being put into a fire but not merely by being washed, the living entity can be awakened to his own identity by performing devotional service (yat-sevayā), but not by karma, jñāna or yoga. Cultivation of speculative knowledge or practice of yogic gymnastics will not be helpful.
SB Canto 9
Viśvāmitra and Vasiṣṭha were always inimical. Formerly, Viśvāmitra was a kṣatriya, and by undergoing severe austerities he wanted to become a brāhmaṇa, but Vasiṣṭha would not agree to accept him. In this way there was always disagreement between the two. Later, however, Vasiṣṭha accepted him because of Viśvāmitra's quality of forgiveness. Once Hariścandra performed a yajña for which Viśvāmitra was the priest, but Viśvāmitra, being angry at Hariścandra, took away all his possessions, claiming them as a contribution of dakṣiṇā. Vasiṣṭha, however, did not like this, and therefore a fight arose between Vasiṣṭha and Viśvāmitra. The fighting became so severe that each of them cursed the other.
Thereafter, Paraśurāma cut off like a mountain peak the head of Kārtavīryārjuna, who had already lost his arms. When Kārtavīryārjuna's ten thousand sons saw their father killed, they all fled in fear. Then Paraśurāma, having killed the enemy, released the kāmadhenu, which had undergone great suffering, and brought it back with its calf to his residence, where he gave it to his father, Jamadagni.
Viśvāmitra, the son of Mahārāja Gādhi, was as powerful as the flames of fire. From the position of a kṣatriya, he achieved the position of a powerful brāhmaṇa by undergoing penances and austerities.
Āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ patanty adhaḥ (SB 10.2.32). Even having attained that paraṁ padam, having merged into the impersonal Brahman, he falls again to the material world.
In this way, the conditioned soul undergoes a great struggle for existence in this material world, and therefore the Lord, out of compassion for him, appears in this world and instructs him.
SB Canto 10.1 to 10.13
Glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is performed in the paramparā system; that is, it is conveyed from spiritual master to disciple. Such glorification is relished by those no longer interested in the false, temporary glorification of this cosmic manifestation. Descriptions of the Lord are the right medicine for the conditioned soul undergoing repeated birth and death. Therefore, who will cease hearing such glorification of the Lord except a butcher or one who is killing his own self?
Because of their uncontrolled senses, persons too addicted to materialistic life make progress toward hellish conditions and repeatedly chew that which has already been chewed. Their inclinations toward Kṛṣṇa are never aroused, either by the instructions of others, by their own efforts, or by a combination of both." (SB 7.5.30) At the present moment, all of human society is engaged in the business of chewing the chewed (punaḥ punaś carvita-carvaṇānām). People are prepared to undergo mṛtyu-saṁsāra-vartmani (BG 9.3), taking birth in one form, dying, accepting another form and dying again. To stop this repetition of birth and death, kṛṣṇa-kathā, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, is absolutely necessary. But unless one hears kṛṣṇa-kathā from a realized soul like Śukadeva Gosvāmī, one cannot relish the nectar of kṛṣṇa-kathā, which puts an end to all material fatigue, and enjoy the blissful life of transcendental existence. In relation to the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, we actually see that those who have tasted the nectar of kṛṣṇa-kathā lose all material desires, whereas those who cannot understand Kṛṣṇa or kṛṣṇa-kathā regard the Kṛṣṇa conscious life as "brainwashing" and "mind control." While the devotees enjoy spiritual bliss, the nondevotees are surprised that the devotees have forgotten material hankerings.
The affairs of the Supersoul pertain to Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, but Kṛṣṇa took compassion on Devakī, His devotee, because He understood her fear of Kaṁsa's persecution. A pure devotee is always fearful of material existence. No one knows what will happen next, for one may have to change his body at any moment (tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ (BG 2.13)). Knowing this fact, a pure devotee acts in such a way that he will not have his life spoiled by being obliged to accept another body and undergo the tribulations of material existence. This is bhayam, or fear. Bhayaṁ dvitīyābhiniveśataḥ syāt (SB 11.2.37). This fear is due to material existence. Properly speaking, everyone should always be alert and fearful of material existence, but although everyone is prone to be affected by the ignorance of material existence, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is always alert to the protection of His devotees. Kṛṣṇa is so kind and affectionate toward His devotees that He helps them by giving them the intelligence by which to exist in this material world without forgetting Him even for a moment.
The word yoga means "link." Any system of yoga is an attempt to reconnect our broken relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There are different types of yoga, of which bhakti-yoga is the best. In other yoga systems, one must undergo various processes before attaining perfection, but bhakti-yoga is direct. The Lord says in Bhagavad-gītā (6.47):
- yoginām api sarveṣāṁ
- śraddhāvān bhajate yo māṁ
- sa me yuktatamo mataḥ
"Of all yogīs, he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all."
"All the inhabitants of the palace" includes Kaṁsa. When everyone lamented, Kaṁsa joined in compassion, thinking that perhaps because of drugs or some other external means, Devakī had undergone this abortion. The real story of what happened after Yogamāyā attracted the child of Devakī into the womb of Rohiṇī in the seventh month of Rohiṇī's pregnancy is described as follows in the Hari-vaṁśa. At midnight, while Rohiṇī was deeply sleeping, she experienced, as if in a dream, that she had undergone a miscarriage. After some time, when she awoke, she saw that this had indeed happened, and she was in great anxiety. But Yogamāyā then informed her, "O auspicious lady, your child is now being replaced. I am attracting a child from the womb of Devakī, and therefore your child will be known as Saṅkarṣaṇa."
The true mission in life is to cross the ocean of nescience, of repeated birth and death. Those in the darkness of ignorance, however, do not know this mission. Instead, being carried away by the waves of material nature (prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ (BG 3.27)), they are undergoing the tribulations of mṛtyu-saṁsāra-vartmani (BG 9.3), repeated birth and death. But persons who have achieved knowledge by the association of devotees follow the mahājanas (mahat-kṛtena). Such a person always concentrates his mind upon the lotus feet of the Lord and executes one or more of the nine varieties of devotional service (śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam (SB 7.5.23)). Simply by this process, one can cross the insurmountable ocean of nescience.
The śāstra says, na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇum (SB 7.5.31). One achieves the perfection of life by becoming a devotee of Viṣṇu, but people do not know this. Therefore, as stated in Bhagavad-gītā (12.5), kleśo 'dhikataras teṣām avyaktāsakta-cetasām. Persons who do not ultimately accept the Supreme Personality of Godhead and take to devotional service, but who instead are attached to impersonalism and voidism, must undergo great labor to achieve their goals.
- śreyaḥ-sṛtiṁ bhaktim udasya te vibho
- kliśyanti ye kevala-bodha-labdhaye
- (SB 10.14.4)
To achieve understanding, such persons work very hard and undergo severe austerities, but their hard labor and austerities themselves are their only achievement, for they do not actually achieve the real goal of life.
Karmīs, therefore, try for promotion to the higher planetary systems, but this cannot free them from death. In this material world, everyone from Brahmā to the insignificant ant must die. Therefore this world is called martya-loka. As Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (8.16), ābrahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ punar āvartino'rjuna: as long as one is within this material world, either on Brahmaloka or on any other loka within this universe, one must undergo the kāla-cakra of one life after another (bhūtvā bhūtvā pralīyate) (BG 8.19). But if one returns to the Supreme Personality of Godhead (yad gatvā na nivartante (BG 15.6)), one need not reenter the limits of time. Therefore, devotees who have taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord can sleep very peacefully with this assurance from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (4.9), tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti: after giving up the present body, a devotee who has understood Kṛṣṇa as He is need not return to this material world.
If one is determined to make spiritual advancement, he will not beget a child unless able to make that child a devotee. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (5.5.18), pitā na sa syāt: one should not become a father unless one is able to protect his child from mṛtyu, the path of birth and death. But where is there education about this? A responsible father never begets children like cats and dogs. Instead of being encouraged to adopt artificial means of birth control, people should be educated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness because only then will they understand their responsibility to their children. If one can beget children who will be devotees and be taught to turn aside from the path of birth and death (mṛtyu-saṁsāra-vartmani (BG 9.3)), there is no need of birth control. Rather, one should be encouraged to beget children. Artificial means of birth control have no value. Whether one begets children or does not, a population of men who are like cats and dogs will never make human society happy. It is therefore necessary for people to be educated spiritually so that instead of begetting children like cats and dogs, they will undergo austerities to produce devotees. This will make their lives successful.
Human life is meant not for becoming a hog or dog, but for tapo divyam (SB 5.5.1), transcendental austerity. Everyone should be taught to undergo austerity, tapasya. Although it may not be possible to undergo tapasya like that of Pṛśni and Sutapā, the śāstra has given an opportunity for a method of tapasya very easy to perform—the saṅkīrtana movement. One cannot expect to undergo tapasya to get Kṛṣṇa as one's child, yet simply by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra (kīrtanād eva kṛṣṇasya (SB 12.3.51)), one can become so pure that one becomes free from all the contamination of this material world (mukta-saṅgaḥ) and goes back home, back to Godhead (paraṁ vrajet). The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, therefore, is teaching people not to adopt artificial means of happiness, but to take the real path of happiness as prescribed in the śāstra—the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra—and become perfect in every aspect of material existence.
Twelve thousand years on the celestial planets is not a very long time for those who live in the upper planetary system, although it may be very long for those who live on this planet. Sutapā was the son of Brahmā, and as we have already understood from Bhagavad-gītā (8.17), one day of Brahmā equals many millions of years according to our calculation (sahasra-yuga-paryantam ahar yad brahmaṇo viduḥ). We should be careful to understand that to get Kṛṣṇa as one's son, one must undergo such great austerities. If we want to get the Supreme Personality of Godhead to become one of us in this material world, this requires great penance, but if we want to go back to Kṛṣṇa (tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti so 'rjuna (BG 4.9)), we need only understand Him and love Him. Through love only, we can very easily go back home, back to Godhead. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore declared, premā pum-artho mahān: love of Godhead is the highest achievement for anyone.
Therefore, one need not undergo severe penances for many thousands of years; one need only learn how to love Kṛṣṇa and be always engaged in His service (sevonmukhe hi jihvādau svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ (Brs. 1.2.234)). Then one can very easily go back home, back to Godhead. Instead of bringing the Lord here for some material purpose, to have a son or whatever else, if we go back home, back to Godhead, our real relationship with the Lord is revealed, and we eternally engage in our eternal relationship. By chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, we gradually develop our eternal relationship with the Supreme Person and thus attain the perfection called svarūpa-siddhi. We should take advantage of this benediction and go back home, back to Godhead. Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura has therefore sung, patita-pāvana-hetu tava avatāra: Caitanya Mahāprabhu appeared as an incarnation to deliver all fallen souls like us and directly bestow upon us love of Godhead. We must take advantage of this great benediction of the great Personality of Godhead.
Although Kaṁsa is described as a demon, he had good knowledge of the affairs of ātma-tattva, the truth of the self. Five thousand years ago, there were kings like Kaṁsa, who is described as an asura, but he was better than modern politicians and diplomats, who have no knowledge about ātma-tattva. As stated in the Vedas, asaṅgo hy ayaṁ puruṣaḥ: the spirit soul has no connection with the changes of the material body. The body undergoes six changes—birth, growth, sustenance, by-products, dwindling and then annihilation—but the soul undergoes no such changes. Even after the annihilation of a particular bodily form, the original source of the bodily elements does not change. The living entity enjoys the material body, which appears and disappears, but the five elements earth, water, fire, air and ether remain the same. The example given here is that pots and dolls are produced from the earth, and when broken or destroyed they mingle with their original ingredients. In any case, the source of supply remains the same.
The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy." Neither the Supersoul, Paramātmā, nor the individual soul changes its original, spiritual identity. The ātmā does not undergo birth, death or changes like the body. Therefore a Vedic aphorism says, asaṅgo hy ayaṁ puruṣaḥ: although the soul is conditioned within this material world, he has no connections with the changes of the material body.
Everyone, beginning from the small insect known as indra-gopa up to Indra, the King of the heavenly planets, is obliged to undergo the results of his fruitive activities. We may superficially see that one is suffering or enjoying because of some external causes, but the real cause is one's own fruitive activities. Even when someone kills someone else, it is to be understood that the person who was killed met the fruitive results of his own work and that the man who killed him acted as the agent of material nature. Thus Kaṁsa begged Devakī's pardon by analyzing the matter deeply. He was not the cause of the death of Devakī's sons. Rather, this was their own destiny. Under the circumstances, Devakī should excuse Kaṁsa and forget his past deeds without lamentation. Kaṁsa admitted his own fault, but whatever he had done was under the control of providence. Kaṁsa might have been the immediate cause for the death of Devakī's sons, but the remote cause was their past deeds. This was an actual fact.
Because whenever Kṛṣṇa appears on this earth He superficially needs a father and mother, Droṇa and Dharā, His eternal father and mother, appeared on earth before Kṛṣṇa as Nanda Mahārāja and Yaśodā. In contrast to Sutapā and Pṛśnigarbha, they did not undergo severe penances and austerities to become the father and mother of Kṛṣṇa. This is the difference between nitya-siddha and sādhana-siddha.
A poverty-stricken man must automatically undergo austerities and penances because he does not have the wealth to possess anything. Thus his false prestige is vanquished. Always in need of food, shelter and clothing, he must be satisfied with what is obtained by the mercy of providence. Undergoing such compulsory austerities is good for him because this purifies him and completely frees him from false ego.
Yogīs may undergo severe austerities and penances for many births by practicing yama, niyama, āsana and prāṇāyāma, none of which are easily performed. Yet in due course of time, when these yogīs attain the perfection of controlling the mind, they will still be unable to taste even a particle of dust from the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. What then can we describe about the great fortune of the inhabitants of Vrajabhūmi, Vṛndāvana, with whom the Supreme Personality of Godhead personally lived and who saw the Lord face to face?
SB Cantos 10.14 to 12 (Translations Only)
My dear Lord, devotional service unto You is the best path for self-realization. If someone gives up that path and engages in the cultivation of speculative knowledge, he will simply undergo a troublesome process and will not achieve his desired result. As a person who beats an empty husk of wheat cannot get grain, one who simply speculates cannot achieve self-realization. His only gain is trouble.
The earth had been emaciated by the summer heat, but she became fully nourished again when moistened by the god of rain. Thus the earth was like a person whose body has been emaciated by austerities undergone for a material purpose, but who again becomes fully nourished when he achieves the fruit of those austerities.
These women have never undergone the purificatory rites of the twice-born classes, nor have they lived as brahmacārīs in the āśrama of a spiritual master, nor have they executed austerities, speculated on the nature of the self, followed the formalities of cleanliness or engaged in pious rituals. Nevertheless, they have firm devotion for Lord Kṛṣṇa, whose glories are chanted by the exalted hymns of the Vedas and who is the supreme master of all masters of mystic power. We, on the other hand, have no such devotion for the Lord, although we have executed all these processes.
(Śrī Akrūra thought:) What pious deeds have I done, what severe austerities undergone, what worship performed or charity given so that today I will see Lord Keśava?
Since it has never been demonstrated that You are covered by material, bodily designations, it must be concluded that for You there is neither birth in a literal sense nor any duality. Therefore You never undergo bondage or liberation, and if You appear to, it is only because of Your desire that we see You in that way, or simply because of our lack of discrimination.
Jarāsandha, whom fighters had highly honored, was ashamed after being released by the two Lords of the universe, and thus he decided to undergo penances. On the road, however, several kings convinced him with both spiritual wisdom and mundane arguments that he should give up his idea of self-abnegation. They told him, "Your defeat by the Yadus was simply the unavoidable reaction of your past karma."
O intelligent lady, the soul never undergoes contact with or separation from insubstantial, material objects, because the soul is their very origin and illuminator. Thus the soul resembles the sun, which neither comes in contact with nor separates from the sense of sight and what is seen.
Birth and other transformations are undergone by the body but never by the self, just as change occurs for the moon's phases but never for the moon, though the new-moon day may be called the moon's "death."
As a sleeping person perceives himself, the objects of sense enjoyment and the fruits of his acts within the illusion of a dream, so one who is unintelligent undergoes material existence.
I have already described to you in detail the history of the two residents of Vaikuṇṭha who had to undergo repeated births in the material world because of being cursed by brāhmaṇas.
You are the one indestructible entity among all the destructible things of this world, like the underlying substance that is seen to remain unchanged while the things made from it undergo transformations.
Obeisances to You, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Kṛṣṇa, whose intelligence is ever unrestricted. Obeisances to the sage Nara-Nārāyaṇa, who always undergoes austerities in perfect peace.
From the very beginning of Brahmā's day Lord Nārāyaṇa Ṛṣi has been undergoing austere penances in this land of Bhārata while perfectly performing religious duties and exemplifying spiritual knowledge and self-control—all for the benefit of human beings in both this world and the next.
The illusory material nature attracts the minute living entity to embrace her, and as a result he assumes forms composed of her qualities. Subsequently, he loses all his spiritual qualities and must undergo repeated deaths. You, however, avoid the material energy in the same way that a snake abandons its old skin. Glorious in Your possession of eight mystic perfections, You enjoy unlimited opulences.
A person who has developed detachment can give up the bondage of material society, friendship and love, and a person who undergoes great suffering gradually becomes, out of hopelessness, detached and indifferent to the material world. Thus, due to my great suffering, such detachment awoke in my heart; yet how could I have undergone such merciful suffering if I were actually unfortunate? Therefore, I am in fact fortunate and have received the mercy of the Lord. He must somehow or other be pleased with me.
According to great sages, that which is the basis of the three modes of material nature and which manifests the variegated universe is called the sūtra or mahat-tattva. Indeed, this universe is resting within that mahat-tattva, and due to its potency the living entity undergoes material existence.
The persons I have mentioned did not undergo serious studies of the Vedic literature, nor did they worship great saintly persons, nor did they execute severe vows or austerities. Simply by association with Me and My devotees, they achieved Me.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Those who give up these methods for achieving Me, which consist of devotional service, analytic philosophy and regulated execution of prescribed duties, and instead, being moved by the material senses, cultivate insignificant sense gratification, certainly undergo the continual cycle of material existence.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O best among men, material nature and its enjoyer are clearly distinct. This manifest creation undergoes constant transformation, being founded upon the agitation of the modes of nature.
My dear Uddhava, material bodies are constantly undergoing creation and destruction by the force of time, whose swiftness is imperceptible. But because of the subtle nature of time, no one sees this.
If we assume that fruitive work is the cause of happiness and distress, we still are not dealing with the soul. The idea of material work arises when there is a spiritual actor who is conscious and a material body that undergoes the transformation of happiness and distress as a reaction to such work. Since the body has no life, it cannot be the actual recipient of happiness and distress, nor can the soul, who is ultimately completely spiritual and aloof from the material body. Since karma thus has no ultimate basis in either the body or the soul, at whom can one become angry?
The spirit soul is inexhaustible, transcendental, pure, self-luminous and never covered by anything material. It is like fire. But the nonliving material body, like firewood, is dull and unaware. So in this world, who is it that actually undergoes the experience of material life?
Experts in the subtle workings of nature, O subduer of the enemy, have declared that there are continuous processes of creation and annihilation that all created beings, beginning with Brahmā, constantly undergo.
All material entities undergo transformation and are constantly and swiftly eroded by the mighty currents of time. The various stages of existence that material things exhibit are the perpetual causes of their generation and annihilation.
O best of the Bhṛgus, this account concerning Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi conveys the transcendental potency of the Supreme Lord. Anyone who properly narrates or hears it will never again undergo material existence, which is based on the desire to perform fruitive activities.
The great endeavor one undergoes in executing the ordinary social and religious duties of the varṇāśrama system, in performing austerities, and in hearing from the Vedas culminates only in the achievement of mundane fame and opulence. But by respecting and attentively hearing the recitation of the transcendental qualities of the Supreme Lord, the husband of the goddess of fortune, one can remember His lotus feet.