The Hammer - 10
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The Hammer For Smashing Illusion

Shankaracharya's famous "Bhaja Govinda"

By Hansadutta das

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Text 10

When youth has passed, where is lust and its excitement? When the water has dried up, where is the lake? When wealth is finished, where is the retinue? When the Truth is realized, where is the possibility of repeated birth and death?

Make Your Choice: What Do You Want?

In Bhagavad-gita (4.9) Krishna says, "One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities in this world does not, upon leaving this body, take birth again but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna." As long as the living entity is in darkness about this spiritual nature and his eternal relationship with God, he continues to rotate in the cycle of repeated birth and death. Generally, everyone is born in darkness, or ignorance. In ignorance, we desire so many things. We desire to enjoy the material nature in different ways through the different senses--through the eyes we want to see beautiful forms, through the ears we want to hear attractive sounds, through the tongue we want to taste delicious food, and we want to touch pleasing objects. In this way the five senses are always agitated, always hankering for sense gratification, helping us to accumulate money, comfort, and position. We want these three items in order to enjoy material life.

The Material Pendulum, Swinging Between Desire and Hate

There are four stages of development in human life: religiosity, economic development, sense gratification and ultimately salvation. For religiosity there must be some execution of pious activities, but after a person has gone up this ladder he comes to understand that he is still not happy, that there is no satisfaction in all his endeavor, so then he wants freedom from material life altogether. Being frustrated in material activities, the conditioned soul concludes that happiness must be inaction. So he attempts to annihilate his individual existence and merge into the existence of Brahman, into the existence of the Supreme. That is the beginning of his search for emancipation from material activity. Of course, this idea is also imperfect and material, because ultimately the motivation for such emancipation and merging into an impersonal existence is sense gratification. The basic platform is to satisfy one's senses again.

Freedom Once and For All

It is not until the living entity actually gets knowledge of devotional service to Krishna that he can actually get real freedom and real happiness in spiritual life, because the living entity's constitutional position is to satisfy Vishnu, Krishna. Every one of us is part and parcel of Krishna, and therefore we can only be happy inasmuch as we satisfy Krishna, just as this hand can be satisfied only by satisfying the stomach with food. The hand cannot satisfy itself with food. Therefore devotional service is the only true platform of liberation and the only true platform of spiritual life. It is the natural life of the living entity. "When this truth is realized," Krishna says, "you will know that all living beings are in Me and are Mine. When this is understood there is no more possibility of repeated birth and death." (Bhagavad-gita 4.35) As long as we are in darkness about this truth we shall have to accept repeated birth and death. Even if one comes to the platform of impersonal Brahman realization, if one does not actually take up devotional service to the Lord, then the living entity, for want of activity, for want of engagement, will again gravitate towards material activities.

There must be Action, There must be Desire

Because we are eternal living spirit soul, there must be activity, because life means action, and action means desire. There must be some desire which precedes an act. We cannot act unless there is some desire. Therefore we cannot be desireless. Because we are living force, there must be desire, there must be action, there must be thinking, and there must be feeling. These are all the symptoms of life. In our natural state, because we are subordinate energy of Krishna, we desire to act for Krishna. But if we do not know about Krishna, then we cannot help but act for personal sense gratification. Therefore, even if we go up to the platform of Brahman realization and understand that we are not matter but spirit, as long as we do not understand that we are servants of the Supreme Spirit, then naturally we will again begin to act for our personal sense gratification and thus again become entangled in the cycle of birth and death.

Know the Ultimate

To know Krishna is the ultimate knowledge. That is the conclusion of Bhagavad-gita. "One who knows Me is to be understood as the knower of everything, and his endeavors will know perfection." ( Bhagavad-gita 15.20) This is the most confidential part of the Vedic knowledge. In another place Krishna says, "I am the compiler of Vedanta, I am the knower of Vedanta, and by all the Vedas I am to be known." (Bhagavad-gita 15.15) Unless we come to understand that our knowledge is incomplete, it is just so much dry burden. The purpose of knowing anything is to understand Krishna, and when Krishna is understood, then automatically we understand everything. "When your knowledge has passed out of the dense forestof delusion you will become indifferent to all that has been heard and all that is to be heard. That knowledge lights up everything as the sun lights up everything in the daytime." (Bhagavad-gita 2.52, 5.16)

The Cause of Freedom and the Cause of Bondage

Knowledge of Krishna is the cause of freedom, and ignorance of Krishna is the cause of bondage. Bondage means suffering. Modern society is in ignorance regarding these basic spiritual truths. We are suffering, but we do not know that the real cause of our suffering is that we have lost our eternal relationship with Vishnu, or Krishna. We think we are suffering because of unemployment, inflation, the energy crisis and so many other apparent causes of suffering, but the real cause is that we have given up the service of Krishna and are trying instead to satisfy our senses. Therefore we have been trapped in this material body, which is itself the breeding ground for all kinds of miseries--adhyatmika, adhi-bautika, adhi-daivika, birth, death, old age, disease, the struggle to eat, sleep, defend and have sex. In this way, our life is nothing but a series of miseries in our attempt to struggle for existence, always ending in failure at the time of death.

Everything depends on knowledge. We get knowledge from the shastras, sadhus and guru. Even Napoleon said, "Men are controlled by words." That is also explained in the shastras: "As animals are controlled with a stick, men are controlled by the words of the Vedas. Or just as a bull is controlled by a ring in the nose, human beings are controlled by the words of the shastras. What are those words? They are the words of God. We must hear the words of the shastras, sadhus and guru. Then we shall be guided out of darkness into the light and get free from suffering. That is the whole purpose of human civilization; to get out of darkness, to get out of miserable existence and come to joyful life, eternal life, and a life of knowledge. Hare Krishna.

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Rittvik Representative of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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