The Hammer - 11
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The Hammer For Smashing Illusion

Shankaracharya's famous "Bhaja Govinda"

By Hansadutta das

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Text 11

Do not be proud of wealth, followers, or youth, because time snatches all these away in a moment. Having understood that this entire material existence is simply illusory, you should enter into the spiritual platform on the strength of your realization.

Warning! Pride Precedes a Fall

Three things are mentioned in this verse: wealth, followers or admirers and our youth. These are the three objects of material enjoyment. Everyone is trying to increase his wealth by various schemes. Indeed, the American way of life is based on this concept of capitalizing by enterprise. America has become the wealthiest nation on the face of the earth, because they have organized society for capitalizing on or exploiting the resources of material nature by any means. The second item mentioned is followers or admirers. Everyone wants to become very popular or very famous and have many admirers. Politics is based on this principle of making propaganda in order to become a prominent, famous personality. By propaganda even an insignificant man can become very popular. He may not have any good qualifications, but if he can make propaganda then he can become popular. The third item mentioned is youth. Youth means women, enjoyment, comfort, sense gratification. In youth everyone wants to satisfy his senses to the maximum degree. Especially everyone wants to satisfy the genitals. That is possible in youth. These are the three attractions of material life.

Everything I Thought was Mine has been Stripped Away by Time

Shankaracharya says that we should not become proud of wealth, woman or prestige, because in time all these things are taken away. Although one may become wealthy, popular and enjoy his senses, that situation will not remain for all time. It is only momentary. We may forget about the powerful, inevitable influence of time, but time and death do not forget anyone, and in due course they come and take us away. Therefore an intelligent, thinking person should not waste his valuable time and energy in pursuing things which can never be. We can never be wealthy, popular or comfortable, because time is always imperceptibly, relentlessly driving us on to old age, disease and finally death.

In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, time is compared to the wind, a powerful wind which disperses the clouds. The clouds look very massive and impressive, but the wind scatters them until they vanish. Similarly, we are very much enchanted with our prestige, wealth, comforts and advancement of economics, science and medicine, but in time all will be scattered away into the air of oblivion.

"Time I am, Destroyer of Worlds"

So many great personalities have moved on the face of the earth, forming empires and dynasties. Now they are all scattered, vanished, and we cannot even remember the names, the dates, the places of such empires and emperors, except for a few--Napoleon, Alexander, Genghis Khan, Akhbar, Stalin, Hitler, Mao-tse Tung, President Kennedy. Their rise and fall are like a kaleidoscope which is ever changing, very enchanting and attractive. Although very grand, it actually has no substance. Similarly, the present empire of modern technology and science, which we see about us in the form of skyscrapers, airplanes, automobiles and telephones, will also be scattered by the winds of time. "Time I am," Krishna says, "the destroyer of worlds. I am the beginning, and the middle, and the end of all beings. No being can exist without Me." (Bhagavad-gita 11.32, 10.20)

Mattah parataram nanyat/ kinchid asti dhananjaya: "There is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me as pearls are strung on a thread." (Bhagavad-gita 7.7) Whatever is seen, either material or spiritual, is just an exhibition of the energy of the Lord. It is said that just as the cloth is woven by threads going this way and that, the final product being a cloth with some design, similarly the whole creation is an interweaving of the energy of the Supreme, both the spiritual energy and material energies.

The Supreme Lord is above the temporary manifested fabric of this material existence. In time it wears out, and the whole thing is dissolved. So instead of becoming attached to this illusory exhibition of material nature, we should rather try to understand the permanent, eternal nature, which is blissful and cognizant.

Day In and Day Out, Week After Week, Year After Year--We Struggle and Seek

This is the sum and substance of human life: self-realization (atma-tattva ). We are meant for inquiring into the Absolute Truth, the ultimate perfection of life. That was the basis of Vedic civilization. Now there is no standard knowledge. There is no awareness of the importance of human life. Everyone takes it for granted that life is meant for eating, sleeping and sex enjoyment and when this life is finished, then we shall just vanish into the void and attain eternal, impersonal, vacant existence in the void.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Life is continuous. Even after the annihilation of this body, we shall continue to experience the hopes and fears which we experience at this very moment, but we shall be in a disembodied or subtle state of existence. Just as when a man finishes his daily activity and lies down to rest, his existence does not stop; his desires, his hopes, his fears are still there. Everything continues to haunt him, but in another plane, a dreaming plane, a subtle plane, an inactive mental condition. We say, "Asleep." Although one is sleeping, still the soul is awake, and the soul is witnessing all the desires, frustrations, hopes and fears of the mind. But the body does not act; only the mind acts, and when sleep comes to an end, then again the senses are put into action to pursue the desires of the mind. In this way, we are existing from one day to the next, from one week to another, month after month, year after year, lifetime after lifetime, struggling to eat, to sleep, to defend and to enjoy sex.

Unnatural Struggle for Existence

This struggle for existence is unnatural because it is temporary. We want a permanent life of full knowledge and bliss, and the Vedic wisdom gives us information on how to come to this eternal, blissful life, where everything is perfectly known. This knowledge makes up what is known as yoga. The yoga process, or the yoga system, is the science of the soul, and anyone in any station of life can practice bhakti-yoga and make himself perfectly pure and Krishna conscious in this very lifetime. This alone constitutes a human life. To eat and sleep and beget children through sex is also there in the lower species of life. Only in human life is there question of Absolute Truth. The opportunity to obtain freedom from birth and death, to deliberate on our original nature and our eternal relationship with God--that is the special feature of this human life.

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

©2004 - Hansadutta das
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