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The Hammer For Smashing Illusion

Shankaracharya's famous "Bhaja Govinda"

Text 3

Upon seeing the full breasts and slim waist of a young woman, do not succumb to the spell of illusion. Just consider in your mind again and again that these are simply a transformation of flesh, fat, etc.

The High Price of Pleasure

Material existence is based on illusion. In Bhagavad-gita (7.27), Krishna says, "Every living entity is born into delusion, overcome by the dualities of desire and hate."

For anyone who has taken birth in this material atmosphere, it is taken for granted that he is in illusion; otherwise, he would not have been born in this world. Just as it is taken for granted that anyone who is admitted to hospital must be diseased; otherwise, he would not have been admitted. Similarly, it is taken for granted that anyone who is put into prison must be a criminal; otherwise, he would not have been put there.

Although we are born in ignorance, it is the purpose and aim of the human form of life to get out of this ignorance. The basic platform of material existence is based on the mistaken idea that the living entity is a product of matter. Therefore even in the higher classes of men we find the material conception to be very prominent.

The material conception of life is based upon the misidentification of the living entity with this temporary material body. Everyone thinks of himself in terms of his body. Thus nationalism has become very prominent, along with communism, socialism, capitalism, Hinduism, Christianism and so on. There are so many "isms," and all of them are based on the basic premise that "I am this body, I am American," or "I am German," "I am black," "I am white," "I am a communist" or "I am a capitalist." This is called maya or ahankara. Ahankara means false ego. Ego is the feeling of identity or the feeling of self, whereas false ego ( ahankara ) is not true ego. I am not this body. I am not black. I am not white. I am not woman. I am not man. I am neither communist nor capitalist. I am not this body. This is the most basic and rudimentary understanding for a spiritualist.

The Naked Truth: Full Breasts, Slim Waist and Sex

This Hammer for Smashing Illusion is very graphic, inasmuch as it illustrates the naked truth for the conditioned soul. Here Shripada Shankaracharya instructs us in the following way:

Upon seeing the full breasts and slim waist of a young woman, do not succumb to the spell of illusion. Just consider in your mind again and again that these are simply a transformation of flesh, blood, fat, muscle, etc.

Everyone is naturally attracted to the beautiful form of a young woman with shapely breasts and hips, beautiful face and eyes, white teeth and shining hair. These are the most attractive features of this material creation. However, Shankaracharya points out, "This beauty is nothing but a transformation of flesh, blood, fat, mucous, bile, bone, skin and hair." All the beauty that a woman can exhibit is nothing but skin, bones, blood, flesh and muscle. Similarly, Lord Buddha has instructed:
This body is a bag of skin with nine holes--two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, mouth, anus and genitals--from which stool, urine and pus are oozing out. How can I love such a thing?

Although the whole world is moving under the impulse of sex attraction, we find that all the acharyas (spiritual masters), all the Puranas, the Upanishads, the Vedanta-sutras and the Vedas warn us not to become attracted to maya. Maya means "that which is not." They warn us, "Do not be attracted to illusion, which is represented in the shape of woman in this material world." In the Bhagavat-Purana, Shukadeva Goswami has given instructions on the same thing in another way:

Sex life is compared to the rubbing of two hands to relieve an itch. The grihamedhis, so-called grihasthas, or householders who have no spiritual knowledge, think that this itching is the greatest platform of happiness, although actually it is a source of distress. The kripanas, or the fools, who are just the opposite of the brahmanas, or the learned men, are not satisfied by repeated sensuous enjoyment. Those who are sober and who can tolerate this itching are not subjected to the suffering of fools and rascals. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.45)

Purport by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada:

Materialistic men think that sexual indulgence is the greatest happiness in this material world, and therefore they make elaborate plans to satisfy their senses, especially the genitals. This is generally found everywhere, especially in the western world where there are regular arrangements to satisfy sex life in different ways. Actually, however, this has not made anyone happy. Even the hippies, who have given up all the materialistic comforts of life, cannot give up the sensational happiness of sex life. Such persons are described here as kripanas, misers. The human form of life is a great asset, for in this human form of life one can fulfill the goal of existence. Unfortunately, however, because of lack of education and culture, people are victimized by the false happiness of sex life. Rather, one should be sober and avoid sense gratification and be Krishna conscious. The lusty person, who is compared to a foolish miser, never gets happiness by sense gratification. the influence of material nature is very difficult to surpass, but as stated by Krishna in Bhagavad-gita (7.14):
mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te
"If one voluntarily submits to the lotus feet of Krishna, he can be saved very easily."

Don't be a Victim of Passion

In reference to the low-grade happiness of sex life, Yamunacharya says this:

yadavadhi mama cetah krsna-padaravinde
nava-nava-rasa-dhamanudyata rantum asit
tadavadhi bata nari-sangame smaryamane
bhavati mukha-vikarah sustu nisthivanam ca
"Ever since I have been in the transcendental loving service of Krishna, realizing ever new pleasure in Him, whenever I think of sex pleasure, I spit at the thought and my lips curl with distaste."

Yamunacharya was formerly a great king who had enjoyed sexual happiness in various ways, but when he later engaged himself in the service of the Lord, he enjoyed spiritual bliss and hated to think of sex life. When sexual thoughts came to him, he would spit with disgust.

In other scriptures, we will find again and again the warning not to become victim of sex attraction. Sometimes people ask us why we are so adamant and strict about our restrictions on sexual behavior. The answer is because sex attraction is the greatest stumbling block for making progress in spiritual advancement. Why? Because sex attraction and sex pleasure, which are the most prominent features of material life, are based on the bodily concept.

The body is a temporary manifestation of maya. It is a combination of material ingredients or elements--earth, water, fire, air, atoms and enzymes or chemicals. Although the body is real, it is temporary. Because of its temporary nature, it has no capacity to give us any satisfaction. The soul is eternal by nature, but in the conditional existence, the soul mistakenly misidentifies itself with the temporary material body. In that mistaken concept of life, we try to be happy by bodily sensation.

What's the Difference?

The topmost sensation is sex pleasure. There is certainly a feeling of pleasure in sex, but it is compared to a drop of water in the desert. When a man is in the desert, he requires water to satisfy his thirst--but in the desert there is no water. Sometimes there is a mirage, which appears to be water, but is actually illusion. The thirsty man chases after the mirage, hoping to satisfy his thirst, but he dies of thirst in that way. So the drop of water which we taste as sex pleasure in the desert of this material existence cannot give us any kind of satisfaction, because what we actually need is gallons of water. There is pleasure--but the pleasure is not here, just as there is water--but not in the desert.

Real pleasure is on the spiritual platform in relation to Krishna. What we experience as sex attraction in this mundane world is but a temporary reflection of the original principle, which exists in the Absolute, in the Divine Couple of Radha and Krishna.

The Origin of Sex Attraction

Radha and Krishna are the original and divine conjugal lovers. Krishna is not alone; He has His counterpart, and She is known as Radharani. When Krishna wants to enjoy, He enjoys with Radharani, who is an expansion of Krishna. So God is enjoying Himself through His own expansion, Radharani.

Each and every one of the living entities is also an expansion of God, though minute. As eternal, minute expansions of the Supreme Spiritual Whole, we are everlastingly subordinate to Krishna. We can be happy only when we agree to co-operate with Krishna in an eternal relationship of love.

Our material existence is an attempt to imitate the activity and position of God. Everyone is trying to establish himself as the enjoyer, controller and proprietor of everything. That is called maya (illusion). But in fact, we are only an object of Krishna's enjoyment. When we agree to allow ourselves to be enjoyed by Krishna, we also enjoy automatically.

But as long as we try to enjoy independently, we create our own suffering. It is not possible to enjoy independently, any more than it is possible for the hand to enjoy food without first offering it to the stomach. The hand is just a servant; through the stomach the hand gets strength and satisfaction.

Absolute Sex

The principle of male and female attraction, which is found in every species of life, exists because it is originally there in the Absolute. After all, why are there only two sexes--why not three, four, six, five, ten, one, or none? Why is it that there are two sexes in every species of life? Where does this most basic principle come from? We find the answer in Vedic literature. It exists in the material sphere because it is there in the Absolute.

God is not neuter. God is not impersonal, void or alone. God is always associating with His eternal consort, or His eternal lover, Radharani. That absolute principle is imitated in the relative world of the material creation. In the material world it is perverted, temporary and always full of misery.

Therefore we find that in every religious community there is a tendency to restrict the connection of man and woman. Sex attraction is the basic platform of material entanglement, but a concession is made to allow man and woman to associate under the sacred vow of marriage. A man is allowed to take one woman--not a dozen, two dozen or three dozen without any restriction. Man is attracted to woman; woman is attracted to man, and the result of such attraction is children. Children mean that you need a house, you need money, you need friends, you need relatives, and you need countrymen. The whole material entanglement is generated out of this male-female attraction.

Imitation is Cheap--Get the Real Thing!

If we want to get out of the material existence, then we shall have to learn how to dissolve the attraction for sex enjoyment. That is possible when we become attracted to the original Radha and Krishna relationship on the spiritual plane. That is the original sex principle. But in illusion, we are attempting to imitate Radha and Krishna. God is always enjoying, and therefore material activities are an imitation of His enjoyment. We are supposed to serve God; in that service we enjoy, but in the imitation we simply suffer.

It is not possible to make spiritual advancement and simultaneously enjoy material life. They never go together. Instead of trying to imitate Krishna, we should try to serve Krishna. At the present moment, there is no knowledge of this basic truth, and in ignorance, everyone is trying to be happy on this artificial platform of sex enjoyment.

Sex is a very gross affair which is attractive only as long as the body is youthful. In English literature we have the story of Romeo and Juliet, which appears to be a very lofty and noble affair; but on the other hand, if Romeo and Juliet had lived to be eighty, how would that story have ended? The love of the man and woman in the material world is quite obnoxious when it is studied in its real perspective. Romeo would have become old, toothless, wrinkled and impotent, and Juliet would have become bent over, with gray hair and sagging breasts. The whole affair would not be romantic at all, but actually quite repulsive because this material love is based on illusion, whereas spiritual love is actually based on truth.

Stop being Romantic about Blood, Flesh, Bones, Mucus and Bile

The truth is that we are not this lump of matter, which is only a combination of earth, water, fire, air, ether and so on, or blood, flesh, bones, skin, hair, mucus and bile. We are the living force within this body--we are never born and never die. The body is a dress only, worn for some time by the eternal soul, and when it is worn out, the soul gives up the old and useless body and gets a new body. But because there is no information about the nature and character of the eternal soul, we are trying to be happy with the temporary material body, which is a dress only. Although it is a kind of unpalatable truth, it is true that the body is temporary and the soul is eternal. The Vedic wisdom is very uncompromising about this matter. It is not a matter of believing something. It is common sense.

No one loves a dead body, however beautiful it may be. The body is beautiful only when life is present. When life leaves the body, no one will find any attraction in that dead body. That is the proof of this Vedic conclusion, of which we have experience even in ordinary affairs.

Let's Face It: a Woman-hunter Cannot Be a Spiritualist

Shankaracharya warns us, "Don't be attracted to the two lumps of flesh, fat, and blood known as the breasts of a young woman. These are the products of illusion." In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is said, "Woman is the wonderful creation of maya to keep a man entangled in this world." If you want to advance in spiritual life, you will have to become callous to the attraction of womanly beauty. It is difficult, but it is possible, and it is necessary if we want to be situated in spiritual life. A woman-hunter cannot be a spiritualist. We don't find that Buddha, Chaitanya or Christ had an allowance in their lives for sex enjoyment. In the material world, woman is the inspiration for greatness; but in the spiritual world, the renunciation of woman is the inspiration for greatness. Thus, material life and spiritual life are opposite. If you want to be great materially, you must be inspired by woman. "Behind every great man there is a woman." In the spiritual field, we find the renunciation of woman makes one great.

This movement is the only movement which preaches very strongly on this point, and therefore this movement is not popular. If we were to preach the opposite--that sex is natural and we should enjoy it to the maximum--we should have so many followers. We are preaching without any consideration of social convention or fashion. We have to be satisfied with the naked truth rather than with artificial conventions and fashion. This is not meant to be discrimination against women, but it is an unpalatable fact that the attraction between man and woman is the basic platform of material illusion, because it is based on something which is false: it is based on this body. There may be some beauty for a few years, but that is not permanent. That is just a shadow of the real beauty which is eternal.

No One Loves a Dead Body

We must focus our attention on the eternal beauty of Radha and Krishna and not on the temporary beauty of matter in the shape of earth, water, fire, or flesh and bones. Do not take this to be fanaticism; it is practical. If you think on it seriously and soberly, you will come to the same understanding--that this body is, in and of itself, abominable. Temporarily, as long as the soul is connected with the body, it appears very nice; but when the soul goes, the body loses its attraction. Nobody keeps a dead body, however beautiful it might have been, because the beauty is not in the body. It is in the soul which has vacated the body.

Vedic literature advises us, "Try to understand this atma-tattva (knowledge of the soul, knowledge of the self). Athato brahma-jijñasa: "In human life we should try to understand the Absolute Truth." Raja-vidya raja-guhyam pavitram idam uttamam(Bhagavad-gita 9.2 ): This is the king of science and the king of education--the science of the soul. The doctors and technologists are studying this material world, composed of earth, water, fire, etc., but this world devoid of life and devoid of consciousness has no value. The beauty of this world is in the life which we find behind it. Behind this body there is life. Behind the atom there is life. The Supreme Life is God, Krishna, and we are small, minute life. The purpose of human life is to understand all these things and go back to the eternal life of knowledge and bliss, rather than remain in a temporary life, struggling to eat, sleep, defend and have sex.

This Krishna Consciousness movement has been organized for that purpose and for nothing else. We do not expect that we shall have hundreds and millions of followers, but some intelligent men and women will understand this basic truth and accept a life of penance, renunciation and austerity and try to get out of ignorance and come to knowledge. That is the idea. Hare Krishna.

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