Material Life

How a human being is attached to this material world?

There is certainly a great deal of comfort in the first-class coach of a train, but if the train does not move toward its destination, what is the benefit of an air-conditioned compartment? Contemporary civilization is much too concerned with making the material body comfortable. No one has information of the real destination of life, which is to go back to Godhead. We must not just remain seated in a comfortable compartment; we should see whether or not our vehicle is moving toward its real destination. There is no ultimate benefit in making the material body comfortable at the expense of forgetting the prime necessity of life, which is to regain our lost spiritual identity. The boat of human life is constructed in such a way that it must move toward a spiritual destination.

Unfortunately this body is anchored to mundane consciousness by five strong chains, which are: (1) attachment to the material body due to ignorance of spiritual facts, (2) attachment to kinsmen due to bodily relations, (3) attachment to the land of birth and to material possessions such as house, furniture, estates, property, business papers, etc., (4) attachment to material science, which always remains mysterious for want of spiritual light, and (5) attachment to religious forms and holy rituals without knowing the Personality of Godhead or His devotees, who make them holy. These attachments, which anchor the boat of the human body, are explained in detail in the Fifteenth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita. There they are compared to a deeply rooted banyan tree which is ever increasing its hold on the earth. It is very difficult to uproot such a strong banyan tree, but the Lord recommends the following process: “The real form of this tree cannot be perceived in this world. No one can understand where it ends, where it begins, or where its foundation is. But with determination one must cut down this tree with the weapon of detachment. So doing, one must seek that place from which, having once gone, one never returns, and there surrender to that Supreme Personality of Godhead from whom everything has begun and in whom everything is abiding since time immemorial.” [Bg. 15.3-4]

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “The Science of Self-Realization”, Page 6


daily devotional

Why am i suffering?

Rather than researching to find out the plan of the Supreme Being, rather than accepting the laws of nature as laws of God, the scientific mentality seeks to put mankind in place of God in order to improve on nature. But when we inspect these activities closely, we can see that the two admitted goals, knowledge and pleasure, have not been achieved after so many years of trying. The materialists enjoin us to be patient, saying that very shortly the answer will be known and the pleasure will be available for all. To keep us amused in the meantime, there are technological trinkets galore. If it happens that we die waiting, still the scientist does not admit the tragedy, since for him life is only a molecular peculiarity anyway.

Thus the insensitive fritter away the valuable time of human life, time meant for discovering the answer to the most pressing of all questions – “why am I suffering”? In fact, they won’t even admit that they are suffering. Life thus wasted becomes a painful paradox in which each minute that passes increases the misery, until finally the body collapses in agonized bewilderment.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2012 edition), “The Scientific Basis of Krishna Consciousness”, Page 48

spiritual life material

How material world influence us?

How is the material nature controlling? She has a machine made of the three modes of nature. Karanam guna-sango ‘sya sad-asad-yoni-janmasu [Bg. 13.22]. People are contacting these three modes of nature and thus being “infected”. We know that if we contract some disease, knowingly or unknowingly, that disease will develop. This is the law of nature. Even if you do not know when or how you contracted a particular disease, which is no excuse. You must suffer.

Similarly, there are three modes of material nature one can become “infected” by – goodness, passion, and ignorance. Not knowing about this is no excuse. If in the law court you say “Your Honor, I did not know I would be punished for stealing, the magistrate or judge will not excuse you”. And if the government law is strict, you can imagine how strict the stringent laws of material nature are.

Knowingly or unknowingly, in this life we are being infected by a particular combination of the modes of material nature and thus creating our next body. There are 8,400,000 different varieties of life forms. Why? The answer is in the Bhagavad-gita: karanam guna-sangah. There are so many different species of life because each living entity is becoming infected with a particular combination of the qualities of material nature. This is going on perpetually. “Perpetually” means we do not know when this process began or when it will end. Therefore we say it is perpetual.

In this human form of life we have the great advantage of being able to study all these things – what is the living entity, how he is being infected by material nature, and how he is taking different bodies. The first thing we must understand is that we are not the body. Therefore in the very beginning of the Bhagavad-gita Lord Kṛṣṇa tries to impress upon us that we are not this body but rather the owner or occupier of the body. This is His first instruction. If we understand this instruction we can rise above the bodily platform.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “The Quest for Enlightenment”, Page 68

Krsna krishna

How do material world inflicts miseries on the conditioned soul?

There are three types of suffering in the material world: adhyatmika, adhibhautika and adhidaivika. Adhyatmika refers to the body and mind. Today I have a headache or some pain in my back, or my mind is not very quiet. These are sufferings called adhyatmika. There are other forms of suffering called adhibhautika, which are sufferings imposed by other living entities. These living entities need not even be large, for there are many – such as bugs – that can make us miserable even while we are sleeping in bed. Apart from this, there are sufferings called adhidaivika, over which we have no control whatsoever. These are caused by the demigods or acts of nature, and include famine, pestilence, flood, excessive heat or excessive cold, earthquakes, fire and so on. Nonetheless, we are thinking that we are very happy within this material world, although in addition to these threefold miseries there is also birth, old age, disease and death. Thus there are three types of miseries within the material world, and everyone is suffering from one, two, or three of them. No one can say that he is completely free from suffering.

We may then ask why the living entity is suffering. The answer is: out of ignorance. He does not think, “I am committing mistakes and am leading a sinful life; that is why I am suffering.” Therefore the guru’s first business is to rescue his disciple from this ignorance. We send our children to school to save them from suffering. If our children do not receive an education, we fear that they will suffer in the future. The guru sees that suffering is due to ignorance, which is compared to darkness. How can one in darkness be saved? By light, the guru takes the torchlight of knowledge and presents it before the living entity enveloped in darkness. That knowledge relieves him from the sufferings of the darkness of ignorance.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2007 edition), “Teachings of Lord Kapila, The Son of Devahuti”, Page 62
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “The Science of Self-Realization”, Page 63


After giving up material enjoyment how can one live?

Prahlada Maharaja simply thought of Kṛṣṇa. Because of this, he had to undergo a great deal of trouble given by his father. Material nature will not give us freedom very easily. If we become strong enough to try to capture the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, maya will try to keep us under her clutches. However, if one gives up everything for Kṛṣṇa’s sake, maya can have no effect. The most excellent example of this is the gopis. They gave up everything-family, prestige and honor-just to follow Kṛṣṇa. That is the highest perfection, but that is not possible for ordinary living entities. We should, however, follow the Gosvamis in their determination to worship Kṛṣṇa.

Sanatana Gosvami was an important minister in the government of Hussain Shah, but he gave up everything to follow Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He adopted the life of a mendicant and lived under a different tree every night. One may ask, “After giving up material enjoyment, how can one live?” The Gosvamis lived by dipping into the ocean of the transcendental loving affairs between Kṛṣṇa and the gopis. Since that was their asset, they could live very peacefully. We cannot simply give up everything. We will become mad if we try to give up everything without having staunch faith in Kṛṣṇa. Yet if we find Kṛṣṇa’s association, we can easily give up our opulent positions-our family, business and everything. However, that requires sadhu-sanga, association with a sadhu, a devotee. When we associate with a devotee, the day will eventually come when we can give up everything and become liberated persons, fit to return home, back to Godhead.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2007 edition), “Teachings of Lord Kapila, The Son of Devahuti”, Page 143

Is it possible to become desireless?

Lord Buddha advocated that we give up all material desires. It is not possible to become desireless, but it is possible to give up material desires. It is the nature of the living entity to desire; it is not possible to be desireless. If one is desireless, he is dead. Desirelessness means purifying one’s desire, and desire is purified when we only desire the service of Kṛṣṇa. The devotees are not anxious to merge into the existence of the Supreme. The Buddhist philosophy advocates nirvana, the negation of all material desires. Buddha does not offer more than this. Sankaracarya gives a little more, saying that we should become desireless in this material world and then enter into the Brahman effulgence. This is called brahma-nirvana. According to the Vaisnava philosophy, however, we should negate material desires and be situated on the Brahman platform, but in addition we should engage in the devotional service of the Lord. This is called bhakti. Mayavadi philosophers cannot understand this, but Kṛṣṇa says that this devotional service is on the transcendental platform.

A living entity, by constitution, has the propensity to be attached to something. We see that if someone has no object of attachment, if he has no children, he transfers his attachment to cats and dogs. This indicates that the propensity for attachment cannot be stopped; rather, it must be utilized for the best purpose. Our attachment for material things perpetuates our conditional state, but the same attachment, when transferred to the Supreme Personality of Godhead or His devotee, is the source of liberation.

We have many desires, but we have to divert these desires to Kṛṣṇa’s service. For instance, we may be very attached to making money; therefore Kṛṣṇa says, “Yes, go ahead and conduct your business. There is no harm. Simply give Me the results.” As stated in Bhagavad-gita (9.27):

yat karosi yad asnasi yaj juhosi dadasi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kurusva mad-arpanam

“O son of Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.” This is the beginning of bhakti-yoga. If we conduct business and earn money, we should spend it for Kṛṣṇa. This is a form of bhakti. Another vivid example is Arjuna, who was a fighter. By fighting, he became a devotee. He did not become a devotee by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa but by fighting in the Battle of Kuruksetra. Kṛṣṇa advised him to fight, but because Arjuna was a Vaisnava, in the beginning he was unwilling. A Vaisnava does not like to kill anything, but if Kṛṣṇa orders him, he must fight. He does not fight out of his own will, because a Vaisnava’s natural instinct is not to do harm to anyone. However, when a Vaisnava knows that Kṛṣṇa wants a particular thing done, he does not care for his own considerations.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2007 edition), “Teachings of Lord Kapila, The Son of Devahuti”, Page 129, 151 & 197
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “The Quest for Enlightenment”, Page 91

hare krsna hare krishna

Material advancement is not bad, use it in the service of Lord.

One should not give up anything which can be utilized in the service of the Lord. That is a secret of devotional service. Anything that can be utilized in advancing Kṛṣṇa consciousness and devotional service should be accepted. For instance, we are using many machines for the advancement of our present Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, machines like typewriters, dictaphones, tape recorders, microphones and airplanes. Sometimes people ask us, “Why are you utilizing material products if you condemn the advancement of material civilization?” But actually we do not condemn. We simply ask people to do whatever they are doing in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This is the same principle on which, in the Bhagavad-gita, Kṛṣṇa advised Arjuna to utilize his fighting abilities in devotional service. Similarly, we are utilizing these machines for Kṛṣṇa’s service. With such sentiment for Kṛṣṇa, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, we can accept everything. If the typewriter can be utilized for advancing our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, we must accept it. Similarly, the dicta phone or any other machine must be used. Our vision is that Kṛṣṇa is everything. Kṛṣṇa is the cause and effect, and nothing belongs to us. Kṛṣṇa’s things must be used in the service of Kṛṣṇa.

The impersonalists who try to avoid everything material may undergo severe austerities, but they miss the opportunity of being engaged in the service of the Lord. Thus their renunciation is not sufficient for perfection. There are many instances where, following such artificial renunciation without any contact with devotional service, the impersonalist again fell down and became attracted to the material contamination. There are many supposed renouncers even at the present moment who officially become sannyasis or renouncers and outwardly claim that spiritual existence is truth and material existence untruth. In this way, artificially they make a show of renunciation of the material world. However, because they cannot reach the point of devotional service, they fail to achieve the goal and again come back to material activities, such as philanthropic work, political agitation, etc. There are many instances of so-called sannyasis who gave up the world as untruth, but again came to the material world because they were not seeking their real repose at the lotus feet of the Lord.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2011 edition), “The Nector of Devotion”, Page 114 & 115


Variety is the mother of enjoyment. Absoulte Truth is full of variegatedness.

The Absolute Truth is understood differently according to the position of the student. Some understand the Absolute Truth as impersonal Brahman, some as localized Paramatma, and others as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, or Viṣṇu. Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, are not different. They are simply different aspects of the complete Godhead. Looking at a mountain from a distance, we may see a hazy cloud, and if we come nearer, we may see something green. If we actually climb the mountain, we will find many houses, trees and animals. Our vision is of the same mountain, but due to our different positions we see haze, greenery or variegatedness. In the final stage, there are varieties-trees, animals, men, houses, and so on. The Absolute Truth is not without variety. Just as there is material variety, there is spiritual variety. Because the Mayavadi philosophers are seeing the Absolute Truth from a distance, they think that the Absolute Truth has no variety. They consider variety to be material, but this is a misunderstanding. The Absolute Truth is described as variegated in Brahma-samhita (5.29).

Unless we understand the variegatedness of the Absolute Truth, there is a chance that we will fall down. It is not sufficient simply to stick to the indefinite, impersonal feature of the Absolute Truth. Because the impersonalists are not allowed to enter the Vaikuntha planets, they simply remain in the Brahman effulgence. Thus they fall down again into material variety. We have seen many impersonalist sannyasis who first of all give up the world as false (Brahma satyam jagan mithya). They consider themselves Brahman (aham brahmasmi), consider the world false (jagat is mithya), and, having nothing more to do with the material world, finally say, “I have become Narayana.” Then they come to the stage of daridra-narayana (poor Narayana). They become Narayana, but for want of anything better to do, for want of variegatedness, they take up material humanitarian activities. Although they consider their wives mithya (false), they return. “You have already left. Why do you come back again?” the wives ask. This means that these so-called sannyasis have nothing to do. They undergo serious penances and austerities to reach the platform of impersonal Brahman, but because there is no pleasure there, they again descend to enjoy material variety.

We may build a nice spaceship and send it off into space, and the astronauts may go up there and fly in the impersonal sky, but eventually they will become tired and pray to God, “Please let us return to land.” We have read that the Russian astronauts were simply missing Moscow while they were travelling in space. This impersonal travelling is actually very agitating; similarly, impersonal realization of the Absolute Truth cannot be permanent because one wants variety. A fall down is inevitable. When one gentleman read my book Easy Journey to Other Planets, he became very enthusiastic about going to other planets. “Oh, yes,” I said, “we can go with this book.” “Yes,” the gentleman said, “then I shall come back.” “Why return? You should remain there.” “No, no,” he said. “I don’t want to remain. I just want to go and come back.” This is the “enjoying” mentality. Without variety, we cannot enjoy. Variety is the mother of enjoyment, and Brahman realization or Paramatma realization does not give us steady ananda, bliss. We want ananda. Anandamayo ‘bhyasat. The living entities are Brahman; Kṛṣṇa is Parabrahman. Kṛṣṇa is enjoying perpetual ananda, and, being part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, we also want ananda. Ananda cannot be impersonal or void; ananda entails variety. No one is simply interested in drinking milk and eating sugar, but with milk and sugar we can make a variety of foods. There are hundreds of preparations. In any case, variety is required for enjoyment.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2007 edition), “Teachings of Lord Kapila, The Son of Devahuti”, Page 47 & 48

Radha Krishna

There is no happiness in the material world.

In the material world we are struggling for existence with the hope that someday in the future we will be happy. Yet we are bewildered. An animal in the desert sees a mirage, a shadow of water, and he runs after this shadow again and again. He runs further and further, and in this way, as he crosses the hot sands, he becomes more and more thirsty and he finally dies. Our struggle for existence is like this. We are thinking, “Let me go a little further. There will be water eventually. There will eventually be happiness.” Yet there is no water in the desert. Those who are unintelligent, who are like animals, seek happiness in the desert of the material world. This false attachment has to be given up by the process of bhakti-yoga. This must be taken up very seriously, not artificially. Kṛṣṇa in all seriousness wants to see whether one has finished all his material desires. When Kṛṣṇa sees this, He is very pleased. We are actually busy with dharma, artha, kama and moksa, but when we transcend these, bhakti begins.

If we study the history of the world, we see that it is simply a history of struggle. Mankind attempts to relieve its miserable condition, but it simply brings about another miserable condition. As we try to overcome one problem, another problem arises. Our determination to renounce our association with this material world is called mukti. Mukti means coming to the spiritual platform. Since we belong to the spiritual atmosphere, it is impossible for us to be happy in the material atmosphere. If a land animal is placed in water, he will simply struggle for existence, despite being an expert swimmer. We have come into this material world to gratify our senses, but our attempts will never be successful. If we actually want to attain a state beyond fear, we have to accept this bhakti-yoga process enunciated by Lord Kapiladeva.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2007 edition), “Teachings of Lord Kapila, The Son of Devahuti”, Page 251 & 252


Why sense gratification is considered bad?

“People in this world want to satisfy their senses, they have become mad, and in this madness they’ll do anything and everything. For example, there have been many instances in material life where someone has become mad after something and has committed a criminal act such as murder. The person could not check himself. Similarly, we are accustomed to sense gratification. We are mad, and therefore our minds are fully absorbed in karma. This is very unfortunate because our body, although temporary, is the reservoir of all misfortunes and miseries; it is always giving us trouble. These matters are to be studied. We should not be mad. Human life is not meant for that. The defect of the present civilization is that people are mad after sense gratification. That is all. They do not know the real value of life, and therefore they are neglecting the most valuable form of life, this human form.”

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “The Science of Self-Realization”, Page 161