Question: “My humble prayer is that you will be merciful to me, and clearly explain what is this material existence?”
The jivas exist in two states: “the liberated state (mukta-dasa) and the state of material bondage (samsara-baddha-dasa).
Those jivas who are pure bhaktas of Sri Krishna, and who have never been bound by maya, or who were liberated from material existence by the mercy of Krishna, are known as mukta-jivas. The liberated state of existence is known as mukta-dasa.
The baddha-jivas, on the other hand, are those who are oblivious to Sri Krishna and have fallen into the clutches of maya, since time without beginning. Their conditioned state of existence is known as samsara-baddha-dasa.
The jivas who are liberated from maya are fully spiritual, and their very life is service to Krishna (Krishna-dasya). They do not reside in this material world, but in one of the pure spiritual worlds such as Goloka, Vaikuntha, or Vrindavana. There are innumerable jivas who are liberated from maya.
The jivas who are bound by maya are also innumerable. Due to their Krishna-vimukhata, defect of alienation from Krishna, Krishna’s shadow potency, known as chaya-sakti or maya, binds the jiva with her three-stranded ropes consisting of the three qualities of material nature, namely sattva-guna (goodness), rajo-guna (passion) and tamo-guna (ignorance). The conditioned souls appear in a variety of states of existence, according to the influence of the various gradations of these gunas. Just consider the varieties in the jivas’ bodies, moods, appearance, natures, living conditions, and movements.
When the jiva enters material existence, he takes on a new type of egoism. In the pure state of existence, the jiva has the egoism of being a servant of Krishna, but in the conditioned state, many different types of egoism arise, making the living entity think,
- “I am a human being,”
- “I am a devata,” (demi-God”)
- “I am an animal,”
- “I am a king,”
- “I am a brahmana,”
- “I am an outcaste,”
- “I am diseased,”
- “I am hungry,”
- “I am dishonored,”
- “I am charitable,”
- “I am a husband,”
- “I am a wife,”
- “I am a father,”
- “I am a son,”
- “I am an enemy,”
- “I am a friend,”
- “I am a scholar,”
- “I am handsome,”
- “I am wealthy,”
- “I am poor,”
- “I am happy,”
- “I am sad,”
- “I am strong,”
- “I am weak.”
- “I am ugly”
- “I am beautiful”
These attitudes are known as ahamta, which literally means the sense of “I-ness”, or false egoism.
Besides this ahamta, another function known as mamata (‘possessiveness’ or the sense of “my-ness”) enters the nature of the jiva. This is exemplified in attitudes such as:
- “This is my house,”
- “These are my possessions,”
- “This is my wealth,”
- “This is my body,”
- “These are my children,”
- “This is my wife,”
- “This is my husband,”
- “This is my father,”
- “This is my mother,”
- “This is my caste,”
- “This is my race,”
- “This is my strength,”
- “This is my beauty,”
- “This is my quality,”
- “This is my learning,”
- “This is my renunciation,”
- “This is my knowledge,”
- “This is my wisdom,”
- “This is my work,”
- “This is my property,”
- “These are my servants and dependents.”
The colossal affair that brings the conceptions of “I” and “mine”, into play is known as samsara (material existence).
Question: “The conceptions of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ are active in the conditioned state, but do they also exist in the liberated state?”
They do, but in the liberated state they are spiritual and free from all defect. In the liberated state in the spiritual world, the jiva becomes acquainted with his pure nature, exactly as it was created by Bhagavan. In that spiritual abode there are many different types of real egoism, each with its own characteristic sense of ‘I,’ so there are also many types of cid-rasa (tastes”, transcendental exchanges of sentiments. All the different spiritual paraphernalia, which form the constitutional ingredients of rasa, come under the heading of ‘mine.’
Question: “Then what is the defect in the different conceptions of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ that exist in the conditioned state?”
The defect is that in the pure state, the conceptions of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ are real, whereas in material existence they are all imaginary, or imposed upon the living entity. That means that these conceptions are not actually aspects of the jiva, but are all false identities and relationships. Consequently, all varieties of material identification in mundane existence are impermanent and unreal, and only cause momentary happiness and distress.
Question: “Is this deceptive material existence false?”
No, this deceptive world is not false; it is a reality, by Krishna’s will. It is the jiva’s conception of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ when he enters the material world that is false. Those who believe that this world is false are Mayavadis, advocates of the theory of illusion. Such people are offenders.
Question: “Why have we fallen into this illusory relationship?”
Bhagavan is the complete spiritual entity, and the jivas are particles of spirit (cit-kana). The jiva‘s first location is on the boundary line between the material and spiritual worlds. The jivas who do not forget their relationship with Krishna, are empowered with cit-sakti, and are drawn from that position into the spiritual realm, where they become His eternal associates and begin to relish the bliss of His service.
Those jivas who turn away from Krishna desire to enjoy maya, and maya attracts them towards her by her potency. From that moment, our material state of existence comes into being, and our true spiritual identity disappears. We therefore think, “I am the enjoyer of maya”. This false egoism covers us with many varieties of false identities.
Question: “Why is it that our true identity does not become manifest despite significant endeavor?”
Question: “There are two types of endeavor; appropriate and inappropriate. Appropriate endeavors will certainly dissipate false egoism, but how can inappropriate endeavors do so?”
Question: “What are inappropriate endeavors?”
Some people think that their hearts will be purified if they follow karma-kanda, and that they will be liberated from maya when they practice brahma-jnana. This type of endeavor is inappropriate. Others think that by practicing astanga-yoga, they will enter a trance of samadhi-yoga and attain perfection. This is another inappropriate endeavor; there are many other types as well.
Question: “Why are these endeavors inappropriate?”
These methods are unsuitable because practicing them creates many obstacles that impede the attainment of one’s desired goal. In addition, there is only a meager possibility of attaining that goal. The point is that our material existence has come about because of an offense, and unless we obtain the mercy of the person whom we offended, we will not gain release from our material condition and attain our pure, spiritual condition.