Srimad Bhagavatam 11.02.02 - Drawing Strength from Humility (download mp3)
by Sridama Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
ko nu rajann indriyavan
na bhajet sarvato-mrtyur
My dear King, in the material world the conditioned souls are confronted by death at every step of life. Therefore, who among the conditioned souls would not render service to the lotus feet of Lord Mukunda, who is worshipable even for the greatest of liberated souls?
The word indriyavan is significant in this verse. Indriyavan means “possessing senses.” Although we are conditioned within the material world, by the mercy of the Supreme Lord we are awarded a human body, which possesses distinct senses, such as the eyes, ears, tongue, nose and skin. Generally the conditioned souls use these senses in a false attempt to exploit the material nature for sense gratification. But our material senses and their objects are temporary, and it is not possible to become peaceful or happy in the attempt to gratify our temporary senses with the temporary sense objects offered by maya, the illusory energy of the Lord. In fact, our strenuous endeavor to satisfy the material senses inevitably brings exactly the opposite result, namely material suffering. A man is attracted to a woman. Being sexually aroused he marries her, and soon there is a family that requires ever-increasing support. In this way his innocent and simple life is ended, and he spends the major portion of his life working hard like an ass to support the demands of his family. In the Third Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Lord Kapila describes very clearly that in spite of the exhausting work a man performs throughout his life, his family is ultimately dissatisfied, and when the exhausted father reaches old age, the irritated family members look upon him just as farmers look upon an old and useless ox. Sometimes the sons dream of receiving their father’s money as an inheritance and secretly wish for him to die. Nowadays people strongly resent the trouble of caring for elderly parents and therefore send them to an institution, where they die lonely and neglected after a life of hard work for their so-called loved ones. One doctor in England is seriously proposing euthanasia for elderly persons who are no longer productive.
Nowadays some people, desiring material sense gratification but hoping to avoid the inconvenience of family life, try to enjoy “free” sexual relations with women, without the trouble of marriage. Through birth control and abortion they eliminate the disturbance of caring for children. In this way they hope to enjoy material sense gratification without any material impediment. By the laws of nature, however, such persons become bound in a network of sinful reactions by avoiding their real duty to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and by thoughtlessly causing violence and suffering to others for increasing their own sense gratification. Caught in a network of impious activities, they drift further and further away from their original pure consciousness and gradually lose all power to understand the laws of nature. Therefore it is stated here, sarvato-mrtyuh. Mrtyu means “death.” Death suddenly appears, startling such confident sense gratifiers, and destroys their entire program of so-called material happiness. Often such persons are afflicted with ghastly diseases and undergo inconceivable suffering, which ends in death. If a sincere well-wisher points these facts out to them, trying to inform them of the reality, they become angry and accuse him of being a pessimist or a religious fanatic. In this way they blindly ignore the laws of nature until these laws inevitably smash them down and drag them out of their fool’s paradise. Because of an excessive accumulation of sinful results, they are forced into situations of great distress by the laws of karma. Sinking down into the lower species of life, they lose all awareness of that which lies beyond their gross material senses.
Sometimes a living being is able to understand the miserable result of materialistic sense gratification. Being frustrated by the pain and suffering of materialistic life and being ignorant of any superior life, he adopts a neo-Buddhist philosophy and seeks shelter in so-called nothingness. But there is no actual void within the kingdom of God. The desire to merge into nothingness is a reaction against material pain; it is not a tangible concept of the Supreme. For example, if I feel unbearable pain in my leg and the pain cannot be cured, I may finally agree to have my leg amputated. But it is far better to remove the pain and keep my leg. Similarly, because of false ego we think, “I am everything. I am the most important person. No one is as intelligent as me.” Thinking in this way, we suffer constantly and experience intense anxiety. But as soon as we purify the ego by admitting that we are insignificant eternal servants of Krsna, our ego will give us great pleasure.
Sri Krsna, the Lord of the blissfully variegated spiritual sky, called Vaikuntha, is always absorbed in transcendental enjoyment. In fact, Sri Krsna is the reservoir of all pleasure. People absorbed in materialistic enjoyment are bound by the laws of omnipresent death, but if we endeavor instead to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we can immediately be connected to His hladini sakti, or blissful potency. If we serve Krsna under the guidance of His authorized representative, the spiritual master, we can immediately get relief from material distress. Then we shall not yearn after nothing, but instead we shall be able to relish unlimited spiritual bliss in the service of the Supreme Lord.
Sarvato-mrtyuh also indicates that birth and death occur on every planet in the universe. Therefore our so-called space travel and cosmic consciousness are useless, since there is no eternal life anywhere within the material cosmos. In conclusion, to understand the futility of engaging in the service of anything other than Krsna and to engage instead in serving that which is eternal and full of bliss is the highest possible development of intelligence. Although our present intelligence is narrow, being conditioned by the laws of nature, we can create unlimited good fortune for ourselves by taking shelter of the lotus feet of Mukunda, learning to discriminate between that which is temporary and useless and that which is eternal and real.