Conquering False Ego

Srimad Bhagavatam 11.03.14-16 - Conquering False Ego (download mp3)
by Krishna Chandra Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty

SB 11.3.14
hrta-rupam tu tamasa
 vayau jyotih praliyate
hrta-sparso ’vakasena
 vayur nabhasi liyate
kalatmana hrta-gunam
 nabha atmani liyate

Fire, deprived of its form by darkness, dissolves into the element air. When the air loses its quality of touch by the influence of space, the air merges into that space. When space is deprived of its tangible quality by the Supreme Soul in the form of time, space merges into false ego in the mode of ignorance.

SB 11.3.15
indriyani mano buddhih
 saha vaikarikair nrpa
pravisanti hy ahankaram
 sva-gunair aham atmani

My dear King, the material senses and intelligence merge into false ego in the mode of passion, from which they arose; and the mind, along with the demigods, merges into false ego in the mode of goodness. Then the total false ego, along with all of its qualities, merges into the mahat-tattva.

SB 11.3.16
esa maya bhagavatah
tri-varna varnitasmabhih
 kim bhuyah srotum icchasi

I have now described maya, the illusory energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This illusory potency, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is empowered by the Lord for the creation, maintenance and annihilation of the material universe. Now, what more do you wish to hear?

King Nimi had expressed to the nava-yogendras his fear of the illusory potency of the Lord and had requested a detailed explanation of maya so that he could avoid becoming a victim at her hands. Now, Sri Antariksa, having described the illusory potency, is suggesting that the King inquire about the means to become totally free of maya’s influence. Not waiting for the King to ask such a question, Sri Antariksa himself is suggesting, “Now that you have heard about maya’s influence, you should inquire about the process of becoming free of such influence.” According to Sridhara Svami, that is the significance of Sri Antariksa’s question kim bhuyah srotum icchasi, “What more do you wish to hear?”

The following is a summary of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s explanation of the process of annihilation described in the previous verses. Vasudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the presiding Deity of consciousness, which becomes manifest within the mahat-tattva. By further transformations of the mahat-tattva the threefold false ego appears as follows. (1) From vaikarika, false ego in the mode of goodness, appears the eleventh sense, the mind, whose presiding Deity is Aniruddha. (2) From taijasa, false ego in the mode of passion, comes intelligence, whose presiding Deity is Pradyumna, and the five working senses and five knowledge-acquiring senses with their various presiding deities. (3) From false ego in the mode of ignorance arises the subtle form of sound, and from that sound, or sabda, all the material elements gradually become manifest, beginning with ether and the sense of hearing. The presiding Deity of these three divisions of false ego is Sankarsana. This description is taken from Chapter Twenty-six of the Third Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, verses 21, 27, 28, 30, 31, 32 and 35.

The Supreme Personality of Godhead’s external potency, maya, causes the birth, maintenance and destruction of the material world. She is tricolored red, white and black. In her red feature the material nature is created, in white it endures, and in black it is annihilated. The mahat-tattva arises from this maya, and from the mahat-tattva come the three varieties of false ego mentioned above. At the time of annihilation the five great elements, namely earth, water, fire, air and ether, merge into false ego in the mode of ignorance, from which they were originally generated; the ten senses and intelligence merge into false ego in passion; and the mind, along with the demigods, merges into false ego in the mode of goodness, which then merges into mahat-tattva, which further takes shelter of the prakrti or unmanifest pradhana.

As described above, each of the gross elements is wound up when its distinguishing quality is removed; the element then merges into the previous element. This can be understood as follows. In space or ether there is the quality of sound. In air there are the qualities of sound and touch. In fire there are sound, touch and form. In water there are sound, touch, form and taste. And in earth there are sound, touch, form, taste and aroma. Therefore from ether down to earth each element is distinguished by the addition of its own unique quality, called guna-visesam. When that quality is removed, an element becomes nondifferent from its previous element and thus merges into it. For example, when great winds take aroma away from earth, earth contains only sound, touch, form and taste and thus becomes nondifferent from water, into which it merges. Similarly when water loses its rasa, or taste, it contains only sound, touch and form, thus becoming nondifferent from fire, which also contains those three qualities. So the wind takes away aroma to merge earth into water and takes away taste to merge water into fire. Then when the universal darkness removes form from fire, fire merges into air. Space then removes the sense of touch from air, and air merges into space. The Supreme Personality of Godhead as the time element removes sound from space, and space then merges into the false ego in the mode of ignorance, from which it arose. Finally, false ego is merged into the mahat-tattva, which is merged into the unmanifest pradhana, and thus the universe is annihilated.