Srimad Bhagavatam 11.31.49-51 - The Ultimate Happiness Equation (download mp3)
by Rasik Raman Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
dehaṁ mano-mātram imaṁ gṛhītvā
mamāham ity andha-dhiyo manuṣyāḥ
eṣo ’ham anyo ’yam iti bhrameṇa
duranta-pāre tamasi bhramanti
Persons who identify with this body, which is simply the product of the material mind, are blinded in their intelligence, thinking in terms of “I” and “mine.” Because of their illusion of “this is I, but that is someone else,” they wander in endless darkness.
janas tu hetuḥ sukha-duḥkhayoś cet
kim ātmanaś cātra hi bhaumayos tat
jihvāṁ kvacit sandaśati sva-dadbhis
tad-vedanāyāṁ katamāya kupyet
If you say that these people are the cause of my happiness and distress, then where is the place of the soul in such a conception? This happiness and distress pertain not to the soul but to the interactions of material bodies. If someone bites his tongue with his own teeth, at whom can he become angry in his suffering?
Although bodily pleasure and pain are felt by the soul, one must tolerate such duality, understanding it to be a creation of one’s own material mind. If one accidentally bites his own tongue or lip, he cannot become angry and pull out his own teeth. Similarly, all living beings are individual parts and parcels of God, and thus nondifferent from each other. All of them are meant to serve the Supreme Lord in spiritual equality. If the living beings give up their master’s service and instead quarrel among themselves, they will be forced to suffer by the laws of nature. If the conditioned souls establish artificial relationships of affection based on the material body and having nothing to do with God, then time itself will destroy such relationships, and they will be subjected to further suffering. But if the individual living entities understand each other to be of the same family, all having connection with the Supreme Lord, their mutual friendship will develop. Thus one should not exhibit anger that will be harmful to oneself and others. Although the brāhmaṇa was receiving kind offerings of charity from some people and being harassed and beaten by others, he denied that these people were the ultimate cause of his happiness and distress, for he was fixed on the platform of self-realization beyond the material body and mind.
duḥkhasya hetur yadi devatās tu
kim ātmanas tatra vikārayos tat
yad aṅgam aṅgena nihanyate kvacit
krudhyeta kasmai puruṣaḥ sva-dehe
If you say that the demigods who rule the bodily senses cause suffering, still, how can such suffering apply to the spirit soul? This acting and being acted upon are merely interactions of the changeable senses and their presiding deities. When one limb of the body attacks another, with whom can the person in that body be angry?
The brāhmaṇa is elaborately explaining the condition of self-realization, in which one understands oneself to be totally distinct from the material body and mind and the demigods who control them. By cultivating bodily happiness we are forced to accept bodily pain. Foolish conditioned souls endeavor to eliminate distress and enjoy happiness, but material happiness and distress are two sides of the same coin. One cannot relish bodily happiness without identifying oneself as the body. But as soon as such identification occurs, one is harassed by the innumerable pains and sufferings also inevitably present within the same body. Bodily happiness and distress are administered by the demigods, who can never be brought under our control; thus one remains subject to the whims of providence on the material platform. If, however, one surrenders to the Personality of Godhead, Lord Kṛṣṇa, the reservoir of all pleasure, one can reach the spiritual platform, where transcendental bliss enlivens the liberated souls without any interrupting anxiety or unhappiness.