~ Jagad Guru Chris Butler (Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa)

The Illusory Energy of God-head.


October 1930

In the Gita, addressing His bosom friend Arjuna, Bhagaban Sri Krishna has said, ‘My dear friend, this Illusory Energy consisting of the three-fold mundane quality is supernatural and may hardly be overcome. Even the gods and the sages (Rishis), not to talk of men and other lower beings, can hardly get rid of her infatuating influence. Only those who make absolute surrender to Me may overcome her.’ Hence it is that Srila Narottam Thakur has said, that the Illusory Energy though vanquished can not be got rid of, except by the grace of Shadhus. Barring the devotees who have completely surrendered themselves to the feet of Sri Krishna, no one has the power to get rid of this Illusory Energy of Godhead consisting of the threefold mundane qualities of ‘Sattwa’ ‘Rajas’ and ‘Tama’.

In the Srimad Bhagabatam we find that when by the churning of the ocean ambrosia was obtained, a violent quarrel arose between the gods and the demons as to the distribution of the same. Anxious to have the first taste of ambrosia, when the parties came to blows, thereby igniting, as it were, the all destroying universal conflagration, Lord Vishnu, in order to deceive the demons and preserve His creation, appeared in the form of a fascinating woman by His Illusory Energy. This wonderfully beautiful woman captured every heart by her fascinating side-glance and sweet smile and infatuated the whole world. With a most melodious accent and winning smile, this lady whose beauty surpassed that of the god of love, addressesd the gods and the demons thus: ‘O ye gods and demons, why have you lit this deadly fire of war? Let me mediate between you and settle your disputes.’

Not to talk of other insignificant creatures, the whole universe and even the great-great-grand father Brahma was fascinated by the Illusory Energy of Godhead. The Devas (Gods) and the Asuras (demons) charmed with her sweet words agreed to her proposal. Most wonderful is the influence of Vishnu’s Illusory Energy. Not only the Gods and the demons but all animate and inanimate beings of the whole world being fascinated by her influence mistake their gross bodies of flesh and blood to be their real selves, forget Godhead, consider their fragile wife, son, daughter, friend, wealth to be their life-long companions and thereby burn within themselves with the threefold misery attending upon birth and death, fear and disease, etc.

In the Gita, Lord Sri Krishna has said that residing in the hearts of all Jivas and overpowering them with the influence of His Illusory Energy He is grinding them like machines. It is only those that have surrendered themselves to the feet of the spiritual guide who can extricate themselves from the influence of the deluding power. The spiritual guide is not like one blind man leading another blind man and ultimately both of them falling into the ditch. He who has obtained full realisation of the Vedas and completely surrendered himself to the God-head is alone the proper guide.

In this world of delusion no pleasures are real, because they are all transient, and like the water bubbles or the mirage in the desert disappear in the twinkling of an eye. No sooner is one desire satiated than another takes its place to burn the hankering heart with fresh tortures like the throwing of clarified butter into the sacrificial fire.

A man may be blessed with every worldly fortune but he is not free from the pangs of sensuous desires which are sure to pinch him every now and then. Hence he who wants to get rid of this hardly-to-be-overcome Maya, must surrender himself to the feet of a Sat-Guru. Otherwise under her deluding influence, he will sometimes by doing virtuous deeds, ascend Swarga, and at other times by doing sinful deeds, come down into hell, and thus revolving in the wheel of births and deaths, burn with the pangs of sensuous desires. The characteristic of a ‘Sat-Guru’ being understood it becomes necessary to grasp the right meaning of self-surrender at his feet.

In the Gita we find that we should make humble obeisance to the ‘Guru’, serve him wholeheartedly and submit reasonable spiritual questions to him in order to get at the Truth Who will enable me to know ‘who I am,’ ‘what my real nature is’, ‘where I was,’ ‘why I have come into this world and where I shall go.—I am very, very mean, I beseech the Guru to kindly enlighten me with a right understanding of these spiritual issues so that I may cross this ocean of the world in safety.’ When the sincere disciple in the spirit of full submission drinks with his ears the nectar of spiritual instructions from his Gurudev and renders him whole-hearted service, all his gloom of ignorance, due to Maya disappears and he becomes immune from the influence of the Illusory Energy.

The sight of this charming lady created a strong carnal desire in the hearts of the demons, on the other hand, it excited a sense of devotion in the hearts of the Gods who looked upon her as the mother-goddess of the whole universe. A child when placed on his mother’s breast, sucks out the most sweet milk therefrom, but a leech, if placed theron, extracts blood in place of milk, according to its inherent nature. Infatuated with Vishnu-Maya, the demons like the leeches, instead of finding anything Godly in that charming lady, took her to be an object of their sensuous enjoyments, passed side glances to her and in a laughing mood, addressed her thus, “Beautiful lady, come to us. We are your servants and we will submissively carry out what you will be pleased to dictate to us”.

But, on the other side, the Devas (gods) looked at this enchanting lady with the eyes of a baby looking at its affectionate mother. The result was that in the long run, these wicked demons, like the leeches being carnally enamoured of her, were deprived of that rare heavenly nectar which they were fighting for. While the Devas like the children were allowed to taste the same, gained strength thereby and began to roam about merrily.

The whole mundane universe is in the clutches of Vishnu Maya. This world is a prison and the Jivas are the prisoners. Under the infatuation of ‘Maya’ some are posing as kings others as subjects, some as masters others as servants etc. Just as on the stage the sweeper Rama Bagdi sitting on the throne plays the part of Maharaj Haris Chandra, and Shama Dom of the same class, playing the part of the queen Saibya may shed tears for the sake of her snake-bitten child and thereby simultaneously excite both pleasure and pain in the hearts of the audience; but again in another moment both appear in their true characters as sweepers behind the scene, so on this worldly stage under the influence of ‘Maya’ some jivas are acting as ‘Devas’, some as demons, men, animals, birds, insects, serpents etc.

When the gods Nala-Kuber were busy with their ribald sports in the water with the celestial nymphs (Apsaras) they attracted the notice of that great Vaishnava, Narada Muni who cursing their beastly conduct in atonement for the offence committed in his presence, changed them into the likeness of two-Arjuna trees, (Jamalarjun) of Brindabon. Ahalya Devi was changed into stone by the curses of the great Rishi (sage) Goutama. Jivas due to their aversion to God-head, beguiled by the influence of Maya, pass through eighty-four lacs of different births as the result of their atheistical worldly activities (Karma). They sometimes ascend to heaven and there after fall down into hell. When wondering from birth to birth, if on any occasion by good luck, any of them happens to come in contact with the ‘shadhus’ (saints), they receive spiritual lessons from them which dispose them to render services to Krishna and His associated counterpart, the Guru (spiritual preceptor). It is then and then only that such fortunate individuals are enabled to escape from the clutches of this Illusory Energy of God-head.

The power of Vishnu possesses two distinct aspects viz. ‘Para’ and ‘Apara’. The former is the esoteric eternal or real aspect and the latter, the external or illusory aspect (Maya). This Apara energy fascinates the Jivas and bind them fast in worldly chains. While the internal energy or ‘Para’ sakti cuts away these worldly chains and imparts devotion to God.

Empiric knowledge can earn for us only a transitory sensuous living which vanishes into nothingness like a nocturnal dream in no time. Educated in the knowledge of money-making in empiric philosophy, sciences, arts, astronomy, medicine etc. we may vaunt as erudite scholars or as successful persons. But all our glee quickly vanishes into the womb of time. In a short time every success becomes lamentable and unsatiating confusion. The knowledge that inheres in attachment to Krishna is the only real knowledge and is called ‘Para-bidya’ or Brahmma-bidya. In the Gita, Lord Krishna has said to Arjuna that earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, empiric understanding and the perverted ego are the eight varieties of My external energy (Apara Prakriti) besides which I have got another superior internal energy (Para Prakriti) which, like the thread of a garland of pearls, supports the universe. This is the spiritual energy of which the Jivas are the manifestations.

Jivas under the shell of Maya act in diverse ways on this world-stage. Like a puppet in the hands of a skilful juggler being made to dance within different gestures and postures according to his will for the satisfaction of the spectators unsuspected by them, Jivas enamoured of the threefold attributes (Sattwa, Raja and Tama) of the deluding Energy of Vishnu, laugh, dance, weep and shout like men possessed without being able to see the hand of the Enchantress pulling the wire from behind by the will of God-head.

Therefore he is the most wise and intellectual person who instead of playing the part of a mere acting doll on the world-stage is able to catch the purpose of this life which is to know and serve Sri Hari. Otherwise our performances are like the frantic attempts of delirious patients struggling to get at the tub of poisoned water to allay this unappeasable thirst of worldly desires. At these delirious activities of the conditioned souls, the spiritual doctor, Sri Guru deva sheds tears of pity and by the chant of the Name of Sri Hari, invites them to the protection of the Same.

As soon as a child is born the relations and neighbours rejoice as if it will remove all the sorrows and afflictions of every body. But alas! No one of them think of the inevitable end as they join the merry-making with light heart. But before perhaps a few months have passed, the child is carried away by the cruel hand of disease and in place of joy, the gloom of sorrow darkens the home and neighbourhood. The neighbours come to sympathise with the parents, curse the god of death, as being unaccountably jealous of their happiness. It appears to them to be a great pity that the god of death is no good dispenser of justice because he does not look to the equity, i.e., convenience and inconvenience of men, in disposing of cases under his care, but strikes the mortal blow in and out of season, according to his cruel whim. They are forced to content themselves with the poor consolation that these are all the dispensations of Providence which happen to the lot of all, hence we need not be sorry for the inevitable.

Therefore the Scriptures say that in this world of illusion, barring the eternal service of Godhead, everything is transitory and no permanent relationship can be established between any two mundane entities. Forgetting His service and falling under the clutches of ‘Maya’ in consequence thereof, the ‘Jivas’ are found to be suffering the three-fold miseries in this world. Forgetting Godhead and their own real nature and mistaking as their proper selves the mask supplied by ‘Maya’ in the shape of the physical and subtle body, the ‘Jivas’ pose as kings, queens, ministers, judges, butlers, methars, rich, poor, high and low, etc. Devotion to Godhead being eliminated, everything is illusion under her influence, the Jivas are made to look to their cloaks of flesh and blood as objects of their permanent concerns, thereby bringing all the miseries of this world upon their heads. There is no other royal road to get rid of this ‘Maya’ save and except the grace of Him who is her Lord. On coming into this world of ‘Maya’, the Jivas, instead of considering Sri Krishna to be the sole Enjoyer of all things and of their own selves, themselves pose as sole enjoyers and in attempting to do so, incur the punishment of misery. When by the grace of the spiritual preceptor, the influence of Maya is dispelled, the Jivas are enabled to see with their souls’ eyes that they are the servants or objects of enjoyment of the one Omnipotent Godhead. Like a match-maker establishing relationship of husband and wife between the bridegroom and the bride, the spiritual Preceptor establishes their relationship of eternal service between Jivas and their master, Sri Krishna. Sri Krishna is the only object of our worship. Devotion to Him is the only means of attaining Him. The attainment of Prema or spiritual Love to His feet is the final goal to be arrived at. The spiritual Preceptor is instrumental in making the ‘Jivas’ realise this whole-hearted devotion to their Lord Sri Krishna. As in the case of a poor man seeking the favour of a millionaire, it behoves him to have recourse to his agent who is conversant with the ways and means by which he (the millionaire) can be satisfied, so in order to be admitted to the grace of the Lord of the universe, one must take recourse to the spiritual Preceptor who, as Agent or associated counterpart of the Lord is fully authorised to bestow His service and who is himself completely immersed in His constant service, and seek initiation from him.

In this world of ours, the relationship that subsists between objects is of a transitory character. There can be no permanent pleasure here. All our joys are ephemeral and all our attractions towards one another, that of the father towards the son, of son towards the father etc., are actuated by selfish transitory motives, as the result of which sometimes we see a husband showing an utter disregard for his once loved wife and even considering her to be merely an object of his sensuous enjoyment, or the wife in her turn simulating a false devotion for her husband in order to secure ornaments etc. We even find a son imprisoning his dear father to secure the throne and the faithful servant running away with his master’s hoarded wealth after applying the knife to the latter’s throat. One friend sometimes poisons the other to misappropriate his all. In this world of ‘Maya’, all the sentiments and relationships are of the unwholesome and transitory order and being based on unwholesome material interest cannot afford real or lasting pleasure.

Therefore, when by the grace of the true spiritual Preceptor we are enabled to get rid of the enthralment of ‘Maya’ and have an insight into the nature of Godhead and His absolute realm, it is only then that we have the taste of that eternal bliss which is Divine and free from the circumscribed functions of the physical senses and where there is no unwholesomeness of this mundane plane. There the five varieties of mutual relationship viz. ‘Santa’, ‘Dashya’, ‘Sakhya’, ‘Batsalya’, and ‘Madhoora’ are altogether wholesome and eternal. The threefold miseries of this mundane world due to birth, death, disease etc., have no place there. The realm of Vaikuntha is not lighted by the earthly sun, moon, stars, fire or lightning but is self-effulgent with the light of billions of original suns. There all are extremely happy in the service of that Divine Personality of all embracing knowledge and bliss, Sri Krishna and all are there His eternal exclusive servants. Mundane sorrow has no place in the land of the eternal and those whose devotional eyes have been opened by the grace of Sri Gurudev can see with their help the eternal pastimes of Sri Krishna in Vaikuntha. There Sanaka, Sanandan and all the Holy sages worship Sri Krishna as ‘Para Brahma’. Raktaka, Patraka and other servants serve Him as Master. Sridama, Sudama, Vasudama and other cowherds tend Him as friend. Nanda and Jasomati serve Him as their Son. Srimati Radhika, Lalita, Bishakha and other spiritual maids of Braja whole-heartedly serve Him as His eternal consorts.

It is devotion to the spiritual preceptor and no other method that can alone extricate us from the bondage of Vishnu-Maya and secure for us the eternal service of Sri Krishna in the eternal realm of Goloka, where Sri Krishna abides with His servitors and all His Divine Paraphernalia and eternal bliss which flows from the service of the Divinity.