An analysis of materialistic madness
by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
[Evening lecture on the teachings of the boy Prahlad Maharaj, April 12, 1967]
Prahlad Maharaj is instructing his young friends: “My dear friends, material enjoyment means agitating the senses. You have this material enjoyment—sense enjoyment—my dear friends, and your only thought is how to enjoy these senses, that’s all. By contact of this body.” In possession of a particular body we have particular senses and we enjoy. Just like a camel: a camel enjoys thorny twigs. Camels are very fond of thorny twigs. Why? Because when they chew the thorny twigs blood comes out of the tongue, and they are tasting their own blood. And the camel is thinking it is very nice. He is eating thorny twigs, and the twig is cutting his tongue and blood is oozing out. He is tasting his own blood, but he thinks, “I am enjoying.” This is sense gratification. Sex life is also like that. We are tasting our own blood, and we think we are enjoying. This is our foolishness.
Every living entity has contracted this material body; he is a spiritual being but because he has a tendency to enjoy, to make exploitation of this material energy, he has contracted a body. There are different varieties of life. There are 8,400,000 species of living entities, each with a different body. According to the body, they have their senses in order to enjoy a particular type of pleasure. Prahlad Maharaj says this body and its particular type of enjoyment go together. Suppose you are given the thorny grass or twigs: Ladies and gentlemen, here is very nice food, it is certified by the camels, it is very good. Would you like to take? “No! What nonsense are you offering me?” Because you have got a different body, you have no taste for that. But if you offer it to a camel, because he has that particular type of body, it is a very nice thing.
This is going on—one man’s food is another man’s poison. If you are offered something which is not your food, you cannot take it. These different kinds of enjoyment are according to the particular type of body. That is the conclusion. The stool-eater hog will not accept any nice foodstuff such as cake. Give him stool, and it will be very nice. If you are offered the stool, you say, “What are you offering?” Because you have got a different body.
There are different kinds of material enjoyment, but those who are actually intelligent know that this particular type of enjoyment is due to this body. Actual happiness, however, is that which is not enjoyed by these material senses. Actual happiness is enjoyed by the spiritual senses. Now these are covered by matter, and therefore we are entrapped. Now Prahlad Maharaj says, Whatever it may be, you can have this sense enjoyment in any type of body. Then what is our enjoyment? Eating, sleeping, defending and mating. But this sort of sensual enjoyment—whether you have a dog’s body, or a hog’s body, or a god’s body—whatever you are in this material world, you have some sort of enjoyment offered by the Supreme Lord. Such material happiness is had by the arrangement of Nature. As you get miseries without your endeavor, similarly you will get your material enjoyment without trying for it. This is the conclusion.
Therefore, you should not endeavor to achieve material happiness. It will come. The lower animals have no business, no profession, but still they eat; they live. So Prahlad Maharaj says, You need not make your endeavor for achieving material pleasure. That will come. Because you have this body, it is predestined that this bodily enjoyment—as you are fit to enjoy—will come. How will it come? There is happiness and misery: If misery comes without calling for it, so happiness will come without calling for it. This is the philosophy.
Therefore, we should not be very anxious to aggravate or increase our material happiness. Always in civilization those who have no spiritual happiness are hankering after these sense enjoyments. So Prahlad Maharaj says, Your life is limited. Although it is very valuable, it is also very limited. And our duty is, in some way, to dovetail ourselves in Krishna Consciousness, and to act accordingly. You should not be very busy aggravating your material sense enjoyment. You cannot increase it. There are so many different kinds of body, and they are guided by Nature’s law: you have to eat like this, you have to live like this, you have to sleep like this—this is already arranged.
Our higher intelligence comes with this human body: we have higher consciousness. We should try for the higher enjoyment of life, which is spiritual enjoyment. And how can that spiritual enjoyment of life be achieved? You should not waste your time simply hankering after material enjoyment. Then, what is to be done? One should engage himself in the Supreme Lord, Who gives the pleasure of liberation. We should turn our attention to achieving the Lotus Feet of Krishna, Who can give us liberation from this material world.
How long do we have to engage ourselves? Prahlad Maharaj says, We are now in the material entanglement. This material entanglement is that I have this body. I will quit this body after a few years, and then I will have to accept another body. Once you take up one body and enjoy as your body’s senses dictate, then you prepare another body by such sense enjoyment; and you get another body as you want it. There is no guarantee that you will get a human body. That will depend on your work. Did you work just like a god? You get a god’s body. This is not in your hands; it is in the hands of Nature. Our duty is not to speculate on what we are going to get after what we have been—don’t take account of this. At the present moment, let us understand that we have this material body. Now if we want to have our spiritual consciousness or Krishna Consciousness developed then we should at once engage ourselves—dovetail ourselves in this Krishna activity. That is auspicious for further progress of your life.
How long should you do it? So long as this body does not stop working. We do not know when it will stop functioning. The great saint, Parikshit Maharaj, got seven days notice: “Your body will fall in a week.” But we do not know when our body will fall. Just after going on the road, there may immediately be some accident. We should always be prepared that death is there. We should not be very optimistic that everyone is dying but I shall live. Why will you live if everyone is dying? Your father has died, your mother has died, your sister, your other relatives … why should you live? You will also die. And your children will also die.
Therefore, before death comes, so long as we have this human intelligence, let us engage in Krishna Consciousness. This is the prescription by Prahlad Maharaj.
This material body is called “purusam.” Everybody is anxious to enjoy. Purus means to enjoy, or enjoyer. There is nobody in this material world who does not like to enjoy sense gratification. Therefore, either male or female—the body may be what it is—but the desire, the ambition, is to enjoy material life. So it is called purusam.
We do not know when it will stop, but let us immediately engage in Krishna Consciousness and act according to that. And if I immediately engage myself in Krishna Consciousness, then what about my living? That arrangement is there. I am very happy to inform you that one of our students in a branch is so confident: there was some disagreement. One student said “You are not looking after how we will maintain the establishment,” and he replied, “Oh, Krishna will supply. ‘I take charge.’ ” This is a very nice conviction, it is very good; I was glad to hear it. If cats and dogs and hogs can get food, and we are going to be in Krishna Consciousness and fully devote our service to Krishna, will He not arrange my food also? Is Krishna so ungracious? No. He looks.
In the Bhagavad Gita you will find that the Lord says, “My dear Arjuna, I am equal to everyone. Nobody is the object of My envy and nobody is My special friend, but for one who is engaged in Krishna Consciousness, I have got special attention.” Just like a father whose small child is completely dependent on the mercy of the parents: The parents have special attention for that child. Although the parents are equally good to all the children, to the small children who are always asking, “Mother!” they have great concern. “Yes, my dear child? Yes?” This is natural.
If you are completely dependent on Krishna, He Who is supplying food to the dogs, birds, bees—to 8,400,000 species of life—why should He not supply to you? This conviction—this is called surrender. Not that, because Krishna is supplying my food, I shall now sleep. No, you have to work. One should engage himself in Krishna Consciousness—that is required.
Now calculate our duration of life. In this age it is calculated that we can live at most to a hundred years. Formerly, the human being used to live up to 100,000 years. In the Satya Yuga, or Age of Goodness, they used to live 100,000 years. In the next age, Treta Yuga, they used to live for 10,000 years, and in the next, called Dwapara Yuga, they used to live for 1,000 years. Now in this Age, called Kali Yuga, the estimation is for 100 years. But gradually, as the Kali Yuga progresses, we are reducing our duration still further. Anyone can understand that. Suppose my grandfather lived 100 years, my father lived for 90 years, so I am going to live for 70 years and my son is going to live for 50 years and his son is going to live for 30 years. This is the progress of our modern material civilization. And we are very proud that we are happy, and increasing our civilization. The result is that you come here to enjoy material life, and the duration of life is shortened. This is called Maya, Illusion.
Now accepting that we live for 100 years: Those who have no information of spiritual life, their life is reduced; and one who has not conquered sense enjoyment, or who is unable to control the mind, his age is also reduced. Those who are too much addicted to sense gratification, according to this calculation, their utmost life is 50 years. Even if he has 50 years, because he has no information of spiritual life, his night is wasted by sleeping and sex life. That’s all. He has no other business. And in the daytime, what is his business? “Where is money? Where is money? Because I must maintain this body.” And when he has money: “Now let me speed for my children, for my wife.” Then where is your spiritual realization? At night you spend your time in this way, and by day spend in this way—is that your mission of life? How horrible such a life is.
The average person is illusioned in childhood—playing football, sporting. Up to twenty years, easily, you can go on like that. Then when you become old, another twenty years you cannot do anything. When a man becomes old, then his senses cannot function. You have seen many old men; nothing to do, simply resting. Just now we have received a letter from our student that his grandmother is suffering for the last three and a half years, paralyzed. So in old age, everything is finished, as soon as you get sixty years old. Therefore, the beginning to twenty years is spoiled; and even if you live for a hundred years, another twenty in the last stage of life are also spoiled. So forty years of your life are spoiled in that way. And in the middle age there is very strong sex appetite: So another forty years can be lost. Forty years, twenty years, and twenty year eighty years gone. How long are you going to live?
This is the analysis of life by Prahlad Maharaj. We are spoiling our life instead of using it.