Māyā is the false ego of identifying one's body with one's self and of claiming things possessed in relationship with the body. In Bhagavad-gītā, Fifteenth Chapter, the Lord says, "I am sitting in everyone's heart, and from Me comes everyone's remembrance and forgetfulness." Devahūti has stated that false identification of the body with the self and attachment for bodily possessions are also under the direction of the Lord. Does this mean that the Lord discriminates by engaging one in His devotional service and another in sense gratification? If that were true, it would be an incongruity on the part of the Supreme Lord, but that is not the actual fact. As soon as the living entity forgets his real constitutional position of eternal servitorship to the Lord and wants instead to enjoy himself by sense gratification, he is captured by māyā. This capture leads to the consciousness of false identification with the body and attachment for the possessions of the body. These are the activities of māyā, and since māyā is also an agent of the Lord, it is indirectly the action of the Lord. The Lord is merciful; if anyone wants to forget Him and enjoy this material world, He gives him full facility, not directly but through the agency of His material potency. Therefore, since the material potency is the Lord's energy, indirectly it is the Lord who gives the facility to forget Him. Devahūti therefore said, "My engagement in sense gratification was also due to You. Now kindly get me free from this entanglement."
By the grace of the Lord one is allowed to enjoy this material world, but when one is disgusted with material enjoyment and is frustrated, and when one sincerely surrenders unto the lotus feet of the Lord, then the Lord is so kind that He frees one from entanglement. Kṛṣṇa says, therefore, in Bhagavad-gītā, "First of all surrender, and then I will take charge of you and free you from all reactions of sinful activities." Sinful activities are those activities performed in forgetfulness of our relationship with the Lord. In this material world, activities for material enjoyment that are considered pious are also sinful. For example, one sometimes gives money in charity to a needy person with a view to get back the money four times increased. Giving with the purpose of gaining something is called charity in the mode of passion. Everything done here is done in the modes of material nature, and therefore all activities but service to the Lord are sinful. Because of sinful activities we become attracted by the illusion of material attachment, and we think, "I am this body." I think of the body as myself and of bodily possessions as "mine." Devahūti requested Lord Kapila to free her from that entanglement of false identification and false possession.
In asking this, Devahūti is accepting her son, Kapila, as her guru. He consequently tells her how to solve all material problems. Material life is nothing but sex attraction. Puṁsaḥ striyā mithunī-bhāvam etam (SB 5.5.8). Material life means that men are after women and women are after men. We find this not only in human society but in bird, dog, cat and demigod society. As soon as people join to satisfy their sex desire, the attraction becomes greater and greater. An apartment is needed for privacy, and then one has to earn a livelihood and acquire some land. Without children, married life is frustrated, and of course the children have to be educated. Thus one becomes entangled in material life by creating so many situations, but at the time of death Kṛṣṇa comes and takes away everything - house, land, wife, children, friends, reputation and whatever. Then we have to begin another life. It is not that we simply die and finish everything. We are living eternally; the body is finished, but we have to accept another body out of the 8,400,000 forms. In this way, our life is going on, but we are thinking in terms of wife, children, and so forth. This is all illusion.
In any case, we will not be allowed to stay here, and although we are attached to all this, everything will be taken away at death. Whatever post we are occupying - be it president or Lord Brahmā - we are occupying temporarily. We may be here five years, ten years, one hundred years or five million years. Whatever, our position is limited. Our position in the material world is not eternal, but we are eternal. Why, then, should we be illusioned by the noneternal? By nature we are part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa is sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha (Bs. 5.1). In order to transcend the darkness of material life and go to the world of light, we need to approach a guru. It is for this reason that Devahūti is approaching Lord Kapiladeva.
In the morning, when the sun arises, the darkness of night immediately goes away. Similarly, when God or His incarnation comes, the darkness of material life is dissipated. When Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, came, Arjuna's illusion was dispelled. He was thinking, "Why should I fight with my relatives?" Actually the whole world is going on under this conception of "my" and "mine." There are fights between nations, societies, communities and families. People are thinking, "Why are you interfering with my business?" Then there is a fight. Because of illusion, we do not consider these situations temporary. On a train, people may argue and fight over a seat, but one who knows that he will only be on the train for two or three hours thinks, "Why should I fight? I shall only be here for a short while." One person thinks in this way, and the other person is ready to fight, thinking that his seat is permanent. No one will be allowed to stay within this material world; everyone will have to change his body and position, and as long as one remains here, he will have to fight and struggle for existence. This is the way of material life. We may temporarily make some compromises, but ultimately the material world is full of misery.
We are very much attached to this material world, but according to the Vedic system, renunciation is compulsory, for when one reaches the age of fifty, he renounces his family life. Nature gives warning, "You are now past fifty. That's all right. You have fought in this material world. Now stop this business." Children play on the beach and make houses out of sand, but after a while the father comes and says, "Now, my dear children, time is up. Stop this business and come home." This is the business of the guru - to teach his disciples detachment. The world is not our place; our place is Vaikuṇṭhaloka. Kṛṣṇa also comes to remind us of this. The dharma, or order, of the Supreme Person is to become His devotee and always think of Him. Kṛṣṇa says:
- man-manā bhava mad-bhakto
- mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru
"Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me." (BG 9.34)
In this way, Kṛṣṇa opens the door, but we unfortunately do not accept Him. Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna, "Because you are My friend, I am revealing to you the most confidential dharma." What is that? "Simply surrender unto Me." This is the dharma taught by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and Kṛṣṇa's incarnation and His devotee will teach the same dharma.
We are all after happiness, but we do not know how to enjoy happiness. We want to enjoy our senses, but it is not possible with these covered false senses. The senses must be opened, and that is the process of purification. We are thinking of ourselves according to so many false material identifications, but we should take Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's advice: jīvera 'svarūpa' haya-kṛṣṇera 'nitya-dāsa.' (CC Madhya 20.108). We must come to understand, "I am the eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa." After all, our senses are employed for the satisfaction of somebody - either for ourselves or for someone else. That is kāma, krodha, lobha and matsara - illusion. If we are not serving our own lusty desires (kāma), we are serving anger (krodha). If I am the master of anger, I can control my anger, and if I am the master of my desires, I can control my desires. In any case, I am a servant, and my service should be transferred to Kṛṣṇa. That is the perfection of life.
If we are situated in the transcendental position (bhakti), we can understand Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa cannot be understood by mental speculation; otherwise He would have said that He could be understood by jñāna, karma or yoga. However, He clearly says, bhaktyā mām abhijānāti: (BG 18.55) "Only by devotional service can I be understood." If we want to know Kṛṣṇa as He is, we have to accept the process of bhakti. It is this bhakti process that Kapiladeva will reveal to Devahūti.