There are many arguments about the existence of this material world, but the Vaiṣṇava philosophical conclusion is the best. The example of the earthen pot is very suitable: the form of the earthen pot may be temporary, but it has a specific purpose. The purpose of the earthen pot is to carry water from one place to another. Similarly, this material body, although temporary, has a special use. The living entity is given a chance from the beginning of the creation to evolve different kinds of material bodies according to the reserve desires he has accumulated from time immemorial. The human form of body is a special chance in which the developed form of consciousness can be utilized.
Sometimes the Māyāvādī philosophers push forward the argument that if this material world is truth, then why are householders advised to give up their connection with this material world and take sannyāsa? But the Vaiṣṇava philosopher’s view of sannyāsa is not that because the world is false one must therefore give up material activities. The purpose of Vaiṣṇava sannyāsa is to utilize things as they are intended to be utilized. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has given transcendentalists two formulas for dealing with this material world. When a Vaiṣṇava renounces the materialistic way of life and takes to sannyāsa, it is not on the conception of the falsity of the material world but to devote himself fully to engaging everything in the service of the Lord. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī therefore gives this formula: “One should be unattached to the material world because material attachment is meaningless. The entire material world, the entire cosmic manifestation, belongs to God, Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, everything should be utilized for Kṛṣṇa, and the devotee should remain unattached to material things.” This is the purpose of Vaiṣṇava sannyāsa. A materialist sticks to the world for sense gratification, but a Vaiṣṇava sannyāsī, although not accepting anything for his personal sense gratification, knows the art of utilizing everything for the service of the Lord. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has therefore criticized the Māyāvādī sannyāsīs with his second formula: “Because the Māyāvādīs do not know that everything has a utilization for the service of the Lord, they take the world to be false and falsely think they are liberated from the contamination of the material world.” Since everything is an expansion of the energy of the Supreme Lord, the expansions are as real as the Supreme Lord is.
That the cosmic world is only temporarily manifested does not mean that it is false or that the source of its manifestation is false. Since the source of its manifestation is truth, the manifestation is also truth, but one must know how to utilize it. The example of the earthen pot may be cited again: the earthen pot produced from the whole earth is temporary, but when used for a proper purpose the earthen pot is not false. The Vaiṣṇava philosophers know how to utilize the temporary construction of this material world, just as a sane man knows how to utilize the temporary construction of the earthen pot. When the earthen pot is used for a wrong purpose, that is false. Similarly, the human body or the material world, when used for sense gratification, is false. But if the human body and the material creation are used for the service of the Supreme Lord, their activities are never false. It is therefore confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā that even slightly using the body and the material world for the service of the Lord can deliver a person from the gravest danger. When properly utilized, neither the superior nor inferior energies emanating from the Supreme Personality of Godhead are false.
As far as fruitive activities are concerned, they are mainly based on the platform of sense gratification. Therefore an advanced Kṛṣṇa conscious person does not take to them. The result of fruitive activities can elevate one to the higher planetary system, but as it is said in the Bhagavad-gītā, foolish persons, after exhausting the results of their pious activities in the heavenly kingdom, come back again to this lower planetary system and then again try to go to the higher planetary system. Their only profit is to take the trouble of going and coming back, just as at present many material scientists are spoiling their time by trying to go to the moon planet and again coming back. Those who are engaged in fruitive activities are described by the Vedas personified as andha-paramparā, or blind followers of the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies. Although such ceremonies are certainly mentioned in the Vedas, they are not meant for the intelligent class of men. Men who are too much attached to material enjoyment are captivated by the prospect of being elevated to the higher planetary system, and so they take to such ritualistic activities. But persons who are intelligent, who have taken shelter of a bona fide spiritual master to see things as they are, do not take to fruitive activities but engage themselves in the transcendental loving service of the Lord.