Chapter 6: Devahūti Desires Transcendental Knowledge

Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Teachings of Lord Kapila, the Son of Devahūti 7

devahūtir uvāca

nirviṇṇā nitarāḿ bhūmann


yena sambhāvyamānena

prapannāndhaḿ tamaḥ prabho


Devahūti said: I am very sick of the disturbance caused by my material senses, for because of this sense disturbance, my Lord, I have fallen into the abyss of ignorance


Here, at the beginning of Devahūti's questionings, the word asad-indriya-tarṣaṇāt is significant. Asat means "impermanent," "temporary," indriya means "senses," and tarṣaṇāt refers to agitation. Thus asad-indriya-tarṣaṇāt means "from being agitated by the temporarily manifest senses of the material body." We are evolving through different species of material bodily existence—sometimes in a human body, sometimes in an animal body—and therefore the engagements of our material senses are also changing. Anything which changes is called temporary, or asat. We should know that beyond these temporary senses are our permanent senses, which are now covered by the material body. The permanent senses, being contaminated by matter, are not acting properly. Devotional service, therefore, involves freeing the senses from this contamination. When the contamination is completely removed and the senses act in the purity of unalloyed Kṛṣṇa consciousness, we have then attained sad-indriya, or eternal sense activities. Eternal sensory activities are called devotional service, whereas temporary sensory activities are called sense gratification. Unless one becomes tired of material sense gratification, there is no opportunity to hear transcendental messages from a person like Kapila. Devahūti expressed that she was tired. Now that her husband had left home, she wanted to get relief by hearing the instructions of Lord Kapila.

The Vedic literatures describe this material world as darkness. Actually it is dark, and therefore we require sunlight, moonlight and electricity. If it were not by nature dark, why would we require so many arrangements for artificial light? The Vedas enjoin that we should not remain in darkness: tamasi mā jyotir gama. We are instructed to go to the light, and that light is the spiritual world, which is directly lighted by the effulgence, or bodily rays, of Kṛṣṇa. As stated in Brahma-saḿhitā (5.40):

yasya prabhā prabhavato jagad-aṇḍa-koṭi-

koṭiṣv aśeṣa-vasudhādi-vibhūti-bhinnam

tad brahma niṣkalam anantam aśeṣa-bhūtaḿ

govindam ādi-puruṣaḿ tam ahaḿ bhajāmi

"I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is endowed with great power. The glowing effulgence of His transcendental form is the impersonal Brahman, which is absolute, complete and unlimited and which displays the varieties of countless planets, with their different opulences, in millions and millions of universes."

Animals have no ability to know that they are in darkness, but human beings can know. Like Devahūti, an intelligent person should become disgusted with the darkness of ignorance. Na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (2.20), there is neither birth nor death for the soul. The soul is not destroyed when the body is annihilated. The soul puts bodies on and takes them off like clothes. This simple knowledge is instructed in the beginning of Bhagavad-gītā, yet there are many big scholars and leaders who still cannot understand that the body is different from the person. This is because they do not study Bhagavad-gītā in the proper way. Consequently no one is fully aware or convinced that the real person is not the body. This is called darkness, and when one is disgusted with this darkness, human life begins.

One who has become disgusted with material existence needs the instructions of a guru. Tasmād guruḿ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam [SB 11.3.21]. Being the wife of a great yogī, Devahūti understood her constitutional position; therefore she is placing her problem before her son, Kapiladeva, an incarnation of God. Although Kapiladeva is her son, Devahūti does not hesitate to take instructions from Him. She does not say, "Oh, He is my son. What can He tell me? I am His mother, and I shall instruct Him." Instruction has to be taken from one who is in knowledge. It doesn't matter what his position is, whether he is a son, a boy, a śūdra, brāhmaṇa, sannyāsī or gṛhastha. One should simply learn from one who knows. That is Caitanya Mahāprabhu's instruction. Although Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself was a brāhmaṇa and a sannyāsī, He took instructions from Rāmānanda Rāya, who was a śūdra and gṛhastha but nonetheless, very exalted spiritually. When Caitanya Mahāprabhu saw that Rāmānanda Rāya was hesitant to give instructions, the Lord said, "Why are you hesitating? Although you are a gṛhastha and are born in a śūdra family, I am prepared to take lessons from you."

kibā viprā, kibā nyāsī, śūdra kene naya

yei kṛṣṇa-tattva-vettā, sei 'guru' haya

(Cc. Madhya 8.128)

This is Caitanya Mahāprabhu's teaching. Whoever is qualified in Kṛṣṇa consciousness can become a guru. His family or material identity does not matter. He simply must know the science. When we consult an engineer, a doctor or a lawyer, we do not ask whether he is a brāhmaṇa or a śūdra. If he is qualified, he can help with a particular subject. Similarly, if one knows the science of Kṛṣṇa, he can be a guru. Devahūti was taking lessons from her son because He knew the science of Kṛṣṇa. Even if gold is in a filthy place, we should take it. It is also stated in the Vedas that if a girl is highly qualified or beautiful, she can be accepted in marriage even though born in a lower family. Thus it is not birth that is important, but qualification. Caitanya Mahāprabhu wanted everyone in India to know the science of Kṛṣṇa and preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This is very simple. We need only repeat what Kṛṣṇa has said or what has been said about Kṛṣṇa in the Vedic literatures.

Human society cannot be happy without Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Kṛṣṇa is the supreme enjoyer, and we are His servants. The master is enjoying, and the servants are helping the master enjoy. We living entities are eternal servants of God, and our duty is to help our master enjoy. Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is the topmost servant of Kṛṣṇa, and Her business is always to keep Kṛṣṇa pleased. Kṛṣṇa is very fond of Rādhārāṇī because She renders the best service. Her sixty-four qualifications are mentioned in the Vedic literatures. Unfortunately, in the material world we are busy trying to enjoy our material senses. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (3.42):

indriyāṇi parāṇy āhur

indriyebhyaḥ paraḿ manaḥ

manasas tu parā buddhir

yo buddheḥ paratas tu saḥ

"The working senses are superior to dull matter; mind is higher than the senses; intelligence is still higher than the mind; and he (the soul) is even higher than the intelligence." The soul is on the spiritual platform. this way we become implicated in the laws of nature. As stated in the śāstras:

nūnaḿ pramattaḥ kurute vikarma

yad indriya-prītaya āpṛṇoti

na sādhu manye yata ātmano 'yam

asann api kleśada āsa dehaḥ

[SB 5.5.4]

"When a person considers sense gratification the aim of life, he certainly becomes mad after materialistic living and engages in all kinds of sinful activity. He does not know that due to his past misdeeds he has already received a body which, although temporary, is the cause of his misery. Actually the living entity should not have taken on a material body, but he has been awarded the material body for sense gratification. Therefore I think it not befitting an intelligent man to involve himself again in the activities of sense gratification by which he perpetually gets material bodies one after another." (Bhāg. 5.5.4)

Living entities in this material world are very busy trying to gratify their senses. In the street we see many dogs assembled for sex. This may seem very crude, but human beings are engaged in the same business, perhaps in a more elaborate way. We should know that sense gratification is meant for animals, and that sense control is for human beings. By tapasya, penance, we can purify ourselves and regain our eternal life.

Actually our material senses are not our real senses. They are covered, just as the body is covered by clothes. Our real body is within the material body. Dehino 'smin yathā dehe [Bg. 2.13]. The spiritual body is within the material body. The material body is changing, going through childhood, youth, then old age, and then it vanishes. Although this is not our real body, we are engaged in sense gratification with it. However, for our own ultimate happiness, we should try to purify our senses. There is no question of destroying the senses or becoming desireless. Desire is a material activity, and becoming desireless is not possible. The senses must be purified in order for us to act through them transcendentally. Bhakti-yoga does not require us to destroy our senses, but to purify them. When the senses are purified, we can serve Kṛṣṇa:


tat-paratvena nirmalam

hṛṣīkeṇa hṛṣīkeśa-

sevanaḿ bhaktir ucyate

[Cc. Madhya 19.170]

"Bhakti, or devotional service, means engaging all our senses in the service of the Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master of all the senses. When the spirit soul renders service unto the Supreme, there are two side effects. One is freed from all material designations, and, simply by being employed in the service of the Lord, one's senses are purified." (Nārada-pañcarātra)

We can serve Hṛṣīkeśa, the master of the senses, through the senses. We are part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, just as the hand is part and parcel of the body. Similarly, our senses are also part and parcel of the spiritual body of Kṛṣṇa. When we purify our senses, we can act in our original constitutional position and serve Kṛṣṇa. When we forget our position and try to satisfy ourselves, we become conditioned materially. When we forget that our duty is to serve Kṛṣṇa, we fall into the material world and become implicated in personal sense gratification. As long as we continue trying to satisfy our own senses, we have to accept another body. Kṛṣṇa is so kind that if we want to become tigers, He will give us a tiger body. If we want to become devotees, He will give us the body of a devotee. This life is a preparation for the next, and if we want to enjoy our transcendental senses, we have to purify ourselves to return home, back to Godhead. For this purpose, Devahūti is submitting to her son just as a disciple submits to his master.

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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness