The theory and practice of spiritualizing matter.

bhumir apo 'nalo vayuh
kham mano buddhir eva ca
ahankara itiyam me
bhinna prakrtir astadha

"Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false ego-all together these eight constitute My separated material energies." (Bhagavad-gita 7.4)

Srila Prabhupada

Here Lord Krsna is explaining that He expands Himself by His material energies. Since these eight are His external energies, they are called apara, "inferior." In the next verse Krsna will explain that besides this inferior energy there is the superior energy, the living entities.

For Krsna there are no "superior" or "inferior" energies, because He is the supreme spirit soul, but for us there are superior and inferior energies. For example, electricity can produce heat, and it can cool also. A refrigerator is worked by electricity, and a heater is also worked by electricity. So, we may say, "This is heat-producing electricity, and that is cold-producing electricity." But for the powerhouse there is no such distinction: It is all simply electricity. Similarly, for Krsna there is no superior or inferior energy. This will be explained later in this chapter.

So, Krsna says that these eight energies His external energies are separated from Him. This means that you cannot perceive Krsna directly in these energies. The materialistic scientists cannot understand that earth is Krsna's energy, water is Krsna's energy, and fire is Krsna's energy. The scientists accept that these are different energies, but whose energies they are that they do not know.

Krsna is explaining here that "these eight are My separated energies." We should study Krsna and Krsna's energies very intelligently and analytically. For example, if we want to know how the vast ocean has come into existence, we can understand from the Bhagavad-gita that this vast body of water has come from Krsna's energy.

Now, try to understand how Krsna's energy can produce such a large amount of water. First, consider that we produce perspiration from our body. That perspiration may be only one ounce of water, but it is produced from our body. How the water is coming out, I do not know. It is inconceivable. But it is coming out; that's a fact. So, since I am a tiny living entity, I am always limited; therefore my energy is also limited. But Krsna is unlimited. So He can produce unlimited perspiration from His body. We have to understand the ocean like that. Otherwise, it will not be possible for us to understand how such a vast amount of water has come into being.

All material elements are coming from a living entity, not from matter. For example, when the body is dead, the perspiration is not coming out, but as long as the body is living, the perspiration is there. Similarly, the source of all material elements is originally the supreme life Krsna not matter.

Here Krsna explains that earth, water, fire, air, and so on are His separated energies. How are they "separated"? That is explained in a different verse [Bg. 9.4]: maya tatam idam sarvam jagad avyakta-murtina. The material energies are called "separated" because in this material world you cannot directly perceive the presence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (jagad avyakta-murtina). And then Krsna says, na caham tesv avasthitah: "I am not present there. Although the material world is made up of My energy, still I am not present there." This is the philosophy of acintya-bhedabheda, that Krsna is simultaneously one with and different from His energies.

Now, each of these eight material elements is finer than the last one. Water is finer than earth. Earth does not move, but water can move. Therefore the water is finer. But finer than water is fire, and finer than fire is air, and finer than air is ether, and finer than ether is mind, and finer than mind is intelligence, and finer than intelligence is ahankara, the ego, or identity. But even finer than the ego is the soul. The soul is of a very small magnitude, one ten-thousandth the tip of a hair (kesagra-sata-bhagasya satamsa-sadrsatmakah).

Everything is explained in the Srimad-Bhagavad-gita. If we accept it, we get full knowledge. In this chapter [7.1] Krsna says, asamsayam samagram mam yatha jnasyasi tac chrnu: "Just hear Me. Then without any doubt you can understand Me in full."

Now, out of the eight material elements, the finest is ahankara, the ego. The ego, or identity, is false when we identify with the material body, which we are not. Real ahankara is to think, aham brahmasmi: "I am spirit."

Ego cannot be abolished; it will always be there. But the ego has to be cleansed. Therefore the bhakti-marga, the path of devotional service, is a cleansing process, a clearing process (ceto-darpana-marjanam). The mind, the intelligence, the ego everything remains, but they have to be cleansed. That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu's mission.

By chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, you'll be able to cleanse your misconception of life. Your misconception of life is to think, "I am matter." This is false ego. Actually, we are not matter. We are spirit soul. Therefore, pure ego is to know, aham brahmasmi: "I am a spirit soul." That is the beginning of understanding. In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna describes this understanding as the brahma-bhuta platform when one knows, "I am not this material body; I am a spirit soul."

So, gradually, by studying the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita and practicing them in life, we shall very easily understand atma-tattva, the science of the soul. That is the real business of human life. Unfortunately, we are not interested in understandingatma-tattva. As Sukadeva Gosvami says to Maharaja Pariksit in the Srimad-Bhagavatam [2.1.2], srotavyadini rajendra nrnam santi sahasrasah: "My dear king, for ordinary men there are many subject matters for hearing." Who is that ordinary man?Apasyatam atma-tattva: one who has no interest in seeing what he is. Everyone is under the illusion that he is the body and that his bodily interests are his prime interests. But nobody is interested in the soul. Therefore people have so many books, so many newspapers, so many magazines they like to hear and read. But they are not interested in hearing the Bhagavad-gita or Srimad-Bhagavatam, where atma-tattva, the science of the soul, is described.

Why are they not interested? Sukadeva Gosvami says, grhesu grha-medhinam: They are too absorbed in household affairs and are thinking, "This is life." They are thinking that they are happy within this material world. How? As Vidyapati, a great Vaisnava poet, has sung, tatala sai-kate vari-bindu-sama suta-mita-ramani-samaje. Suta means "children," mita means "friends," and ramani means "wife." So the happiness of material life is in society, friendship, and love. If we have many friends, and if there are a beautiful wife and nice children at home, then we think, "This is happiness; this is life." But that is not real life. Real life is to understand atma-tattva, the science of the soul. Without understanding atma-tattva, life is a failure.

We have created society, friendship, and love in this material world in order to become happy. Everyone wants to be happy because that is our natural inclination. We are part and parcel of Krsna, and He is anandamayo 'bhyasat, "by nature full of happiness." Krsna is enjoying His life with Srimati Radharani and the other gopis and the cowherd boys, and with His father and mother. All of that enjoyment is spiritual (ananda-cinmaya-rasa).

Here in this material world we create an imitation: the same lovers, friends, parents, sons but it is all false. In the desert an animal may see a vast mass of water, but it is only a mirage, and when the animal goes to drink the water, he dies. Similarly, in this material world we are trying to become happy by society, friendship, and love, but this is a will-o'-the-wisp, a false thing. Real life is in the society of Krsna. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura therefore says, krsnera samsara kara chadi anache: "If you enter into the society, friendship, and love of Krsna, that is the perfection of life."

You will not find real happiness in earth, water, fire, air, and so on. They are Krsna's separated energies. They are a reflection, a false representation chayeva. Chayeva means "just like a shadow or reflection." For example, when you see your face in the mirror, it is not actually your face you are seeing. It is simply the reflection of your face. Similarly, this material world is just like a reflection of the real, spiritual world. Therefore it is known as Krsna's separated energy.

Another example is a tape recording. If I speak into a tape recorder, when you play the tape my voice will come out. But that is not really my voice: it is a recording of my voice, my separated energy. With my energy I have spoken something I have vibrated some sound which is recorded on the tape. And when it is played back, it produces exactly the same sound, but still it is separated from me.

We should try to understand that this material world is Krsna's separated energy. Real life is in the spiritual world. Therefore the Srimad-Bhagavatam [1.1.1] says, satyam param dhimahi: "I meditate on the real truth, the Absolute Truth." Krsna is the Absolute Truth, and in the Bhagavad-gita He explains Himself. If we want to understand Krsna, then instead of speculating about Him we should accept what He teaches about Himself. Then our knowledge will be perfect.

So, the fact is that this material world belongs to Krsna it is His separated energy but we do not know how to use this energy for Krsna. Krsna's energy should be used for Krsna's purposes. That is the Vaisnava philosophy.

The Vaisnava philosophy never says that this world is false. Why is it false? It is not false. The Mayavadi [impersonalistic] philosopher says, brahma satyam jagan mithya: "The absolute is real; this world is false." Why is this world false? Take this temple, for example. If somebody says, "Yes, it is very nicely constructed, but it is all false," would we be happy? No. It is not false. What is this temple? It is Krsna's energy a combination of earth, water, fire, air. This temple is made of bricks, but what is a brick? You take earth, mix it with water, and put it into the fire, and it becomes brick. And there is also air in this temple.

So this temple is Krsna's energy. And it is not material, because it is being used for Krsna. The Vaisnava philosophy is that Krsna's energy should be used for Krsna's purpose, and when it is, it becomes spiritual. That is our philosophy.

The impersonalists, however, think that everything in this world is false and should be rejected. Srila Rupa Gosvami describes this attitude as phalgu-vairagya, false renunciation. Here in India there is a river named Phalgu. If you go there you'll see that there is no water on the surface of the river, but if you push your hand within the sand you'll touch water. So, phalgu-vairagya means that a person renounces everything superficially, but within his heart there is a desire to become God. He gives everything up, but he cannot give up his desire. This is the philosophy of the Mayavadis to try to become one with God.

But the devotees do not try to become either one with God or separated from God. They are satisfied in whatever condition God puts them.

So, you have to understand that although this material energy is separated from Krsna, it can be used for Krsna. And when it is, it becomes spiritual. It is no longer material. It is material only when it is used in forgetfulness of Krsna. When the karmis[fruitive workers] construct a big, big skyscraper building, their purpose is to enjoy it themselves. They are using the same things we are using to build the temple earth, water, fire, and air. They are mixing them together to make bricks and cement. But since the building is not being used for Krsna, it is material. Only if the building is used for the purposes of Krsna is it spiritual. This is proper renunciation, yukta-vairagya.

The philosophy of Krsna consciousness is that although the elements of this material world are separated from Krsna, we can use them for Krsna and thus spiritualize them. Again the same example: A tape recorder is material, but it can be used for Krsna's purpose. That is how we are writing books recording them on a tape recorder. This is yukta-vairagya, proper renunciation. There is no need to give up this earth, water, fire, and air, as the Mayavadi philosophers say. You can utilize them in Krsna's service. After all, it is all Krsna's energy.

Then, although this earth, water, fire, and air are Krsna's separated energies, when we reconnect them by engaging them in the service of the Lord, they become spiritual. Another example: If you put an iron rod into a fire, the rod becomes warm, warmer, warmer, warmer. Then, when it is red-hot, it is no longer an iron rod: it is fire. Similarly, although everything in this material world is separated from Krsna, if you engage the things of this world in the service of Krsna, they are no longer material: they are spiritual. This is the philosophy of the Vaisnavas.

If you always remember that everything, whatever you are using, is Krsna's energy, you will be in Krsna consciousness. We living entities are also Krsna's energy. Krsna will explain this in the next verse: apareyam itas tv anyam prakrtim viddhi me param. "There is another, superior energy of Mine. "What is that paraprakrti, that spiritual energy? Jiva-bhuta, the living entities. As matter is Krsna's energy, the spirit soul is also Krsna's energy. And there is another world, the spiritual world. That is also Krsna's energy. Everything is Krsna's energy.

So, when Krsna's material energy is engaged in the service of Krsna, it is converted into spiritual energy, exactly as the iron rod is converted into fire when held in the fire. We devotees of Krsna are attempting to engage all of Krsna's energies in His service and in this way change the material world into the spiritual world. That is the Krsna consciousness movement.

Thank you very much.