When God says we're his energy, does that mean we're God?

A lecture given in Bombay, March 30, 1971

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

apareyam itas tv anyam
prakrtim viddhi me param
jiva-bhutam maha-baho
yayedam dharyate jagat

Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false ego all together these eight constitute My separated material energies.

The Source of All Energy

Besides these, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is another, superior energy of Mine, which comprises the living entities who are exploiting the resources of this material, inferior nature.(Bhagavad-gita 7.4-5)

HERE KRSNA EXPLAINS how He is everything. Material scientists study the five gross material elements: earth, water, fire, air, and sky. And psychologists and philosophers study the three subtle elements: the intelligence, the false ego, and the stages of the mind thinking, feeling, and willing. Here Krsna says, "These eight material elements are My separated energy."

We can understand "separated energy" in this way: I am speaking, and the tape recorder is recording my voice. When the tape is played, you'll find that I am speaking again. But that speaking is different from my present speaking. That speaking is separated energy.

Although the material world is Krsna's separated energy, it acts under His direction. It is not independent. The material scientists think that there is no God and that matter is working only by actions and reactions. But that is not the fact. Matter is dependent on the direction of the Supreme Lord. As Krsna states in the ninth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, mayadhyaksena prakrtih suyate sa-caracaram: "The material energy is acting under My superintendence."

The idea that the material energy acts independently is not a very good understanding. This electric fan is running, but it is not running independently. To run the fan we need electric energy, a powerhouse, and a superintending engineer in the powerhouse. So at the end there is a living force the engineer.

Matter cannot work independently. We have no experience of matter working independently. When we see matter working, we must know that it is working because behind it is spiritual existence.

Krsna says that the material elements come from Him. But we cannot understand that from a person all these material manifestations are produced. The gigantic sky, the innumerable planets with varieties of energy how is it possible that these are produced from a person? Therefore, those who are poor in knowledge think of the Supreme Absolute Truth as impersonal. But in fact He is a person.

The universe develops from Krsna, the supreme spirit, just as our body develops from the small spiritual spark. The size of that spiritual spark is described in the Vedic literature:

satadha kalpitasya ca 
bhago jivah sa vijneyah
sa canantyaya kalpate

If you divide the tip of a hair into one hundred parts and then take one of those parts and divide that again into one hundred parts that one-ten-thousandth of the tip of a hair is the size of the spirit soul. And on the basis of the spirit soul, the body develops.

From the Vedic literature we learn that the spiritual spark takes shelter in the semen of the father, who injects the semen into the womb of the mother. Then, if the situation is favorable, the body begins to develop. First it is the size of a pea. That pealike body develops, and then different holes manifest. They develop into the eyes, the ears, the mouth, the nose, the genitals, and the rectum the nine holes in the body.

So anyone can understand that the small spiritual spark develops the body. Similarly, the whole universe develops from the spiritual body of Krsna as Paramatma, the soul of the universe.

The Buddhist theory is that the combination of matter produces living symptoms. But from Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic literature we understand that spirit produces matter. According to Lord Buddha's philosophy, the body is a combination of matter and if we dismantle that matter we will have no more pains and pleasures. That is the philosophy of the sunya-vadis. But we are neither sunya-vadis nor nirvisesa-vadis, those who think that everything is ultimately formless. We are savisesa-vadis: we accept that the spirit soul has form.

We are changing our bodies, just as a person gives up old garments and accepts new ones. Because our spiritual body has form hands, legs, and so on we develop a material body that has form. That we can understand very easily. Just as your coat and shirt have hands and legs because you have hands and legs, the material body, which is considered a garment, has developed on the body of the spiritual form. That understanding is called savisesa-vada.

The external feature of the Lord includes the eight elements mentioned in this verse. And of those eight, three are subtle forms: mind, intelligence, and false ego. Although they are subtle, they are material, not spiritual. So because the mind is a subtle form of matter, to think that mental speculation is spiritual is incorrect.

At night our subtle body works and we think we have a separate body and have gone somewhere else, away from our house, away from our room. We forget the physical material body. Similarly, after death our mind and intelligence carry us to another body according to our thinking at the time of death, and we forget the body we have now.

Now, false ego consists of thinking, "I am a product of matter." Actually, we are Brahman, spirit aham brahmasmi. Above all the material elements mentioned here is the platform of the spirit soul. The spirit soul is part of the Supreme Soul, Krsna, and Krsna is the origin of everything, both material and spiritual janmady asya yatah.

Krsna has various kinds of energy. Parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate. The material energy is one of them. It is called the external energy. Just as my body or your body is our external energy, the whole cosmos is a manifestation of the external energy of Krsna.

After listing the material elements, Krsna says, "The material energies are inferior." Apara means "inferior." Just as we compare things in this world and say that one thing is inferior and another superior, here Krsna analyzes Himself. He says that His eight material energies are inferior and that there is another nature, which is superior. And that superior energy is jiva-bhuta the living entities.

We are energies of Krsna. The Mayavada philosophy claims that we are the same as Brahman, the impersonal aspect of the Supreme, or Paramatma, the Supersoul. But Bhagavad-gita says that we living entities are simply energy and Krsna is the energetic.

There is a difference between the energy and the energetic. Take the example of fire. Fire is the energetic source, and light and heat are the energies of fire. Or consider the sun and the sunshine. The sunshine is the energy of the sun. If you think that because the sunshine has entered your room therefore the sun has entered your room, you are mistaken.

The energy and the energetic are simultaneously one and different. That is the philosophy of Lord Caitanya: acintya-bhedabheda. Many philosophers say that God and the living entity are the same but that the living entity fails to realize this because he is covered by maya, illusion. Yes, the living entity is covered by maya, but God cannot be covered by maya. That is not possible. A cloud may block the sun from my eyesight, but a cloud can never cover the sun. So how could the living entity be the same as God?

Maya is an energy of God:

visnu-saktih para prokta
ksetra-jnakhya tatha para
trtiya saktir isyate

All of the multifarious energies of Krsna are spiritual. If Krsna is complete spirit, His energies must also be spiritual. Therefore the Visnu Purana says, visnu-saktih para prokta: "Originally, the energies of God are spiritual." Para means "spiritual."Ksetra-jnakya tatha para: The ksetra-jna-sakti, or jiva-sakti the living entity is also para sakti, spiritual. Avidya-karma-samjnanya trtiya saktir isyate: But there is another energy, which is avidya, ignorance. Though originally spiritual, that energy is now acting as ignorance.

One kind of avidya is to think that Brahman, God, is covered by maya, illusion. How can Brahman, which means "the great," be covered by maya? Then maya would be the great, not Brahman.

If maya covers Brahman, then maya becomes greater than Brahman, and that is not possible. Maya is an energy or a product of Brahman, just as a cloud is a product of the sun. By the heat of the sun the sea water is evaporated and transformed into clouds. So a cloud is nothing but a transformation of the energy of the sun. Similarly, maya-sakti is an energy of Krsna.

So Krsna controls maya; maya never controls Krsna. The idea that maya controls Krsna is not a very good theory. Such thinking is due to a poor fund of knowledge. Krsna cannot be covered.

When Vyasadeva, the compiler of the Vedas, saw Krsna and maya by bhakti-yoga meditation, maya was in the background like a shadow not in the front. Maya cannot cover Krsna. That is a wrong philosophy. Maya can cover the individual soul.

Because the individual soul is apt to fall down under the clutches of maya, the soul is called tatastha-sakti, the marginal energy. The soul's position is similar to that of the seashore, which is sometimes dry and sometimes covered by water. When we are covered by maya, that is called the jiva-bhuta stage, and when we are no longer covered, that is called the brahma-bhuta stage. When we are Krsna conscious, then we are brahma-bhuta, and when we are not Krsna conscious when we are materially conscious that is maya. As soon as we are freed from the clutches of maya, we become prasannatma joyful just as a person feels happy when freed from the contamination of a disease.

Here Arjuna is addressed as maha-baho, "the great fighter." Krsna is saying that as a great fighter Arjuna can understand these things. Who is a great fighter? One who acts under Krsna's direction.

Those who preach Krsna consciousness are also maha-baho. They "fight" with persons who are not Krsna conscious. They push forward the Krsna consciousness movement by fighting. But that fighting is a different kind of fighting. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught that kind of fighting. Krsna-varnam tvisakrsnam sangopangastra-parsadam. Astra means "weapons." Caitanya Mahaprabhu fought maya not with a machine gun but with His most confidential associates sri-krsna-caitanya prabhu-nityananda sri-advaita gadadhara srivasadi-gaura-bhakta-vrnda. His fighting weapons were Sri Advaita Prabhu, Sri Nityananda Prabhu, and many other devotees.

So Lord Caitanya's movement is also fighting, but in a different way. For example, Lord Caitanya sent one of His soldiers, Nityananda Prabhu, to deliver the sinful brothers Jagai and Madhai. Trying to deliver the sinful is also fighting.

All the devotees, all the preachers of the Krsna consciousness movement, are maha-baho strongly armed by the weapons of Krsna. They cannot be defeated. They will push on in the fight with illusion.

What is that illusion? The living entity under illusion is thinking that he will be happy by material comforts. That is not possible. So the Krsna consciousness movement is a declaration of war with maya. And the war is fought by chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The transcendental vibration will clarify the whole atmosphere. And as soon as the Krsna conscious soldiers come out victorious, the whole world will be peaceful.

So the individual living entities are part of Krsna as energy. As stated in this verse, the living entities are prakrti, not purusa. Purusa means "enjoyer," and prakrti means "enjoyed." A crude example of purusa and prakrti is man and woman. Man is understood to be the enjoyer, and woman is understood to be the enjoyed. Similarly, the living entity prakrti is not the enjoyer; prakrti is the enjoyed. That is our natural position. And if we artificially try to be the enjoyer, we never become happy.

According to the Vedic scripture Manu-samhita, a woman has no independence: na striyam svatantratam arhati. A woman should always remain dependent, and that is her real happiness. When young, let her remain dependent under the protection of her father. Then let her remain dependent under the protection of her husband. And, finally, in old age let her remain dependent under the protection of grown sons. Those are the directions of Manu, who has given us law.

Actually, if a woman is dependent on a suitable father, husband, or son, she is happy. Therefore, according to our Vedic civilization, when a girl is young the father is dutybound to find a suitable boy to take charge of her. When he finds a suitable boy, the father is relieved "Now I have given charge of my girl to a suitable boy, and I am happy."

Perhaps you saw our wedding ceremony yesterday. The husband promised, "I take charge of you to make you comfortable throughout your life." And the wife promised, "Yes, I accept you as my husband, and I shall devote my life just to make you happy." These are the proper relationships.

Here Krsna says that jiva-bhuta the living entity is prakrti (the enjoyed), not purusa (the enjoyer). How can the prakrti be the enjoyer of the material world? That is not possible. That is artificial. Therefore, our main disease is that although we are meant to be enjoyed by Krsna we are trying to be the enjoyer. We are meant to be predominated by Krsna, but we are trying to be the predominator. That is our fault. Don't try to be the predominator. Try to be predominated by Krsna, and you will be happy.

Again, take the example of a woman. As soon as she is under the protection of a good father, a nice husband, and a nice grown son she is very happy. And as soon as she is independent … I have seen practically that in Europe and America, where so many women have declared independence, they are most unhappy. In old age they are very, very unhappy. In youth also because they do not get a good husband they are very unhappy. When one young girl sees that another young girl has a husband, she thinks, "Oh, this girl has a husband." That is a girl's nature.

As prakrti, we should remain dependent on the supreme husband or on the supreme father. You can accept Krsna as your father. You can love Krsna as your father, as your husband, as your master. Remain dependent on Krsna.

Krsna has come to teach us the natural position of the living entities. We should not be puffed up, thinking, "I am God, I am Krsna, everyone is Krsna." That is maya, the last snare of maya. Maya dictates, "Become the biggest, richest man in the world." And you struggle to be the leader.

Actually, nobody is the leader. Only Krsna is the leader. That is the Vedic injunction. And Krsna Himself says, bhokta aham: "I am bhokta, the enjoyer." Krsna does not say, "You living entities are also bhokta." He never told Arjuna, "You are bhokta;I am bhokta."

We have to accept our position as prakrti and become dependent on Krsna. Then Krsna will take charge. Krsna says, aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami: "I will deliver you from all sinful reactions." He will give us protection. Kaunteya pratijanihi na me bhaktah pranasyati: "My devotee will never perish."

If we accept this philosophy that we are dependent on Krsna then our life is successful. Otherwise, we will simply struggle for existence.

Krsna says, jiva-bhutam maha-baho yayedam dharyate jagat: The whole material world is moving because of the jiva-bhuta, the living entities. This city, Bombay, is important because there are so many living entities here. And if something happens and all the people leave, then a big, big skyscraper will not draw even two hundred rupees' rent; it will be unimportant. Similarly, the whole material world is important because the jiva-bhuta is struggling here, falsely thinking himself the enjoyer.

And everyone in the material world from Brahma down to the insignificant ant is struggling hard to become equal to Krsna, to be the bhokta. So the Krsna consciousness movement is meant to bring people to the sane condition. We are teaching, "You are not bhokta; Krsna is bhokta. Become bhogya, the enjoyed, not the enjoyer. Then you will be happy."

Thank you very much.