Nobody can trace out the history of the living entity's entanglement in material energy; therefore the Lord says that it is beginingless. Beginingless means that conditional life exists prior to the creation-it is simply manifested with and after the creation. Due to this forgetfulness, the living entity, although spirit, is suffering all kinds of miseries of material existence. It is to be understood here also that there are other living entities who are not entangled in this material energy. Such living entities are situated in the spiritual world, and they are called liberated souls. They are also always engaged in Krishna Consciousness and in devotional service. The activities of those who are under the conditions of material nature are taken into account, and in their next life, according to such activities, they are offered different grades of material bodies. In the material world the spiritual soul in conditional life is subjected to different rewards and punishments. When he is rewarded he is elevated to the higher planets due to his righteous activities, and there he becomes one with the many demigods; and when he is punished for his abominable activities he is thrown into different kinds of hellish planets, and there he suffers the miseries of material existence more acutely. The Lord gives a very nice example of this punishment; formerly a king used to punish a criminal by dunking him in the river and then raising him again for breath, and then again dunking him in the water; now, material nature punishes and rewards the individual entity in just the same way. When he is punished he is dunked into the water of material miseries, and when he is rewarded he is taken out of it for some time. Elevation of the living entity to higher planets or to a higher status of life is never permanent. He has to come down again to be drowned in the water. All this is going on in this material existence. Sometimes he is elevated to the higher planetary system, and sometimes he is thrown into the hellish condition of material life.
In this connection the Lord recites a nice verse from Srimad Bhagavatam taken from the instruction of Narada Muni to Vasudeva, father of Krishna. In this quotation from the nine sages who were instructing Maharaja Nemi it is stated that forgetfulness of the relationship with Krishna is called maya. Actually, maya means that which is not. It has no existence. Therefore that the living entity has no connection with the Supreme Lord is a false conception. He may not believe in the existence of God, or he may think he has no relationship with God, but these are all so-called "illusions," or maya. Due to his absorption in this false conception of life, man is always fearful and full of anxieties; in other words, such a Godless concept of life is maya therefore one who is actually learned in the Vedic literatures surrenders unto the Supreme Lord with all devotion and accepts Him as the Supreme Goal. When a living entity becomes forgetful of the constitutional position of his relationship with God, then he is at once overwhelmed by the external energy, and this is the cause of his false ego or identifying his body as self. His whole conception of the material universe is due to his false conception of Body. He therefore becomes attached to this body and the by-products of this body. To get out of this entanglement he has simply to perform his duty to surrender unto the Supreme Lord with intelligence, with devotion, and with sincere Krishna consciousness.
A conditioned soul falsely thinks himself happy in the material world, but if he is favored by an unalloyed devotee by hearing instruction from an unalloyed devotee he gives up the desire for material enjoyment and becomes enlightened in Krishna Consciousness. As soon as one enters into Krishna Consciousness, his desire for material enjoyment at once is vanquished, and gradually he becomes free from material entanglement. For example, because there is no question of darkness where there is light, Krishna consciousness is like the light that dispels the darkness of material sense enjoyment. One who is engaged in Krishna Consciousness generally has no desire for material enjoyment. A Krishna Conscious person is never under the false conception that he is One with God. He does not think that he would be happy by working for himself. He engages all his energy in the service of the Supreme Lord, and thereby becomes released from the clutches of illusory energy, or material energy. In this connection the Lord quotes a verse in the Bhagavad Gita, 7th chapter, to the effect that the material energy containing the three modes of material nature, is very strong. It is very difficult to get out of the process of material energy, but one who surrenders unto Krishna easily comes out from the clutches of Maya.
The Lord continued to teach that the conditioned soul, for each and every moment in which he is engaged in some fruitive activity, is forgetting his real identity. Sometimes when he is fatigued, when he is tired of material activities, he wants liberation and wants to become one with the Supreme, but other times he thinks that by working hard for his sense gratification he will be happy. In both cases he is covered by material energy. For the enlightenment of such bewildered conditioned souls who are working in false identification, the Lord has presented before us so many Vedic literatures, like the Vedas, the Puranas, Vedantasutra all intended to guide the human being back to Godhead. Lord Lord has presented further instructions advising that when a conditioned soul is recognized by the mercy of the spiritual master and when he is guided by the Supersoul, he takes advantage of the various Vedic literatures, becomes enlightened, and makes progess in his spiritual realization. It is understood that Lord Krishna is always merciful to His devotees, therefore He has presented all these Vedic literatures by which one can understand his relationship with Krishna and can act in that relationship with the result that he is benefited with the ultimate goal of life.
Actually every living entity is destined to reach the Supreme Lord, and every one can understand his relationship with the Supreme Lord. The execution of duties to attain perfection is known as devotional service, and in fullness such devotional service becomes love of God, the factual goal of life for every living entity. The living entity is not intended to achieve success in religious perfection or economic development or sense enjoyment. Religiosity, economic development, sense enjoyment, and liberation should not actually be desired by the living entity. The real desire of the living entity should be to achieve the stage of loving transcendental service of the Lord. The All-attractive features of Lord Krishna help one in attaining Krishna Consciousness, and when one is engaged in Krishna Consciousness he can realize the relationship between Krishna and himself. In this connection the Lord quotes one story from the commentary of Mahabharata which occurs in Srimad Bhagavatam, fifth Canto. The story involves the instruction of Sarvajna to a poor man who came to Sarvajna to have his future told. When Sarvajna saw the horoscope of the poor man he was at once astonished that the man was so poor, and he said to the poor man, "Oh, why are you so unhappy? I see from your horoscope that you have some hidden treasure left to you by your father. The horoscope, however, states that your father could not disclose his hidden treasure to you because he died in a foreign place. But now you can search out the hidden treasure left by your father and be happy." This story is cited because the living entity is suffering due to his ignorance of the hidden treasure of the father. The hidden treasure of the Father, Krishna, is love of Godhead. In every Vedic literature the conditioned soul is advised to find that hidden treasure which is known as love of God. As stated in the Bhagavad Gita, Vadaisachasarvai aham evavedyam. A conditioned soul, although he is the son of the Wealthiest the Personality of Godhead does not realize it. Therefore the Vedic literature is given to him to help him search out his father and his paternal property.
Sarvajna further advised the poor man, "Don't try to dig on the Southern side of your house to find the hidden treasure. If you do so then you'll be attacked by a poisonous wasp and you will be baffled in finding the treasure. The search should be to the eastern side where there is actual light which is called devotional service, or Krishna Consciousness. On the Southern side there is ritualistic performances of the Vedic scripture, and on the Western side there is speculative empiric knowledge, and on the Northern side there is the yoga system or meditational process of self realization. If somebody searches for his ultimate goal by the ritualistic process then he will be baffled. Such a process involves performance of rituals under the guidance of the priest who takes money in exchange of service. A man thinks he'll be happy by such performances, but actually that will not make him happy. Even if he does gain some result therefrom, it is only temporary and his material distresses will continue, so he never becomes happy by such a ritualistic process the hidden treasure on the Northern side is compared with one's self-realization by dint of the meditational process. By the meditational process, even if one attains perfection-he thinks he is One with the Supreme Lord this merging into the Supreme by the living entity is something like the great serpent swallowing up the smaller serpent. From practical experience we see sometimes that the big serpent swallows up a smaller serpent, and the merge into the spiritual existence of the Supreme is analogous. The small serpent is, therefore, searching after perfection, and he is understood to be swallowed by the big serpent. Digging on the Western side is compared to the hidden treasure protected by yakasa. He is the evil spirit that protects hidden treasure. The idea is that hidden treasure can never be delivered by one who asks favor of Yakasa for attaining the hidden treasure the result is that he will simply be killed. The Jnanis or the yogins are analogous to the serpent relationship of the meditational process. The speculative process of self-realization, or yoga perfection of self-realization, is suicidal in this case. Actually one has to dig for the hidden treasure from the Eastern side which is called devotional service in full Krishna Consciousness. That is the perpetual hidden treasure, and when one attains to that achievement, he becomes perpetually rich. One who is poor in devotional service and Krishna Consciousness is always in need of material gain. Sometimes he is suffering the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune," and sometimes he is baffled; sometimes he is following the philosophy of monism and therefore losing his identity, and sometimes he is swallowed up by the big serpent. By giving up all these things and becoming fixed in Krishna Consciousness or devotional service to the Lord, he achieves the perfection of life.