Articles by HDG Shrila B.S. Tirtha Maharaj

Fighting Against Invincible Odds 

Rich or poor, educated or uneducated, ugly or beautiful, everyone is fightingto survive in this world. Mighty emperors, great scholarsand wealthy men have all been defeatedin their fight. Swami B S Tirtha Maharajidentifies this invincible enemy and the secret of how to winthis never ending war.

On taking birth in this world, we are pushed into a battlefield. Life after life, we have to fight to survive. This fight continues as long as we live or remain on the battlefield. So, everyone here is fighting to exist. Today, we are exploited by politicians and terrified by terrorists. Our physical survival is at risk at every moment, in spite of our plan to fight on. The famous physicist Martin Rus said, “We are entering an era where a single person can, by one clandestine act, cause death of millions or render a city uninhabitable for years.” Foolishly, we imagine that we can survive by building nuclear arsenals. Such precautionary measures can, at the most, save people of one country by preempting the attacks from another enemy country. This is not the war we are engaged in. The dangerous enemy with whom we have to collectively declare war is ‘Maya’, the illusory material nature of the Supreme Lord Krishna. This Maya is invincible and its attack is lethal. And what’s more, it is not an affair of one lifetime.

A tsunami simply swallowed thousands striking various parts of Asia in 2004. Earthquakes periodically devour
many more. Innocent victims perishing in such natural calamities make regular headlines. Have the scientists lined up any defense against these calamities? Can they stop their occurance? They announce naively the degradation of the status of a planet like Pluto, not realizing an important fact that these scientists themselves are under the influence of these planets. They suffer and benefit from planetary influences when these heavenly bodies change their positions and affect them. Every one thinks he or she is fine. This is Maya. Man eats sweet cakes and says he is happy whereas pigs eat human stool and they also think they are happy. This is Maya. A donkey sleeps on the footpath and feels happy. A man sleeps in an air conditioned comfort and claims he is happy. This is Maya. Both the man and the donkey toil throughout the day and imagine they are happy. This is Maya. The benefits of material science are always exaggerated and many times distorted. Modern industrialization, a result of scientific progress, has resulted in reducing man

to a mere depersonalized entity, shorn of any feelings for
his brethren. Scientific advancement has only led to
economic disparity that has led to increasing hostility
and insecurity in the human society. Glorifying scientific
achievements is Maya.
Maya has the knack of presenting illusion. It makes accomplished men and women believe, “I am a minister, I am a billionaire, I am very beautiful, I am a scholar, I am a famous film star.” Unintelligent, illiterate and poverty stricken people think that those men and women are great persons. They curse themselves for the daily struggle on various fronts and the insults they endure. They think that these so-called ‘great’ people are lucky and hence enjoy life. The reality is that they, too, are struggling. The only difference is that they are struggling comfortably.

When a ship capsizes in mid–ocean, passengers who cannot swim are drowned. The passengers who can swim do survive and struggle to exist for a few hours. That’s all. But they cannot reach the shore and ultimately die.
Therefore, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, ugly or beautiful, everyone is struggling to exist in the ocean of Maya, facing the stiff fight in the vain hope of winning the war. Mighty emperors, great scholars and wealthy men, have all been defeated in their fight. Many lifetimes ago, we made mistakes and the fallout now bedevils us. Nobody can come out of the ambit of Maya although we seek to wriggle out of its clutches. Normally, we say that the dreams are false but spiritually speaking, even our experiences when we are fully awake, are also unreal. There is no factual difference between dream and wakeful state as both are not substantive but merely projections of Maya.

Sometimes we hear people talk about the survival of the fittest. ‘Survival’ means one should exist for ever. Otherwise, survival has no meaning. If one has to ultimately die, then what is the sense of struggling throughout one’s life? In this temporary world full of miseries, we struggle endlessly with no hope of either happiness or permanency. If surviving means simply eating and mating, then donkeys and monkeys are also surviving successfully. Shrimad Bhagavatam (2-3-18) poses the same question:
Bhastrah kim na shvasanty uta
Na khadanti na mehanti
Kim grame pashavo pare

Do the trees not live? Do the bellows of the blacksmith not breathe? All around us, do the beasts not eat and discharge semen?
The living beings move about in the turbulent whirlpool of birth and death. The Supreme Lord Krishna says in the Gita (10/34), “I am death and take away everything.” Survival in a shackled existence is no survival at all. However fit he or she may be, no one can survive in this world. No one can win this war. All have lost in the past and many are losing.

Do our attempts to survive here make it a happy situation? No. Survival in this world means a continuous struggle. All of us struggle frantically to exist, not live happily. We may be highly educated, extremely rich and socially popular, yet we must constantly fight this war until our death. Then this war is lost only to continue in the next birth. Why this struggle? Because Maya will not permit us to live peacefully. Maya functions in two ways. In its prakshepatmika (throwing influence) mode, it hurls the living entity into this material environment and ignites the desires of enjoying our five senses. Puffed up with high education, maddened by wealth, infatuated by power and prestige, a person ceaselessly plans various methods of sense indulgence. This person does not understand that the desire for material pleasure increases day by day in endless new forms.

Relentlessly, the senses demand unlimited satisfaction. The senses center around attachment and aversion. Senses are always tempted. Temptation under stress of provocation becomes irresistible. Thus, one becomes trapped within Maya to experience its viciousness of unending action and reaction that traps one in the repeated cycle of birth and death. This is actually a disease when the person falsely thinks he or she is enjoying .This is Maya. By its avaranatmika (eclipsing influence) function, Maya covers the spirit soul’s eternal knowledge of its constitutional nature. So the living being forgets about its spiritual nature and falsely imagines it to be only the material body.
This has to be given up through serving the Supreme
Lord Krishna. The materialistically programmed mind
suffers from the never ending impact of Maya for many
lifetimes. We hope against hope to live here happily and

Out of ignorance, we seek blessings from God and
saintly persons to come out of distressing situations, for
material comforts and luxuries and a long life of
prosperity for our children without understanding that
our present life is like a short stay in the transit lounge
of an airport. We should not worry about the temporary
inconvenience we suffer at a small airport during transit.
We should mentally adjust to whatever amenities are
available there and look forward to the connecting flight
that will take us to our destination.
Similarly, we should not bother about the living conditions in this world because ours is only a short stay here. Moreover, we have no idea how short is our stay here. So we have to strive hard for our successful attainment of the ultimate destination of the spiritual abode of God. Thus, we must not waste our time trying for increased happiness here. No wonder, many leaders, economists, politicians and big businessmen - all very ambitious for great achievements - have failed individually or collectively. Shrimad Bhagavatam (7-7-41) aptly describes this situation:
yad-artha iha karmani
vidvan-many asakrin narah
karoty ato viparyasam
amogham vindate phalam

A materialistic person, thinking himself very advanced in intelligence, continually acts for economic development. But again and again, as enunciated in the Vedas, he is frustrated by material activities, either in this life or in the next. Indeed, the results one obtains are inevitably the opposite of those one desires.
does not obtain any happiness in the true sense. On the contrary, the moment one begins to act according to a
plan, aimed purely to attain pleasure, one starts facing various distressing situations. In appreciation of his unflinching devotion, when Lord Narasimhadeva asked the devotee Prahlada to seek from Him a boon of his choice, the child devotee politely declined as stated in Shrimad Bhagavatam (7-9-25):
kutrashishah shruti-sukha mrigatrishni-rupah
kvedam kalevaram ashesha-rujam virohah
nirvidyate na tu jano yad apiti vidvan
kamanalam madhu-lavaih samayan durapaih

In this material world, every living entity desires some future happiness, which is exactly like a mirage in the desert. Where is water in the desert, or, in other words, where is happiness in this material world? As for this body, what is its value? It is merely a source of various diseases. The so-called philosophers, scientists and politicians know this very well, but nonetheless they aspire for temporary happiness. Happiness is very difficult to obtain, but because they are unable to control their senses, they run after the so-called happiness of the material world and never come to the right conclusion.

Prahlada rightly asks, “What is the use of blessings here?” All such blessings are just like a mirage in a desert. On hearing glorified words like ‘blessings’, he says, “They are merely pleasant to hear-shruti sukha.” Ultimately, everything is useless here because nothing lasts forever. It is only a continuous struggle against the invincible Maya. Admitting his discomfiture, accepting his inabilities and expressing his helplessness in effectively confronting situations imposed by Maya, Prahlada realizes that surrender to God is the only way to win the war waged by Maya. He states in Shrimad Bhagavatam (7-9-17):
yasmat priyapriya - viyoga-samyoga-janmashokagnina
sakala-yonishu dahyamanah
duhkhaushadham tad api duhkham atad-dhiyaham
bhuman bhramami vada me tava dasya - yogam

O Great One, O Supreme Lord, because of combination with pleasing and displeasing circumstances and because of separation from them, one is placed in a most regrettable position, within heavenly or hellish planets, as if burning in a fire of lamentation. Although there are many remedies by which to get out of miserable life, any such remedies
in the material world are more miserable than the miseries themselves. Therefore, I think that the only remedy is to engage in Your service. Kindly instruct me in such service.
So by glorifying the survival of the fittest, we show a lack of true intelligence. The real wisdom is to observe keenly the very futility of the struggle for existence. We should discover the real purpose of life. In the Bhagavat Gita, the Supreme Lord Krishna lays a great emphasis to impress upon Arjuna that Maya is duratyaya (insurmountable). So human beings, through their self–exertion, are incompetent to deal with and ultimately overcome the overwhelming influence of Maya, the material nature of Lord Krishna. This war can never be won without the Lord’s assistance. The Lord is once again unambiguous when He states: “Mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te-Only those who fully surrender unto Me can cross beyond it.” Struggle implies material life. Surrender denotes spiritual life. The goal of human life is to search for our spiritual origin with our eternal connection. Our aim should be to acquire a proper understanding of the underlying unity of all things-phenomenal and spiritual. The perfect knowledge is to realize Lord Krishna Who is beyond and superior to the knowledge of mere understanding of the spiritual essence that we share with this supreme spiritual entity.

Whether privileged or disadvantaged, one who is not exposed to one’s spiritual life does not realise the enormous human potential. It is not meant for high impact material activities, its chief purpose is to realize god. Spiritualists propagating monism (a single explanation for everything) believe that the Ultimate Reality is formless. It is merely a super-conscious entity called Brahman. They maintain that this Brahman alone is the truth and the material world is false although it appears to exist around us as real and solid. This thinking is Maya. This is the last trap laid by Maya to retain the errant living beings in its bondage.
We want to project what is illusory as real but it is still
illusory. We want to proclaim ephemeral to be eternal,
but it is still temporary. We assume falsehood to be the
truth, but it is still false. Even highly recognised demigods like Indra and Chandra become victims of Maya’s enticement. So the real secret of winning this unending war is to surrender completely to the Supreme Lord Krishna, without which the war against Maya, which we keep fighting in life after life, cannot be won


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