Srimad-Bhagavatam: Canto 7: “The Science of God”
by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Chapter Thirteen



kavih kalpo nipuna-drk

citra-priya-kathah samah

lokasya kurvatah karma

sese tad-viksitapi va


kavih—very learned; kalpah—expert; nipuna-drk—intelligent; citra-priya-kathah—able to speak palatable words that are pleasing to the heart; samah—equipoised; lokasya—of the people in general; kurvatah—engaged in; karma—fruitive work; sese—you lie down; tat-viksita—seeing them all; api—although; va—either.


Your Honor appears learned, expert and intelligent in every way. You can speak very well, saying things that are pleasing to the heart. You see that people in general are engaged in fruitive activities, yet you are lying here inactive.


Prahlada Maharaja studied the bodily features of the saintly person, and through the saint’s physiognomy Prahlada Maharaja could understand that he was intelligent and expert, although he was lying down and not doing anything. Prahlada was naturally inquisitive about why he was lying there inactive.



sri-narada uvaca

sa ittham daitya-patina

pariprsto maha-munih

smayamanas tam abhyaha



sri-naradah uvaca—the great saint Narada Muni said; sah—that saintly person (lying down); ittham—in this way; daitya-patina—by the King of the Daityas (Prahlada Maharaja); pariprstah—being sufficiently questioned; maha-munih—the great saintly person; smayamanah—smiling; tam—unto him (Prahlada Maharaja); abhyaha—prepared to give answers; tat-vak—of his words; amrta-yantritah—being captivated by the nectar.


Narada Muni continued: When the saintly person was thus questioned by Prahlada Maharaja, the King of the Daityas, he was captivated by this shower of nectarean words, and he replied to the inquisitiveness of Prahlada Maharaja with a smiling face.



sri-brahmana uvaca

vededam asura-srestha

bhavan nanv arya-sammatah

ihoparamayor nrnam

padany adhyatma-caksusa


sri-brahmanah uvaca—the brahmana replied; veda—know very well; idam—all these things; asura-srestha—O best of the asuras; bhavan—you; nanu—indeed; arya-sammatah—whose activities are approved by civilized men; iha—of inclination; uparamayoh—of decreasing; nrnam—of the people in general; padani—different stages; adhyatma-caksusa—by transcendental eyes.


The saintly brahmana said: O best of the asuras, Prahlada Maharaja, who are recognized by advanced and civilized men, you are aware of the different stages of life because of your inherent transcendental eyes, with which you can see a man’s character and thus know clearly the results of acceptance and rejection of things as they are.


A pure devotee like Prahlada Maharaja can understand the minds of others because of his pure vision in devotional service. A devotee like Prahlada Maharaja can study another man’s character without difficulty.



yasya narayano devo

bhagavan hrd-gatah sada

bhaktya kevalayajnanam

dhunoti dhvantam arkavat


yasya—of whom; narayanah devah—the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana; bhagavan—the Lord; hrt-gatah—in the core of the heart; sada—always; bhaktya—by devotional service; kevalaya—alone; ajnanam—ignorance; dhunoti—cleans; dhvantam—darkness; arka-vat—as the sun.


Narayana, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is full of all opulences, is predominant within the core of your heart because of your being a pure devotee. He always drives away all the darkness of ignorance, as the sun drives away the darkness of the universe.


The words bhaktya kevalaya indicate that simply by executing devotional service one can become full of all knowledge. Krsna is the master of all knowledge (aisvaryasya samagrasya viryasya yasasah sriyah). The Lord is situated in everyone’s heart (isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese ’rjuna tisthati [Bg. 18.61]), and when the Lord is pleased with a devotee, the Lord instructs him. Only to the devotees, however, does the Lord give instructions by which to advance further and further in devotional service. To others, the nondevotees, the Lord gives instructions according to the manner of their surrender. The pure devotee is described by the words bhaktya kevalaya. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura explains that bhaktya kevalaya means jnana-karmady-amisraya, “unmixed with fruitive activities or speculative knowledge.” Simply surrendering at the lotus feet is the cause of all a devotee’s enlightenment and awareness.



tathapi brumahe prasnams

tava rajan yatha-srutam

sambhasaniyo hi bhavan

atmanah suddhim icchata


tathapi—still; brumahe—I shall answer; prasnan—all the questions; tava—your; rajan—O King; yatha-srutam—as I have learned by hearing from the authorities; sambhasaniyah—fit for being addressed; hi—indeed; bhavan—you; atmanah—of the self; suddhim—purification; icchata—by one who desires.


My dear King, although you know everything, you have posed some questions, which I shall try to answer according to what I have learned by hearing from authorities. I cannot remain silent in this regard, for a personality like you is just fit to be spoken to by one who desires self-purification.


A saintly person doesn’t wish to speak to anyone and everyone, and he is therefore grave and silent. Generally a common man does not need to be advised. Unless one is prepared to take instructions, it is said that a saintly person should not address him, although sometimes, because of great kindness, a saintly person speaks to ordinary men. As for Prahlada Maharaja, however, since he was not a common, ordinary man, whatever questions he posed would have to be answered, even by a great and exalted personality. Therefore the saintly brahmana did not remain silent, but began to answer. These answers, however, were not concocted by him. This is indicated by the words yatha-srutam, meaning “as I have heard from the authorities.” In the parampara system, when the questions are bona fide the answers are bona fide. No one should attempt to create or manufacture answers. One must refer to the sastras and give answers according to Vedic understanding. The words yatha-srutam refer to Vedic knowledge. The Vedas are known as sruti because this knowledge is received from authorities. The statements of the Vedas are known as sruti-pramana. One should quote evidence from the sruti—the Vedas or Vedic literature—and then one’s statements will be correct. Otherwise one’s words will proceed from mental concoction.



trsnaya bhava-vahinya

yogyaih kamair apuryaya

karmani karyamano ’ham

nana-yonisu yojitah


trsnaya—because of material desires; bhava-vahinya—under the sway of the material laws of nature; yogyaih—as it is befitting; kamaih—by material desires; apuryaya—without end, one after another; karmani—activities; karyamanah—constantly being compelled to perform; aham—I; nana-yonisu—in various forms of life; yojitah—engaged in the struggle for existence.


Because of insatiable material desires, I was being carried away by the waves of material nature’s laws, and thus I was engaging in different activities, struggling for existence in various forms of life.


As long as a living entity wants to fulfill various types of material desire, he must continuously change from one body to accept another. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura explains that as a small piece of grass falls in a river and is tossed about with different types of wood and tree branches, the living entity floats in the ocean of material existence and is dashed and tossed amidst material conditions. This is called the struggle for existence. One kind of fruitive activity causes the living being to take one form of body, and because of actions performed in that body, another body is created. One must therefore stop these material activities, and the chance to do so is given in the human form of life. Specifically, our energy to act should be engaged in the service of the Lord, for then materialistic activities will automatically stop. One must fulfill one’s desires by surrendering unto the Supreme Lord, for He knows how to fulfill them. Even though one may have material desires, one should therefore engage in the devotional service of the Lord. That will purify one’s struggle for existence.

akamah sarva-kamo va
moksa-kama udara-dhih
tivrena bhakti-yogena
yajeta purusam param

“A person who has broader intelligence, whether he be full of all material desire, without any material desire, or desiring liberation, must by all means worship the supreme whole, the Personality of Godhead.” (Bhag. 2.3.10)

anukulyena krsnanu-
silanam bhaktir uttama

[Madhya 19.167]

“One should render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord Krsna favorably and without desire for material profit or gain through fruitive activities or philosophical speculation. That is called pure devotional service.” (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.1.11)



yadrcchaya lokam imam

prapitah karmabhir bhraman

svargapavargayor dvaram

tirascam punar asya ca


yadrcchaya—carried by the waves of material nature; lokam—human form; imam—this; prapitah—achieved; karmabhih—by the influence of different fruitive activities; bhraman—wandering from one form of life to another; svarga—to the heavenly planets; apavargayoh—to liberation; dvaram—the gate; tirascam—lower species of life; punah—again; asya—of the human beings; ca—and.


In the course of the evolutionary process, which is caused by fruitive activities due to undesirable material sense gratification, I have received this human form of life, which can lead to the heavenly planets, to liberation, to the lower species, or to rebirth among human beings.


All living entities within this material world are undergoing the cycle of birth and death according to the laws of nature. This struggle of birth and death in different species may be called the evolutionary process, but in the Western world it has been wrongly explained. Darwin’s theory of evolution from animal to man is incomplete because the theory does not present the reverse condition, namely evolution from man to animal. In this verse, however, evolution has been very well explained on the strength of Vedic authority. Human life, which is obtained in the course of the evolutionary process, is a chance for elevation (svargapavarga) or for degradation (tirascam punar asya ca). If one uses this human form of life properly, he can elevate himself to the higher planetary systems, where material happiness is many thousands of times better than on this planet, or one may cultivate knowledge by which to become free from the evolutionary process and be reinstated in one’s original spiritual life. This is called apavarga, or liberation.

Material life is called pavarga because here we are subject to five different states of suffering, represented by the letters pa, pha, ba, bha and ma. Pa means parisrama, very hard labor. Pha means phena, or foam from the mouth. For example, sometimes we see a horse foaming at the mouth with heavy labor. Ba means byarthata, disappointment. In spite of so much hard labor, at the end we find disappointment. Bha means bhaya, or fear. In material life, one is always in the blazing fire of fear, since no one knows what will happen next. Finally, ma means mrtyu, or death. When one attempts to nullify these five different statuses of life—pa, pha, ba, bha and ma—one achieves apavarga, or liberation from the punishment of material existence.

The word tirascam refers to degraded life. Human life, of course, provides an opportunity for the best living conditions. As Western people think, from the monkeys come the human beings, who are more comfortably situated. However, if one does not utilize his human life for svarga or apavarga, he falls again to the degraded life of animals like dogs and hogs. Therefore a sane human being must consider whether he will elevate himself to the higher planets, prepare to free himself from the evolutionary process, or travel again through the evolutionary process in higher and lower grades of life. If one works piously one may be elevated to the higher planetary systems or achieve liberation and return home, back to Godhead, but otherwise one may be degraded to a life as a dog, a hog and so on. As explained in Bhagavad-gita (9.25), yanti deva-vrata devan. Those interested in being elevated to the higher planetary systems (Devaloka or Svargaloka) must prepare to do so. Similarly, if one wants liberation and wants to return home, back to Godhead, he should prepare himself for that purpose.

Our Krsna consciousness movement is therefore the highest movement for the benediction of human society because this movement is teaching people how to go back home, back to Godhead. In Bhagavad-gita (13.22) it is clearly stated that different forms of life are obtained by association with the three modes of material nature (karanam guna-sango ’sya sad-asad-yoni janmasu). According to one’s association with the material qualities of goodness, passion and ignorance in this life, in one’s next life one receives an appropriate body. Modern civilization does not know that because of varied association in material nature, the living entity, although eternal, is placed in different diseased conditions known as the many species of life. Modern civilization is unaware of the laws of nature.

prakrteh kriyamanani
gunaih karmani sarvasah
kartaham iti manyate

“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself the performer of activities that are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Bg. 3.27) Every living entity is under the full control of the stringent laws of material nature, but rascals think themselves independent. Actually, however, they cannot be independent. This is foolishness. A foolish civilization is extremely risky, and therefore the Krsna consciousness movement is trying to make people aware of their fully dependent condition under the stringent laws of nature and is trying to save them from being victimized by strong maya, which is Krsna’s external energy. Behind the material laws is the supreme controller, Krsna (mayadhyaksena prakrtih suyate sacaracaram [Bg. 9.10]). Therefore if one surrenders unto Krsna (mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te [Bg. 7.14]), one may immediately be freed from the control of external nature (sa guna-n samatityaitan brahma-bhuyaya kalpate). This should be the aim of life.



tatrapi dam-patinam ca


karmani kurvatam drstva

nivrtto ’smi viparyayam


tatra—there; api—also; dam-patinam—of men and women united by marriage; ca—and; sukhaya—for the sake of pleasure, specifically the pleasure of sex life; anya-apanuttaye—for avoiding misery; karmani—fruitive activities; kurvatam—always engaged in; drstva—by observing; nivrttah asmi—I have now ceased (from such activities); viparyayam—the opposite.


In this human form of life, a man and women unite for the sensual pleasure of sex, but by actual experience we have observed that none of them are happy. Therefore, seeing the contrary results, I have stopped taking part in materialistic activities.


As stated by Prahlada Maharaja, yan maithunadi-grhamedhi-sukham hi tuccham [SB 7.9.45]. Man and woman both seek sexual enjoyment, and when they are united by the ritualistic ceremony of marriage, they are happy for some time, but finally there is dissension, and thus there are so many cases of separation and divorce. Although every man and woman is actually eager to enjoy life through sexual unity, the result is disunity and distress. Marriage is recommended to give men and women a concession for restricted sex life, which is also recommended in Bhagavad-gita by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Dharmaviruddho bhutesu kamo ’smi: sex life not against the principles of religion is Krsna. Every living entity is always eager to enjoy sex life because materialistic life consists of eating, sleeping, sex and fear. In animal life, eating, sleeping, sexual enjoyment and fear cannot be regulated, but for human society the plan is that although men, like animals, must be allowed to eat, sleep, enjoy sex and take protection from fear, they must be regulated. The Vedic plan for eating recommends that one take yajna-sista, or prasada, food offered to Krsna. Yajna-sistasinah santo mucyante sama-kilbisaih: “The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food that is offered first for sacrifice.” (Bg. 3.13) In material life, one commits sinful activities, especially in eating, and because of sinful activities one is condemned by nature’s laws to accept another body, which is imposed as punishment. Sex and eating are essential, and therefore they are offered to human society under Vedic restrictions so that according to the Vedic injunctions people may eat, sleep, enjoy sex, be protected from fearful life and gradually be elevated and liberated from the punishment of material existence. Thus the Vedic injunctions for marriage offer a concession to human society, the idea being that a man and woman united in a ritualistic marriage ceremony should help one another advance in spiritual life. Unfortunately, especially in this age, men and women unite for unrestricted sexual enjoyment. Thus they are victimized, being obliged to take rebirth in the forms of animals to fulfill their animalistic propensities. The Vedic injunctions therefore warn, nayam deho deha-bhajam nrloke kastan kaman arhate vid-bhujam ye [Bhag. 5.5.1]. One should not enjoy sex life like hogs, and eat everything, even to the limit of stool. A human being should eat prasada offered to the Deity and should enjoy sex life according to the Vedic injunctions. He should engage himself in the business of Krsna consciousness, he should save himself from the fearful condition of material existence, and he should sleep only to recover from fatigue due to working hard.

The learned brahmana said that since everything is misused by fruitive workers, he had retired from all fruitive activities.



sukham asyatmano rupam

sarvehoparatis tanuh

manah-samsparsajan drstva

bhogan svapsyami samvisan


sukham—happiness; asya—of him; atmanah—of the living entity; rupam—the natural position; sarva—all; iha—material activities; uparatih—completely stopping; tanuh—the medium of its manifestation; manah-samsparsa-jan—produced from demands for sense gratification; drstva—after seeing; bhogan—sense enjoyment; svapsyami—I am sitting silently, thinking deeply about these material activities; samvisan—entering into such activities.


The actual form of life for the living entities is one of spiritual happiness, which is real happiness. This happiness can be achieved only when one stops all materialistic activities. Material sense enjoyment is simply imagination. Therefore, considering this subject matter, I have ceased from all material activities and am lying down here.


The difference between the philosophy of the Mayavadis and that of the Vaisnavas is explained herein. Both the Mayavadis and Vaisnavas know that in materialistic activities there is no happiness. The Mayavadi philosophers, therefore, adhering to the slogan brahma satyam jagan mithya, want to refrain from false, materialistic activities. They want to stop all activities and merge in the Supreme Brahman. According to the Vaisnava philosophy, however, if one simply ceases from materialistic activity one cannot remain inactive for very long, and therefore everyone should engage himself in spiritual activities, which will solve the problem of suffering in this material world. It is said, therefore, that although the Mayavadi philosophers strive to refrain from materialistic activities and merge in Brahman, and although they may actually merge in the Brahman existence, for want of activity they fall down again into materialistic activity (aruhya krcchrena param padam tatah patanty adhah [SB 10.2.32]). Thus the so-called renouncer, unable to remain in meditation upon Brahman, returns to materialistic activities by opening hospitals and schools and so on. Therefore, simply cultivating knowledge that materialistic activities cannot give one happiness, and that one should consequently cease from such activities, is insufficient. One should cease from materialistic activities and take up spiritual activities. Then the solution to the problem will be achieved. Spiritual activities are activities performed according to the order of Krsna (anukulyena krsnanusilanam). If one does whatever Krsna says, his activities are not material. For example, when Arjuna fought in response to the order of Krsna, his activities were not material. Fighting for sense gratification is a materialistic activity, but fighting by the order of Krsna is spiritual. By spiritual activities one becomes eligible to go back home, back to Godhead, and then enjoy blissful life eternally. Here, in the material world, everything is but a mental concoction that will never give us real happiness. The practical solution, therefore, is to cease from materialistic activities and engage in spiritual activities. Yajnarthat karmano ’nyatra loko ’yam karma-bandhanah [Bg. 3.9]). If one works for the sake of pleasing the Supreme Lord—Yajna, or Visnu—one is in liberated life. If one fails to do so, however, he remains in a life of bondage.



ity etad atmanah svartham

santam vismrtya vai puman

vicitram asati dvaite

ghoram apnoti samsrtim


iti—in this way; etat—a person materially conditioned; atmanah—of his self; sva-artham—own interest; santam—existing within oneself; vismrtya—forgetting; vai—indeed; puman—the living entity; vicitram—attractive false varieties; asati—in the material world; dvaite—other than the self; ghoram—very fearful (due to continuous acceptance of birth and death); apnoti—one becomes entangled; samsrtim—in material existence.


In this way the conditioned soul living within the body forgets his self-interest because he identifies himself with the body. Because the body is material, his natural tendency is to be attracted by the varieties of the material world. Thus the living entity suffers the miseries of material existence.


Everyone is trying to be happy because, as explained in the previous verse, sukham asyatmano rupam sarvehoparatis tanuh: when the living entity is in his original spiritual form, he is happy by nature. There is no question of miseries for the spiritual being. As Krsna is always happy, the living entities, who are His parts and parcels, are also happy by nature, but because of being put within this material world and forgetting their eternal relationship with Krsna, they have forgotten their real nature. Because every one of us is a part of Krsna, we have a very affectionate relationship with Him, but because we have forgotten our identities and are considering the body to be the self, we are afflicted by all the troubles of birth, death, old age and disease. This misconception in materialistic life continues unless and until one comes to understand his relationship with Krsna. The happiness sought by the conditioned soul is certainly only illusion, as explained in the next verse.



jalam tad-udbhavais channam

hitvajno jala-kamyaya

mrgatrsnam upadhavet

tathanyatrartha-drk svatah


jalam—water; tat-udbhavaih—by grass grown from that water; channam—covered; hitva—giving up; ajnah—a foolish animal; jala-kamyaya—desiring to drink water; mrgatrsnam—a mirage; upadhavet—runs after; tatha—similarly; anyatra—somewhere else; artha-drk—self-interested; svatah—in himself.


Just as a deer, because of ignorance, cannot see the water within a well covered by grass, but runs after water elsewhere, the living entity covered by the material body does not see the happiness within himself, but runs after happiness in the material world.


This is an accurate example depicting how the living entity, because of lack of knowledge, runs after happiness outside his own self. When one understands his real identity as a spiritual being, he can understand the supreme spiritual being, Krsna, and the real happiness exchanged between Krsna and one’s self. It is very interesting to note how this verse points to the body’s growth from the spirit soul. The modern materialistic scientist thinks that life grows from matter, but actually the fact is that matter grows from life. The life, or the spiritual soul, is compared herein to water, from which clumps of matter grow in the form of grass. One who is ignorant of scientific knowledge of the spirit soul does not look inside the body to find happiness in the soul; instead, he goes outside to search for happiness, just as a deer without knowledge of the water beneath the grass goes out to the desert to find water. The Krsna consciousness movement is trying to remove the ignorance of misled human beings who are trying to find water outside the jurisdiction of life. Raso vai sah. Raso ’ham apsu kaunteya. The taste of water is Krsna. To quench one’s thirst, one must taste water by association with Krsna. This is the Vedic injunction.



dehadibhir daiva-tantrair

atmanah sukham ihatah

duhkhatyayam canisasya

kriya moghah krtah krtah


deha-adibhih—with the body, mind, ego and intelligence; daiva-tantraih—under the control of superior power; atmanah—of the self; sukham—happiness; ihatah—searching after; duhkha-atyayam—diminution of miserable conditions; ca—also; anisasya—of the living entity fully under the control of material nature; kriyah—plans and activities; moghah krtah krtah—become baffled again and again.


The living entity tries to achieve happiness and rid himself of the causes of distress, but because the various bodies of the living entities are under the full control of material nature, all his plans in different bodies, one after another, are ultimately baffled.


Because the materialist is in gross ignorance of how the laws of material nature act upon him as a result of his fruitive activity, he mistakenly plans to enjoy bodily comfort in the human form of life through so-called economic development, through pious activities for elevation to the higher planetary systems, and in many other ways, but factually he becomes a victim of the reactions of his fruitive activities. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is situated as the Supersoul within the cores of the hearts of all living entities. As the Lord says in Bhagavad-gita (15.15):

sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto
mattah smrtir jnanam apohanam ca

“I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness.” The desires and activities of the living being are observed by the Supersoul, who is the upadrasta, the overseer, and who orders material nature to fulfill the various desires of the living being. As clearly stated in Bhagavad-gita (18.61):

isvarah sarva-bhutanam
hrd-dese ’rjuna tisthati
bhramayan sarva-bhutani
yantrarudhani mayaya

The Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, and as one desires, the Lord gives one various types of bodies, which are like machines. Riding on such a machine, the living entity wanders throughout the universe, under the control of material nature and its modes. Thus the living being is not at all free to act, but is fully under the control of material nature, which is fully under the control of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

As soon as a living entity is victimized by material desires to lord it over material nature, he is subjected to the control of material nature, which is supervised by the Supreme Soul. The result is that one again and again makes plans and is baffled, but as foolish as he is he cannot see the cause of his bafflement. This cause is distinctly stated in Bhagavad-gita: because one has not surrendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he must work under the control of material nature and its stringent laws (daivi hy esa guna-mayi mama maya duratyaya). The only means of becoming free from this entanglement is to surrender to the Supreme Lord. In the human form of life, the living entity must accept this instruction from the Supreme Person, Krsna: sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja [Bg. 18.66]. “Do not plan to achieve happiness and drive away distress. You will never be successful. Simply surrender unto Me.” Unfortunately, however, the living entity does not accept the Supreme Lord’s clearly stated instructions from Bhagavad-gita, and thus he becomes a perpetual captive of the laws of material nature.

Yajnarthat karmano ’nyatra loko ’yam karma-bandhanah: [Bg. 3.9]) if one does not act for the satisfaction of Krsna, who is known as Visnu or Yajna, he must be entangled in the reactions of fruitive activities. These reactions are called papa and punya—sinful and pious. By pious activities one is elevated to the higher planetary systems, and by impious activities one is degraded to lower species of life, in which he is punished by the laws of nature. In the lower species of life there is an evolutionary process, and when the term of the living entity’s imprisonment or punishment in the lower species is finished, he is again offered a human form and given a chance to decide for himself which way he should plan. If he again misses the opportunity, he is again put into the cycle of birth and death, going sometimes higher and sometimes lower, turning on the samsara-cakra, the wheel of material existence. As a wheel sometimes goes up and sometimes comes down, the stringent laws of material nature make the living entity in material existence sometimes happy and sometimes distressed. How he suffers in the cycle of happiness and distress is described in the next verse.

Next verse (SB7.13.31)