Who is to Blame for our Illusions?

An extremely important section of the Bhagavatam (1.7.4-6) describes Vyāsa’s samādhi (divine vision). In this vision, he saw Māyā (the power of illusion) subordinate to Krishna (the complete, original personal-consciousness), but bewilering the jīva (individual consciousness). Analyzing this in Tattva Sandarbha, Śrī Jīva Goswāmī brings up a very important question, “Who is to blame for the jīva’s infatuation with māyā?” 

Who is to blame for our illusions?

Śrī Jīva explains that only the jīva is to blame. 

Māyā does not bf5501ea3148d587f0405e2253c7cce4“entice” us. She would actually prefer not to give herself to us, and is ashamed and humiliated by having to do so. We approach her and proposition her, she merely agrees to our proposition – out of compassion. Thus the whole idea of māyā as a “temptress” has no basis in Bhāgavata. It is a saṁskāra from Abrahamic/ Western thought.

Krishna is also not to blame. Our unique individual nature is to be fascinated with enjoyment more than love, and Krishna provides māyā to placate this incongruous and unconstitutional disease of consciousness. Within māyā he includes “medicine” for this disease. The lower potency medicine is karma – a slow-acting but constantly applied mechanism that gradually encourages the jīva towards love/cooperation and away from self-centered enjoyment. A higher potency (but more rare) medicine also exists, becuase Krishna causes bhakti to manifest within māyā, to grant the jīva an opportunity to experience Krishna (which is possible only through bhakti), the glimpse of whom begins to slacken our fascination with māyā’s selfish pleasures and supplant it with a fascination for Sri Krishna’s exhilarating love.

Thus neither māyā nor Krishna is to blame for our situation. We are to blame.

That we are the root cause of our own problems also means that we have to be the root cause of our solution. The jīva’s rectification requires the help of bhakti-śakti, but only the jīva can decide to become receptive to that bhakti-śakti or remain fascinated with the opportunities for self-centered enjoyment provided by the illusions of māyā.

Vraja Kishor (www.vrajakishor.com)

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