Release from the Serpent of Material Nature

Dear Prabhujis and Matajis,
Hare Krishna! Please accept my humble pranams! All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev!

Maharaja Dhrtarastra, who was tightly bound in a network of material affinities, was firmly convinced by the forceful instructions of his brother Vidura and left home to set out on the path of liberation. Maharaja Yudhishthira was greatly distressed because of this. At that time, Narada muni, the powerful devotee of the Lord, arrived there and gave good counsel to relieve his distress. Since Yudhishthira was feeling anxious as to how his uncle and aunt will exist without Yudhishthira giving them protection, Srila Narada gave valuable instruction as below - Srimad Bhagavatam 1.13.46 says:

kāla-karma-guṇādhīno deho ’yaṁ pāñca-bhautikaḥ
katham anyāṁs tu gopāyet sarpa-grasto yathā param

This gross material body made of five elements is already under the control of eternal time(kaala), action(karma), and the modes of material nature(guna), How, then, can it, being already in the jaws of the serpent, protect others?

We are all under the false illusion that we are the only protectors of our kith and kin. We try all out to counteract the onslaught of material nature, but ultimately we are defeated. Prahlada Maharaj explains that a child's protectors, his parents, cannot save the child from the onslaught of birth and death, nor can medicine and a physician save one from death, nor can a boat or a similar means of protection save a person drowning in the water, for everything is controlled by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Even though we see this happening, again and again, we do not realize or we do not want to accept the fact (out of our foolish pride) that we can never be successful in conquering the miseries imposed by material nature or overcome her stringent laws. The above forceful instruction by Srila Narada muni forces opens our eyes to see things as they are. Thus it is very clear that a conditioned living being is under the full control of the following:

1. Modes of material nature (Guna):
There are three modes of material nature, namely goodness, passion, and ignorance. Due to the interactive conflict of the three modes, one wanders throughout the material nature creating one body after another. The word "Guna" also means rope and the conditioned soul is tightly tied by the ropes of illusion. Thus all the modes of material nature are binding and we are completely helpless being in the grip of these modes. How to come out of this grip, is explained by Lord Krishna in Srimad Bhagavad Gita 14.26, when He says:

māṁ ca yo ’vyabhicāreṇa bhakti-yogena sevate
sa guṇān samatītyaitān brahma-bhūyāya kalpate

One who engages in full devotional service, unfailing in all circumstances, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman.

Thus one who surrenders to Krishna at once surmounts the influence of the modes of material nature.

2. Action (Karma)
All activities are carried out from time immemorial according to the dictations of the three modes, and we are suffering or enjoying the fruits of our actions. Any work done in this material world for sense gratification is a cause of bondage.

How to get out of this bondage of karma? The Vedic injunction is that a person engaged in material activities, should be given directions by which he can intelligently apply his activities to the service of the Lord to become free from material bondage (its quoted in BG 18.46 sva-karmaṇā tam abhyarcya siddhiṁ vindati mānavaḥ). In Sri Brahma samhita 5.54 it is said, "karmāṇi nirdahati kintu ca bhakti-bhājāṁ'- For a person engaged in devotional service, all fruitive activities are burnt up to the roots.

3. Eternal time (Kaala)
Above the modes of nature is the eternal time which changes the shape of everything in this material world. Everyone is crushed by the wheel of time. The serpent of eternal time, which is forceful in nature, endlessly chases everyone with imperceptible swiftness and ultimately swallows them. How to get out of the clutches of kāla? The answer is to take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The assurance is given by the Lord in Bhagavad Gita 4.9 when He says, "tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti so ’rjuna"- For a person who fully surrenders to Lord Krishna, the present body is his last and after giving up this body, he does not accept a material body (dehaḥ pancha bhautikaḥ), but returns home back to Godhead to be with the Lord eternally, where there is no passing away of time (quoted in  Sri Brahma samhita  5.56 'nimeṣārdhākhyo vā vrajati na hi yatrāpi samayaḥ").

A man bound by the hands and feet and who is in the jaws of the serpent cannot free himself. What to talk of helping or protecting others? A person who is unbound and not in the serpent's jaws can help him. As Srila Prabhupada asserts in his purport to Bhagavad Gita 7.14, - only Lord Krishna, or His bona fide representative the spiritual master, can release the conditioned soul. Without such superior help, one cannot be freed from the jaws of the serpent of material nature. Krishna, being the Lord of illusory energy, can order this cobra of material nature to release the conditioned soul from the shackles of kāla, karma and guna. He orders this release out of His causeless mercy on the surrendered soul and out of His paternal affection for the living entity, who is originally a beloved son of the Lord. 

Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,
Vaijayantimala devi dasi
Abu Dhabi.