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His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada


The Cause of the Demoniac Mentality

There are numerous causes of the demoniac mentality, but in this essay we shall broadly delve into only three: lust, anger, and greed. In the Bhagavad-gītā (16.21) Lord Kṛṣṇa describes these three characteristics as destroyers of the self-portals leading to hell.

The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the sole proprietor and enjoyer of everything. When the living entities forget this fact, they develop an intense desire to enjoy this phenomenal world. But they cannot be fully satisfied by such endeavors, and thus anger develops. Anger causes frustration, as in the story of the unsuccessful fox and the "sour grapes." The living entity is then forced to pretend to be a renouncer. But at the bottom of such renunciation burns the great flame of greed and the desire for enjoyment. This is only another stage of material desire. Therefore, unless one transcends this stage of acceptance and rejection of physical pleasures and becomes situated on the platform of the eternal self, one cannot understand the sublime message of the Lord. And without this understanding, one will continue to cultivate the demoniac mentality.

The only method by which one can elevate himself form the depths of demoniac depravity to the path of self-realization is to learn the injunctions of the scriptures and act accordingly. Chaotic and undisciplined activities contrary to scriptural instructions are actions performed out of lust. It is not possible to eradicate anger and greed through such acts of lust; nor is it possible to experience true happiness and divine elevation. Therefore if we wish to find the path to spiritual upliftment and eternal peace—the need for which is expressed in the lament "In the dispensation of providence, mankind cannot have any rest"—revealed scriptures are our only guide. Simply by executing the injunctions of the scriptures, we can become free from acts of lust and chaotic living.

At present we are living in the thick of Kali-yuga. The people of this age are mostly short-lived, misguided, unfortunate and always tormented by disease and distress. Therefore it is not easy for them to appreciate the words of the scriptures. The followers of the world's various religions—Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and so on—are transgressing the scriptural injunctions of their own faiths to varying degrees and living as they like. Many people, far from following scriptural injunctions, ridicule the sacred texts and thus gradually slide down to a demoniac life of unrestricted sense enjoyment. The Supreme Lord and His devotees are very much concerned about the deliverance of these conditioned souls afflicted by the ill influence of Kali-yuga. The devotees, or Vaiṣṇavas, are the most compassionate, saintly souls, and thus they ardently desire to deliver the fallen living entities. The Supreme Lord always responds to the desires of these Vaiṣṇavas, and so He answers their prayers for the salvation of these suffering souls of Kali-yuga.

Seeing the miserable condition of the living entities in the Kali-yuga, Lord Caitanya, the savior of the fallen souls, has expounded a method for their salvation. This method is taken from the scriptures and is applicable to everyone. In previous ages, one could study the Vedas and purify oneself by living according to those instructions. But it is impossible for the present population to properly execute scriptural injunctions, which includes strictly following vows of celibacy. One who is extremely degraded and sinful cannot find the accurate path to realization by studying the Vedas. It is a waste of time even to explain the meaning of the Vedas to such persons, who are devoid of proper up-bringing and discipline. Lord Caitanya has indeed showered His mercy upon these Kali-yuga people. So there is no doubt that those who are unable even to receive this mercy from Lord Caitanya are forever bereft of saving grace. As for those fortunate souls who, after realizing the greatness of Lord Caitanya's mercy, have accepted it—they have escaped the punishments of māyā, or "the dispensation of providence." But for those who have agreed to come under the influence of the cycle of karmic reactions and are being pummeled about by māyā, the Supreme Lord has arranged the process of karma-yoga, or fruitive activities with the aim of sacrifice to the Supreme Lord.

The learned sages say that the living entities go through 8,400,000 species of life. There are 900,000 aquatic species; 2,000,000 plants, mountains, and other nonmoving species; 1,100,000 insect and worm species; 1,000,000 bird species; 3,000,000 animal species; and 400,000 human species. After passing through all these species, the soul is finally born as a human being in Bhārata-varṣa, India. He achieves this birth by gradually awakening his consciousness. Many millions of years flash by as the soul goes through each of the above-mentioned species of life. So, even after all this, if the soul, despite being born as a human being in India, continues to be subjugated by māyā and goes round in the whirlpool of "the dispensation of providence," then there is no limit to his misfortune. Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāj has therefore written,

bhārata-bhūmite haila manuṣya-janma yāra
janma sārthaka kari' kara para-upakāra
(CC Ādi 9.41)

One who has take his birth as a human being in the land of India (Bhārata-varṣa) should make his life successful and work for the benefit of all other people.

Human beings can perfect their lives by following in the footsteps of those great sages of India who have all along shown the proper path. The reason for this is simple: Nowhere else can we find an example of the manner in which the sages of India have endeavored to find absolute cessation of māyā's attack and to become an eternal dust particle of the Supreme Lord's lotus feet. In other countries, especially in the Occident, tremendous progress has been a made in the various fields of material science—but it is all based on the material mind and body, which are creations of māyā, the illusory potency. It is for this reason that the Westerners lament, "In the dispensation of providence, man cannot have any rest." At present, the Indians have similarly taken to the path of self-destruction by aping the Western ways. The have discarded and desecrated their own culture and have become beggars at another's door. They are now flying their flag of independence, but this is also a dispensation of māyā. Factually, they cannot gain anything from it. The Occident has never delved into the three stages in the development of the eternal relationship between the infinitesimal soul and the infinite Supreme Whole. These stages are, first, the initial contact with the Supreme Lord and the re-awakening of one's relationship with him; second, the execution of the means to achieve one's eternal relationship with Him; and finally, the blossoming of that relationship into one of love and total dependence of the soul upon the Lord.

Although Western people have brilliantly developed in mundane matters, they are tossed about in a sea of despair and listlessness. Similarly, the Indians, although trying to feel grateful for their mundane development, are experiencing the same listlessness and dissatisfaction. Strangely enough, now the Western thinkers are looking toward India to find peace and calm. We can safely harbor the firm conviction that soon the message of peace will reach their ears.