“My dear Uddhava, you should not remain here on the earth once I have abandoned this world. My dear devotee, you are sinless, but in Kali-yuga the people will be addicted to all types of sinful activities; therefore do not stay here.” SB 11.7.5

Kali-yuga is the most fallen of the four yugas, or ages. In Kali-yuga the people are short lived, stressed by excessive taxes and exploited, kept in fear by their own leaders and rulers (politicians). There are many descriptions of the age of Kali-yuga in the Srimad Bhagavatam and in other Vedic literature’s. The most prominent being that the people’s minds due to stress are always disturbed. 

“O learned one, in this iron age of Kali men have but short lives. They are quarrelsome, lazy, misguided, unlucky and, above all, always disturbed.” SB 1.1.10

“O my Lord, the people of the world are embarrassed by all material anxieties — they are always afraid. They always try to protect wealth, body and friends, they are filled with lamentation and unlawful desires and paraphernalia, and they avariciously base their undertakings on the perishable conceptions of ‘I’ and ‘mine.’ As long as they do not take shelter of Your safe lotus feet, they are full of such anxieties.” SB. 3.9.6

“People in general, especially in this Age of Kali, are enamored by the external energy of Krsna, and they wrongly think that by advancement of material comforts every man will be happy. They have no knowledge that the material or external nature is very strong, for everyone is strongly bound by the stringent laws of material nature.” ~ A.C. Bhaktivendanta Swami, Bhagavad Gita As It is

“O saintly Uddhava, in the near future I will abandon this earth. Then, being overwhelmed by the age of Kali, the earth will be bereft of all piety.” SB 11.7.4

When Lord Krishna appeared on the earth approximately 5000 years ago, it was for the purpose of bringing about some assemblage of law and order, and to reestablish religious principles due to the influence of Kali-yuga, the age of quarrel and hypocrisy that was beginning to set in. Krishna spoke the Bhagavad Gita for the benefit of all future generations, annihilated all of the powerful kings who were stressing the common citizens, and also to ease the burden of the earth at the request of Lord Brahma, whose responsibility it is to keep the planetary system in order. 

“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion–at that time I descend Myself.” Bg. 4.7

“In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.” Bg. 4.8

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O greatly fortunate Uddhava you have accurately revealed My desire to withdraw the Yadu dynasty from the earth and return to My own abode in Vaikuntha. Thus Lord Brahma, Lord Siva and all other planetary rulers are now praying for Me to resume My residence in Vaikuntha.” SB 11.7.1

Three points of interest can be found in this verse. 1. It demonstrates that the Lord does descend with his entourage at scheduled times and when he has completed His mission He leaves at His own sweet will. 2. That Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva are planetary rulers and not the Supreme. 3. Krishna has an eternal residence in the spiritual world. Lord Krishna is revealing to his friend and devotee Uddhava that He will soon be leaving the planet along with his own dynasty due to the fact that they were too powerful for the earth to sustain without the presence of the Lord. Another important fact to note in this verse, is that Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva who are sometimes said to be on par with Krishna (by those without full understanding), are praying for the Supreme Absolute to return to His original abode in Vaikuntha. Krishna’s original home and permanent residence is in the “Vaikuntha” planets and anyone who realizes the Absolute is qualified to return home, back to Godhead. There are numerous Vaikuntha planets which one may obtain according to their qualifications, where liberated souls can dwell eternally in blissful association with the Lord. 

“When a soul finally gets out of the three jars of bodily delusions,” Master continued, “it becomes one with the Infinite without any loss of individuality.” ~ Sri Yukteswar, Autobiography of a Yogi. chapter 43

“From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again.” Bg. 8.16

“That supreme abode is called unmanifested and infallible, and it is the supreme destination. When one goes there, he never comes back. That is My supreme abode.” Bg. 8.21

“As the father pigeon wretchedly stared at his poor children trapped in the net and on the verge of death, pathetically struggling to free themselves, his mind went blank, and thus he himself fell into the hunter’s net. The cruel hunter, having fulfilled his desire by capturing the head pigeon, his wife and all of their children, set off for his own home. In this way, one who is too attached to family life becomes disturbed at heart. Like the pigeon, he tries to find pleasure in mundane sex attraction. Busily engaged in maintaining his own family, the miserly person is fated to suffer greatly, along with all his family members. The doors of liberation are opened wide to one who has achieved human life. But if a human being simply devotes himself to family life like the foolish bird in this story, then he is to be considered as one who has climbed to a high place only to trip and fall down.” SB 11.7.71-74

In the Vedas it is said that a person who is unable to spiritually liberate his children should not bring them into this world, because it will be detrimental for both the parents and the children. Without spiritual understanding, mundane sex life will result in unwanted progeny, possible disease and the added stress of trying to maintain a family. Though everyone has to perform some sort of activity, the results of such activities can be used to raise one’s spirituality to the platform of self and God-realization. If the outcome of one’s hard work is only to have produced offspring, than their life is said to be no different than that of an animal. Contrary to popular belief, souls that are being born into a human families upon the earth are not doing so for the first time, nor are souls lining up to take a material birth because it is an enjoyable process. All souls are already existing and have never not existed. Souls are waiting to take birth in the material atmosphere because their karma and unlimited material longings force them to do so; if not, if their karma allowed, they would have stayed where they were at, or they would incarnate up to a higher planet. Receiving a human form of life is very rare, and one should take the full opportunity that human life provides to understand the self and become God conscious. 

The father pigeon did not have higher understanding and only followed his senses. Therefore he got wrapped in the hunter’s net, that represent the material entanglement. Seeing his wife and children suffer, his mind went blank and he got dragged down into a hellish situation. Since he didn’t have the propensity for higher understanding, the cruel hunter in the form of time, cruel minded people, nature, etc., captured the life-force of the whole family. 

“Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.” Bg. 2.12

“When irreligion is prominent in the family, O Krsna, the women of the family become corrupt, and from the degradation of womanhood, O descendant of Vrsni, comes unwanted progeny.” Bg. 1.40

“One who is too attached cannot understand that he is wasting his valuable life for the maintenance of his family. He also fails to understand that the purpose of human life, a life suitable for realization of the Absolute Truth, is being imperceptibly spoiled. However, he is very cleverly attentive to seeing that not a single farthing is lost by mismanagement. Thus although an attached person in material existence always suffers from threefold miseries, he does not develop a distaste for the way of material existence.” SB 7.6.14

“O my friends, sons of demons! In this material world, even those who are apparently advanced in education have the propensity to consider, “This is mine, and that is for others.” Thus they are always engaged in providing the necessities of life to their families in a limited conception of family life, just like uneducated cats and dogs. They are unable to take to spiritual knowledge; instead, they are bewildered and overcome by ignorance.” SB 7.6.16

“Seeing his own children, who were more dear to him than life itself, fatally bound in the hunter’s net along with his dear-most wife, whom he considered equal in every way to himself, the poor male pigeon began to lament wretchedly. The male pigeon said: Alas, just see how I am now destroyed! I am obviously a great fool, for I did not properly execute pious activities. I could not satisfy myself, nor could I fulfill the purpose of life. My dear family, which was the basis of my religiosity, economic development and sense gratification, is now hopelessly ruined. My wife and I were an ideal match. She always faithfully obeyed me and in fact accepted me as her worshipable deity. But now, seeing her children lost and her home empty, she has left me behind and gone to heaven with our saintly children. Now I am a wretched person living in an empty home. My wife is dead; my children are dead. Why should I possibly want to live? My heart is so pained by separation from my family that life itself has become simply suffering.” SB 11.7.65-70

The male pigeon who also was identified and strongly attached to his own projections, also could not see living life without his story, and like his wife, wandered into the hunter’s net. This is mundane material life, and is the illusory energy of the Lord that makes our temporary desire appear to be so real. A man on stage can die of a gunshot or tragically loose his beloved, and have the whole audience convinced that he (and the audience) is now suffering. He can even convince himself of this, but as soon as the curtain falls or he is off stage, the suffering stops and he sees things as they are. When we take our birth in the material world, we forget that we actually are eternal spiritual beings, part and parcel of the Supreme Absolute. We do this voluntarily and begin to identify with the temporary material coverings. At any time, we can reawaken our eternal consciousness, through, prayer, meditation, chanting, philosophical understanding etc. But unless we desire this higher realization, we will remain attached and identified to our temporary mundane thoughts and temporary body and its relationship to everything material. Neither pigeon had this relationship in the beginning and both pigeons could have understood that their relationship with each other and their children was only a temporary arrangement and outside of their control.

“O mighty-armed Arjuna, learn from Me of the five factors which bring about the accomplishment of all action. These are declared in sankhya philosophy to be the place of action, the performer, the senses, the endeavor, and ultimately the Supersoul. Whatever right or wrong action a man performs by body, mind or speech is caused by these five factors.” Bg. 18.13-15

“If you become conscious of Me, you will pass over all the obstacles of conditional life by My grace. If, however, you do not work in such consciousness but act through false ego, not hearing Me, you will be lost.” Bg. 18.58

“This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’” Matthew 13:13-15

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” ~ Buddha

“One day the two heads of the family went out to find food for the children. Being very anxious to feed their offspring properly, they wandered all over the forest for a long time. At that time a certain hunter who happened to be wandering through the forest saw the young pigeons moving about near their nest. Spreading out his net he captured them all. The pigeon and his wife were always anxious for the maintenance of their children, and they were wandering in the forest for that purpose. Having obtained proper food, they now returned to their nest. When the lady pigeon caught sight of her own children trapped within the hunter’s net, she was overwhelmed with anguish, and crying out, she rushed toward them as they cried out to her in return. The lady pigeon had always allowed herself to be bound by the ropes of intense material affection, and thus her mind was overwhelmed by anguish. Being in the grip of the illusory energy of the Lord, she completely forgot herself, and rushing forward to her helpless children, she was immediately bound in the hunter’s net.” SB 11.7.62-64

The illusory energy of the Lord, also known as maya, is the binding force of a soul caught in the material entanglement of mental and bodily consciousness. Once we take on temporary material consciousness and believe that we are “mr., mrs. or ms.” so and so, or this or that type of knowledgable person, (professor, doctor, parent, teacher, student, laborer, etc.) we will become entangled in all sorts of complexities and hanker for a certain type of pleasure and lament when it appears that we are not receiving it and that we are being thwarted in our attempts to enjoy material nature. In the example of the pigeon, the “innocent” children wandered into the net of the hunter. Seeing her children in a distressful situation, not the situation that she had always imagined for her babies (and herself), the mother pigeon became totally caught up in her identification, temporarily lost her intelligence and wandered herself into the illusion that she herself always feared in life. When we take our temporary birth in the material creation, the hunters net also comes along with us and is manifest in the form of fear. This fear is self-created and is a form of denial to keep us from facing “what is”, the truth of our temporary entanglement. Learning to see things as they are is the path to transcendence.

“One who neither hates nor desires the fruits of his activities is known to be always renounced. Such a person, liberated from all dualities, easily overcomes material bondage and is completely liberated, O mighty-armed Arjuna.” Bg. 5.3

“A person in the divine consciousness, although engaged in seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving about, sleeping and breathing, always knows within himself that he actually does nothing at all. Because while speaking, evacuating, receiving, opening or closing his eyes, he always knows that only the material senses are engaged with their objects and that he is aloof from them.” Bg. 5.8-9

“An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. O son of Kunti, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them. Bg. 5.22

“Then the female pigeon experienced her first pregnancy. When the time arrived, the chaste lady delivered a number of eggs within the nest in the presence of her husband. When the time was ripe, baby pigeons, with tender limbs and feathers created by the inconceivable potencies of the Lord, were born from those eggs. The two pigeons became most affectionate to their children and took great pleasure in listening to their awkward chirping, which sounded very sweet to the parents. Thus with love they began to raise the little birds who were born of them. The parent birds became very joyful by observing the soft wings of their children, their chirping, their lovely innocent movements around the nest and their attempts to jump up and fly. Seeing their children happy, the parents were also happy. Their hearts bound to each other by affection, the foolish birds, completely bewildered by the illusory energy of Lord Viṣṇu, continued to take care of the young offspring who had been born to them.” SB 11.7.58-61

When children come into our lives (or friends and relatives) we accept them unconditionally with little or no thought as to where there were before their current incarnation. Usually we are unaware of the karmic tendencies that they bring with them, nor the karmic ties that have brought us together, but it time it becomes more apparent. When we compare children who are born to the same set of parents and are being raised in the same household, but developed completely different natures we can understand that all souls come with propensities and experience from their previous lifetimes. What we overlook is that our attraction and deep affection may have been cultivated over many lifetimes and is also being influenced by the illusory energy of the Lord. This energy is what keeps the material world in working order. All animals are attached to their young due to the influence of modes of material nature.

“All men are forced to act helplessly according to the impulses born of the modes of material nature; therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment.” Bg. 3.5

“One who can see that all activities are performed by the body, which is created of material nature, and sees that the self does nothing, actually sees.” Bg. 13.30

“According to one’s existence under the various modes of nature, one evolves a particular kind of faith. The living being is said to be of a particular faith according to the modes he has acquired.” Bg. 17.3

“One should never indulge in excessive affection or concern for anyone or anything; otherwise one will have to experience great suffering, just like the foolish pigeon. There once was a pigeon who lived in the forest along with his wife. He had built a nest within a tree and lived there for several years in her company. The two pigeons were very much devoted to their household duties. Their hearts being tied together by sentimental affection, they were each attracted by the other’s glances, bodily features and states of mind. Thus, they completely bound each other in affection. Naively trusting in the future, they carried out their acts of resting, sitting, walking, standing, conversing, playing, eating and so forth as a loving couple among the trees of the forest. Whenever she desired anything, O King, the she-pigeon would flatteringly cajole her husband, and he in turn would gratify her by faithfully doing whatever she wanted, even with great personal difficulty. Thus, he could not control his senses in her association.” SB 11.7.52-55

Household life can be a razors edge. In the beginning we are easily overcome in love with the opposite sex, and everything seems possible. Sex being the binding force of material nature, entices us to establish roots, procreate, reproduce and mainly to become bound in a continuous cycle that supports the material creation. In this story, two pigeons who are innocent, quickly fall in love and set down a path similar to that of most human house holders.

“Nature is said to be the cause of all material activities and effects, whereas the living entity is the cause of the various sufferings and enjoyments in this world.” Bg. 13.21

“The living entity in material nature thus follows the ways of life, enjoying the three modes of nature. This is due to his association with that material nature. Thus he meets with good and evil amongst various species.” Bg. 13.22

“Even when reflected in various objects, the sun is never divided, nor does it merge into its reflection. Only those with dull brains would consider the sun in this way. Similarly, although the soul is reflected through different material bodies, the soul remains undivided and nonmaterial.” 11.7.51

Like the sun in the example given in this verse, the spirit soul throughout its sojourn has seen unlimited expressions and reflections within its consciousness and yet knows that nothing “outside” is its Self, nor is the mind’s reflection of it Self should be accepted as the original person. The way that we experience life and creation is similar to how we dream. Our dreams constantly change and are not actually who we are, and disappear upon our awakening. When we have deep dreamless sleep, and we awaken, though we may not have had any dreams, we know whether we had good sleep or not. Therefore it can be understood that the soul is eternally separate from the material mind and body. In our material pursuit for knowledge we are being educated in the temporary material creation and not the eternal science of the soul and its relationship with the Supreme Absolute Truth. If one wants to fully understand who they are, and their relationship within the cosmos, then they first have to understand the soul which is the activating force of the body, and its relationship with the Divine.

“An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. O son of Kunti, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them.” Bg. 5.22

“One whose happiness is within, who is active within, who rejoices within and is illumined within, is actually the perfect mystic. He is liberated in the Supreme, and ultimately he attains the Supreme.” Bg. 5.24

“The total material substance, called Brahman, is the source of birth, and it is that Brahman that I impregnate, making possible the births of all living beings, O son of Bharata.” Bg. 14.3

“Just as the sun evaporates large quantities of water by its potent rays and later returns the water to the earth in the form of rain, similarly, a saintly person accepts all types of material objects with his material senses, and at the appropriate time, when the proper person has approached him to request them, he returns such material objects. Thus, both in accepting and giving up the objects of the senses, he is not entangled.” 11.7.50

Every living entity is only here for a short time; moving through the creation, accepting this, rejecting that, hoping to discover that which will bring them pleasure, working to avoid experiencing pain and ultimately death. A saintly person has no need for anything material and may accept what comes his way, only to pass it on to a qualified person when the appropriate time arises. In the end, all things are returned from once they have originated, and the spirit soul is left only with their experiences and realizations, and will move onto the next incarnation, moving closer in spirit within their realization to the Absolute Truth. All beliefs, attitudes, values etc. will drop away and in time the truth will be revealed to those who are not entangled.

“When, however, one is enlightened with the knowledge by which nescience is destroyed, then his knowledge reveals everything, as the sun lights up everything in the daytime.” Bg. 5.16

“A person who neither rejoices upon achieving something pleasant nor laments upon obtaining something unpleasant, who is self-intelligent, unbewildered, and who knows the science of God, is to be understood as already situated in Transcendence.” Bg. 5.20

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