tato vayaṁ mat-pramukhā yad-arthe
babhūvimātman karavāma kiṁ te
tvaṁ naḥ sva-cakṣuḥ paridehi śaktyā
deva kriyārthe yad-anugrahāṇām
tataḥ—therefore; vayam—all of us; mat-pramukhāḥ—coming from the total cosmos, the mahat-tattva; yat-arthe—for the purpose of which; babhūvima—created; ātman—O Supreme Self; karavāma—shall do; kim—what; te—Your service; tvam—Yourself; naḥ—to us; sva-cakṣuḥ—personal plan; paridehi—specifically grant us; śaktyā—with potency to work; deva—O Lord; kriyā-arthe—for acting; yat—from which; anugrahāṇām—of those who are specifically favored.
O Supreme Self, please give us, who are created in the beginning from the mahat-tattva, the total cosmic energy, Your kind directions on how we shall act. Kindly award us Your perfect knowledge and potency so that we can render You service in the different departments of subsequent creation.
The Lord creates this material world and impregnates the material energy with the living entities who will act in the material world. All these actions have a divine plan behind them. The plan is to give the conditioned souls who so desire a chance to enjoy sense gratification. But there is another plan behind the creation: to help the living entities realize that they are created for the transcendental sense gratification of the Lord and not for their individual sense gratification. This is the constitutional position of the living entities. The Lord is one without a second, and He expands Himself into many for His transcendental pleasure. All the expansions—the viṣṇu-tattvas, the jīva-tattvas and the śakti-tattvas (the Personalities of Godhead, the living entities and the different potential energies)— are different offshoots from the same one Supreme Lord. The jīva-tattvas are separated expansions of the viṣṇu-tattvas, and although there are potential differences between them, they are all meant for the transcendental sense gratification of the Supreme Lord. Some of the jīvas, however, wanted to lord it over material nature in imitation of the lordship of the Personality of Godhead. Regarding when and why such propensities overcame the pure living entities, it can only be explained that the jīva-tattvas have infinitesimal independence and that due to misuse of this independence some of the living entities have become implicated in the conditions of cosmic creation and are therefore called nitya-baddhas, or eternally conditioned souls.
The expansions of Vedic wisdom also give the nitya-baddhas, the conditioned living entities, a chance to improve, and those who take advantage of such transcendental knowledge gradually regain their lost consciousness of rendering transcendental loving service to the Lord. The demigods are amongst the conditioned souls who have developed this pure consciousness of service to the Lord but who at the same time continue to desire to lord it over the material energy. Such mixed consciousness puts a conditioned soul in the position of managing the affairs of this creation. The demigods are entrusted leaders of the conditioned souls. As some of the old prisoners in government jails are entrusted with some responsible work of prison management, so the demigods are improved conditioned souls acting as representatives of the Lord in the material creation. Such demigods are devotees of the Lord in the material world, and when completely free from all material desire to lord it over the material energy they become pure devotees and have no desire but to serve the Lord. Therefore any living entity who desires a position in the material world may desire so in the service of the Lord and may seek power and intelligence from the Lord, as exemplified by the demigods in this particular verse. One cannot do anything unless he is enlightened and empowered by the Lord. The Lord says in Bhagavad-gītā (15.15), mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca. All recollections, knowledge, etc., as well as all forgetfulness, are engineered by the Lord, who is sitting within the heart of everyone. The intelligent man seeks the help of the Lord, and the Lord helps the sincere devotees engaged in His multifarious services.
The demigods are entrusted by the Lord to create different species of living entities according to their past deeds. They are herein asking the favor of the Lord for the intelligence and power to carry out their task. Similarly, any conditioned soul may also engage in the service of the Lord under the guidance of an expert spiritual master and thus gradually become freed from the entanglement of material existence. The spiritual master is the manifested representative of the Lord, and anyone who puts himself under the guidance of a spiritual master and acts accordingly is said to be acting in terms of buddhi-yoga, as explained in Bhagavad-gītā (2.41):
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Third Canto, Fifth Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled “Vidura’s Talks with Maitreya.”
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