yad arthena vināmuṣya
yat—thus; arthena—a purpose or meaning; vinā—without; amuṣya—of such a one; puṁsaḥ—of the living entity; ātma-viparyayaḥ—upset about self-identification; pratīyate—so appear; upadraṣṭuḥ—of the superficial onlooker; sva-śiraḥ—own head; chedana-ādikaḥ—cutting off.
The living entity is in distress regarding his self-identity. He has no factual background, like a man who dreams that he sees his head cut off.
A teacher in school once threatened his pupil that he would cut off the pupil’s head and hang it on the wall so that the child could see how his head had been cut off. The child became frightened and stopped his mischief. Similarly, the miseries of the pure soul and the disruption of his self-identification are managed by the external energy of the Lord, which controls those mischievous living entities who want to go against the will of the Lord. Actually there is no bondage or misery for the living entity, nor does he ever lose his pure knowledge. In his pure consciousness, when he thinks a little seriously about his position, he can understand that he is eternally subordinate to the mercy of the Supreme and that his attempt to become one with the Supreme Lord is a false illusion. Life after life the living entity falsely tries to lord it over material nature and become the lord of the material world, but there is no tangible result. At last, when frustrated, he gives up his material activities and tries to become one with the Lord and speculate with much jugglery of words, but without success.
These activities are performed under the dictation of the illusory energy. The experience is compared to the experience of one’s having his head cut off in a dream. The man whose head has been cut off also sees that his head has been cut off. If a person’s head is severed he loses his power to see. Therefore if a man sees that his head has been cut off, it means that he thinks like that in hallucination. Similarly a living entity is eternally subordinate to the Supreme Lord, and he has this knowledge with him, but, artificially, he thinks that he is God himself and that although he is God he has lost his knowledge due to māyā. This conception has no meaning, just as there is no meaning to seeing one’s head being cut off. This is the process by which knowledge is covered. And because this artificial rebellious condition of the living entity gives him all troubles, it is to be understood that he should take to his normal life as a devotee of the Lord and be relieved from the misconception of being God. The so-called liberation of thinking oneself God is that last reaction of avidyā by which the living entity is entrapped. The conclusion is that a living entity deprived of eternal transcendental service to the Lord becomes illusioned in many ways. Even in his conditional life he is the eternal servant of the Lord. His servitude under the spell of illusory māyā is also a manifestation of his eternal condition of service. Because he has rebelled against the service of the Lord, he is therefore put in the service of the māyā. He is still serving, but in a perverted manner. When he wants to get out of service under material bondage, he next desires to become one with the Lord. This is another illusion. The best course, therefore, is to surrender unto the Lord and thus get rid of the illusory māyā for good, as confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (7.14):
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