jīvan-mṛtatvaṁ niyamena rājan
ādyantavad yad vikṛtasya dṛṣṭam
sva-svāmya-bhāvo dhruva īḍya yatra
tarhy ucyate ’sau vidhikṛtya-yogaḥ
jīvat-mṛtatvam—the quality of being dead while living; niyamena—by the laws of nature; rājan—O King; ādi-anta-vat—everything material has a beginning and an end; yat—because; vikṛtasya—of things that are transformed, such as the body; dṛṣṭam—is seen; sva-svāmya-bhāvaḥ—the condition of servanthood and mastership; dhruvaḥ—unchangeable; īḍya—O you who are worshiped; yatra—wherein; tarhi—then; ucyate—it is said; asau—that; vidhi-kṛtya-yogaḥ—fitness of order and duty.
My dear King, you have unnecessarily accused me of being dead though alive. In this regard, I can only say that this is the case everywhere because everything material has its beginning and end. As far as your thinking that you are the king and master and are thus trying to order me, this is also incorrect because these positions are temporary. Today you are a king and I am your servant, but tomorrow the position may be changed, and you may be my servant and I your master. These are temporary circumstances created by providence.
The bodily conception is the basic principle of suffering in material existence. In Kali-yuga especially, people are so uneducated that they cannot even understand that the body is changing at every moment and that the ultimate change is called death. In this life one may be a king, and in the next life one may be a dog, according to karma. The spirit soul is in a deep slumber caused by the force of material nature. He is put in one type of condition and again changed into another type. Without self-realization and knowledge, conditional life continues, and one falsely claims himself a king, a servant, a cat or a dog. These are simply different transformations brought about by the supreme arrangement. One should not be misled by such temporary bodily conceptions. Actually no one is master within the material world, for everyone is under the control of material nature, which is under the control of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is the ultimate master. As explained in Caitanya-caritāmṛta, ekale īśvara kṛṣṇa, āra saba bhṛtya: the only master is Kṛṣṇa, and everyone else is His servant. Forgetfulness of our relationship with the Supreme Lord brings about our suffering in the material world.
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