Devotees and Demons
There are two classes of people in this material world: those who are servants of God, called devas or suras, and those who are servants of maya (illusion), called asuras.
In the spiritual world, however, there is only one class, because the inhabitants are all servants of God. Therefore the spiritual world is called absolute. There is no disagreement in the spiritual world, as the center is Krsna, or God, and everyone there is engaged in His service out of love, not as a paid servant. A paid servant will serve in proportion to the money he receives, but in Vaikuntha there is no question of being a paid servant. Everyone is liberated, and everyone is as opulent as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but everyone is still a servant. In the material world people serve out of need, but in the spiritual world everyone serves out of love. There is no need for anything, because everything there is complete. The Brahma-samhita says that in the spiritual world there are kalpa-vrksa, or desire trees, from which one can get anything he desires.
In the material world, service is forced upon everyone. If someone does not render service, he will starve. Even a king has to work, what to speak of the poor man. Under the direction of the Supreme Lord, the material energy makes everyone into a dancing dog. The master says, “Please dance,” and the dog dances, because he knows that unless he performs, he will starve.
Whether in the material world or the spiritual world, everyone is a servant, but here people are under the impression that they are masters. The head of the family thinks, “I am the master of my wife and children.” But in fact he is serving each and every member of his family. The state executive officer thinks, “I am the king” or “I am the president,” but actually he is the servant of the citizens. Servitude is his position, and unless he serves the citizens according to their expectations, he will be deposed or fail to win reelection.
In the material world everyone is trying to become master of all he surveys, and thus there is competition on every level—between self-acclaimed “Gods,” between heads of state, even between friends and family members. In this illusory competition to be master, everyone fails. Mahatma Gandhi was respected as the father of India, but after all he was just a servant, and when one man didn’t like his service, Gandhi was killed. Similarly, President Kennedy was a very popular president, but somebody saw some discrepancy in his service, and he was also killed. No one is really the master here. Everyone is either a servant of maya (illusion) or a servant of God.
Everyone has to obey the government laws. Under the spell of illusion, however, the criminal thinks, “I do not accept the government laws.” Yet when he is caught he is forced to obey the government laws in the prison house. He has no choice. Similarly, we are all servants of God, but the demoniac class of men (asuras) do not care about God and God’s laws. These rascals think that there is no God, or that everyone is God, or that they themselves are God. But such “Gods” must also follow the laws of God in the form of birth, death, disease, and old age.
Only persons who are totally illusioned refuse to serve God. Instead of voluntarily rendering service to God, they are the slaves of maya, the illusory energy of God. A person who is haunted by ghosts speaks all kinds of nonsense. Similarly, when a living entity is haunted by maya, or engrossed by the illusory effects of the material nature, he also talks foolish nonsense, and the most foolish talk is to claim that he is God.
Among the two classes of men—the divine (devas) and the demoniac (asuras)—there is an ongoing struggle. The asuras are always rebelling against God, and the devas are always surrendering to God. In the story of Prahlada Maharaja, we see that even among family members there are devas and asuras. Prahlada Maharaja’s father, Hiranyakasipu, was an asura, whereas Prahlada Maharaja was a deva. Naturally a father is affectionate toward his child, but because Hiranyakasipu was a demon, he became the enemy of his son. That is the nature of demons.
Of course, even a tiger has affection for her cubs, and so at first Hiranyakasipu showed affection for Prahlada Maharaja, who was a very well mannered and attractive child at five years old. One day Hiranyakasipu asked his son, “My dear boy, what is the best thing you have learned in school? Tell me.”
Prahlada Maharaja replied, “One should sacrifice everything to realize God. This human form of life is the best opportunity we have for making spiritual progress, and it must be utilized for realizing God.”
Hiranyakasipu angrily inquired from his son’s teachers, “Why have you taught all this nonsense to my boy?”
They fearfully answered, “Sir, we did not teach these things to this boy. He is naturally inclined toward God, so what can we do? As soon as he gets the opportunity, he begins to teach God consciousness to the other boys in the class.” In the absence of his teachers, Prahlada Maharaja would immediately stand up on the bench and address his friends, “My dear boys, this life is not for enjoying sense gratification. It is for realizing God. Do not forget this.”
Similarly, we have taken up this preaching mission because people in general are interested only in immediate sense gratification, which is not good for them. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (5.5.4) Lord Rsabhadeva says, nunam pramattah kurute vikarma yad indriya-pritaya aprnoti: “Simply for sense gratification people are committing so many sinful activities. They are just like madmen.” A madman does not know what he is doing. Materialistic persons are so much engrossed in their pursuit of sense gratification that they have become maddened and commit all kinds of sins.
Lord Rsabhadeva says that the materialistic way of life is very risky. For those who indulge in sense gratification, Krsna gives the facility, forcing them to take birth again in the material atmosphere. A monkey has very good facility for enjoying sex. In some ways a monkey is renounced: he lives naked in the forest, he eats only fruit. But his nature is that he must have at least three dozen wives for sex enjoyment. So-called renunciants who wear the cloth of a sadhu but secretly enjoy illicit sex with women are just like monkeys. This is demoniac.
Demons, or asuras, do not believe in God and act according to their own whims. In the Bhagavad-gita (7.15), Krsna describes them as follows:
“Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender unto Me.” Here Krsna clearly states, asuram bhavam asritah: because the demons have taken shelter of atheistic philosophy, they are the lowest of mankind despite their advancement of education, science, and politics. Someone might object, “How can you call an atheistic gentleman with a university degree a demon? He is so educated and highly qualified.” The verdict of the sastra is that although he appears to be very learned, his actual knowledge has been stolen away by maya on account of his being atheistic.
Scriptural injunctions may not be very palatable; nonetheless, they are authoritative, and we have to preach the truth. We cannot play hide and seek with the problems of life. We must know our real position, and we must know what is religion and what is irreligion. Religion means action according to the orders of God, and irreligion means action that goes against the orders of God.

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