“Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.23)Download this episode (right click and save)
At their very core, the asura is dishonest. This is because they reject the hand of the Divine. As it is stated in Vedic literature, not a blade of grass moves without the sanction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan. He is in every sphere through the expansion known as the Supersoul. Though ordinarily an impartial witness, His approval is still required for any result to manifest. For this reason He is described as the overseer and the permitter.
The Sanskrit word asura is a negation of another word. Sura means a person who at least acknowledges God’s existence. Such a person generally has good qualities, though they may make mistakes from time to time. The asura is a staunch atheist and their intent is to make others like them. If you are so strongly against God, you will want to make sure worship of Him is never prominent. Along these lines, there are some standard lies told to the innocent, to draw them away from their constitutional position of servant to the Lord.
1. Earn money and be happy
It’s only natural for the parents to want the best for their children. The definition of “best” is subjective, and in many cases the determination is made based on income. If my child gets a good job in adulthood, then I have succeeded as a parent. If they make it as a lawyer or doctor, then I won’t have to worry about them.
But actually, even making a lot of money doesn’t necessarily mean happiness. This lie is more subtle than the others, as it isn’t always told directly. A derivative of this lie is that if you earn enough money, you won’t have to worry about the necessities of life.
“Generally, the wealth of misers never allows them any happiness. In this life it causes their self-torment, and when they die it sends them to hell.” (Lord Krishna, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 11.23.15)
The reality is that there is danger at every step in the material world. Moreover, so many extremely wealthy people are unhappy. A decorated Olympic athlete, with so many gold medals, runs into depression a few years after competition, addicted to alcohol and drugs. A wealthy banker contemplates suicide, and a real estate mogul can’t control their children. Earning a lot of money doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness. As Shri Krishna advises Uddhava, through miserliness, a person’s wealth can lead them to hell.
2. A big bang of chemicals is solely responsible for the universe and everything we see today
“Originally there was just a single-cell organism. Then evolution kicked in. Now we have the advanced human species. Everything came to be through a big collision. What caused that collision? We don’t know. Where did the chemicals come from? Stop asking so many questions. Just accept our theory that there is no God. Nature is everything.”
Of course there is a purpose to this theory; it goes beyond just speculating on nature. If there is evolution of matter, survival of the fittest, then the post of “most fit” is up for grabs. Put more simply, any person can become God. They just have to evolve to the position. This big lie ties directly to the asura mindset.
From the authority that is Vedic literature, we learn there was indeed something like an explosion at the beginning, as we define it. The catalyst was the glance of purusha on prakriti. The original person, God, glanced over the pradhana, the unmanifest matter, and the universe and its infinite variety were born. All the species we see are a combination of the three modes of material nature: goodness, passion and ignorance. They are like works of art created using three primary colors on a very large canvas. Matter does not evolve, but the spirit within can change bodies.
3. There is no afterlife
This lie is very convenient for the asuras. It provides the justification for behaving in any way desired. Drink as much as you want. Eat whatever you want today. Don’t worry about virtue. Who cares about how others are treated, since everything ends at the time of death? Lie and steal if you have to.
The Vedic perspective brings the understanding that the afterlife is merely a point in time relative to another. Today is the afterlife from yesterday. This specific birth is the future from a previous birth. The mystery of the afterlife is removed through a single verse from the Bhagavad-gita, where Shri Krishna explains the travels of the embodied soul.
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)
4. There is no spirit; the body identifies you
This lie goes along with the Big Bang theory and the speculation about life ending at the time of death. The lie says that the body is simply a collection of chemicals. That collection came to be through the meeting of a man and a woman. It stays around for some time, and then at death it goes back into the ground. Therefore, no need to be concerned with virtue. Just do whatever you want. Enjoy as much as possible.
Of course the enjoyers are often the most miserable. Deep down, they know there is more, that something within lives on. As mentioned by Krishna, there is something known as the embodied soul. It is different from matter. This truth is the basic foundation of the spiritual science. “You are not your body.” Aham brahmasmi is the Sanskrit aphorism. I am spirit soul, part and parcel of the spiritual energy known as Brahman.
Brahman lives on. It is eternal. Fragments of Brahman are found in this material world, where the spirit soul gets covered up by gross and subtle elements of the qualities of the three modes of nature. To know that I am spirit is to know my true identity. From this identity I can properly understand God. I am spirit and so is He. Just as He is eternal, so am I. He is great spirit and I am a fragment expanded from Him. We are meant to always be in accord, following the same interest. When I diverge, which I always have the choice to do, I fall into a universe where I become susceptible to lies about my identity and the purpose to an existence.
5. You don’t need a guru; learn by yourself
This is one of the more silly lies, as it can be debunked in seconds. Observation, experiment, and personal experience are certainly ways to learn. But every person, even the greatest skeptic, puts trust in others. They believe the weather forecast told on the nightly news. They accept the testimony of others. After all, as individual spirit we are not all-pervading. We don’t experience what others experience. We are only made aware through communication.
“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.34)
The individual can’t learn the spiritual science without guidance. It is simply not possible. We see what results from mental speculation: one lie after another. It is no accident that when the Supreme Lord Krishna recommends approaching a spiritual master, He mentions the word tattva. This means “truth.” The spiritual master can help me see the truth because they have seen it themselves. The truth-seers pass on the most important knowledge to others. Only through their grace can I come to know about the many lies I have been told and the ones I may have unfortunately told others.
Manifestation of ignorance to unfold,
By many lies to others been told.
That the afterlife just a fairytale,
No hell or heaven’s ladder to scale.
Everything manifest through chemicals bang,
Success in life on income’s balance to hang.
Truth from one themselves seeing,
Spiritual master from ignorance freeing.