O Brahma, whatever appears to be of any value, if it is without relation to Me, has no reality
Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana) – Canto 2: The Cosmic Manifestation – SB 2.9: Answers by Citing the Lord’s Version
rte ’rtham yat pratiyeta
na pratiyeta catmani
tad vidyad atmano mayam
yathabhaso yatha tamah
Synonyms: rte — without; artham — value; yat — that which; pratiyeta — appears to be; na — not; pratiyeta — appears to be; ca — and; atmani — in relation to Me; tat — that; vidyat — you must know; atmanah — My; mayam — illusory energy; yatha — just as; abhasah — the reflection; yatha — as; tamah — the darkness.
Translation: O Brahma, whatever appears to be of any value, if it is without relation to Me, has no reality. Know it as My illusory energy, that reflection which appears to be in darkness.
In the previous verse it has already been concluded that in any stage of the cosmic manifestation — its appearance, its sustenance, its growth, its interactions of different energies, its deterioration and its disappearance — all has its basic relation with the existence of the Personality of Godhead. And as such, whenever there is forgetfulness of this prime relation with the Lord, and whenever things are accepted as real without being related to the Lord, that conception is called a product of the illusory energy of the Lord. Because nothing can exist without the Lord, it should be known that the illusory energy is also an energy of the Lord. The right conclusion of dovetailing everything in relationship with the Lord is called yoga-maya, or the energy of union, and the wrong conception of detaching a thing from its relationship with the Lord is called the Lord’s daivi maya, or maha-maya. Both themayas also have connections with the Lord because nothing can exist without being related to Him. As such, the wrong conception of detaching relationships from the Lord is not false, but illusory.
Misconceiving one thing for another thing is called illusion. For example, accepting a rope as a snake is illusion, but the rope is not false. The rope, as it exists in the front of the illusioned person, is not at all false, but the acceptance is illusory. Therefore the wrong conception of accepting this material manifestation as being divorced from the energy of the Lord is illusion, but it is not false. And this illusory conception is called the reflection of the reality in the darkness of ignorance. Anything that appears as apparently not being “produced out of My energy” is called maya. The conception that the living entity is formless or that the Supreme Lord is formless is also illusion. In the Bhagavad-gita (2.12) it was said by the Lord in the midst of the battlefield that the warriors standing in front of Arjuna, Arjuna himself, and even the Lord had all existed before, they were existing on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, and they would all continue to be individual personalities in the future also, even after the annihilation of the present body and even after being liberated from the bondage of material existence. In all circumstances, the Lord and the living entities are individual personalities, and the personal features of both the Lord and living beings are never abolished; only the influence of the illusory energy, the reflection of light in the darkness, can, by the mercy of the Lord, be removed. In the material world, the light of the sun is also not independent, nor is that of the moon. The real source of light is the brahmajyoti, which diffuses light from the transcendental body of the Lord, and the same light is reflected in varieties of light: the light of the sun, the light of the moon, the light of fire, or the light of electricity. So the identity of the self as being unconnected with the Supreme Self, the Lord, is also illusion, and the false claim “I am the Supreme” is the last illusory snare of the same maya, or the external energy of the Lord.
The Vedanta-sutra in the very beginning affirms that everything is born from the Supreme, and thus, as explained in the previous verse, all individual living entities are born from the energy of the supreme living being, the Personality of Godhead. Brahma himself was born from the energy of the Lord, and all other living entities are born from the energy of the Lord through the agency of Brahma; none of them has any existence without being dovetailed with the Supreme Lord.
The independence of the individual living entity is not real independence, but is just the reflection of the real independence existing in the Supreme Being, the Lord. The false claim of supreme independence by the conditioned souls is illusion, and this conclusion is admitted in this verse.
Persons with a poor fund of knowledge become illusioned, and therefore the so-called scientists, physiologists, empiric philosophers, etc., become dazzled by the glaring reflection of the sun, moon, electricity, etc., and deny the existence of the Supreme Lord, putting forward theories and different speculations about the creation, maintenance and annihilation of everything material. The medical practitioner may deny the existence of the soul in the physiological bodily construction of an individual person, but he cannot give life to a dead body, even though all the mechanisms of the body exist even after death. The psychologist makes a serious study of the physiological conditions of the brain, as if the construction of the cerebral lump were the machine of the functioning mind, but in the dead body the psychologist cannot bring back the function of the mind. These scientific studies of the cosmic manifestation or the bodily construction independent of the Supreme Lord are different reflective intellectual gymnastics only, but at the end they are all illusion and nothing more. All such advancement of science and knowledge in the present context of material civilization is but an action of the covering influence of the illusory energy. The illusory energy has two phases of existence, namely the covering influence and the throwing influence. By the throwing influence the illusory energy throws the living entities into the darkness of ignorance, and by the covering influence she covers the eyes of men with a poor fund of knowledge about the existence of the Supreme Person who enlightened the supreme individual living being, Brahma. The identity of Brahma with the Supreme Lord is never claimed herein, and therefore such a foolish claim by the man with a poor fund of knowledge is another display of the illusory energy of the Lord. The Lord says in the Bhagavad-gita (16.18-20) that demoniac persons who deny the existence of the Lord are thrown more and more into the darkness of ignorance, and thus such demoniac persons transmigrate life after life without any knowledge of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The sane man, however, is enlightened in the disciplic succession from Brahmaji, who was personally instructed by the Lord, or in the disciplic succession from Arjuna, who was personally instructed by the Lord in the Bhagavad-gita. He accepts this statement of the Lord:
aham sarvasya prabhavo
mattah sarvam pravartate
iti matva bhajante mam
The Lord is the original source of all emanations, and everything that is created, maintained and annihilated exists by the energy of the Lord. The sane man who knows this is actually learned, and therefore he becomes a pure devotee of the Lord, engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord.
Although the reflectory energy of the Lord displays various illusions to the eyes of persons with a poor fund of knowledge, the sane person knows clearly that the Lord can act, even from far, far beyond our vision, by His different energies, just as fire can diffuse heat and light from a distant place. In the medical science of the ancient sages, known as the Ayur-veda, there is definite acceptance of the Lord’s supremacy in the following words:
pumso ’sti prakrtir nitya
akarod visvam akhilam
There is one Supreme Person who is the progenitor of this cosmic manifestation and whose energy acts as prakrti,or the material nature, dazzling like a reflection. By such illusory action of prakrti, even dead matter is caused to move by the cooperation of living energy of the Lord, and the material world appears like a dramatic performance to the ignorant eyes. The ignorant person, therefore, may even be a scientist or physiologist in the drama of prakrti,while the sane person knows prakrti as the illusory energy of the Lord. By such a conclusion, as confirmed by theBhagavad-gita, it is clear that the living entities are also a display of the Lord’s superior energy (para prakrti), just as the material world is a display of the Lord’s inferior energy (apara prakrti). The superior energy of the Lord cannot be as good as the Lord, although there is very little difference between the energy and the possessor of the energy, or the fire and the heat. Fire is possessed of heat, but heat is not fire. This simple thing is not understood by the man with a poor fund of knowledge who falsely claims that the fire and heat are the same. This energy of the fire (namely heat) is explained here as a reflection, and not directly fire. Therefore the living energy represented by the living entities is the reflection of the Lord, and never the Lord Himself. Being the reflection of the Lord, the existence of the living entity is dependent on the Supreme Lord, who is the original light. This material energy may be compared to darkness, as actually it is darkness, and the activities of the living entities in the darkness are reflections of the original light. The Lord should be understood by the context of this verse. Non-dependence of both the energies of the Lord is explained as maya, or illusion. No one can make a solution of the darkness of ignorance simply by the reflection of light. Similarly, no one can come out of material existence simply by the reflected light of the common man; one has to receive the light from the original light itself. The reflection of sunlight in the darkness is unable to drive out the darkness, but the sunlight outside the reflection can drive out the darkness completely. In darkness no one can see the things in a room. Therefore a person in the dark is afraid of snakes and scorpions, although there may not be such things. But in the light the things in the room can be clearly seen, and the fear of snakes and scorpions is at once removed. Therefore one has to take shelter of the light of the Lord, as in the Bhagavad-gita or the Srimad-Bhagavatam, and not the reflective personalities who have no touch with the Lord. No one should hear Bhagavad-gita or Srimad-Bhagavatam from a person who does not believe in the existence of the Lord. Such a person is already doomed, and any association with such a doomed person makes the associater also doomed.
According to the Padma Purana, within the material compass there are innumerable material universes, and all of them are full of darkness. Any living being, beginning from the Brahmas (there are innumerable Brahmas in innumerable universes) to the insignificant ant, are all born in darkness, and they require factual light from the Lord to see Him directly, just as the sun can be seen only by the direct light of the sun. No lamp or man-made torchlight, however powerful it may be, can help one see the sun. The sun reveals itself. Therefore the action of different energies of the Lord, or the Personality of Godhead Himself, can be realized by the light manifested by the causeless mercy of the Lord. The impersonalists say that God cannot be seen. God can be seen by the light of God and not by man-made speculations. Here this light is specifically mentioned as vidyat, which is an order by the Lord to Brahma. This direct order of the Lord is a manifestation of His internal energy, and this particular energy is the means of seeing the Lord face to face. Not only Brahma but anyone who may be graced by the Lord to see such merciful direct internal energy can also realize the Personality of Godhead without any mental speculation.