MM mantra 36
The answer is that King Kulaśekhara is simply giving us a realistic picture of the alternatives faced by the living being in the clutches of the material energy. We need a sober view of Māyā's powers if we hope to extricate ourselves. As the
vidyāṁ cāvidyāṁ ca yas tad vedobhayaṁ saha
avidyayā mṛtyuṁ tīrtvā vidyayāmṛtam aśnute
"Only one who can learn the process of nescience and that of transcendental knowledge side by side can transcend the influence of repeated birth and death and enjoy the full blessings of immortality." The right choice for human beings is
How to use all of one's faculties in Kṛṣṇa's service was exemplified by Mahārāja Ambarīṣa, who engaged his mind in meditating on the Lord's lotus feet, his words in glorifying the Lord's transcendental qualities, his hands in cleaning the Lord's temple, his ears in hearing the Lord's pastimes, his eyes in seeing the Lord's transcendental forms, his body in touching the bodies of the Lord's devotees, his sense of smell in smelling the flowers offered to the Deity, his tongue in tasting the
If despite warnings we follow the wanton dictates of our senses, those senses will lead us into the ditch of deep illusion, just as an unreined horse might drag a chariot into a ditch. If this happens—if we fall deep into sinful life—then our only recourse is to call sincerely upon the Supreme Lord to extricate us. King Kulaśekhara's metaphor is not imaginary, for in India a person will sometimes accidentally fall into a dry, overgrown well known as an
Similarly, we cannot extricate ourselves from the deep well of material life unless we grab the rope of mercy lowered by Kṛṣṇa or His representative. As Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī prays in his
manasija-phaṇi-juṣṭe labdha-pāto 'smi duṣṭe
timira-gahana-rūpe hanta saṁsāra-kūpe
upanaya mama haste bhakti-rajjuṁ namas te
"Alas, I have fallen into the deep, dark, filthy well of
In a similar mood, Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī says the following in the fifth verse of his
kuru tvaṁ phut-kārān avati sa yathā tvaṁ mana itaḥ
"The highwaymen of lust and his accomplices—greed, etc.—have waylaid me and bound my neck with the horrible ropes of sinful activities. O mind, please scream out for help, crying 'O Kṛṣṇa! O killer of Baka, I am on the verge of death!' If you do this, then Kṛṣṇa will certainly save me."
To be aware of danger is itself a blessing. If we see the disaster of death and rebirth approaching, we will naturally call out to Kṛṣṇa for help. But if we remain in ignorance we will foolishly continue trying to enjoy sense pleasure, not recognizing that sense gratification implicates us in repeated birth and death. However, once we begin sincerely calling on Kṛṣṇa, in full awareness that we are in mortal danger and that He is our only protector, we are already saved.