Srimad-Bhagavatam: Canto 1 - Chapter 1 - Verse 5
यया सम्मोहितो जीव आत्मानं त्रिगुणात्मकम् ।परोऽपि मनुतेऽनर्थं तत्कृतं चाभिपद्यते ॥ ५ ॥
yayā sammohito jīvaātmānaṁ tri-guṇātmakamparo ’pi manute ’narthaṁtat-kṛtaṁ cābhipadyate
Due to this external energy, the living entity, although transcendental to the three modes of material nature, thinks of himself as a material product and thus undergoes the reactions of material miseries.
The root cause of suffering by the materialistic living beings is pointed out with remedial measures which are to be undertaken and also the ultimate perfection to be gained. All this is mentioned in this particular verse. The living being is by constitution transcendental to material encagement, but he is now imprisoned by the external energy, and therefore he thinks himself one of the material products. And due to this unholy contact, the pure spiritual entity suffers material miseries under the modes of material nature. The living entity misunderstands himself to be a material product. This means that the present perverted way of thinking, feeling and willing, under material conditions, is not natural for him. But he has his normal way of thinking, feeling and willing. The living being in his original state is not without thinking, willing and feeling power. It is also confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā that the actual knowledge of the conditioned soul is now covered by nescience. Thus the theory that a living being is absolute impersonal Brahman is refuted herein. This cannot be, because the living entity has his own way of thinking in his original unconditional state also. The present conditional state is due to the influence of the external energy, which means that the illusory energy takes the initiative while the Supreme Lord is aloof. The Lord does not desire that a living being be illusioned by external energy. The external energy is aware of this fact, but still she accepts a thankless task of keeping the forgotten soul under illusion by her bewildering influence. The Lord does not interfere with the task of the illusory energy because such performances of the illusory energy are also necessary for reformation of the conditioned soul. An affectionate father does not like his children to be chastised by another agent, yet he puts his disobedient children under the custody of a severe man just to bring them to order. But the all-affectionate Almighty Father at the same time desires relief for the conditioned soul, relief from the clutches of the illusory energy. The king puts the disobedient citizens within the walls of the jail, but sometimes the king, desiring the prisoners’ relief, personally goes there and pleads for reformation, and on his doing so the prisoners are set free. Similarly, the Supreme Lord descends from His kingdom upon the kingdom of the illusory energy and personally gives relief in the form of the Bhagavad-gītā, wherein He personally suggests that although the ways of the illusory energy are very stiff to overcome, one who surrenders unto the lotus feet of the Lord is set free by the order of the Supreme. This surrendering process is the remedial measure for getting relief from the bewildering ways of the illusory energy. The surrendering process is completed by the influence of association. The Lord has suggested, therefore, that by the influence of the speeches of saintly persons who have actually realized the Supreme, conditioned souls are engaged in His transcendental loving service. They get a taste for hearing about the Lord, and by such hearing only are they gradually elevated to the platform of respect, devotion and attachment for the Lord. The whole thing is completed by the surrendering process. Herein also the same suggestion is made by the Lord in His incarnation of Vyāsadeva. This means that the conditioned souls are being reclaimed by the Lord both ways, namely by the process of punishment by the external energy of the Lord, and by Himself as the spiritual master within and without. Within the heart of every living being the Lord Himself as the Supersoul (Paramātmā) becomes the spiritual master, and from without He becomes the spiritual master in the shape of scriptures, saints and the initiator spiritual master. This is still more explicitly explained in the next śloka. Personal superintendence of the illusory energy is confirmed in the Vedas (the Kena Upaniṣad) in relation to the demigods’ controlling power. Herein also it is clearly stated that the living entity is controlled by the external energy in a personal capacity. The living being thus subject to the control of the external energy is differently situated. It is clear, however, from the present statement of the Bhāgavatam that the same external energy is situated in the inferior position before the Personality of Godhead, or the perfect being. The perfect being, or the Lord, cannot be approached even by the illusory energy, who can only work on the living entities. Therefore it is sheer imagination that the Supreme Lord is illusioned by the illusory energy and thus becomes a living being. If the living being and the Lord were in the same category, then it would have been quite possible for Vyāsadeva to see it, and there would have been no question of material distress on the part of the illusioned being, for the Supreme Being is fully cognizant. So there are so many unscrupulous imaginations on the part of the monists to endeavor to put both the Lord and the living being in the same category. Had the Lord and the living beings been the same, then Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī would not have taken the trouble to describe the transcendental pastimes of the Lord, for they would all be manifestations of the illusory energy. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the summum bonum remedy for suffering humanity in the clutches of māyā. Śrīla Vyāsadeva therefore first of all diagnosed the actual disease of the conditioned souls, i.e., their being illusioned by the external energy. He also saw the perfect Supreme Being, from whom the illusory energy is far removed, though He saw both the diseased conditioned souls and also the cause of the disease. And the remedial measures are suggested in the next verse. Both the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the living beings are undoubtedly qualitatively one, but the Lord is the controller of the illusory energy, whereas the living entity is controlled by the illusory energy. Thus the Lord and the living beings are simultaneously one and different. Another point is distinct herein: that eternal relation between the Lord and the living being is transcendental, otherwise the Lord would not have taken the trouble to reclaim the conditioned souls from the clutches of māyā. In the same way, the living entity is also required to revive his natural love and affection for the Lord, and that is the highest perfection of the living entity. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam treats the conditioned soul with an aim to that goal of life.