“The demons’ lust is never satiated. They will go on increasing and increasing their insatiable desires for material enjoyment. Although they are always full of anxieties on account of accepting nonpermanent things, they still continue to engage in such activities out of illusion. They have no knowledge and cannot tell that they are heading the wrong way. Accepting nonpermanent things, such demoniac people create their own God, create their own hymns and chant accordingly. The result is that they become more and more attracted to two things-sex enjoyment and accumulation of material wealth.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 16.10 Purport)
Kama, or lust, is the all-devouring enemy of this world. The potency is augmented by the inclusion of krodha, or wrath. This force is too strong for even the discriminating person to handle. That is to say those who should know better, who have been taught the difference between matter and spirit and how the individual is pure soul, still have trouble dealing with the day-to-day troubles of a material existence.
With the asuras, the case is almost hopeless. Due to their demoniac mentality, they have reached certain conclusions, based in ignorance, and therefore see no harm in what is known to the sober person to be maya, or illusion. In the general sense, the asuras have two attractions that increase as their way of life remains uncontrolled.
1. Sex enjoyment
The reason kama is all-devouring is because it is never satisfied. Take the case of eating pizza for dinner. You have gone hungry the entire day. This was due to outside circumstances. Feeling like the body is a little too cold, lacking enough sodium and other heating ingredients, the craving is for a fresh pizza pie.
Sitting down at the dinner table, one slice isn’t enough. Have another. Okay, but there are a few remaining slices and not everyone will finish them. Pizza doesn’t taste as good later on, when reheated, so might as well finish it off.
The immediate satisfaction is noticeable. No desire to eat anymore, though one or two slices would have been enough. The problems begin shortly thereafter. Indigestion. A spike in blood pressure. Irritability. The strong urge to eat something sweet, like ice cream. It feels like the pizza is expanding further in the stomach, returning to its original shape.
This is the way of kama. Trying to satisfy lust is like putting more logs onto a raging fire. Since the asuras do not believe in good qualities, which include voluntarily imposed restraint, they become further bound by lust, whose hallmark activity is sex enjoyment.
The classic case is Ravana, the king of Lanka many thousands of years ago. He had ten heads and twenty arms to enjoy as much animal flesh and wine as desired. He conquered over many rival kings and subsequently took possession of their queens. This meant that he had enough sex enjoyment to occupy his entire day. Yet he was still so consumed by lust that it drove him to commit the most regrettable violation, one that would cost him everything. That lust would indeed devour him.
2. Accumulation of material wealth
I am happy with the present living conditions. One bedroom, one living room, a kitchen and a bathroom, but everything is taken care of. That is to say if something should go wrong, there is a maintenance staff available at all hours of the day to promptly handle the issue. I don’t have a lawn to tend to, a leaky roof to fix, or a backyard to manage.
My friends who own homes tend to talk about the same things. They are always engaged in some kind of maintenance. They take care of the patio and deck with great attention, but during the course of the year they maybe use it once or twice. So much effort for something that isn’t enjoyed very much.
This is the other side of kama. Lust in sex enjoyment and also in accumulating material wealth. Even the wise person falls into the trap, as they feel inferior to their friends and colleagues. They are compelled to go in a direction that they would rather avoid.
The false theory of the asuras is that this life is the only one. Everything comes together through sex life, or a random collision of material elements. Better to enjoy as much as possible right now, then. Accumulate so much material wealth so that you become the envy of the world. Rise to the topmost position, something like the God that everyone else believes in.
As kama is at the foundation, the same defect exists. No amount of material wealth will be enough. In one sense the asuras are in deeper than the average person who doesn’t have as much. The elusive chase to be the wealthiest is really no different than the person who becomes champion of a particular sport in a video game. The title is an illusion; not something real. The material world is miserable and temporary, duhkhalayam and ashashvatam.
One of the benefits of following bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, is that kama comes under control. A separate endeavor can be made, but it is not required. The object of worship, the Supreme Lord, is the controller of all. He gives help to the devotee, sometimes even taking things away. In this capacity He is known as Hari.
The engagement is not dry and tasteless. Instead of being attracted to sex enjoyment and the accumulation of wealth, the individual falls deeper into the bliss of devotion. They become more and more attracted to God the person, who in this capacity is known as Krishna. There is a higher taste experienced, one that leaves the targets of ordinary lust behind.
Asuras to lust succumbed,
By this enemy undone.
Maybe at the start to gain,
But then satisfaction not the same.
Driven further by sex attraction,
Chase for more wealth distraction.
Following bhakti easily cured,
For better life be assured.
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