tamo moho maha-tamah
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
First of all, Brahma created from his shadow the coverings of ignorance of the conditioned souls. They are five in number and are called tamisra, andha-tamisra, tamas, moha and maha-moha.
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
The conditioned souls, or living entities who come to the material world to enjoy sense gratification, are covered in the beginning by five different conditions. The first condition is a covering of tamisra, or anger. Constitutionally, each and every living entity has minute independence; it is misuse of that minute independence for the conditioned soul to think that he can also enjoy like the Supreme Lord or to think, “Why shall I not be a free enjoyer like the Supreme Lord?” This forgetfulness of his constitutional position is due to anger or envy. The living entity, being eternally a part-and-parcel servitor of the Supreme Lord, can never, by constitution, be an equal enjoyer with the Lord. When he forgets this, however, and tries to be one with Him, his condition is called tamisra. Even in the field of spiritual realization, this tamisra mentality of the living entity is hard to overcome. In trying to get out of the entanglement of material life, there are many who want to be one with the Supreme. Even in their transcendental activities, this lower-grade mentality of tamisra continues.
Andha-tamisra involves considering death to be the ultimate end. The atheists generally think that the body is the self and that everything is therefore ended with the end of the body. Thus they want to enjoy material life as far as possible during the existence of the body. Their theory is: “As long as you live, you should live prosperously. Never mind whether you commit all kinds of so-called sins. You must eat sumptuously. Beg, borrow and steal, and if you think that by stealing and borrowing you are being entangled in sinful activities for which you will have to pay, then just forget that misconception because after death everything is finished. No one is responsible for anything he does during his life.” This atheistic conception of life is killing human civilization, for it is without knowledge of the continuation of eternal life.
This andha-tamisra ignorance is due to tamas. The condition of not knowing anything about the spirit soul is called tamas. This material world is also generally called tamas because ninety-nine percent of its living entities are ignorant of their identity as soul. Almost everyone is thinking that he is this body; he has no information of the spirit soul. Guided by this misconception, one always thinks, “This is my body, and anything in relationship with this body is mine.” For such misguided living entities, sex life is the background of material existence. Actually, the conditioned souls, in ignorance in this material world, are simply guided by sex life, and as soon as they get the opportunity for sex life, they become attached to so-called home, motherland, children, wealth and opulence. As these attachments increase, moha, or the illusion of the bodily concept of life, also increases. Thus the idea that “I am this body, and everything belonging to this body is mine” also increases, and as the whole world is put into moha, sectarian societies, families and nationalities are created, and they fight with one another. Maha-moha means to be mad after material enjoyment. Especially in this Age of Kali, everyone is overwhelmed by the madness to accumulate paraphernalia for material enjoyment. These definitions are very nicely given in Visnu Purana, wherein it is said:
tamo ’viveko mohah syad
maha-mohas tu vijñeyo
maranam hy andha-tamisram
tamisram krodha ucyate