Srila Prabhupada Speaks Out regarding what is “Action”,”Inaction” and “Forbidden Action”

April 14, 2021 in Articles by Laksman dasa

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Srila Prabhupada Speaks Out regarding what is “Action”,”Inaction” and “Forbidden Action”

Hare Krishna, Dandavat pranams and all glories to His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and all Vaisnavas.

In this article, a collection of instructions by Srila Prabhupada in his original books is presented in which he explains the meaning of action, inaction and forbidden action.

This collection of quotes is extremely important because lots of devotees are trying to commit forbidden actions in the name of Krsna consciousness, where it is thought that any action just performed by giving the label of Krsna is an approved action which isn’t the case here. In fact, actions that are approved and are in line with those performed by Vaisnavas are to be termed as “actions” where one is not at all attached to the fruits that may arise out of those actions. 

The following is a collection of some verses from Chapter 4 (Transcendental Knowledge) of the Macmillan 1972 Bhagavad Gita As It Is as well as instructions from Srila Prabhupada’s lectures on these particular verses that help everyone understand what kind of action one must compulsorily perform and what actions are to be avoided.

It is therefore hoped that these quotes will help everyone to understand what is the right and wrong action and how to be alert 24/7 in committing everything according the instructions given by Srila Prabhupada.

The Sanskrit word mat-paraḥ is very important in this verse. It indicates that one has no goal in life save and except acting in Kṛṣṇa consciousness just to satisfy Kṛṣṇa. And, while working in that way, one should think of Kṛṣṇa only: “I have been appointed to discharge this particular duty by Kṛṣṇa.” While acting in such a way, one naturally has to think of Kṛṣṇa. This is perfect Kṛṣṇa consciousness. One should, however, note that, after doing something whimsically, he should not offer the result to the Supreme Lord. That sort of duty is not in the devotional service of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. One should act according to the order of Krṣna. This is a very important point.That order of Kṛṣṇa comes through disciplic succession from the bona fide spiritual master. Therefore the spiritual master’s order should be taken as the prime duty of life. If one gets a bona fide spiritual master and acts according to his direction, then his perfection of life in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is guaranteed.

[Bhagavad gita As It Is (1972 edition) 18.57,Purport]

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BG 4.16

किं कर्म किमकर्मेति कवयोऽप्यत्र मोहिताः ।

तत्ते कर्म प्रवक्ष्यामि यज्ज्ञात्वा मोक्ष्यसेऽशुभात् ॥१६॥

kiṁ karma kim akarmeti

kavayo ‘py atra mohitāḥ

tat te karma pravakṣyāmi

yaj jñātvā mokṣyase ‘śubhāt

SYNONYMS

kim—what is; karma—action; kim—what is; akarma—inaction; iti—thus; kavayaḥ—the intelligent; api—also; atra—in this matter; mohitāḥ—bewildered; tat—that; te—unto you; karma—work; pravakṣyāmi—I shall explain; yat—which; jñātvā—knowing; mokṣyase—be liberated; aśubhāt—from ill fortune.

TRANSLATION

Even the intelligent are bewildered in determining what is action and what is inaction. Now I shall explain to you what action is, knowing which you shall be liberated from all sins.

PURPORT

Action in Kṛṣṇa consciousness has to be executed in accord with the examples of previous bona fide devotees. This is recommended in the 15th verse. Why such action should not be independant will be explained in the text to follow.

To act in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one has to follow the leadership of authorized persons who are in a line of disciplic succession as explained in the beginning of this chapter. The system of Kṛṣṇa consciousness was first narrated to the sun-god, the sun-god explained it to his son Manu, Manu explained it to his son Ikṣvāku, and the system is current on this earth from that very remote time. Therefore, one has to follow in the footsteps of previous authorities in the line of disciplic succession. Otherwise even the most intelligent men will be bewildered regarding the standard actions of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. For this reason, the Lord decided to instruct Arjuna in Kṛṣṇa consciousness directly. Because of the direct instruction of the Lord to Arjuna, anyone who follows in the footsteps of Arjuna is certainly not bewildered.

It is said that one cannot ascertain the ways of religion simply by imperfect experimental knowledge. Actually, the principles of religion can only be laid down by the Lord Himself. Dharmaṁ hi sākṣāt-bhagavat-praṇītam. No one can manufacture a religious principle by imperfect speculation. One must follow in the footsteps of great authorities like Brahmā, Śiva, Nārada, Manu, Kumāra, Kapila, Prahlāda, Bhīṣma, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, Yamarāja, Janaka, etc. By mental speculation one cannot ascertain what is religion or self-realization. Therefore, out of causeless mercy to His devotees, the Lord explains directly to Arjuna what action is and what inaction is. Only action performed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness can deliver a person from the entanglement of material existence.

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Bhagavad-gītā 4.16—Bombay, April 5, 1974

That is very essential, the varṇāśrama-dharma. Because we must have the aim of life. At the present moment there is no aim of life. The aim of life is sense gratification. That’s all. Indriya-tṛpti. That is forbidden in the śāstras. Nūnaṁ pramattaḥ kurute vikarma [SB 5.5.4]. Kiṁ karmeti kiṁ vikarmeti will be described. So karma and vikarma, prescribed duties according to qualification, position, occupation, that is called karma. And just opposite, it is called vikarma. Karma akarma vikarma. That Kṛṣṇa will explain.

So at the present moment… Not at the present moment. It is the tendency of materialistic life to act vikarma, forbidden karma. That is explained by Ṛṣabhadeva in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, nūnaṁ pramattaḥ kurute vikarma yad indriya-prītaya āpṛṇoti [SB 5.5.4]. That is visible in the present moment in the Kali-yuga all over the world. Vikarmeti. All kinds of sinful activities, they are performing. That is called vikarma. The vikarma we have specified especially: illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication up to drinking tea, coffee and smoking. These are all vikarma. So they do not know. But they are going on. Therefore Ṛṣabhadeva, many, many years ago he warned his sons, “My dear boys, nūnaṁ pramattaḥ kurute vikarma.” Pramattaḥ. Pra means sufficiently or extraordinarily. Prakṛṣṭa-rūpeṇa. Mattaḥ. Mattaḥ means mad. Nūnaṁ pramattaḥ kurute vikarma: [SB 5.5.4] “All people, being mad, they are committing all sinful activities.” They do not know what is sinful activity. They think everything is all right. No. Nature will take account of everything and he will give you a next body.

The same example. If you infect some disease and the after result, you must suffer from that disease. This is nature’s law. Similarly, kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo ‘sya sad-asad-janma-yoniṣu [Bg. 13.22]. That is explained in Bhagavad-gītā. Why one gets low grade life and why one gets high grade life? What is the reason? That is explained by Kṛṣṇa, that kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo ‘sya. The reason is as he is being infected by the different qualities of material nature. Therefore we have to be very careful. There are three qualities and mixed qualities. Originally three qualities: sattva-guṇa, rajo-guṇa, tamo-guṇa. Then three multiplied by three, mixture, then it becomes nine. Then nine multiplied by nine it becomes eighty-one. Different, just like color mixture. So therefore there are 8,400,000 species of life, this mixture of qualities. Karmaṇā daiva-netreṇa [SB 3.31.1]. We are infecting different types of qualities of material nature, and we are becoming fit for the next life.

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BG 4.17

कर्मणो ह्यपि बोद्धव्यं बोद्धव्यं च विकर्मणः ।

अकर्मणश्च बोद्धव्यं गहना कर्मणो गतिः ॥१७॥

karmaṇo hy api boddhavyaṁ

boddhavyaṁ ca vikarmaṇaḥ

akarmaṇaś ca boddhavyaṁ

gahanā karmaṇo gatiḥ

SYNONYMS

karmaṇaḥ—working order; hi—certainly; api—also; boddhavyam—should be understood; boddhavyam—to be understood; ca—also; vikarmaṇaḥ—forbidden work; akarmaṇaḥ—inaction; ca—also; boddhavyam—should be understood; gahanā—very difficult; karmaṇaḥ—working order; gatiḥ—to enter into.

TRANSLATION

The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one should know properly what action is, what forbidden action is, and what inaction is.

PURPORT

If one is serious about liberation from material bondage, one has to understand the distinctions between action, inaction and unauthorized actions. One has to apply oneself to such an analysis of action, reaction and perverted actions because it is a very difficult subject matter. To understand Kṛṣṇa consciousness and action according to the modes, one has to learn one’s relationship with the Supreme; i.e., one who has learned perfectly knows that every living entity is the eternal servitor of the Lord and that consequently one has to act in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The entire Bhagavad-gītā is directed toward this conclusion. Any other conclusions, against this consciousness and its attendant reactions, are vikarmas, or prohibitive actions. To understand all this one has to associate with authorities in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and learn the secret from them; this is as good as learning from the Lord directly. Otherwise, even the most intelligent person will be bewildered.

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Bhagavad-gītā 4.17—Bombay, April 6, 1974

Just like a good citizen knows what is lawful work and what is unlawful work. Lawful work is executed knows what is lawful work and what is unlawful work. Lawful work is executed by intelligent citizens, and unlawful work is executed by the criminals. He has to suffer. You can cheat the man-made government by hiding yourself, so-called hiding. You cannot hide yourself from, any vikarma or unlawful work, from the eyes of the Supreme Lord. That is not possible. You can hide yourself from the eyes of the police, man-made law, but it is not possible to hide yourself from the eyes of the Supreme. That is not possible. Because the Supreme is sitting within your heart. Īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe ‘rjuna tiṣṭhati [Bg. 18.61]. And He is sitting as anumantā and upadraṣṭā. He is simply seeing what you are doing, and He is giving sanction also. Even a thief who is going to act something criminally, without the sanction of the Supersoul, who is sitting within everyone’s heart, he cannot do that.

That you have got experience. Suppose you are doing, going to do something which is not very good. The conscience is beating, “No, no, you should not do this. You should not do this.” But because without the sanction of the Supreme, I cannot do anything, so if we persist to do something, then the sanction is given, “At your risk.” That is going on. God does not give you sanction for doing anything criminal. But if we persist to do something criminal, then God gives sanction, “All right, do. Do it at your risk.” That is going on. Karmaṇā daiva-netreṇa [SB 3.31.1]. Now, when we act something on account of my persistence by the sanction of the Lord, then I become subjected to the fruits of such resultant action.

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BG 4.18

कर्मण्यकर्म यः पश्येदकर्मणि च कर्म यः ।

स बुद्धिमान्मनुष्येषु स युक्तः कृत्स्नकर्मकृत् ॥१८॥

karmaṇy akarma yaḥ paśyed

akarmaṇi ca karma yaḥ

sa buddhimān manuṣyeṣu

sa yuktaḥ kṛtsna-karma-kṛt

SYNONYMS

karmaṇi—in action; akarma—inaction; yaḥ—one who; paśyet—observes; akarmaṇi—in inaction; ca—also; karma—fruitive action; yaḥ—one who; saḥ—he; buddhimān—is intelligent; manuṣyeṣu—in human society; saḥ—he; yuktaḥ—is in the transcendental position; kṛtsna-karma-kṛt—although engaged in all activities.

TRANSLATION

One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is intelligent among men, and he is in the tranecendental position, although engaged in all sorts of activities.

PURPORT

A person acting in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is naturally free from the bonds of karma. His activities are all performed for Kṛṣṇa; therefore he does not enjoy or suffer any of the effects of work. Consequently he is intelligent in human society, even though he is engaged in all sorts of activities for Kṛṣṇa. Akarma means without reaction to work. The impersonalist ceases fruitive activities out of fear, so that the resultant action may not be a stumbling block on the path of self-realization, but the personalist knows rightly his position as the eternal servitor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore he engages himself in the activities of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Because everything is done for Kṛṣṇa, he enjoys only transcendental happiness in the discharge of this service. Those who are engaged in this process are known to be without desire for personal sense gratification. The sense of eternal servitorship to Kṛṣṇa makes one immune to all sorts of reactionary elements of work.

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Bhagavad-gītā 4.18—Delhi,November 3,1973

Female devotee: You said that if we are performing some activity, that activity must be tested to see if Lord Kṛṣṇa is pleased. But what is the test?

Prabhupāda: If the spiritual master is pleased, then Kṛṣṇa is pleased. That you are singing daily. Yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo yasyāprasādān na gatiḥ kuto ‘pi **. If the spiritual master is pleased, then Kṛṣṇa is pleased. That is the test. If he is not pleased, then he has no other way.

That is very simple to understand. Suppose anyone who is working in the office, the immediate boss is the head, head clerk or the superintendent of that department. So everyone is working. If he satisfies the superintendent or the head clerk, then it is to be understood that he has satisfied the managing director. It is not very difficult. Your immediate boss, representative of Kṛṣṇa, he is to be satisfied. Yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo yasya **. Therefore the guidance of spiritual master is required. Kṛṣṇa comes in the form of spiritual master to guide. That is stated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta. Guru-kṛṣṇa-kṛpāya. Guru-kṛṣṇa-kṛpāya. So guru-kṛpā, mercy of guru, is mercy of Kṛṣṇa. So when both of them are satisfied, then our path is clear. Guru-kṛṣṇa-kṛpāya pāya bhakti-latā-bīja [Cc. Madhya 19.151]. Then our devotional service is perfect. So you did not mark this statement in the Gurvaṣṭaka? Yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo yasyāprasādān na gatiḥ kuto ‘pi **.

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Bhagavad-gītā 4.18—Bombay, April 7, 1974

Similarly, unless one is very intelligent, he cannot understand what is karma and akarma. That is the whole subject matter of Bhagavad-gītā. Arjuna was thinking that “I am going to commit some sinful activities by killing my kinsmen, the other side, my brothers, my nephews, my master, my grandfather, my so many relatives.” So he was seeing sinful activity in that fight. So long there is deliberation of sinful and pious activities, that is called karma. Karma has got two results, either suffering or enjoying. Of course, in this material world there is no enjoyment. But with the hope of enjoyment, we agree to suffer. And that is called enjoyment.

Just like a businessman, he is working very hard, whole day and night, and he gets some profit, say, two lakhs; he thinks that he is very happy, he is enjoying. But actually, he is working very hard. But because he has no knowledge, he is thinking that “I am profiting. I am making profit. This is my happiness.” But in the śāstras those who are working so hard simply for some sense gratification… Especially in Western countries we have seen, this is very factual. Even very old man, he is working very hard, very big business magnate, very big politician, working very hard, and at night he goes to the nightclubs, pays $50 for entrance fee, and then he spends for wine and women lots of money. So this is his happiness. Even old man, eighty years old, he is also going to the club. Because in the material world the happiness means wine and women. That’s all.

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BG 4.19

यस्य सर्वे समारम्भाः कामसङ्कल्पवर्जिताः ।

ज्ञानाग्निदग्धकर्माणं तमाहुः पण्डितं बुधाः ॥१९॥

yasya sarve samārambhāḥ

kāma-saṅkalpa-varjitāḥ

jñānāgni-dagdha-karmāṇaṁ

tam āhuḥ paṇḍitaṁ budhāḥ

SYNONYMS

yasya—one whose; sarve—all sorts of; samārambhāḥ—in all attempts; kāma—desire for sense gratification; saṅkalpa—determination; varjitāḥ—are devoid of; jñāna—of perfect knowledge; āgni—fire; dagdha—being burnt by; karmāṇam—the performer; tam—him; āhuḥ—declare; paṇḍitam—learned; budhāḥ—those who know.

TRANSLATION

One is understood to be in full knowledge whose every act is devoid of desire for sense gratification. He is said by sages to be a worker whose fruitive action is burned up by the fire of perfect knowledge.

PURPORT

Only a person in full knowledge can understand the activities of a person in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Because the person in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is devoid of all kinds of sense-gratificatory propensities, it is to be understood that he has burned up the reactions of his work by perfect knowledge of his constitutional position as the eternal servitor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is actually learned who has attained to such perfection of knowledge. Development of this knowledge of the eternal servitorship of the Lord is compared to fire. Such a fire, once kindled, can burn up all kinds of reactions to work.

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Bhagavad-gītā 4.19—New York, August 5, 1966

Yasya sarve samārambhāḥ: “Whatever activities you may do, do it,” but kāma-saṅkalpa-varjitāḥ, kāma-saṅkalpa-varjitāḥ: “don’t be carried away by kāma.” Kāma means for your own satisfaction, kāma. The word, Sanskrit word kāma, is used for lust, for desire, for sense satisfaction. So Lord Kṛṣṇa recommends that, “Don’t do it for satisfaction of your senses, for satisfaction of your lust, or for satisfaction of your desires.” That is the whole thing. Whole teaching of Bhagavad-gītā is based on this principle.

The whole instruction to Arjuna is that Arjuna wanted to satisfy his senses, his senses. He wanted that, that by not fighting with the opposite party, who were composed of his relatives, brothers and brother-in-laws and father-in-laws and so many relatives. So he did not want to fight. And therefore this instruction of Bhagavad-gītā was needed by Kṛṣṇa. The whole basic principle is this. Now, that was Kṛṣṇa’s, Arjuna’s own satisfaction of the senses. Arjuna did not want to fight. Materially, it appears very nice that he is giving up his claim of kingdom for satisfying his relatives. Oh, he’s very good man. But Kṛṣṇa did not approve it. Why? Because the basic principle was Arjuna decided to satisfy his own senses. Externally it appeared very nice. But anything which is done for the satisfaction of his own senses, that is kāma, kāma, lust, desire.

Here it is prescribed that you can do anything. There is no harm. Whatever your business, or vocation, occupation, you are engaged, that has not to be changed. That has not to be changed. Simply your consciousness has to be changed. That’s all. Kāma-saṅkalpa-varjitāḥ. How? How that consciousness can be changed? Now, jñānāgni-dagdha-karmāṇam. That consciousness, transferring the present self-interested consciousness to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, requires knowledge. Requires knowledge. And what is that knowledge? That knowledge is that, “I am part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa. I’m not different from Kṛṣṇa. I am part and parcel. I am the superior energy of Kṛṣṇa.” That is knowledge.

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BG 4.20

त्यक्त्वा कर्मफलासङ्गं नित्यतृप्तो निराश्रयः ।

कर्मण्यभिप्रवृत्तोऽपि नैव किञ्चित्करोति सः ॥२०॥

tyaktvā karma-phalāsaṅgaṁ

nitya-tṛpto nirāśrayaḥ

karmaṇy abhipravṛtto ‘pi

naiva kiñcit karoti saḥ

SYNONYMS

tyaktvā—having given up; karma-phala-āsaṅgam—attachment for fruitive results; nitya—always; tṛptaḥ—being satisfied; nirāśrayaḥ—without any center; karmaṇi—in activity; abhipravṛttaḥ—being fully engaged; api—in spite of; na—does not; eva—certainly; kiñcit—anything; karoti—do; saḥ—he.

TRANSLATION

Abandoning all attachment to the results of his activities, ever satisfied and independant, he performs no fruitive action, although engaged in all kinds of undertakings.

PURPORT

This freedom from the bondage of actions is possible only in Kṛṣṇa consciousness when one is doing everything for Kṛṣṇa. A Kṛṣṇa conscious person acts out of pure love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and therefore he has no attraction for the results of the action. He is not even attached to his personal maintenance, for everything is left to Kṛṣṇa. Nor is he anxious to secure things, nor to protect things already in his possession. He does his duty to his best ability and leaves everything to Kṛṣṇa. Such an unattached person is always free from the resultant reactions of good and bad; it is as though he were not doing anything. This is the sign of akarma, or actions without fruitive reactions. Any other action, therefore, devoid of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, is binding upon the worker, and that is the real aspect of vikarma, as explained hereinbefore.

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Bhagavad-gītā 4.20—Bombay, April 9, 1974

Kṛṣṇa is explaining that there are two classes of men, loke, in every place or every planet. Some planets are full of asuras. They are called asura-loka. And another place it is said that “Who are the asuras and who are the devas?” Viṣṇu-bhakto bhaved daiva āsuras tad-viparyayaḥ. Even a…

There are many demigods. The demigods worshiper are also demons. Only viṣṇu-bhakto bhaved daivaḥ. Viṣṇu-bhakta, those who are devotee of the Supreme Lord Personality of Godhead, daiva. Viṣṇu… Oṁ tad viṣṇoḥ paramaṁ padaṁ sadā paśyanti sūrayaḥ. This is Ṛg Veda mantra. Sūrayaḥ and asūrayaḥ. Those who are sūraya, deva, demigods, they are simply worshiping, tad viṣṇoḥ paramaṁ padam, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And āsuras tad-viparyayaḥ. And asura means just opposite number. Opposite number means those who are not interested in Viṣṇu worship. Na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇum [SB 7.5.31]. They do not know that ultimate goal of life—to approach Viṣṇu, Lord Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

So asuras, they are engaged for fruitive result. They are working, but they are expecting that “I shall enjoy the result.” So that freedom is given to everyone, that “You can work at your responsibility and enjoy or suffer.” Just like state has given everyone individuality, everyone freedom, “You act as you like. But if you act criminally, then you will be punished.” That you cannot avoid. You have been given freedom, “You act whatever you like,” but if you violate the laws of the state, then you are to be punished, criminal.

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BG 4.21

निराशीर्यतचित्तात्मा त्यक्तसर्वपरिग्रहः ।

शारीरं केवलं कर्म कुर्वन्नाप्नोति किल्बिषम् ॥२१॥

nirāśīr yata-cittātmā

tyakta-sarva-parigrahaḥ

śārīraṁ kevalaṁ karma

kurvan nāpnoti kilbiṣam

SYNONYMS

nirāśīḥ—without desire for the results; yata—controlled; citta-ātmā—mind and intelligence; tyakta—giving up; sarva—all; parigrahaḥ—sense of proprietorship over all possessions; śārīram—in keeping body and soul together; kevalam—only; karma—work; kurvan—doing so; na—never; āpnoti—does not acquire; kilbiṣam—sinful reactions.

TRANSLATION

Such a man of understanding acts with mind and intelligence perfectly controlled, gives up all sense of proprietorship over his possessions and acts only for the bare necessities of life. Thus working, he is not affected by sinful reactions.

PURPORT

A Kṛṣṇa conscious person does not expect good or bad results in his activities. His mind and intelligence are fully controlled. He knows that he is part and parcel of the Supreme, and therefore the part played by him, as a part and parcel of the whole, is not his by choice but is chosen for him by the Supreme and is done only through His agency. When the hand moves, it does not move out of its own accord, but by the endeavor of the whole body. A Kṛṣṇa conscious person is always dovetailed with the supreme desire, for he has no desire for personal sense gratification. He moves exactly like a part of a machine. As a machine part requires oiling and cleaning for maintenance, similarly, a Kṛṣṇa conscious man maintains himself by his work just to remain fit for action in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. He is therefore immune to all the reactions of his endeavors. Like an animal, he has no proprietorship even over his own body. A cruel proprietor of an animal sometimes kills the animal in his possession, yet the animal does not protest. Nor does it have any real independence. A Kṛṣṇa conscious person, fully engaged in self-realization, has very little time to falsely possess any material object. For maintaining body and soul, he does not require unfair means of accumulating money. He does not, therefore, become contaminated by such material sins. He is free from all reactions to his actions.

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Bhagavad-gītā 4.21—Bombay, April 10, 1974

Real happiness—beyond this material sense gratification. That is real happiness. So we should search after that happiness.

ramante yogino ‘nante

satyānande cid-ātmani

iti rāma-padenāsau

paraṁ brahmābhidhīyate

[Cc. Madhya 9.29]

Real happiness is to enjoy with Rāma, enjoy with Kṛṣṇa. What is that enjoyment? Kṛṣṇa is the master. He orders, and you perform the order. That is enjoyment. Master and servant. Not as master, as servant. That is our enjoyment. Just like a faithful servant and a rich master, the reciprocation is service. The master is also satisfied by the service of the servant, and the servant is also satisfied, giving service to the master. This is our relation. Jīvera svarūpa haya—nitya-kṛṣṇa-dāsa [Cc. Madhya 20.108-109]. Unfortunately we are trying to become master. Instead of submitting ourself to become the eternal…. We are eternal servant. We cannot be master. If we do not become servant of Kṛṣṇa, then we have to become the servant of our senses. That’s all. Servant we must have. As you become servant of Kṛṣṇa, then automatically you become master of your senses, because senses cannot allure you for satisfaction of the senses, because senses are engaged.

sarvopādhi-vinirmuktaṁ

tat-paratvena nirmalam

hṛṣīkeṇa hṛṣīkeśa-

sevanaṁ bhaktir ucyate

[Cc. Madhya 19.170]

Hṛṣīkeśa. Kṛṣṇa’s another name is Hṛṣīkeśa. So Hṛṣīkeśa, when…. Hṛṣīka means senses. When we engage our senses in the service of the master of the senses, that is called bhakti. And as soon as we engage our senses with upādhi, sarvopādhi… We have got so many upādhis. “I am this,” “I am that,” “I am human being,” “I am cat,” “I am dog,” “I am brāhmaṇa,” “I am śūdra,” “I am American,” “I am Indian.” These are all upādhis. So sarvopādhi-vinirmuktam [Cc. Madhya 19.170]. When one becomes free from all these upādhis. So sarvopādhi-vinirmuktam [Cc. Madhya 19.170]. When one becomes free from all these upādhis, he understands that “I am spirit soul,” ahaṁ brahmāsmi; “Therefore my business is to reciprocate transaction with the Supreme Brahman, Parabrahman.”

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BG 4.22

यदृच्छालाभसन्तुष्टो द्वन्द्वातीतो विमत्सरः ।

समः सिद्धावसिद्धौ च कृत्वापि न निबध्यते ॥२२॥

yadṛcchā-lābha-santuṣṭo

dvandvātīto vimatsaraḥ

samaḥ siddhāv asiddhau ca

kṛtvāpi na nibadhyate

SYNONYMS

yadṛcchā—out of its own accord; lābha—gain; santuṣṭaḥ—satisfied; dvandva—duality; atītaḥ—surpassed; vimatsaraḥ—free from envy; samaḥ—steady; siddhau—in success; asiddhau—failure; ca—also; kṛtvā—doing; api—although; na—never; nibadhyate—is affected.

TRANSLATION

He who is satisfied with gain which comes of its own accord, who is free from duality and does not envy, who is steady both in success and failure, is never entangled, although performing actions.

PURPORT

A Kṛṣṇa conscious person does not make much endeavor even to maintain his body. He is satisfied with gains which are obtained of their own accord. He neither begs nor borrows, but he labors honestly as far as is in his power, and is satisfied with whatever is obtained by his own honest labor. He is therefore independant in his livelihood. He does not allow anyone’s service to hamper his own service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. However, for the service of the Lord he can participate in any kind of action without being disturbed by the duality of the material world. The duality of the material world is felt in terms of heat and cold, or misery and happiness. A Kṛṣṇa conscious person is above duality because he does not hesitate to act in any way for the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore he is steady both in success and in failure. These signs are visible when one is fully in transcendental knowledge.

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Bhagavad-gītā 4.22—Bombay, April 11, 1974

Similarly, we should not be disturbed by all these things, that “He is eating more, he is enjoying more.” Nobody is enjoying more. Whatever Kṛṣṇa has given, he is enjoying. That is called yadṛcchā-lābha-santuṣṭo dvandvātītaḥ. Dvandvātītaḥ and vimatsaraḥ. He is not envious. Why he should be envious? Just like at the present moment, politically, a poor man is envious of a rich man, because there is no Kṛṣṇa consciousness. And a so-called rich man, he is eating himself sumptuously, but he does not take care of the poor man. This is envious, “Let him die.” No. The rich man should distribute prasādam through Kṛṣṇa consciousness to the poor man, and the poor man should not be envious of the rich man. Then there will be happiness prosperity. Not that to form the political party and to become envious. Vimatsaraḥ.

Samaḥ siddhāv asiddhau ca. If you are working for Kṛṣṇa, it is Kṛṣṇa’s desire if you be successful or not successful. Here it is, the word is used, asiddhau. That means don’t think that because you are Kṛṣṇa conscious, you will be always successful. No. It doesn’t matter. Even if you are unsuccessful, you must know it firmly that without Kṛṣṇa’s desire, nothing can happen. If you are unsuccessful, then you should…. That is Kṛṣṇa conscious…. You should know also that “It is Kṛṣṇa’s desire.” It is Kṛṣṇa’s desire. So there is no question of being depressed because you are unsuccessful. A devotee is never depressed in the horrible condition of life. Tat te ‘nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo bhuñjāna… [SB 10.14.8].

Just like Prahlāda Mahārāja, he was always being put into trouble by his father, but he was never envious of his father. When he was requested by Nṛsiṁhadeva to take benediction, he refused anything for himself, but he begged to the Lord for his father.” My dear Lord, my father has become envious to You; so I request You to excuse him.” Just see. This is vimatsaraḥ. Suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānām [Bg. 5.29]. He was not against his father.

Similarly, a Vaiṣṇava, a Kṛṣṇa conscious person, he is nirmatsara, and this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is paramo nirmatsarāṇām [SB 1.1.2]. It is meant for the paramo nirmatsaraḥ, paramahaṁsa, those who are not envious. Suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānām. They are friend of everyone, not this particular class, but everyone. Suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānām. Samaḥ siddhāv asiddhau ca kṛtvāpi na nibadhyate. Because the law of karma is so accurate that every action is being recorded.

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BG 4.23

गतसङ्गस्य मुक्तस्य ज्ञानावस्थितचेतसः ।

यज्ञायाचरतः कर्म समग्रं प्रविलीयते ॥२३॥

gata-saṅgasya muktasya

jñānāvasthita-cetasaḥ

yajñāyācarataḥ karma

samagraṁ pravilīyate

SYNONYMS

gata-saṅgasya—unattached to the modes of material nature; muktasya—of the liberated; jñāna-avasthita—situated in transcendence; cetasaḥ—of such wisdom; yajñāya—for the sake of Yajña (Kṛṣṇa); ācarataḥ—so acting; karma—work; samagram—in total; pravilīyate—merges entirely.

TRANSLATION

The work of a man who is unattached to the modes of material nature and who is fully situated in transcendental knowledge merges entirely into transcendence.

PURPORT

Becoming fully Kṛṣṇa conscious, one is freed from all dualities and thus is free from the contaminations of the material modes. He can become liberated because he knows his constitutional position in relationship with Kṛṣṇa; and thus his mind cannot be drawn from Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Consequently, whatever he does, he does for Kṛṣṇa, who is the primeval Viṣṇu. Therefore, all his works are technically sacrifices because sacrifice involves satisfying the Supreme Person, Kṛṣṇa. The resultant reactions to all such work certainly merge into transcendence, and one does not suffer material effects.

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Bhagavad-gītā 4.23—Bombay, April 12, 1974

There is no guarantee that the next life again you become American or Indian or brāhmaṇa. You may become a cat and dog, because that is not in your hands. That is in the hand of material nature. Prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ [Bg. 3.27]. Karmaṇā daiva-netreṇa [SB 3.31.1]. That will be awarded to you by superior judgement, that “This man has done like this; he should get a body like this.” That is not in your hand. That is not in your science.

The real science is how to stop this business. That is being advised in Bhagavad-gītā. Janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi-duḥkha-doṣānudarśanam [Bg. 13.9]. Tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma [Bg. 4.9]. People do not understand this, that our real problem is not become promoted to the higher position, but to stop this birth, death, old age, and disease. That is real problem. So Kṛṣṇa says that gata-saṅgasya.

(aside:) Don’t sit like that. Don’t sit like that.

Gata-saṅgasya. Because we are getting different types of bodies in different planets and different spheres of life on account of our association with the modes of nature, therefore Kṛṣṇa is advising, gata-saṅgasya: “Don’t associate with the modes of material nature. That is your business.” Not that “You associate with the higher modes of nature.”

Even very good man, goodness, brāhmaṇa, that is also conditioned life. To become brāhmaṇa, satyaṁ śamo damas titikṣā ārjava, jñānaṁ vijñānam āstikyaṁ brahma-karma svabhāva-jam [Bg. 18.42], very perfect way of life, but that is also risky. Not that…. Everything is risky because at any moment we can be associated with another quality. And kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo ‘sya [Bg. 13.22]. It is very difficult position, mixture.

Therefore Kṛṣṇa advises that “You become freed from association of any of the modes of material nature, any one of them.” Gata-saṅgasya. Muktasya. As soon as you become free from the association of the modes of material nature, then you are mukta. Muktasya. Gata-saṅgasya muktasya. And how mukti can be achieved? Muktasya. How this position can. Now, jñānāvasthita-cetasaḥ. If you are actually situated in knowledge, then you can be mukta.

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BG 4.24

ब्रह्मार्पणं ब्रह्म हविर्ब्रह्माग्नौ ब्रह्मणा हुतम् ।

ब्रह्मैव तेन गन्तव्यं ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना ॥२४॥

brahmārpaṇaṁ brahma havir

brahmāgnau brahmaṇā hutam

brahmaiva tena gantavyaṁ

brahma-karma-samādhinā

SYNONYMS

brahma—spiritual nature; arpaṇam—contribution; brahma—the Supreme; haviḥ—butter; brahma—spiritual; agnau—in the fire of consummation; brāhmaṇā—by the spirit soul; hutam—offered; brahma—spiritual kingdom; eva—certainly; tena—by him; gantavyam—to be reached; brahma—spiritual; karma—activities; samādhinā—by complete absorption.

TRANSLATION

A person who is fully absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is sure to attain the spiritual kingdom because of his full contribution to spiritual activities, in which the consummation is absolute and that which is offered is of the same spiritual nature.

PURPORT

How activities in Kṛṣṇa consciousness can lead one ultimately to the spiritual goal is described here. There are various activities in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and all of them will be described in the following verses. But, for the present, just the principle of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is described. A conditioned soul, entangled in material contamination, is sure to act in the material atmosphere, and yet he has to get out of such an environment. The process by which the conditioned soul can get out of the material atmosphere is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. For example, a patient who is suffering from a disorder of the bowels due to overindulgence in milk products is cured by another milk product, namely curds. The materially absorbed conditioned soul can be cured by Kṛṣṇa consciousness as set forth here in the Gītā. This process is generally known as yajña, or activities (sacrifices) simply meant for the satisfaction of Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa. The more the activities of the material world are performed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or for Viṣṇu only, the more the atmosphere becomes spiritualized by complete absorption. Brahman means spiritual. The Lord is spiritual, and the rays of His transcendental body are called brahmajyoti, His spiritual effulgence. Everything that exists is situated in that brahmajyoti, but when the jyoti is covered by illusion (māyā) or sense gratification, it is called material. This material veil can be removed at once by Kṛṣṇa consciousness; thus the offering for the sake of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the consuming agent of such an offering or contribution; the process of consumption, the contributor, and the result are-all combined together-Brahman, or the Absolute Truth. The Absolute Truth covered by māyā is called matter. Matter dovetailed for the cause of the Absolute Truth regains its spiritual quality. Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the process of converting the illusory consciousness into Brahman, or the Supreme. When the mind is fully absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, it is said to be in samādhi, or trance. Anything done in such transcendental consciousness is called yajña, or sacrifice for the Absolute. In that condition of spiritual consciousness, the contributor, the contribution, the consumption, the performer or leader of the performance, and the result or ultimate gain-everything-becomes one in the Absolute, the Supreme Brahman. That is the method of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

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Bhagavad-gītā 4.20-24—New York, August 9, 1966

Now, brahmārpaṇam. Sacrifice for whom? For the Brahman. And Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Brahman. Therefore sacrifice for Kṛṣṇa is brahmārpaṇam, means, sacrificing for the Brahman, Supreme Brahman. Because Kṛṣṇa is described in the Tenth Chapter as the Parambrahman, the Supreme Brahman. Brahman means, we are also all Brahman. Because we are all fragmental parts and parcels of the Supreme Being, Kṛṣṇa, therefore we are also Brahman. Just like particles of gold is also gold, similarly, we are fragmental portions of Kṛṣṇa. Do not understand that as material fragments… We are not material fragment. But just because we have no other conception at the present moment except material understanding, therefore I am just trying… This is translated into English as “fragment,” but not like that material fragment.

Just like we have got a paper in our hand. If I tear into pieces, they become fragments. Then the original paper, the shape of the paper—no longer existing. It is not like that. The Upaniṣad says that

pūrṇam adaḥ pūrṇam idaṁ

pūrṇāt pūrṇam udacyate

pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya

pūrṇam evāvaśiṣyate

[Īśo Invocation]

The spiritual conception is that, that any number of fragments of the whole can be taken from the whole spirit, but still, the spirit whole is as it is. That is the description in the Vedic literature. We have got material idea: “One minus one equal to zero.” But in the spiritual realm, one minus one equal to one. So these fragments, the fragments of the Supreme Brahman, Kṛṣṇa, we are. So with that consciousness, we have to sacrifice.

Brahmārpaṇam brahma havir. And the thing which we are sacrificing, we have to understand that the things belong to the Supreme Brahman. Brahmārpaṇaṁ brahma havir brahmāgnau. And the fire which is on the altar, that is to be understood as the energy of the Supreme Brahman. And brahmaṇā hutam. And the person who is offering the sacrifice, he is also part and parcel of the Supreme Brahman. In this way, if we offer sacrifice, then brahmaiva tena gantavyam. The person who is offering such sacrifice is sure to attain spiritual salvation. This is brahma-karma-samādhinā. And the performance is just according to the Vedic injunction. So in this way, if we, I mean to say, execute the duties of our living condition, then the result will be that at the end we shall be attaining Brahman. And the whole process is called Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

In the higher conception of life, just it is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā that everything is visualized as Brahman. Brahman means spiritual. So in the higher conception of life, one who has attained in the higher stage of spiritual realization, for him, there is nothing material. 

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Bhagavad-gītā 4.24—August 4, 1976, New Mayapur (French farm)

Harikeśa: Purport. “How activities in Kṛṣṇa consciousness can lead one ultimately to the spiritual goal is described here.” [break]

Prabhupāda: So discuss any question.

Yogeśvara: Sometimes we speak of the material energy as being different from the spiritual energy and other times we speak of all energies being ultimately spiritual, so what is the understanding?

Prabhupāda: Just like the electricity energy, is coming from the same source. But it is being utilized for different purposes. Sometimes it is helping to make cooler, and sometimes it is helping to make heater. But cooler and heater are two opposite things. But it is being done by the same energy. How it is being done?

In the Vedānta-sūtra it is said janmādy asya yataḥ [SB 1.1.1]. Brahma or absolute truth is that from where everything is emanating. Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā, ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavaḥ [Bg. 10.8]. “I am the source of everything.” Mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate. “Everything is coming from Me.” So in another place, to make further clear, bhūmir āpo ‘nalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca [Bg. 7.4]. Bhinnā me prakṛtir aṣṭadhā. “These eight energies, they are My energies.” Aṣṭadhā, eight. Earth, water, air fire, sky, mind, intelligence, ego. Bhinnā separated.

Just like I am speaking in the dictaphone, but after some time, without me, it will speak exactly like this. So, I am speaking, but I’m not present there. Similarly, material world means it is being conducted by Kṛṣṇa, but still, Kṛṣṇa, personally, He’s not present there. In another place Kṛṣṇa says that

mayā tatam idaṁ sarvaṁ

jagad avyakta-mūrtinā

mat-sthāni sarva-bhūtāni

na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ

[Bg. 9.4]

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BG 4.25

दैवमेवापरे यज्ञं योगिनः पर्युपासते ।

ब्रह्माग्नावपरे यज्ञं यज्ञेनैवोपजुह्वति ॥२५॥

daivam evāpare yajñaṁ

yoginaḥ paryupāsate

brahmāgnāv apare yajñaṁ

yajñenaivopajuhvati

SYNONYMS

daivam—in worshiping the demigods; eva—like this; apare—some; yajñam—sacrifices; yoginaḥ—the mystics; paryupāsate—worship perfectly; brahma—the Absolute Truth; agnau—in the fire of; apare—others; yajñam—sacrifice; yajñena—by sacrifice; eva—thus; upajuhvati—worship.

TRANSLATION

Some yogīs perfectly worship the demigods by offering different sacrifices to them, and some of them offer sacrffices in the fire of the Supreme Brahman.

PURPORT

As described above, a person engaged in discharging duties in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is also called a perfect yogī or a first-class mystic. But there are others also, who perform similar sacrifices in the worship of demigods, and still others who sacrifice to the Supreme Brahman, or the impersonal feature of the Supreme Lord. So there are different kinds of sacrifices in terms of different categories. Such different categories of sacrifice by different types of performers only superficially demark varieties of sacrifice. Factual sacrifice means to satisfy the Supreme Lord, Viṣṇu, who is also known as Yajña. All the different varieties of sacrifice can be placed within two primary divisions: namely, sacrifice of worldly possessions and sacrifice in pursuit of transcendental knowledge. Those who are in Kṛṣṇa consciousness sacrifice all material possessions for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord, while others, who want some temporary material happiness, sacrifice their material possessions to satisfy demigods such as Indra, the sun-god, etc. And others, who are impersonalists, sacrifice their identity by merging into the existence of impersonal Brahman. The demigods are powerful living entities appointed by the Supreme Lord for the maintenance and supervision of all material functions like the heating, watering and lighting of the universe. Those who are interested in material benefits worship the demigods by various sacrifices according to the Vedic rituals. They are called bahv-īśvara-vādī, or believers in many gods. But others, who worship the impersonal feature of the Absolute Truth and regard the forms of the demigods as temporary, sacrifice their individual selves in the supreme fire and thus end their individual existences by merging into the existence of the Supreme. Such impersonalists spend their time in philosophical speculation to understand the transcendental nature of the Supreme. In other words, the fruitive workers sacrifice their material possessions for material enjoyment, whereas the impersonalist sacrifices his material designations with a view to merging into the existence of the Supreme. For the impersonalist, the fire altar of sacrifice is the Supreme Brahman, and the offering is the self being consumed by the fire of Brahman. The Kṛṣṇa conscious person, like Arjuna, however, sacrifices everything for the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa, and thus all his material possessions as well as his own self-everything-is sacrificed for Kṛṣṇa. Thus, he is the first-class yogī; but he does not lose his individual existence.

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Bhagavad-gītā 4.25—Bombay, April 14, 1974

In the śāstra it is recommended… After all, performance of yajña means to get the necessities of life. In the śāstra it is recommended that “If you want this type of benefit, then you offer yajña or try to satisfy this kind of demigod.” There is a list in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. “If you want education, you worship this demigod; if you want very beautiful wife, then you worship this goddess; if you want good health, then you worship this demigod; if you want victory…” So many ways.

And we have got different types of demands. So… But that is recommended in the śāstra, in the Vedas, because gradually, one has to be taken to the transcendental position. To worship a type of demigod for certain type of benefit, at least it indicates that you can get the benefit from higher authorities. Indirectly the higher authority is accepted. Or otherwise we become atheist. To save the general people from atheism, there is recommendation for worship of different types of demigods.

Generally, they are recommended—five: the sun-god, the Gaṇeśa, the Viṣṇu, Lord Śiva and Durgā, and… The sun-god I have already said. Five, pañcopāsanam. Five: the sun-god, the Gaṇeśa, and the Durgā-devī, then Lord Śiva, and then Viṣṇu. This is also gradual evolutionary. People in the most lowest stage of humanity, they are struck with wonder by the power. As soon as there is some electricity, they feel some power. So when there are power worshipers… The modern scientists, they are power worshiper. They have gone up to the sun-god. Not god, the sun globe. The power is received from the sunshine. So this is one stage, power. In this way, one after another, when one comes to the supreme powerful, Viṣṇu, because that is the ultimate powerful…

So this is one type of yajña, understanding the supreme power. Just like I was talking a few minutes before, the power. But power is not ultimate. Ultimate is the conductor of power, or the powerful. Just like electricity. Electricity is power, but it is generated from the powerhouse. People generally understand that electricity is coming from the powerhouse. But the powerhouse is maintained by the resident engineer, a person. That is real understanding. Or just like this airplane is flying in the sky. A child may see what a wonderful machine is flying in the sky. He does know the importance of the pilot. The big gigantic airship can fly in the sky so long the powerful, or one who knows how to conduct the power, pushing the button. By pushing one button, the plane goes high, and pushing another button, it comes down. It is not automatically. Any machine you take. Nowadays wonderful machine, computer. That is also handled by an expert. Any machine you take, without an expert technologist, it cannot work.

So similarly, if you go on studying the power of material nature, you’ll come ultimately to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is explained in the Bhagavad-gītā.

mayādhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ

sūyate sa-carācaram

hetunānena kaunteya

jagad viparivartate

[Bg. 9.10]

Actually Kṛṣṇa says mayā, “By Me,” adhyakṣeṇa, “by My superintendency,” mayādhyakṣeṇa, “everything is working.” 

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BG 4.26

श्रोत्रादीनीन्द्रियाण्यन्ये संयमाग्निषु जुह्वति ।

शब्दादीन्विषयानन्य इन्द्रियाग्निषु जुह्वति ॥२६॥

śrotrādīnīndriyāṇy anye

saṁyamāgniṣu juhvati

śabdādīn viṣayān anya

indriyāgniṣu juhvati

SYNONYMS

śrotra ādīni—hearing process; indriyāṇi—senses; anye—others; saṁyama—of restraint; agniṣu—in the fire; juhvati—offers; śabda-ādīn—sound vibration, etc.; viṣayān—objects of sense gratification; anye—others; indriya—of sense organs; agniṣu—in the fire; juhvati—sacrifice.

TRANSLATION

Some of them sacrifice the hearing process and the senses in the fire of the controlled mind, and others sacrifice the objects of the senses, such as sound, in the fire of sacrifice.

PURPORT

The four divisions of human life, namely the brahmacārī, the gṛhastha, the vānaprastha, and the sannyāsī, are all meant to help men become perfect yogīs or transcendentalists. Since human life is not meant for our enjoying sense gratification like the animals, the four orders of human life are so arranged that one may become perfect in spiritual life. The brahmacārīs, or students under the care of a bona fide spiritual master, control the mind by abstaining from sense gratification. They are referred to in this verse as sacrificing the hearing process and the senses in the fire of the controlled mind. A brahmacārī hears only words concerning Kṛṣṇa consciousness; hearing is the basic principle for understanding, and therefore the pure brahmacārī engages fully in harer nāmānukīrtanam-chanting and hearing the glories of the Lord. He restrains himself from the vibrations of material sounds, and his hearing is engaged in the transcendental sound vibration of Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa. Similarly, the householders, who have some license for sense gratification, perform such acts with great restraint. Sex life, intoxication and meat eating are general tendencies of human society, but a regulated householder does not indulge in unrestricted sex life and other sense gratifications. Marriage on principles of religious life is therefore current in all civilized human society because that is the way for restricted sex life. This restricted, unattached sex life is also a kind of yajña because the restricted householder sacrifices his general tendency toward sense gratification for higher transcendental life.

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Bhagavad-gītā 4.26Bombay, April 15, 1974

Therefore those who are too much engrossed in the bodily concept of life, for them, this yoga system… Dhyāna, dhāraṇa, prāṇāyāma, āsana, ity ādi. Different methods. Yama-niyama. But that yoga process also requires saṁyama. Saṁyamāgni, it is said. Saṁyamāgniṣu juhvati. This yoga practice means you have to control the senses, saṁyamāgni, sacrifice. The spirit of enjoying spirit should be sacrificed tin the fire of saṁyama. That is required. Saṁyamāgniṣu juhvati śabdādīn indriyāgniṣu juhvati. By controlling the senses, indriyāgni…

This is also very significant. Indriyāgni. Indriyāgni, that is described in the Nārada-Pañcarātra, hṛṣīkeṇa hṛṣīkeśa-sevanaṁ bhaktir ucyate [Cc. Madhya 19.170]. Hṛṣīka means indriya, and hṛṣīkeśa means Kṛṣṇa. So when the indriyas, the senses will be engaged in the service of the master of the senses, that is indriyāgniṣu juhvati… You cannot control the senses simply by artificial means, by dhyāna, dhāraṇa, prāṇāyāma, yama-niyama, āsana, pratyāhāra. There are so many systems. Big, big yogis, they failed.

Just like Viśvāmitra Muni. He was practicing yoga, that indriya-saṁyama. He was especially… Because he was king, so especially he was very sexually inclined. And the yoga process, he was trying to control the sex. But what was the result? The result was that Menakā, a society girl of the heaven, she appeared, and she was traveling there. There have been many instances like that. And tinkling of bangles, oh, immediately his yoga practice was broken. And he become attached by Menakā and there was birth of Śakuntalā. There is a drama written by Kālidāsa Kavi, “Śakuntalā.” This is the subject matter, how a yogi failed to control his senses and was attached by a beautiful woman girl, and how Śakuntalā, the beautiful girl was born. That is the subject matter.

So this is sometime impossible. There are many, many instances. So this is artificial way of yoga system. But when actually, as it is recommended, śabdādīn indriyāṇy anya indriyāgniṣu juhvati. That indriyāgniṣu means the indriya of Kṛṣṇa. When we satisfy the indriya, the senses of Kṛṣṇa, then automatically our indriyas become satisfied, engaged.

There is another verse written by Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī. He said, kaivalyaṁ narakāyate tridaśa-pūr ākāśa-puṣpāyate durdāntendriya-kāla-sarpa-paṭalī protkhāta-daṁṣṭrāyate. Protkhāta-daṁṣṭrāyate. Just like dentist, when there some pain in the teeth, they extract. That is called protkhāta, extracted. So the indriyas have been compared with kāla-sarpa, kāla-sarpa, means a venomous snake. As soon as the kāla-sarpa or snake touches in any part of your body, because the venomous teeth is there, death is there immediately. Therefore they’re called kāla-sarpa. Kāla means death. Kāla-sarpa. Therefore we are so much afraid of a snake. So but if the kāla-sarpa’s poison teeth is taken away, then it is no more, I mean, fearful. It is no more dangerous. Therefore Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī says that “By the mercy of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, our indriyas, the senses, which are compared with the kāla-sarpa, may be kāla-sarpa, but the poison teeth is extracted.”

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BG 4.27

सर्वाणीन्द्रियकर्माणि प्राणकर्माणि चापरे ।

आत्मसंयमयोगाग्नौ जुह्वति ज्ञानदीपिते ॥२७॥

sarvāṇīndriya-karmāṇi

prāṇa-karmāṇi cāpare

ātma-saṁyama-yogāgnau

juhvati jñāna-dīpite

SYNONYMS

sarvāṇi—all; indriya—senses; karmāṇi—functions; prāṇa-karmāṇi—functions of the life breath; ca—also; apare—others; ātma-saṁyama—controlling the mind; yoga—linking process; agnau—in the fire of; juhvati—offers; jñāna-dīpite—because of the urge for self-realization.

TRANSLATION

Those who are interested in self-realization, in terms of mind and sense control, offer the functions of all the senses, as well as the vital force [breath], as oblations into the fire of the controlled mind.

PURPORT

The yoga system conceived by Patañjali is referred to herein. In the Yoga-sūtra of Patañjali, the soul is called pratyag-ātmā and parag-ātmā. As long as the soul is attached to sense enjoyment, it is called parag-ātmā. The soul is subjected to the functions of ten kinds of air at work within the body, and this is perceived through the breathing system. The Pātañjala system of yoga instructs one on how to control the functions of the body’s air in a technical manner so that ultimately all the functions of the air within become favorable for purifying the soul of material attachment. According to this yoga system, pratyag ātmā is the ultimate goal. This pratyag ātmā is a withdrawal from activities in matter. The senses interact with the sense objects, like the ear for hearing, eyes for seeing, nose for smelling, tongue for tasting, hand for touching, and all of them are thus engaged in activities outside the self. They are called the functions of the prāṇa-vāyu. The apāna-vāyu goes downwards, vyāna-vāyu acts to shrink and expand, samāna-vāyu adjusts equilibrium, udāna-vāyu goes upwards-and when one is enlightened, one engages all these in searching for self-realization.

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Bhagavad-gītā 4.27—Bombay, April 16, 1974

When one is enlightened, jñāna-dīpite, the light of knowledge is awakened, then ātma-saṁyama-yogāgnau, controlling the senses and offering in the fire of yoga. So the Patañjali system is explained in the purport that controlling the inner different kinds of, five kinds of, prāṇa-apāna-vāyu. That is a mechanical system. That is approved also. That helps controlling the senses. But there is another process that is called this bhakti-yoga system, that not only controlling the senses but to give engagement to the senses.

Simply by artificial controlling… Just like a child. The mind is just like child, sometimes accepting something, sometimes rejecting something. Saṅkalpa-vikalpa. That is the business. So it is very difficult to control the mind. Arjuna, when he was asked to control the mind by yoga practice, he said cañcalaṁ hi manaḥ kṛṣṇa pramāthi balavad dṛḍham: “My dear Kṛṣṇa, You are asking me to control the mind, but I think it is impossible. Especially we are in the political field, royal order. We have to deal with so many political subject matter.” So he said that

cañcalaṁ hi manaḥ kṛṣṇa

pramāthi balavad dṛḍham

tasyāhaṁ nigrahaṁ manye

vāyor iva su-duṣkaram

[Bg. 6.34]

“I do not think mind can be controlled. It is very, very difficult, as difficult as to control the breeze or wind, strong wind blowing. It is not possible to control them.” That was the verdict of Śrī Arjuna. It will be explained in the sixth chapter.

Actually, it is very difficult to control the mind. So artificially, by controlling the breathing system, there is the process, but still, it is difficult. As I explained yesterday, even a great yogi like Viśvāmitra, he also failed. There are many instances. There was another, Saubhari Muni. He was practicing yoga system within the water. And as soon as he was little agitated by the fish, he wanted to come out and marry and one king’s daughter. He wanted to marry all the eight daughters. So there are many instances like that. It is very difficult to control the mind.

But our process, as it is stated here, that ātma-saṁyama-yogāgnau. Ātma-saṁyama. Saṁyama, control. The mind is the principle sense. Indriyāṇi parāṇy āhur indriyebhyaḥ paraṁ manaḥ [Bg. 3.42]. Mind is the central figure of all the senses. Just like madman. Because he cannot fix up his mind, he cannot work properly. Therefore he is called madman. So our process is that we cannot control the mind. But if we engage the mind on the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, then everything is controlled. Kṛṣṇa will help. If some way or other, you engage your mind at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, sa vai manaḥ kṛṣṇa-padāravindayoḥ [SB 9.4.18]. then gradually everything will be controlled.

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BG 4.28

द्रव्ययज्ञास्तपोयज्ञा योगयज्ञास्तथापरे ।

स्वाध्यायज्ञानयज्ञाश्च यतयः संशितव्रताः ॥२८॥

dravya-yajñās tapo-yajñā

yoga-yajñās tathāpare

svādhyāya-jñāna-yajñāś ca

yatayaḥ saṁśita-vratāḥ

SYNONYMS

dravya-yajñāḥ—sacrificing one’s possessions; tapo-yajñāḥ—sacrifice in austerities; yoga-yajñāḥ—sacrifice in eightfold mysticism; tathā—thus; apare—others; svādhyāya—sacrifice in the study of the Vedas; jñāna-yajñāḥ—sacrifice in advancement of transcendental knowledge; ca—also; yatayaḥ—enlightened; saṁśita—taken to strict; vratāḥ—vows.

TRANSLATION

There are others who, enlightened by sacrificing their material possessions in severe austerities, take strict vows and practice the yoga of eightfold mysticism, and others study the Vedas for the advancement of transcendental knowledge.

PURPORT

These sacrifices may be fitted into various divisions. There are persons who are sacrificing their possessions in the form of various kinds of charities. In India, the rich mercantile community or princely orders open various kinds of charitable institutions like dharmaśālā, anna-kṣetra, atithi-śālā, anathalaya, vidyāpīṭha, etc. In other countries, too, there are many hospitals, old age homes and similar charitable foundations meant for distributing food, education and medical treatment free to the poor. All these charitable activities are called dravyamaya-yajña. There are others who, for higher elevation in life or for promotion to higher planets within the universe, voluntarily accept many kinds of austerities such as candrāyana and cāturmāsya. These processes entail severe vows for conducting life under certain rigid rules. For example, under the cāturmāsya vow the candidate does not shave for four months during the year (July to October), he does not eat certain foods, does not eat twice in a day and does not leave home. Such sacrifice of the comforts of life is called tapomaya-yajña. There are still others who engage themselves in different kinds of mystic yogas like the Patañjali system (for merging into the existence of the Absolute), or haṭha-yoga or aṣṭāṅga-yoga (for particular perfections). And some travel to all the sanctified places of pilgrimage. All these practices are called yoga-yajña, sacrifice for a certain type of perfection in the material world. There are others who engage themselves in the studies of different Vedic literatures, specifically the Upaniṣads and Vedānta-sūtras, or the sāṅkhya philosophy. All of these are called svādhyāya-yajña, or engagement in the sacrifice of studies. All these yogīs are faithfully engaged in different types of sacrifice and are seeking a higher status of life. Kṛṣṇa consciousness, is, however, different from these because it is the direct service of the Supreme Lord. Kṛṣṇa consciousness cannot be attained by any one of the above-mentioned types of sacrifices but can be attained only by the mercy of the Lord and His bona fide devotee. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa consciousness is transcendental.

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Bhagavad-gītā 4.28—Bombay, April 17, 1974

If we simply act piously, that is good, but it is not perfect. Suppose I execute many pious activities in my life. Then due to my pious activities, I will get birth in good family. Janmaiśvarya-śruta-śrīḥ [SB 1.8.26]. I may get my birth in good family, high family. That is called janma. Then aiśvarya, opulence, wealth; śrī, beautiful body; and education also. I have several times explained that to become highly educated, that is also due to previous pious activities. To be highly rich, that is also due to previous pious activities. But Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura says that Karma-kāṇḍa, jñāna-kāṇḍa, kebala biṣera bhāṇḍa. Karma-kāṇḍa vicāra, fruitive activities for getting better position of life, better body… [break] …though I get my birth in a good family, there is still risk of degradation. Because sometimes we get our birth in rich family and due to opulence we are associated with bad company. Then we begin to act sinfully. That means again degradation. Therefore the Vaiṣṇava philosophy does not very much approve even pious activities. What to speak of impious activities, they do not approve pious activities also.

They are simply after Kṛṣṇa consciousness, simply interested in the service of Kṛṣṇa. That is real yajña. Because in the Bhagavad-gītā it is said that those who are engaged in devotional service… To hear, devotional service… I have explained several times. To hear about Kṛṣṇa. Simply by hearing Kṛṣṇa, if we simply try to understand Kṛṣṇa, that is also better than dravyamaya-yajña, dravya, in charity. But because we cannot devote ourself… Pure devotional service means śravaṇaṁ kīrtanam [SB 7.5.23]. Just like Haridāsa Ṭhākura, he was simply engaged in śravaṇaṁ kīrtanam. He was chanting three hundred thousand times Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. We cannot imitate that. That is not possible. But pure devotional service is like that.

Just like our Gosvāmīs, the Six Gosvāmīs in Vṛndāvana, how they executed devotional service is described by Śrīnivāsa Ācārya,

kṛṣṇotkīrtana-gāna-nartana-parau premāmṛtāmbho-nidhī

dhīrādhīra-jana-priyau priya-karau nirmatsarau pūjitau

śrī-caitanya-kṛpā-bharau bhuvi bhuvo bhārāvahantārakau

vande rūpa-sanātanau raghu-yugau śrī-jīva-gopālakau

Kṛṣṇotkīrtana-gāna-nartana-parau. They always engaged them in chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. Utkīrtana, very loudly. Kṛṣṇotkīrtana. Utkīrtanam. Kṛṣṇotkīrtana-gāna-nartanau-parau, dancing also. Just like here the boys, they are chanting and dancing. This is very good, following the footsteps of the Gosvāmīs.

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, He was also engaged in chanting and dancing. That is a… His dancing description is there in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta during the Ratha-yātrā festival. So chanting, dancing, chanting of the holy name, and in ecstasy dancing, that is also yajña. That is the most perfectional yajña. Yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtana-prāyaiḥ. This is called saṅkīrtana-yajña. Bahubhir militvā gāyantīti saṅkīrtanam.

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BG 4.29

अपाने जुह्वति प्राणं प्राणेऽपानं तथापरे ।

प्राणापानगती रुद्ध्वा प्राणायामपरायणाः ।

अपरे नियताहाराः प्राणान्प्राणेषु जुह्वति ॥२९॥

apāne juhvati prāṇaṁ

prāṇe ‘pānaṁ tathāpare

prāṇāpāna-gatī ruddhvā

prāṇāyāma-parāyaṇāḥ

apare niyatāhārāḥ

prāṇān prāṇeṣu juhvati

SYNONYMS

apāne—air which acts downward; juhvati—offers; prāṇam—air which acts outward; prāṇe—in the air going outward; apānam—air going downward; tathā—as also; apare—others; prāṇa—air going outward; apāna—air going downward; gatī—movement; ruddhvā—checking; prāṇāyāma—trance induced by stopping all breathing; parāyaṇāḥ—so inclined; apare—others; niyata—controlled; āhārāḥ—eating; prāṇān—outgoing air; prāṇeṣu—in the outgoing air; juhvati—sacrifices.

TRANSLATION

And there are even others who are inclined to the process of breath restraint to remain in trance, and they practice stopping the movement of the outgoing breath into the incoming, and incoming breath into the outgoing, and thus at last remain in trance, stopping all breathing. Some of them, curtailing the eating process, offer the outgoing breath into itself, as a sacrifice.

PURPORT

This system of yoga for controlling the breathing process is called prāṇāyāma, and in the beginning it is practiced in the haṭha-yoga system through different sitting postures. All of these processes are recommended for controlling the senses and for advancement in spiritual realization. This practice involves controlling the air within the body to enable simultaneous passage in opposite directions. The apāna air goes downward, and the prāṇa air goes up. The prāṇāyāma yogī practices breathing the opposite way until the currents are neutralized into pūraka, equilibrium. Similarly, when the exhaled breathing is offered to inhaled breathing, it is called recaka. When both air currents are completely stopped, it is called kumbhaka-yoga. By practice of kumbhaka-yoga, the yogīs increase the duration of life by many, many years. A Kṛṣṇa conscious person, however, being always situated in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, automatically becomes the controller of the senses. His senses, being always engaged in the service of Kṛṣṇa, have no chance of becoming otherwise engaged. So at the end of life, he is naturally transferred to the transcendental plane of Lord Kṛṣṇa; consequently he makes no attempt to increase his longevity. He is at once raised to the platform of liberation. A Kṛṣṇa conscious person begins from the transcendental stage, and he is constantly in that consciousness. Therefore, there is no falling down, and ultimately he enters into the abode of the Lord without delay. The practice of reduced eating is automatically done when one eats only Kṛṣṇa prasādam, or food which is offered first to the Lord. Reducing the eating process is very helpful in the matter of sense control. And without sense control there is no possibility of getting out of the material entanglement.

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BG 4.30

सर्वेऽप्येते यज्ञविदो यज्ञक्षपितकल्मषाः ।

यज्ञशिष्टामृत भुजो यान्ति ब्रह्मा सनातनम् ॥३०॥

sarve ‘py ete yajña-vido

yajña-kṣapita-kalmaṣāḥ

yajña-śiṣṭāmṛta-bhujo

yānti brahma sanātanam

SYNONYMS

sarve—all; api—although apparently different; ete—all these; yajña-vidaḥ—conversant with the purpose of performing; yajña—sacrifices; kṣapita—being cleansed of the result of such performances; kalmaṣāḥ—sinful reactions; yajña-śiṣṭa—as a result of such performances of yajña; amṛta-bhujaḥ—those who have tasted such nectar; yānti—do approach; brahma—the supreme; sanātanam—eternal atmosphere.

TRANSLATION

All these performers who know the meaning of sacrifice become cleansed of sinful reaction, and, having tasted the nectar of the remnants of such sacrifice, they go to the supreme eternal atmosphere.

PURPORT

From the foregoing explanation of differents types of sacrifice (namely sacrifice of one’s possessions, study of the Vedas or philosophical doctrines, and performance of the yoga system), it is found that the common aim of all is to control the senses. Sense gratification is the root cause of material existence; therefore, unless and until one is situated on a platform apart from sense gratification, there is no chance of being elevated to the eternal platform of full knowledge, full bliss and full life. This platform is in the eternal atmosphere, or Brahman atmosphere. All the above-mentioned sacrifices help one to become cleansed of the sinful reactions of material existence. By this advancement in life, one not only becomes happy and opulent in this life, but also, at the end, he enters into the eternal kingdom of God, either merging into the impersonal Brahman or associating with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa.

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BG 4.31

नायं लोकोऽस्त्ययज्ञस्य कुतोऽन्यः कुरुसत्तम ॥३१॥

nāyaṁ loko ‘sty ayajñasya

kuto ‘nyaḥ kuru-sattama

SYNONYMS

na—never; ayam—this; lokaḥ—planet; asti—there is; ayajñasya—of the foolish; kutaḥ—where is; anyaḥ—the other; kuru-sattama—O best amongst the Kurus.

TRANSLATION

O best of the Kuru dynasty, without sacrifice one can never live happily on this planet or in this life: what then of the next?

PURPORT

Whatever form of material existence one is in, one is invariably ignorant of his real situation. In other words, existence in the material world is due to the multiple reactions to our sinful lives. Ignorance is the cause of sinful life, and sinful life is the cause of one’s dragging on in material existence. The human form of life is the only loophole by which one may get out of this entanglement. The Vedas, therefore, give us a chance for escape by pointing out the paths of religion, economic comfort, regulated sense gratification and, at last, the means to get out of the miserable condition entirely. The path of religion, or the different kinds of sacrifice recommended above, automatically solves our economic problems. By performance of yajña we can have enough food, enough milk, etc.-even if there is a so-called increase of population. When the body is fully supplied, naturally the next stage is to satisfy the senses. The Vedas prescribe, therefore, sacred marriage for regulated sense gratification. Thereby one is gradually elevated to the platform of release from material bondage, and the highest perfection of liberated life is to associate with the Supreme Lord. Perfection is achieved by performance of yajña (sacrifice), as described above. Now, if a person is not inclined to perform yajña according to the Vedas, how can he expect a happy life? There are different grades of material comforts in different heavenly planets, and in all cases there is immense happiness for persons engaged in different kinds of yajña. But the highest kind of happiness that a man can achieve is to be promoted to the spiritual planets by practice of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. A life of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is therefore the solution to all the problems of material existence.

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BG 4.32

एवं बहुविधा यज्ञा वितता ब्रह्मणो मुखे ।

कर्मजान्विद्धि तान्सर्वानेवं ज्ञात्वा विमोक्ष्यसे ॥३२॥

evaṁ bahu-vidhā yajñā

vitatā brahmaṇo mukhe

karma-jān viddhi tān sarvān

evaṁ jñātvā vimokṣyase

SYNONYMS

evam—thus; bahu-vidhāḥ—various kinds of; yajñāḥ—sacrifices; vitatāḥ—widespread; brahmaṇaḥ—of the Vedas; mukhe—in the face of; karma-jān—born of work; viddhi—you should know; tān—them; sarvān—all; evam—thus; jñātvā—knowing; vimokṣyase—be liberated.

TRANSLATION

All these different types of sacrifice are approved by the Vedas, and all of them are born of different types of work. Knowing them as such, you will become liberated.

PURPORT

Different types of sacrifice, as discussed above, are mentioned in the Vedas to suit the different types of worker. Because men are so deeply absorbed in the bodily concept, these sacrifices are so arranged that one can work either with the body, the mind, or the intelligence. But all of them are recommended for ultimately bringing about liberation from the body. This is confirmed by the Lord herewith from His own mouth.

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BG 4.33

श्रेयान्द्रव्यमयाद्यज्ञाज्ज्ञानयज्ञः परन्तप ।

सर्वं कर्माखिलं पार्थ ज्ञाने परिसमाप्यते ॥३३॥

śreyān dravya-mayād yajñāj

jñāna-yajñaḥ parantapa

sarvaṁ karmākhilaṁ pārtha

jñāne parisamāpyate

SYNONYMS

śreyān—greater; dravyamayāt—than the sacrifice of material possessions; yajñāt—knowledge; jñāna-yajñaḥ—sacrifice in knowledge; parantapa—O chastiser of the enemy; sarvam—all; karma—activities; akhilam—in totality; pārtha—O son of Pṛthā; jñāne—in knowledge; parisamāpyate—ends in.

TRANSLATION

O chastiser of the enemy, the sacrifice of knowledge is greater than the sacrifice of material possessions. O son of Pṛthā, after all, the sacrifice of work culminates in transcendental knowledge.

PURPORT

The purpose of all sacrifices is to arrive at the status of complete knowledge, then to gain release from material miseries, and, ultimately, to engage in loving transcendental service to the Supreme Lord (Kṛṣṇa consciousness). Nonetheless, there is a mystery about all these different activities of sacrifice, and one should know this mystery. Sacrifices sometimes take different forms according to the particular faith of the performer. When one’s faith reaches the stage of transcendental knowledge, the performer of sacrifices should be considered more advanced than those who simply sacrifice material possessions without such knowledge, for without attainment of knowledge, sacrifices remain on the material platform and bestow no spiritual benefit. Real knowledge culminates in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the highest stage of transcendental knowledge. Without the elevation of knowledge, sacrifices are simply material activities. When, however, they are elevated to the level of transcendental knowledge, all such activities enter onto the spiritual platform. Depending on differences in consciousness, sacrificial activities are sometimes called karma-kāṇḍa, fruitive activities, and sometimes jñāna-kāṇḍa, knowledge in the pursuit of truth. It is better when the end is knowledge.

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BG 4.34

तद्विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया ।

उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस्तत्त्वदर्शिनः ॥३४॥

tad viddhi praṇipātena

paripraśnena sevayā

upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ

jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ

SYNONYMS

tat—that knowledge of different sacrifices; viddhi—try to understand; praṇipātena—by approaching a spiritual master; paripraśnena—by submissive inquiries; sevayā—by the rendering of service; upadekṣyanti—initiate; te—unto you; jñānam—knowledge; jñāninaḥ—the self-realized; tattva—truth; darśinaḥ—the seers.

TRANSLATION

Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.

PURPORT

The path of spiritual realization is undoubtedly difficult. The Lord therefore advises us to approach a bona fide spiritual master in the line of disciplic succession from the Lord Himself. No one can be a bona fide spiritual master without following this principle of disciplic succession. The Lord is the original spiritual master, and a person in the disciplic succession can convey the message of the Lord as it is to his disciple. No one can be spiritually realized by manufacturing his own process, as is the fashion of the foolish pretenders. The Bhāgavatam says: dharmaṁ hi sākṣād-bhagavat-praṇītam—the path of religion is directly enunciated by the Lord. Therefore, mental speculation or dry arguments cannot help one progress in spiritual life. One has to approach a bona fide spiritual master to receive the knowledge. Such a spiritual master should be accepted in full surrender, and one should serve the spiritual master like a menial servant, without false prestige. Satisfaction of the self-realized spiritual master is the secret of advancement in spiritual life. Inquiries and submission constitute the proper combination for spiritual understanding. Unless there is submission and service, inquiries from the learned spiritual master will not be effective. One must be able to pass the test of the spiritual master, and when he sees the genuine desire of the disciple, he automatically blesses the disciple with genuine spiritual understanding. In this verse, both blind following and absurd inquiries are condemned. One should not only hear submissively from the spiritual master; but one must also get a clear understanding from him, in submission and service and inquiries. A bona fide spiritual master is by nature very kind toward the disciple. Therefore when the student is submissive and is always ready to render service, the reciprocation of knowledge and inquiries becomes perfect.

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Bhagavad-gītā 4.34 — Questions & Answers—August 14, 1968, New York

Devotee (1): If one surrenders to a spiritual master, what then is their relationship to Kṛṣṇa?

Prabhupāda: Oh. Spiritual master is the representative of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, surrendering to the spiritual master means surrendering to Kṛṣṇa. He is the bona fide. Spiritual master is just like, as just I explained the śloka, hṛdy antaḥ-stho hy abhadrāṇi vidhunoti suhṛt satām. I’ll try to relate one nice story in this connection, the story of Dhruva Mahārāja. Dhruva Mahārāja was a child, and he was insulted by his stepmother. So he went to his own mother and he prayed, “My dear mother”—he was five years old only—”my stepmother has insulted me in this way. I was sitting on the lap of my father and she dragged me out. She told me that ‘You cannot sit on the lap on your father.'” So he was the son of king, so he felt insulted and he went to his mother and cried. Then he asked his mother, “What is the remedy?” Because he was a son of a kṣatriya, he was resentful. So his mother directed, “My dear son, your father do not care for me, so he will not hear whatever I say. So if God can help you, then you can get revenge.” Then—he was child—he said, “Oh, where is God?” Then mother replied, “Oh, we understand that God is in the forest. Somebody goes to the forest and realizes God. So you cannot go, my dear son.” “No, I shall go.” So he went to the forest. He went to the forest, and he was asking the tiger, “Oh, you are God?” The elephant, “You are God?” Just like a child. Then when he was so serious, then, because God is within himself, then he was…, Nārada was sent to him, that “You go to the boy. How he is anxious that what is the actual point (indistinct). You just try to help him.” So this is the process. When we are seriously anxious about understanding the science of God, then God is within you, He will make your relationship with such a spiritual master who will enlighten you further and further. So practically, the spiritual master is the representative of Kṛṣṇa. Now, it depends on me. Ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham [Bg. 4.11]. The degree of my serious thought, if I am seriously about actually perception of the Supreme Lord, then I will get such a spiritual master who can give me information of the Supreme Lord. But if I want something else, then Kṛṣṇa will help you in that way also, you will get something else. So ye yathā māṁ prapadyante. The spiritual master is the representative of Kṛṣṇa, and He, Kṛṣṇa, is sitting within our heart. As you are anxious, your degree of anxiety will be helped by Kṛṣṇa by sending similar quality of spiritual master. (end)