The nature of fruitive activities and how they bind us to matter
Hare Krsna to all
Glories to Srila Prabhupada
Recently I did a short compilation of verses and purports in BG and NOD of what exactly is fruitive activities, how we make them, how they entangle us all, and how to solve this dilemna. Below is what came out of this brief research.
Bhagavad gita and Nectar of Devotion on the nature of Fruitive activities
First a quick look at NOD, explaining how sins occur and mature as bad karma. Even good acts incur karma which means reactions we must come back to experience.
NoD 1.... In Bhagavad-gita, the Lord says that one should surrender unto Him,
giving up all other engagements. The Lord also gives His word there
that He will protect surrendered souls from the reactions of all
sinful activities. Srila Rupa Gosvami says that the distresses from
sinful activities are due both to the sins themselves and to sins
committed in our past lives. Generally, one commits sinful activities
due to ignorance. But ignorance is no excuse for evading the
reaction--sinful activities. Sinful activities are of two kinds: those
which are mature and those which are not mature.
For example, a man may have committed criminal acts, but not yet been
arrested for them. Now, as soon as he is detected, arrest is awaiting him.
Similarly, for some of our sinful activities we are awaiting distresses in the
future, and for others, which are mature, we are suffering at the present moment.
In this way there is a chain of sinful activities and their
concomitant distresses, and the conditioned soul is suffering life
after life due to these sins… But all of these reactions to
sinful deeds can immediately be stopped if we take to Krsna
consciousness. As evidence for this, Rupa Gosvami quotes from
Srimad-Bhagavatam,11.14.19 This verse is in connection with Lord Krsna's instruction to Uddhava, where Krsna says, "My dear Uddhava, devotional service unto Me is just like a blazing fire which can burn into ashes unlimited fuel supplied to it."
The purport is that as the blazing fire can burn any amount of fuel to
ashes, so devotional service to the Lord in Krsna consciousness can
burn up all the fuel of sinful activities.
One who is engaged in Krsna consciousness and devotional
service has without doubt become freed from all contaminations of
material sinful activities. Devotional service therefore has the power
to actually nullify all kinds of reactions to sinful deeds. A devotee
is nevertheless always alert not to commit any sinful activities; this
is his specific qualification as a devotee.
In this connection, Sukadeva Gosvami speaks in the Sixth Canto of
Srimad-Bhagavatam, Second Chapter, verse 17, about the story of
Ajamila, who began life as a fine and dutiful brahmana, but in his
young manhood became wholly corrupted by a prostitute. At the end of
his wicked life, just by calling the name "Narayana [Krsna]," he was
saved despite so much sin. Sukadeva points out that austerity, charity
and the performance of ritualistic ceremonies for counteracting sinful
activities are recommended processes, but that by performing them one
cannot remove the sinful desire-seed from the heart, as was the case
with Ajamila in his youth. This sinful desire-seed can be removed only
by achieving Krsna consciousness. And this can be accomplished very
easily by chanting the maha-mantra, or Hare Krsna mantra, as
recommended by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In other words, unless one
adopts the path of devotional service, he cannot be
one-hundred-percent clean from all the reactions of sinful activities.
By performing Vedic ritualistic activities, by giving money in
charity and by undergoing austerity, one can temporarily become free
from the reactions of sinful activities, but at the next moment he
must again become engaged in sinful activities. For example, a person
suffering from venereal disease on account of excessive indulgence in
sex life has to undergo some severe pain in medical treatment, and he
is then cured for the time being. But because he has not been able to
remove the sex desire from his heart, he must again indulge in the
same thing and become a victim of the same disease. So medical
treatment may give temporary relief from the distress of such venereal
disease, but unless one is trained to understand that sex life is
abominable, it is impossible to be saved from such repeated distress.
Similarly, the ritualistic performances, charity and austerity which
are recommended in the Vedas may temporarily stop one from acting in
sinful ways, but as long as the heart is not clear, one will have to
repeat sinful activities again and again.
Another example given in Srimad-Bhagavatam concerns the elephant
who enters into a lake and takes a bath very seriously, cleansing his
body thoroughly. Then as soon as he comes onto shore he again takes
some dust from the earth and throws it over his body. Similarly, a
person who is not trained in Krsna consciousness cannot become
completely free from the desire for sinful activities. Neither the
yoga process nor philosophical speculations nor fruitive activities
can save one from the seeds of sinful desires. Only by being engaged
in devotional service can this be done. There is another evidence in the Fourth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, 4.22.39, wherein Sanat-kumara says, "My dear King, the false ego of a human being is so strong that it keeps him in material existence as if tied
up by a strong rope. Only the devotees can cut off the knot of this strong rope
very easily, by engaging themselves in Krsna consciousness. Others, who are not in Krsna consciousness but are trying to become great mystics or great ritual
performers, cannot advance like the devotees. Therefore, it is the
duty of everyone to engage himself in the activities of Krsna
consciousness in order to be freed from the tight knot of false ego
and engagement in material activities." This tight knot of false ego is due to ignorance. As long as one is ignorant about his identity, he is sure to act wrongly and thereby
become entangled in material contamination. This ignorance of factual
knowledge can also be dissipated by Krsna consciousness…
[ It is because of these fruitive acts that we take repeated birth and death in the material world. Bhagavad gita explains how to solve this.]
Bg 2.47 You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not
entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.
Bg 2.49 O Dhananjaya, rid yourself of all fruitive activities by devotional
service, and surrender fully to that consciousness. Those who want to enjoy the fruits of their work are misers.
Bg 2.50 T A man engaged in devotional service rids himself of both good and
bad actions even in this life. Therefore strive for yoga, O Arjuna,
which is the art of all work.
Bg 3.5 T All men are forced to act helplessly according to the impulses born
of the modes of material nature; therefore no one can refrain from
doing something, not even for a moment.
Bg 3.8 T Perform your prescribed duty, for action is better than inaction.
man cannot even maintain his physical body without work.
Bg 3.9 T Work done as a sacrifice for Visnu has to be performed, otherwise
work binds one to this material world. Therefore, O son of Kunti,
perform your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in that way
you will always remain unattached and free from bondage.
Purport- Therefore one has to work for the satisfaction of Visnu. Any other work done in this material world will be a cause of bondage, for both good and evil work have their
reactions, and any reaction binds the performer. Therefore, one has to
work in Krsna consciousness to satisfy Krsna (or Visnu); and while
performing such activities one is in a liberated stage. This is the
great art of doing work, and in the beginning this process requires
very expert guidance. One should therefore act very diligently, under
the expert guidance of a devotee of Lord Krsna…
Bg 4.16 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.
[Bhaktivinode Thakur explains that wise men say, good works, knowledge and renunciation are all good for elevation-but all these carry reactions with them-karma bandaha if not done to satisy Visnu-and even if Varnashrama duties are done properly and satisfies Visnu, it is still external to devotional Service so it may free one from karmic reactions, but does not grant one residence in Vaikuntha-our eternal home]
Bg 4.17 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….The entire Bhagavad-gita is directed toward
this conclusion. Any other conclusions, against this consciousness and
its attendant reactions, are vikarmas, or prohibited actions. To
understand all this one has to associate with authorities in Krsna
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.
Bg 5.2 The Blessed Lord said: The renunciation of work and work in
devotion are both good for liberation. But, of the two, work in
devotional service is better than renunciation of works.
Bg. 5.6 Unless one is engaged in the devotional service of the Lord, mere renunciation of activities cannot make one happy. The sages, purified by works of devotion, achieve the Supreme without delay.
Bg 5.7 One who works in devotion, who is a pure soul, and who controls his
mind and senses is dear to everyone, and everyone is dear to him.
Though always working, such a man is never entangled.
Bg 5.10. One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the
results unto the Supreme God, is not affected by sinful action, as the
lotus leaf is untouched by water.
[So in the above verses of BG Krnsa is telling us to act, without fruitive desire and by so doing we will become liberated. Now lets see exactly what are fruitive activities?]
Bg 2.41 Purport-When one is engaged in the duties of Krsna consciousness, he need not act in relationship to the material world with obligations to family
traditions, humanity, or nationality. Fruitive activities are the
engagements of one's reactions from past good or bad deeds. When one
is awake in Krsna consciousness, he need no longer endeavor for good
results in his activities. When one is situated in Krsna
consciousness, all activities are on the absolute plane, for they are
no longer subject to dualities like good and bad. The highest
perfection of Krsna consciousness is renunciation of the material conception of life. This state is automatically achieved by progressive Krsna consciousness….
In other words, when you pull the plug of the fan of karma,[by engaging fully In devotional service, Krsna Consciousness] then God Himself directly takes total charge of your life. Pulling that plug as Prabhupada explains above, means when your past karmic reactions show themselves, one need not aspire for any result, good or bad since Krnsa has now directly taken charge of what you get or don’t get. One simply has to act doing his duty, thinking of the Lord favorably, and leaving all results to Him, be they good or bad, and in this way remains untouched by karma like the lotus in water.
[ next is how an elevated soul within the varnsahrama system would begin acting]
SB 3.29.10 Purport-- The brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyas and sudras, along with the
brahmacaris, grhasthas, vanaprasthas and sannyasis, are the members of
the eight divisions of varnas and asramas, and they have their
respective duties to perform for the satisfaction of the Supreme
Personality of Godhead. When such activities are performed and the
results are offered to the Supreme Lord, they are called karmarpanam,
duties performed for the satisfaction of the Lord. If there is any
inebriety or fault, it is atoned for by this offering process. But if
this offering process is in the mode of goodness rather than in pure
devotion, then the interest is different.
[example-the puffed up brahmanas who would not give the cowherd boys food for Krsna]
The four asramas and the four varnas act for some benefit in accordance with their personal interests. Therefore such activities are in the mode of goodness; they
cannot be counted in the category of pure devotion. Pure devotional
service as described by Rupa Gosvami is free from all material
desires.[example-you serve Krnsa for His satisfaction not anything you may want from that service] Anyabhilasita-sunyam. There can be no excuse for personal or
material interest. Devotional activities should be transcendental to
fruitive activities and empiric philosophical speculation. Pure
devotional service is transcendental to all material qualities.
Devotional service in the modes of ignorance, passion and goodness
can be divided into eighty-one categories. There are different
devotional activities, such as hearing, chanting, remembering,
worshiping, offering prayer, rendering service and surrendering
everything, and each of them can be divided into three qualitative
categories. There is hearing in the mode of passion, in the mode of
ignorance and in the mode of goodness
[ that is why after you hear a class those in different modes of nature will understand a thing differently than others. Some will hear everything, and others almost none of it] Similarly, there is chanting in the mode of ignorance, passion and goodness, etc. Three multiplied by nine equals twenty-seven, and when again multiplied by three it
becomes eighty-one. One has to transcend all such mixed materialistic
devotional service in order to reach the standard of pure devotional
[What follows, is HOW one rises above his or her deficiencies and performs pure devotional sservice to the Lord.]
SB 3.29.8 P Explanation of Devotional Service by Lord Kapila
In the conditioned stage, when one engages in devotional service, he should follow the instruction of the bona fide spiritual master in full surrender. The spiritual master
is the manifested representation of the Supreme Lord because he
receives and presents the instructions of the Lord, as they are, by
disciplic succession. It is described in Bhagavad-gita that the
teachings therein should be received by disciplic succession,
otherwise there is adulteration. To act under the direction of a bona
fide spiritual master with a motive to satisfy the Supreme Personality
of Godhead is pure devotional service. But if one has a motive for
personal sense gratification, his devotional service is manifested
differently. Such a man may be violent, proud, envious and angry, and
his interests are separate from the Lord's.
[what are those ulterior motives or interests? Desires for a spouse, money, position, respect in society, nice car, jewelry ,nice family life, a job, motorcycle, travel, pets,sports, the list of plans to be happy in the material world, are endless]
Bg 5.12 The steadily devoted soul attains unadulterated peace because he
offers the result of all activities to Me; whereas a person who is not
in union with the Divine, who is greedy for the fruits of his labor,
PURPORT The difference between a person in Krsna consciousness and a person
in bodily consciousness is that the former is attached to Krsna
whereas the latter is attached to the results of his activities. The
person who is attached to Krsna and works for Him only is certainly a
liberated person, and he is not anxious for fruitive rewards… One who is, however, entangled in profit calculation for sense gratification cannot have that peace. This is the secret of Krsna consciousness--realization that there is no existence besides
Krsna is the platform of peace and fearlessness.
So in this way if one acts under the constant direction of a bona fide Spiritual master, he becomes sinless and pulls the plug of generating further karma for himself. No more fruitive activities.OK now lets take another look at Bhagavad gita since the above statement by Srila Prabhupada is telling us that in the conditioned state a devotee should follow the instructions of his spiritual master in full surrender. Now lets see what that surrender means, according to our spiritual master. Exactly how does one “surrender” to God and Guru and thereby get rid of all fruitive activities??
BG 15.5 -One who is free from illusion, false prestige, and false association, who understands the eternal, who is done with material lust and is freed from the duality of happiness and distress, and who knows how to surrender unto the Supreme Person, attains to that eternal kingdom.
Purport- The surrendering process is described here very nicely. The first
qualification is that one should not be deluded by pride. Because the
conditioned soul is puffed up, thinking himself the lord of material
nature, it is very difficult for him to surrender unto the Supreme
Personality of Godhead. One should know by the cultivation of real
knowledge that he is not lord of material nature; the Supreme
Personality of Godhead is the Lord. When one is free from delusion
caused by pride, he can begin the process of surrender. For one who is always expecting some honor in this material world, it is not possible
to surrender to the Supreme Person. Pride is due to illusion, for
although one comes here, stays for a brief time and then goes away, he
has the foolish notion that he is the lord of the world. He thus makes
all things complicated, and he is always in trouble. The whole world
moves under this impression. People are considering that the land,
this earth, belongs to human society, and they have divided the land
under the false impression that they are the proprietors. One has to
get out of this false notion that human society is the proprietor of
this world. When one is freed from such a false notion, he becomes
free from all the false associations caused by familial, social and
national affections. These faulty associations bind one to this
material world. After this stage, one has to develop spiritual
knowledge. One has to cultivate knowledge of what is actually his own
and what is actually not his own. And, when one has an understanding
of things as they are, he becomes free from all dual conceptions such
as happiness and distress, pleasure and pain. He becomes full in
knowledge; then it is possible for him to surrender to the Supreme
Personality of Godhead.
[Benefits” for acting without fruitive activities].
Bg 18.13-14 Purport - The ultimate will is invested in the Supersoul, as it is stated in
the Gita, sarvasya caham hrdi sannivistah. He is engaging everyone in
certain activities. Acts done under His direction from within yield no
reaction, either in this life or in the life after death.
Bg 4.20 T -Abandoning all attachment to the results of his activities, ever
satisfied and independent, he performs no fruitive action, although
engaged in all kinds of undertakings.
Purport-This freedom from the bondage of actions is possible only in Krsna
consciousness when one is doing everything for Krsna. A Krsna
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 Krsna. 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 Krsna. 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 Krsna consciousness, is binding upon the worker, and that is
the real aspect of vikarma, as explained hereinbefore.
Bg 5.8-9 Karma-yoga- A person in the divine consciousness, although engaged in seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving about, sleeping and
breathing, always knows within himself that he actually does nothing
at all. Because while speaking, evacuating, receiving, opening or
closing his eyes, he always knows that only the material senses are
engaged with their objects and that he is aloof from them.
Purport- A person in Krsna consciousness is pure in his existence, and
consequently he has nothing to do with any work which depends upon
five immediate and remote causes, the doer, the work, the situation,
the endeavor and fortune. This is because he is engaged in the loving
transcendental service of Krsna. Although he appears to be acting with
his body and senses, he is always conscious of his actual position,
which is spiritual engagement. In material consciousness, the senses
are engaged in sense gratification, but in Krsna consciousness the
senses are engaged in the satisfaction of Krsna's senses. Therefore,
the Krsna conscious person is always free, even though he appears to
be engaged in things of the senses. Activities such as seeing,
hearing, speaking, evacuating, etc., are actions of the senses meant
for work. A Krsna conscious person is never affected by the actions of
the senses. He cannot perform any act except in the service of the
Lord because he knows that he is the eternal servitor of the Lord.
Ex—Jada Bharata—carrying the kings palanquin but not stepping on an ant.
Ex—Vrtasura (devotee in demon body) preaching to Indra to do duty and kill him.
Ex—Arjuna killing all his realtives
In other words whatever is done under the order or direction or guidance of the Supersoul is akarma, non reactive or non fruitive or liberated activity.
Bg 2.51 - The wise, engaged in devotional service, take refuge in the Lord,
and free themselves from the cycle of birth and death by renouncing
the fruits of action in the material world. In this way they can
attain that state beyond all miseries.
Bg 18.58 - If you become conscious of Me, you will pass over all the obstacles
of conditional life by My grace. If, however, you do not work in such
consciousness but act through false ego, not hearing Me, you will be lost
purport- A person in full Krsna consciousness is not unduly anxious to
execute the duties of his existence. The foolish cannot understand
this great freedom from all anxiety. For one who acts in Krsna
consciousness, Lord Krsna becomes the most intimate friend. He always
looks after His friend's comfort, and He gives Himself to His friend,
who is so devotedly engaged working twenty-four hours a day to please the Lord.
CONCLUSIONS---A. One must act in this world. B. Varnashrama duties, even in mode of goodness are not transcendental. C. Only by devotional service does complete liberation come. D. Fruitive Acts begin when we act for some result we want, they stop when that result is given to Lord Vishnu. But giving the results to Vishnu is not pure devotional service-it is only returning the goods of this world that we originally stole from Vishnu. E. Pure devotional service begins when we serve Krsna favorably with a motive to please Him under the direction of a bonafide pure devotee Spiritual master of the Lord. F .Our complete protection by the Lord is assured for one so purely engaged.
Quotes from Srila Prabhupadas books compiled by Damaghosa dasa. 9-6-09
| HOME | TOP |