The Message of Godhead

Bhagavnera Kath 4

by r rmad Bhaktivednta Svm Mahrja


[NOTE: This page uses Balarama font (available here)
for better transliteration of Sanskrit into English]

There is only one process of pure bhakti-yoga. The method to expertly engage in buddhi-yoga (bhakti-yoga) through karma and jna is revealed in the Bhagavad-gt alone. When karma is aimed at buddhi-yoga, it becomes karma-mir-bhakti. Only then is it known as karma-yoga. And when jna is aimed at buddhi-yoga, it becomes jna-mir-bhakti. It is then called jna-yoga. Only that buddhi-yoga that has crossed beyond karma and jna and, remaining uncovered by them, has reached the stage of keval-bhakti, is called uddha-bhakti.


Every action (karma) that we perform in this world, be it mundane or in accordance with Vedic standards, produces various results. And as we enjoy the various fruits of this karma, new karma is performed and new fruits of karma are created. Because these actions also produce various results, they cannot be called karma-yoga. Action (karma) and the fruits of action (karma-phala) continue to expand like the endlessly spreading branches and subbranches of a great tree.


For those who enjoy the fruits of that great tree, the only result is worldly entanglement. This suffering and impermanence, as dispensed by providence, is the root cause of their distress. Having climbed that tree of worldly entanglement birth after birth, the jva has become controlled by karma and its fruits. As a result, he repeatedly wanders throughout the 8,400,000 higher and lower species of life, being painfully scorched by the threefold miseries. He attains no rest or peace.


Yet people have no alternative to relinquishing such karma. They may pretend to renounce all action by accepting the attire of a so-called sannys, but they still have to perform various actions to fill their bellies. While considering the plight of his subordinate sannyss, r akarcrya said: udra-nimitta-bhu-kta veam. One accepts many types of dress just to fill ones stomach. The solution is not to renounce karma. The great-hearted Arjuna was a warrior and his duty was to fight in the war, but he wanted to renounce this duty. He was therefore instructed by r Ka:


niyata kuru karma tva

karma jyyo hy akarmaa

arra-ytrpi ca te

na prasidhyed akarmaa


Perform your prescribed duties such as sandhy

(chanting of Vedic mantras) and upsan (spiritual

practices such as, worship of the deity), because action

(karma) is better than inaction (akarma). If you

refrain from action, you will not even be able to maintain

your body. (Bhagavad-gt 3.8)


r Ka instructed Arjuna to always perform his karma according to the tenets of stra. By renouncing karma you will not even be able to maintain your body. If a person who is unqualified for renunciation renounces his prescribed karma, he creates a disturbance for the world. Since one cannot maintain the body without performing action, it is impossible to renounce action. The tree of sasra, or repeated birth and death, develops worldly entanglement in the form of karma and its results, so the jva has no hope of any peace. For this reason r Ka has instructed us how to perform karma:


yajrtht karmao nyatra

loko ya karma-bandhana

tad-artha karma kaunteya

mukta-saga samcara


O Kaunteya, all actions other than nikma-karma

offered to r Viu are a cause of bondage to this

world. Therefore, become free from desire for the

fruits of your action, and perform appropriate action

for His satisfaction only. (Bhagavad-gt 3.9)


The way to become free from attachment to the results of action is to perform all karma as yaja for the satisfaction of Viu. This is the art of karma-yoga through which one achieves freedom from the bondage of karma and gradually develops his eternally perfect bhgavad-bhakti. For this reason karma-yoga is also known as nikmakarma-yoga. Nikma refers to that karma which is free from the desire to satisfy ones own senses. In other words,

it refers to offering the fruits of ones action to Bhagavn rather than enjoying them oneself.


To maintain our lives we must all accumulate wealth according to our capacity. Money is exchanged for goods, which when transformed into our food, keeps us alive. If

we do not eat properly we cannot maintain our body; and if we do not maintain our body we cannot gather foodstuffs. It is difficult to ascertain which of these is the cause and which is the effect. However, if they are both considered to be each others cause and effect, they can be

described in one word karma-cakra, the cycle of action and reaction.


In our movement through our karma-cakra birth after birth, we wander from universe to universe. By the mercy of Bhagavn, sdhu and guru, any fortunate jva roaming throughout the universes in this way can understand that his condition is miserable. By acting according to their directions he can endeavour to become free from worldly attachment.


We are all eternal entities; therefore we have endeavoured for eternal happiness and peace since time immemorial. To obtain the fleeting peace and happiness of this mundane world is not our objective. However, we simply change bodies from one birth to the next as we wander throughout the fourteen worlds. We do not realize our plight and we spill so much blood just for ten to twenty years of temporary peace and happiness.


The bliss we search for through our demonic propensities can never give us peace, because we do not know where peace lies. Prahlda Mahrja has explained: na te vidu svrtha-gati hi viu. Persons who are trapped by the consciousness of enjoying material life, and have therefore accepted as their leader or guru a blind man like themselves who is attached to external sense objects, cannot understand that the ultimate goal of their lives is

indeed Viu. (rmad-Bhgavatam 7.5.31)


We sit in the boat of this material body and mind and search for our selfish motives, but we are just floating aimlessly in this material ocean. Instead of reaching any shore we receive pushes and blows, and thus we conclude, There is no rest for man in the dispensation of providence. If we knew that Viu is the shore of our material existence and that He is our ultimate destination we would not suffer. However, we do not know this, and so Bhagavn

r Ka has instructed that it is obligatory to perform work for the sake of yaja; that is, for the pleasure of Viu.


The g Veda has also given us this instruction: o tad vio parama pada sad payanti sraya. The pure devotee always beholds the supreme abode of Bhagavn r Viu, just as the unobstructed eye sees the sun within the sky. Therefore, those who are sraya, that is, who have attained the nature of the devas, always understand that the lotus feet of Viu are the supreme destination and that to perform karma for the pleasure of Viu alone

is the highest undertaking by which one can attain freedom from attachment to the results of karma. Man must accept the lotus feet of Viu as the goal if he wants to become free from this cycle of karma. If he does not do this, he must become an asura.


Those who have taken shelter of the system of varrama-dharma, or santana-dharma, have become known as Hindus. Their ancestors, especially those who were of the higher castes such as brhmaa, katriya, or vaiya, all used to place their service to Viu at the centre of their activities, and in this way they would go about maintaining their lives. And within the ramas, especially the ghastha-rama, persons would daily perform yaja (in the form of viu-sev) in their homes. Even now many devoted ghasthas do this.


Yaja is only performed when one performs all of his activities for the pleasure of Viu. When one only earns money for viu-sev, exchanges that money for foodstuffs, cooks those foodstuffs for the sole satisfaction of Viu and then respects the prasdam remnants of that offering, then yaja is performed. Everyone can apply this method in all circumstances and in all aspects of their lives. If we perform every action for the sole satisfaction of the Lord of everything, who is our cherished destination, we will become freed from the bondage of action.


We should not oppose the development of karma, but rather we should execute it for the sole satisfaction of Viu. Learned sages have said, mukti viu ghri lbha. Attaining the lotus feet of Viu is mukti. By performing action for the satisfaction of Viu, ones own satisfaction is fulfilled. This indeed is the gradual path of karma-yoga. Furthermore, Bhagavn r Ka has explained the result of such karma: if one does not work with the aim of yaja,

or satisfying Viu, all of his activities will give rise to the poison, or sin, that creates havoc throughout the world.


yaja-iina santo / mucyante sarva-kilbbiai

bhujate te tv agha pp / ye pacanty tma-krat


Saintly persons, who accept the remnants of yaja,

become free from all sins; but those who cook grains

and other foodstuffs for their own sake are sinful and

certainly partake of sin. (Bhagavad-gt 3.13)


This method of viu-sev demonstrates how to execute activities to maintain the body. A person who performs apparently sinful action will be absolved from all types of

bondage if he accepts the prasdam (remnants of yaja) of Bhagavn Viu. We may diligently and strictly adhere to the path of non-violence, but the cycle of karma in which we are revolving imperceptibly forces us to perform many sins.


We commit sins in business dealings, in dealings with people in general, in daily activities, and especially in political activities. Although we talk about non-violence, there is practically no way to live without it. And although we refrain from all kinds of sinful activities, we cannot live free from performing paca-n, five types of sin. While walking the streets, we are compelled to destroy the lives of countless ants, although not wanting to do so. We kill many living entities as we clean the house, grind food grains, store water pots and light fires. In this way, while performing our daily activities of eating and moving, we are forced to harm innocent living entities and destroy them. Willingly or unwillingly we incur sin.


We are bound by the whims of our minds, and thus the path of non-violence we have adopted will convenience some but inconvenience others.


(To be continued)

Translated from Sri Gaudiya Patrika, Year 1, Issue 12
by the Rays of The Harmonist team.
Published in Rays of The Harmonist No. 11 Karttika 2002

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