Karma-yoga: The Art of Spiritual Work

by rla Bhaktivednta Svm Mahrja

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


(Bhagavanera-katha VII)

The Foolish Materialist


Out of compassion, r Ka and His devotee Arjuna instructed the bewildered jvas to perform karma-yoga. If they had not shown this path, these jvas, who have fallen into the cycle of fruitive action, would simply continue to suffer untold miseries. The illusory energy, my, has enslaved these pitiable materialists and stolen away their knowledge. Consequently, they are unable to even recognise that they are undergoing countless calamities. They may think themselves the doers, but my is chastising them continuously. r Ka explains this clearly in Bhagavad-gt (3.27):


prakte kriyamni

guai karmi sarvaa

ahakra vimhtm

kartham iti manyate


The spirit soul bewildered by the influence of false ego

thinks himself the doer of activities that are actually carried

out by the three modes of material nature.


Because the less intelligent materialist has forgotten Ka, he cannot even recognise his own futile attempts to usurp Ka. Thus, r Kas divine illusory energy has bound him with the three modes of goodness, passion and ignorance and hurled him into a web of diverse material activities, in which he has become deeply entangled. My manifests the materialists various fruitive activities according to his desires for sense gratification, which spring from the three modes. Thus, the materialist, who foolishly thinks himself the doer, confines himself in the prison house of sensual pleasure and suffering.


Sri Ka, the Complete Whole


The Supreme Lord, r Ka, has revealed to us that every jva is a separated part and parcel of the Supreme. The duty of a part is to serve the whole. The hands, legs, eyes, ears, nose and so on are parts

of a whole, namely, the body. The hands and legs work hard to provide the stomach with food without

ever desiring to enjoy separately from it; nor would such enjoyment be possible anyway. In fact, if the

parts of the body were to engage in such senseless behaviour, they would mutilate the body. The hand

and legs, unable to enjoy in any way, would become weak by not having fed the stomach. This has been

nicely illustrated in a fable in Hitopadea called Udarendriym (The Story of the Stomach and

the Senses).


Lord Ka is the life-source of the gigantic body of the universe. The Bhagavad-gt explains repeatedly, and in various ways, that He is the root of the tree of this universe. It specifically states:


matta paratara nnyat

kicid asti dhanajaya


Bhagavad-gt (7.7)

Published in 1950

O conqueror of wealth, there is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.


aha hi sarvayajn

bhokt ca prabhur eva ca


Bhagavad-gt (9.24)


I am the only enjoyer and master of all sacrifices. Therefore, those who do not recognise My true transcendental nature fall down.



na m duktino mdh

prapadyante nardham


Bhagavad-gt (7.15)


Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen

by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender unto Me.



Thus, r Ka alone is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and every living entity is His eternal servant. Where, then, is there any scope for further argument? We have forgotten this simple fact. Instead of engaging our mind and senses in the service of r Jaganntha, the Lord of the universe, we believe ourselves to be little Jagannthas and direct our mind and senses in trying to enjoy worldly pleasures. This is called my, illusion. It is sheer madness to serve the universe (jagat) and neglect its Lord (viz. Jaganntha).



A Utopia for Demons


Nowadays, we witness occasional attempts to re-establish the utopian kingdom of Lord Rma, but without Rma. This is but the work of an assembly of Rvaas trying to denounce Lord Rma and

annihilate Him. It is difficult to see how Rmas kingdom can ever be established by such misguided efforts.


To establish Rmas kingdom, one must engage everything in this world in His service. The endeavour to eliminate Lord Rma or His loving pastimes with His consort or energy is in fact an affair of the

kingdom of demons. For this transgression, the community of Rvaas is uprooted and defeated by the servants of Lord Rma, that is, by the Hanumns. One should accept the shelter of karmayoga, as instructed by r Ka, so that one, too, does not make this mistake.


True Knowledge of the Self


Materialists are foolish and ignorant, while those who are well versed in the truth make up the learned

community. Such learned persons know that the modes of nature and the activities of this world

associated with them are controlled by material nature and are wholly unrelated to the souls true nature. Therefore, unlike the ignorant, they do not engage themselves in material activities, which are governed by the modes. Their activities are a sacrifice, or yaja, performed solely for the satisfaction of Viu. They remain forever free from identifying themselves with this material body, and endeavour simply to develop the constitutional occupation of the soul, tmadharma.


Such learned persons understand that the jva has, by some circumstance, come into contact with material nature. Therefore, they remain aloof from material activities even while their material senses such as their eyes, ears and nose are in contact with matter. In this regard, r Ka states:


tattva-vit tu mah-bho


gu-gueu vartanta

iti matv na sajjate


Bhagavad-gt (3.28)


One who is in knowledge of the Absolute Truth, O mighty-armed,

does not engage himself in the senses and sense gratification,

knowing well the differences between work in devotion and

work for fruitive results.



Beyond Material Designations


Lord Ka further instructs us on how to achieve such a liberated state:


mayi sarvi karmi


nirr nirmamo bhtv

yudhyasva vigata-jvara


ye me matam ida nityam

anutihanti mnav

raddhvanto nasyanto

ucyante te pi karmabhi


Bhagavad-gt (3.3031)


Therefore, O Arjuna, surrendering all your works unto Me, with full

Knowledge of Me, without desiresfor profit, with no claims to proprietorship,

and free from lethargy, fight.


Those persons who, without envy, execute their duties according to

My injunctions and who follow this teaching faithfully become

free from the bondage of fruitive actions.


Conceptions such as I am the mind, This body is me, I am a material entity and Everything associated with my body is mine, display ignorance of the Absolute Reality. Such ideas check us from knowing the truth. Therefore r Ka has instructed us to fully imbibe knowledge of the self and to be situated in the self. Only by doing so will we be able to understand that we are not these material bodies or minds but eternal entities emanating from the Lords superior spiritual energy.


When we realise the serenity of this transcendental reality, we automatically become detached from

material nature and find relief from the happiness and distress that result from the senses contacting their sense objects. The false ego is then automatically subdued. At that time we become liberated from all material designations, and we thereby also become free of a material conception of the Supreme Entity. Thus purified, we find relief from the blazing fire of material existence.


The Foolish and the Faithful


r Ka alone is the Supreme Entity, as evidenced by all the scriptures. Even scriptures from countries

other than India, such as the Bible and Koran, indicate boldly that r Ka is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. What then to speak of the Bhagavad-gt, in which the Supreme Lord Himself declares (7.7):

matta paratara nnyat

kicid asti dhanajaya


O conqueror of wealth, there is no truth superior to

Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung

on a thread.


Thus, as soon as we come in contact with Ka, we come face to face with the transcendental sun. When the sun rises, everything is properly illuminated by its rays. As the transcendental sun of r Ka rises in the sky of the jvas pure existence, the darkness of nescience is immediately dissipated. Then, endeavours to serve r Ka become free from the contamination of jna, knowledge aimed at impersonal realisation, and of karma, reward-seeking activity.


To foolish, sinful persons, this subject appears simply to be exaggerated praise. But it is not a tall tale told for the pleasure of children; it is the factual truth. Only those who have taken shelter of r Ka or His devotees can realise the reality of these subjects. Irrational people with a distorted mentality pretend to be Ka, being envious of Him. But all such disobedient people who do not agree with the facts presented herein are extremely foolish. Ka Himself declares:


avajnanti m mha

mnui tanum ritam


Bhagavad-gt (9.11)


Fools deride Me when I descend in human form.

They do not know My transcendental nature as the

Supreme Lord of all that be.


These people deride Ka, and therefore knowledge of Ka does not easily enter their perverted minds, which are deranged by myvda thought.


The faithful Vaiavas who possess sukti, spiritual merits, and who are simple and sincere, completely accept what has been written in Bhagavad-gt. This simple subject matter described therein is selfluminous like the sun. It cannot be covered by the darkness of myvda. The Vaiavas will not

tolerate the mischief of presenting secondary and inferior explanations of the Gt and labelling them

spiritual. Those who are r Kas servants fully embrace the concept of karma-yoga as defined by

r Ka Himself (Bhagavad-gt 3.30): mayi sarvi karmai sannyasya fully surrender all your works unto Me. Thus, by practising karmayoga, the Vaiavas are impervious to the great fear of becoming entangled in fruitive activities.


Such faithful people are not bound by the limits of any country, caste or society. The devotees of r Ka can take birth anywhere, without concern for caste, religion, society or country. Bhagavn is not

bound by man-made limitations. As a result, the entire humankind can benefit from the instructions

of Bhagavad-gt. In the Gt, r Ka states unequivocally:


m hi prtha vyapritya

pi syu ppayonaya

striyo vaiyas thath udrs

te pi ynti par gatim


Bhagavad-gt (9.31)


O son of Pth, the abominable and outcaste dogeaters

(cnlas), women as fallen as prostitutes,and people born

in the lower classes of society likethe merchants (vaiyas)

and labourers (dras) can immediately attain the

destination specifically by taking shelter of exclusive

devotional service to Me.



The Divine System of Varrama


The heinous activities that go on in society in the name of caste and creed and which are influenced by selfish and demoniac motives, cannot hinder ones relationship with Ka. Bhagavn r Ka has said

the following regarding the proper classification of society based on scriptural injunctions:


ctur-varya may sa


tasya kartram api m

viddhy akartram avyayam


Bhagavad-gt (4.13)


According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me. And although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the nondoer, being unchangeable. A doctors qualifications are earned by his natural

qualities and activities, not his birth. Similarly, the four divisions of society namely, brhmaa, katriya, vaiya and dra are governed by a persons natural propensities and activities, not his parentage. This material world is influenced by the three modes of material nature, and the classification of human society based upon these modes and the work associated with them has existed since time immemorial. Society has always been divided into four classes in this way never by parentage.


There will always be doctors in every country of the world. Similarly, the four divisions of brhmaa,

katriya, vaiya and dra are also present everywhere at all times. One does not qualify to become a

doctor simply by being the son of a doctor, and one also does not qualify as a brhmaa merely by being the son of a brhmaa. The qualities of each division have been delineated clearly in the scriptures. Therefore, our vision of a brhmaa, katriya, vaiya or dra as belonging to a particular place or birth is clearly faulty.


Indian culture has become restricted by the hereditary caste system, like a frog trapped in a well. If

the teachings of the saints of India were preached throughout the world in the true and magnanimous

brahminical spirit, there would be no scarcity of peace and happiness. The world can experience bliss and harmony only by the propagation of brahminical culture. However, by subjecting people to the hereditary caste system thus mistakenly calling a doctors son a doctor, though he may lack all the qualities of a doctor the Vedic brahminical culture has been gravely damaged in India, with very negative repercussions for the rest of the world.


r Caitanya Mahprabhu has propagated this brahminical culture as jaiva-dharma, the eternal function of the soul, thereby opening the way to boundless peace and happiness for the world. Those who are fortunate can perfect their lives by practicing this divine varrama culture.


The demoniac varrama-dharma is not the same as the divine one. The division of society based on scripture is the same for all places and times. If anyone scrutinises this system in the light of scriptural injunctions, it will become evident that these four classes of society in fact exist everywhere. People with the qualities and work of a brhmaa can be found in all countries, whether in large or small numbers. Similarly, people in all parts of the world can also be categorised as katriyas, vaiyas or

dras, based on the modes of material nature and the work associated with those modes. Thus, the

division of society into four classes based on qualification and occupation is universal and eternal: it existed in the past, prevails now and shall continue to exist in the future.


Translated from Sri Gaudiya Patrika, Year 2, Issue 4
by the Rays of The Harmonist team.
Published in Rays of The Harmonist No. 14 Karttika 2004

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