Text 2sri-bhagavan uvaca sannyasah karma-yogas ca nihsreyasa-karav ubhau tayos tu karma-sannyasat karma-yogo visisyate
sri-bhagavan uvaca–the Personality of Godhead said; sannyasah–renunciation
of work; karma-yogah–work in devotion; ca–also; nihsreyasa-karau–leading
to the path of liberation; ubhau–both; tayoh–of the two; tu–but;
karma-sannyasat–in comparison to the renunciation of fruitive work;
karma-yogah–work in devotion; visisyate–is better.
The Personality of Godhead replied: 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 work.
Fruitive activities (seeking sense gratification) are cause for material
bondage. As long as one is engaged in activities aimed at improving the
standard of bodily comfort, one is sure to transmigrate to different types
of bodies, thereby continuing material bondage perpetually.
Srimad-Bhagavatam (5.5.4-6) confirms this as follows:
nunam pramattah kurute vikarma yad indriya-pritaya aprnoti na sadhu manye yata atmano ‘yam asann api klesa-da asa dehah parabhavas tavad abodha-jato yavan najijnasata atma-tattvam yavat kriyas tavad idam mano vai karmatmakam yena sarira-bandhah evam manah karma-vasam prayunkte avidyayatmany upadhi yamane pritir na yavan mayi vasudeve na mucyate deha-yogena tavat
“People are mad after sense gratification, and they do not know that this
present body, which is full of miseries, is a result of one’s fruitive
activities in the past. Although this body is temporary, it is always giving
one trouble in many ways. Therefore, to act for sense gratification is not
good. One is considered to be a failure in life as long as he makes no
inquiry about his real identity. As long as he does not know his real
identity, he has to work for fruitive results for sense gratification, and
as long as one is engrossed in the consciousness of sense gratification one
has to transmigrate from one body to another. Although the mind may be
engrossed in fruitive activities and influenced by ignorance, one must
develop a love for devotional service to Vasudeva. Only then can one have
the opportunity to get out of the bondage of material existence.”
Therefore, jnana (or knowledge that one is not this material body but spirit
soul) is not sufficient for liberation. One has to act in the status of
spirit soul, otherwise there is no escape from material bondage. Action in
Krsna consciousness is not, however, action on the fruitive platform.
Activities performed in full knowledge strengthen one’s advancement in real
knowledge. Without Krsna consciousness, mere renunciation of fruitive
activities does not actually purify the heart of a conditioned soul. As long
as the heart is not purified, one has to work on the fruitive platform. But
action in Krsna consciousness automatically helps one escape the result of
fruitive action so that one need not descend to the material platform.
Therefore action in Krsna consciousness is always superior to renunciation,
which always entails a risk of falling. Renunciation without Krsna
consciousness is incomplete, as is confirmed by Srila Rupa Gosvami in his
prapancikataya buddhya hari-sambandhi vastunah mumuksubhih parityago vairagyam phalgu kathyate
“When persons eager to achieve liberation renounce things related to the
Supreme Personality of Godhead, thinking them to be material, their
renunciation is called incomplete.” Renunciation is complete when it is in
the knowledge that everything in existence belongs to the Lord and that no
one should claim proprietorship over anything. One should understand that,
factually, nothing belongs to anyone. Then where is the question of
renunciation? One who knows that everything is Krsna’s property is always
situated in renunciation. Since everything belongs to Krsna, everything
should be employed in the service of Krsna. This perfect form of action in
Krsna consciousness is far better than any amount of artificial renunciation
by a sannyasi of the Mayavadi school.
kurvann api na lipyate
yoga-yuktah–engaged in devotional service; visuddha-atma–a purified soul; vijita-atma–self-controlled; jita-indriyah–having conquered the senses; sarva-bhuta–to all living entities; atma-bhuta-atma–compassionate; kurvan api–although engaged in work; na–never; lipyate–is entangled.
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.
One who is on the path of liberation by Krsna consciousness is very dear to every living being, and every living being is dear to him. This is due to his Krsna consciousness. Such a person cannot think of any living being as separate from Krsna, just as the leaves and branches of a tree are not separate from the tree. He knows very well that by pouring water on the root of the tree, the water will be distributed to all the leaves and branches, or by supplying food to the stomach, the energy is automatically distributed throughout the body. Because one who works in Krsna consciousness is servant to all, he is very dear to everyone. And because everyone is satisfied by his work, he is pure in consciousness. Because he is pure in consciousness, his mind is completely controlled. And because his mind is controlled, his senses are also controlled. Because his mind is always fixed on Krsna, there is no chance of his being deviated from Krsna. Nor is there a chance that he will engage his senses in matters other than the service of the Lord. He does not like to hear anything except topics relating to Krsna; he does not like to eat anything which is not offered to Krsna; and he does not wish to go anywhere if Krsna is not involved. Therefore, his senses are controlled. A man of controlled senses cannot be offensive to anyone. One may ask, “Why then was Arjuna offensive (in battle) to others? Wasn’t he in Krsna consciousness?” Arjuna was only superficially offensive because (as has already been explained in the Second Chapter) all the assembled persons on the battlefield would continue to live individually, as the soul cannot be slain. So, spiritually, no one was killed on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra. Only their dresses were changed by the order of Krsna, who was personally present. Therefore Arjuna, while fighting on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, was not really fighting at all; he was simply carrying out the orders of Krsna in full Krsna consciousness. Such a person is never entangled in the reactions of work.
nadatte kasyacit papam na caiva sukrtam vibhuh ajnanenavrtam jnanam tena muhyantijantavah
na–never; adatte–accepts; kasyacit–anyone’s; papam–sin; na–nor; ca–also; eva–certainly; su-krtam–pious activities; vibhuh–the Supreme Lord; ajnanena–by ignorance; avrtam–covered; jnanam–knowledge; tena–by that; muhyanti–are bewildered; jantavah–the living entities.
Nor does the Supreme Lord assume anyone’s sinful or pious activities. Embodied beings, however, are bewildered because of the ignorance which covers their real knowledge.
The Sanskrit word vibhu means the Supreme Lord who is full of unlimited knowledge, riches, strength, fame, beauty and renunciation. He is always satisfied in Himself, undisturbed by sinful or pious activities. He does not create a particular situation for any living entity, but the living entity, bewildered by ignorance, desires to be put into certain conditions of life, and thereby his chain of action and reaction begins. A living entity is, by superior nature, full of knowledge. Nevertheless, he is prone to be influenced by ignorance due to his limited power. The Lord is omnipotent, but the living entity is not. The Lord is vibhu, or omniscient, but the living entity is anu, or atomic. Because he is a living soul, he has the capacity to desire by his free will. Such desire is fulfilled only by the omnipotent Lord. And so, when the living entity is bewildered in his desires, the Lord allows him to fulfill those desires, but the Lord is never responsible for the actions and reactions of the particular situation which may be desired. Being in a bewildered condition, therefore, the embodied soul identifies himself with the circumstantial material body and becomes subjected to the temporary misery and happiness of life. The Lord is the constant companion of the living entity as Paramatma, or the Supersoul, and therefore He can understand the desires of the individual soul, as one can smell the flavor of a flower by being near it. Desire is a subtle form of conditioning for the living entity. The Lord fulfills his desire as he deserves: Man proposes and God disposes. The individual is not, therefore, omnipotent in fulfilling his desires. The Lord, however, can fulfill all desires, and the Lord, being neutral to everyone, does not interfere with the desires of the minute independent living entities. However, when one desires Krsna, the Lord takes special care and encourages one to desire in such a way that one can attain to Him and be eternally happy. The Vedic hymns therefore declare, esa u hy evasadhu karma karayati tam yam ebhyo lokebhya unninisate. esa u evasadhu karma karayati yam adho ninisate: “The Lord engages the living entity in pious activities so that he may be elevated. The Lord engages him in impious activities so that he may go to hell.” (Kausitaki Upanisad 3.8)
ajnojantur aniso ‘yam
svargam vasv abhram eva ca
“The living entity is completely dependent in his distress and happiness. By the will of the Supreme he can go to heaven or hell, as a cloud is driven by the air.”
Therefore the embodied soul, by his immemorial desire to avoid Krsna consciousness, causes his own bewilderment. Consequently, although he is constitutionally eternal, blissful and cognizant, due to the littleness of his existence he forgets his constitutional position of service to the Lord and is thus entrapped by nescience. And, under the spell of ignorance, the living entity claims that the Lord is responsible for his conditional existence. The Vedanta-sutras (2.1.34) also confirm this. Vaisamya-nairghrnye na sapeksatvat tatha hi darsayati: “The Lord neither hates nor likes anyone, though He appears to.”