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Karma-yoga - Action in
Krsna Consciousness


VERSE 1

Arjuna said: O Krsna, first of all You ask me to renounce work, and then again You recommend work with devotion. Now will You kindly tell me definitely which of the two is more beneficial?

PURPORT

In this Fifth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, the Lord says that work in devotional service is better than dry mental speculation. Devotional service is easier than the latter because, being transcendental in nature, it frees one from reaction. In the Second Chapter, preliminary knowledge of the soul and its entanglement in the material body were explained. How to get out of this material encagement by buddhi-yoga, or devotional service, was also explained therein. In the Third Chapter, it was explained that a person who is situated on the platform of knowledge no longer has any duties to perform. And in the Fourth Chapter the Lord told Arjuna that all kinds of sacrificial work culminate in knowledge. However, at the end of the Fourth Chapter, the Lord advised Arjuna to wake up and fight, being situated in perfect knowledge. Therefore, by simultaneously stressing the importance of both work in devotion and inaction in knowledge, Krsna has perplexed Arjuna and confused his determination. Arjuna understands that renunciation in knowledge involves cessation of all kinds of work performed as sense activities. But if one performs work in devotional service, then how is work stopped? In other words, he thinks that sannyasa, or renunciation in knowledge, should be altogether free from all kinds of activity, because work and renunciation appear to him to be incompatible. He appears not to have understood that work in full knowledge is nonreactive and is therefore the same as inaction. He inquires, therefore, whether he should cease work altogether or work with full knowledge.

 

VERSE 2

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.

PURPORT

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 na jijnasata atma-tattvam
yavat kriyas tavad idam mano vai
karmatmakam yena sarira-bandhah

evam manah karma-vasam prayunkte
avidyayatmany upadhiyamane
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 Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.258):

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.

 

VERSE 3 

One who neither hates nor desires the fruits of his activities is known to be always renounced. Such a person, free from all dualities, easily overcomes material bondage and is completely liberated, O mighty-armed Arjuna.

PURPORT

One who is fully in Krsna consciousness is always a renouncer because he feels neither hatred nor desire for the results of his actions. Such a renouncer, dedicated to the transcendental loving service of the Lord, is fully qualified in knowledge because he knows his constitutional position in his relationship with Krsna. He knows fully well that Krsna is the whole and that he is part and parcel of Krsna. Such knowledge is perfect because it is qualitatively and quantitatively correct. The concept of oneness with Krsna is incorrect because the part cannot be equal to the whole. Knowledge that one is one in quality yet different in quantity is correct transcendental knowledge leading one to become full in himself, having nothing to aspire to or lament over. There is no duality in his mind because whatever he does, he does for Krsna. Being thus freed from the platform of dualities, he is liberated—even in this material world.

 

VERSE 4 

Only the ignorant speak of devotional service [karma-yoga] as being different from the analytical study of the material world [Sankhya]. Those who are actually learned say that he who applies himself well to one of these paths achieves the results of both.

PURPORT

The aim of the analytical study of the material world is to find the soul of existence. The soul of the material world is Visnu, or the Supersoul. Devotional service to the Lord entails service to the Supersoul. One process is to find the root of the tree, and the other is to water the root. The real student of Sankhya philosophy finds the root of the material world, Visnu, and then, in perfect knowledge, engages himself in the service of the Lord. Therefore, in essence, there is no difference between the two because the aim of both is Visnu. Those who do not know the ultimate end say that the purposes of Sankhya and karma-yoga are not the same, but one who is learned knows the unifying aim in these different processes.

 

VERSE 5 

One who knows that the position reached by means of analytical study can also be attained by devotional service, and who therefore sees analytical study and devotional service to be on the same level, sees things as they are.

PURPORT

The real purpose of philosophical research is to find the ultimate goal of life. Since the ultimate goal of life is self-realization, there is no difference between the conclusions reached by the two processes. By Sankhya philosophical research one comes to the conclusion that a living entity is not a part and parcel of the material world but of the supreme spirit whole. Consequently, the spirit soul has nothing to do with the material world; his actions must be in some relation with the Supreme. When he acts in Krsna consciousness, he is actually in his constitutional position. In the first process, Sankhya, one has to become detached from matter, and in the devotional yoga process one has to attach himself to the work of Krsna consciousness. Factually, both processes are the same, although superficially one process appears to involve detachment and the other process appears to involve attachment. Detachment from matter and attachment to Krsna are one and the same. One who can see this sees things as they are.

 

VERSE 6 

Merely renouncing all activities yet not engaging in the devotional service of the Lord cannot make one happy. But a thoughtful person engaged in devotional service can achieve the Supreme without delay.

PURPORT

There are two classes of sannyasis, or persons in the renounced order of life. The Mayavadi sannyasis are engaged in the study of Sankhya philosophy, whereas the Vaisnava sannyasis are engaged in the study of Bhagavatam philosophy, which affords the proper commentary on the Vedanta-sutras. The Mayavadi sannyasis also study the Vedanta-sutras, but use their own commentary, called Sariraka-bhasya, written by Sankaracarya. The students of the Bhagavata school are engaged in the devotional service of the Lord, according to pancaratriki regulations, and therefore the Vaisnava sannyasis have multiple engagements in the transcendental service of the Lord. The Vaisnava sannyasis have nothing to do with material activities, and yet they perform various activities in their devotional service to the Lord. But the Mayavadi sannyasis, engaged in the studies of Sankhya and Vedanta and speculation, cannot relish the transcendental service of the Lord. Because their studies become very tedious, they sometimes become tired of Brahman speculation, and thus they take shelter of the Bhagavatam without proper understanding. Consequently their study of the Srimad-Bhagavatam becomes troublesome. Dry speculations and impersonal interpretations by artificial means are all useless for the Mayavadi sannyasis. The Vaisnava sannyasis, who are engaged in devotional service, are happy in the discharge of their transcendental duties, and they have the guarantee of ultimate entrance into the kingdom of God. The Mayavadi sannyasis sometimes fall down from the path of self-realization and again enter into material activities of a philanthropic and altruistic nature, which are nothing but material engagements. Therefore, the conclusion is that those who are engaged in Krsna conscious activities are better situated than the sannyasis engaged in simple speculation about what is Brahman and what is not Brahman, although they too come to Krsna consciousness, after many births.

 

VERSE 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.

PURPORT

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.

 

VERSE 8-9 

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, or 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 affairs of the senses. Activities such as seeing and hearing are actions of the senses meant for receiving knowledge, whereas moving, 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.

 

VERSE 10 

One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water.

PURPORT

Here brahmani means in Krsna consciousness. The material world is a sum total manifestation of the three modes of material nature, technically called the pradhana. The Vedic hymns sarvam hy etad brahma (Mandukya Upanisad 2), tasmad etad brahma nama-rupam annam ca jayate (Mundaka Upanisad 1.2.10), and, in the Bhagavad-gita (14.3), mama yonir mahad brahma indicate that everything in the material world is a manifestation of Brahman; and although the effects are differently manifested, they are nondifferent from the cause. In the Isopanisad it is said that everything is related to the Supreme Brahman, or Krsna, and thus everything belongs to Him only. One who knows perfectly well that everything belongs to Krsna, that He is the proprietor of everything and that, therefore, everything is engaged in the service of the Lord, naturally has nothing to do with the results of his activities, whether virtuous or sinful. Even one’s material body, being a gift of the Lord for carrying out a particular type of action, can be engaged in Krsna consciousness. It is then beyond contamination by sinful reactions, exactly as the lotus leaf, though remaining in the water, is not wet. The Lord also says in the Gita (3.30), mayi sarvani karmani sannyasya: "Resign all works unto Me [Krsna]." The conclusion is that a person without Krsna consciousness acts according to the concept of the material body and senses, but a person in Krsna consciousness acts according to the knowledge that the body is the property of Krsna and should therefore be engaged in the service of Krsna.

 

VERSE 11

The yogis, abandoning attachment, act with body, mind, intelligence and even with the senses, only for the purpose of purification.

PURPORT

When one acts in Krsna consciousness for the satisfaction of the senses of Krsna, any action, whether of the body, mind, intelligence or even the senses, is purified of material contamination. There are no material reactions resulting from the activities of a Krsna conscious person. Therefore purified activities, which are generally called sad-acara, can be easily performed by acting in Krsna consciousness. Sri Rupa Gosvami in his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.187) describes this as follows:

iha yasya harer dasye
karmana manasa gira
nikhilasv apy avasthasu
jivan-muktah sa ucyate

"A person acting in Krsna consciousness (or, in other words, in the service of Krsna) with his body, mind, intelligence and words is a liberated person even within the material world, although he may be engaged in many so-called material activities." He has no false ego, for he does not believe that he is this material body, or that he possesses the body. He knows that he is not this body and that this body does not belong to him. He himself belongs to Krsna, and the body too belongs to Krsna. When he applies everything produced of the body, mind, intelligence, words, life, wealth, etc.—whatever he may have within his possession—to Krsna’s service, he is at once dovetailed with Krsna. He is one with Krsna and is devoid of the false ego that leads one to believe that he is the body, etc. This is the perfect stage of Krsna consciousness.

 

VERSE 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, becomes entangled.

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 has no anxiety over the results of his work. In the Bhagavatam, the cause of anxiety over the result of an activity is explained as being one’s functioning in the conception of duality, that is, without knowledge of the Absolute Truth. Krsna is the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead. In Krsna consciousness, there is no duality. All that exists is a product of Krsna’s energy, and Krsna is all good. Therefore, activities in Krsna consciousness are on the absolute plane; they are transcendental and have no material effect. One is therefore filled with peace in Krsna consciousness. But one who is 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.

 

VERSE 13

When the embodied living being controls his nature and mentally renounces all actions, he resides happily in the city of nine gates [the material body], neither working nor causing work to be done.

PURPORT

The embodied soul lives in the city of nine gates. The activities of the body, or the figurative city of body, are conducted automatically by its particular modes of nature. The soul, although subjecting himself to the conditions of the body, can be beyond those conditions, if he so desires. Owing only to forgetfulness of his superior nature, he identifies with the material body, and therefore suffers. By Krsna consciousness, he can revive his real position and thus come out of his embodiment. Therefore, when one takes to Krsna consciousness, one at once becomes completely aloof from bodily activities. In such a controlled life, in which his deliberations are changed, he lives happily within the city of nine gates. The nine gates are mentioned as follows:

nava-dvare pure dehi
hamso lelayate bahih
vasi sarvasya lokasya
sthavarasya carasya ca

"The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is living within the body of a living entity, is the controller of all living entities all over the universe. The body consists of nine gates [two eyes, two nostrils, two ears, one mouth, the anus and the genitals]. The living entity in his conditioned stage identifies himself with the body, but when he identifies himself with the Lord within himself, he becomes just as free as the Lord, even while in the body." (Svetasvatara Upanisad 3.18)

Therefore, a Krsna conscious person is free from both the outer and inner activities of the material body.

 

VERSE 14

The embodied spirit, master of the city of his body, does not create activities, nor does he induce people to act, nor does he create the fruits of action. All this is enacted by the modes of material nature.

PURPORT

The living entity, as will be explained in the Seventh Chapter, is one of the energies or natures of the Supreme Lord but is distinct from matter, which is another nature—called inferior—of the Lord. Somehow the superior nature, the living entity, has been in contact with material nature since time immemorial. The temporary body or material dwelling place which he obtains is the cause of varieties of activities and their resultant reactions. Living in such a conditional atmosphere, one suffers the results of the activities of the body by identifying himself (in ignorance) with the body. It is ignorance acquired from time immemorial that is the cause of bodily suffering and distress. As soon as the living entity becomes aloof from the activities of the body, he becomes free from the reactions as well. As long as he is in the city of body, he appears to be the master of it, but actually he is neither its proprietor nor controller of its actions and reactions. He is simply in the midst of the material ocean, struggling for existence. The waves of the ocean are tossing him, and he has no control over them. His best solution is to get out of the water by transcendental Krsna consciousness. That alone will save him from all turmoil.

 

VERSE 15

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.

PURPORT

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 eva sadhu 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)

ajno jantur aniso ’yam
atmanah sukha-duhkhayoh
isvara-prerito gacchet
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."

 

VERSE 16

When, however, one is enlightened with the knowledge by which nescience is destroyed, then his knowledge reveals everything, as the sun lights up everything in the daytime.

PURPORT

Those who have forgotten Krsna must certainly be bewildered, but those who are in Krsna consciousness are not bewildered at all. It is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, sarvam jnana-plavena, jnanagnih sarva-karmani and na hi jnanena sadrsam. Knowledge is always highly esteemed. And what is that knowledge? Perfect knowledge is achieved when one surrenders unto Krsna, as is said in the Seventh Chapter, 19th verse: bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate. After passing through many, many births, when one perfect in knowledge surrenders unto Krsna, or when one attains Krsna consciousness, then everything is revealed to him, as everything is revealed by the sun in the daytime. The living entity is bewildered in so many ways. For instance, when he unceremoniously thinks himself God, he actually falls into the last snare of nescience. If a living entity is God, then how can he become bewildered by nescience? Does God become bewildered by nescience? If so, then nescience, or Satan, is greater than God. Real knowledge can be obtained from a person who is in perfect Krsna consciousness. Therefore, one has to seek out such a bona fide spiritual master and, under him, learn what Krsna consciousness is, for Krsna consciousness will certainly drive away all nescience, as the sun drives away darkness. Even though a person may be in full knowledge that he is not this body but is transcendental to the body, he still may not be able to discriminate between the soul and the Supersoul. However, he can know everything well if he cares to take shelter of the perfect, bona fide Krsna conscious spiritual master. One can know God and one’s relationship with God only when one actually meets a representative of God. A representative of God never claims that he is God, although he is paid all the respect ordinarily paid to God because he has knowledge of God. One has to learn the distinction between God and the living entity. Lord Sri Krsna therefore stated in the Second Chapter (2.12) that every living being is individual and that the Lord also is individual. They were all individuals in the past, they are individuals at present, and they will continue to be individuals in the future, even after liberation. At night we see everything as one in the darkness, but in day, when the sun is up, we see everything in its real identity. Identity with individuality in spiritual life is real knowledge.

 

VERSE 17

When one’s intelligence, mind, faith and refuge are all fixed in the Supreme, then one becomes fully cleansed of misgivings through complete knowledge and thus proceeds straight on the path of liberation.

PURPORT

The Supreme Transcendental Truth is Lord Krsna. The whole Bhagavad-gita centers around the declaration that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is the version of all Vedic literature. Para-tattva means the Supreme Reality, who is understood by the knowers of the Supreme as Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan. Bhagavan, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the last word in the Absolute. There is nothing more than that. The Lord says, mattah parataram nanyat kincid asti dhananjaya. Impersonal Brahman is also supported by Krsna: brahmano hi pratisthaham. Therefore in all ways Krsna is the Supreme Reality. One whose mind, intelligence, faith and refuge are always in Krsna, or, in other words, one who is fully in Krsna consciousness, is undoubtedly washed clean of all misgivings and is in perfect knowledge in everything concerning transcendence. A Krsna conscious person can thoroughly understand that there is duality (simultaneous identity and individuality) in Krsna, and, equipped with such transcendental knowledge, one can make steady progress on the path of liberation.

 

VERSE 18

The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].

PURPORT

A Krsna conscious person does not make any distinction between species or castes. The brahmana and the outcaste may be different from the social point of view, or a dog, a cow, and an elephant may be different from the point of view of species, but these differences of body are meaningless from the viewpoint of a learned transcendentalist. This is due to their relationship to the Supreme, for the Supreme Lord, by His plenary portion as Paramatma, is present in everyone’s heart. Such an understanding of the Supreme is real knowledge. As far as the bodies are concerned in different castes or different species of life, the Lord is equally kind to everyone because He treats every living being as a friend yet maintains Himself as Paramatma regardless of the circumstances of the living entities. The Lord as Paramatma is present both in the outcaste and in the brahmana, although the body of a brahmana and that of an outcaste are not the same. The bodies are material productions of different modes of material nature, but the soul and the Supersoul within the body are of the same spiritual quality. The similarity in the quality of the soul and the Supersoul, however, does not make them equal in quantity, for the individual soul is present only in that particular body whereas the Paramatma is present in each and every body. A Krsna conscious person has full knowledge of this, and therefore he is truly learned and has equal vision. The similar characteristics of the soul and Supersoul are that they are both conscious, eternal and blissful. But the difference is that the individual soul is conscious within the limited jurisdiction of the body whereas the Supersoul is conscious of all bodies. The Supersoul is present in all bodies without distinction.

 

VERSE 19

Those whose minds are established in sameness and equanimity have already conquered the conditions of birth and death. They are flawless like Brahman, and thus they are already situated in Brahman.

PURPORT

Equanimity of mind, as mentioned above, is the sign of self-realization. Those who have actually attained to such a stage should be considered to have conquered material conditions, specifically birth and death. As long as one identifies with this body, he is considered a conditioned soul, but as soon as he is elevated to the stage of equanimity through realization of self, he is liberated from conditional life. In other words, he is no longer subject to take birth in the material world but can enter into the spiritual sky after his death. The Lord is flawless because He is without attraction or hatred. Similarly, when a living entity is without attraction or hatred, he also becomes flawless and eligible to enter into the spiritual sky. Such persons are to be considered already liberated, and their symptoms are described below.

 

VERSE 20

A person who neither rejoices upon achieving something pleasant nor laments upon obtaining something unpleasant, who is self-intelligent, who is unbewildered, and who knows the science of God, is already situated in transcendence.

PURPORT

The symptoms of the self-realized person are given herein. The first symptom is that he is not illusioned by the false identification of the body with his true self. He knows perfectly well that he is not this body, but is the fragmental portion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is therefore not joyful in achieving something, nor does he lament in losing anything which is related to his body. This steadiness of mind is called sthira-buddhi, or self-intelligence. He is therefore never bewildered by mistaking the gross body for the soul, nor does he accept the body as permanent and disregard the existence of the soul. This knowledge elevates him to the station of knowing the complete science of the Absolute Truth, namely Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan. He thus knows his constitutional position perfectly well, without falsely trying to become one with the Supreme in all respects. This is called Brahman realization, or self-realization. Such steady consciousness is called Krsna consciousness.

 

VERSE 21

Such a liberated person is not attracted to material sense pleasure but is always in trance, enjoying the pleasure within. In this way the self-realized person enjoys unlimited happiness, for he concentrates on the Supreme.

PURPORT

Sri Yamunacarya, a great devotee in Krsna consciousness, said:

yad-avadhi mama cetah krsna-padaravinde
nava-nava-rasa-dhamany udyatam rantum asit
tad-avadhi bata nari-sangame smaryamane
bhavati mukha-vikarah susthu nisthivanam ca

"Since I have been engaged in the transcendental loving service of Krsna, realizing ever-new pleasure in Him, whenever I think of sex pleasure I spit at the thought, and my lips curl with distaste." A person in brahma-yoga, or Krsna consciousness, is so absorbed in the loving service of the Lord that he loses his taste for material sense pleasure altogether. The highest pleasure in terms of matter is sex pleasure. The whole world is moving under its spell, and a materialist cannot work at all without this motivation. But a person engaged in Krsna consciousness can work with greater vigor without sex pleasure, which he avoids. That is the test in spiritual realization. Spiritual realization and sex pleasure go ill together. A Krsna conscious person is not attracted to any kind of sense pleasure, due to his being a liberated soul.

 

VERSE 22

An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. O son of Kunti, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them.

PURPORT

Material sense pleasures are due to the contact of the material senses, which are all temporary because the body itself is temporary. A liberated soul is not interested in anything which is temporary. Knowing well the joys of transcendental pleasures, how can a liberated soul agree to enjoy false pleasure? In the Padma Purana it is said:

ramante yogino ’nante
satyanande cid-atmani
iti rama-padenasau
param brahmabhidhiyate

"The mystics derive unlimited transcendental pleasures from the Absolute Truth, and therefore the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, is also known as Rama."

In the Srimad-Bhagavatam also (5.5.1) it is said:

nayam deho deha-bhajam nr-loke
kastan kaman arhate vid-bhujam ye
tapo divyam putraka yena sattvam
suddhyed yasmad brahma-saukhyam tv anantam

"My dear sons, there is no reason to labor very hard for sense pleasure while in this human form of life; such pleasures are available to the stool-eaters [hogs]. Rather, you should undergo penances in this life by which your existence will be purified, and as a result you will be able to enjoy unlimited transcendental bliss."

Therefore, those who are true yogis or learned transcendentalists are not attracted by sense pleasures, which are the causes of continuous material existence. The more one is addicted to material pleasures, the more he is entrapped by material miseries.

 

VERSE 23

Before giving up this present body, if one is able to tolerate the urges of the material senses and check the force of desire and anger, he is well situated and is happy in this world.

PURPORT

If one wants to make steady progress on the path of self-realization, he must try to control the forces of the material senses. There are the forces of talk, forces of anger, forces of mind, forces of the stomach, forces of the genitals, and forces of the tongue. One who is able to control the forces of all these different senses, and the mind, is called gosvami, or svami. Such gosvamis live strictly controlled lives, and forgo altogether the forces of the senses. Material desires, when unsatiated, generate anger, and thus the mind, eyes and chest become agitated. Therefore, one must practice to control them before one gives up this material body. One who can do this is understood to be self-realized and is thus happy in the state of self-realization. It is the duty of the transcendentalist to try strenuously to control desire and anger.

 

VERSE 24

One whose happiness is within, who is active and rejoices within, and whose aim is inward is actually the perfect mystic. He is liberated in the Supreme, and ultimately he attains the Supreme.

PURPORT

Unless one is able to relish happiness from within, how can one retire from the external engagements meant for deriving superficial happiness? A liberated person enjoys happiness by factual experience. He can, therefore, sit silently at any place and enjoy the activities of life from within. Such a liberated person no longer desires external material happiness. This state is called brahma-bhuta, attaining which one is assured of going back to Godhead, back to home.

 

VERSE 25

Those who are beyond the dualities that arise from doubts, whose minds are engaged within, who are always busy working for the welfare of all living beings, and who are free from all sins achieve liberation in the Supreme.

PURPORT

Only a person who is fully in Krsna consciousness can be said to be engaged in welfare work for all living entities. When a person is actually in the knowledge that Krsna is the fountainhead of everything, then when he acts in that spirit he acts for everyone. The sufferings of humanity are due to forgetfulness of Krsna as the supreme enjoyer, the supreme proprietor, and the supreme friend. Therefore, to act to revive this consciousness within the entire human society is the highest welfare work. One cannot be engaged in such first-class welfare work without being liberated in the Supreme. A Krsna conscious person has no doubt about the supremacy of Krsna. He has no doubt because he is completely freed from all sins. This is the state of divine love.

A person engaged only in ministering to the physical welfare of human society cannot factually help anyone. Temporary relief of the external body and the mind is not satisfactory. The real cause of one’s difficulties in the hard struggle for life may be found in one’s forgetfulness of his relationship with the Supreme Lord. When a man is fully conscious of his relationship with Krsna, he is actually a liberated soul, although he may be in the material tabernacle.

 

VERSE 26

Those who are free from anger and all material desires, who are self-realized, self-disciplined and constantly endeavoring for perfection, are assured of liberation in the Supreme in the very near future.

PURPORT

Of the saintly persons who are constantly engaged in striving toward salvation, one who is in Krsna consciousness is the best of all. The Bhagavatam (4.22.39) confirms this fact as follows:

yat-pada-pankaja-palasa-vilasa-bhaktya
karmasayam grathitam udgrathayanti santah
tadvan na rikta-matayo yatayo ’pi ruddha-
sroto-ganas tam aranam bhaja vasudevam

"Just try to worship, in devotional service, Vasudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Even great sages are not able to control the forces of the senses as effectively as those who are engaged in transcendental bliss by serving the lotus feet of the Lord, uprooting the deep-grown desire for fruitive activities."

In the conditioned soul the desire to enjoy the fruitive results of work is so deep rooted that it is very difficult even for the great sages to control such desires, despite great endeavors. A devotee of the Lord, constantly engaged in devotional service in Krsna consciousness, perfect in self-realization, very quickly attains liberation in the Supreme. Owing to his complete knowledge in self-realization, he always remains in trance. To cite an analogous example of this:

darsana-dhyana-samsparsair
matsya-kurma-vihangamah
svany apatyani pusnanti
tathaham api padma-ja

"By vision, by meditation and by touch only do the fish, the tortoise and the birds maintain their offspring. Similarly do I also, O Padmaja!"

The fish brings up its offspring simply by looking at them. The tortoise brings up its offspring simply by meditation. The eggs of the tortoise are laid on land, and the tortoise meditates on the eggs while in the water. Similarly, the devotee in Krsna consciousness, although far away from the Lord’s abode, can elevate himself to that abode simply by thinking of Him constantly—by engagement in Krsna consciousness. He does not feel the pangs of material miseries; this state of life is called brahma-nirvana, or the absence of material miseries due to being constantly immersed in the Supreme.

 

VERSE 27-28

Shutting out all external sense objects, keeping the eyes and vision concentrated between the two eyebrows, suspending the inward and outward breaths within the nostrils, and thus controlling the mind, senses and intelligence, the transcendentalist aiming at liberation becomes free from desire, fear and anger. One who is always in this state is certainly liberated.

PURPORT

Being engaged in Krsna consciousness, one can immediately understand one’s spiritual identity, and then one can understand the Supreme Lord by means of devotional service. When one is well situated in devotional service, one comes to the transcendental position, qualified to feel the presence of the Lord in the sphere of one’s activity. This particular position is called liberation in the Supreme.

After explaining the above principles of liberation in the Supreme, the Lord gives instruction to Arjuna as to how one can come to that position by the practice of the mysticism or yoga known as astanga-yoga, which is divisible into an eightfold procedure called yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. In the Sixth Chapter the subject of yoga is explicitly detailed, and at the end of the Fifth it is only preliminarily explained. One has to drive out the sense objects such as sound, touch, form, taste and smell by the pratyahara process in yoga, and then keep the vision of the eyes between the two eyebrows and concentrate on the tip of the nose with half-closed lids. There is no benefit in closing the eyes altogether, because then there is every chance of falling asleep. Nor is there benefit in opening the eyes completely, because then there is the hazard of being attracted by sense objects. The breathing movement is restrained within the nostrils by neutralizing the up-moving and down-moving air within the body. By practice of such yoga one is able to gain control over the senses, refrain from outward sense objects, and thus prepare oneself for liberation in the Supreme.

This yoga process helps one become free from all kinds of fear and anger and thus feel the presence of the Supersoul in the transcendental situation. In other words, Krsna consciousness is the easiest process of executing yoga principles. This will be thoroughly explained in the next chapter. A Krsna conscious person, however, being always engaged in devotional service, does not risk losing his senses to some other engagement. This is a better way of controlling the senses than by the astanga-yoga.

 

VERSE 29

A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.

PURPORT

The conditioned souls within the clutches of illusory energy are all anxious to attain peace in the material world. But they do not know the formula for peace, which is explained in this part of the Bhagavad-gita. The greatest peace formula is simply this: Lord Krsna is the beneficiary in all human activities. Men should offer everything to the transcendental service of the Lord because He is the proprietor of all planets and the demigods thereon. No one is greater than He. He is greater than the greatest of the demigods, Lord Siva and Lord Brahma. In the Vedas (Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.7) the Supreme Lord is described as tam isvaranam paramam mahesvaram. Under the spell of illusion, living entities are trying to be lords of all they survey, but actually they are dominated by the material energy of the Lord. The Lord is the master of material nature, and the conditioned souls are under the stringent rules of material nature. Unless one understands these bare facts, it is not possible to achieve peace in the world either individually or collectively. This is the sense of Krsna consciousness: Lord Krsna is the supreme predominator, and all living entities, including the great demigods, are His subordinates. One can attain perfect peace only in complete Krsna consciousness.

This Fifth Chapter is a practical explanation of Krsna consciousness, generally known as karma-yoga. The question of mental speculation as to how karma-yoga can give liberation is answered herewith. To work in Krsna consciousness is to work with the complete knowledge of the Lord as the predominator. Such work is not different from transcendental knowledge. Direct Krsna consciousness is bhakti-yoga, and jnana-yoga is a path leading to bhakti-yoga. Krsna consciousness means to work in full knowledge of one’s relationship with the Supreme Absolute, and the perfection of this consciousness is full knowledge of Krsna, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. A pure soul is the eternal servant of God as His fragmental part and parcel. He comes into contact with maya (illusion) due to the desire to lord it over maya, and that is the cause of his many sufferings. As long as he is in contact with matter, he has to execute work in terms of material necessities. Krsna consciousness, however, brings one into spiritual life even while one is within the jurisdiction of matter, for it is an arousing of spiritual existence by practice in the material world. The more one is advanced, the more he is freed from the clutches of matter. The Lord is not partial toward anyone. Everything depends on one’s practical performance of duties in Krsna consciousness, which helps one control the senses in every respect and conquer the influence of desire and anger. And one who stands fast in Krsna consciousness, controlling the abovementioned passions, remains factually in the transcendental stage, or brahma-nirvana. The eightfold yoga mysticism is automatically practiced in Krsna consciousness because the ultimate purpose is served. There is a gradual process of elevation in the practice of yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. But these only preface perfection by devotional service, which alone can award peace to the human being. It is the highest perfection of life.

Thus end the Bhaktivedanta Purports to the Fifth Chapter of the Srimad Bhagavad-gita in the matter of Karma-yoga, or Action in Krsna Consciousness.

 


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