Chapter 4: Pure and Mixed Devotion

Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Nārada Bhakti Sūtra 62

na tatsiddhau loka-vyāvahāro heyaḥ kintu phala-tyāgas tat-sādhanaḿ ca kāryam eva


na — not; tat — of it (devotional service); siddhauin the achievement; loka — mundane; vyāvahāraḥ — business; heyaḥto be abandoned; kintu — rather; phala — of the results; tyāgaḥ — abandonment; tat — of it (devotional service); ca — and; kāryam — must be done; eva — indeed.


Even after one has achieved devotional service, one should not abandon one's responsibilities in this world but should rather continue surrendering the results of one's work to the Lord. And while still trying to reach the stage of pure devotion, one must certainly continue executing prescribed duties.


Lord Kṛṣṇa has strongly criticized the pseudo renunciants who live at the cost of society: "One who restrains the senses of action but whose mind dwells on sense objects certainly deludes himself and is called a pretender" (Bg. 3.7). Śrīla Prabhupāda states that it is better to work in karma-yoga (Kṛṣṇa consciousness) within one's varṇa and āśrama designation:

A householder can also reach this destination [Viṣṇu, or Kṛṣṇa] by regulated service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. For self-realization, one can live a controlled life, as prescribed in the śāstras, and continue carrying out his business without attachment, and in that way make progress. A sincere person who follows this method is far better situated than the false pretender who adopts show-bottle spiritualism to cheat the innocent public. A sincere sweeper in the street is far better than the charlatan meditator who meditates only for the sake of making a living. [Bg. 3.7, purport]

This does not mean, however, that ordinary work is itself the fulfillment of human life. The karmī slogan "Work is worship" is not the same as working in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. But one has to do both: work to earn one's living and at the same time work for the satisfaction of Viṣṇu, or Kṛṣṇa. Śrīla Prabhupāda writes, "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."

How to maintain oneself and one's family and at the same time work for Kṛṣṇa is a great art, and as such it requires the guidance of the Lord's devotee. If obligations to family and society conflict with one's basic spiritual vows, then one must give first priority to the spiritual duties. One who has taken initiation into spiritual life should never give up his vow to chant a quota of holy names daily and to fulfill the basic orders of the spiritual master.

Whether a Vaiṣṇava works in the business world or lives as a renunciant, he should never be embarrassed to preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness or doubt the value of preaching. Even if we consider preaching work a debt to humanity, it is a crucial social commitment. Once the mother and father of a young devotee complained to Śrīla Prabhupāda that their son was a full-time student in the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. They said they wanted him to become a doctor. Prabhupāda replied that they should let the young man decide for himself, and that in any case, there were many doctors in the world but few serious devotees. Prabhupāda said that the work of the devotee was more important than the work of a physician. A doctor can repair the health of a few hundred people, but even that is temporary. Medical cures do not free the patient from his karma, which forces him to take rebirth and suffer again in another material body. But a devotee who successfully distributes Kṛṣṇa consciousness can help people achieve liberation from birth and death. So his work is the most important in the world.

Although he may not be an expert politician or economist, a bhakta knows the real cause of people's suffering — forgetfulness of their relationship with Kṛṣṇa, which leads to their becoming conditioned by the modes of material nature. Knowing that bhakti-yoga is the only way to extricate oneself from material conditioning and reestablish one's relationship with God, the devotee tries to distribute knowledge of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Śrīla Prabhupāda writes, "Since the [devotee] tries to broadcast the importance of becoming Kṛṣṇa conscious, he is the best philanthropist in the world" (Bg. 6.32, purport).

The preacher stays connected to the world, yet he is transcendental to worldly concerns. Although some yogīs abandon society and cultivate their own spiritual salvation, the bhakti-yogī who follows Prahlāda Mahārāja, Lord Caitanya, and Śrīla Prabhupāda keeps a compassionate connection with the people of the world. As Lord Caitanya stated to His followers, "Distribute this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement all over the world. Let people eat these fruits [of love of God] and ultimately become free from old age and death" (Cc. Ādi 9.39).

The surrendered devotee, therefore, does not worry about his worldly situation, nor does he support mundane welfare causes. But to satisfy Lord Caitanya and the spiritual masters descending from Him in disciplic succession, he works magnanimously on behalf of all living beings by spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

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