Canto 11: General HistoryChapter 3: Liberation from the Illusory Energy

Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.3.41


karma-yogaḿ vadata naḥ

puruṣo yena saḿskṛtaḥ

vidhūyehāśu karmāṇi

naiṣkarmyaḿ vindate param


śrī-rājā uvāca — the King said; karma-yogam — the practice of dovetailing one's work with the Supreme; vadata — please tell; naḥ — us; puruṣaḥa person; yena — by which; saḿskṛtaḥ — being refined; vidhūya — getting rid of; ihain this life; āśu — quickly; karmāṇi — materialistic activities; naiṣkarmyam — freedom from fruitive reactions; vindate — enjoys; param — transcendental.


King Nimi said: O great sages, please speak to us about the process of karma-yoga. Purified by this process of dedicating one's practical work to the Supreme, a person can very quickly free himself from all material activities, even in this life, and thus enjoy pure life on the transcendental platform.


As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (3.5),

na hi kaścit kṣaṇam api

jātu tiṣṭhaty akarma-kṛt

kāryate hy avaśaḥ karma

sarvaḥ prakṛti-jair guṇaiḥ

"All men are forced to act helplessly according to the impulses born of the modes of material nature; therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment." Since the living entity cannot remain inactive, he must learn to dedicate his activities to the Lord. Śrīla Prabhupāda comments on this verse from Bhagavad-gītā as follows: "It is not a question of embodied life, but it is the nature of the soul to be always active. Without the presence of the spirit soul, the material body cannot move. The body is only a dead vehicle to be worked by the spirit soul, which is always active and cannot stop even for a moment. As such, the spirit soul has to be engaged in the good work of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, otherwise it will be engaged in occupations dictated by illusory energy. In contact with material energy, the spirit soul acquires material modes, and to purify the soul from such affinities it is necessary to engage in the prescribed duties enjoined in the śāstras. But if the soul is engaged in his natural function of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, whatever he is able to do is good for him."

Ordinary people often question the busy activities of the devotees of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, mistaking such activities to be ordinary material work. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī has stated in this connection, kāmya-karmāṇy eva tyājitāni, na tu nitya-naimittikāni, phalasyaiva vininditatvāt. One should give up selfish activities performed for one's personal sense gratification, since the result of such thoughtless work is further material bondage. But one should offer one's regular or occasional occupational duties to the Supreme Lord, and thus such activities become transcendental devotional service. By the words tasmād guruḿ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam [SB 11.3.21], this chapter has clearly explained that dovetailing one's work with the service of the Lord is an art one should learn at the lotus feet of the bona fide spiritual master. Otherwise, if one whimsically declares his materialistic work to be transcendental devotional service, there will be no actual result. Therefore, according to Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī, one should not mistake the word naiṣkarmyam to indicate inactivity; rather, it indicates transcendental activity under the guidance of the Lord and His representative.

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