Canto 3: The Status QuoChapter 23: Devahūti's Lamentation

Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 3.23.56

neha yat karma dharmāya

na virāgāya kalpate

na tīrtha-pada-sevāyai

jīvann api mṛto hi saḥ


na — not; iha — here; yat — which; karma — work; dharmāya — for perfection of religious life; na — not; virāgāya — for detachment; kalpate — leads; na — not; tīrtha-pada — of the Lord's lotus feet; sevāyaito devotional service; jīvan — living; api — although; mṛtaḥ — dead; hi — indeed; saḥhe.


Anyone whose work is not meant to elevate him to religious life, anyone whose religious ritualistic performances do not raise him to renunciation, and anyone situated in renunciation that does not lead him to devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, must be considered dead, although he is breathing.


Devahūti's statement is that since she was attached to living with her husband for sense gratification, which does not lead to liberation from material entanglement, her life was simply a waste of time. Any work one performs that does not lead to the state of religious life is useless activity. Everyone is by nature inclined to some sort of work, and when that work leads one to religious life and religious life leads one to renunciation and renunciation leads one to devotional service, one attains the perfection of work. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, any work that does not lead ultimately to the standard of devotional service is a cause of bondage in the material world. Yajñārthāt karmaṇo 'nyatra loko 'yaḿ karma-bandhanaḥ [Bg. 3.9]). Unless one is gradually elevated to the position of devotional service, beginning from his natural activity, he is to be considered a dead body. Work which does not lead one to the understanding of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is considered useless.

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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness