As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone
follows My path in all respects, 0 son of Prtha.
Everyone is searching for Krishna in the different aspects of His
manifestations. Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is
partially realized in His impersonal brahmajyoli effulgence and as
the all-pervading Supersoul dwelling within everything, including
the particles of atoms. But Krishna is fully realized only by His pure
devotees. Consequently, Krishna is the object of everyone's realiza-
tion, and thus anyone and everyone is satisfied according to one's
desire to have Him. In the transcendental world also, Krishna reciprocates with His pure devotees in the transcendental attitude.
the devotee wants Him. One devotee may want Krishna as supreme
master, another as his personal friend, another as his son. and still
another as his lover. Krishna rewards all the devotees equally, according to their different intensities of love for Him. In the material
world, the same reciprocations of feelings are there, and they are
equally exchanged by the Lord with the different types of worshipers. The pure devotees both here and in the transcendental abode
associate with Him in person and are able to render personal service
to the Lord and thus derive transcendental bliss in His loving service.
As for those who are impersonalists and who want to commit
spiritual suicide by annihilating the individual existence of the living
entity, Krishna helps also by absorbing them into His effulgence. Such
impersonalists do not agree to accept the eternal, blissful Personality
of Godhead; consequently they cannot relish the bliss of transcendental personal service to the Lord, having extinguished their individuality. Some of them, who are not firmly situated even in the
impersonal existence, return to this material field to exhibit their
dormant desires for activities. They are not admitted into the spiritual planets, but they are again given a chance to act on the material
planets. For those who are fruitive workers, the Lord awards the
desired results of their prescribed duties, as the yajnesvara; and those
who are yogis seeking mystic powers are awarded such powers. In
other words, everyone is dependent for success upon His mercy
alone, and all kinds of spiritual processes are but different degrees of
success on the same path. Unless, therefore, one comes to the highest
perfection of Krishna consciousness, all attempts remain imperfect, as
is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.3.10):
"Whether one is without desire [the condition of the devotees], or is
desirous of all fruitive results, or is after liberation, one should with
all efforts try to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead for
complete perfection, culminating in Krishna consciousness."
- kanksantah karmanam siddhim
- yajanta iha devatah ksipram
- hi manuse loke siddhir
- bhavati karma-ja.
Men in this world desire success in fruitive activities, and therefore
they worship the demigods. Quickly, of course, men get results from
fruitive work in this world.
There is a great misconception about the gods or demigods of this
material world, and men of less intelligence, although passing as
great scholars, take these demigods to be various forms of the
Supreme Lord. Actually, the demigods are not different forms of
God, but they are God's different parts and parcels. God is one, and
the parts and parcels are many. The Vedas say, nityo nityanam: God
is one. Isvarah paramah Krishnah. The Supreme God is one—Krishna—
and the demigods are delegated with powers to manage this material
world. These demigods are all living entities (nityanam) with different grades of material power. They cannot be equal to the Supreme
God—Narayana, Visnu, or Krishna.
Anyone who thinks that God and
the demigods are on the same level is called an atheist, or pdsandi.
Even the great demigods like Brahma and Siva cannot be compared
to the Supreme Lord. In fact, the Lord is worshiped by demigods
such as Brahma and Siva (siva-virinci-nutam). Yet curiously enough
there are many human leaders who are worshiped by foolish men
under the misunderstanding of anthropomorphism or zoomorphism.
lha devatdh denotes a powerful man or demigod of this material
world. But Narayana, Visnu, or Krishna, the Supreme Personality of
Godhead, does not belong to this world. He is above, or transcendental to, material creation. Even Sripada Sankaracarya, the leader
of the impersonalists, maintains that Narayana, or Krishna, is beyond
this material creation. However, foolish people (hrta-jnana) worship
the demigods because they want immediate results.
They get the
results, but do not know that results so obtained are temporary and
are meant for less intelligent persons. The intelligent person is in
Krishna consciousness, and he has no need to worship the paltry
demigods for some immediate, temporary benefit. The demigods of
this material world, as well as their worshipers, will vanish with the
annihilation of this material world. The boons of the demigods are
material and temporary. Both the material worlds and their inhabitants, including the demigods and their worshipers, are bubbles in
the cosmic ocean.
In this world, however, human society is mad after
temporary things such as the material opulence of possessing land,
family and enjoyable paraphernalia. To achieve such temporary
things, people worship the demigods or powerful men in human
society. If a man gets some minister ship in the government by
worshiping a political leader, he considers that he has achieved a
great boon. All of them are therefore kowtowing to the so-called
leaders or "big guns" in order to achieve temporary boons, and they
indeed achieve such things. Such foolish men are not interested in
Krishna consciousness for the permanent solution to the hardships of
material existence. They are all after sense enjoyment, and to get a
little facility for sense enjoyment they are attracted to worship
empowered living entities known as demigods. This verse indicates
that people are rarely interested in Krishna consciousness. They are
mostly interested in material enjoyment, and therefore they worship
some powerful living entity.
- catur-varnyam maya srstam
- guna-karma-vibhagasah tasya
- kartaram api mam viddhy
- akartaram avyayam.
According to the three modes of material nature and the work
associated with them, the four divisions of human society are
created by Me. And although I am the creator of this system, you
should know that I am yet the nondoer, being unchangeable.
The Lord is the creator of everything. Everything is born of Him,
everything is sustained by Him, and everything, after annihilation,
rests in Him. He is therefore the creator of the four divisions of the
social order, beginning with the intelligent class of men, technically
called brdhmanas due to their being situated in the mode of good-
ness. Next is the administrative class, technically called the ksatriyas
due to their being situated in the mode of passion. The mercantile
men, called the vaisyas, are situated in the mixed modes of passion
and ignorance, and the sudras, or laborer class, are situated in the
ignorant mode of material nature. In spite of His creating the four
divisions of human society. Lord Krishna does not belong to any of
these divisions, because He is not one of the conditioned souls, a
section of whom form human society. Human society is similar to
any other animal society, but to elevate men from the animal status,
the above-mentioned divisions are created by the Lord for the
systematic development of Krishna consciousness.
The tendency of a
particular man toward work is determined by the modes of material
nature which he has acquired. Such symptoms of life, according to
the different modes of material nature, are described in the Eighteenth Chapter. A person in Krishna consciousness,
however, is above even the brahmanas. Although brahmanas by
quality are supposed to know about Brahman, the Supreme Abso-
lute Truth, most of them approach only the impersonal Brahman
manifestation of Lord Krishna. But a man who transcends the limited
knowledge of a brahmana and reaches the knowledge of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna, becomes a person in
Krishna consciousness—or, in other words, a Va'snava. Krishna consciousness includes knowledge of all different plenary expansions of
Krishna, namely Rama, Nrsimha, Varaha, etc.
And as Krishna is transcendental to this system of the four divisions of human society, a
person in Krishna consciousness is also transcendental to all divisions
of human society, whether we consider the divisions of community,
nation or species.
- na man karmani limpanti
- na me karma-phale sprha
- iti mam yo bhijanati
- karmabhir na sa badhyate.
There is no work that affects Me; nor do I aspire for the fruits of
action. One who understands this truth about Me also does not
become entangled in the fruitive reactions of work.
As there are constitutional laws in the material world stating that the
king can do no wrong, or that the king is not subject to the state laws,
similarly the Lord, although He is the creator of this material world,
is not affected by the activities of the material world. He creates and
remains aloof from the creation, whereas the living entities are
entangled in the fruitive results of material activities because of their
propensity for lording it over material resources. The proprietor of
an establishment is not responsible for the right and wrong activities
of the workers, but the workers are themselves responsible. The
living entities are engaged in their respective activities of sense
gratification, and these activities are not ordained by the Lord. For
advancement of sense gratification, the living entities are engaged in
the work of this world, and they aspire to heavenly happiness after
death. The Lord, being full in Himself, has no attraction for so-called
The heavenly demigods are only His engaged
servants. The proprietor never desires the low-grade happiness such
as the workers may desire. He is aloof from the material actions and
reactions. For example, the rains are not responsible for different
types of vegetation that appear on the earth, although without such
rains there is no possibility of vegetative growth. Vedic smrti confirms
this fact as follows:
"In the material creations, the Lord is only the supreme cause. The
immediate cause is material nature, by which the cosmic manifestation
is made visible."
The created beings are of many varieties, such as the
demigods, human beings and lower animals, and all of them are
subject to the reactions of their past good or bad activities. The Lord
only gives them the proper facilities for such activities and the
regulations of the modes of nature, but He is never responsible for
their past and present activities.
In the Vedanta-sutra it is
confirmed,: the Lord is never
partial to any living entity. The living entity is responsible for his
own acts. The Lord only gives him facilities, through the agency of
material nature, the external energy. Anyone who is fully conversant
with all the intricacies of this law of karma, or fruitive activities, does
not become affected by the results of his activities. In other words,
the person who understands this transcendental nature of the Lord
is an experienced man in Krishna consciousness, and thus he is never
subjected to the laws of karma. One who does not know the transcendental nature of the Lord and who thinks that the activities of
the Lord are aimed at fruitive results, as are the activities of the
ordinary living entities, certainly becomes entangled himself in fruitive
reactions. But one who knows the Supreme Truth is a liberated soul
fixed in Krishna consciousness.
- evam jnatva krtam karma
- purvair api mumuksubhih
- kuru karmaiva tasmat tvam
- purvaih purvataram krtam.
All the liberated souls in ancient times acted with this understanding
of My transcendental nature. Therefore you should perform your
duty, following in their footsteps.
There are two classes of men. Some of them are full of polluted
material things within their hearts, and some of them are materially
free. Krishna consciousness is equally beneficial for both of these
persons. Those who are full of dirty things can take to the line of
Krishna consciousness for a gradual cleansing process, following the
regulative principles of devotional service. Those who are already
cleansed of the impurities may continue to act in the same Krishna
consciousness so that others may follow their exemplary activities
and thereby be benefited. Foolish persons or neophytes in Krishna
consciousness often want to retire from activities without having
knowledge of Krishna consciousness. Arjuna's desire to retire from
activities on the battlefield was not approved by the Lord. One need
only know how to act.
To retire from the activities of Krishna consciousness and to sit aloof making a show of Krishna consciousness is
less important than actually engaging in the field of activities for the
sake of Krishna. Arjuna is here advised to act in Krishna consciousness,
following in the footsteps of the Lord's previous disciples, such as
the sun-god Vivasvan, as mentioned hereinbefore. The Supreme
Lord knows all His past activities, as well as those of persons who
acted in Krishna consciousness in the past. Therefore He recommends
the acts of the sun-god, who learned this art from the Lord some
millions of years before. All such students of Lord Krishna are mentioned here as past liberated persons, engaged in the discharge of
duties allotted by Krishna.
- kim karma kim akarmeti kavayo
- py atra mohitah tat te
- karma pravaksyami yaj
- jnatva moksyase subhat.
Even the intelligent are bewildered in determining what is action and
what is inaction. Now I shall explain to you what action is, knowing
which you shall be liberated from all misfortune.
Action in Krishna consciousness has to be executed in accord with the
examples of previous bona fide devotees. This is recommended in
the 15th verse. Why such action should not be independent will be
explained in the text to follow.
To act in Krishna consciousness, one has to follow the leadership of
authorized persons who are in a line of disciples succession as
explained in the beginning of this chapter. The system of Krishna
consciousness was first narrated to the sun-god, the sun-god explained
it to his son Manu, Manu explained it to his son Iksvaku, and the
system is current on this earth from that very remote time. Therefore,
one has to follow in the footsteps of previous authorities in the line of
disciplic succession. Otherwise even the most intelligent men will be
bewildered regarding the standard actions of Krishna consciousness.
For this reason, the Lord decided to instruct Arjuna in Krishna
consciousness directly. Because of the direct instruction of the Lord
to Arjuna, anyone who follows in the footsteps of Arjuna is certainly
It is said that one cannot ascertain the ways of religion simply by
imperfect experimental knowledge. Actually, the principles of religion can only be laid down by the Lord Himself. Dharmam tu sdksdd
bhaga vat-pranitam. No one can manufacture a religious principle by imperfect speculation. One must follow in the
footsteps of great authorities like Brahma, Siva, Narada, Manu, the
Kumaras, Kapila, Prahlada, Bhisma, Sukadeva Gosvami, Yamaraja,
Janaka, and Bali Maharaja. By mental speculation one cannot
ascertain what is religion or self-realization. Therefore, out of cause-
less mercy to His devotees, the Lord explains directly to Arjuna
what action is and what inaction is. Only action performed in Krishna
consciousness can deliver a person from the entanglement of material
- karmano hy api boddhavyam
- boddhavyam ca vikarmanah
- akarmanas ca boddhavyam
- gahana karmano gatih.
The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one
should know properly what action is, what forbidden action is, and
what inaction is.
If one is serious about liberation from material bondage, one has to
understand the distinctions between action, inaction and unauthorized actions. One has to apply oneself to such an analysis of action,
reaction and perverted actions because it is a very difficult subject
matter. To understand Krishna consciousness and action according to
its modes, one has to learn one's relationship with the Supreme; i.e.,
one who has learned perfectly knows that every living entity is an
eternal servitor of the Lord and that consequently one has to act in
Krishna consciousness. The entire Bhagavad-gita is directed toward
this conclusion. Any other conclusions, against this consciousness
and its attendant actions, are vikarmas, or prohibited actions. To
understand all this one has to associate with authorities in Krishna
consciousness and learn the secret from them; this is as good as
learning from the Lord directly. Otherwise, even the most intelligent
persons will be bewildered.
- karmany akarma yah pasyed
- akarmani ca karma yah
- sa buddhiman manusyesu
- sa yuktah krtsna-karma-krt.
One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is intelligent
among men, and he is in the transcendental position, although
engaged in all sorts of activities.
A person acting in Krishna consciousness is naturally free from the
bonds of karma. His activities are all performed for Krishna; therefore
he does not enjoy or suffer any of the effects of work. Consequently
he is intelligent in human society, even though he is engaged in all
sorts of activities for Krishna. Akarma means without reaction to
work. The impersonalist ceases fruitive activities out of fear, so that
the resultant action may not be a stumbling block on the path of
self-realization, but the personalist knows rightly his position as the
eternal servitor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore
he engages himself in the activities of Krishna consciousness. Because
everything is done for Krishna, he enjoys only transcendental happiness
in the discharge of this service. Those who are engaged in this
process are known to be without desire for personal sense gratification. The sense of eternal servitorship to Krishna makes one immune
to all sorts of reactionary elements of work.
- yasya sarve samarambhah
- tam ahuh panditam budhah.
One is understood to be in full knowledge whose every endeavor is
devoid of desire for sense gratification. He is said by sages to be a
worker for whom the reactions of work have been burned up by the
fire of perfect knowledge.
Only a person in full knowledge can understand the activities of a
person in Krishna consciousness. Because the person in Krishna consciousness is devoid of all kinds of sense-gratificatory propensities, it
is to be understood that he has burned up the reactions of his work
by perfect knowledge of his constitutional position as the eternal
servitor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is actually
learned who has attained to such perfection of knowledge. Development of this knowledge of eternal servitorship to the Lord is
compared to fire. Such a fire, once kindled, can burn up all kinds of
reactions to work.
- tyaktva karma-phalasangam
- nitya-trpto nirasrayah
- karmany abhipravrtto pi
- naiva kincit karoti sah.
Abandoning all attachment to the results of his activities, ever
satisfied and independent, he performs no fruitive action, although
engaged in all kinds of undertakings.
This freedom from the bondage of actions is possible only in Krishna
consciousness, when one is doing everything for Krishna. A Krishna
conscious person acts out of pure love for the Supreme Personality
of Godhead, and therefore he has no attraction for the results of the
action. He is not even attached to his personal maintenance, for
everything is left to Krishna. Nor is he anxious to secure things, nor to
protect things already in his possession. He does his duty to the best
of his ability and leaves everything to Krishna. Such an unattached
person is always free from the resultant reactions of good and bad; it
is as though he were not doing anything. This is the sign oiakarma,
or actions without fruitive reactions. Any other action, therefore,
devoid of Krishna consciousness, is binding upon the worker, and that
is the real aspect of vikarma, as explained hereinbefore.