Verses 41 – 50
by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura
(translated by Swami Bhakti Vijñāna Giri)
dhūmrayānaṁ taḍid-yantram āviṣkurvan supaṇḍitaḥ
varddhate bhagavad-dāsye jīva-dāsya balād iha
A considerate person, having invented the steam-engine and electrical machines, advances in the service of Śrī Bhagavān by favouring the service of those jīvas who are inclined towards the Lord.
In this śloka beginning with dhūmrayānaṁ etc., the apathy of rule-bound sannyāsīs is condemned.
bhūgolaṁ jyotiṣaṁ vārkṣamāyurvedañ ca jaivakam
pārthivaṁ sālilaṁ dhaumraṁ vaidyutaṁ caumbakam tathā
aikṣanaṁ vāyavaṁ spāndyaṁ śābdyaṁ caittyañ ca pācanam
etat sarvaṁ vijānīyād īśa-dāsya prapoṣakam
Geography, astrology, botany, ayurveda, micro-biology, geology, hydrology, thermodynamics, electronics, magnetism, optics, meteorology, kinetics, acoustics, psychology and culinary arts – all these should be understood to nourish service to Bhagavān.
This śloka beginning with bhūgolam etc is a description of material sciences. Vārkṣa is the science of growing. Jaivaka is the science of microbiology. Vaidyuta refers to electronic messages (telegraph etc.). Caumbaka is the science of magnetism. Aikṣana refers to optics (the microscope, telescope etc.). Spāndya refers to motion. Śabdya is the study of sound (acoustic science). Caittya is psychological sciences. Pācana refers to the culinary arts. All these nurture service to Bhagavān for those persons who have taken refuge in yukta-vairāgya (proper renunciation).
yaśo’rtham indriyārtham vā tat-tat sādhyaṁ yadā bhavet
tadeśoddeśyatā bhāvād anitya phaladāyakam
When all these are used for the sake of fame or sense-pleasure, then the results are temporary due to an absence of love for Bhagavān.
The actions of all those persons who cultivate material sciences for prestige, sense-enjoyment, or for the sake of earning money, do not bear any eternal results because they lack Bhagavān as their objective. They are only awarded the impermanent results of fame etc. This is the inner purport of this. This will be revealed when discussing karma.
vigraheṣu bhajed-īṣaṁ na bhaumaṁ hījyam ucyate
bhaumejyā-vigraha-dveṣau sampradāya malāv ubhau
One should worship Īśvara in the Deity (śrī-vigraha). The arca-vigraha can never be called an earthy object. Worshipping idols and hatred towards the Deity – these are two impurities within a sampradāya.
The method of attaining that which is non-material, namely cit-tattva, from material science is explained. Those who worship matter, in other words, idol worshippers, and those who hate the Deity – these two classes of idolators argue with each other, taking refuge in institutional impurities (that which is inferior), but neither of them accepts the essence of both viewpoints. Yasyātma-buddhiḥ kuṇape tri-dhātuke (‘One who believes the ātmā to be a corpse-like body comprised of the three humours, vāta, pitta and kapha.’ – Śrīmad Bhāgavata 10.84.13). In this śloka the condemnation of those who worship matter can be heard. This is because Bhagavān is not matter nor is He a transformation of matter. If this is so, then how can He be made from earth? However, various things such as Deities, books etc, have been established with the intention of revealing Bhagavān’s mood (His nature and conception) as non-material, ie. cinmaya. If all of these are used with Bhagavān in mind, then it is not the worship of matter. Sampradāyika Vaiṣṇavas are not being criticised by the term sampradāya-mala (‘impurities within a sampradāya’), but only that which is inferior (contaminations) in the sampradāya are condemned.
bhūṣito’pi cared dharmaṁ na liṅgaṁ dharma-kāraṇam
“Although one can practice dharma wearing a particular dress and ornaments, the paraphernalia and dress are not the cause of dharma itself”
According to this authoritative statement of Manu, whether they are adorned or unadorned, the Vaiṣṇavas are worshipped everywhere.
jīvānāṁ baddha-bhūtānāṁ karttavyam abhidheyakam
karma-jñānaṁ tathā bhaktir nirṇītam ṛṣibhiḥ pṛthak
The ṛṣis have defined karma, jñāna and bhakti as the various kinds of abhidheya (methodology) or sādhana (practice) for the bound jīvas.
The discussion on sambandha-jñāna is over. Now, the author of this philosophical treatise (siddhāntakara) begins the deliberation on abhidheya or sādhana–tattva with the śloka beginning with jīvānāṁ etc. Love for Bhagavān is the inherent nature (svadharma) of the liberated jīvas. However, due to their acceptance of māyā, it is difficult for the bound jīvas to determine their svadharma. Various ṛṣis have produced various opinions and processes.
muninaikena yat proktaṁ tad anyo na niṣedhati
pratyutodāharet tasmāt sarvoktiḥ sarva-sammatā
“What one muni has said, another muni will not prohibit. On the other hand, one should collect all those statements that are accepted by all.”
According to the statement of Madhava in interpreting this śloka from the Laghu Parāśara, the ṛṣis are not at fault. Rather, all ṛṣis are sāra–grāhīs. The ṛṣis have pointed out that the means by which the prayojana of love for Bhagavān is achieved is the principle method. It should be understood that the various methods (created by the ṛṣis) are for those of various qualifications. The bhāra-vāhīs are never familiar with the proper meaning of this, but amongst all the philosophies found in śāstra, they give much respect to the many statements concerning the process of karma etc. Then they become attached to karma, jñāna or a supplementary aspect of bhakti, and they condemn others. On the other hand, the sāra-grāhīs extract all the essence from jñāna etc. and reject that which is unessential. However:
na buddhi-bhedaṁ janayed ajñānāṁ karma-saṅginām
One should not create disruption in the minds of those ignorant persons who are attached to karma. This also implies those who are attached to jñāna. According to these words of Bhagavān (Gītā 3.26), one should ascertain the qualifications of all people and arrange what is their duty and what is not their duty. On the basis of deliberating on the eligibility of those with a materialistic mentality, in order to eliminate the opportunity for anarthas and to purify their consciousness, they (the ṛṣis) arranged methods for material activities. Moreover, for those who are devoid of a materialistic mentality, but are ignorant of pure aprākṛta-tattva, they have established the jñāna–kāṇḍa with the explanations of the mahā-vākyas such as tat-tvām asi etc. And those who have transcended these two (karma and jñāna) inquire about their own propensities (svabhāva) and inherent nature (svadharma). They perceive karma and jñāna to be aimed towards their primary necessity (love for Bhagavān). Therefore, karma, jñāna etc. are recognised as abhidheya (sādhana). These will be briefly explained separately in this book.
yat kriyate tad eva syāt karma ced viduṣāṁ mate
karmākarma-vikarmāṇi karma-saṁjñāṁ tad āpnuyuḥ
If that which is to be done is referred to as karma according to the consideration of the wise, then karma, akarma and vikarma will all be defined as karma.
Amongst them, karma is being discussed first. Whatever is to be done is karma – that is the opinion of the wise. According to that perspective, karma, vikarma and akarma are regarded as karma. Yet in determining abhidheya, vikarma and akarma are dismissed by the jīva to attain his svarūpa. Here, karma means engaging in pure activities.
yan nākarma-vikarma syāt tad eva karma-śabdyate
puruṣārtha-vihīnañ cet karma cākarmavad bhavet
That which is not akarma and vikarma is called karma. If karma deviates from the puruṣārtha (objective), then it is equivalent to akarma.
In this regard, Śrīpāda Śrīdhara Svāmī (in the Śrīmad Bhāgavata) in his commentary on the Eleventh Canto (11.3.43) has said that karma is that which is prescribed by śāstra. Akarma is the opposite; it is that which is forbidden. Vikarma is the performance of objectionable activities and not engaging in one’s prescribed activities. In this regard, whatever is adverse – forbidden activities (niṣedha-karma) and objectionable acts (pāpa-karma) – should all be rejected. In the Eleventh Canto, all these objectionable acts are mentioned:
steyaṁ hiṁsānṛtaṁ dambhaḥ kāmaḥ krodhaḥ smayo madaḥ
bhedo vairam aviśvāsaḥ saṁspardhā vyasanāni ca
ete pañcadaśānarthā hy artha-mūlā matā nṛṇām
tasmād anartham arthākhyaṁ śreyo’rthī dūratas tyajet
“Theft, violence, falsehood, pride, lust, anger, confusion, illusion, discord, enmity, faithlessness, jealousy and the triple dangers (women, gambling and intoxication) – these fifteen anarthas of humans are said to stem from their desire for wealth. Thus, those persons who desire their ultimate benefit will leave those anarthas that they deem to be necessary.” (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.23.18-19)
Here, the three vyasanas (dangers) are women, gambling and intoxication. The anartha of unauthorised association with women is prominent. Any intoxicating substance, whatever it may be, such as alcohol, is all useless and primarily based upon laziness, falls under the category of gambling. That which is not vikarma and not akarma, according to different qualifications, is karma – this is according to the Vedas. However, if it is devoid of the objectives of human life (puruṣārthas), that action is akin to akarma.
avāntara-phalaṁ tyaktvā paramārtha prayojakam
kurvan karma nirālasyaḥ karmasi kuśalo naraḥ
A person who is expert in karma performs actions that are inclined towards spirituality without laziness, and rejects inconsequential results.
Attachment (rati) for Bhagavān is the primary result of all primary and secondary karma – this is the purport of all the śāstra. In all secondary karma there is the anartha of achieving material pleasures – that is why the wise have ascertained that this is an inconsequential result. That person who avoids such inconsequential results, or works diligently to use that inconsequential result to achieve the primary result, is skillful at karma. In other words, he is expert at karma and a sāra-grāhī. And all others bear the useless inconsequential results of karma like a bull carrying gravel. This is the point.
kvacit sākṣāt kvacid gauṇaṁ karma bhakti prayojakam
ādyaṁ tac-chravaṇādau tu cāntyaṁ varṇāśramādiṣu
Actions either directly or indirectly promote bhakti. Hearing, chanting etc, are the first, in other words, these actions are direct activities. And varṇāśrama etc. is last, or indirect activities.
There are two kinds of actions that promote bhakti – primary and secondary. All those actions whose results are non-different from bhakti directly promote bhakti – activities such as hearing, chanting etc. If those actions are aimed at protecting the people and not aimed at Bhagavān, then they are simply a hinderance to bhakti-sādhana and they produce inconsequential results. Therefore, different activities which are supplementary aspects of bhakti (bhaktyaṅga) are different to all those types of karma and are known by the name ‘bhakti.’ Thus, it may be discerned in discussing bhakti that the varṇāśrama social system, daily and occasional duties (nitya-naimittika karma), charity, austerity, study of the Veda, rituals to attain the celestial realm (iṣṭāpurta) and vows – these are all indirect activities that promote bhakti. Opening schools, hospitals etc. with the intention of attaining puṇya are also included in iṣṭāpurta. All of these activities produce many results – sometimes they are aimed at the senses, and sometimes they are aimed at Bhagavān. Whenever they are aimed towards sense-pleasure and happiness derived from mundane objects, then they are all averse to Bhagavān, mundane, and contrary to the jīva’s svadharma. Those persons who are addicted to mundane karma say the opposite, and their conclusions are opposed to the śruti, smṛti and proper conduct. For example, Yājñavalkya states:
ayaṁ tu paramo dharmo yad yogenātma-darśanam
“Self-realisation (or realisation of Bhagavān) through the power of yoga is the greatest dharma when compared to all those activities such as worship, good conduct, self-control, non-violence, charity and study of the śāstra.”
In Śrī Bhāgavata it is said:
śreyobhir vividhaiś cānyaiḥ kṛṣṇe bhaktir hi sādhyate
“Bhakti to Kṛṣṇa is achieved by charity, vows, austerities, homa, japa, study of the śāstra, self-restraint and many other virtuous acts.” (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.47.24)
Bahirmukha-karma (actions opposed to bhakti) are profusely condemned in the śāstra without exception. Śrī Bhāgavata states:
dharmaḥ svanuṣṭhitaḥ puṁsāṁ viṣvaksena-kathāsu yaḥ
notpādayed yadi ratiṁ śrama eva hi kevalam
“That dharma which is properly conducted but does not produce any attraction for bhagavat-kathā in people, is merely useless labour.”